Marvel at the glimmering Golden Temple and witness the fascinating Wagah Border ceremony in Amritsar, then explore Chandigarh and its Rock Garden and ride the Toy Train ahead of reaching the former hill station of Shimla, all before taking in the highlights of India's Golden Triangle.
Delhi to Amritsar
Monday. Delhi - Amritsar. Namaste! Welcome to India. On arrival at the airport you’ll be transferred by train to Amritsar this afternoon. Alternatively, you may choose to start your tour in Amritsar if arriving via Amritsar Airport.
Amritsar sightseeing & Wagah Border
This morning we tour the highlights of Amritsar, including the Jallianwala Bagh memorial and the iconic Golden Temple. The temple is regarded as the holiest pilgrimage site in Sikhism and the dome is made of pure gold. Later we travel to the village of Wagah, on the India-Pakistan border. At sunset watch the colourful, dancelike changing of the guard ceremony and flag lowering, which signals the closing of the border for the day. We then return to Amritsar.
Overnight: Amritsar | Breakfast
Amritsar - Chandigarh. Say goodbye to Amritsar as we travel to the modern city of Chandigarh for a guided tour. See highlights of the city including the Rose Garden - Asia’s largest botanical garden and home to 1,500 species of rose. We also stroll along the shore of the man-made Sukhna Lake and visit the famous Rock Garden. A completely unique and innovative creation, the Rock Garden is a collection of over 2,000 sculptures created over 20 years from a collection of concrete, steel drums, old bicycle frames and broken sinks.
Overnight: Chandigarh | Breakfast
Toy Train to Shimla
Chandigarh - Kalka - Shimla. Today we drive to Kalka and board the famous Himalayan Queen Toy Train to Kandaghat, a unique and exhilarating experience. During our 57km journey the train will rumble through numerous tunnels, pass scenic countryside and wind around narrow twists and turns. Arriving into Kandaghat we'll complete the journey to our hotel in Shimla by road, where the evening is at leisure.
Overnight: Shimla | Breakfast
Today we’ll enjoy a guided tour of Shimla including its famous main street - The Mall. This colonial street has a British feel to it and is lined with cafes, shops and restaurants like any British high street. The difference here is the incredible snow-capped backdrop of the Himalayas. We’ll also discover the Viceregal Lodge, former residence of the British Viceroy of India. Wander down narrow side streets, which fall away from The Ridge main road. Later, browse colourful bazaars whilst enjoying fine views of the mountains and surrounding valley.
Overnight: Shimla | Breakfast
Shimla - Kalka - Delhi. This morning is free to relax or explore Shimla at leisure. December - February departures may wish to visit India’s only natural ice-skating rink, or you may choose to enjoy an easy hike to Jakhoo Hill - Shimla’s highest point. Here you can admire wonderful panoramic views before we return to Delhi this afternoon on the Kalka Shatabdi Express.
Overnight: Delhi | Breakfast
Today we’ll explore India’s capital with a full day of sightseeing in Delhi. In the old city we visit Humayun’s Tomb and Jama Masjid, India’s oldest and largest mosque. We also explore Raj Ghat - the site of Gandhi’s cremation, where an eternal flame now burns in his honour. There's time for a thrilling rickshaw ride before we discover the highlights of New Delhi including the ceremonial Rajpath and the India Gate monument. This structure serves as a memorial to those Indian soldiers who lost their lives during the First World War
Overnight: Delhi | Breakfast, Dinner
Delhi - Agra. Leaving Delhi, we travel to the city of Agra and visit the striking UNESCO-listed Agra Fort, a part of which is still used by the Indian military today. Later, discover the most famous attraction in India as we tour the legendary Taj Mahal. This iconic white mausoleum was constructed in the 17th century by 20,000 workers under the orders of Emperor Shah Jahan. The Taj Mahal was built to commemorate the Emperor’s beloved wife, who tragically passed away. It remains an enduring symbol of love and its extravagance has no peers.
