Journey across this diverse country by train; Kolkata to the majestic hill stations of Darjeeling and Shimla, holy Varanasi on the Ganges, the Taj Mahal in Agra and more!
Cultural Kolkata is an amazing example of east meets west. This morning we meet our guide and group at 8:00 for a welcome meeting before we enjoy a sightseeing tour which includes a visit to the Victoria Memorial. Opened by the Prince of Wales in 1921, this imposing vision in marble is often called the “Taj” of the British Raj. It also overlooks the grassy Maidan, known as the Brigade Parade ground which forms part of the city’s green belt.
Overnight: Kolkata | Breakfast
Kolkata - New Jalpaiguri. Today is free to independently explore Kolkata. Early this evening, we board the Darjeeling Mail train (1st class A/C sleeper) and relax as the train heads north to New Jalpaiguri.
Overnight: Overnight Sleeper Train | Breakfast
New Jalpaiguri - Darjeeling - Varanasi. Arriving into New Jalpaiguri early on day 4, we continue our journey to Darjeeling by car. Lofty Darjeeling sits at an altitude of 2124m with a backdrop consisting of mighty snow-clad Himalayan peaks and verdant tea plantations. Owing to Darjeeling's close proximity to Tibet, the town has a Tibetan Refugee Centre which cares for the young and old and has craft workshops that produce carpets, leather work and other Tibetan curios. If you have time, it’s worth a look.
Early on the morning of day 5, we drive to Tiger Hill to watch a spectacular sunrise over the snowy peak of Kanchenjunga - the world’s third highest mountain. We continue to the Ghoom Gompa (monastery) before enjoying city sightseeing and visiting a tea estate where you can purchase some of Darjeeling’s most famous export (if travelling between Mar and Oct, we'll also see the tea being processed). Day 6, drive to New Jalpaiguri to catch the Varanasi North-East Express train (2nd class A/C sleeper) to Varanasi.
Overnight: (2) Darjeeling - (1) train | Breakfast x 3, Lunch x 2, Dinner x 2
Varanasi - Agra. Arriving into Mughalsarai early this morning, we drive to Varanasi. Varanasi or the city of Shiva, is the holiest Hindu pilgrimage destination in India and it has an abundance of temples. In the afternoon, we’ll explore the sites of Varanasi on a city tour. Early the following morning we take a boat ride on the holy Ganges River to watch the sunrise and the ancient religious tradition of ritual cleansing that takes place on the famous riverside ghats (steps) that line the banks. Late afternoon, we board the Marudhar Express train (2nd class A/C sleeper) to Agra.
Overnight: (1) Varanasi - (1) train | Breakfast x 1
Agra - Kalka. An early morning arrival into Agra allows us chance to relax. In the afternoon, we visit the impressive Agra Fort and the legendary Taj Mahal. Built by Emperor Shah Jahan in loving memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz, who tragically died in childbirth in 1631, the Taj Mahal in Agra is described as the most extravagant monument ever built for love and remains one of India’s most enduring symbols.
Day 10 is a free morning or you can opt to re-visit the Taj Mahal. This afternoon, we travel to Delhi by road, arriving in time to board the Howrah Delhi Kalka Express train (1st class A/C sleeper) to Kalka.
Overnight: (1) Agra - (1) train | Breakfast x 1
Kalka - Shimla. Very early today, we transfer to the famous Himalayan Toy Train (1st class, no A/C) for a unique experience to Shimla. The 96km journey sees us travel along narrow twists and turns, through scenic countryside and more than 100 tunnels. Pass through forests, over bridges and stop at old, traditional stations before arriving into Shimla late morning. Picturesque Shimla, the ‘old summer capital’ of British India sprawls along a crescent-shaped ridge at an altitude of 2100m. The famous ‘Mall’, lined with stately English houses, Christ Church, Gorton Castle and the fortress-like former Viceregal Lodge reinforces Shimla’s English flavour. Spend your time at leisure in Shimla and be sure to explore the narrow streets which fall steeply away from the ridge to the colourful local bazaars.
Overnight: Shimla | Breakfast x 1
This morning we embark on a sightseeing tour of Old Delhi including the Jama Masjid mosque and the bazaars of Chandni Chowk. This afternoon, enjoy the sights of New Delhi including the majestic India Gate, Rajpath and Connaught Place. A visit is also made to Qutab Minar, a massive tower built to proclaim the arrival of Islam in India in the 11th century and a carpet emporium.
Overnight: Delhi | Breakfast
Today our tour comes to an end after breakfast and a transfer to Delhi airport for your onward flight.
Travel in style
Prices are based on 4 star hotels. If you fancy a little added comfort and luxury, you can upgrade your accommodation on this tour to 5 star hotels.
Please contact us for further details and prices.
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.
Pride Hotel, Kolkata
Bright and modern, the Pride Hotel is one of Kolkata's best hotels. Guest rooms are well appointed with huge beds and stylish wooden furnishings. The swanky onsite Cafe Treat is the perfect place to relax with a coffee or dine until dawn with late night snacks. Wi-fi is avalable throughout and the hotel staff are renowned for their excellent hospitality. A morning splash in the pool is a great way to start the day! Well located with good access to the airport.
Elgin Hotel, Darjeeling
The Elgin Hotel is a 125 year old well-preserved Victorian mansion with tastefully furnished rooms. Once the summer residence of the Maharaja, it is now a luxury hotel affording fantastic views of the surrounding tea plantations. The Orchid Dining Room features inviting interiors with classical tunes played on the grand piano whilst European and Asian dishes are served. Other dining options at the Elgin include a garden gazebo, Tea Lounge and Timber Bar. At the spa guests can select from a menu of various massage and beauty treatments.
Crystal Sarovar Premiere, Agra
The luxurious Crystal Sarovar Premiere encompasses everything needed for a perfect stay in Agra. Each of its guestrooms has been exquisitely designed with splashes of colour, plush furnishings and elegant ensuite facilities. In their free time, guests are invited to take a dip in the sparkling roof top pool, which commands stunning vistas of the hotel's surroundings. The hotel also has a fitness club with state of the art equipment. When it comes to dining, guests can choose from multiple restaurants, each serving mouth-watering dishes from around the world. The hotel is just 1.9km from the Taj Mahal.
Clarkes Hotel, Shimla
The Oberoi Clarkes is a charming hotel situated on the main promenade in Shimla. This heritage hotel is one of the oldest hotels in Shimla and is known for its architecture that dates back to the colonial era. The rooms are reminiscent of British style with elegant furnishings and many providing views of the surrounding mountains. The Dining Hall is the perfect spot to enjoy a wide variety of Indian, Continental and Chinese cuisine while soaking up the vistas. There's also an open terrace and 18th century bar onsite.
Hans Plaza, Delhi
The stylish Hans Plaza hotel is one of the tallest buildings in Delhi with rooms on the upper floors giving fantastic views across the city. The rooms are spacious, clean and tastefully designed. The hotel has an excellent breakfast daily and offers guests fine Italian dining at the stylish and cool in house restaurant. The hotel is a home from home in the heart of the city with Connaught Square just a short walk away and the Barakhamba Road Metro Station around the corner.
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