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Premium India and Sri Lanka

Welcome to South Asia, where ancient religions, deep heritage and wild wonders are laced through cultural riches and spice-laden cuisine. On this 18-day Premium adventure you’ll discover the Pink City of Jaipur, witness the Mughal splendours of Delhi and Agra, safari through Ranthambhore and Minneriya National Parks, soak up the ambience of holy Varanasi, explore the ancient ruins of Habarana, sip tea in Kandy and Nuwara Eliya, and taste culinary delights in Colombo. Local leaders will bring the magic of India and Sri Lanka to light, from lavish palaces to vibrant bazaars and the incomparable Taj Mahal. Packed with hotspots and hidden gems, discover the cultural heart of India and Sri Lanka.

18 days, from


per person


12 people max


Trip code: HPPGC
Style: Premium
Theme: Explorer


Countries Visited:  India Sri Lanka
Accommodation: Hotel (14 nights), Feature Stay (3 nights)
Transportation: Auto rickshaw , Boat , Cycle rickshaw , Metro , Plane , Private vehicle , Jeep , scenic train
Included Meals:

  • 16 breakfasts
  • 6 lunches
  • 8 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 12

  • Discover the beauty in famed structures, from Jaipur’s Amber Fort and Royal City Palace, to Agra’s Red Fort and iconic Taj Mahal, and the ruins and stupas of Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa.

  • Taste the best of Indian and Sri Lankan cuisine during Exclusive Experiences, including a street food tour in Agra, a wonderful meal in the home of a Brahmin family in Jaipur, a cooking demo with a local grandmother in Polonnaruwa, and a Spice Garden visit in Matale.

  • See wildlife in its natural habitat with safaris through Ranthambore National Park in India and Minneriya National Park in Sri Lanka, in search of sloth bears, leopards, elusive tigers, tropical birds, and elephants.

  • Historical Feature Stays allow you to experience history first hand, staying at family owned heritage hotel in Jaipur and a colonial-era mansion with a new sustainable lease on life in Nuwara Eliya.

  • Take part in Exclusive Experiences to remember – visit to a royal haveli in Jaipur and hear the stories of its owner’s ancestors, cruise down the Ganges at sunset accompanied by local musicians, and get an immersive look at rural life in Ambagasthenna.


Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Delhi

Welcome to India! On arrival at Delhi Airport, you will be collected and transferred to your hotel. This evening, there will be an important welcome meeting in the hotel at around 6 pm to meet your local leader and fellow group of travellers. Until then, you can use any time before the meeting to explore this excitingly chaotic capital city. Filled with historical sites from different eras, museums, galleries and endless bazaars, there’s plenty to see in Delhi. After your welcome meeting, join your leader and small group for dinner at one of Delhi’s oldest restaurants that has been delighting visitors for more than 80 years. The iconic restaurant is credited with introducing India to ice cream and fine dining. Tonight your leader will introduce you to the exciting world of Indian cuisine. Perhaps start out with some classic dishes like mutton rogan josh and paneer tikka.

Day 2: Agra

Today, make the drive to Agra. Once arrived, take some time to settle in to your hotel then head out to visit India's most iconic structure at sunset – the spectacular Taj Mahal. Best known as a monument to love and loss, the 17th-century Taj was built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his second wife and is a beautiful example of Mughal architecture, surrounded by trimmed English gardens. Meet with a Taj Mahal guide who will illuminate the fascinating history of this world-famous building as you tour it at sunset. Beyond its most famous structure, Agra also boasts a marvellous food scene. This evening, a local expert will join you on a street food tour away from the main tourist trail and help you understand Agra’s cuisine and culture. Stop by a 19th-century shop serving up age-old recipes from the Braj region of India, and visit hyperlocal eateries most visitors to Agra never see. Pass by the incredible Jama Masjid of Agra, one of the largest mosques in India.

