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Colorful India & the Ganges River with Southern India & Varanasi 2021

18 days with Avalon Waterways  Rating: Deluxe

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Offers subject to change or withdrawal, availability is limited. Some discounts are not combinable.

River Cruise Itinerary
Day 1 COCHIN, INDIA
Welcome to Cochin, the “Gateway to Kerala,” India’s southernmost state known for its natural beauty. Your hotel room is available for mid-afternoon check-in.

Day 2 COCHIN
Your Guided Tour starts with a visit to the Kerala Folklore Museum which aims to educate people about the unique culture and heritage of South India. Then, drive out of the city to embark an unforgettable afternoon Cruise on the backwaters of Kerala. Explore and witness local life along these serene waterways surrounded by lush palm trees and paddy fields. (B,L)

Day 3 COCHIN–MUMBAI
Today, fly to Mumbai, a multicultural metropolis with a colorful history. This vibrant city is now India’s premier seaport, center of culture and industry, and home to the “Bollywood” movie industry. (B)

Day 4 MUMBAI
Your Guided Tour starts with an orientation for photos at some of the cities famous sites, including Victoria Terminus and the Gateway of India. Then, witness Mumbai’s fascinating tiffen lunch box delivery system. At Churchgate Station, the dabbawalas (box carriers) transfer the lunch boxes onto a wooden cart on a local train. Board the train for the short ride to Mahalaxmi Station where you’ll disembark and watch the boxes being sorted by color for final delivery. Lastly, stop to see a traditional Dhobi Ghat (open-air laundromat) and visit Mani Bhavan, the former residence of Mahatma Gandhi. After lunch, enjoy the remainder of the day at your leisure. (B,L)

Day 5 MUMBAI–VARANASI
Fly to Varanasi, the holiest of Hindu pilgrim cities. Early this evening, witness the Ganga Aarti (spiritual worship) on the ghats (steps) leading down to the sacred Ganges River. (B,D)

Day 6 VARANASI–DELHI
Around dawn, board a Boat Excursion and watch a striking religious ritual—the Hindus’ devotional bathing in the Ganges. You’ll observe hundreds of pilgrims gathered at the river’s edge, some practicing yoga, others meditating, and still others bathing fully clothed. Return to your hotel for breakfast and some time at leisure prior to flying to Delhi. (B,L)

Day 7 DELHI
Saris, Spices, and Silver

CLASSIC Today’s Guided Sightseeing starts with an orientation to see the Red Fort, Jama Masjid, India Gate, and the Presidential Palace. Afterward, take a rickshaw ride through Chandni Chowk, a captivating local bazaar—with its ancient alleyways lined with quaint shops offering everything from silver and saris to spices and electronics. 

After lunch in a local restaurant, enjoy a bit of leisure time. Tonight, your Tour Director hosts a lavish welcome dinner at your hotel. (B,L,D)

Day 8 DELHI–AGRA
Monuments of Worship and Remembrance

CLASSIC This morning, take a Guided Excursion to visit Qutub Minar, the world’s tallest brick minaret, dating back to the 11th century. Next, visit Humayun’s Tomb and Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, Delhi’s largest and most prominent Sikh gurudwara (house of worship). 

After lunch, drive to Agra and settle in at your hotel. (B,L)

Day 9 AGRA
Love’s Crowning Achievement

CLASSIC Start your day with a Sunrise Excursion to the incomparable Taj Mahal—Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan’s memorial to his beloved wife—more than 20 years in the making. 

CLASSIC Later, take a Guided Tour to Agra Fort, built by the Moghul Emperor Akbar. This formidable fortress of red sandstone conceals the imperial city of the Moghul rulers and its many palaces. 

For those interested, an excursion to the Taj Mahal at sunset is included. (B,D)

Day 10 AGRA–JAIPUR
Welcome to the Pink City

Travel to Jaipur—the “Pink City” that was painted pink for the Prince of Wales’ 1876 visit.

After lunch, enjoy the afternoon and evening at your leisure. (B,L)

Day 11 JAIPUR
A Maharaja’s Marble Palace and Gateway to the Stars

CLASSIC Today, join a Guided Excursion to Jaipur’s spectacular Amber Fort, built entirely of white marble and red sandstone, and featuring intricate mosaics, carvings, paintings, and mirror works. 

CLASSIC This afternoon, take a Guided Tour of the City Palace and the adjoining museum, which houses a collection of rare manuscripts. Also, stop at Jantar Mantar, a fascinating astronomical observatory built in the early 18th century.  (B,D)

Day 12 JAIPUR–KOLKATA (EMBARKATION)
Welcome to West Bengal. Your Ship Awaits.

Fly to Kolkata this morning to transfer to your ship. Get acquainted with the ship prior to your welcome reception this evening.

