SMALL GROUP TOUR
An Indian Design Journey – Delhi to Varanasi
Through Architecture, Interior Design & Textiles
5 to 22 Feb 2024
Small Group: Min 8 – Max 11
An Indian Design Journey, hosted by Design Alchemy and boutique tour operator All Things Intriguing (ATI) Travel, is all prepared to dive deep into India’s most extraordinary architectural and cultural wonders.
Are you longing to immerse yourself in India’s rich and captivating culture but haven’t found the perfect opportunity to do so?
Look no further! This personally curated tour offers you a chance to witness the magic of India in ways you never thought possible. You will embark on a journey that will ignite your adventurous spirit and leave you awestruck. This tour includes visits to luxurious royal and private residences, artists’ studios and workshops, as well as carefully selected design institutions, museums, boutique showrooms, and local markets.
You will travel comfortably with a small group of like-minded individuals, indulging in regional culinary delights across three states. After the high energy and buzz of the cities, the authenticity of Artisans in the villages kick back and soak in the quietude of the wilderness during the wildlife safaris. Let us turn your long-held dream of experiencing India into a reality.
Delhi | Jaipur | Agra | Chambal | Lucknow | Varanasi | Delhi
I undertook a tour with Design Alchemy to India in March 2023. It was an incredible experience with a group of women that, at the start of the journey, I didn’t know and now have shared lifelong experiences with. The tour itinerary was very well organised and also flexible, as travel can be unpredictable at times.
I would call it a bespoke tour as we had the opportunity to truly integrate with Indian families in their own homes and environments, which is certainly not something the average tourist to India gets to do. Every day was an exciting new adventure, and I loved every minute!
If you get an opportunity to join one of these tours, do not hesitate…. You will be in for a trip of a lifetime!
Design Alchemy is a collaboration of three award-winning New Zealand Interior Designers who came together to combine their knowledge and creative talents to work together in a multi-faceted way. They share the same values and believe that when true collaboration starts, magic is created, which will ignite, inspire, and connect through design. As well as completing a wide variety of design projects, they are working on a product range, presenting live “Wine and Interior Design” webinars, and have created a bespoke design journey to share with you. Joji and Amanda Neill will lead this tour, while Anna Cuthbert and Donna White will accompany guests on alternative tours.
Read more about the designers and the tour leader
Each of these designers has a strong connection with India in their own way.
Anna’s passion for India started while working in fabric houses in London in the late 90’s. She fell in love with the textiles, embroideries and exquisite workmanship. “Nothing rivals the jewel-like tones or the vivid patterns that tell time-honoured stories.” She has travelled extensively, hosting design tours through Asia, including Kerala in the south of India. Never shy of street food or walking off the beaten track, Anna has an incredible knack for finding those hidden gems.
Amanda began her relationship with India in 1988. Travelling on her honeymoon, she ventured as far as the remote northern area of Ladakh, meeting the Dalai Lama, and spending time with the Monks. Fast forward to 2012, and she married again in a western / Hindu ceremony in Kerala, the Venice of the East. The allure of exotic India has continued to draw Amanda back numerous times over the decades. She loves the intensity of all things India, the design, the colours, the people and the variety of traditions and cultures. When she steps off the plane into the country, feels like she has come home.
Donna has always travelled under the philosophy of seeing a lot of a little. Her love of India started in her mid-twenties when she and her husband arrived in Old Delhi to commence an incredible trip through northern India. They took in all of the vivid cultures and design experiences from Delhi to Agra & Varanasi. This was a trip of a lifetime that intoxicated all her senses.
She has even trekked to Mt Everest Base Camp in Nepal and met Tenzing Norgay & Sir Edmund Hillary while they were filming a National Geographic documentary. Those encounters created memories still cherished today. Donna has returned to India on multiple occasions, and the draw to visit again is still as strong as ever.
It was an easy decision for these 3 designers to partner with Joji Jacob from ATI Travel. Joji has created bespoke tours for many years, and his clients include Coco Chanel. Together, they have created “An Indian Design Journey”, which will take you on a breath-taking and experiential tour of the amazing Architecture, Interior Design and Textiles of India in March 2023.
