Selected departures from January to April 2020
From the flawless grandeur of the Taj Mahal and Rajasthan’s mighty fortresses, to the reminders of past glories of the Raj in Delhi, the teeming markets in Jaipur and the shimmering Lake Palace of Udaipur, our luxurious train journey on the Deccan Odyssey encompasses the very best of India.
Travelling by train is a superb way to experience the vast, intriguing and surprising country that is India. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of a bygone age on board the newly refurbished Deccan Odyssey, offering one of the world’s most extraordinary and unique travel experiences.
You should arrive at the airport to take your overnight direct flight to Delhi.
After our late morning arrival, we transfer to the five-star Hyatt Regency Hotel in the centre of the city for one night’s bed and breakfast. All rooms are stylishly furnished with air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, personal safe, mini-bar and complimentary tea/coffee. In the afternoon we take a guided tour of New and Old Delhi. Bisected by wide tree-lined avenues, New Delhi was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1911 and clearly reflects the legacy of the British Raj. Surprisingly green and low-rise, at its centre we see the former Viceroy’s Palace, now the Presidential Palace and as we head down the imposing Rajpath, we reach India Gate and the Parliament buildings. We’ll also visit some of Delhi’s older monuments: the 12th-century Qutub Minaret is the tallest stone-built tower in India, whilst nearby is Humayun’s tomb, an outstanding example of Moghul architecture and the first mausoleum of its type, pre-dating the Taj Mahal by nearly a century.
This morning is at leisure for a much-needed lie-in and late breakfast. At around midday, we plunge into the bustling heart of Old Delhi for a tour with a difference! Travelling by cycle rickshaw, you’ll see the busy shopping streets and walk through the markets where the locals buy their food and spices, with several opportunities to taste what’s on offer. You’ll explore parts of the capital few tourists will get to see and finish in a typical ‘haveli’, a traditional mansion, where high tea and snacks will be beautifully laid out. Then, early in the evening we proceed to the Safdarjung Railway Terminal to join the train and start our wonderful journey aboard the Deccan Odyssey towards our first port of call, Ranthambore National Park.
This morning we set out to visit some of the local villages around the National Park. It’s a great way to gain an insight into the daily lives of the farmers and typical Indian village life. On our way back to the train, we stop for high tea at what used to be the Maharaja’s hunting lodge, now the intimate Sawai Madhopur Lodge, with its shady colonnaded verandah overlooking the lawn and lush gardens. We return to the Deccan Odyssey in the late morning, with time to relax before and after lunch on board.
During the afternoon we visit Ranthambore National Park. Originally the private hunting preserve of Maharajas, its 155 square miles of rolling hills, valleys and lakes form an enchanting and unique ecosystem. India’s famous Tiger Project was created to protect the country’s tiger population and despite many difficulties, the tigers of Ranthambore have survived, numbers have stabilised and this remains the best place to spot tigers in the world. We drive into the park for our safari in specially-built 20-person open-top, four-wheel drives known as ‘canters’.
As part of its conservation efforts, Ranthambore strictly limits the number of daily visitors and the routes that can be followed within the park. But the park is not just about tigers – over 300 bird species have been counted, including impressive crested eagles, painted storks and wild peacocks. The reserve’s residents also include large numbers of sambars, the largest Asian antelope, as well as marsh crocodiles, wild boar, rare sloth bears and even leopards. Look out too for the playful troop of langur monkeys near the main gate.
In the morning we arrive in Agra, where we visit one of the world’s most iconic monuments – the Taj Mahal. Framed by the winding Yamuna River behind it, this absolute masterpiece seems to almost float like a mirage above the surrounding landscape. The combination of its extraordinary beauty, symmetry and history has made this one of the world’s most amazing monuments and we’ll have plenty of time to admire it from all angles. When you experience this amazing combination of natural and man-made beauty you will realise that everything you have ever heard about the Taj Mahal is true – it really is one of the most amazing creations on the planet.
After a stop for lunch at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Agra, we visit the marble mausoleum built by Shah Jahan’s wife for her father, known as the ‘Baby Taj’ and a chance to see the marble inlay workshops for which Agra is famous.