AFTERNOON/EVENING CRUISE TO KALNA (B,L,D)

Day 13 KALNA
Rituals, Rickshaws, and Muslin Weavers

DISCOVERY Ride on cycle rickshaws during your Guided Exploration of Kalna. Along the way visit the historic terracotta temple complex and receive blessings from the temple priest. Also visit a muslin-weaver’s home. 

Enjoy a free afternoon on board your ship.

AFTERNOON/EVENING CRUISE TO MATIARI (B,L,D)

Day 14 MATIARI
Sweet Shops and Shiny Brass

DISCOVERY Join a Guided Walk through the village of Matiari where fascinating scenes of everyday life unfold in front of you. Stop to see how traditional sweets are made and explore the local produce market. The village is best known for brass-making and you’ll see how scrap metal is recycled to make figurines and functional items such as tea sets and vases. For the final step, watch a talented craftsman delicately hand-hammer intricate patterns into the brass. 

Enjoy a free afternoon onboard your ship.

AFTERNOON/EVENING CRUISE TO MURSHIDABAD (B,L,D)

Day 15 MURSHIDABAD. EXCURSION TO AZIMGANJ & JIAGANJ
Silversmiths, Tea Service, and Silk Sarees

DISCOVERY Guided Sightseeing brings you to two towns on opposite sides of the river. In Jiaganj, travel by electric rickshaw to see the art of Baluchari saree weaving. In Azimganj, walk through the local crafts market and explore Bari Kothi, a former residence that has been restored to its former grandeur after being abandoned for over half a century. You’ll also witness a silver- and gold-making demonstration. 

Relax this afternoon onboard your ship.

AFTERNOON/EVENING SAILING TO MAYAPUR (B,L,D)

Day 16 MAYAPUR–GUPTIPARA
A Holy Pilgrimage on the Ganges

CLASSIC Your Morning Excursion brings you to the fascinating ISKCON campus at Mayapur, the worldwide headquarters of the Hare Krishna movement. A Krishna leader will guide you throughout your visit to introduce you to their philosophy and life on campus, Along the way, you’ll tour the main temple and have time for questions.

DISCOVERY This afternoon, climb aboard a Rickshaw (Toto) for your visit to the small riverside village of Guptipara. Along the way, see pottery and idol making. You’ll also visit a farmer’s home to interact with the family. 

AFTERNOON/EVENING SAILING TO KOLKATA  (B,L,D)

Day 17 KOLKATA
Flowers, Faith, and Victorian Art

CLASSIC This morning, take a Guided Walk through the colorful flower market. Afterward, focus on the life and work of Mother Teresa who dedicated her life to helping the city’s poor. Stop at her former home prior to visiting Nirmala Shishu Bhavan, a home for orphaned children run by Missionaries of Charity which she founded in 1950. 

CLASSIC After lunch, join a Guided Visit to the Victoria Memorial Museum. Built to commemorate Queen Victoria, the museum houses a beautiful collection of paintings, textiles, weapons, and other artifacts from the Victorian era.

Tonight, a farewell Dance Performance is presented on the ship. (B,L,D)

Day 18 KOLKATA (DISEMBARKATION)
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)
Tour Map
River Cruise Highlights
  • Day 1 Cochin, India: Welcome to India
  • Day 2 Cochin: Visit the Kerala Folklore Museum; cruise on the backwaters of Kerala
  • Day 3 Cochin–Mumbai: Fly to Mumbai
  • Day 4 Mumbai: Guided Tour to see Victoria Terminus, the Gateway of India, and a traditional open-air laundromat; witness Mumbai’s fascinating lunch box delivery system; visit Mani Bhavan
  • Day 5 Mumbai–Varanasi: Fly to Varanasi. Witness the Ganga Aarti
  • Day 6 Varanasi–Delhi: Watch the Hindus’ devotional bathing ritual; fly to Delhi.
  • Day 7 Delhi: See Red Fort, Jama Masjid, India Gate, and the Presidential Palace; rickshaw ride through Chandni Chowk bazaar
  • Day 8 Delhi–Agra: Sightseeing including visits to Qutab Minar, Humayun’s Tomb, and Gurudwara Bangla Sahib; drive to Agra
  • Day 9 Agra: Sunrise visit to Taj Mahal; Agra Fort; sunset visit to Taj Mahal
  • Day 10 Agra–Jaipur: Drive to Jaipur; afternoon sightseeing including visits to the City Palace and Jantar Mantar
  • Day 11 Jaipur: Morning Excursion to Amber Fort; afternoon sightseeing including visits to the City Palace and Jantar Mantar
  • Day 12 Jaipur–Kolkata (Embarkation): Fly to Kolkata; onboard welcome reception
  • Day 13 Kalna: Sightseeing by rickshaw; visit a temple complex to receive blessings from a priest and visit a muslin-weaver’s home
  • Day 14 Matiari: Walking tour of village to interact with brass craftsmen and see traditional sweets being made
  • Day 15 Murshidabad. Excursion to Azimganj & Jiaganj: Travel by electric rickshaw to see saree weaving in Jiaganj; Guided Walk through Azimganj to see the local crafts market, visit Bari Kothi; silver and gold making demonstration
  • Day 16 Mayapur–Guptipara: Morning visit to the ISKCON temple in Mayapur; rickshaw ride through Guptipara to see pottery-making and a farmer’s home
  • Day 17 Kolkata: Guided walk through the flower market; visit Mother Teresa’s Home, a home for orphaned children, and the Victoria Memorial Museum; farewell dance performance
  • Day 18 Kolkata: End of vacation
All This Included
Enter a world of color, culture, and cherished spiritual tradition of India. Your guided tour of India and Ganges River cruise begins in the Southern India city of Cochin, where you’ll take a cruise on the backwaters of Kerala to witness life along the scenic and serene waterways. Explore Mumbai, home to “Bollywood,” and Varanasi, to watch the Hindu’s devotional bathing in the Ganges.

