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India is a gourmet’s delight – practically every culinary experience here will be a gastronomically delightful one! Indian cuisine is distinguished by its sophisticated use of spices and herbs. It is also characterized by an assortment cooking techniques. The variety available is dazzling, with Mughal, Awadhi, Anglo-Indian and East Asian influences adding diversity to the melting pot. Enjoy cooking classes with local families and learn to differentiate between the myriad spices of India. Taste the quintessential Punjabi tandoori chicken, and learn about traditional Begali cuisine – once you have eaten a subtly spiced Indian thali, nothing will taste the same again! Meanwhile, enjoy a sublime darshan at the Golden Temple, visit the Taj Mahal, and go boating on pristine Lake Pichola.
Delhi never ceases to surprise! You will be amazed at the buzz and bustle of the old city. You can take a Rickshaw Ride through Chandi Chowk, and savour the sights and smells. Equally riveting is Edwin Lutyen’s layout of modern New Delhi, with wide boulevards, low-rise government buildings, and formal gardens. A must on your itinerary are iconic monuments like the Qutub Minar, Red Fort, Jama Masjid, and Humayun’s Tomb, all precious relics of a rich history. But of course, it’s not about history alone. India’s clout as a modern-day republic is showcased in the imposing edifice of India Gate, the President House, and Rajghat, the spot where Mahatma Gandhi’s samadhi is erected. Enjoy an Interactive Cooking Session with a local host, where you will learn about the intricacies of Indian cuisine.
Take a Train or Flight from New Delhi to Amritsar
Amritsar is famously home to the Golden Temple – the most exalted of all Sikh shrines, drawing pilgrims from near and far for centuries. It stands in simple majesty, the gilded splendor of its paneling, dome and minarets shining in the morning light, silhouetted softly in the water and etched gently across the city escape. For the Sikh community the Harmandir Sahib Gurdwara Golden Temple is the final spiritual ‘vision,’ journey's end or beginning and, for every other community too, it is a shrine to be visited. Jalianwala Bagh is a solemn reminder of the 2000 Indians killed and wounded here in the firing by the British in 1919. The Wagah Border, something like the ‘Berlin wall of Asia’, lies 28 kilometers from Amritsar.
Dharamshala, which literally means The Holy Refuge, lies perched up on the high slopes in the upper reaches of Kangra valley. Dharamshala is better known as the Dalai Lama's abode and Tibet's Government-in-exile. The vestiges of the Raj dot the town - the church of St. John, with its well-maintained, old graveyard are reminiscent of a bygone era. McLeodGanj, or ‘Little Lhasa’ near Dharamshala is an altogether different world where the crisp breeze is broken by chanting of the hymns along with the tinkling of the prayer wheels. Enjoy a Pahari Cooking Class, where you learn about local Himachali food.
Take a Train or Flight from Amritsar to New Delhi.
Relax in New Delhi.
Agra is the magical city that conjures up romantic images… like Princess Diana sitting against the backdrop of the Taj Mahal. The city’s strategic location on the banks of the Yamuna has allowed the city to expand into one of India’s largest tourist hubs. It’s very well connected by road, rail, and air. In Agra, you’ll find history popping out of every nook and cranny, so make sure you take the time to look around in a leisurely manner. Also remember, your trip remains incomplete without the Agra Culture Walk – a golden opportunity to check out the markets, understand local customs, and truly appreciate the nuances of Agra’s unique identity.
Make sure you visit the Agra Fort and the historical city of Fatehpur Sikri. Every click is so Instagrammable, you’ll want to instantly post all the great moments of a memorable trip! Enroute you can visit Mathura, where you can see the birthplace of Krishna and sample typical Mathura treats.
No other city exudes royal privilege quite the way Jaipur does. Rajasthan’s Kachwaha dynasty ruled the erstwhile Jaipur state and built the entire city of Jaipur as per the principles of vaastu. The grand City Palace takes pride of place in the city-centre and its opulent interiors are open for public viewing. The Jantar Mantar Observatory and Hawa Mahal, commissioned by the ruling maharajas, demonstrate a superior understanding of architectural engineering and design. These attractions are very popular on the tourist circuit and definitely worth a visit. A traditional Lunch at Samode Haveli will introduce you to local food, and a Local Cooking Class will set you on the path to preparing a meal yourself!
