India - Beyond Tandoori Chicken

Known the world over for its distinctive cooking methods and sophisticated use of spices, Indian cuisine is as diverse as the country’s history, landscapes and people. Learn how to cook – and eat – an array of dishes with cooking demonstrations, hands-on classes and, of course, meals. Explore several regional and ethnic traditions, delving into the differences in their ingredients, styles and influences – like how drought and war influenced the use of butter in Rajasthan and the origin of Kebabs, which are so famous in Awadhi Cuisine. Burn off calories with visits to key sites like the Qutab Minar and the Red Fort in Delhi, the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra and the City Palace complexes in Jaipur and Udaipur and search for tigers at Ranthambhore National Park.

Degree of Difficulty - Three Paws

Moderately Active. May involve some moderate hikes in forests and nature reserves, getting in and out of vehicles and rocking boats, and walking in uneven pavement in archaeological sites, in some cases in extreme weather conditions, heat, high elevation and humidity.

Weather Reports - When To Go

India is best visited during winter – October through March. During this time, there’s hardly ever any rain, and the days are warm – not hot – while the evenings are cool. During summer, it can be very hot, which is also the time of the monsoons, with a substantial amount of rainfall. It can be foggy in Delhi during the winter months. For our South India program, for best viewing of wildlife at Nagarahole, April/May is recommended, when the elephants congregate at the banks of the lake and can be seen in massive herds. It is warm, but the wildlife viewing warrants it. For our Wild India program, the parks close between June and mid-October when temperatures can soar to 120 degrees. For our Little Tibet program, this part of India is best visited June through September. Because of the high elevation and winding mountain roads, driving the rest of the year could be treacherous and it will be quite cold. June through September, the average temperature ranges from the low 60’s at night, to the high 80’s during the day. Delhi at this time of year will be quite hot and possibly rainy – temperature could be around 100 degrees.

Days 1/2/3/4 USA/DELHI

Depart from the USA and arrive in Delhi the next evening, where you are escorted to your luxury hotel. On the following days, tour Old and New Delhi, visiting such key sites as Qutab Minar, Humayun’s Tomb, India Gate, Jama Masjid, the magnificent Red Fort and Raj Ghat, the memorial and cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi. In the evenings, explore two very different cuisines: Punjabi and Mughlai. First, a Punjabi Chef will demonstrate how to marinate meats, cook chick peas and prepare various breads in the tandoor (clay) oven. Next day, visit Karim’s Restaurant and ancient Paranthe Walli Gali, where families have made mouth-watering stuffed breads for over a century. Watch a demonstration of Mughlai cooking, known for its complex flavors and heavy cream sauces. Each demonstration is followed by dinner at a local restaurant, where you can test your new knowledge on the menu! THE LALIT. (Meals Aloft; B,D; B,D)

Day 5 DELHI/AGRA

Drive to the medieval city of Agra, known for its glorious past and eclectic architecture. Visit the iconic Taj Mahal – built by Emperor Shah Jehan in memory of his favorite wife, this architectural wonder is also the ultimate tribute to love. Early this evening, an interactive Awadhi demonstration is planned. Awadhi Cuisine is famous for its Kebabs, breads and rich cuisine; watch as the chefs prepare various delicacies, and assist in making a few Kebabs. Then, feast on the delightful dinner you helped prepare. ITC MUGHAL. (B,D)

Days 6/7 AGRA/FATHEPUR SIKRI/BHARATPUR/RANTHAMBHORE

Visit the mile-wide Agra Fort, unique in its blending of Hindu and central Asian architectural styles. Head to the red sandstone city of Fatehpur Sikri, built in the late 16th century by the Mughal ruler, Emperor Akbar. After a brief tour, continue on to Bharatpur railway station and board the Jan Shatabdi Express to Ranthambhore National Park. With over 98,000 acres of mainly deciduous forest, Ranthambhore is dotted with ruins reflecting a bygone era, when it served as the private hunting grounds for the Maharajas of Jaipur. During early morning and afternoon safari expeditions, you may see a tiger hunting in full-view of your vehicle or wildlife such as jackal, mongoose, sloth bear, leopard, Sambar, marsh crocodile or any of 272 bird species. VIVANTA BY TAJ SAWAI MADHOPUR LODGE (B,D; B,L,D)

