There's so much for travelers to know when visiting India. Our award winning On Location partner, Ajay Ahuja of Zutshi Travel World Service in New Delhi, shares his expertise on visiting his country; Incredible India.
Q: What do you consider the highlights of India for travelers?
We have the upper Himalayas for trekking / mountaineering, the spiritual city of Varanasi, the Buddhist pilgrimage 'circuit' and the colorful beaches of Goa and Kovalam. In a country that consists of 29 States and each state being virtually a 'region' unto its own – with its own people, language, culture, food, dance, arts, crafts and traditions – the diversity and variety is immense. Hence the name: Incredible India!
India is a big country with 27 World Heritage Sites. It can be roughly divided into these broad sections for tourism:
Q: For which other countries do you offer tours and travel services?
We handle some of the countries within the Indian Subcontinent – Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Many visitors try and combine their visit to India along with one of these countries and it works out quite well.
Q: Tell us about Zutshi Travel.
Zutshi Travel World Service | Photo credit: Ajay Ahuja
Zutshi Travel World Service is a Destination Management Company (DMC) in business for more than 40 years – a long innings indeed! We handle Individual and Group Tours for Leisure, Cultural, Wildlife and Adventure travel.
We enjoy a close and enduring "partnership" with our global network of Travel Agents. In view of our professional and personalized services being appreciated by our clients, the company was honored with the "Ensemble On Location Partner of the Year 2013".
The Company has the proud distinction of having been honored with the National Tourism Award in 2007- 08 by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India.
Q: What travel services can you arrange?
We can provide a complete range of travel related services:
We have experience in handling physically challenged visitors in wheelchairs as well.
Q: Which special interests do your tours cover?
We handle special interest tours that cover varied aspects such as Church Tours, Jewish Heritage Tour, Garden Tour, Architectural Tour, Golf Tours, Yoga Tours and more.
Q: How long are your tours and how large are the groups?
We handle both Individual and Group travel.
For individuals, the duration of the tour depends on the time available with the client. We can customize the 'shortest' and most important Golden Triangle Circuit which covers the city of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur in 6 days and 5 nights. Many visitors have more time and they extend their tour from Jaipur onwards into the state of Rajasthan – which is very romantic, colorful and safe – even for ladies traveling alone. This can be up to 10 nights. If a person has more time, we can do a South India extension as well and that could be another 7 nights. We have had individual travelers traveling with us through all parts of India for up to 31 days!!
Group travel is different. We generally have these itineraries restricted to about 2 to 3 weeks maximum. A good Group size is 10 to 20 people though the company has handled groups as large as 90!
Q: Do you have a favorite tour you recommend?
Yes. If I was to recommend my favorite tour, I would like a person to:
Q: Are meals included and special culinary experiences?
Breakfast is included in all hotels. Lunches are generally "on the road" and the Guide assists with a place to eat during the sightseeing tour. Dinners are more exclusive. While generally arranged within the hotel itself, effort is made to arrange them for the visitors at exotic locales in every city – which could be by a Lake or Ocean seaside, ramparts of a 2000 year old Fort with city lights below, a village Stepwell or inside a Spice Garden!!
I reside on a Country Estate in 2.5 acres on the edge of Delhi. For groups, we generally invite them home for a Welcome Dinner and interaction with an Indian family. We serve home-cooked food and alcohol to the guests, with the best of Indian hospitality. It is a highlight of the tour for them! Sometimes, we invite special individual travelers at home as well when recommended by their Travel Agent.
Q: What type of accommodation is offered on the tours?
India boasts some of the most regal, vibrant and exclusive hotels – ranging from simple utilitarian to the most modern award-winning luxury Five Star hotels; actual "converted" Palaces of Maharajas & Heritage Havelis. Ratings extend from 3 to 5 stars. The traditional Indian hotel chains – The Oberois and the Taj group of Hotels - are spread all over the country and famous for their hospitality and professional service. At the same time, most of the international chains such as Marriott, Starwood, Hyatt, Accor, Fairmont etc. have also established themselves in the country.
Unless specified specially by the Travel Agent, we try and provide a "mix" of Hotels to the visitor so that they can experience the modern with the old! Hotels are specially chosen keeping individual needs and ages in mind.
Q: Tell us about your escorted shore excursions for cruise passengers?
These are mostly for individual travelers. When using Zutshi Travel, the quality of representatives and guides is very good, there is more 'freedom' in the sightseeing, more to be seen as well as a much more personalized experience. Moreover, these shore excursions cost much less when arranged through us rather than the cruise company.
One of the most popular Shore Excursions that we handle is the visit to the Taj Mahal. The Cruise ship docks at Mumbai. We meet the guests on disembarkation, do Mumbai local sightseeing, fly them to Delhi and then drive to Agra for an overnight stay, enjoying a Sound 'n Light Show at Agra Fort in the evening. The visit to Taj Mahal is done by sunrise. Drive back to Delhi for local city sightseeing. In the meanwhile, the ship has proceeded to Goa or Cochin which is the next port of call. We fly them there and they re-board the ship there.
Any time you spend in India will certainly be special and unique.
Be sure to contact your Ensemble Travel Agent to arrange your vacation or shore excursion in India with Ajay and Zutshi Travel World Service.
Please send us a message if you have any questions or comments about anything you see in the e-zine. We'd love to hear from you!