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Grand Tour of India, Nepal & the Himalayas

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17 days From $3,295 per person
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Discover world-renowned landmarks and hidden gems built centuries ago on this exciting rail journey through India and Nepal, featuring time in the stunning Himalayan Mountains.

Travel among a group of like-minded travelers led by a professional tour manager

2024 Tour code: KTJ24

About the tour

South Asia is filled with cultural and scenic treasures, and on this 17-day journey, you have a chance to take a deep dive into those found throughout India and Nepal. Witness tradition through ceremonies, which envelope the senses and provide a tangible glimpse at local culture, and in unique cities where history is written into the temples, buildings, and colorful streets. Experience the awe-inspiring grandeur of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as the Taj Mahal, and enjoy the chance to explore the constantly changing landscapes of these countries by land, water, and air. While visiting lush natural regions filled with Asia's most elusive animals and face-to-face with the staggering Himalayas, you will see just how impressive this corner of the world is.

Unforgettable Experiences

Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal
Visit the Taj Mahal and the Golden Temple of Amritsar, two of India’s most visually striking monuments.
Lucknow
Lucknow
Enjoy guided tours of Delhi and Lucknow, exploring the sights with local guides.
Varanasi
Varanasi
Admire the sunrise over the holy Ganges with a river cruise that gives insight into local life.
Pokhara
Pokhara
Soak in the beauty of the Himalayas in Pokhara, watching the sunrise over the mountains before a city tour and cruise across Phewa Lake.
Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park
Experience a safari in Chitwan National Park spotting Asian elephants, Bengal tigers, and leopards.

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive in Amritsar

Set in northwestern India near the Pakistan border, Amritsar is where we begin our culture-filled journey through India and Nepal. You can feel this city's deep connection to the Sikh religion as we travel through the streets to our hotel, where we have time to freshen up before heading out for the evening. Our excursion takes us to the Wagah Border, which separates Pakistan and India, to witness the Beating Retreat Ceremony. This unique ceremony has occurred every night at sunset since 1959 and was created to foster cooperation between the two nations. Watch as the Pakistan Rangers and Border Security Forces of India perform an unusual parade of sorts, complemented by high kicks and the lowering and folding of the nations' flags to conclude the day. Overnight Amritsar.

Includes
  • Dinner
Day 2- Amritsar Sightseeing

Get acquainted with the "City where no one goes hungry" on a guided tour. We begin at the city's most significant site, the Golden Temple. This splendid building is built with an intriguing mixture of Hindu and Islamic architecture, and its intricate marble facade is covered in gold - hence its time. During the visit, look over its ornate inner walls and the sacred pond surrounding the complex. Our tour continues to the Jallianwala Bagh Centenary Memorial Park, whose gardens, memorials, and monuments commemorate the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh Massacre committed by British troops. We will also visit the onsite museum to peruse the exhibits that explore the history of this atrocity committed on the Punjabi Harvest festival of Baisakhi. Our day continues by train, as we are transferred to the rail station to board the train for Delhi, India's National Capital Territory. Overnight Delhi.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3 - Delhi Sightseeing

Delhi is a city divided into Old and New, allowing you to discover both sides of India: tradition and growth. Our full-day sightseeing tour uncovers the beauty of each. Begin in Old Delhi by weaving through market streets, where a potpourri of shops, vendors, and residents create an all-encompassing atmosphere. From the colors to the aromatic food and the hustle and bustle of the residents, the district is full of life. After, we join a traditional rickshaw for a ride through the lively bazaar and into the intricacies of local life here.

We continue into New Delhi after, and its contrasts are evident in its impressive colonial architecture and grand government buildings. Explore its leafy avenues to see places like the President's House, the Parliament House, and India Gate, a monument dedicated to the 70,000 Indian soldiers that lost their lives fighting for the British in WWI. Other highlights of our tour include the Qutub Minar, a five-story "victory tower," and Humayun's Tomb, a UNESCO World Heritage Site garden tomb dating to 1570. Overnight Delhi.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 4 - Agra/Taj Mahal

This morning we join India's first semi-high-speed train, the Gatimaan Express, on its journey from Delhi to Agra. The trip takes under two hours to complete, and arriving in Agra presents a world of grand architecture, history, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We first visit the imposing Agra Fort, a red sandstone fortress built in the 16th century. Its grounds are a masterpiece of intricate archways and beautiful marble statues, yet its centerpiece is Musamman Burj, a tower with a marble balcony where Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan was imprisoned until his final days. While tragic, the views from the balcony are incredible. As we explore this property, you will also see exquisite examples of Mughal architecture, including the Moti Masjid, called the "Pearl Mosque."

