I have written quite a few posts about travel insurance – the benefits, the policies, and why I always recommend coverage for clients. I also make sure to personally purchase a policy for each and every trip abroad. For the past two weeks, several of our clients have been met with unfortunate circumstances when traveling. All of the incidents have been associated with air travel, which is not surprising to us, especially this time of year. Flights are oversold, winter weather is unpredictable, and the busy holiday season makes it difficult for airlines to efficiently accommodate the passengers.
Although travel insurance can offer protection and reimbursement for trip cancellation, trip interruption, and medical expenses, I would like to focus this particular post on the value of insurance specifically relating to air travel. Most policies offer coverage for flight cancellations, missed connections, baggage delay/loss, and any costs directly associated with these incidents, including hotel rooms and transport costs. However, often the circumstances are not as simple as a flight cancellation due to weather. Last week, we had two clients traveling from Toronto – Delhi. The segment from Toronto – London was on Airline #1 and the segment from London – Delhi was on Airline #2. (The tickets were linked and operated under a codeshare partnership.) After arriving in London, the clients were denied boarding on Airline #2. The gate agent told them that their ticket number and confirmation number were invalid. They were instructed to visit the office of Airline #1 to correct the issue, and return to the gate. The agent pulled up the reservation and said the ticket number was correct and it was confirmed in the system. They were told to return to the gate and try again. Upon reaching, the agent at Airline #2 said the same thing and once again denied boarding. They missed their flight.
Eventually, Airline #2 admitted their mistake and found the reservation but still refused to rebook the passengers on the later flight. There were five seats available in economy, but since they were in a different fare category, they would not reissue the tickets unless a supplement was paid. After being on calls with various airline offices for four hours, my air desk agreed to pay the difference in fare, just to get the clients on their way. To this, Airline #2 responded that they could no longer make changes to the reservation since the clients had already departed from Toronto. The tickets were not reissued, the clients were forced to spend an overnight in London, and Airline #2 would not provide a hotel voucher, meal voucher, or assistance. Finally, Airline #2 rebooked the clients on a flight the following day and issued an apology.
Unfortunately, the clients had not elected to purchase travel insurance. Although it was the direct error of the airline, the clients were responsible for their hotel and transport in London. They also missed a full day of touring and two nights of hotel accommodations in Delhi. If a policy was purchased, all of these expenses would be reimbursed, as well as phone calls, meals, and other incidentals.
Just like with auto or health insurance, travel insurance is not for when things go as planned. The protection is for those unexpected and often costly incidents. Together with the clients, we plan to fight these charges with the airline for a refund, due to their admitted mistake. However, without coverage, the expenses are ultimately the responsibility of the passenger.
This is just one example of the true value of travel insurance. I have many years of personal and professional experience in the travel industry, and I am familiar with how air service was and what it has become. Customer service issues aside, the airlines do not offer as many vouchers for missed or cancelled flights as in previous years. Generally, we find that the cost of the insurance policy is only a fraction of what the clients pay for airline change fees, accommodations, etc. No coverage can reimburse or offer protection against the potential headaches and anxiety, but knowing you have 24/7 support and financial coverage is a real value – and worth every penny. For more information, please visit our Travel Insurance page or contact a Sodha Travel Destination Specialist.
Imagine a space where prominent writers come together from across India, Europe, Africa, South Asia, and America to celebrate literature. The internationally renowned DSC Jaipur Literature Festival, now in its sixth year, will be held at Diggi Palace in Jaipur from January 24-28, 2013. The festival includes readings, debates, musical performances, children’s activities, and interactive workshops. It is the largest literary festival in Asia-Pacific and considered one of the most prestigious events in India.
During my recent trip to Jaipur, I had the opportunity to meet with Thakur Ram Pratap Singh Diggi, the managing director of Diggi Palace. He graciously took us on an inside tour of the expansive property and gardens and shared some wonderful stories about the family heritage. The Diggi lineage traces back to 1524 AD and the family haveli was established in 1727. In 1991, Thakur Ram and his wife converted part of their home to a hotel and Diggi Palace opened their doors to tourists worldwide. The family is particularly proud of the Jaipur Literature Festival being held on their property, as it showcases both the rich history and progress of Jaipur.