Overnight: Agra | Breakfast
The princely state of Karauli
Agra - Karauli. This morning we travel to the abandoned but well preserved Mughal city of Fatehpur Sikri, which was deserted more than 400 years ago due to a lack of water. Continue to the beautiful Palace Bhanwar Vilas in Karauli, our home for the night. The royal Maharaja and Maharani of Karauli still reside in part of the palace, but some of the site has been transformed into a heritage hotel. Explore the palace grounds, or if we’re lucky we may be able to join a tour given by the Princess. Later, visit the Karauli City Palace, which is being lovingly restored by the family. There is also the option to attend the evening Aarti (prayer).
Overnight: Karauli | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Karauli - Jaipur. Today we visit a local school to meet the pupils and teachers (if open). We operate our Change for Children programme here and you may wish to bring some educational gifts with you (see trip notes) to give to the pupils - they will be greatly appreciated. After our visit we continue to the famous Pink City of Jaipur for an afternoon at leisure. Perhaps watch a Bollywood film at the Raj Mandir cinema - the excitable atmosphere is unlike any cinema you’re used to.
Overnight: Jaipur | Breakfast
This morning you may opt to join our Balloon Over Jaipur add-on and sail with the wind over hill-top forts, palaces and temples. We then travel to the impressive 16th century Amber Fort by jeep and enjoy a tour of the well-preserved grounds of this fortress. Amber Fort is laid out over four levels and sits beside the shimmering Maota Lake. Later, visit a cotton weaving house and tour highlights of Jaipur including the beautiful City Palace and the UNESCO-listed Jantar Mantar space observatory, home to the world’s largest stone sundial.
Overnight: Jaipur | Breakfast
Saturday. Our Indian adventure comes to an end today. We will provide you with an included departure transfer to the airport.
Balloon Over Jaipur!
Bolt-on an exhilarating hot air balloon ride over the majestic Pink City of Jaipur. Sail within a breath of lofty hilltop forts and fine regal palaces. Look down upon sleepy villages waking in the early morning sun. Drift past expansive waterside manors and intricately carved temples on a magical hot air balloon adventure! The balloon flight will take place in the early morning of day 11.
Prices & Dates
Departure dates noted with a 'G' are guaranteed to operate. All other departure dates are guaranteed with a minimum of 2 persons. Prices shown are per person travelling. 'Twin/Double' prices per person apply when there are 2 people travelling, sharing a room. The 'Single supplement' applies for single travellers who would like their own room and needs to be added to the 'Twin/Double' price.Read More
The hotels listed below are ones which we frequently use on this tour. We reserve the right to substitute these hotels to ones of a similar standard when necessary.
Golden Sarovar Portico, Amritsar
Set in the centre of Amritsar, this hotel boasts one of the best locations in the city. Its guestrooms are spacious and feature modern decor, with free WiFi and room service to make your stay even more enjoyable. If you’re keen to keep up your fitness routine whilst travelling, you’ll enjoy a workout in the hotel’s gym. When it comes to dining you can choose between a multi-cuisine restaurant and the Terrace Grill’s mouth-watering BBQ options. The Chill Bar also serves a range of exotic cocktails for you to unwind with at the end of the day.
Red Fox Hotel, Chandigarh
Set in the heart of Chandigarh’s business hub, the Red Fox Hotel features fresh bold interiors and comfortable rooms. Presenting simple yet modern decor, the guestrooms come equipped with the modern amenities you’d expect, including air-conditioning, high-speed WiFi access and a mini fridge. The Clever Fox Café serves a free breakfast buffet in the morning and a range of healthy snacks and wholesome meals to suit all appetites throughout the day. There’s also a well-equipped fitness-centre, perfect for travellers who like to keep fit on the road.
Hotel Willow Banks, Shimla
Established in 1871, the Willow Banks is a colonial-style hotel boasting fantastic views of the Shimla valley and surrounding mountains. Each inviting guestroom features elegant furniture and a private balcony, alongside free WiFi, tea and coffee making facilities and a TV. As well as the gym and pool, the hotel offers a steam room and sauna, jacuzzi and Ayurvedic massages, so guests can truly relax and rejuvenate amongst the stunning mountain scenery in comfort. To top it off, the hotel features two restaurants serving a range of cuisines and refreshing beverages.
