Delicacies of North India

India

Culture | Culinary

Discover the huge diversity of North India's cuisine

Dates & Prices

Intro

Few countries offer as much culinary diversity as India. Learn from expert chefs, dine with families in their homes, go shopping for spices in local markets, and wipe your plate clean in authentic Indian restaurants. In between cooking and eating, weave your way through India’s rich cultural tapestry, taking in colonial cities, vibrant markets, Gandhi's Ashram in Gujarat and magnificent temples. Savour a whole range of flavours on the way - from Gujarati and Mumbai delicacies to mouth-watering Punjabi, Awadhi and Bengali dishes.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Visit Mahatma Gandhi's home in Ahmedabad
  • Marvel at Amritsar's Golden Temple
  • View ceremony at the India-Pakistan border
  • Legendary cuisine
  • The largest arched-hall in the world
  • Discover the rich history of Kolkata

Places Visited

Mumbai - Ahmedabad - Delhi - Amritsar - Lucknow - Kolkata

What's Included

Airport transfers
Ground transport and driver
Domestic flights
Accommodation
Sightseeing with local guides
Culinary activities as per itinerary
Entrance fees to sites & parks
Breakfasts and some meals (as per itinerary)
Itinerary
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Day 1 : Mumbai

Arrive in Mumbai, where you will be met by a Travel The Unknown representative and transferred to your hotel to rest and refresh. In the afternoon, take a short tour of the Colaba area of Mumbai, visiting the famous Leopold Café and Bademiyan for mutton kebab rolls. Sample Malvani food, cuisine popular in Maharashtra and Goa. Return to the hotel. Overnight in Mumbai.

Meal plan: n/a

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Day 2 : Mumbai

In the morning, take a half-day sightseeing tour of Mumbai, including visits to the Gateway of India and Crawford Market, Mumbai's oldest market, situated inside a former British building. Then visit Dhobi Ghat (perhaps the world's largest open air laundry system) and the 'Dabbawallas' (the complex system of lunch box deliveries).

You will also drive past many British heritage buildings such as the Prince of Wales Museum, Maharashtra Police Headquarters, Flora Fountain. Hutatma Chowk, Telegraph Office, India Post Office Building, Kala Ghoda Area, and the National Gallery of Modern Art. Return to hotel and then take an evening food tour where you will sample Mumbai classics such as bhel puri and pav bhaji, as well as some lesser-known foods that are unique to the bustling Mohammed Ali 'khao gallis' (eating lanes). Overnight in Mumbai.

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Mumbai is the most populous city in India, the economical and commercial centre of the country and the home of Bollywood, the Hindi film industry. Mumbai's most famous site is the Gateway of India, a 26-metre-high arch built to commemorate the landing of King George V and Queen Mary in India in 1911. Other important landmarks include the Marine Drive boulevard, known as the 'Queen's Necklace' due to its resemblance to a pearl necklace when viewed at night from above; Dhobi Ghat, the world’s largest open air laundry; Crawford Market, the largest market in Mumbai,  named after  the first Municipal Commissioner of the city, Arthur Crawford; and the Victoria Terminus railway station, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The latter is famous for its blend of Gothic Revival and traditional Mughal architectural styles, and was built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee. In 1996 it was renamed to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, after the founder of the Maratha Empire.

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Day 3 : Mumbai - Ahmedabad

Transfer to the railway station to board your train to Ahmedabad (0625-1245). Arrive and check in to the hotel. In the afternoon, you will have a cooking demonstration showcasing typical Gujarati cuisine. Dinner will consist of the varitey of Gujarati Thali dishes that you prepare yourself. In the evening, take an optional street food tour and sample more of the local food. Overnight in Ahmedabad.

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

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Day 4 : Ahmedabad

Take a morning heritage walk of the old city. See the preparation of Gujarati snack food and taste fafada, made from chickpea flour, deep fried jalebis and homemade ice cream. Visit the Utensil Museum, then continue on to Gandhi Ashram, where Mahatma Gandhi lived from 1917-1930. Return to the hotel to freshen up and have dinner at an authentic Gujarati restaurant. Overnight in Ahmedabad.

