In the southern reaches of fabled India, tropical forests shade ancient temples and royal palaces, and colonial port towns punctuate long stretches of sandy coastline. Discover the cultural and historical layers of this storied country as you explore the bustling ports of Kochi, Mumbai, and Goa. Then head inland aboard the elegant Golden Chariot on a four-night train journey through remote landscapes that hold the once-great capitals of ancient empires.
Travel in the royal style of the maharajas aboard the Golden Chariot.
Visit four UNESCO World Heritage sites, from Hampi's haunting ruins to the rock-cut temples of Elephanta Island.
Cruise past the rice paddies and rural towns in the Kerala backwaters, named a National Geographic "place of a lifetime."
Savor the flavors of India while lunching in the home of a Brahmin priest in Mysore and on a visit to a Goan spice plantation.
Activity Level: Moderately Strenuous
This is a moderately strenuous expedition that requires participants to be in good health. There are some long drives of up to three and a half hours. Some excursions involve walking up to two miles a day, climbing stairs (often without handrails), and walking on narrow and sometimes crowded streets with uneven footing. Those who are prone to motion sickness may be uncomfortable on the train. This expedition is not suitable for anyone with a serious medical condition or limited mobility.
Itinerary - 15 Days
Days 1 & 2 — U.S./Kochi, India
Embark on an overnight flight to Kochi and settle into our hotel. Vivanta by Taj - Malabar (D)
Day 3 — Kochi India
Set out to discover the many layers of the city's colonial old town—a neighborhood of Dutch cottages, Portuguese churches, and British mansions. Visit the old Paradesi Synagogue and the Mattancherry Palace—a 1557 gift from the Portuguese to the raja of Kochi, and now a museum exhibiting Hindu murals and textiles. Continue to Alappuzha and board a kettuvallam, or houseboat, for a cruise amid the verdant rice paddies and rural fishing towns of the Kerala backwaters. Gather for a welcome reception with a private dance performance.
Vivanta by Taj - Malabar (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Bangalore/Mysore
Fly to Bangalore and continue by coach to Mysore, a city where remnants of a rich royal heritage still linger in palatial buildings, manicured gardens, and stately tree-lined boulevards. Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel (B,L,D)
Days 5 & 6 — Mysore/Nagarhole National Park
Visit the Mysore Palace, former seat of the maharajas of Mysore, and lunch in the home of a Brahmin family. Drive into the foothills of the Western Ghats to our hotel on the shores of the Kabbani River. Explore Nagarhole National Park, also known as Rajiv Gandhi National Park, a critical wildlife habitat best known for its large elephant population. Enjoy two safaris, by boat and by van, in search of native deer and bison species, colorful birds, and other aquatic and terrestrial wildlife. Visit with a National Geographic-supported researcher to learn about wildlife conservation issues in the Western Ghats. The Serai Kabini (B,L,D Daily)
Day 7 — Nagarhole National Park/Mysore
Spend the morning on a final game drive in Nagarhole National Park. After lunch, return to Mysore and settle into your cabin on board the Golden Chariot train. Golden Chariot train (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Hassan/Shravanabelagola/Belur
Arrive by train to Hassan. Take an excursion to the town of Shravanabelagola, crowned by the massive Bahubali. This monolithic sculpture depicting a Jain saint has been an important site for religious pilgrims since the 10th century. Travel to Belur, the onetime capital of the Hoysala dynasty, to explore its intricately carved 12th-century temple complex. Golden Chariot train (B,L,D)
Day 9 — Hampi
Spend the morning discovering Hampi, the former capital of the Vijayanagar empire. The city was a place of world-renowned splendor and wealth between the 14th and 16th centuries. Discover the ruins of Hampi's many temples, palaces, and public baths before continuing on our rail journey. Golden Chariot train (B,L,D)
Day 10 — Badami/Pattadakal
This morning, visit Badami, with stunning cave temples cut from the surrounding red sandstone. This beguiling city has hosted several dynasties over hundreds of years, with each ruler leaving a distinctive mark on the complex. Continue to Pattadakal to explore the monuments and temples of this coronation site for the mighty Chalukya empire—now a World Heritage site—and then return to the Golden Chariot for the last leg of our train journey. Golden Chariot train (B,L,D)
Day 11 — Goa/Panaji
Disembark the train in Goa, a small state on India's west coast laced with natural harbors and intersected by wide rivers—a base for the seafaring Portuguese settlers of the early 16th century. Explore the state capital of Panaji, strolling the colorful streets of the Latin quarter to see strong traces of Portuguese influence. Vivanta by Taj - Fort Aguada (B,L,D)
Day 12 — Goa
Visit the Basilica of Bom Jesus, which holds a silver casket containing relics of St. Francis Xavier. See the Institute Menezes Braganza, fostering cultural heritage, before visiting children at a local elementary school. Then continue to a local plantation to learn about spice cultivation and enjoy a traditional meal. Vivanta by Taj - Fort Aguada (B,L,D)
Days 13 & 14 — Goa/Mumbai
Fly to Mumbai, and learn about National Geographic grantee Krishna Tiwari's camera trapping studies aimed at mitigating human-leopard conflicts in a national park that lies entirely within the borders of Mumbai. Sail to Elephanta Island, home to magnificent rock-cut cave temples dedicated to Shiva. Visit Mani Bhavan, a home to Mahatma Gandhi, and continue to one of the largest dhobi ghats, a photogenic open-air laundering spot where locals gather to beat clothes against flogging stones in the age-old tradition. Taj Mahal Palace (B,L,D Daily)
Day 15 — Mumbai/U.S.
Transfer to the airport for your international departure. (B)
Pricing starts at $11,500 per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $3,350. International airfare to Kochi and from Mumbai is not included in the expedition cost. The
group flights within India are approximately $320 (subject to change).
Accommodations (hotels, tents, and cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. If you prefer single accommodations, and if such are available, you can pay a single supplement fee. If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we can assign a roommate of the same gender. If there is no one with whom you can share, a single supplement fee will apply.
See special terms and conditions for this adventure.