Temples, Taj & Tigers
Our epic journey starts in the holy Sikh city of Amritsar where we wander the halls of its renowned Golden Temple. In Delhi we discover both sides of the capital, the grand boulevards of New Delhi and the chaotic Old City. We then make tracks to Agra to spend time at the magnificent Taj Mahal and explore the nearby preserved 'ghost city' of Fatehpur Sikri. We spend two nights at Ranthambore National Park; known for its frequent tiger sightings, we've a good chance of coming face to face with these magnificent creatures as well as some of the park's other fauna: sambar deer, leopard, crocodile, sloth bear and about 300 species of birds.
Goa & the 'Deccan'
An overnight fast train carries us along the western seaboard to the bustling streets of Mumbai, India's economic powerhouse, before we continue south to Goa. With tropical sandy beaches and plantations of coconuts and spices, it's a good spot to slow down the pace for a couple of days. Our next train climbs away from the coast across the jungled foothills of the Western Ghats and onto the Deccan Plateau, where we spend time in Bangalore, the 'city of gardens'. In the princely city of Mysore we visit the Maharajah's Palace and giant Nandi Bull before ascending to the scenic hill station of Udhagamandalam (Ooty) at 2268m.
Kerala's Kochi & Backwaters
We make a breathtaking descent from the Nilgiri Hills on the narrow gauge toy train and continue to the coast at Kochi where we've time to explore the streets inside the old Portuguese Fort; an eclectic mix of churches, old synagogue, Chinese fishing nets and a Dutch palace! We soak up the atmosphere of the unique 'backwaters', a maze of villages and islands linked by rivers and canals, aboard a coir-roofed houseboat, gliding through waterways and quiet lotus-filled lagoons. We also have the chance to see Kathakali dancers interpret the demons and heroes of the great Indian epics.
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