The festival is free for the general public but registration is required. You can register online or at the event, though online is advised to avoid long lines. The attending speaker list is expansive and diverse and the festival program will be posted after January 1.
The city of Jaipur certainly adds a romantic backdrop to the event. Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, is fondly called the “Pink City” due to the pink-colored buildings and avenues. Why pink? When the Prince of Wales visited Jaipur in 1853, the city was painted pink to welcome him. In addition to historic sites like Amber Fort and City Palace, Jaipur is known for its jewelry, gemstones, textiles, and distinct cuisine. Diggi Palace, nestled in a residential neighborhood at the end of a long driveway, offers 70 rooms and suites. The property also offers Taste of Diggi, a culinary workshop where guests visit the local markets and prepare specialty dishes with ladies of the resident local family. Sodha Travel highly recommends the charm and chronicles of Diggi Palace, where history blends with comfort to provide an enchanting experience.
An important India visa update: Travelers on a Tourist visa were previously required to have a gap of at least two months between two separate visits to India. The restriction has now been lifted except for nationals of China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, foreigners of Pakistan and Bangladesh. We see this as a positive amendment to the current policy, as previously the travelers would need to present the immigration officer with an exact itinerary and proof of onward travel upon re-entering India within two months of their last visit. As many of our clients include visits to Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka, and return to India for their onward flight and/or continuation of travel, this change will result in less paperwork and less time to pass customs and immigration. Travisa Outsourcing will continue to process all visa applications, with the exception of emergency requests.
As a reminder, here is the visa information for India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan:
For our United States clients, Travisa Outsourcing processes India visa applications. Standard Tourist Visas are valid for six months and cost $76. Applications can be completed online or you can apply in person at the Travisa office in Houston, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. or New York City. If located outside the United States, kindly contact the Indian Embassy or Consulates to determine the visa process. Sodha Travel must receive a copy of your India visa at least 30 days prior to departure to finalize your travel documents.
The Nepal visa is purchased upon arrival in Kathmandu or at the Nepal border. The cost is $25 and payable in USD (or your local currency).
If you reserve your Bhutan itinerary with Sodha Travel, we will process your Bhutan visa. 30 days prior to departure, we will require your passport copy and profession to complete the application. The final visa will then be sent to you via email (if you are flying directly to Bhutan) or handed over in India (if you have a stopover).
Sri Lanka Visa
U.S. citizens visiting Sri Lanka must have either an Electronic Travel Authorization or a visa to enter the country. Travelers will require an approval notice from Sri Lanka’s Electronic Travel Authorization System, passport, onward/return ticket, and proof of sufficient funds.
We always appreciate the feedback, photographs, and videos that our clients send during and after their travel experiences. Bill and Suzanne Saul recently returned from a 40-day trip in India. After teaching in Kerala for three weeks, they ventured North and enjoyed our Heritage Discovery tour of Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Khajuraho, and Varanasi. After returning to San Francisco, they sent us the following note and pictures:
Our praise for the planning and execution by the Sodha Travel team on our recent trip through India cannot be high enough. All our transfers went off without a hitch, and when it looked as though our departure from New Delhi at the end of the trip would need to be delayed, the representative was right on the spot, offering to change our final flight if needed. It was not, and we were able to finish with our guided tour of the city as planned. After teaching for three weeks in Kerala, we were anxious for the trip to proceed smoothly from there through our many stops in the north. The transfer agents and guides were cordial and helped make the 40-day trip special indeed. Needs were fulfilled, baggage was not lost, and the links of vans, train, and airlines meshed nicely. The hotels were just what we needed, our favorite being the Samode Haveli in Jaipur. We made many photos to document the memories of a unique country, its historical spots, and its people. One of the pictures soon will soon hang in an exhibit by our local art group in Berkeley, Ca. We’ll be happy to recommend Sodha Travel and/or use your skills in the future!