Day 3: Ranthambhore National Park

Start the day with a visit to one of the finest looking forts in India – the magnificent Agra Fort. Learn how a fortress and prison was built out of red sandstone by Akbar in 1565, then conversions and additions by Shah Jahan transformed the fort into a palace. Explore elegant courtyards and a labyrinth of buildings while you try to take in the grand scale of this remarkable structure. After your visit, depart Agra and make your way to Ranthambore, arriving in the late afternoon. On arrival, you may like to take a stroll around town, put your feet up and relax beside the pool, or enjoy a meal at the onsite restaurant.

Day 4: Ranthambhore National Park

Rise early for a morning safari. Ranthambore National Park is one of the original Project Tiger reserves – a place where nature has reclaimed ancient fortresses and temples and is teeming with wildlife. In 4WD safari vehicles, take game drives to search for animals, including the majestic tiger which stalks through the jungle. Even if they are too stealthy to see, the park is filled with other animals like gazelle, hyenas, sloth bears, crocodiles, jackals, three types of antelope (nilgai, sambar and chital) and leopards to watch out for. Enjoy some downtime at the resort in the afternoon, then venture back out for an evening safari through the park – another chance to spot some of this region’s resident tiger population. You may also have the opportunity to explore the 1000-year-old Ranthambore Fort, where two pavilions that have survived the ravages of war and time, Badal Mahal and Hammirs Court, give an idea of its old grandeur.

Day 5: Jaipur

Today you will travel to Jaipur, the capital of the Rajasthan region. Arrive at your Feature Stay accommodation, the fabulous Hotel Narain Niwas Palace. This beautiful heritage hotel has been run by the same family since its opening in 1928 and retains the warm feel of a traditional family home, while opulent touches emanate from every corner – look out for delectable chandeliers, stained glass windows and peacocks roaming the grounds. Surrounded by a glittering swimming pool and lush gardens, you’ll enjoy a magical escape from the rush and racket of the outside world. Take some time to settle in, then join your leader on a walking tour through the crowded streets packed with cars, camel carts, rickshaws, trucks and bicycles, past traditionally dressed Rajput men wearing colourful turbans and sporting magnificent moustaches. Hear stories of the city’s culture and history as you explore crowded bazaars filled with handcrafted textiles, folk art, and the local speciality of semi-precious stones. Dinner this evening is something a little bit special – head to the home of a local Brahmin family for a wonderful homecooked dinner. Chat to your friendly hosts about their way of life and learn their culinary secrets – Brahmin dishes exclude onion and garlic, but you’ll discover their food is still bursting with flavour.

Day 6: Jaipur

Begin the day with a visit to the extravagant Amber Fort – the jewel of Jaipur. It is quite a sight, with its soft shades of red, sandstone and white marble with elaborate Hindu-style flourishes. Your leader will share the stories of a fallen empire as you explore ornate rooms, lavish murals, frescoed arches and delicate jali work. Afterwards, stop at one of India's most photographed buildings, the Hawa Mahal or 'Palace of the Winds', to capture your own photo. Then pay a visit to the striking City Palace, a marvellous blend of Rajput and Mughal architecture. Tour the grounds and learn about its construction by the founder of Jaipur. Later in the afternoon, hop on a rickshaw and travel to a royal haveli. Haveli’s are old mansions which were ornately decorated as a display of wealth, many of which remain across the city today. Here you will meet the owner of the haveli who will give you a tour of the property and share fascinating photographs and stories of his ancestors who once ruled the nearby provinces. Head to the rooftop for drinks and take in sweeping views of Jaipur’s old walled city.

Day 7: Varanasi

Depart your feature stay accommodation then board a flight bound for Varanasi. On arrival, make a stop off at Sarnath, one of the four main Buddhist pilgrimage destinations. The site is where Buddha preached his message of the path to enlightenment and features a number of stupas and museums to explore. Continue on to the city of Varanasi. Awash with shrines and temples, it is the ultimate destination for Hindu pilgrims who travel from far and wide to experience the city’s spirituality. Varanasi may not be known for its cleanliness, but there’s no denying it is one of India’s most inspiring places.