We return to the Deccan Odyssey for our sumptuous dinner as we travel on towards Jaipur in Rajasthan
Our tour of the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur sees all the major highlights, including the Hawa Mahal, the famous Palace of the Winds, subtly constructed so the ladies of the Palace could view the busy streets below without being seen. We continue to one of the highlights of the entire tour: the immense, 17th-century Amber Fort, crowning one of the many rugged hills surrounding Jaipur, and once the capital of the entire state. We see the royal apartments, the sections reserved for the Maharaja’s wives and concubines as well as the remarkable hall of mirrors, with tiny delicate convex mirrors embedded like a mosaic in the walls and ceilings. We also explore the home of the present Maharaja; the City Palace with its collections of costumes, carpets, paintings and an impressive armoury, followed by one of Jaipur’s most famous sights, the 18th-century Astronomical Observatory. At first glance the oversized instruments look like geometric modernist sculptures, but each has a specific function and is remarkably accurate. It has been described as ‘cosmic architecture’ and our expert guide will explain their religious and scientific significance. After lunch at the Jai Mahal Palace, the afternoon is free to wander through Jaipur’s fascinating markets or perhaps enjoy an optional spa treatment at the Jai Mahal Palace, one of the city’s opulent luxury hotels.
This morning we arrive in the most beautiful city of Rajasthan, Udaipur, the City of Lakes. One of its most imposing buildings is the City Palace, majestically overlooking Lake Pichola, it’s entered through the famous triple arched gate, the Tripolia, where the Maharajas were famously weighed with the equivalent in gold and silver, subsequently distributed amongst their subjects. Inside this vast palace with its myriad pavilions, terraces, courtyards and gardens you appreciate the sense of overwhelming opulence of the royal court.
Another of today’s highlights is a boat trip across the shimmering glass-like surface of the lake, with its glittering Lake Palace floating like a white marble ship at its centre. Our lunch is taken in the 17th-century Jagmandir Palace, known as the Lake Garden Palace, which occupies one of the islands on the lake and offers wonderful views of the city. In the afternoon you’ll enjoy a walking tour through Udaipur’s markets, known for their local handicrafts, including cloth lanterns, handmade paper, miniature paintings and pottery. This evening we continue our southward journey through the endlessly fascinating Indian countryside.
This morning we arrive in Vadodara, known as the cultural capital of the Gujarat. The city is the residence of the Maharajah of Baroda, whose royal residence, the Lakshmi Vilas Palace, dates from the 1890s and is said to be several times larger than Buckingham Palace. We visit the Maharaja Fateh Singh museum, located within the palace complex and originally built as school for the Maharaja’s children, it now houses a number of fascinating paintings of Indian royalty, as well as sculptures and an Oriental gallery. Vadodara is also known for its vast UNESCO-listed archaeological park which includes forts, palaces, mosques, temples, tombs, many monuments pre-dating the Moghul conquest. We finish our day with a sumptuous high tea in the Lakshmi Palace before returning to our train for dinner.
A slower paced day today as we wind into the state of Maharashtra. There’s time to relax and enjoy the train this morning as we head towards the city of Aurangabad after lunch. Our destination is the extraordinary complex of rock-carved temples known as the Ellora Caves, one of India’s most unusual UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Dating from around 600AD and incorporating Hindu, Buddhist and Jain temples and monasteries, they are sited along a side of a gentle slope, which enabled their builders to cut down into the rock from above, much like the rock-carved temples of Petra in Jordan. The age, size and complexity of the carvings is unique in India and many of the temples are still in use today. We return for dinner and the final night on our train.
This morning, the Deccan Odyssey pulls into Mumbai’s magnificent Victoria Terminus, a masterpiece of Victorian Gothic architecture and one of the world’s busiest railway stations. After breakfast we say goodbye to our home for the past seven nights and enter the incredible 24-hour bustling metropolis of Mumbai, India’s commercial capital. Our tour of Mumbai includes the iconic Gateway of India, where British viceroys and governors would land on arrival in the country.
Our hotel is the five-star Taj Mahal Tower Hotel in Mumbai. The rest of the day is at leisure to relax around the hotel’s luxuriant gardens or shady free-form pool and enjoy its many facilities, savouring the sights you have seen, the experiences you have had and the people you have met on this unique journey of discovery.
