Marvel at historic temples, spot an elusive tiger and visit beautiful palaces
About the Tour
Spend 13 days exploring colorful India on this round-trip journey from Delhi. We explore the country’s historic temples and palaces and visit the wild Ranthambore National Park. Our trip is enhanced by luxurious hotel accommodations and travel aboard some of the country’s most impressive trains. Begin in Delhi, where you board the Shatabdi Express, which travels to Shimla. In Shimla, a guided tour introduces us to the colonial past of this city in Northern India. After a day to explore at leisure, we return to Delhi to explore both the Old and New parts of town, immersing ourselves in “real” India. From Delhi, we board Gatimaan Express and feel the excitement come to a pinnacle as we head toward the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, a 16th-century city constructed of red sandstone. The tour wraps up as we try to spot wild Bengal Tigers in Ranthambore National Park and explore the “pink city” of Jaipur. The contrasts of India are displayed beautifully on this tour.
- Rail travel on board the Shatabdi Express, Gatimaan Express and Toy Train
- Hotel accommodations for 12 nights
- 30 meals
- Special guest speaker in Shimla
- Guided city tours in Delhi, Shimla and Jaipur
- See the Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri and the Amber Fort
- 2 game drives in Ranthambore National Park
- Transportation aboard a Volvo motorcoach
- Services of a professional Tour Manager
Day 1 - Delhi
Meet your group and Tour Manager at the 5-Star Taj Palace hotel in New Delhi. Delhi is one of India's most colorful and exciting metropolises, where the old and new cities exist harmoniously together. (D)
Day 2 - By train to Shimla
We leave Delhi on the Shatabdi Express to Kalka. Here we board the UNESCO listed narrow-gauge Himalayan Queen, which is also affectionately referred to as the 'Toy Train'. Covering a journey of 60 miles, the train gradually passes through the Shivalik foothills of the Himalayas, passing over 864 bridges and through 102 tunnels on its journey to Shimla. The train moves at a leisurely pace, giving us time to soak in the incredible panorama of the surrounding scenery. Alternatively, you may choose to make the journey by car.
Shimla was 'discovered' by the British in 1817, and was later used as a fashionable retreat from the summer heat thanks to its lovely temperate climate. In 1864, the Government of India declared Shimla as their official headquarters during the hot season. Because of this, many of the town's buildings are very British in style. We spend three nights at the heritage 5-Star Oberoi Cecil Hotel. (B, L, D)
Days 3-4 - Shimla
We begin our day with an informative talk from our expert guest speaker, Raaja Bhasin, before our exploration of Shimla continues with a sightseeing tour that takes in much of the local colonial heritage. We begin at the Viceregal Lodge, the summer seat of the viceroys until the 1940s. This afternoon, a leisurely stroll takes us past the town's Gaiety Theater, the Victorian-Gothic Christ Church and Scandal Point, named thus due to it being a popular social meeting place where people would gather and share gossip.
On Day 4 you are free to explore at leisure. Alternatively, embark on an optional excursion to the Kufri area of upper Shimla, where you can enjoy incredible views of the snow-capped mountain peaks of the Himalayas, followed by a visit to Wildflower Hall, the former residence of Lord Kitchener - a noted senior British army officer. Now a hotel, this beautiful building sits amidst a verdant forest with incredible views of the surrounding Himalayas. Here, you can enjoy a high tea lunch and a walk around the gardens (payable locally). (Day 3-B, L, D; Day 4 - B, D)
Days 5-6 - Exploring Old and New Delhi
We leave Shimla and return back to Delhi, for two more nights. On Day 6 we visit Old Delhi, taking a rickshaw ride through the narrow streets of Delhi's bazaar for an incredible insight into the lives of the millions of people who live in the city. As you travel towards Chandni Chowk, you will be immersed in real India. We also visit the Jama Masjid which boasts the title of being India's largest mosque, Raj Ghat, a simple but moving memorial to Gandhi, 'the father of the Nation', and pass Delhi's Red Fort. Later we embark on a sightseeing tour exploring the wide, leafy avenues and impressive colonial architecture of New Delhi. Our tour includes India Gate war memorial, the grandiose Rashtrapati Bhavan, Humayun's Tomb and Qutab Minar, India's tallest stone tower, built in 1199. (Day 5-B, L, D; Day 6 - B, D)
Day 7 - The Taj Mahal and Agra Fort
We join the southbound Gatimaan Express early this morning to Agra. On arrival, we visit Agra's imposing Red Fort, originating from the 15th century and considered India's most important fortification. Built on a hill above Agra, its centerpiece is a tower with a marble balcony where Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan spent his last days imprisoned.