This tour will take you behind the scenes into the real India, and you will experience a journey that will fill you with a lifetime of memories and leave you hanging for more. If you have ever dreamt of travelling in India but have never had the confidence or the like-minded people to travel with, now is your golden opportunity.
This was a comprehensive and fascinating tour exploring the northwest corridor of India. Tour leaders, with excellent support from the ATI leader (and his team), provided accessible and informative service throughout while ensuring that we, as a group, had really good fun!
I will never forget this trip; I learned lots of stories and lots of new learning about textiles and design. Importantly, so enjoyable to interact with, and learn from, so many friendly people I met in India. Namaste.
Day 1 & 2 – Delhi - Arrival
Delhi, the capital of India, awaits you with its splendid blend of ancient and modern architecture, reflecting its diverse cultural heritage. As you arrive at Delhi International Airport, you will be greeted by our friendly staff and taken to your hotel in a private vehicle. During your stay in this historic city, you will discover its charm through its monuments, designs and cuisines, which offer a range of styles and flavours to please every palate. You will also experience the religious diversity of the country by visiting places like Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, a Sikh temple that boasts the largest kitchen in the city, or Jama Masjid, which happens to be the biggest mosque in India.
Meals: B | – | –
Accommodation: Golden Haveli
Day 3, 4 & 5 – Jaipur
Our journey west from Delhi takes us to vibrant Rajasthan, where we reach Jaipur, the Pink city that greets us with its splendid architecture and culture. We marvel at the grandeur of this regal city, visiting its impressive palaces, forts, showrooms and markets that showcase its rich history and skill in various fields such as textiles, jewellery, pottery and painting. We also get a chance to mingle with a hospitable Rajasthani family, learn their culinary secrets, and taste their delicious homemade food that reflects their customs and tastes. We enjoy their warm hospitality and learn about their lifestyle and values. We also get exclusive access to the studios of well-known designers, where we witness their creativity and innovation. We take a trip to the countryside to see the traditional indigo dyeing process and learn about the art’s natural history. We witness skilled block printmakers in action and marvel at their intricate designs and patterns. We also purchase authentic textiles from the craftsmen, appreciating the quality and authenticity of their work.
Meals: B | – | –
Accommodation: Ikaki Niwas
Day 6 – Agra
After a hearty breakfast at the homestay, we drive to Agra, the city of love and history. We will visit the Sheroes cafe, where we will meet some amazing women who have survived acid attacks and turned their trauma into strength. They run a social enterprise that supports other women and educates people about violence against women. We can talk to them and hear their stories and vision. Later, we will marvel at the Taj Mahal, one of the world’s wonders. This stunning mausoleum was built by Shah Jahan for his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. A knowledgeable guide will show us its beautiful architecture and gardens and tell us about its history and significance. We will end our day at a heritage property in Agra, where we will admire the architectural beauty of India’s colonial past. We will also watch a puppet show that showcases India’s rich culture and folklore through colourful puppets and music.
Meals: B | – | –
Accommodation: Grand Imperial
Day 7, 8 & 9 Chambal
Meals: B | – | –
Accommodation: Chambal Safari Lodge
Day 10, 11, 12 & 13 – Lucknow
In the old part of Lucknow, we will stroll through narrow streets and witness artisans practising different types of embroidery such as Chikan, Zardozi, and Aari. These intricate patterns adorn clothes and fabrics. We will also witness block printing that uses wooden stamps to create colourful designs, metal crafts that shape brass and copper into utensils and ornaments, perfumeries that use local rose petals to make fragrant attars, and costume jewellery making that creates dazzling accessories with beads and stones. We can sample local specialities that range from sweet to savory whenever we feel like it.
As guests of the royal family of Mahmudabad, who live in a splendid palace an hour away from Lucknow, we will have the opportunity to visit one of their projects empowering local women who make beautiful embroidered materials using traditional techniques. We will hear their stories and skills and have an opportunity to buy unique souvenirs supporting their livelihoods.
