Day 1 - Delhi
Upon arrival we are met at the airport and transferred to our hotel. Our airport representative will be waiting for us in the arrival hall, outside of the customs area. The drive from the airport to the hotel is approximately 45 minutes. Your hotel is conveniently located close to the city centre.
This evening before dinner we will have a briefing with our Tour Leader. We will handle some formalities and get to meet the rest of the group. We have no other activities planned for today. In case you arrive earlier in the day, the vibrant capital of India- Delhi, beckons you to its historic past and bustling present and we will be happy to provide you with sightseeing options
This evening before dinner we will have a briefing with your Tour Leader. We will handle some formalities and get to meet the rest of the group. We have no other activities planned today. In case you arrive earlier in the day, the vibrant capital of India- Delhi, beckons you to its historic past and bustling present and we will be happy to provide you with sightseeing options
Hotel Florence or similar
Day 2 - Amritsar – Wagah
(Train time 6 hours) After breakfast we embark on a modern train and journey into scenic Punjab to the capital of Sikhism, Amritsar. The spiritual and cultural centre of Sikhism, the name Amritsar derives from the sacred water tank in the Golden Temple (or Sri Harmandir Sahib). “ Amrit ” or nectar and “ Sar” or water tank. The stunning complex of Golden Temple is not only the most important and the highest seat of Sikhism in the world, but also a symbol of human brotherhood and equality. It represents the distinct identity, glory and heritage of the proud Sikhs. You’ll discover it was built with doors facing the four points of the compass; pilgrims of every religion or faith are allowed to enter, meditate and listen, as well as bask amidst soothing prayers for peace. We will save the Golden Temple for the next morning, as its glory it’s best seen in the early light of the day.
In the afternoon we head to Wagah on the Grand Trunk Road between the cities of Amritsar and Lahore, Pakistan. This was the only road border crossing between Pakistan and India (until Aman Setu in Kashmir was opened in 1999). Wagah is a village through which the controversial Radcliffe Line was drawn and resulted in being divided between two countries, by Indian Independence in 1947. Today, the eastern half of the village remains in the Republic of India while the western half is in Pakistan. This creation of the Radcliffe line, caused as estimated 14 Million people to seek refuge with one side of the other, it is estimated that approximately 1 million died as direct result of this exodus. We hope to catch the Wagah Border Ceremony at sundown, an intrinsic post independence ritual that takes place every day between the Indian Army and the Pakistani Rangers. Smartly dressed soldiers put up a well coordinated and spectacular display of taking their respective countriy’s flags down marching aggressively under loud orders and amidst pulsating cheering from the crowds of both the countries.
Sham Residency or Similar
Day 3 - Mcleodganj
Meals Included: 1 breakfast
(Driving Time 6 hours) We visit the Golden temple in the morning and then drive to McLeodganj. Located in Dharamshala, McLeodganj is its Buddhist heart. It stands at the foot of Dhauladhar and has a magnificent view of snowy peaks, deodar and pine forests, tea gardens and beautiful hills. The snow line is perhaps more easily accessible at Dharamshala than any other hill station in India. A fascinating history is associated with this township, going back to Lord Elgin the British Viceroy of India in 1862. Today McLeodganj is also known as “Little Lhasa” as this is where the Tibetan Government in exile and many Tibetan refugees were offered asylum after the failed uprising against the Communist Party of China in 1959. It has become an important pilgrimage and touristic destination. There are many sights to enjoy during our afternoon at leisure. Visit St. John in the Wilderness, an Anglican Church in the forest where Lord Elgin is buried or the Naam or Peak Art Galleries.
Hotel Sapphire or Similar
Day 4 - McLeodganj
Mcleodganj emerged as a major Buddhist centre. Here we delve into the life of the Tibetan Buddhists monks and explore the Buddhist temples reverberating with Buddhist chants, admire the fluttering “Snow Lion Flags“, a symbol of the Tibetan Independence movement with the mighty Himalayas in the backdrop. Today we will visit the Tsuglagkhang Temple complex, arguably the world’s most significant Tibetan temple, and the life-blood of the village of McLeodganj. The complex houses the Namgyal Monastery, the main temple and a smaller shrine that houses an oversized gilded statue of the Buddha, along with two smaller, but no less impressive statues of Chenresig and Guru Rinpoche. In addition, the Dalai Lama’s residence and administrative offices are in the complex. On the basement level of the complex you will also find the Namgyal Cafe, which is run as a work-training center for Tibetan youth. The temple complex is always bustling with monks, nuns, Lamas, pilgrims and visitors.