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

The former capital of the state of Gujarat, Ahmedabad is one of the fastest growing cities of the last decade. It is located on the banks of the Sabarmati river and earned the nickname 'Manchester of the East' while under British rule for its developing textile industry. Ahmedabad is home to a fascinating mix of architecture, ranging from British colonial to early Indo-Saracenic.

Situated in Ahmedabad, the Sabarmati Ashram (also known as Gandhi Ashram) was home to Mahatma Gandhi from 1917 until 1930 and served as one of the main centres of the Indian freedom struggle. It was from his base here that Gandhi led the Dandi march (also known as the Salt Satyagraha) on 12 March 1930. In recognition of the significant influence that this march had on the Indian independence movement, the Indian government has established the ashram as a national monument. Thus, the Ashram became home to the ideology that set India free. The Ashram is named for the river on which it sits and was created with a dual mission: to serve as an institution that would carry on a search for truth and a platform to bring together a group of workers committed to non-violence who would help secure freedom for India.

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Day 5 : Ahmedabad - Delhi

Transfer to the airport for your flight to Delhi. On arrival, check in to the hotel and set off on a tour of Khari Baoli, Asia's largest wholesale spice market. It is located on the outskirts of Old Delhi and is full of bustling alleyways. Afterwards, take a cooking class to learn how to prepare North Indian dishes. Enjoy your meal and then return to hotel. Overnight in Delhi.

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

The old India Gate holds a historic importance in Delhi, and was once the entrance point to the old city. Nearby is the opulent Presidential Palace, situated just outside the old city. Old Delhi boasts the impressive Red Fort - a UNESCO World Heritage Site and symbol of India’s Mughal past as well as her sovereignty today. The area is very atmospheric and visitors can stroll around the magnificent Humayun’s Tomb and its stunning gardens watching the tomb change colour as the sun starts to set.

The Spice Bazaar, or Khari Baoli, is a street in Old Delhi known for its wholesale grocery and is one of Asia’s largest wholesale spice markets selling all kinds of spices, nuts and herbs. Operating since the 17th century, the market is situated close to the historic Delhi Red Fort. Learn about the spices on sale and smell their aromas. 

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Day 6 : Delhi

After breakfast, embark on a full day of sightseeing in Delhi. Take a heritage walk and a rickshaw ride in Old Delhi. Visit Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India, and Delhi's famous Chandni Chowk, one of the most vibrant markets in India. Drive past the Red Fort, India Gate, the President House and the Parliament House. Stop by the magnificent Humayun's Tomb, a UNESCO heritage site. Return to the hotel and spend the evening at your leisure. Overnight in Delhi.

Meal plan: Breakfast

The old India Gate holds a historic importance in Delhi, and was once the entrance point to the old city. Nearby is the opulent Presidential Palace, situated just outside the old city. Old Delhi boasts the impressive Red Fort - a UNESCO World Heritage Site and symbol of India’s Mughal past as well as her sovereignty today. The area is very atmospheric and visitors can stroll around the magnificent Humayun’s Tomb and its stunning gardens watching the tomb change colour as the sun starts to set.

Chandni Chowk is the major street in the walled city of Old Delhi, which was originally called Shahjahanabad. The walled city, which includes the Lal Qila or Red Fort of Delhi, was established in 1650 AD by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. 

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Day 7 : Delhi - Amritsar

Transfer to the railway station and board your train to Amritsar (0720-1345). Check in to the hotel upon arrival and spend the afternoon at your leisure. In the evening, visit the Golden Temple for the nightly Palki ceremony, in which the Granth Sahib (holy book) is carried in procession along a bridge to Akal Takht (the seat of the Sikh parliament built in 1609). Overnight in Amritsar.

Meal plan: Breakfast

The city of Amritsar boasts the famous Golden Temple, located in the heart of the city. Amritsar is at the epicentre of the Sikh faith, where the Golden Temple is the holiest of Sikh shrines. For Sikhs it is both a display of Punjab's wealth and an important pilgrimage. People from all faiths gather at the Golden Temple, a tribute to the traditions of a faith whose holy book is a compilation of the writings of men of different faiths. 