After breakfast we depart for the airport and our daytime direct flight to the UK, arriving back later the same day.
Note: reverse itineraries substitute the city of Jodhpur for the Ellora Caves and the order/timing of visits will be different.
The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a room/cabin and includes: scheduled flights to/from Delhi and Mumbai; all transfers; two nights in five-star hotels with breakfast; seven nights in a deluxe cabin with en-suite facilities on the Deccan Odyssey train with daily breakfast, lunch and dinner including tea/coffee, bottled water and soft drinks at mealtimes; butler service on board; all tours as mentioned including all entrances fees: Delhi & Mumbai city tours, Ranthambore safari, guided visits to Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Vadodara and Ellora Caves; porterage of one item of luggage per person; the services of a Riviera tour manager.
Indian visa is not included, please see Visa and Health Information section for details on how to obtain the visa.
Reverse itineraries substitute the city of Jodhpur for the Ellora Caves and the order/timing of visits will be different.
The distinctive royal blue carriages of the luxurious Deccan Odyssey carry just 96 guests between Delhi and Mumbai. There are 16 carriages of sheer luxury; each has just four deluxe twin or double air conditioned cabins with their own private bathroom, fine bed linen and tasteful wood panelling. For the ultimate in attentive service, each carriage even has its own butler.
Two beautifully appointed, wood-panelled restaurant cars serve superb mouth-watering international and Indian cuisine created by top Indian chefs. This, plus crisp table linen, fine china and superb service ensures dining on the Deccan Odyssey complements your travel experience beautifully. After wonderful touring every day, unwind in the convivial bar and lounge car, where you can share your travel experiences with like minded travelling companions over refreshments that fit the occasion, like a cup of fine refreshing tea, as the unchanging visions of rural India gently slip by.
Or pamper yourself with the facilities on board – a spa, a small gym and a hairdresser await. Should you feel like a little peace and quiet, perhaps catch up on some reading or just admire the passing cenery, there is also a comfortable lounge car with a small library. If you need to keep in touch with home, complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the train.
Upgrade to the Palace Wing at the Taj Mahal Hotel - from £85 per person
The original Taj Mahal Palace opened its doors in 1903 and amongst many ‘firsts’, it was the first building in India to be lit by electricity. Since then, this landmark property has welcomed numerous heads of state and world figures. A stay here is certainly an experience not to be missed! Upgrade to a Luxury Grande city view/pool view room, including breakfast. Single supplement from £85 per night.
For hotel information please see the accommodation tab, or call us for details.
Along with a valid passport, UK citizens must have a visa in order to travel to India. For the most up-to-date passport and visa information visit
Tourist e-visa cost is US$25 per person (if date of entry is from April to June) or $10 per person (if date of entry is from July to March). Full details of how and when to apply will be sent with your booking confirmation.
We are unable to accept responsibility if you are unable to travel because you have not complied with any passport/entry/immigration requirements.
Please note that visa costs may be subject to change.
Whilst the travelling schedule shall pose no problems for people of any age in normal physical health, we would point out that in visiting a number of historical sites, paths may be uneven and uphill and we often enjoy walking tours of the main sights. Therefore, this holiday may not be suitable for clients of greatly impaired mobility. In the tropics temperatures and humidity levels will also be quite high for most of the year. Please consult your GP regarding the appropriate inoculations required for India at least a month before departure.
We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to call us to discuss these concerns. General information on mobility in connection with our tours can be found here.
All transfer times listed here are approximate, and dependent on traffic. If you have a question regarding transfer times please don't hesitate to contact us.
|Arrival airport||First hotel location||Transfer time||Final hotel location||Departure airport||Transfer time|
|Delhi - Indria Ganhi International Airport||Delhi||1 hr||Mumbai||Mumbai - Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport||1 hr|
Jeff & Barbara Frankel
Our 2nd trip with Riviera and once again a truly wonderful experience. Huge thanks to our guide Halina who was excellent on all counts. She handled our large party admirably especially in what proved to be exceptional heat for tha...
I am not easy to please where 'organised' holidays are concerned but this really was Just the most amazing holiday ever. I could have stayed onboard and done the whole trip again! Great destinatons, well organised tours, fabulousl...