Sahpura Bagh is the 30 acre lakeside estate of the Shahpura royal family. It is still home to the erstwhile Royal family, and you will have an opportunity to interact with them over drinks. A gentle family consisting of the present Raja and his two sisters, with his two nephews and their wives and children live in this garden retreat as the owners and are more than happy to entertain and swap tales with their guests. Enjoy a Jeep Safari in Shapura Bagh.
Once upon a time, when maharajas ruled, opulence was a way of life. They built great cities and palatial residences and patronized the arts. But rarely is grandeur on such a scale continued into the modern day. Udaipur’s City Palace manages to preserve its regal heritage and retain the grace of a bygone era. Its massive fortified structure is virtually a city within the city. Situated on its outer periphery, the famous Jagdish Temple too has a long heritage of welcoming devotees - for almost 400 years! No Udaipur trip is complete without a Boat Ride on Lake Pichola, so make sure you keep an evening free for the excursion. A superbly prepared Continental meal can be made available here by the renowned chefs of the Taj Group of Hotels, as a change from the Indian menus that have been offered earlier.
Take a Train or Flight from Udaipur to New Delhi.
Stroll through Mehrauli Park and enjoy tales of The Fall and Rise of Delhi - a fascinating insight into its past glory. Go to Sagar Ratna for a South Indian Dinner – you will be introduced to dosas, vadas, appams, parathas, chutneys, sambar, rasam and other South Indian dishes
Take a Train or Flight from New Delhi to Varanasi.
The soul capital of India, Vanarasi, is a destination that defies description. With an unbroken record of continuous habitation, it’s one of the world’s most ancient cities. The beautiful river banks of the Ganga – the ghats – draw pilgrims from all over India, all hoping that a dip in the holy river will ensure their salvation. The Kashi Experience, a must-do trip, is a walking tour gives you a chance to immerse yourself in the many subcultures of the city.
In Varanasi, a morning dip in the Ganges and a visit to the temple is generally followed by the consumption of a truly Banarasi breakfast – bright orange, hot, syrupy Jalebi! The traditional food in Varanasi is satvik (that which is pure, clean, wholesome and life giving). It is vegetarian, with the emphasis on flavours, and very rarely on presentation. What the city can truly call its own are milk and curd-based drinks: thandai and lassi. Banarasi paan is also famous here. Take a Boat Ride on the Ganga River and enjoy the uplifting experience. Also check out the century-old Banaras Hindu University, one of India’s oldest centres of learning. And the soul-searching doesn’t end there! A trip to the City of Sarnath is a must –it’s here that Buddha preached his first sermon after attaining nirvana.
Take a Train or Flight from Varanasi to Kolkata
This colourful city is home to a variety of cuisine. The widows of Bengal were not allowed to consume fish and meats; ever resilient, they created delectable vegetarian recipes — mochar ghonto (banana flower stir fry), chhanar dalna (cottage cheese curry), and aloo posto (potatoes infused with poppy seeds) are now the staple vegetarian Bengali cuisine. From the recipes of English wives and Indian cooks came the famous Kolkata Anglo-Indian cuisine - Captain's Chicken, Railway Mutton Curry, cutlets and mulligatawny soup. Seafood is never far from the Bengali kitchen – the recipes of ilish mach (Hilsa) curry and daab chingri (prawns in tender coconut), macher jhol and shorshe bata mach (mustard fish) are absolute treasures. Bengali sweets are in a league of their own! Try roshogolas, mishti doi and sandesh for starters. 6 Ballygunge Place and Oh Calcutta are great choices in Kolkata. Partake of a Cooking Experience in Kolkata, learning to cook local food. Learn about the Confluence of Cultures and the diverse expatriate communities of the city.
As the former capital of British India, Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) is rich with colonial-era architecture. Intellectually and artistically imbued, the city presents a picture of old traditions mingled with a newer, hipster culture amongst the millennials. It is home to innumerable temples, many of which are important pilgrimage sites. Visit the Dakshineshwar Temple, Birla Mandir, Belur Math and Kalighat Temple – of the several thousands of deities in the Hindu pantheon, you will find at least half in the temples of Kolkata!