Ultimate Tour of India: North and South India Tour

Spirit of India’s North and South India Tour is expertly crafted and comprehensive. Experience the significant historic sites, cultural traditions and stunning environments of both North and South India.

North India

Our Ultimate Tour of India begins in North India. This region contains some of the most well-known monuments and temples. North India is the original source of various painting styles, sculpture and textiles.

Experience Varanasi, one of the oldest living cities in the world and a sacred Hindu pilgrimage.

Just 20 minutes drive from Varanasi,  we visit Sarnath, the spiritual center of Buddhism. You can stand on the very spot where the Buddha gave his first sermon. Walk the path to see the ruins of the small brick monastery where Buddha lived during his visits.

Of course we visit the famous and fabulous Taj Mahal!

Additionally, explore Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. Tour Jaipur’s amazing opulent palace. In the evening attend a traditional puja at Ganesh Temple.

Besides Jaipur, we visit lovely Udaipur, the desert town Jodhpur and Narlai, an enchanting village. The small holy village of Pushkar comes alive during the Pushkar Camel Fair each Fall.

Visit the magnificent Ranakpur Jain Temples built in 1439. The temples are adorned with carved ceilings and arches decorated with friezes depicting scenes from the lives of the Jain saints.

Onward to Udaipur, a pleasant city that surrounds two lakes. Tour the City Palace, a blend of stern Rajput military architecture on the outside and lavish Mughal-inspired decorative art on the inside.

Enjoy a traditional music and dance performance at a gorgeous 18th century haveli that has been converted into a museum showcasing Mewar art and architecture.


Next up is Mumbai. Pulsating, Alive, On the Move, Vibrant, Fun — this is Mumbai, or as it is still frequently referred to– Bombay.

The most modern city in India, it captures the spirit of the changing pace set by liberalization and modernization. Once a cluster of seven islands, Mumbai was presented to King Charles II in 1661 as part of the dowry when he married Princess Catherine de Braganza of Portugal.

Since independence, Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra state, has transformed itself with many different communities, reflecting a cosmopolitan and trendy atmosphere.

Mumbai represents the ever-changing face of today’s India — the old scenes, steeped in Indian customs and values, coupled with the dynamic new scenes of the city.

Besides the usual museums and markets, in Mumbai we have the unique opportunity to witness real-life in action at lunch time.  Observe up-close as the dabba walas deliver thousands of lunch boxes to the corporate offices using an ancient and elaborate coding system. It’s amazing!

More info: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170114-the-125-year-old-network-that-keeps-mumbaigoing

I highly recommend seeing the movie The Lunch Box about the Dabbawalas https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENgWVvQYCxg

A visit to Mumbai would not be complete without a tour of bollywood!

South India

South India is known for its exquisite beauty, a slower paced lifestyle and the Dravidian temples mostly found in Tamil Nadu.

Our first stop is Cochin. One of the finest natural harbors on the Arabian Sea Coast of India, Cochin, an ancient harbor town now renamed Kochi. It has been a port of call for foreign traders from very early times.

Embark on a cruise of backwaters of Kerala. We stay overnight at the wonderful Philip Kutty’s Farm, a small homestead on an island in the midst of the Kerala backwaters.

And yet another highlight of South India–attending the evening puja at  Meenakshi Temple in Madurai. This is an exciting affair with much fanfare including musicians, temple singers, elephants and priests.

Travel to beautiful Mahabalipuram also known as Mamallapuram by the Bay of Bengal. Enjoy the famous Shore Temple (Dravidian style of architecture), a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The comprehensive nature of our Ultimate India itinerary allows ample time for extensive exploration of each city and a true appreciation of the history and majesty of India.

Fall tour includes Pushkar Camel Fair.

Travel to India with Spirit of India for the richly rewarding, unique travel experience of our Ultimate India tour or speak to our travel specialists to create your own custom tour experience.

  • Experience the cultural highlights of both North India and South India.
  • Explore well-known highlights such as Taj Mahal and the majestic cities of Rajasthan
  • Visit gems like the temples at Khajuraho and the deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri.
  • Visit Varanasi, holy pilgrimage site for Hindus
  • Interact with local villagers and enjoy farm fresh meals in the serene Kerala backwaters
  • Attend the sacred ceremony at Meenakshi Temple in Madurai
  • Tour Kanchipuram, known as the Golden City of a Thousand Temples
  • Attend the Pushkar Camel Faire on the November tour

View A Detailed Itinerary:

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Worshipers at a South India temple

  • 1
    Day 1-2: Meet in Delhi

    We begin with a tour of Old and New Delhi including Jama Masjid (principal Mosque of Old Delhi), Qutab Minar (Tallest Minaret in India, UNESCO World Heritage Site), India Gate, House of Parliament, President's House, Gandhi memorial, the National Handicrafts and Handlooms Museum and other cultural activities.

  • 2
    Day 3-4: Varanasi (aka Benaras & Kashi)

    An early morning start for a sunrise boat ride on the Ganges River to witness reverant Hindu rituals. In the evening, attend Aarti puja (fire ceremony) on the banks of the Ganges. We also visit Sarnath and Deer Park where Gautama Buddha first taught Dharma.

