Noisy yet spiritual, flashy yet humble, Mumbai manages to cram so many extremes into one city it's no wonder that it leaves most visitors exhilarated and entranced.
Arrive at Mumbai airport. As you walk outside the airport building, you are consumed by the atmosphere of a city that never sleeps.
Our representative will collect you from the airport and transfer you to your hotel, which is in the old British quarter of Mumbai (called Colaba) - now a heady mix of bars, restaurants, art galleries and designer shops.
Settle in and acclimatise.
This afternoon - for anyone who feels like heading out - Helena will lead you into the deep-end of the street life that is so much a feature of this pulsing metropolis.
Sunset experience at Chowpatty beach to see the parade of happy people out and about on any Mumbai evening. Watch the flurry of fruit bats in the mango trees at the beach and experience how nature and the city collide in this fantastic city.
After dinner, meet up to connect with the rest of the group for discussion and orientation.
Overnight in Mumbai. Look forward to tomorrow.
Yoga and meditation before breakfast, guides you to the spirit of this place. There isn't a better way to start the day.
After breakfast, group meeting and discussion. Then surrender to a tour of Dharavi - the largest slum in Asia. This is not a place of misery - it rose to fame after being featured in the film Slumdog Millionaire and is an inspiring look at the industry of an informal settlement.
Lunch at Shree Thaker Bhojanalay for a Gujarati thali.
After lunch, join the throng down Colaba Causeway for the best deals and unique items in this Aladdin's Cave of wonders. You'll understand why Mumbai is called Maximum City.
Meet at Leopold's on Colaba Causeway - the hip restaurant and bar made famous in the book Shantaram.
Tonight is for relaxation and yin yoga.
TRAVEL TO THE PAST AND GET A PANORAMA OF LIFE IN ANCIENT INDIA.
Today, in time, we will be collected and transferred to the train station for our journey to Aurangabad - the gateway to the 2nd century caves of Ajanta and Ellora.
These monasteries that were intricately carved, out of natural caves in the mountainside, are the ancient remnants of a religious culture - and are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Overnight in Aurangabad.
This morning, head out early to take in the sublime atmosphere of Ellora caves in the early morning sun. It is 40 minutes from Aurangabad. We will leave our suitcases at the hotel in Aurangabad and travel light to the caves.
Bring your yoga kit - for movement and meditation in this ancient reverberation.
Spend time at the Kailash temple at Ellora - Helena to lead a conversation about the masculine and feminine aspects of this dynamic Hindu god.
Tonight, unwind with yin yoga. Overnight in Ellora at our hotel in the place of ancient ruins.
Watch the sun rise and meditate at Ellora Caves. We'll take our mats and find a suitable place to do yoga - this is location dependent.
After an early breakfast, we will drive from Ellora to the Ajanta caves - a UNESCO world heritage site - the drive will take around 1 hour and 47 minutes
These caves are an ancient phenomenon and one of India's top historical attractions. It is hard to believe that they were constructed with only a hammer and chisel. The sculptures and paintings there are described as among the finest surviving examples of ancient Indian art.
There is fantastic shopping at the caves - fascinating handicrafts, statues and clothing that is rich in the art and culture of several communities that have their history here.
At the end of today, we will travel back to the hotel in Aurangabad in our private bus. Our bags will have been stored here safely.
Overnight in Aurangabad.
Early morning flight: today, we travel south - Aurangabad to Cochin
Serene Kochi has been drawing traders and explorers to its shores for over 600 years. Nowhere else in India would you find this intriguing mix: a 400-year-old synagogue, ancient mosks, Portuguese houses and the crumbling remains of the British Raj. The result is an unlikely blend of medieval Portugal, Holland and an English village grafted onto the tropical Malabar Coast.
Meeting and assistance on arrival and transfer to our hotel in the heart of historical fort Cochin.
The Malabar House is more than a highly designed heritage hotel. It is an art hotel, home of a carefully curated collection, highlighting Kerala's composite culture as a passage between east and west.
Afternoon cooking class in a private house with a professional cookery instructor to learn the nuances of traditional Kerala recipes.
Overnight in Cochin.
Yoga and meditation before breakfast, led by Wayne
Today, we will journey deeper into the lotus of Cochin. Visit the antique market at Matancherry and walk up Jew Street to the Paradesi Synagogue - it is the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth. Built in 1568, this synagogue is a great symbol of the love and harmony that exists in this community.
Spend the day exploring the antique market at Jew Town. Sunset drinks at Brunton Boatyard, overlooking the harbour in Cochin - one of the world’s most scenic waterways.
The massive container cranes, cargo docks, marinas, diving water birds, shipyards, cruise facilities and Indian Navy operations are in sharp contrast to the traditional fishing boats that dot the harbour.
Evening Kathakali dance performance - starting with the application of make-up and description of the face and hand movements - this is one of the major forms of Indian classical dance.
Kottayam is a vast network of rivers and canals which empty into the great expanse of water called Vembanad Lake. The lake is an enchanting paradigm of sweet village life that revolves around the water - children swim, there are snake boats for transport and bird life abounds.
Yoga and meditation this morning, before breakfast at our hotel. Later, depart for Alleppey by surface (with our car and driver) and on arrival board a houseboat. Cruise the backwaters through a network of canals with a back drop of villages and coconut trees.
The rare art of building a traditional Kettuvallam (a rice barge) is a dying one and known only to a few skilled boat builders in the region today. Relax and allow the green and blue of the India backwaters to slide by.
Overnight on board our houseboat. Each boat has its own private chef and the food is fantastic! Drift off to sleep to the tune of the light lapping of water against the side of your boat.
After breakfast on your luxury houseboat, disembark at the jetty of Purity Spa - a Relais and Chateau property.
The next three days constitute the retreat aspect of this excursion. We will get into a disciplined routine of yoga and meditation, discussion and writing. There will be time for relaxation and massage.
Breathe deep, disappear into silence - spend your days in bliss in the place called God's own country.
Overnight at Purity Spa for 3 nights.
In time transfer from Purity Spa to the airport in Cochin for our flight to Mumbai international airport. Board your flight for onward destination... Tour ends with sweet memories
CHECK-IN & CHECK-OUT TIME AT ALL THE HOTELS IS 12 NOON
THESE HOTELS OR SIMILAR:
MUMBAI: VIVANTA BY TAJ-PRESIDENT
AURANGABAD: VIVANTA BY TAJ
ELLORA: HOTEL KAILAS
COCHIN: MALABAR HOUSE
HOUSEBOAT: SPICE COAST CRUISES
VEMBANAD LAKE: PURITY SPA.