15-day Highlights of India, from £2,995
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Day 1: Depart UK
Depart with Emirates from the UK airport most convenient for you. Choose from London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Stansted, Manchester, Birmingham or Glasgow. Alternatively, you can fly direct to Delhi with Virgin Atlantic from London Heathrow at a supplement of £125 per person. In-flight meals and drinks included.
Why not extend your tour by travelling on the iconic Toy Train to Shimla, the eclectic capital of India’s Northern State, Himachal Pradesh? Lying at the foothills of the Himalayas, the once summer capital of the British Raj, Shimla, is famed for its bazaars, markets, and specialist wooden handicrafts – dream perusal for the artistic amongst you! Please see the end of this itinerary section for further details.
Day 2: Delhi, 3 nights
All flights with Emirates to Delhi travel via Dubai. On arrival into Delhi transfer to the five-star Hyatt Regency hotel, where you will enjoy an early evening welcome drink with your fellow travellers and Tour Manager, who will be there to explain more about the delights awaiting you on the tour ahead! In-flight meals and drinks included.
Day 3: Delhi
What a place to begin! Delhi is the perfect introduction to India for those already acquainted, as well as first-time travellers to this remarkable country. Combining the very best of ancient and modern, today’s tour of the city will commence with a traditional rickshaw ride through Old Delhi via the historic Red Fort, the palace of the Mughal Empire, at the heart of the city. Close by is India’s largest mosque, the stunning Jama Masjid, and Chandni Chowk (known as Moonlight Square) – the rich, colourful, bustling central market of the old city. We visit the triumphal India Gate and exquisite Parliament House in New Delhi, before enjoying classic Indian cuisine at the delightful Veda Restaurant. Further exploration of this incredible city will take us to visit Humayun’s Tomb, where the 16th century Mughal Emperor lies, and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Qutub Minar – India’s famed red sandstone and white marble minaret. Breakfast and lunch included.
Day 4: Delhi Freedom Day
Everyone appreciates a little breathing space, and this is the first of our ‘Freedom Days’ where you are able to spend the day as you please and make your holiday a more personal and independent experience. Our Distant Journeys Tour Manager will be on hand to provide help and suggestions; restaurants, activities, excursions and additional sight-seeing. Any help booking such ventures will be provided. Maybe the astonishing complex of Akshardham Hindu Temple and Lotus Temple would stimulate your curiosity? Perhaps you are more inclined to take a walking tour of Delhi’s schools and markets, guided by street children of the Salaam Baalak Trust? Or maybe one of several tours indulging you in India’s fascinating melting pot of cultures, languages and religions? The choice is yours. Breakfast included.
Day 5: Jaipur, 3 nights
Today begins with our journey to the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur. En route we visit the Heritage Transport Museum for an interesting self-guided tour through the evolution of India’s motor industry, where car enthusiasts amongst you can revel in such incredible advancements. Later, we continue to opulent Jaipur – stately capital of Rajasthan, where our home for the next three nights is the wonderful Trident Hotel, offering stunning views of Mansagar Lake and Jal Mahal – the eminent Water Palace. Breakfast and lunch included.
Day 6: Jaipur
Following breakfast we make the exciting ascent in private jeeps to the majestic Amber Fort – another UNESCO World Heritage Site set amongst the beautiful backdrop of pink hills, and overlooking Maota Lake. Full of nostalgia, and displaying fine Rajput architecture, we first witness the striking façade of the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds), decorated with intricate latticework. In the afternoon we continue to the City Palace Museum, the decorated ceremonial seat of the Maharaja of Jaipur and home to a breathtaking display of Rajasthani and Murghal art, before visiting yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Jantar Mantar – an incredible observatory built in 1726, which still offers accurate astronomical readings today! This evening you will have the option of dining at 1135AD, a sublime restaurant set within the celebrated ramparts of Amber Fort. Breakfast included.
Day 7: Jaipur Freedom Day
Take your opportunity to continue exploring this wonderful city, or enjoy some well-earned relaxation. You may want to join a heritage walking tour through the heart of the old city, learning about the local trades and crafts, or discover the ancient art of hand block printing and how the region’s famous Blue Pottery is created. Alternatively, you could explore a local organic farm and enjoy the scintillating aromas of a live cooking demonstration from a skilled Rajasthani chef. Breakfast included.