Day 8: Varanasi

Today starts early with a sunrise boat ride on the Ganges. Your leader will explain the significance of India’s most sacred river as pass by the many ghats and temples along its banks. Then, join your leader for a walking tour of the Old City and uncover its secrets as you walk through narrow laneways packed with stalls and shops, past the dhobi wallahs, burning ghats, and the endless temples that echo with bells and the pungent aroma of incense. In the evening, return to the Ganges to see it from another perspective during a sunset cruise. You will be joined by local musicians on board and watch a beautiful flower and candle ceremony take place – an experience that is sure to be etched on your memory long after your time in India is over. Witness pilgrims performing ancient bathing rituals and ceremonies as the sun sets over this sacred city.

Day 9: Delhi

Depart Varanasi and catch a morning flight to Delhi. In the afternoon, get a real taste of the city during a tour with your leader. Navigate the city’s metro system and arrive in Old Delhi where you’ll wind through its lanes and markets. It’s not the real Delhi without a traffic jam so hop aboard a traditional rickshaw and weave your way around the streets surrounding the Chandni Chowk marketplace. Stop by India’s oldest and largest mosque, the Jama Masjid, then head into the Sikh temple of Sheeshganj Gurudwara for a moment of peace and to observe the spiritual side of this bustling metropolis. The rest of the afternoon is free for further explorations, then come back together in the evening for a final dinner as a group. This last meal will take place in a beautiful haveli dating back to 1887. Enjoy a feast of Mughlai cuisine, street food dishes and kebabs in a stunning historical setting – a perfect finale to your Indian adventure.

Day 10: Negombo

Transfer to the airport and depart Delhi on a flight to Sri Lanka. Upon arrival at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo, you will be met by an Intrepid representative and transferred to your hotel in nearby Negombo. Here you will meet your new leader and fellow travellers at a 6 pm welcome meeting. If you arrive early, perhaps take some time to relax on the town’s golden-sand beach under a canopy of blue sky.

After your welcome meeting, you’ll get to know your group and leader a little better over a round of complementary cocktails and a welcome dinner of traditional Sri Lankan cuisine – prepare for rich scents, bold spicing and tongue-tingling flavours.

Day 11: Negombo to Kurunegala to Habarana

This morning travel inland, driving northeast towards Habarana. On the way, stop at the Ridi Vihara shrine, a Buddhist cave temple dating back to the second century BC. There are thought to have been almost 500 monks living in these hillside caves at its peak. Watch locals demonstrate ancient traditions and craft techniques, such as palm leaf writing and wood and stone carving, and explore the caves filled with Buddha statues and floral offerings.

Share lunch at a local restaurant before travelling to Habarana, your home for the next three nights. Once settled at your hotel, head out to visit the magnificent Sigiriya (Lion Rock). This dramatic rocky outcrop rising from the surrounding plains is topped by a ruined palace. Your leader will share stories of the ancient civilisation that once lived here as you climb; it's a steep hike but the far-reaching views from the top are worth it.

Day 12: Habarana

Set off at around 7.30 am in your private vehicle to reach the ruins of Ritigala Monastery in the foothills of Ritigala Mountain. Explore the shaded complex – which includes stone baths once filled with medicinal herbs and oils from the surrounding forest – before receiving a blessing from local Buddhist monks. Next, make your way to the village of Muriya Kadawala, where you’ll learn about traditional Sri Lankan pottery techniques and try your hand at the craft yourself. You’ll also sample a local herbal drink accompanied by a piece of halapa, a sweet treat wrapped in kenda leaves. Drive back to Habarana to debrief over a traditional lunch served on a rattan mat and eaten the local way – with your hands. You’re free to spend the rest of the day as you wish. If time permits, hire a hotel bicycle to explore the village, or visit Hurulu Eco Park.

Day 13: Habarana

After breakfast, make your way to Polonnaruwa to continue your explorations of the cultural triangle. Hop on a bicycle to discover well-preserved temples, tombs and stupas in Polonnaruwa’s ancient Quadrangle complex – it’s not hard to imagine what this place looked like in all its former glory. Visit the remains of a seven-story royal palace, the rock temple of Gal Vihara and the statue of 12th century king Parakrama I - at 100 metres tall this is a truly impressive sight.

