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Welcome to India and the start of your holiday! Arrive Kolkata, included transfer to hotel.
The graft of a European city imposed on an Asian landscape lends Kolkata a bewitching blend of colour, charm and excitement. The city is a compelling medley of ancient and modern with its skyscrapers and Raj-era architecture. It’s colourful, effervescent and overflowing with life and tradition. Enjoy a city sights tour including a visit to the imposing Victoria Memorial. Opened by the Prince of Wales in 1921, this vision in marble is often called the “Taj” of the British Raj. We also visit the New Market – a bazaar on Chowringhee Road, the stately Indian Museum founded in 1814 and the oldest and largest in India, St Paul’s Cathedral and the extraordinary Marble Palace which houses paintings by Rubens, Titian and Reynolds.
Early this morning enjoy a visit to the famous flower market near Howrah Bridge, followed by a boat ride on the Hooghly River. Later, fly to Bagdogra. From here, a drive to Kalimpong - a remote hill station set among the rolling foothills and deep valleys of the stunning Himalayas. Kalimpong’s attractions include three monasteries including Tharpa Choeling, Tongsa and Zong Dog Palri Fo-Brang, a handful of ancient churches and a colourful bazaar area known as Tenth Mile bulging with Tibetan and Buddhist curios and handicrafts. Kalimpong is also renowned for its horticulture, with some 50 nurseries devoted to orchids and many other flower varieties.
This morning we enjoy a sightseeing tour of the city includes Pedong Monastery before we drive north to Gangtok. Owing to its proximity to the Tibetan border, the capital of Sikkim is steeped in Tibetan culture. Characterised by mists, fluttering prayer flags, painted roofs and pagoda-styled houses, a rich cultural heritage, friendly people coupled with excellent views of the entire Kanchenjunga Range from many points in the city, Gangtok is scenically beautiful.
Enjoy an excursion to the Rumtek Monastery followed by a sightseeing tour of Gangtok, including the, Namgyalak Institute of Tibetology, Do Drul Chorten, Enchey Monastery & Cottage Industry. The afternoon is free to relax or explore.
Continuing to Pelling via Tashiding, enjoy an afternoon visit to the lofty heights of the hallowed Pemayangtse Monastery - one of the principal monasteries in the state of Sikkim. Founded in the 17th century, the monastery, which has been reconstructed several times, is the main centre of the Nyingmapa sect, established in the 8th century AD. The followers of the sect wear red caps rather than the yellow ones worn by monks in other monasteries. Near the monastery, there are the traditional austere dwellings of the monks. Breath-taking scenery can be witnessed from the vantage point; carpets of alpine vegetation and numerous waterfalls lining the hillsides which are sometimes covered with a blanket of snow.
The journey continues to Darjeeling. Home of Darjeeling tea and with a panoramic backdrop of the awesome Himalayan snow-clad peaks.
Enjoy a drive to Tiger Hill to witness sunrise over the snowy peaks of Kanchenjunga; followed by a visit to Ghoom Gompa (monastery), sightseeing back in town and a visit to a real tea estate.
Today is free for you to explore Darjeeling your way. See some Buddhist monasteries or visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, a training school for mountain climbers. Its museum features memorabilia from the first ascent of Everest. It is also worthwhile taking a stroll through town. Owing to Darjeeling’s proximity to Tibet, the town also has a Tibetan Refugee Centre comprising care for the young and old and craft workshops that produce carpets, leather work and other Tibetan curios, hunt for a bargain or simply go trekking!
Later this morning, the journey continues to New Jalpaiguri, from where you board the Darjeeling Mail train to Kolkata. In air-conditioned first class sleepers, travel in style.
Arrive Kolkata early in the morning and transfer to the hotel. Day at leisure.
Departure transfer to the airport at 01:55am on the 13th.
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