Our experts say
Travel through India and meet the masters of traditional music and dance, enjoying a range of performances and plenty time to explore.
The history of music and dance in India is as old as India itself, as traditions have been passed down from guru to student through the millennia. On this specially designed holiday you travel to all corners of the country to experience Sufi devotional music in Delhi, Indian classical music in ancient Varanasi, Kathak dance in Lucknow, Rajasthani folk music and dance in Jaipur, Bharatanatyam and traditional dance forms in Chennai, and the Kathakali epic story-plays of Kerala. Along the way you get to meet the experts, learn some of the history of music and dance, and enjoy exquisite performance.
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Day 1: Take to the skies
Take the overnight flight from wherever you are to New Delhi.
Day 2: Welcome to India!
We will meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel to settle in and get ready for the upcoming musical adventure. Put the TV or the radio on and get a feel for the rhythms of India.
Day 3: Old Delhi & Sufi devotional music
Spend the day looking around Delhi with your private guide, including sights like the magnificent mosque Jama Masjid, the tomb of the emperor Humayun, and the medieval tower at the Qutab Minar.
In the evening we will take you to a very special place, the Sufi shrine of Nizammudin Dargah. Winding alleyways lead through this very old part of town to the shrine, where you might see musicians perform devotional qawwali music – poetic Persian and Urdu vocals accompanied by harmonium and percussion which frequently throws the faithful into trancelike states.
Day 4: Varanasi & Classical Hindustani Music
We will pick you up from your hotel and take you to Delhi airport for the 1-hour flight to Varanasi.
Varanasi is the oldest city on earth. It's a real centre of traditional classical Indian culture and the home town of Ravi Shankar. The sound of the sitar here is as ubiquitous as the holy river Ganges. This evening we will take you to a mesmerising Shehnai recital –the traditional wind instrument similar to the western oboe.
Day 5: Varanasi
An early morning boat ride on the river Ganges is a magical experience to watch the sun set over the holy city, and see the faithful come down to the perform their prayers on the river bank. Later on we will take you for a walking tour of the old city and on to the deer park where the Buddha once preached.
Day 6: Lucknow
We will drive you about 5 hours to Lucknow to check in to your hotel and settle in. Over the centuries the generous patronage of Lucknow’s rulers has resulted in a refined culture of traditional music and dance. It was here that the renowned classical dance form of Kathak found its most graceful expression, and this evening we have arranged for a Kathak dancer to present a lecture and demonstration for you.
Day 7: Lucknow
Enjoy a private guided tour of the golden city of Lucknow, visiting the Bara Imambara, Rumi Darwaza and the Lucknow Residency.
Day 8: Agra
Spend the morning at leisure and in the afternoon we will drop you at the railway station to board the Shatabdi Express train to Tundla, near Agra, (15:35/19:15). We will meet you at Agra and take you to your hotel.
Day 9: Jaipur
Enjoy sunrise at the Taj Mahal before being whisked off by car to Jaipur, stopping on the way at the deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri – here you might just hear some qawwali devotional music performed at the shrine. Check into your hotel at Jaipur, where dinner is usually accompanied by traditional Rajasthani music and dance.
Day 10: Jaipur
Head out with your guide to enjoy some of the many sites Jaipur has to offer, including the magnificent Amcer Fort, the City Palace and the Palace of Winds.
Day 11: Jaipur
This morning we will take you for a walking tour of the old city and its artisan markets. Spend the afternoon at leisure, and later on we have arranged an evening of Rajasthani folk music and dance for you.
Day 12: Chennai
We will drive you to the airport for your flight to Chennai via Mumbai. Check into your hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at your own leisure.
Day 13: Chennai, Kalakshetra & Mahabalipuram
This morning we will drive to you to Kalakshetra, a centre founded by legendary dancer Rukmini Devi Arundale and dedicated to Indian arts. Here you can walk around the campus, watch classes, visit the museum and learn about the various traditions represented here. Later drive south down the coastal path to the ancient temples on the beach at Mahabalipuram.
Day 14: Chennai
Spend today exploring Hindu temples and the British heritage of Chennai with your guide, and in the evening return to Kalakshetra for a cultural performance, usually 6:30 to 8:30pm
Day 15: Backwaters of Kerala
We will drive you to the airport for your 1-hour flight to Cochin, where you'll be picked up and driven 2 hours to your houseboat on the backwaters of Kerala. Spend the day cruising the backwaters, and meet your on-board chef to learn about and sample traditional Keralan cuisine. Thus satisfied, spend a peaceful night on your air-conditioned houseboat.
Day 16: Fort Cochin & Kathakali
Disembark your houseboat and we will drive you 2 hours to Fort Cochin – on the way stop for a traditional lunch served on a banana leaf. Check in and enjoy a leisurely day exploring this charming old harbour town. In the evening we will take you for a performance of Kathakali, the region’s traditional music and dance form.
Day 17: Fort Cochin
Enjoy a private guided tour of Cochin with its European churches, Jewish synagogues, Indian palaces, and Chinese fishing nets. Spend the afternoon at leisure for some last minute shopping.
Day 18: Fly home
Check out of your hotel before 12 noon and we will drop you at the airport for your return flight home.
Duration: 17 nights
Location: India, Indian Subcontinent
Our 'Rhythm of India' itinerary includes: International flights (price based on London), internal flights, accommodation, daily breakfast, transfers & drives in chauffeur-driven AC vehicle, sightseeing and activities as indicated.
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