Days 8/9 RANTHAMBHORE/JAIPUR

Rise before dawn for one last safari. Return to the lodge for breakfast and then drive to Jaipur, the capital of vibrant Rajasthan. Next day, explore the “Pink City,” including Amber Fort, Hawa Mahal; the complex of the City Palace and Jantar Mantar. In the evening, enjoy a demonstration of Rajasthani cuisine followed by a dinner featuring the dishes you saw prepared. Rajasthani cuisine shows influences of the region’s many wars and scarce water supply; many dishes feature clarified butter and lentils and are cooked directly in wood fires giving them fantastic flavors and amazing aromas. ITC RAJPUTANA. (B; B,D)

Day 10 JAIPUR/UDAIPUR

Depart early this morning on a flight to Udaipur, where you are met and escorted to your luxurious lakeside hotel. In the afternoon, visit Devra, which means “Where God Resides,” and get ready for a fun cultural lesson: Accompanied by Ms. Jyoti Jasol, founder of Devra, learn all about sari culture and how to tie them as well as the many variations on the turban based on religion, region and class status. The house Chef will then take you to prepare mouth watering delicacies. While cooking, she will teach you about Indian food, spices, and the way the cuisine is planned around the year. Watch and help her cook and then you are invited to enjoy what you have helped prepare as dinner. FATEHGARH. (B,D)

Day 11 UDAIPUR

This morning visit the City Palace, built in 1725, which houses the Dilkhush Mahal, Sheesh Mahal – studded with glittering Belgium Mirrors, Moti Mahal and the Palace of Lord Krishna all of which are ornately decorated. Later visit the Jagdish Temple, built in 1651 and dedicated to Lord Vishnu, “The Preserver” in the Hindu Trinity of Gods. In the evening, enjoy a delightful boat ride on Lake Pichola and a Sound & Light show at the Manek Chowk at the City Palace Complex. Dine at one of the beautiful palace restaurants before returning to your hotel for the night. FATEHGARH. (B,D)

Days 12/13 UDAIPUR/DELHI/USA

Fly back to Delhi where a dayroom awaits at the CROWN PLAZA GURGAON. Spend the afternoon relaxing, shopping or sightseeing and enjoy a farewell dinner before transferring to the airport. Bid farewell to this colorful country and its many culinary delights as you board your flight home, bringing many memories and new recipes from your journey. (B, Meals Aloft)

OPTIONAL EXTENSION

Interested in exploring more of this vast country? Classic Escapes offers a number of extensions for this trip. Check with one of our travel experts for details; we’d love to arrange a customized program just for you.

YOUR JOURNEY INCLUDES:

  • Superior accommodations at hotels listed, or similar.
  • American breakfast daily; all meals while in Ranthambhore; welcome and farewell dinners in Delhi; other meals as indicated.
  • Meet with chefs and enjoy cooking demonstrations and dinners in Delhi (Punjabi & Mughlai cuisine), Agra (Awadhi cuisine), Jaipur (Rajasthani cuisine) and Udaipur (visit to Devra).
  • Transfers, sightseeing and excursions via airconditioned vehicles.
  • Specialist guide throughout with 10 or more travelers.
  • Three game runs in Ranthambhore using Canter vehicles on a sharing basis.
  • Entrance fees to monuments and national park.
  • Train fare in air-conditioned chair car from Bharatpur to Sawai Madhopur.
  • Boat ride on Lake Pichola in Udaipur (subject to water level in Lake).
  • Sound & Light show at Manek Chowk in Udaipur.
  • All currently applicable taxes and hotel porterage, as well as tips for included meals.
  • Complimentary passport wallet and baggage tags.
Prices starting at $3,895. For further booking, date, and pricing info please contact info@classicescapes.

Does not include international or domestic flights. Prices are based on 10 or more travelers, and are subject to change.