Hotel Sapphire or Similar
Day 5 - McLeodganj- Haridwar
in the morning we walk to the Bhagsu Nag Temple, an ancient Hindu temple dedicated to the snake god, and to Lord Shiva. Through the temple, flows a fresh water spring; Pilgrims come from all over to immerge themselves in the cool waters. Bhagsu village is a traditional Gaddi village, the original inhabitants of this whole region who traditionally worked as shepherds and small farmers. During our visit in Bhagsu you will undoubtedly hear sounds of Hebrew, and you won’t be mistaken! This little town has become a destination for young Israelis, who come in droves after their mandatory Army service to unwind or as they describe it, immerge themselves in the movement of Shanti or “peace, tranquility, bliss”.
In the afternoon, in your free time you can also visit the Tibetan Institute for the Performing Arts, which trains the aspiring in the Tibetan forms of Opera, theatre and dance. Also 15 km from Mcleodganj is the Norbulinka Institute, a Tibetan Art and Crafts centre, set in lush gardens in the Himalayan valley. Here you can see the craftsmen at work in the Thangka studios, woodworking and sewing workshops. One of the highlights is the Losel Doll Museum, an exhibition of intricately detailed, beautiful dolls depicting the costumes and activities of the people in each of the regions of Tibet.
After driving to the train station we board our modern sleeper train leaving for Haridwar.
Day 6 - Rishikesh
(Driving tIme 1 Hour) After arriving in Haridwar, we drive to the world capital of Yoga, Rishikesh. Sitting on the banks of the Ganges river, Rishikesh literally means abode of Sages and Saints.
One of the Holy cities of Hinduism, set in the foothills of Himalaya and a gateway to the Chardham sites of Hindu pilgrimage. According to Legend, Lord Rama meditated and did penance in Rishikesh, after killing the Demon king Ravana of Sri Lanka.
Rishikesh is very popular today throughout the world as a centre of yoga, meditation techniques and study of Indian vedantic philosophy, or the path to enlightenment and Moksha, the ultimate goal of every Hindu, which is freedom from the continuous cycle of life and death. The sacred river Ganges cleanses one of their sins, and here many pilgrims and travellers can be observed doing yoga and later taking a ritual dip in the cool waters of the Ganges. On this day at leisure there are countless opportunities for great photography or just to sit for cha and meet other interesting travelers on their journeys. Rishikesh , is also renown, as a for centre of adventure sports, being in the Himalayan foothills, it offers a variety of adventurous activities , your Tour Leader would be happy to make suggestions and help you make arrangements
Narayan Palace Resort or Similar
Day 7 - Rishikesh
You haven’t experienced Rishikesh until you immerse yourself in the World of Yoga. To experience it in the fresh air of the hills of Rishikesh is a reinvigorating and rejuvenating experience, that is sure to be one of the highlights of your journey. There are many different schools of yoga depending on the technique and goals of achieving good health to Moksha. Your Tour Leader will help you choose from the different types of yoga available and help you make the necessary arrangements for an optional Yoga class.
We visit the ancient Kailash institute of Vedanta studies, where many prominent yogis like swami Vivekananda and swami Shiva nanda researched and studied the Hindu Vedanta philosophy.
In the evening we attend the Ganga Arti at Ram Jhula. We observe an amazing prayer ceremony before the Ganges. Hundreds of oil lamps line the banks of the Ganges, the faithful throw flower offerings in the river and the priests melodic chanting in Sanskrit can be heard thorough out. Hundreds of devotees attend this ceremony every evening. This city of salvation will leave an indelible mark in your memory.
Narayan Palace Resort or Similar
Day 8 - Corbett National Park
(Driving time 5 hours) Rudyard Kipling once described Corbett National Park as “The Primal Jungle”; Over 1000 square km, the Corbett National Park has caught the imagination of thousands of nature lovers and wildlife seekers. The first National Park in South Asia, it was named after the legendary tiger hunter and conservationist Jim Corbett. The Corbett National Park is a refuge for tigers, as well as several deer, wild boar and many lesser known animals. The wet and dry, plains and hilly terrain with evergreen, semi deciduous Sal forests and grasslands support a wide variety of species of fauna, especially birds. Some of the other animals living in this beautiful forest are spotted deer, sambhar, barking deer, Sloth Bear, ghariyal crocodiles and barrels of monkeys. We have lunch in the beautiful resort, enjoy some time relaxing or take part in one of many optional adventurous options the Park offers. The landscape is breathtaking and it’s a pleasure to just enjoy the sights and sounds of the area. In the late afternoon, as the sun cools, we proceed for an informative nature walk. The forest here is full of riches. The Kumaoni villagers depend on it for sustenance. Here you will be guided by one of these local naturalists to discover the wonders of its flora and to perhaps learn from your Kumaoni guide a little about their rich culture.
