Taj, Tiger and Tranquility – A tasting menu
Delhi – Agra – Ranthambore – Jaipur – Cochin -Kumarokam – Kovalam 13 Nights/14 Days
Qutub Minar, Delhi
Welcome to India !
Arrive at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport.You are met by Equinox representative with traditional and sacred marigold flower garland. Delhi stands as the capital of Modern India. Here you can see the mingling of the Old and New India, the ancient and the modern. Delhi has seen the rise and fall of many emperors, which has left behind a plethora of monuments that commemorate the grandeur and glory of bygone ages. Use this day to relax and recuperate from the travel to India or if you have the energy you can Contact Equinox for our list of experiences to start your tasting menu of handcrafted local experiences.
Bangla Sahib Gurdwara, Delhi
Wake up like a Delhi-ite : If you wish to assimilate into the daily life of the people we recommend a walk in the picturesque Lodhi Gardens. Located in the heart of Delhi this is Delhi’s version of Central Park. One can see small groups of people doing Yoga or laughter therapy. Youngsters playing a game of cricket on weekends. Or simply soak in the sound of the chirping birds and the hustle of the aged trees. Head back to the hotel for breakfast. Today’s tour comprises of 2 powers that had a profound effect in moulding much of India’s history, culture and architecture. We start with the Mughals who ruled a large part of the subcontinent for more than 350 years. Delhi being the imperial capital lived up to its image of the most illustrious town of medieval India. Today Delhi’s walled city is known as Old Delhi. The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan shifted the Mughal capital from Agra to Delhi. Possessing remarkable talent in architecture he brought about Delhi’s glorious renaissance. Trade flourished and continues to do so… We have an exciting way for you to discover these maze like lanes. Take an exhilarating cycle rickshaw ride that passes through the colourful Kinari bazaar. This experience ends at the majestic Jama Masjid, 18th Century mosque known for its restrain in architecture. Footsteps of Lutyens. The greatest British architect Drive past the Imperial part of the city designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens for the British in the 1920s. Continue along the main avenue, the impressive Rajpath to the World War I memorial arch, the India Gate and past the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the President’s residence and the Parliament Buildings. Visit the Delhi Sultanate Qutab Minar, visit the tallest minaret in India. And Humayuns Tomb, a masterpiece of Mughal architecture. Community kitchen of holy proportions At Bangla Sahib Gurdwara, a historic Sikh shrine in central Delhi, everybody is welcome to a meal, and nearly everybody comes. The ‘langar,’ or free kitchen, operated by a Sikh shrine in Delhi dishes out an astonishing 10,000 meals a day. Anyone can volunteer at a Gurdwara, and although the Bangla Sahib Gurdwara is the largest, you’ll find smaller versions in most Delhi neighborhoods. Everyone is welcome to come to Bangla Sahib Gurdwara and be part of Vaṇḍ Chakkō, the Sikh uplifting concept that translates to ‘share and consume together’.
Taj Mahal, Agra
Breakfast at the hotel and then depart by road to Agra. Approximately 210 kms / 04 hours drive . Your other option would be to take the new Gatiman Express train which gets you to Agra in just 90 minutes. Forts were an integral part of Indian history. Each place was ruled from the fort in the area and this is where the imperial court was set up. The fort in Agra was built by the emperor Akbar. This is a fine example of the Hindu elements finding their way into Islamic style of architecture. The fort is rather well known for the melancholic tale of emperor Shah Jahan who was imprisoned here by his son in an apartment that overlooked the Taj Mahal. Though Agra is synonymous with the Taj; another Mughal monument made entirely in marble has arguably more refined workmanship. Itimad-Ud-Daula fondly known as Baby Taj is the tomb of a Mughal noble. It looks like an intricately carved jewel box with its extensive use of the teachnique of Pietra Dura. At sunset the long awaited visit to the Taj Mahal. Bathed in soft light of the evening sun this monument to eternal love is truly a sight to behold. An immense mausoleum of white marble, built in Agra between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife, the Taj Mahal is the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage. If you like you could also take an extension in your sightseeing and indulge in any of Equinox’s special experiential activities. Contact Equinox for our Agra secrets.