For lunch you’ll visit a local grandmother’s house, who will show you how to make dhal curry and pol sambol from scratch – you'll even shred coconut yourself using a traditional scraper tool. This afternoon, head to Minneriya National Park to see Sri Lankan elephants in the wild. You're likely to spot plenty of these gentle giants around the watering hole, plus macaques, spot-billed pelicans and more.

Day 14: Kandy

Today you’ll travel to Kandy. Along the way, stop off in the city of Matale where you will visit a local spice garden and learn about the spices that have played such an important role in Sri Lanka’s cultural heritage. Upon arrival in Kandy, take a guided tour of the city, stopping to admire highlights such as the Hindu Pillaiyar Kovil temple and the Buddhist Sri Dalada Maligawa, otherwise known as the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (the important shrine houses a relic of Buddha’s tooth, taken from his funeral pyre). Despite being Sri Lanka’s second largest city, Kandy is remarkably laid back. Spend your free evening searching for a taste bud-tingling curry, wandering around the glittering lake or enjoying an optional cultural dance performance.

Day 15: Kandy

After an early breakfast, drive to the suburb of Pilimatalawa, known for its traditional brassware, and visit a local artisan to learn about the brass making process. Next head to Ambagasthenna village, where hotel and tea plantation owner Mr Thilina will guide you around his neighbourhood. You’ll visit the tea plantation, learn about the cultivation process, and try a cup or two served the Sri Lankan way. He’ll share inside knowledge about local crops, sustainable farming and ancient landscaping traditions. For lunch, feast on a delicious home-cooked meal made by Mr Thilina’s mother. Later, walk through paddy fields, swing by local temples and pause to rest at an ancient ambalama – a shelter and resting place for pilgrims and travellers. After such a culture-packed day, there’s only one way to end it: by cracking open a beer and watching the sunset from one of the best viewpoints in Sri Lanka.

Day 16: Nuwara Eliya

Depart Kandy and board a morning train bound for Nuwara Eliya. Nestled deep in tea plantation country, Nuwara Eliya sits at an elevation of 1800 metres, giving it some of the coolest temperatures in Sri Lanka. Remnants of the region’s colonial past can be seen in the sculpted gardens and manor homes dotting the landscape today. Check in to the Grand Hotel, a gorgeous National Heritage Property and your Feature Stay for the nights. Rooms feature classic décor and modern amenities, but the hotel’s real charm is its sustainable approach – the owners have eliminated single-use plastic and are striving for a zero-waste future. Later, you’ll take an orientation walk of Nuwara Eliya, wandering the peaceful shores of Gregory Lake and touring Pedro Tea Estate before returning to the hotel for high tea featuring pots of Ceylon black, green or spiced tea, plus finger sandwiches and sweet treats.

Day 17: Colombo

Say goodbye to the green hills of Nuwara Eliya and make the journey by private vehicle to Sri Lanka’s coastal capital, Colombo. Stop in the outdoor adventure hub of Kithulgala and opt to eat lunch at a riverside rest house. Those who want to really blow away the cobwebs after a morning on the road can opt to go ziplining.

Continue to Colombo and take an orientation walk with your leader, who’ll show you Sri Lanka’s colonnaded old parliament building, the National Museum and the best spots for fairtrade souvenir shopping. Tonight, share a final farewell dinner with your group at Ceylon Curry Club, a modern restaurant focused on creating dishes that celebrate Sri Lankan spices, such as peanut-crusted tuna with gotu-kola (pennywort) sambol and fragrant vegetable curry.

Day 18: Colombo

Your trip comes to an end after breakfast this morning. If you’d like to stay on in Colombo, let us know in advance and we can help to arrange additional accommodation (subject to availability). Why not soak up all that Colombo has to offer on an immersive one-day Urban Adventures tour? Visit www.urbanadventures.com for more details.