Tiger Camp or similar
Day 9 - Corbett National Park
The best way to explore the Jungle is on four wheel drive jeeps, which allow us to cover much more of the terrain at a quicker pace and maximizes our chances to spot Tigers and other wildlife. As the park sprawls over such a large area, we will be embarking on two safaris, accompanied by a Naturalist and a Driver. Even if the Tigers can be hard to spot, in the morning we will embark on our first quest to see this majestic endangered cat, hopefully finding some fresh pug marks to track; Bear in mind that the National Park is not a Zoo and Tigers are never guaranteed to be seen in the lush jungle foliage, but your experienced guides will do their utmost to give you the best experience. As the park occupies such a large area, it’s host to several microclimates, attracting different species of fauna and flora to each individual region. In the afternoon we explore another side of it and embark on another Jeep Safari, hoping to meet new wildlife and another shot at spotting the elusive tiger! In the evening we enjoy our last dinner in the park, richer with the amazing experience.
Tiger Camp or similar
Day 10 - Unchagaon
(Drive time 6 hours) After breakfast we depart for Unchagaon. This iconic northern Indian village lies close to the New Delhi National Highway in the state of Uttar Pradesh. We stop by the banks of the Ganges for lunch. This particular stretch of the river Ganges adjoining Unchagaon is very well known as a sighting area for pods of Ganges River Dolphins. If we are very lucky we may even spot crocodiles . From there we proceed to Fort Unchagaon for our stay in this majestic palace. The present Raja Surendra Pal Singh inherited this early 19th century fort at the tender age of ten. The palace was renovated under his guidance and thus is the evident the influence of the early 20th century blend of Indian and colonial architecture. Being the private domicile of a prince, the decor is authentically aristocratic. The Palace has now been converted into a hotel and all luxury amenities have been added to it. We will have the pleasure of spending the night there.
Fort Uchagaon Hotel or similar
Day 11 - Agra
(Driving time 5 hours) After a well deserved break in Unchagaon we start our journey to Agra. The city of Agra was the capital of the Mughal Empire in India for hundreds of years. The imperial capital then known as Akbarabad has many sights for you to discover. Emperor Babur, laid the foundations of the Mughal dynasty here and on the bank of river Yamuna laid out the first formal Persian garden, Arām Bāgh or the Garden of Relaxation. His grandson Akbar raised the towering ramparts of the Great Red Fort, besides making Agra a center for learning, arts, commerce and religion. Shahjahan gave the city the country’s most prized monument, the Taj Mahal, “A teardrop on the face of Eternity”, as Poet Tagore brilliantly described it.
The Taj Mahal, undoubtedly the greatest monument ever built for love. Built in the 17th century by Mughal emperor Shahjahan in memory of his beloved wife Arjumand Bano Begum or Mumtaz as the emperor called her.
This shimmering white marble Mughal masterpiece is one the most symmetrical creations on Earth and the inlay work involving more than 30 precious and semiprecious stones that leaves one spellbound. It took 22 years, workforce of 20,000, 1000 elephants and camels, architecture from Persia, Turkey and India to complete this magnificent mausoleum.
We also visit the world Heritage listed Red Fort of Agra. This 16th century fort amazes you with its immense size, palatial sections and wide moats fed by the river Yamuna. We visit the Musamman Burj, the marble inlaid tower room of the Fort, where emperor Shahjahan, the builder of the Taj was put under house arrest by his own son. This is where he spent the last 8 years of his life looking at the distant Taj Mahal, his wife’s final resting place.
Hotel Utkarsh Vilas or similar
Day 12 - Khajuraho
(Driving time 5 hours; Train time 2.5 hours) This morning after breakfast we take the modern train to the city of Jhansi in the state of Madhya Pradesh and then we drive to Khajuraho. It’s a long day of travelling, but one filled with enjoyable sightseeing and in comfortable transport. On our journey we visit the Medieval palace of Orchha. Previously one of the princely states of India, the palace is situated on the Banks of Betwa river. Truly an amazing complex and worth our visit. We continue on to our desitnation, Khajuraho a lovely village and the home of The Khajuraho Group of Monuments, a Unesco World Heritage Site and one of the “Seven Wonders of India”. Originally there were over 80 Hindu temples scattered over an area of 20 square km, however only 25 are presently in a good state of preservation. The temples were built over 200 years by Chandel Rajputs, a dynasty that ruled this part of India from the 10th to 12th Century. After checking in our hotel we enjoy some well deserved time at leisure. In the evening we have our first peak at Khajuraho Group of Monuments and drive to the nearby Western group of temples for the sound and light audio -visual show, narrated also in English, for our pleasure . A great introduction to the Temple Complex, which we will discover in depth tomorrow.