Diwan-i-khas, Fatehpur Sikri
You drive to Ranthambore, approximately 270 Kms – 07 Hours Drive including the visit enroute of the great site of Fatehpursikri. Fatehpur Sikri a citadel built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar that was later abandoned for the lack of water. Abandoned cities have always had an allure in peoples mind. The perfectly preserved buildings with a little bit of imagination paint the picture of the of the opulent court culture of a bygone era. After the visit continue drive to Ranthambore. Early to bed and early to rise, to hopefully see the shy jungle cat in disguise!
Ranthambhore national park
Early morning depart for the first Safari in the Ranthambhore national park. The erstwhile hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur, was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1981. Ranthambore is also cited as a heritage site because of the pictorial ruins of the fort within the park. Ranthambore National Park is covered by dry deciduous type of vegetation. The wildlife consists of Royal bengal tiger, leopard, wild boar, nilgai, sambar, sloth bear, striped hyena, southern plains gray langur, rhesus macaque and chital. With jungles come tribes and small local settlements that live off the forest. Contact Equinox for our offbeat activities centered around this small jungle town. Afternoon depart for a second safari by jeep to see the changes within the jungle from the early morning rise to when the sun starts to set.
Pink City, Jaipur
After a sumptuous breakfast drive to Jaipur. Approximately 181 kms / 04 hours drive. Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan, Indias princely state with its magnificent palaces. It evokes the royal family that once ruled the region and that, in 1727, founded what is now called the Old City, or “Pink City” for its trademark building color. Jaipur is one of our favourite towns and we would love to share some of our personal favorite activities with you depending on the time of year and of-course everything personalized to your interests. This evening is at leisure. Contact Equinox take your pick from one of Equinox’s signature experiences.
Amber Fort, Jaipur
After a fulfilling breakfast set off to explore this royal city. Your day starts with sightseeing of Amber Fort by jeeps. There is an option for elephant back, however in our endeavor to avoid animal cruelty we do not offer this experience. This hilltop fortress was the Royal Family’s residence and is one of the most enchanting forts of India. A complex of palaces, temples, mirror inlaid public halls and beautifully manicured gardens, the fortress is an exquisite example of Rajput architecture. Within the fort are enchanting palaces that display the wealth of the erstwhile kingdom of Amber. City Palace This beautiful palace was built during the reign of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh. This Palace stands apart, with its outstanding art and architecture. Jantar Mantar Observatory A trip is never complete without the visit of something eccentric and that is exactly what is offered by the 18th century observatory. An overzealous Maharaja of Jaipur constructed these astronomical instruments to make notes of the positions of stars and the constellation. We at Equinox encourage you to travel like a global local. Not just to stand and witness something but participate in the in the experience that is India. Take part in the aarti ceremony at the Govind Devji temple where many devotees and followers gather in the courtyard to pay their respects. This temple has had the Royal patronage for centuries. But today you will be visiting the presiding deity just like many other Jaipur locals. Don’t forget to buy a small plate of offerings consisting flowers, incense and a coconut to appease the deity. Indulge in any one of Equinox’s signature experiences to further explore Jaipur off the beaten path.
This morning you will fly from the North of India to the South. Cochin: A cluster of islands and narrow peninsulas, Cochin or Kochi is known as 'Queen of the Arabian Sea', it reflects the best of all that Kerala has to offer. The Arabs, British, Dutch and Portuguese offering a cocktail of cultural experiences have influenced this incredible seaside. A rich past and a vibrant present, Kochi gained the status of the cultural hub of the region. The city even hosts an Art biennale every two years. Evening free to walk around fort Cochin and start your cultural taste of the southern part of this widely different country! Contact Equinox for off the beaten path ideas to discover this beautiful port town.