Meals: B | L(1) | –
Day 14, 15 & 16 – Varanasi
The fragrance of incense and the smoke-filled air provide a unique sensory experience that is exclusive to Varanasi, leaving an indelible impression on guests, who often return to relive the experience. The markets of Varanasi are filled with colourful items such as silk sarees, wooden toys, brassware, and beads. We will visit the weaver’s village to observe the making of the famous Banarasi silk sarees with their intricate brocade work.
Meals: B | – | –
Day 17 – Varanasi to Delhi
Meals: B | – | –
Day 18 – Delhi - Departure
Our ‘AIDJ Varanasi’ Tour has come to an end, and we hope you enjoyed the journey with us. It brings us great pleasure to have introduced you to the peaceful and delightful experiences of Central India. We appreciate your participation in promoting the value of handmade crafts and textiles in India. Your airport transfer service and assistance at the Delhi International Airport are included in the package for those heading home today. We eagerly await the opportunity to provide you with another exciting AIDJ + ATI Travel NZ experience. Thank you for travelling with us. Namaste!
Meals: B | – | –
Tour Price & Other Info
Prices are per person, based on twin-share
Package Price for 18 days: NZ$10860 per person on a twin share basis
A mandatory tipping fee applies for a group of 9 or less: NZ$200 per person
Single Supplement: NZ$2925 Per Person
- Airport meet and greet with private transfers
- Private air-conditioned van
- Handpicked boutique accommodations
- Meals as per trip note
- River safari & bird watching
- English-speaking local guides
- Train journey in A/C Chair Car from Lucknow to Varanasi
- Flight from Varanasi to Delhi
- International Airfares
- Visa fees
- Travel Insurance
- Medical Tests & other medical expenses
- Personal expenses
- Tips for restaurant staff
What destinations are covered in the small group tours to India?
This carefully curated small group tour of India encompasses a vast array of destinations, encompassing legendary cities like Delhi, Jaipur and Lucknow, as well as culturally significant regions such as Agra and Varanasi. You’ll have the opportunity to explore awe-inspiring historical sites like the Taj Mahal, ancient temples, vibrant markets, peaceful wildlife, and more. Each itinerary is carefully crafted to showcase India’s rich diversity of landscapes, traditions, architecture, cuisine, music, and people.
What is the maximum group size for your small group tours?
To ensure an intimate and enjoyable experience, our small group tours to India typically have a maximum group size of 8 to 10 participants. This allows for personalised attention, more effortless group dynamics, and better access to attractions and local experiences. Travelling in a small group fosters a sense of camaraderie among fellow travellers and allows for more flexibility in accommodating individual preferences and interests.
What is included in the tour packages?
Are the tours suitable for solo travellers?
When should I purchase comprehensive travel insurance?
What is comprehensive travel insurance?
Comprehensive travel insurance is a type of insurance that covers a wide range of risks and expenses that may arise during your trip. It typically includes coverage for medical emergencies, trip cancellation, baggage loss or damage, personal liability, and legal assistance. Travel insurance provided by Credit card providers might have some limitations, so please check the small prints.
What are the supporting documents I need to submit for the tour?
1. a completed and signed copy of the booking form
2. a copy of the passport, valid for six months from the last day of travel
3. a copy of the comprehensive travel insurance
4. a copy of the International Air Ticket with arrival & departure information *
* Please DO NOT purchase your air ticket until the minimum tour numbers are reached.
When is the final amount for the tour package due?
We Got You Covered
Something for everyone
Whether you are a first-timer or experienced traveller, our tours meet the expectations, needs and interests of each individual on the tour. Our guests continuously tell us that it surpasses all their expectations.
This tour is suitable for guests who do not mind travelling that extra mile in search of those unique experiences. If you are interested in culture, cuisine, architecture, people interaction and textiles, you will love this tour.
Travel in comfort
We provide airport to airport service, for your comfort and safety. Your private vehicle and the English speaking driver will accompany you throughout the journey. Check out the feedback we have received from our guests.