Following the rebuilding of the Gaulish village after Brutus' attack in the previous story, Chief Vitalstatistix is trying to give a speech, when he is interrupted by the bard Cacofonix, whose song causes rain. This introduces Watziznehm the fakir, who falls from his flying carpet. Watziznehm explains he was searching for the village because he needs to make it rain in his country, a kingdom in the Ganges Valley, within the following 1001 hours, otherwise Princess Orinjade, daughter of Rajah Wotzit, will be sacrificed to the gods. This prophecy is part of an evil scheme by Grand Vizier Hoodunnit, to seize the throne.
Vitalstatistix agrees to send the rain-making Cacofonix to India, accompanied by Asterix, Obelix, and Dogmatix. All five mount the flying carpet; but their journey is often interrupted either by Obelix's insistence on stopping for food, by Cacofonix's attempts to sing, and once by a lightning strike which forces them to replace the carpet. The Gauls eventually arrive in India with exactly 30 hours, 30 minutes, and 30 seconds to save Orinjade; but Cacofonix has lost his voice during the journey, and Rajah Wotzit's doctors proclaim that to regain his voice, Cacofonix must take an overnight bath in a combination of elephant milk, dung and hair. Accordingly, the Gauls and Watziznehm take Cacofonix to elephant-trainer Howdoo and set up the bath; but Hoodunnit sends his henchmen to kidnap the bard and take him to an elephants' graveyard to be trampled by the wild elephant herd.
Watziznehm, Asterix and Obelix set out to rescue the bard, but they are stopped by Owzat, Hoodunnit's fakir sidekick. While Watziznehm and Owzat curse each other, Asterix and Obelix escape to Howdoo, with whom they embark to the elephants' graveyard. After delays by tigers, monkeys, a rhinoceros and Hoodunnit's henchmen, they find Cacofonix alive and well, his smell having placated the elephants. Meanwhile, Watziznehm defeats Owzat and recovers the Gauls on his flying carpet.
At the execution grounds, Asterix saves Orinjade, while Watziznehm intercepts Hoodunnit. Cacofonix recovers his voice after a dose of magic potion, and sings, causing rain. At the victory feast in the palace, Obelix surmises that his fellow villagers might be having their customary banquet, this time without him. This is proven true; and at the banquet, some of the Gauls begin to express a desire to retrieve the bard, in fear of a drought, and Fulliautomatix the blacksmith, Cacofonix's habitual menace, appears to be missing him.