Many thanks, Bill and Suzanne, for your praise. Have a testimonial or media file to share? Please send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Agra, the Mughal capital for nearly a century, is one of India’s most visited cities. Together with Delhi and Jaipur, it is part of the popular Golden Triangle tourism circuit and known for its marble and stone inlay handicrafts. The city also houses the famed and majestic Taj Mahal, considered one of the most worldly photographed symbols of love.
In addition to the Taj Mahal, many Agra tour programs also include visits to the following:
Agra Fort – An impressive fort with royal pavilions, courtyards, marble carvings, and palaces
Sikandra – Akbar’s tomb that blends Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jain, and Buddhist elements
I’timad-ud-Daulah – Often called the Baby Taj, this mausoleum is considered a draft of the Taj Mahal
Fatehpur Sikri (25 miles from Agra) - A deserted and perfectly preserved red sandstone city
Sodha Travel also recommends exploring the hidden spaces of the city, and we are pleased to offer two unique tour programs in Agra. The first is an Agra Mughal Heritage Walk. Stroll through alleys, discover local temples, and observe the daily life of the locals. This tour is also part of a community development program that seeks to build sustainable livelihoods for women and children from low-income neighborhoods. We also recommend The Lanes of Old Agra. Very few travelers have an opportunity to visit the more historic districts of the city. After your tour of the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, take a rickshaw or tonga ride to Old Agra. As you explore the narrow lanes, visit with local artisans, browse the local crafts, peep inside shops, and enjoy a cup of chai while reliving the times of a city that has an enduring history. Both of these half-day tour programs are available year round, though please remember that for the Lanes of Old Agra, the Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays.
**The Sodha Travel team wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving! Kindly note that in recognition of the holiday, our office will be closed on Thursday, November 22 and Friday, November 23. Enjoy the feast!
When traveling in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan, it is recommended to understand the tipping etiquette in each country. This includes gratuities in restaurants, bars, and establishments that provide a direct service. There is also the personal assistance. The guides, drivers, and representatives feel great pride in being given a chance to show visitors their country. If they were being paid a salary commensurate with their work, they would be earning more than they do today. Tipping is personal and completely voluntary, and here are the standard guidelines:
India: Tipping in restaurants is customary but not required. If you are pleased with the service, you can tip 10% of the total. We recommended handing the money directly to the waiter. If it is added to a bill or left on the table, it may not be received. Some restaurants and bars charge a service fee in the final bill. This fee is not considered an inclusive gratuity. It is also customary to tip porters, guides, drivers, and transfer representatives, as well as anyone who provides a direct service, including spa therapists or a delivery service. For a certified driver and/or guide, we recommend Rs 200-400 per person for a full day of service. A transfer representative can receive Rs 100-200 per person, per transfer, and Rs 30 – 50 per bag for the porter. It is appropriate to tip the person who watches your shoes at a temple or religious site, approximately Rs 20-30. Gratuities in Indian Rupee (INR) is preferred, though you can also pay in USD or your local currency. Kindly note: Many tour packages include porterage fees, so please inquire prior to your trip.
Nepal: Tipping is a relatively new custom in Nepal. Most people who provide a direct service (taxi drivers, barbers, etc.) do not expect gratuity. It is customary, however, to tip guides, hired drivers, and transfer representatives, as well as trekking guides and sherpas. The recommended amount is slightly less compared to India: NPR 100-200 per person for a full day driver and/or guide. For a more experienced trek, consider a tip of NPR 300-400/day. Gratuities in Nepalese Rupee (NPR) are preferred.
Sri Lanka: The tipping etiquette in Sri Lanka mirrors India. A 10% service fee is often added to final checks in restaurants and bars, but this often goes to the owner. If you wish to add a gratuity, please give directly to your waiter. A general practice is to tip 10% of your total bill. It is also customary to tip porters, guides, drivers, and transfer representatives, as well as anyone who provides a direct service. For a certified driver and/or guide, we recommend LKR 200-300 per person for a full day of service. A transfer representative can receive LKR 100 per person, and the porter LKR 20 – 30 per bag. It is also appropriate to tip the person who watches your shoes at a temple or religious site, approximately LKR 10-20. Gratuities in Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR) are preferred.