Jaypee Siddharth Hotel, Delhi
The luxurious Jaypee Siddharth is a stunning property located just five kilometres from the New Delhi Railway Station. Guestrooms are exquisitely decorated with a blend of cream and brown tones and benefit from air conditioning and complimentary WiFi. If you have free time, guests can indulge in one of the rejuvenating treatments available at the spa, take a dip in the outdoor pool or work up an appetite in the gym. A range of cuisines are served in the various restaurants found within the hotel complex.
Hotel Jivitesh, Delhi
The Jivitesh Hotel is centrally located in the heart of Karol Bagh, a popular neighbourhood of Delhi renowned for its excellent shops and vibrant street markets. The Jivitesh offers comfortable and spacious guest rooms, with modern amenities such as free WiFi, and you can be assured of a warm welcome and excellent customer service from the hotel staff. Enjoy authentic Indian vegetarian cuisine at the hotel's restaurant and take a refreshing dip in the outdoor swimming pool after a day of sightseeing in the capital.
Vivanta by Taj Dwarka, Delhi
Vivanta by Taj Dwarka is a modern, luxury hotel located in Dwarka, on the outskirts of New Delhi, just a 15-minute drive from the airport. Spread over 7 acres, this striking hotel has a unique angular design and offers 250 luxurious rooms and suites. All tastes are catered for at the hotel's multi-cuisine restaurant, while the Indus Express restaurant serves mouth-watering Punjabi cuisine. Head to the popular Tipple bar for a delicious array of heady cocktails or relax by the poolside with a refreshing smoothie from the Celsuis Pool Bar. The nearby Sector 21 Metro station provides direct access to the heart of the city and after a day of sightseeing you can cool off with a refreshing dip in the outdoor pool or relax in the sauna and massage parlour.
Seven Hills Tower, Agra
The modern and stylish Seven Hills Tower hotel boasts a range of facilities and services designed to ensure the quality of each traveller's stay. The spacious guestrooms are elegantly decorated with neutral colours and fabrics covered with traditional patterns and all have excellent ensuite facilities. Guests can enjoy a dip in the rooftop pool or laze on the sun loungers before heading to the equally lofty restaurant for some mouth-watering Mughlai cuisine. The al fresco dining area offers beautiul views of the Taj Mahal, perfect for enjoying a sunset drink.
Bhanwar Vilas Palace, Karauli
Built in 1938, this stunning property is the residence of the Maharaja (181st in the Royal Dynasty) and Maharani of Karauli. Both the architecture and furniture have been designed in fitting with colonial styles and the property offers a fantastic insight into the history and elegance of a bygone era. Rooms are split between deluxe rooms and luxury suites, each including a range of modern amenities such as a mini bar, a well-appointed ensuite and a plush king-sized bed. In the evenings, guests can tuck into an array of regional specialties as well as cuisine from around the world in the hotel's restaurant. The hotel is just 7km from the nearest train station.
Mandawa Haveli, Jaipur
Made of pink and red sandstone, the beautiful heritage-style Mandawa Haveli is a fine example of typical Rajasthani architecture. All rooms are well appointed with intricately carved wooden beds and king-size royal portraits, with modern amenities such as free WiFi and ensuite bathrooms. Spend an evening dining on continental, Indian or Rajasthani cuisine on the outdoor terrace or request a private, candlelit dinner on the rooftop under a star-studded sky. Well located in the heart of Jaipur city on Sansar Chandra Road, this hotel is just a few minute’s drive from the Palace of the Winds.
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Fabulous trip, India by turns challenging humbling and thrilling and always teeming with people, a tad scary at places like Delhi station. Predictable highlights tajmahal, wonderful, lots of people there but didnt feel overcrowded: Amritsar, real feeling for the humble people and their inclusivenes allowing tourists to help make the chapattis; surprise gems chandigar and Kerauli, want to send a donation to their nationla trust to keep the work going there!
Tour guide Sat brilliant. Inexhaustible fund of information, wonderful sense of humour ( he even managed to tune into mine) highly competent administrator with limitless patience. ”