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Day 8 : Amritsar

Embark on a sightseeing tour of Amritsar and sample typical Punjabi food. Visit the magnificent Golden Temple, the most revered monument for the Sikhs. Take a look at its famous 'communal kitchen' and see food being made in giant vats by volunteers at the temple that serves almost 100,000 free meals every day. Here, you will eat alongside devotees in the community dining hall. Next, visit the Wagah border that divides India and Pakistan to witness the 'lowering of the flags' ceremony, which is also known as the beating retreat ceremony. Overnight in Amritsar.

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

The Wagah Border, marks the border between India and Pakistan, where each evening a retreat ceremony called 'lowering of the flags' takes place. This has been happening since 1959. The soldiers (the Border Security Force of India and the Pakistani Rangers) indulge in an energetic parade, in what first may appear slightly aggressive and even hostile to people watching it for the first time! However, the paraders are meant to be imitating the pride and anger of a cockerel. Donning colourful turbans, the troops of each country put on a show you will never forget.

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Day 9 : Amritsar

Take a half day tour of Amritsar, including a visit to the old city, Jallianwala Bagh (site of a famous massacre under British rule) and the impressive Ram Bagh Gardens. You will have the afternoon and evening to spend at your leisure. Overnight in Amritsar.

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 10 : Amritsar - Lucknow

Transfer to the airport for your flight to Lucknow via Delhi. Arrive in the early evening and transfer to your hotel. After freshening up, feast on delicious Awadhi cuisine cooked for you by a renowned Awadhi chef. Overnight in Lucknow.

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Lucknow, the Golden City of the East, is the capital city of Uttar Pradesh in India. A multicultural city, it flourished as the cultural and artistic capital of North India in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is typically associated with legendary ‘nawabi’ hospitality, the British Raj, leisurely lifestyles and world-renowned cuisine. The rich Awadhi cuisine of Lucknow was made popular by the Nawab of Awadh who, to deal with food shortage, ordered his men to cook in huge handis (vessels) to feed the hungry. This eventually led to a style of cooking called ‘dum’ – the art of sealing ingredients in large handis and cooking over a slow fire.

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Day 11 : Lucknow

Take a half-day sightseeing tour of Lucknow, including the famous Bara Imambara, Chota Imambara, the British Residency and Hussainabad Clock Tower. Have lunch at a local restaurant, Royal Café. Later, embark on a three-hour culinary walk to explore Awadhi cuisine at many traditional roadside eateries. Overnight in Lucknow.

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Bara Imambara is one of the most famous monuments in Lucknow, built by the fourth Nawab of Awadh known as Asaf-ud-Daula, as part of a relief project in response to the 1784 famine. The central hall of Bara Imambara is said to be the largest arched hall in the world, measuring 50 metres long and 15 metres high. The unique construction of interlocking bricks means there are no girders or beams. The roof stands steady till date without any pillars to support it. Today, the central hall is an important place of worship for Muslims. 

The British Residency served as a refuge for approximately 3000 British inhabitants throughout the 1857 uprising. Lucknow was the centre of all British activities during the siege and the Residency became the monopolistic centre of the British for almost 90 days. Within the walls are the graves of around 2000 British soldiers who died in the 1857 revolt. On November 17th, the British troops defeated the Indian forces and recaptured the city. Today, the British Residency of Lucknow serves as a government office. 

Constructed in 1887, the Hussainabad Clock Tower, the tallest Clock Tower in India, is one of the finest examples of British Architecture in the country. The 221-foot tall structure was erected by Nawab Nasir-ud-din Haider to mark the arrival of Sir George Couper, 1st Lieutenant Governor of United Province of Avadh in the year 1887.

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Day 12 : Lucknow - Kolkata

You will have the morning free to spend at your leisure before flying to Kolkata via Patna. Arrive in the early evening and transfer to your hotel. This evening, you will go to an authentic Bengali restaurant for dinner. Overnight in Kolkata.