Kathkali dance performance, Kerala
After breakfast visit this beautiful colonial town with a rich and diverse history. It is hard to believe but Kochi was once a thriving place for the jewish community The famous Kochi Synagogue was constructed in 1568 and is the oldest in the Commonwealth countries.. The articles of interest at the synagogue are a clock tower, hand painted, willow patterned floor tiles from Canton in China, great scrolls of the Old Testament, Hebrew inscriptions on stone slabs, ancient scripts on copper plates in which the grants of privilege made by the former rulers of Cochin were recorded. St Francis Church Fort Cochin is believed to be the oldest European Settlement in India and St. Francis Church was the first European Church to be built in India. The history of this Church reflects the colonial struggle of European powers in India, from the 15th to 20th Centuries. Dutch Palace Dutch Palace, Kochi is more popularly known as Mattancherry Palace. The palace was constructed by the Portuguese and presented to the then Rajah of Kochi. The Rajahs of Keralas made subsequent renovations of the palace, giving it a Hindu texture. In fact, it has become one of the best testimony of the Hindu Temple Art. Chinese Fishing Nets A very unusual method of fishing, operated from the shore. Chinese fishing nets are fixed land installations set up on bamboo or teak poles and is operated from the shores. End your day with a Kathkali dance performance Kathakali is one of the oldest theatre forms in the world. It originated in the area of Southwestern India now known as the state of Kerala. Kathakali make-up is the slow metamorphosis of mortals into immortal deities and demons. Contact Equinox for our signature experiences on exploring this beautiful port town.
After an easy breakfast we drive to Kumarokam, famously known for its backwaters. Approximately 60 kms / 02 hours drive. The Kerala Backwaters are a network of interconnected canals, rivers, lakes and inlets, a labyrinthine system formed by more than 900 km of waterways, and sometimes compared to the American Bayou. In the midst of this landscape, there are a number of small fishing villages and towns. Kumarakom has a number of hotels set beautifully preserving the nature and adapting to the natural environment surrounding them. Canals meander around some of these hotels engulfing you in its ecosystem. Spend the day exploring your hotel and indulging in the world renowned Ayurveda Treatments. Equinox will help organize a private meeting with a certified Ayurvedic doctor, to help balance all elements of your body – Ether, Fire, Air, Earth and Water. Contact Equinox for more information on the science of Ayurveda and how to explore this during your stay.
Your days in Kumarokam are relatively easy. A chance to unwind and slip slowly into the natural environment that surrounds you. We encourage you to spend a night in one of Keralas luxury houseboats- a reworked version of the Kettuvallams of olden times, originally used to transport rice and spices. Using only natural products, these boats are built with bamboo, thatched roofs and wooden hulls. Sticks and wood of the areca nut tree are used for roofing and coconut trees and coir for beds. Although this is a generations old concept, todays houseboats boast of the same comforts as a luxury hotel with beautifully furnished bedrooms, ensuite modern bathrooms, living spaces and large open decks to sit out and enjoy the views while you sail gently around the canals. Equinox helps curate a number of experiences depending on the your needs and interests. Some of these could include a visit to small ateliers of coir workers, visiting a village church and meeting the priest. Visit a banana and coconut plantation. Contact Equinox for our list of experiences to indulge in. To get a the feel of the languid pace of life on the backwaters we invite you to visit different homes, and if you like, even learn how to make some traditional delicacies.
(Approximately 180 kms / 05 hours drive) Breathtakingly beautiful, once a calm fishing village, a haven of peace and tranquility -Three curve shaped beaches, alienated by stony outcroppings, form the major attraction of this coastal resort. You could spend your days sunbathing, watching the fishermen at first light, swimming in the sea or indulging in yoga and Kerala’s finest Ayurveda. Contact Equinox for more ideas on how to spend your days rejuvenating by the seaside.
(Approximately 20 kms / 45 minutes drive) Your last morning in India. Hopefully you could have some time for a last minute relaxation massage before your long flight home, or a last peak at the fishermen bringing in their early morning catch. Later, departure transfer to Trivandrum International airport in order to connect flight home.