Usha Bundela or Similar
Day 13 - Khajuraho - Varanasi
Today after breakfast we set off to fully explore the Temple Complex. At the end of the of the 19th Century, Engineer T.S. Burt arrived in this forest and the local villagers accidentally pointed out these temples to him, which by then had been almost entirely reclaimed by the jungle. The Khandaria Mahadev (Lord Shiva) temple is the most impressive of all and is also engraved with some of the energetic eroticism found on the outside walls of other temples. There are many intact external carvings of erotic art, the nature of which has caused this complex to be referred to as the “Kamasutra Temples” even if the art is not as graphic. It is thought that the Chandela monarchs built these temples before the Mughal conquests, when boys lived in hermitages, following brahmacharya (a state of celibacy) until they became men, thus they could learn about the world and prepare themselves to become men by examining these sculptures and the acts represented in them. In the afternoon we take our short flight to the city of Varanasi, the heart of Hinduism. Varanasi, the spiritual capital of Hinduism and city of temples is also regarded as a holy city by Buddhists and Jains. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and the oldest in India. The culture of Varanasi is closely associated with the sacred River Ganges and the river's religious significance. The name Varanasi comes from the two tributaries of Ganges, Varuna and Assi, since the city lies between them. Time permitting in the late afternoon, we have an option to take a bicycle rickshaw ride to the Ganges ghats and cut through the busy crowds and markets of Varanasi. The sacred Ganges, is the lifeline of North India and it has witnessed the rise and fall of great empires and fed generations of people for over two millennia. Attend the glowing evening ceremony on the main ghat, saluting this great river in the city of Lord Shiva and be a part of thousands of pilgrims who come here from all over the world.
Hotel Meraden Grand or similar
Day 14 - Varanasi
In the early morning today we enjoy a boat ride through the Ganges. It is the best time to see Hindus devotees worshipping the river and the rising sun. Ghats are the centre of activity and pilgrims are taking the holy ritual bath in the Ganges to cleanse themselves of their sins and attain Nirvana. As we cruise down the Ganges we witness the ancient temples, palaces built by various kings and are moved by the two crematory ghats working round the clock, a constant reminder of human mortality. Many believers come to spend the last part of their lives in Varanasi in attempt to attain Moksha, salvation from the endless cycle of life and death, uniting with the ultimate God or truth, the most supreme goal of every Hindu. We continue our exploration by foot and lose ourselves through the lanes of Varanasi’s oldest living quarter surrounded by the sounds of temple bells and walking along side holy cows. The quarter is bustling with activity, from the chai making stalls, to the shops selling religious ornaments, to delicious sweetshops. Later in the day we take a drive to the Birthplace of Buddhism- Sarnath. Touch and feel the stupa which sits on the site where Buddha gave his first sermon on Buddhism . It is here that Buddhism was born. As a proof of their devotion, various Buddhist countries and orders each built a temple in this area to commemorate Siddharta Buddha.
In the evening we catch an overnight air conditioned sleeper train to Delhi.
Hotel Meraden Grand or similar
Day 15 - Delhi
Our Tour Leader later today will take us for a “Days of the Raj” experience and we drive around Lutyen’s Delhi and the India Gate, a war memorial built by the British, in memory of the brave Indian soldiers during the Great wars and Afghan war. Peek in through the Massive gates of the President’s Palace, admire the colonial and still in use official building on both sides of it, the North and South block and cruise on the wide Avenues of the centre of British built New Delhi. We also pay our respects and visit the home of Mahatma Gandhi. Birla house now known as Gandhi Smriti was also the place where this world messenger of peace and Father of the Indian Nation was assassinated by a fanatic. There is an interesting photo exhibit here, reliving the way of this Gandhi’s life, philosophy and his immense contribution to India’s freedom movement. If you have a few hours, head to Old Delhi, the oldest living part of Delhi and its chaotic bazaars. The Red Fort and its massive walls protected the city for centuries under the Mughal Emperors. The Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque) is the largest in India and on a busy day holds more than 25000 worshippers in it. In the evening we have an optional group dinner to celebrate the incredible journey we shared.
Hotel Florence or similar
Day 16 - Delhi
Your Tour ends today after breakfast and the check out time is 12 noon. Post Tour accommodation can be booked in advance with us and your Tour Leader will be happy to answer any questions related to your onward journey