Day 8: Ranthambore, 2 nights
After departing Jaipur we will embark on our journey to Ranthambore National Park, once the private hunting ground of the Maharaja. The park is now celebrated for its wildlife conservation and will offer you the unique opportunity to hopefully witness India’s majestic Bengal Tigers in their natural habitat. We are set to board our open canter vehicles after lunch for our first safari, hoping to capture glimpses of India’s elusive but graceful national animal. The safari will also offer the chance to see sambar deer, marsh crocodiles, sloth bears, monkeys and more than 250 species of bird life. Built in the distinctive style of a traditional Rajput hunting palace, your accommodation for the next two evenings will be the magnificent Nahargarh – set amidst tranquil grounds where dinner will be served. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
Day 9: Ranthambore Safari
Rising bright and early, we begin with our second captivating safari into Ranthambore’s National Park, where, under the skilled supervision of local guides, you will explore different areas in your quest to see the varied and enchanting wildlife. After returning to the hotel for breakfast, you will be offered a further opportunity to do as you please, perhaps relaxing beside the hotel’s peaceful pool with a good book! This evening we enjoy a delicious barbecue within the hotel’s scenic grounds, giving you the chance to reflect and share your unique safari experience with your fellow travellers. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
Day 10: Agra, 2 nights
After breakfast we will make our way to the ‘Eastern City Gate of Rajasthan,’ Bharatpur, where we enjoy lunch in the serene setting that is Laxmi Niwas Palace. Our journey to Agra continues through the abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri, yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site that is famed for once being an imperial city of the Mughal dynasty. Built in the 16th century by Emperor Akbar, Fatehpur Sikri was deserted after only 14 years of rule. This abandoned metropolis provides an intriguing insight into life in the time of the Mughal dynasty. Later, we continue to Agra and our wonderful hotel, the Trident Agra. Breakfast and lunch included.
Day 11: Agra’s Taj Mahal
There are few architectural masterpieces as iconic as India’s magnificent Taj Mahal, and our morning will begin with a visit to this incredible ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of Agra’s Yamuna River. Commissioned in 1632 by Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan, to house the tomb of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, this breath-taking complex is said to have been constructed by over 20,000 stone carvers, masons, and artists from across India, Turkey and Iraq. After plenty of photo opportunities, we continue to the imposing Agra Fort – built entirely of red sandstone, this was the imperial city of the Mughal rulers, and the place in which India was governed for many years. There is time in the afternoon to do your own exploration, or simply relax if the morning’s stunning sights have overwhelmed you. The evening will offer an opportunity to experience Mohabbat The Taj show, depicting the romance that inspired the Taj Mahal – the love story between Emperor Shah Jahan and his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. Breakfast included.
Day 12: Amritsar, 2 nights
An early breakfast will be followed by transfers to Delhi Airport, where we board our flight to Amritsar, home to the legendary Golden Temple (Sikhism’s holiest shrine). Amritsar was founded in 1577 by the fourth Sikh guru, Guru Ram Das. When illuminated at night, the Golden Temple is a spectacularly radiant sight, and we witness this Indian masterpiece after freshening up at our hotel, the fabulous Hyatt Amritsar. During or visit we will also enjoy the Palki Ceremony, where the Sikh Holy Book is paraded through a crowd of worshippers with accompanying drums and hymns providing the soundtrack to an unforgettable experience at Sikhism’s most significant and most-visited landmark. Breakfast included.
Day 13: Amritsar
This morning we explore Harmandir Sahib – the huge gurdwara complex surrounding the Golden Temple. There is chance to indulge further in mystical Indian history, including Akal Takhat, where a staggering collection of sacred Sikh weapons can be found, and the unbelievable community kitchens, which produces up to 20,000 meals per day. We also visit the museum before heading to Jallianwala Bagh, a public garden established in 1951 commemorating the massacre by British occupying forces. In the afternoon, we journey to the Wagah Border separating India and Pakistan to witness its daily ceremonial closing of the gates and flag lowering – yet another unique and memorable experience. Breakfast included.
Day 14: Delhi, overnight
Following breakfast, we board our flight to Delhi, where we will be met by our local guide and transferred to the nearby Pride Plaza Hotel. The afternoon is free for you to take in any last minute sights, enjoy some souvenir shopping, and reflect on the many amazing experiences we have enjoyed over the past couple of weeks. Breakfast included.
Day 15: Depart India – Arrive UK
We depart Delhi with Emirates and fly via Dubai to your chosen airport, bringing an end to our unforgettable Indian adventure. Alternatively, fly with Virgin Atlantic direct to London Heathrow. Breakfast and in-flight meals and drinks included.
