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 Delhi to Kochi (Cochin)

  • Delhi: 2 nights

  • Agra: 1 night

  • Jaipur: 2 nights

  • Kochi: 2 nights

  • Munnar: 1 night

  • Thekkady: 2 nights

  • Alleppey: 1 night

  • Kumarakom: 2 nights

About this independent tour

This is a private itinerary including a car and driver and local English-speaking tour guide for sightseeing. The itinerary is completely flexible, so you can choose your own number of nights, change accommodation, add excursions and extend your holiday.

Recommended highlights

DELHI In India's bustling capital, you'll divide your time between the contrasting Old and New Delhi quarters. In Old Delhi, you'll visit fantastic landmarks including the historic Red Fort, the Chandni Chowk bazaar and the resplendent Jama Masjid, the biggest mosque in India. In New Delhi, take a driving tour around the city taking in sights such as the impressive colonial-era Presidential Palace and visit Humayun's Tomb which is considered a precursor to the Taj Mahal.

AGRA Arrive at Agra on the Gaitman Express train ready to explore one of India's most popular destinations, home to the renowned Taj Mahal. During your time here, you'll visit the cultural wonder at both sunrise and sunset, notably the best times of the day to see the radiant beauty of the stunning white marble mausoleum. You'll also visit the Red Fort of Agra, a 16th Century red sandstone monument that was once the main residence of the Mughal Empire.

JAIPUR Continue to Jaipur, Rajasthan's capital, via the deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri, the ancient capital of the Mughals. You'll spend a full day exploring Jaipur, visiting the beautiful Amber Fort, a sprawling historic palace complex situated within the Aravalli Hills before returning to the city to visit the stunning City Palace complex and the royal observatory of Jantar Mantar.

KOCHI Fly to colourful and multicultural Kochi, the gateway to Southern India and the Keralan backwaters. Visit the rather understated Dutch Palace and Jewish Synagogue, both remnants of Kochi's colonial history before heading down to the waterfront in Fort Cochin to witness the iconic Chinese fishing nets.

MUNNAR Sitting at 1,600 metres above sea level, the town of Munnar was once a south Indian summer resort of the British Government. It is surrounded by sprawling tea plantations, one of which you will visit during your time here.

THEKKADY Travel south to Thekkady, gateway to Periyar National Park,and experience Kerala's incredible natural landscapes, as well as its wildlife. Periyar National Park is a notable wildlife reserve and you'll embark on a soft trek along some of the national park's nature trails accompanied by a trained tribal guide. This area is also famous for its spice plantations and no visit would be complete without a plantation tour and the opportunity to learn about the use of spice in Keralan cuisine.

ALLEPPEY Undoubtedly the highlight of any trip to Kerala is cruising along the famous backwaters on a houseboat. After boarding, you'll wind your way through the maze of waterways and discover that this is a truly relaxing way to travel.

KUMARAKOM The village of Kumarakom, which sits on the edge of Vembanad Lake, is the ideal place to spend a couple of relaxing nights after your cruise.

Tailor your tour

We've built this itinerary to give you an idea about how you could combine India's famous Golden Triangle with laidback southern India for an itinerary of contrasts giving you a great overview of this vast country. And as with all our independent tours, it's completely flexible.

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. In the south, CGH Earth’s hotels, Spice Village and Coconut Lagoon, are some of our favourites for their responsible tourism practices.

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. This itinerary will probably be full-on enough for most people, but if you want to cover even more of India we’d recommend a Keralan beach break.