Small Group Tour of Gay India
Join host, Professor Andrew Lear, on an exciting LGBTQ small group history tour of India
Day 1: February 21: Arrive in Delhi: Arrive in India and rest up for tomorrow! We arrange your transfer from the airport to the hotel but then leave you in peace.
Hotel: The Imperial New Delhi is generally considered one of India’s finest hotels. It was built in 1936, and it is here that Lord Mountbatten met with Gandhi and Nehru to discuss the partition of India. More recently it has hosted the Queen of the Netherlands. It has many charms, among them the largest private collection of Indian art in Delhi.
Day 2: February 22: New Delhi Tour and Welcome Dinner:
Today we visit New Delhi, the governmental center of India founded under the British Empire, with the presidential residence (built for the British Viceroy) and the 138 foot high India Gate, a memorial to India’s 75,000 WWI casualties. After lunch, we make a visit to Emperor Humayun’s tomb, a great example of the architecture of the Mughal (Indo-Persian) period and a forerunner of the Taj Mahal. Then we return to our hotel for a sumptuous welcome dinner, to meet our fellow travellers and begin our exploration of India’s cuisine!
Day 3: February 23: Old Delhi and the Chandni Chowk
This morning we visit old Delhi. We see the great Red Fort, the vast Sikh temple, and Delhi’s astonishing bazaar, the Chandni Chowk, visiting its food and crafts markets and especially the amazing spice market, where you will be mesmerized by the rich aromas. We next meet our trans guide for a walk focusing on queer icons from Delhi’s past. After lunch in a local Delhi restaurant, we drive to Agra. Dinner in the hotel.
Hotel: close to the Taj Mahal, the ITC Mughal is a grand 5 star hotel spread through 23 acres of lush gardens. It is the only Indian hotel to win of the Aga Khan Award for its recreation of great Mughal architecture.
Day 4: February 24: The Taj Mahal and Agra
This morning we visit the Taj Mahal at sunrise, when the dawn light turns the dome a soft, golden color—and also when the crowds are lightest, so you can get the best photos. You will see why the Taj is listed as one of the modern seven wonders of the world! We return to the hotel for breakfast, and later in the day we visit Agra’s other great sight, the Agra Fort, a vast 16th century fortification that contains a whole series of exquisitely ornate palaces, with carved marble courtyards, halls of mirrors, and much more! Agra is the mother city of Mughlai cuisine, the rich cuisine of India’s Mughal rulers, heavy with aromatic spices, nuts, and dried fruits (and the basis for most worldwide Indian cuisine). Today’s lunch is in an authentic Mughlai restaurant. This afternoon, you will have some free time to shop. In the evening, we visit the Mehtab garden, a carefully restored Mughal garden across the river from the Taj, so we close our day with stunning evening views of this glorious building. Dinner at the hotel.
Day 5: February 25 – Our first day in Rajasthan
Today we drive from Agra to the legendary pink city of Jaipur. On the way we stop to visit one of India’s great monumental complexes, the first Imperial city built (and then abandoned) by Akbar the Great, at Fatehpur Sikri.
After lunch, we drive to Bharatpur and visit one of India’s top nature destinations, the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary (also known as Keoladeo Ghana National Park). Aside from its cultural wonders, India is a great country for nature, and Keoladeo is one of its top birding destinations. A hunting preserve for maharajas and then later Viceroys, today it is known for its 370 species of resident birds, and especially as the wintering ground for the rare Siberian Crane. Expert birder rickshaw drivers will give us a tour of the sanctuary! We proceed to Jaipur. Dinner at the hotel.
Hotel: The Samode Haveli is a royal palace from 1800, converted into a luxury heritage hotel. It is an island of peace within the walled city of Jaipur, with its rooms arranged around courtyards, looking out on gardens and fountains.
Day 6: February 26: Jaipur
Today we visit Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, and surely one of the highlights of a trip to India. The walled city of pink houses (originally painted pink in 1876 to celebrate a visit of the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII) surrounded by desert hills with hilltop forts, could scarcely be more enchanting. We start our day by driving up into the hills to see the Amber Fort, with its astonishingly ornate royal apartments. On our way down, we stop for views of the Jal Mahal, a palace set in the middle of a lake, and then visit the lovely city palace. Lunch in a local restaurant with Rajasthani delicacies to enjoy like Gatta curry, Lal Mas, and Ker Sangri. We finish our day with a walking tour in the old city and free time to shop, as Jaipur is a great crafts center, especially for jewelry and textiles. Dinner at the hotel.
Day 7: Feb-27: Meeting with hijras, & Deogarh Mahal.
Early this morning we offer an optional early morning excursion to India’s best-known leopard preserve, the Jhalana Leopard Safari Park. Jhalana is home to blue bulls (nilgai), wild boars, and 30-35 leopards. Because they are the apex predator here, these otherwise shy cats are bolder than usual and relatively easy to spot. Later in the morning, we experience one of the tour’s great highlights: a meeting with members of India’s traditional third sex, hijras. We will learn about their efforts to improve the life of this impoverished community. After lunch in Jaipur, we drive from Jaipur to the Deogarh Mahal in the Aravali Hills—a stunning 17th century palace that is now a hotel, with every room a spectacular recreation of one of Rajasthan’s royal periods. We take the afternoon and evening off to enjoy and explore our own palace—or just to relax by the pool or enjoy drinks on the terrace. Dinner at the hotel.