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Why not extend your tour by travelling to Shimla, the eclectic capital of India’s Northern State, Himachal Pradesh?
Four nights from only £695 per person
Shimla was known as the ‘Queen of the Hills’ and was the summer capital during British rule in India (when it was known as Simla). In the 19th-century, the British colonial government retreated from the heat of the Indian summer and found this idyllic tiny hamlet with a temperate climate in the Himalayan foothills.
Strung out along a crescent-shaped ridge, surrounded by steep forested hills falling away on all sides, and with snow-covered mountains as a backdrop, it is little wonder Shimla exerted such a magnetic influence and blossomed into a thriving British hill station. Today, the town still exudes a colonial charm and it retains a certain romance for British visitors.
The Shimla Extension may be added to the beginning of any of our tours to India. Guests choosing to take the Shimla Extension will leave the UK four days earlier than the departure dates featured in the brochure.
Day 1: Depart UK
Depart with Emirates from the UK airport most convenient for you. Choose from London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Stansted, Manchester, Birmingham or Glasgow. If you are travelling on the Highlights of India or Journey Through India itineraries, you also have the option to fly direct to Delhi with Virgin Atlantic from London Heathrow. No matter which airline or UK airport you choose, there will be no additional cost. In-flight meals and drinks included
Day 2: Delhi, overnight
All flights with Emirates to Delhi travel via Dubai. On arrival in Delhi, we meet our Tour Manager and transfer to the five-star Hyatt Regency Hotel.
In-flight meals and drinks included
Day 3: Shimla, 3 nights
An early start as we take the morning Shatabdi Express train for our wonderful journey north to Kalka. Our comfortable ‘chair-class’ seats are in air-conditioned carriages with large viewing windows. On arrival in Kalka, we board the Himalayan ‘Toy Train’. As you would expect from an historic rail journey on a narrow-gauge railway, carriages are smaller and are not air-conditioned, but this is more than compensated by the increasingly spectacular views across the lower Himalayas. Our rail adventure ends in Dharampur, where we stop for lunch, and the remainder of the journey to Shimla is by road. Shimla was the summer capital of British India, and nicknamed the ‘Queen of Hill Stations’. Shimla sits in a stunning location at an altitude of 7,267 feet, sprawling across a crescent-shaped ridge deep in the Himalayan foothills. We spend our three fabulous nights in Shimla at the deluxe Radisson Jass Hotel.
Breakfast and lunch included
Day 4: Shimla
The best way to explore Shimla’s most important sights and landmarks is on foot, and this morning we discover the many reminders of British colonial life. During the 19th-century, a stream of British officials and their families travelled to Shimla and created a home away from home, which can be seen in the Georgian, Victorian, mock-Tudor and baronial-style architecture throughout the town. We begin at the buttermilk-yellow Christ Church, overlooking the town, and meander through the pedestrianised streets seeing Scandal Point, Gaiety Theatre and the half-timbered Town Hall.
Arguably the most impressive building is Viceregal Lodge and its beautiful botanical gardens. Built in Scottish baronial style, it was the summer residence of the Viceroy of India, and is now an institute of advanced studies, with some rooms open to the public. In the afternoon, we drive to Shimla’s highest hilltop to visit the vermillion-pink statue of monkey-god Hanuman, and enjoy incredible views of the surrounding area. On the walk back to Shimla, there is an opportunity to stop at the Book Café, a government-funded project to rehabilitate the prisoners of Shimla. Breakfast included
Day 5: Shimla Freedom Day
A Freedom Day in Shimla to relax or further explore this wonderful town at your leisure. Alternatively, you may wish to make the short journey to the Himalayan village of Dhami. Enjoy a walk through the village and its nearby forests, teeming with birdlife, in the company of Kunwar Dushyant Singh, a descendant of the last formal ruler of Dhami. Later, enjoy the wonderful flavours of local Dhami dishes, prepared by Kunwar Dushyant’s family. Please note, this experience is subject to the family’s availability during your visit.
Day 6: Delhi, 3 nights
Following breakfast, we transfer by road to Chandigarh Airport, where we board our flight to Delhi. We return to the Hyatt Regency Hotel, for the next three nights. This evening, enjoy a welcome drink with your fellow travellers to become acquainted and learn more about our adventure ahead.
From this point, please follow day 3 of your preferred itinerary