Later we travel across the city to the spectacular Taj Mahal, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1653 in memory of his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal, this iconic white marble building is a true monument to undying love and is the world's finest example of Mughal and Persian architecture. (B, D)
Day 8 - Fatehpur Sikri
We depart Agra by coach, stopping at Fatehpur Sikri, a perfectly preserved ancient red sandstone city built in the 16th century as India's political capital, but abandoned after only 14 years due to lack of water. Remarkably, the city remains exactly as it was 400 years ago, giving us an excellent insight into how life was during the time of the Mughal Empire. After a guided tour of the empty, ghostly buildings, we continue to Ranthambore. Our hotel here is the brand-new, 5-Star Sawai Vilas, set within acres of stunning gardens, lakes, and fountains on the border of Ranthambore National Park and Tiger Reserve. (B, L, D)
Days 9-10 - Ranthambore National Park
Ranthambore National Park is renowned as one of the best places in the world to spot wild Bengal tigers, and we head out on a game drive this afternoon to try to catch a glimpse of these majestic, elusive creatures, traveling in open-topped safari vehicles called 'Canters'. We are treated to a further morning game drive on Day 10, increasing our chances of observing and photographing the activities of the tiger, as well as the myriad of other rare native wildlife that can be found here, including leopards, deer, and crocodiles. This afternoon, we continue to Jaipur, where we check into our hotel for two nights. (Day 9-B, L, D; Day 10 - B, L, D)
Day 11 - Jaipur
We begin our stay in the 'Pink City' with full-day sightseeing tour, traveling by Jeep to the Amber Fort, located high on a hillside overlooking a lake. We have the chance to explore some of the ornate rooms within the palace complex before we continue our tour, seeing the ornately decorated City Palace, home to the current Maharajah of Jaipur, as well as the early 18th century UNESCO listed Astronomical Observatory. We also drive past the Palace of the Winds, a stunning red and pink facade built in 1799, whose intricately latticed windows were designed to allow the ladies of the royal household to look over the streets below without being seen. (B, D)
Days 12-13 - Return to Delhi and home
This afternoon we drive back to Delhi, where we spend our final evening. On Day 13, you make your way to the airport for your flight back home. (Day 12 - B, D; Day 13 - B)
Taj Palace, New Delhi
The opulent 5-star Taj Palace Hotel is perfectly located in the heart of New Delhi. The hotel has a selection of restaurants offering Indian, Chinese & European cuisine, a choice of bars and a tea lounge. The hotel boasts a Fitness Center with a fully equipped gym, steam room, jacuzzi, and an outdoor swimming pool, as well as a shopping arcade, beauty salon and a spa offering a range of therapies and treatments (payable locally). The luxurious bedrooms are air conditioned and come with a telephone, LCD television, DVD player, wireless internet connectivity, tea and coffee making facilities, minibar, safe, 2 bottles of mineral water, complimentary newspapers and a hairdryer.
The Oberoi Cecil Hotel, Shimla
The wonderful 5-Star Oberoi Cecil Hotel in Shimla is reminiscent of a bygone era, a celebration of colonial elegance and grace. Restored to its original grandeur with wooden floors and period furniture, it boasts fabulous views of the mountains and valleys. A heated swimming pool, billiards rooms and many opportunities for nature walks, make this luxury resort an all season destination. Rooms include satellite television, air conditioning, telephone, minibar, hairdryer and a safe.
ITC Mughal, Agra
The 5-Star ITC Mughal in Agra is set in 35 acres of gardens close to the city center and the Taj Mahal. Part of the Sheraton group, this modern hotel has four restaurants serving a selection of Indian, Oriental and international cuisine, as well as a lobby bar which offers a selection of drinks and light snacks.
The ITC Mughal also boasts one of the largest spas in India, covering 99,000 square feet. Facilities within the spa include a heated outdoor swimming pool, whirlpool, sauna, state-of-the-art fitness center, beauty parlor, outdoor rain showers, yoga gardens, and a Hamam. A range of holistic therapies and treatments are available. (Please note: fees for use of the spa and treatments are payable locally.)
The modern, recently-renovated rooms are air conditioned and feature a telephone, television, radio and coffee maker. Many of the rooms have a garden view.
The Sawai Vilas, Ranthambore
The Sawai Vilas is found just moments from Ranthambore National Park. Each individual villa boasts its own private outdoor seating area and deck and is furnished in a luxurious, regal style.
ITC Rajputana Sheraton, Jaipur
The 5-Star ITC Rajputana Sheraton is located 165 feet from the bustling center of Jaipur and combines modern rooms and excellent amenities with architecture influenced by Rajasthan's history. The hotel has two restaurants offering a selection of Tandoori and international cuisine, a coffee shop and bar - both of which serve light meals and snacks. Leisure facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, fitness center and a beauty salon (pay locally). Rooms are air conditioned and have a telephone, television, radio, minibar and a coffee maker.
The Shatabdi Express trains are some of the fastest in India and are the pride of Indian Railroads. Fully air conditioned and of a far superior standard to most Indian trains, the Shatabdi Express apparently always arrives at the best platform a station has!
The average speed on most lines is 68mph (110km/h) although the service between Agra and Delhi can reach speeds of 80mph (130km/h). During our journeys on the Shatabdi Express, we travel in air conditioned Chair Class. Complimentary snacks, meals, and beverages are generally provided during the journey.
The Shivalik Express, affectionately referred to as the 'Toy Train' travels between the Indian town of Kalka and Shimla, capital city of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The Toy Train's 59 miles/96KM narrow-gauge track through the Shivalik foothills of the Himalayas is one of three Indian mountain railroads which together constitute a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Built by British colonists, the Kalka-Shimla Railroad opened in 1903. An extraordinary feat of railroad engineering, the line negotiates 102 tunnels, more than 864 bridges, and around 919 curves. The Toy Train's passengers have plenty of time in which to admire and marvel these features as well as the spectacular mountain panorama that line the route, tackling the 1 in 33 gradient as the train makes its ascent to Shimla demands a leisurely pace.
Tour Dates & Prices
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