Bhutan: Although tipping is officially discouraged in Bhutan, it has become a common practice. Kindly use discretion and tip your guide and driver for a well-performed service. You may tip in Bhutanese Ngultrum (BTN) or Indian Rupee (INR).
*Please remember that the guidelines outlined above are only recommendations. Also, please be discreet when tipping in public.
From October 31 – November 18, the Sodha Travel team will be traveling in North India. In addition to negotiating contracts and meeting with vendors, we will be conducting property tours, visiting the most recent sites and restaurants, and researching all the latest and greatest activities for our clients. This year, our destinations will include Delhi, Jaipur, Rajsamand, Udaipur, Jodhpur, and Rishikesh. During our travels, we will be posting photos and journals on our blog and Sodha Travel social networks. We invite you to follow us on our journey as we celebrate Diwali and other regional festivals with the magnificent people of India.
Here is a brief description of the destinations we plan to visit:
Delhi: Located on the Yamuna River, Delhi (locally known as Dilli) is the capital of India. It is typically the first stop on the popular Golden Triangle circuit and offers many attractions for visitors. Because my husband’s family lives here, we often discover unique spots usually frequented by locals. Delhi is also overflowing with wonderful markets and bazaars, and we enjoy scouting the shops for treasured items. We are perhaps most excited about celebrating Diwali, the Festival of Lights, in India’s capital!
Jaipur: Jaipur is the capital and “Pink City” of Rajasthan. It is considered India’s center of jewelry and gemstones, and also known for handicrafts, glazed pottery, and block textiles. We will be visiting Galwar Bagh (the Monkey Temple) and the most acclaimed properties in the city, including Rasa and Oberoi Rajvilas.
Rajsamand: The Deogarh Mahal is one of my favorite hotels in Rajasthan, and we are excited to return to this restored Mewar Palace that is still partially occupied by the royal family. In the evening, we will participate in a rural ramble, a jeep ride through the countryside.
Udaipur: With a wealth of enchanting lakes, Udaipur is a true oasis in Rajasthan. The highlight of our property tours will include a visit to Taj Lake Palace, one of the most luxurious and romantic hotels in the world. We will also be participating in a regional festival and viewing the city frescoes.
Jodhpur: From Udaipur we will travel to Jodhpur, en-route visiting Ranakpur, a pilgrimage destination famous for its exquisitely carved Jain temples. Jodhpur is the 2nd largest city in Rajasthan and known for its impressive fortified bastions. Our team will have the opportunity to visit a traditional Rajput home and spend time learning about the family traditions, past and present.
Rishikesh: To many, Rishikesh is considered the heart of yoga and meditation in Northern India. However, it also offers an array of adventure activities, including rafting, kayaking, cliff jumping, and trekking. Two members of our team will be participating in a thrilling 2-night rafting adventure on the Ganges River.
Sodha Travel is delighted to be the preferred travel company for two U.S. adoption organizations. Our team coordinates the travel logistics for families adopting children from India, including internal transportation, lodging, and customized family trips.
Debra Dreyer is the India Program Specialist at Children’s Home Society & Family Services. I recently asked her a few questions regarding the process and expectations for families adopting children from India:
What is the biggest challenge for families adopting children from India?
There are so many unknown time frames for the adoption process in every aspect – the wait for the referral, the wait from referral until the no objection certificate from the Central Adoption Resource Authority, and the wait for the court process to be completed.
If you could offer one piece of advice to families adopting children from India, as it pertains to the adoption process, what would it be?
Any family adopting from India should understand that the process can change at any time, so flexibility and patience are key.
If you could offer one piece of advice to families adopting children from India, as it pertains to traveling to the country, what would it be?
You are a guest in another country. Please understand that expectations are not the same as in the West. Show patience and restraint.
What information is most relevant to prospective families adopting children from India?
After the potential delays and frustrations, if you are successful and a child comes into your family, it will all have been worth it.
If you are interested in more information about adoption travel, please contact our Sodha Travel Destination Specialists.
