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An Indian Design Journey – Delhi to Varanasi

Through Architecture, Interior Design & Textiles

18 days from NZ$10860 per person
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

An Indian Design Journey Route Map
Rajasthani lady in yellow sari at Jaipur Palace

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!

Diana Murray

You are warmly invited to join Design Alchemy’s second Journey to India, a unique partnership between the designers and ATI Travel, which takes place from February 5th to February 22nd, 2024, and is guaranteed to be unforgettable.

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.

Joji with Mumbai TabhawalasIt 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.

Children in India with beaming smiles

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.

Jaye McIsaac


Day 1 & 2 – Delhi - Arrival

Namaste – Welcome to India!

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 | – | –
AccommodationGolden 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 | – | –
AccommodationIkaki 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 | – | –
AccommodationGrand Imperial

Day 7, 8 & 9 Chambal

Let’s take a drive to the tranquil countryside of Chambal, where we will spend a few nights at the Chambal Safari Lodge, an eco-friendly place that blends in with the village surroundings. The lodge offers comfortable rooms, delicious food, and friendly staff who will make us feel at home. We are looking forward to going on a river safari and discovering the Chambal River Sanctuary, one of the most pristine habitats in India that has been protected from human interference. We hope to spot some of the rare and endangered species that live in this sanctuary, such as the gharial, the Gangetic dolphin, and the Indian skimmer. We also expect to see a variety of other wildlife and birds that thrive in this rich ecosystem. It will be an unforgettable adventure that will expand our knowledge and appreciation of nature and its wonders!

Meals:   B | – | –
AccommodationChambal Safari Lodge

Day 10, 11, 12 & 13 – Lucknow

Our next stop on the itinerary is the magnificent city of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, known for its rich cultural heritage. Once the seat of the Mughal Empire and later the Nawabs of Oudh, Lucknow boasts of many impressive monuments and buildings that reflect their refined taste and grandeur. In the evening, we will indulge in the famous culinary delights of Lucknow, which blend aromatic spices and herbs with Persian and Awadhi influences. We will explore lively areas where locals eat to sample delicious dishes such as kebabs, biryanis, chaats, and kulfi.

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

Varanasi is a city that boasts a rich cultural and historical heritage, with a variety of arts, crafts, weaving, textiles, temples, and ghats. Being one of the oldest and most revered cities in the country, its narrow streets and busy lanes provide a glimpse into its ancient past. The ghats, which are steps leading to the river, serve as a location for religious ceremonies and last rites, where visitors can see locals bathing, praying, offering flowers, and lighting lamps, creating a surprisingly festive atmosphere despite the focus on death. A must-see for visitors is the Ganga Aarti worship, which is a highlight of the city.

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

After a relaxed start, we drive to Lucknow airport for a lunchtime flight to Delhi. In Delhi, we have enough time for last-minute shopping at the highly sought-after Khan market before calling it a day.

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?
Our tour packages are meticulously crafted to offer you a stress-free and all-encompassing experience. They comprise of a stay at carefully chosen boutique hotels with private bathrooms, transportation to various destinations, expert tour guides, sightseeing activities, entrance fees to attractions, domestic air and rail travel, and some meals as mentioned in the itinerary. We aim to provide a blend of organised tours and leisure time, enabling you to explore at a comfortable pace without feeling overwhelmed.
Are the tours suitable for solo travellers?
Absolutely! Our small group tours to India are an excellent option for solo travellers. You’ll get to meet people who share your interests and make new friends throughout your trip. Being part of a group will give you a sense of safety, companionship, and opportunities for shared experiences. This makes it the perfect option for anyone who wants to explore India alongside other adventurous travellers. Just keep in mind that if you prefer a private room, there will be a single supplement charge.
When should I purchase comprehensive travel insurance?
When it comes to purchasing comprehensive travel insurance, the ideal timing varies depending on an individual’s unique needs and situation. Nonetheless, it is advisable to buy comprehensive travel insurance as soon as possible after booking the trip. By doing so, one can take advantage of the pre-departure coverage offered by some policies, such as reimbursement for non-refundable deposits in case of trip cancellation for a covered reason. Furthermore, purchasing insurance early can prevent potential problems with eligibility, like age limits or pre-existing medical conditions.
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?
To successfully book your trip, please ensure that you have
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?
To secure your booking, a deposit of NZ$1000 is necessary within 3 days. The remaining balance is due 90 days prior to the commencement of the tour.

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.

Active Tour

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.  

boutique accommodation

We hand-pick boutique accommodation for you to rest and rejuvenate in beautiful settings as an integral part of the travel experience we curate for you.

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.

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