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 13 : Kolkata

Take a morning walking tour of Kolkata. You will take in many sights such as the colourful flower market and 'Bara Bazaar', a large market divided into sections according to craft. After lunch, drive to Dalhousie, Howrah Bridge, Victoria Memorial and Kumartuli. Kumartuli is a traditional potters’ quarter renowned for making tens of thousands of clay idols of Hindu gods during festival times. In the early evening, join a local Bengali family for a cooking demonstration and dinner. Overnight in Kolkata.

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Often labelled the  "Cultural City of India", Kolkata is India's second biggest city and one of its major ports, located on the east bank  of the Hooghly River. Previously named 'Calcutta', it was the former capital of the British Indian Empire until 1911 and originally designed in the style of a grand European capital. As a result, Western influences can be seen throughout the city within its colonial-era architecture: Raj Bhavan, the state governor's residence, imitates Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire, the Indian Museum is built in the Italian style, while the Victoria Memorial Hall attempts to combine classical Western and Mughal architecture. Kolkata was also the centre of the Indian independence movement, and to this day still plays an important role in contemporary state politics.

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Day 14 : Departure

After breakfast, explore the 'Black Town' in the north of Kolkata. Visit Mother Teresa's Missionary of Charity, the Jain Temple Complex and Marble Palace. You will have the afternoon free to spend at your leisure. In the evening, you will be transferred to the airport for your return flight home.

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Meal plan: Breakfast

Accommodation

Accommodation

All accommodation subject to availability. Final accommodation choices will be confirmed after booking.

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Divan's Bungalow

Nearly 150-years-old, the 19th century Divan's Bungalow used to be the home of the renowned architect, I.M. Kadri, before being converted into a heritage hotel. Each room is elegantly and traditionally furnished, equipped with modern amenities including air-conditioning, free WiFi and satellite television. Guests are welcome to dine in the onsite restaurant, and stroll through the garden and fountain fore court. 

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Lemon Tree Premier

The Lemon Tree Premier Hotel can be found on the banks of the picturesque Sabarmati River in Ahmadabad. The elegant and contemporary style hotel offers guests spacious rooms for a comfortable stay. Each room is equipped with satellite television, ensuite bathroom and access to wifi. The hotel serves a fusion of national and international cuisine options at both on-site restaurants (The Atrium and Citrus Grill). Other hotel facilities include a swimming pool and fitness suite. 

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Colonel's Retreat

Located in the heart of South Delhi, Colonel’s Retreat is central yet quiet and safe. It offers a cosy and friendly place to stay. Colonel’s Retreat has six rooms, all of which are comfortable and furnished with understated elegance and have city views. The rooms are all air conditioned and have a satellite TV, mini bar, Wi-Fi, safe and ensuite bathroom with hot and cold running water.

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Ranjit Svassa

Located in the historic district of Amritsar, this hotel is the perfect retreat from the bustling streets of Amritsar. The staff are always willing to help and the rooms are comfortable and clean. The hotel has its own restaurant and there is a full-service spa and a spa tub on site. Free wireless internet, beauty services, laundry facilities and a 24-hour front desk are also available.

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Vivanta by Taj

Taj Residency is a five-star Heritage Hotel in the Gomti Nagar district of Lucknow. The beautiful rooms are spacious and tastefully decorated. They come with a mini bar, tea/coffee maker, fridge, TV, wifi, and hot water. The comfortable rooms, in addition to the swimming pool, gym and health club, make this a very relaxing place to stay.

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Oberoi Grand

Standing for over 125 years, the five-star Oberoi Grand combines classic architecture and charm with state of the art amenities and facilities, offering guests an oasis of tranquillity in the centre of the bustling city. All the rooms and suites are well presented and elegantly furnished and offer impeccable service. The rooms are equipped with all modern facilities blending uniquely with the colonial architecture.

