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Welcome to India and the start of your holiday! Arrive at Delhi airport where we will meet you and transfer you to the hotel. Rest of the day is free for you to relax after your long flight.
Our full day guided sightseeing tour of Delhi today covers the colourful chaos of Old Delhi and the modern simplicity of New Delhi. This vibrant city is full of forts, monuments, temples, mosques and more. During the 16th and 17th centuries, Delhi was important centre of the Mughal dynasty and the British made it the capital city in 1911. We take in Red Fort, Jama Masjid and Chandni Chowk, the bustling bazaar, as well as the Raj Ghat and Shanti Vana – the cremation sites of Mahatama Gandhi and Jawahar Lal Nehru. In New Delhi we visit India Gate, Rasthrapati Bhawan, Parliament House and Humayun’s Tomb.
Today we drive to Bharatpur and enjoy lunch at Hotel Udai Villas Palace in Bharatpur and check into our hotel. We then visit Keoladeo Ghana National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and enjoy a leisurely bicycle rickshaw ride through the park.
En route to Agra, we visit Fatehpur Sikri, former imperial capital of the great Mughal emperor Akbar. Built between 1569 and 1585, it has been deserted for more than four centuries, abandoned in 1600 due to a meagre supply of water. In Agra, we visit the impressive Agra Fort, before enjoying a horsecart ride to the legendary Taj Mahal, the most extravagant monument ever built for love.
Today, we travel by express train to Jhansi and drive onward to Orchha. Situated on the banks of the River Betwa, Orchha is set amongst a wonderful complex of well-preserved 16th century temples and palaces
Travelling south-east, we arrive in Khajuraho - home of the resplendent Hindu temples which were built during the Chandela dynasty over a 100 year burst of creative genius from 950-1050 AD. Famed above all for their delicate sensuality and forthright eroticism, how and why they were built still remains a mystery. The incredible skill of the artisans is evident throughout.
We have a jeep safari in Panna NP this morning and in the afternoon we bid farewell to Khajuraho and fly east to Varanasi. Perhaps the holiest city in India, Varanasi, also known as the city of Shiva, is also one of the oldest cities on earth. Sitting on the banks of the holy River Ganges, it has been a centre of learning and civilisation for more than 2000 years and is a place of Hindu pilgrimage.
This morning, we enjoy a sunrise boat ride on the holy Ganges where we’ll view the ancient religious tradition of ritual cleansing that takes place on the many riverbank ghats (riverside steps). Later, we embark on a tour of the city. At sunset consider re-visiting the ghats for the evening pilgramage, remarkably different from the dawn ritual.
Free day before our early evening transfer to Mughal Sarai rail station for our North East Express train to New Jalpaiguri. (possible to arrange a visit to Sarnath 1 of 5 holy Buddhist sights only a shirt drive from Varanasi).
On arrival this morning, we’ll be met to commence the 3 hour drive to Kalimpong. Kalimpong, a remote hill station, once part of Sikkim and one-time meeting point on the trade route to Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal, sits amid beautiful mountain scenery. Great views can be had of Kanchenjunga and the town possesses several important monasteries. You’ll have the day to enjoy the town your way.
Leaving Kalimpong, we drive to Gangtok, where the remains of the day are at leisure. Capital of Sikkim, a tiny Himalayan state known for its orchids and flowers and for the heavy influence of Tibetan culture, Gangtok although rapidly developing is still full of charm, thanks to its Buddhist past. Beyond the busy market areas, lie monastic complexes and striking countryside.
We visit beautiful Rumtek Monastery, Sikkim’s largest and most active monastery, which is located in a lower valley. We then tour Gangtok taking in the Royal Monastery – Tsuklakhang, the Institute of Tibetology and the Orchid Sanctuary. Built in 1958, the Research Institute of Tibetology is world famous for its research activities on the language and culture of Tibet.
Leaving Gangtok, we drive to Darjeeling. Sitting at a spectacular altitude of 2124m with a backdrop of mighty snow-clad Himalayan peaks and surrounded by verdant tea plantations, Darjeeling has been a popular hill station since the British established it as an R & R centre for their troops in the mid 19th century.
We enjoy a drive to Tiger Hill to catch sunrise over the snowy peaks of Kanchenjunga - the world’s third highest mountain. Continuing, enjoy a visit to the Ghoom Gompa (monastery) followed by city sightseeing and a visit to a tea estate. If wanting to purchase Darjeeling’s most famous export, consider First Flush Super Fine Tippy Golden Flower Orange Pekoe 1. It’s Darjeeling’s best.
We will transfer you to Jalpaiguri station, for the overnight sleeper train to Kolkata.
We will pick you up from the train station and transfer you to the airport in time for your departure flight.
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