Are you a fan of Sodha Travel? Be sure to follow us on Pinterest as we travel to the enchanting destinations of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan. Soon, we will be adding recipes, videos, media recommendations, and more. Also, be on the lookout for a photo contest in the next couple months. The winner will receive a custom gift basket from one of our favorite Indian bath and body companies, Forest Essentials. Invite your friends, and join our journey!
Mark your Calendars: Starting November 5, our team will be traveling in India and sharing all the latest and greatest sites, accommodations, restaurants, and activities. Be sure to follow us on all our Sodha Travel social media platforms!
An update regarding the India visa application process: Certain functions and usability are currently disabled while the system is being updated. These include credit card processing, money order instructions, and frequent time-outs. Additionally, the application process for the tourist visa has recently changed. Here are a few tips when applying for the tourist visa:
1. When completing an online application, you will first be linked to the form facilitated by the Government of India. Please note the following:
- Be sure to select the correct location under Indian mission, at the top of the form. Each state is linked to a consulate or embassy within a specific jurisdiction. The list is provided on the Travisa Outsourcing site.
- Under Applicant Details, Visible Identification Marks: This is a visible mark on your body, including a mole, birthmark, scar, etc.
2. After completing the form on the applicable government site, you must return to Travisa Outsourcing and complete the Travisa order form. The Travisa order form now includes a section on scanning your visa photo and signature for the database. As the form states, this step is not required, but if not completed there will be a processing delay. Also, the signature must be completely inside the box.
3. Please read the photo guidelines for the visa photo. Glasses may not be worn and correct cropping is required.
4. The visa is valid for six months from the date of issue. If your visa is processed on September 1, 2012, it will expire on February 28, 2013. Some travelers anticipate the visa to start the 6-month validity on the arrival date in India, but it is from the date of issue.
5. Your passport must have at least two blank visa pages available. The amendment pages are not acceptable.
Remember, there should be a gap of at least two months between two separate visits to India. If you wish to return to India within 2 months of your previous visit, an application for a permit to re-enter India is required. However, no permit is needed if the visa holder is traveling to multiple countries on the same itinerary and the trip follows the itinerary exactly. The visa holder must carry a copy of the itinerary to show the Immigration Officer. For example, if you plan to visit India and then travel to Nepal, and then return to India to fly home, this would be two separate India arrivals. A copy of your itinerary must be presented at immigration to allow for multiple entries within two months.
If you are considering traveling abroad for a medical procedure, or just curious about the buzz on medical tourism, check out my recent article on Travelhoppers titled Medical Tourism: A Destination Operation. In the past few years, I have seen many clients reserve custom tour packages to India after completing an overseas medical procedure – and the numbers are growing. During a time when healthcare is a hot-button topic, medical tourism is skyrocketing with figures exceeding $80 billion annually. Industry professionals state the pros and cons, but the idea of merging an operation and a vacation is appealing to many. Janet Caldwell, a client who has traveled to India and Nepal several times in the past five years, had cosmetic surgery in Bangalore in 2011. She says, “The doctors, nurses and staff were excellent. My recovery accommodations were like a luxury hotel, and it was all showered with the unrivaled Indian hospitality and service. It was a destination operation, and well worth it.”
Tell us, would you travel overseas for a medical procedure?
Last week, I received an email inquiry regarding local transportation in Sri Lanka. A Sodha Traveler, Richard, is traveling to the Emerald Isle in November on an independent itinerary. He asked our team, “What are the best options for traveling between destinations? Are buses available and safe? Is train travel suggested?” Here are Sodha Travel’s suggestions for local transportation in Sri Lanka:
Train: Trains are the cheapest and perhaps the best way to see Sri Lanka. Trains are available to all major tourist towns, but few offer first-class or air-conditioned carriages. An inter-city express service connects Colombo with Kandy. Train services to Jaffna have been closed.
Bus: Sri Lanka has an extensive network of roads reaching all parts of the island. Buses plying on these roads connect all parts of the country. The two main types of buses in Sri Lanka are the Central Transport Board buses and
private buses. Although affordable, be ready to jostle with the crowds!