Day 8: February 28: Deogarh-Udaipur
This morning you can relax at the hotel/palace, or take one of the hotel’s tours—perhaps to the village to see rural Indian life. After lunch at the hotel, we drive to Udaipur. Dinner at the hotel. This evening we offer an optional excursion to one of India’s best-known folk dance shows, Lok Dharohar, a beautiful show of many different Rajasthani dances.
Hotel: The Taj Fateh Prakash Palace is a pavilion of Udaipur’s city palace, built by the Maharana in the early 20th century as an events pavilion. With its meticulously maintained royal décor and spectacular views of Lake Pichola and the Aravalli hills, it is the acme of our series of fabulous hotels.
Day 9: February 29: Udaipur
Today we visit Udaipur, one of India’s gems. Nestled in the Aravali hills, Udaipur is surrounded by 7 lakes and known mainly for its historic forts, palaces, temples, and gardens. Udaipur was voted Best City in the World by Travel & Leisure Magazine in 2009, and it is a popular wedding destination, for Indians and foreigners.
And many movies and TV series have been filmed at least in part here, including Octopussy, Darjeeling Limited, Heat and Dust, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and Gandhi—also of course many Bollywood movies! We will tour the city today, visiting the amazing Jagdish Temple (Hindu), the City Palace—the largest and most flamboyant in Rajasthan—and the beautiful Sakeliyon-ki-Bari garden, created as a retreat for 18th century court ladies.
We will also take a boat trip on Lake Pichola and visit a miniature painting school. Our meals today will be even more special than usual. Lunch will introduce us to a new regional cuisine, Mewari, described by Condé Nast Traveller, as “simple, rustic, and flavoursome” (and the meal will start with one of Professor Lear’s favorite Indian foods, clear-colored but headily perfumed rose sherbet….) And we will have dinner in a restaurant overlooking Lake Pichola.
Day 10: March 1: Udaipur – Vadodara
Today we leave Rajasthan and venture into the neighbouring state of Gujarat. We spend the next two nights in the cultural capital of Vadodara. Dinner will be at the hotel and will introduce us to our third regional cuisine Gujarati, known for its variety of flavors and textures—and its bright colors.
The Vivanta Vadodara is an up-to-date 5 star hotel, the leading luxury hotel in the cultural capital of Gujarat.
Day 11: March 2: Vadodara – Rajpipla
Today is a highlight of our tour—indeed a highlight of the life of our company. We will drive to the city of Rajpipla to have lunch with Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, who has supported us as we organized this tour and is happy to welcome our tour group in his farmhouse, on the farm which he opened in 2018 to help house vulnerable LGBTQIA+ people who might otherwise be “left with nothing” when “their families disown them after coming out.” Despite his royal status, Manvendra can empathize with this experience, because his family disowned him publicly when he came out after a long and difficult emotional journey, including an unconsummated marriage to a princess, a nervous break-down etc—in short, a royal version of the coming out story that many have known. The tour price includes a donation to the Lakshya Trust, a key Indian LGBTQ+ organization founded by the Price, and there will be an opportunity for those who wish to make further contributions to the trust.
After lunch with the Prince, we will visit his city of Rajpipla and return to Vadodara. Dinner at the hotel.
Day 12: March 3: Vadodara – Ahmedabad – Delhi
After breakfast, we visit the Laxmi Vilas palace, a fusion of Indian and Western styles built in the 1890s and still the residence of Vadodara’s royal family—four times the size of Buckingham Palace, and spread over 700 acres of park. Keep an eye out for the peacocks and monkeys in the gardens!
Lunch in Vadodara. We then drive to Ahmedabad airport. Those who are leaving India will fly to Delhi (where an extra hotel night can be booked for those who want one).
Tour package includes:
Hotel accommodation - 11 Nights
10 dinners, 11 breakfast and 11 lunches (all meals)
Airport transfers by private vehicle AC Mini Coach 18 seater.
Tour and sightseeing by private luxury vehicle AC Mini Coach 18 seater.
All other forms of transportation mentioned in itinerary (cycle rikshaw ride in Old Delhi, boat ride on Lake Pichola Udaipur, local train ride in Deogarh)
Tour guide for whole trip
All monument entry fees
Lunch with Prince Manvendra Singh at his farm house in Rajpipla
Meeting with members of hijra community
Donation to Lakshya Trust
Cost does not include:
Optional Excursions or Extensions
International flight, travel insurance, visa fee (please note; Canadians are unable to get Indian Visas at this time)
Tipping of guides and drivers
Extra baggage cost on internal flights
Anything not mentioned above under “Cost includes”
Drinks and beverages during meals
Extra Personal Donation to Lakshya trust
Gay India 11-Night History tour pricing starts at USD$6740/person (two people sharing) or USD$7930 for a private single room (solo rate). Limited space.
Where do you want to go? Click here to contact me.