Continue on to the bustling city of Delhi. You’ll tour the city with your expert local guide, and take a rickshaw ride through the Chandni Chowk bazaar—brimming with everything from silver and spices to saris of every color. You’ll visit Qutub Minar—the world’s largest brick minaret, and see Delhi’s largest Sikh gurudwara (house of worship), before traveling to Agra—site of the legendary Taj Mahal.

Join a sunrise excursion to the Taj Mahal—the iconic memorial build by Moghul emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife. More than 20 years in the making, the Taj Mahal stands as the pinnacle of love’s devotion, and is also yours to experience at sunset if you wish.

In Jaipur, see the famous Palace of the Winds, and tour the spectacular Amber Fort, before flying to Kolkata to board your Ganges river cruise. The holy river of Hinduism, the Ganges, slowly courses through one of the world’s most fertile and populated areas. Along its banks, human life is connected to its waters and you’ll get a glimpse of life away from India’s big cities. See muslin weaving in Kalna and candy making in Matiari. Stop in Murshidabad for an excursion to Azimganj and Jiaganj—to tour a historic mansion and see a gold and silver making demonstration You’ll also visit the fascinating Hare Krishna headquarters in Mayapur, and visit Saint Mother Teresa’s former home upon your return to Kolkata.

All of this and more await you on this once-in-a-lifetime guided tour of India and a Ganges River cruise.

Ship Amenities:
  • Air-conditioned indoor lounge
  • Outdoor lounge with shade system & lounge chairs
  • Spacious, open-seating Panorama Dining Room
  • Bar serving premium spirits, wine & complimentary coffee, tea, soft drinks, and local beer/spirits throughout the day
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi access in the lounges (where signal is available)
  • Spa treatment room
  • Fitness Room
  • Library and games
  • Non-smoking staterooms & ship interior
Ship Dining:
  • Spacious, open-seating Panorama Dining Room
  • Chef-prepared onboard meals with regional cuisine and familiar favorites
  • Seasonal recipes featuring the freshest local ingredients
  • Vegetarian options available with all meals
  • Daily early-riser coffee & tea
  • Full breakfast buffet with live cooking station
  • Lunch buffet with live cooking station showcasing local specialties served by our Head Chef
  • Four-course à la carte dinners with choice of salads, soups, entrées, dessert or cheese
  • Complimentary wine, local beer/spirits, soft drinks, coffee & tea at lunch & dinner
Accommodations on this Tour
Cochin: Taj Malabar Resort & Spa
Mumbai: Taj Mahal Tower
Varanasi: Taj Ganges
New Delhi: Taj Palace
Agra: Taj Hotel & Convention Centre 
Jaipur: Jai Mahal Palace
Cruising: Cabin onboard Ganges Voyager
Notes
  • Cabin upgrades are available.
  • Dates and Prices do not include air travel.
  • Participation in this vacation requires purchase of the following flights from Avalon Waterways, not included in pricing: intra-vacation air segments only, starting at $777. Required intra-vacation air segment: Cochin/Mumbai; Mumbai/Varanasi; Varanasi/Delhi; Jaipur/Kolkata. Air prices were effective on April 7, 2020 and their availability is limited. At the time you purchase your tour, air prices may be higher.
    Port charges: $93.
  • Gratuities to Local Guides & drivers are included. Gratuities for drivers and local hosts on extensions are not included and should be paid locally.
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions

* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines. Sorry, we are unable to offer air from countries other than the U.S. However, for those international customers who are able to arrange their own transportation to the trip origination city, we are able to offer the land/cruise portion of the package at the price quoted.



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