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Welcome to India and the start of your holiday! Arriving to Delhi International Airport you will be met by our representative and included onward transfer to our hotel. The remainder of the day offers free time for you to relax or explore the city your own way.
Bright and early this morning we board the Shatabdi Express bound for Kalka. Here, travellers will transfer (independently) to the narrow gauge Himalayan Queen Toy Train travelling to Shimla. The scenic 96 kilometer journey built on a 2 feet six inches gauge has 919 curves, passes through 20 railway stations and clatters across 5 level crossings, each to the cacophonous symphony of greetings, tooting horns and the hubbub of Indian life. There are 102 tunnels to navigate and some 863 multi-arched galleries bridges to cross where spectacular landscapes of rolling hills, lush valleys and panoramic vistas can be seen. We meet our representative on the station platform and transfer to our hotel for an evening at leisure.
Former ‘summer capital’ of British India, Shimla sprawls along a crescent-shaped ridge at an altitude of over 2100m. The famous main street, ‘The Mall’, lined with stately English homes and the fortress-like former Viceregal Lodge, reinforces Shimla’s quintessential English look. Today we enjoy a guided sightseeing tour of the lofty settlement, venturing into the narrow streets, which fall steeply away from the ridge giving way to colourful bazaars and fine views of the surrounding valley and snow-capped peaks.
Today offers free time for you to independently explore Shimla. You can opt to stroll, drop by the colourful Lakkar Bazaar or hike to the summit of Jakhoo Hill, Shimla’s highest point. Here visitors are rewarded with panoramic views of the eternal snows set as a glorious backdrop to the sleepy township of Shimla beneath. Hotel check out is at 12 noon, opt for some lunch and pack an evening picnic meal before boarding the Kalka Shatabdi Express at sunset and arriving into Delhi late this evening.
Today we enjoy a full day sightseeing tour of Delhi, taking in the impressive Red Fort, Jama Masjid - India’s oldest and largest mosque, Raj Ghat - the site of Gandhi’s cremation and more. Tonight, we enjoy a group Namaste Dinner at a restaurant specialising in classic Indian cuisine.
Departing Delhi, we journey to Agra, once India’s Mughal capital. Here, we visit the impressive Agra Fort, which boasts some of India's finest Mughal buildings behind it's fortified walls. Later on we take a motorised buggy to the legendary Taj Mahal and witness a magical sunset. Built by Shah Jahan in the 16th century as an enduring memorial to his beloved wife Mumtaz. Built entirely of white marble, the Taj Mahal has no peers.
En route to Jaipur, we visit ghostly former Mughal city of Fatehpur Sikri. This magnificent fortified city was the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1571 until 1585, when it was abandoned dramatically due to a lack of water to support the peoples who resided in the city. Thanks to the very durable red sandstone, from which it was built, Fatehpur Sikri remains fantastically preserved.
This morning, we drive just beyond Jaipur to the 16th century Amber Fort. An exotic elephant ride transports us to the lofty fortress, where we will enjoy a tour. Back in Jaipur, we visit the City Palace, which has an interesting museum of regal attire and Jantar Mantar, an ancient astronomical observatory before stopping at a cotton weaving house to see a demonstration of fabric dyeing and block printing.
Today, we drive to the semi-desert Shekhawati region. The small towns in this region became important trading posts, a lasting legacy of which are the beautiful painted havelis (mansions) constructed by wealthy merchants in the 18th and 19th centuries
This morning we make a quick visit the children and teachers at a local school in Alsisar where we operate our ‘Change for Children’ programme, before returning to Delhi. The remainder of the afternoon and evening is free for you to further discover the city. Opt for a meal in the heart of the city or simply relax and chat with group members at the hotel.
Today marks the end of your incredible time in India. After breakfast and hotel check out we will transfer you to the airport in time for your onward departure flight.
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