Colorful India & the Ganges River with Southern India & Varanasi 2020 - 18 Day River Cruise Cochin to Kolkata
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Colorful India & the Ganges River with Southern India & Varanasi 2020

18 Day River Cruise Cochin to Kolkata

Starting at $7,029


Destinations & Sightseeing
Itinerary and Meals
Accomodations

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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 savor authentic Indian tea, as well as stunning gold and silversmith workshops. You’ll meet saree weavers, goldsmiths, and pottery makers. 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.



Destination & Sightseeing

Day 1 Cochin, India: Welcome to India
Day 2 Cochin: Sightseeing including the Chinese Fishing nets, walking tour through Jewish Quarter, and Kerala Folklore Museum; cruise on the backwaters of Kerala
Day 3 Cochin–Mumbai: Fly to Mumbai.
Day 4 Mumbai: See the Gateway of India; visits to the Hanging Gardens, Mumbai Museum, and Mani Bhavan.
Day 5 Mumbai–Varanasi: Fly to Varanasi. Witness the Ganga Aarti
Day 6 Varanasi–Delhi: Watch the Hindus’ devotional bathing ritual; excursion to Sarnath; 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: Excursion to Amber Fort; time at leisure; cultural performance in evening
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: Walking tour of Azimganj to see gold and silversmith workshops; sample tea in a local home; travel by electric rickshaw to see saree weaving in Jiaganj
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, the Calcutta Rescue, and the Victoria Memorial Museum; farewell dance performance
Day 18 Kolkata: End of vacation

ITINERARY

Day 1 COCHIN, INDIA
Welcome to Cochin, the “Gateway to Kerala.” Located on the Arabian Sea in Kerala, India’s southernmost state, Cochin is the perfect starting point to explore the region’s natural beauty. Your hotel room is available for mid-afternoon check-in

Day 2 COCHIN
Your Guided Tour starts with the Chinese Fishing Nets that are the livelihood of many fishermen in the area, followed by a walk through the Jewish quarter. Next, visit the Kerala Folklore Museum which aims to preserve and educate people about the unique culture and heritage of South India. This afternoon, enjoy an unforgettable Cruise on the backwaters of Kerala. Explore and witness local life along these serene waterways surrounded by lush palm trees and paddy fields

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
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Day 4 MUMBAI
Your Guided Tour starts at the Gateway of India, Mumbai’s most famous monument commemorating the visit of Queen Mary. Then, drive along Marine Drive, a seafront promenade, and see a traditional Dhobi Ghat (open-air laundromat). You will also visit the Hanging Gardens, Mumbai Museum, and Mani Bhavan, the former residence of Mahatma Gandhi. The remainder of the day is at your leisure
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Day 5 MUMBAI—VARANASI
Fly to Varanasi, the holiest of Hindu pilgrim cities, situated on the banks of the sacred Ganges River. Early this evening, witness the Ganga Aarti (spiritual worship) on the ghats (steps) leading down to the Ganges
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Day 6 VARANASI—DELHI
Around dawn, board a Boat 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. Afterwards, a Guided Excursion takes you to nearby Sarnath, the “Cradle of Buddhism,” where Buddha first spoke of his philosophy. Later fly to Delhi
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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
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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 overlooking the Taj Mahal
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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 at sunset is included
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Day 10 AGRA—JAIPUR
Palaces and Rare Printings in the Pink City Travel to Jaipur—the “Pink City” that was painted pink for the Prince of Wales’ 1876 visit. 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 and the famous Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds). The evening is at your leisure
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Day 11 JAIPUR
A Maharaja’s Marble Palace 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. Spend the afternoon at leisure. DISCOVERY Tonight, and enjoy a festive dinner with a Cultural Performance
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Day 12 JAIPUR—KOLKATA (EMBARKATION)
Welcome to West Bengal. Your Ship Awaits. Fly to Kolkata this morning to transfer to your ship. This afternoon, get acquainted with the ship prior to your welcome reception this evening. AFTERNOON/EVENING CRUISE TO KALNA
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Day 13 KALNA
Rituals, Rickshaws, and Muslin Weavers DISCOVERY Ride on cycle rickshaws during your Guided Tour 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
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Day 14 MATIARI
Shining Brass and Sweet Shops DISCOVERY Join a Morning Walk in the brass-making village of Matiari to see and interact with the craftsmen there. You’ll also see traditional sweets being made. Enjoy a free afternoon onboard your ship. AFTERNOON/EVENING CRUISE TO MURSHIDABAD
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Day 15 MURSHIDABAD. EXCURSION TO AZIMGANJ & JIAGANJ
Silversmiths, Tea Service, and Silk Sarees DISCOVERY Enjoy a short Guided Walk through Azhimganj to see the local gold and silversmith workshops. You’ll also visit a local landlord’s mansion for authentic Indian tea, then travel by electric richshaw in Jiaganj to see the art of Baluchari saree weaving. Relax this afternoon free onboard your ship. AFTERNOON/EVENING SAILING TO MAYAPUR
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Day 16 MAYAPUR—GUPTIPARA
A Holy Pilgrimage on the Ganges CLASSIC Join a Morning Walk through the pilgirm’s bazaar and visit the ISKCON temple, and meet and interact with a Krishna leader. You’ll also visit a goshala (rescue shelter for cows). DISCOVERY This afternoon, take a Rickshaw (Toto) Ride, and explore the village of Guptipara to see pottery and idol-making. You’ll also take an Escorted Visit to a farmer’s home and interact with the family there. AFTERNOON/EVENING SAILING TO KOLKATA
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Day 17 KOLKATA
Flowers, Faith, and Victorian Art CLASSIC This morning, take a Guided Walk through the colorful flower market. Afterward, stop to see Mother Teresa’s former home and the Calcutta rescue. 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
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Day 18 KOLKATA (DISEMBARKATION)
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.

Accommodations

CochinMumbaiVaranasiDelhiAgraJaipur
Taj Malabar Resort & Spa
Superior First-Class



Willingdon Island Cochin India

Set on the man made Willingdon Island, the Taj Malabar, Cochin has breathtaking view of Cochin's famous natural harbor and backwaters. A seamless blend of old world charm and new age luxuries, the hotel promises the finest and most unique leisure experiences. It is the perfect place to start any journey through Kerala.
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