Taxi and Auto Rickshaw: You can avail taxis in most destinations, though it is difficult to find metered-taxis in smaller towns. It is advisable to discuss the price before departing for your destination. The three-wheelers or autorickshaws are found in all areas of the country. In tourist spots as well as outside the railway stations and bus stops, three wheelers are easily available. The rule of negotiating the price implies itself here, too.
Private Vehicles for Hire: Private vehicles can be hired for the day or a proposed itinerary. Although more costly compared to other modes of transport, a private vehicle offers more comfort and flexibility. Depending on the destination and season, A/C or non-A/C vehicles are available.
Remember to join our live Facebook chat tomorrow, September 6, from 11am – 12pm PST. I will be answering your questions about Sodha Travel’s services and destinations, and each participant will receive a special booking discount toward a custom tour! I hope you will join us!
Nepal is an enticing Kingdom, a destination filled with religious, historical, and natural treasures. Nepal is also home to four UNESCO World Heritage sites. UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. The World Heritage List is currently comprised of 962 properties that have superior universal value – 745 cultural, 188 natural, and 29 mixed. The four UNESCO sites in Nepal are Kathmandu Valley (cultural), Chitwan National Park (natural), Sagarmatha National Park (natural), and Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha (cultural).
Kathmandu Valley: The Kathmandu Valley includes seven cultural and historical sites: Durbar Squares of Hanuman Dhoka (Kathmandu), Patan and Bhaktapur, the Buddhist stupas of Swayambhu and Bauddhanath and the Hindu temples of Pashupati and Changu Narayan.
Chitwan National Park: Established in 1973, Chitwan was Nepal’s first National Park and encompasses 360 square miles of tall grassland and thick forests. The two prized animals are the Royal Bengal Tiger and the One Horned Rhinoceros. You may also view leopard, gaur, sloth bear, wild boar, sambar deer, spotted deer, hog deer, and over 400 identified species of birds.
Sagarmatha National Park: This National Park includes Mt. Everest, the highest peak in the world. Sagarmatha is a unique region with glaciers, deep valleys, and striking mountain ranges. The Sherpas, an ethnic group from Eastern Nepal, reside in the area and are often regarded as expert mountaineers.
Lumbini: The birthplace of Lord Buddha and a Buddhist pilgrimage site. It is believed that Buddha lived here until the age of 29. The holy site is surrounded by a monastic zone, allowing only monasteries to be built and no commercial property, including hotels and restaurants. The precise location of Buddha’s birth is located in the Mayadevi Temple, and there are monasteries, a bathing pond and sacred Bodhi tree.
Sodha Travel’s Nepal sample tours include these UNESCO sites, including Legends of Nepal, Mt. Everest Expedition, and Wonders of Hinduism and Buddhism. Our Destination Specialists can also create a custom tour package that incorporates your special interests and travel preferences. Contact our team to start planning your Nepal adventure!
You asked and we delivered! Sodha Travel is excited to announce a group tour to Sri Lanka in April 2013. To maintain an intimate cultural experience, this tour is limited to 24 guests.
Sri Lanka, known as Ceylon before 1972, is an island nation in South Asia. Sri Lanka had always been an important port and trading post in the ancient world, and was increasingly frequented by merchant ships from the Middle East, Persia, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and other parts of Southeast Asia. After over two thousand years of rule by local kingdoms, parts of Sri Lanka were colonized by Portugal and the Netherlands beginning in the 16th century, before the control of the entire country was ceded to the British Empire in 1815. During World War II, Sri Lanka served as an important base for Allied forces in the fight against the Japanese Empire. A nationalist political movement arose in the country in the early 20th century, with the aim of obtaining political independence, which was eventually granted by the British after peaceful negotiations in 1948. Famous for the production and export of tea, coffee, rubber and coconuts, Sri Lanka boasts a progressive and modern industrial economy. With rows of coconut palms, dense forests and clear waters of the Indian ocean, Sri Lanka is an incredible offshore garden.
On this tour, visit the capital of Colombo, tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya, beaches of Hikkaduwa, and cultural center of Kandy. Also, experience a jeep safari in Minneriya National Park and a visit to the ancient capital of Polonnaruwa.