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Extensions

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Reviews

I would highly recommend Travel the Unknown to anyone visiting India. The service we received both prior to, during and following our travels was always timely and excellent. We were able to customize our trip to our liking and to enjoy a wide variety of activities. The guides in every location were outstanding! Honestly. Having travelled through much of the world I can truly say that we have never been more impressed with the quality of the guides arranged for us in each location, as well as the service we received. Similarly, the hotels were excellent and allowed us to live very comfortably while, at the same time, enjoy an authentic Indian experience. If you haven`t already booked your trip with Travel the Unknown, then either do so now....or at least give them a chance to show you what they can offer.

Tracey & Gary , Tailormade India

I have been on 3 tailor made trips with Travel The Unknown and have found them to be knowledgeable and reliable. We`ve stayed in some wonderful places and have had some unusual and satisfying experiences that go beyond the standard tours.

Joan Edmunds (USA) , Tailormade India

The tour was an amazing experience for our first visit to India. The country, its people and its cuisine were friendly,delightful, colourful and exceeded all our expectations. Travel the Unknown have put together a superb unique package that we have no hesitation in recommending to anyone with an interest in food and culture.

Elaine & Neil Smith , Delicacies of North India, India

I thoroughly enjoyed my tailor made tour of northwestern and central India. Guides and accommodations were excellent and we saw as much of the area as could be packed into two weeks. I look forward to another tour with Travel the Unknown.

Mary Trubek (USA) , Tailormade India

What an excellent service! Rahul adapted, extended and improved our trip so many times without a qualm and we ended up with the trip of a lifetime. The destinations are unusual and interesting but everything has been checked out by the team and works brilliantly. I can`t wait to do another trip.

Penelope Smith , Assam & Nagaland Hornbill Festival, India

Another fantastic trip with this company. WE really managed to get off the beaten track and have seen some amazing sights. Well put together. We will travel again with Travel the Unknown

Hazel & James Frost , Tailormade India

This is our second fabulous trip with Travel The Unknown and we were not disappointed. Rajasthan's vibrant colours of turbans and saris, the noise, the spicy aromas, the silence in the hot air balloon over rural Jaipur, the majestic forts and palaces of ancient times, sighting leopards in the wild, all far exceeded our expectations and the heritage homes and hotels we stayed in, whilst being of high standard in every way, still had a friendly family touch. Thanks so much to Rahul and the team for such a memorable trip. Six weeks on and we still can't stop talking about it. I can't wait for the next one!

John & Christine Gregory , Tailormade India

Another great trip from Travel the Unknown. I would recommend this company to anyone who wants to move outside the boundaries of the usual tourist itinerary.

Catherine Crawford , Kashmir & Ladakh Explorer, India

Travel the Unknown put together an Itinerary in North East India - Living Root Bridges for me and a travelling companion. The accommodations, transportation, promptness of drivers, and knowledge of our guide was excellent. Easy booking from office and good pre trip information. Thanks TTU!

Christina Taft , Living Bridges of Meghalaya, India

Wow, India is incredible and Travel The Unknown put together a trip that really showed the diverse nature of the country and cultures, from the busy capital Delhi to the splendour of the Taj Mahal and then off the main tourist trek with an overnight sleeper train to Varanasi on the Ganges, the Hindu religious capital with bathing , washing and cremations alongside the river - an astonishing experience. We then moved to the forgotten North East corner where there is a tribal culture in an area seemingly cut off from the rest of India. Our destination was the Living Root Bridges which are unique and remote. Just want to go back to India for more...

Ken Sankey , Living Bridges of Meghalaya, India

Gotta say thanks to Travel The Unknown for organising my fascinating trip to a little-known area of the world. The scenery was fantastic, food was amazing, the guide was great and the living bridges were inspiring. An India not many get to see. Thanks again.

Stephen , Living Bridges of Meghalaya, India

As always Travel The Unknown were exceptional in organising my trip to India. The guides for Meghalaya and the Golden Triangle were friendly, extremely helpful and very informative. The tour was busy but never felt rushed; the combination of Meghalaya and Golden Triangle giving quite a varied perspective of India.

Terry Cooper , Living Bridges of Meghalaya
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