Combine the classic northern sights of cities and palaces with the southern tropics on this holiday of contrasts. Get caught up in the buzz of Delhi and visit the Taj Mahal before slowing down the pace with time to relax in tea-scented hills and pretty backwaters.

13nights INDEPENDENT TOUR

Suggested route & duration

13 nights from Delhi
• Delhi: 2 nights
• Agra: 1 night
• Jaipur: 2 nights
• Kochi (Cochin): 2 nights
• Munnar: 1 night
• Thekkady: 2 nights
• Alappuzha (Alleppey): 1 night
• Kumarakom: 2 nights

About this independent tour

Why you’ll love this itinerary
• Experience the north and south which are so different that they might feel like two separate holidays
• See the epic Taj Mahal with a stay in Agra
• Stay at CGH Earth’s eco-conscious hotels in Thekkady and Kumarakom
• Explore impressive forts in Agra and Jaipur
• Cruise along Kerala’s backwaters on a traditional houseboat

Suggested itinerary details
Day 1: Delhi
Arrive in Delhi. Visit landmarks like Jama Masjid, Raj Ghat and Humayun’s Tomb. Stay 2 nights at Maidens Hotel.

Day 3: Agra Drive to Agra. See the monument to love, the Taj Mahal, and Agra Fort. Stay 1 night at Trident Agra.

Day 4: Jaipur Explore the deserted city, Fatehpur Sikri before arriving in Jaipur. Head to Amber Fort, City Palace and the Jantar Mantar observatory. Stay 2 nights at Trident Jaipur.

Day 6: Kochi (Cochin) Fly to Kochi, a Keralan port city. Tick off iconic sights like the Dutch Palace and the Chinese fishing nets on a half-day tour. Stay 2 nights at Fragrant Nature.

Day 8: Munnar Drive inland to Munnar, an old hill station surrounded by tea plantations. Stay 1 night at Windamere Estate.

Day 9: Thekaddy
Head south through the mountains to Thekkady. Visit a spice plantation and go on a natural walk in Periyar National Park. Stay 2 nights at Spice Village.

Day 11: Alappuzha (Alleppy)
Travel to the famous backwaters of Alappuzha. Cruise the backwaters on a traditional Keralan houseboat. Stay 1 night on a houseboat.

Day 12: Kumarakom Spend a couple of days in Kumarakom at an eco resort. Stay 2 nights at Coconut Lagoon.

Recommended highlights

Pink palace
Gaze up at Hawa Mahal, the honeycomb-style sandstone façade in Jaipur.

Majestic mausoleum

Visit one of the world’s most famous buildings, the Taj Mahal, on your overnight stay in Agra.

Colourful Kochi

Take a walk around colourful Kochi and learn about its multicultural heritage.

On the backwaters

Spend a night in one of Kerala’s houseboats on the iconic backwaters.

Tailor your tour

Make it your own
We’ve crafted this itinerary based on our own experiences and our customers’ feedback. It’s fully flexible, so talk to us and we can create your perfect trip.

Where to stay
We’ve picked a mix of great-value luxury and colonial-style hotels in the Golden Triangle; you can also upgrade to indulgent all-Oberoi stays (p16). In the south, CGH Earth’s hotels, Spice Village and Coconut Lagoon, are some of our favourites for their responsible tourism practices.

Unique experiences
We’ve included lots of guided experiences across the north and south including visits to the Taj Mahal and a tea plantation. Talk to us about anything else you’d want to do, like adding a trip to Jaipur’s markets or a taking a sunset cruise in Kerala.

How long
We think 5 nights travelling around the Golden Triangle and 8 nights in Kerala is the minimum amount of time you’ll want to spend in each place. You could easily stay longer with an extra night in Agra or stretch out your relaxation time in any of the southern spots.

Another stop
This itinerary will probably to be full-on enough for most people, but if you want to cover even more of India we’d recommend a Keralan beach break. Niramaaya Retreats is a blissful Relais & Châteaux retreat by the sea with a full menu of Ayurvedic treatments.

Good to know

2 complimentary bottles of mineral water will be provided each day.

When to go
• Winter (October and March) is the best time to do the Golden Triangle
• Kerala’s dry season (December to March) is its busiest season so book early; April and May are warmer and rainer but there are fewer visitors
• The middle of winter (December and January) can bring cold nights in Delhi and the occasional fog
• We don’t recommend travelling in monsoon season (July to mid-September) when flooding is common in the south