  • 3
    Day 5-6: Khajuraho - Orchha - Gwalior

    Marvel at the 9th-11th century temples from the Chandela period. The temples are illustrated with remarkable sculptures of the classic erotic literature, the Kama Sutra.

    En-route to Gwailor the Ultimate tour of India includes a visit to Orchha the capital of the kingdom of the Bundella Rajputs from 1531 to 1783. Upon arrival at Gwalior the group will overnight at the 120-year-old Usha Kiran Palace.

  • 4
    Day 7: Agra

    Guided tours of Itimad-ud-Daula's Tomb (Mughal mausoleum), the tomb of Akbar the Great (Sikandra), and UNESCO World Heritage Site listed Agra Fort during the day. At sunset you will enjoy an awe inspiring viewing of the Taj Mahal.

  • 5
    Day 8-9: Fatephur Sikri - Jaipur

    Tour the fabulous Fatehpur Sikri complex (built in 1571).

    Afterwards, continue to Jaipur where we visit Amer Fort (also known as Amber Fort) the old capital of the Kachwaha Rajput Maharajas, as well as the City Palace, Crystal Gallery, Jantar Mantar (a fascinating complex of structures architecturally designed as astronomical instruments) and finally browse the colorful market dominated by the elegant facade of the Hawa Mahal.

  • 6
    Day 10-11: Pushkar-Jodhpur

    Enjoy an overnight in this small authentic town which breaks up the drive and provides some independent time to further explore or relax. Fall tour attends Pushkar Camel fair.

    Next day we depart for Jodphur where we visit the majestic fort, bustling bazaars and enjoy a sunset camel ride in the picturesque sand dunes of the Thar Desert.

  • 7
    Day 12: Narlai

    A stop in Narlai, an enchanting village located amidst dramatic boulders and ancient temples. Overnight at the restored 15th century home of Marwar nobility.

  • 8
    Day 13-14: Udaipur

    An en-route visit to the magnificent Ranakpur Jain Temples. In Udaipur, visit the City Palace complex, the crystal gallery of Fateh Prakash Palace, miniature painting studios and bazaars. Enjoy a boat ride on Lake Pichola at sunset.

  • 9
    Day 15-16: Mumbai

    A short flight to Mumbai and tour this vibrant city. Two full days touring including the Dhobi Ghat, Malabar Hill, Price of Wales Museum, Gandhi Museum and Crawford Market.

    Next day, we embark on the Dabbawala tour to see the fascinating process of lunch delivery to office workers. In late afternoon we engage in a bollywood tour and end the day with attending a bollywood film.

  • 10
    Day 17-18: Cochin

    Tour the vibrant harbor town of Cochin including St. Francis Church, the Dutch Palace, and the Chinese Fishing Nets along Vypeen Island. We will also enjoy a Kathakali dance performance.

  • 11
    Day 19: Kerala Backwaters

    A short boat cruise to Philip Kutty's Farm, a small homestead of waterfront villas located on an island in the Kerala backwaters. Enjoy the serene atmosphere as we observe village life, enjoy organic home cooking and hospitality from a wonderful family. Your stay at Philip Kutty's Farm includes a day cruise on the Kerala backwaters in a traditional riceboat.

  • 12
    Day 20: Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary

    Delight in the bountiful views of spice and tea plantations surrounding the Park and enjoy relaxed wildife viewing including wild elephants and exotic Indian wildlife.

  • 13
    Day 21: Madurai

    Tour Meenakshi Amman Temple and attend evening puja where Lord Shiva is carried in a palanquin accompanied by musicians, temple singers and priests to the temple of his consort, Parvati. This is an authentic ritual, not produced as a tourist attraction. A really exciting and rewarding experience.

  • 14
    Day 22: Mahabalipuram >

    En-route we stop at Dakshin Chitra, a unique Heritage Centre. Visit the beautiful Shore temples and the Five Rathas (UNESCO sites).

  • 15
    Day 23: Kanchipuram-Chennai-Depart -

    Visit the most important temples of Kanchipuram, (UNESCO) one of the seven sacred Hindu cities of India. Also known for its particularly fine silk saris (embellished with stunning patterns) we will stop by a weaver's home to observe the weaving technique and interact with the artisan.

  • Trip Length

    23-day trip begins in Delhi and ends in Chennai

  • Dates

    October 31-November 22, 2024 with Pushkar Camel Fair

  • Land Cost

    Nov 2024: $6600 based on min 4 people; single room supplement: $2265
    2025: $TBA

  • Accommodations

    5-star and heritage hotels

  • Group Size

    6-12 guests

  • Included Meals

    All breakfasts, 9 lunches, 14 dinners

  • Reading List

    Suggested Reading India General
    Suggested Reading South India

  • Trip Preparations

    Trip Preparations

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Delhi, India

Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India

Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India

Jaipur - Agra Road, Gurki Mandi, Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, India

Jodhpur Ghat, Pushkar, Rajasthan, India

Narlai, Rajasthan, India

Udaipur, Rajasthan, India

Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Cochin, Kerala, India

Kerala Backwaters, Kottankulangara, Alappuzha, Kerala, India

Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sancurary, Kerala, India

Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India

Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

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