April 10-19, 2013
10 days/9 nights
Colombo – Habarana – Kandy – Nuwara Eliya – Hikkaduwa
- Dambulla Cave Temple, part of the largest preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka
- Temple of the Tooth, housing the Sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha
- Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, a renowned refuge that houses retired, abused, or orphaned elephants
- Galle Fort, built by the Portuguese in 1558
- A traditional tea plantation in the rolling hills of Nuwara Eliya
- A Kandyan dance performance
- 9 nights of superior hotel accommodations
- Daily breakfast
- Festive Farewell Dinner
- A/C vehicle and driver
- Comprehensive touring, including entrance fees and a private guide
- Jeep safari in Minneriya National Park
- Airport transfers
- Road taxes and fuel surcharges
- And many more special experiences!
$1498.00 per person, based on double occupancy
Single Supplement: $797
Special offer: Register by September 14th and receive a $50 booking discount!
Please note: We understand that our clients prefer options when it comes to air travel. Many want to use mileage programs, choose the airline, and/or upgrade the class of service. For this reason, international airfare is not included. However, Sodha Travel will be offering a group airfare option, to be finalized in the fall.
For a detailed itinerary or to register, please contact a Sodha Travel Destination Specialist.
Tomorrow, August 15th, is India’s Independence Day. As the capital of India, Delhi will understandably have the largest celebration in the country. Delhi is a bustling metropolis that incorporates the ancient with the modern and the monuments stand as a silent reminder of India’s legacy. Many attractions in the city incur an entrance fee, with different rates for Indian and foreign nationals. However, there are also many free activities to enjoy in India’s capital and 22nd largest city in the world. Here are five of my favorite free traveler experiences in Delhi:
Gardens Galore: Spread over 900 acres, the Lodi Gardens contains various tombs and architectural works. Protected by the Archaeological Survey of India, the park is also a popular spot for locals enjoying morning walks. The Garden of the Five Senses offers modern art sculptures, herb gardens, bamboo courts, and a solar energy park. Cultural festivals and events are also held in the 20-acre park, so it is quite possible you may experience a festive dance or music performance!
To Market, To Market: Delhi is considered an epicenter for markets and bazaars. My favorites include Janpath, Connaught Place, Khan Market, Hauz Khas, and Lajpat Nagar. There is also Chandni Chowk, established in 1650 AD and considered one of the oldest and busiest street markets in Old Delhi (Shahjahanabad). Warning: Though visiting the markets is free, it may be difficult to resist purchasing the beautiful items along the way!
Exhibitions: Check out the exhibitions at the Delhi Art Gallery in Hauz Khas and Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA). Both offer rotating arts and cultural galleries and performances, and most are free to the public. The current exhibition at the Delhi Art Gallery is titled Indian Landscapes – The Changing Horizon, featuring a selection of 400 works by over 100 renowned artists.
Temple Trail: Most temples and places of worship in India have no entrance fee. In Delhi, visit the Birla Mandir, Guruwara Bangla Sahib, and Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque that can accommodate 25,000 worshipers. Nearly 70% of all Delhi tourists also visit the Akshardham Temple, an elaborate temple complex that features an IMAX theater, musical fountains, sunken gardens, and a boat ride that explores India’s extensive history. Note: Though the temple and garden area have no entry fee, there is a nominal charge for the media attractions.
Handicrafts and Handlooms: The Crafts Museum, also known as the National Handicrafts and Handloom Museum, displays India’s tribal and rural art and artifacts. The Village Complex is an exhibition that displays village life from varying regions in India: “The huts, courtyards, and shrines are…built with regional construction material and by the respective village masons, artisans, thatchers, and carpenters. In every hut and courtyard, day-to-day items are displayed.” Each month, the museum invites approximately 50 craftspeople to reside on the property and demonstrate their talents.
Of course, there is also the option to hang out with the Delhiites in areas like Priya Complex, Khan Market, and Defence Colony. Still searching for free options? Check out the What’s Hot section every Friday in the Times of India. Explore, experience, and enjoy all Delhi has to offer! To learn more about Delhi’s vast attractions, contact a Sodha Travel Destination Specialist.