The next part of our explorations takes us to one of the Seven Wonders of the World, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and perhaps India's most notable buildings: the Taj Mahal. This breathtaking building was built over 17 years, from 1631 to 1648, as a postmortem love letter to Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan's favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Its famous gardens and cloisters were not added until 1653. The complex white marble exterior, complete with four freestanding minarets, makes this one of the finest examples of Indo-Islamic architecture globally. Overnight Agra.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5 - Lucknow

Boarding our coach this morning, we drive east to the cultural and artistic heart of Northern India, Lucknow. This historic city, the "Constantinople of India," saw important roles in the Mughal and British colonial periods and is brimming with stunning British Raj buildings. As we arrive today, you are welcome to get acquainted with this exotic destination at your own pace. Lucknow and the state of Uttar Pradesh are the birthplace of elaborate Mughal cuisine, and venturing through the Aminabad Market allows you to sample its bold flavors one tikka, kebab, or biryani at a time. The market also sells spices, crafts, and clothing with fine examples of Chikan embroidery, for which the city is famous. You could also visit Chowk Market, one of the oldest in Northern India, where there are nearly 5,000 vendors selling everything from gold jewelry to toys. Overnight Lucknow.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6 - Lucknow Sightseeing

Dive into the local culture while visiting some of Lucknow's most famous locations on today's sightseeing tour. First, we see the renowned La Martiniere College, founded by an endowment from Major General Claude Martin, a British general officer in the East India Company, in 1845. We then continue to the magnificent Bada Imambara, an 18th-century architectural wonder. Its grand - and massive - Central Hall and intriguing bhool-bhulaiya, or labyrinth, with 1,000 doorways, is sure to leave an impression. Our final stop of the day takes us to the British Residency, constructed in 1774 to house a British Resident General. The complex houses a number of buildings preserved since the Indian rebellion and bloody siege of the mid-1800s. As you wander between structures and through the well-maintained gardens, you will see reminders of this battle, including bullet holes and cannon damage. Overnight Lucknow.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 7 - Varanasi

A day of train travel takes us to an ancient city on the banks of the River Ganges, Varanasi. This sacred locale is a Hindu mecca, attracting millions of religious pilgrims yearly. In fact, according to Hindu lore, dying in this city ends the cycle of reincarnation. Following our half-day train trip, we arrive in this city and transfer to our hotel for check-in. Take some time to settle in before this evening's outing to see the city's spectacular Ganga Aarti Ceremony. This elaborately choreographed ritual envelopes all your senses, with the sounds of a conch shell being blown to clear negative energy and heighten the senses, scents of fragrant incense sticks in the air, and sights of tiered metal lamps illuminated by fire. As the young pandits come into view with these lamps, their swaying is set to a backdrop of hymnal chants and cymbal music. The entrancing ambiance of this ceremony dedicated to the River Goddess is undeniable. Overnight Varanasi.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 8 - River Ganges Cruise/Delhi

Rise bright and early this morning for an experience you are unlikely to forget: The sun rising over the River Ganges. We venture to the waterfront to board a boat, cruising along the holy waterway as the sun crests over the horizon. Watch as hues of gold and orange reflect off the slate-colored water and create a magical ambiance when paired with the historical scenery. Upon returning to the shore, we take an excursion to Sarnath, a Buddhist holy city where Buddha is said to have given his first sermon. The exact spot of this momentous occasion is marked by the Dhamek Stupa, a building first constructed in 249 BCE and rebuilt as we see it today from red brick and stone in the year 500 AD. And this is just one site tied to the great teacher; we may also catch glimpses of Dharmarajika Stupa, said to be his final resting place; Buddhist temples; and stunning landscapes at the Garden of Spiritual Wisdom.

This afternoon, we are transferred to the airport to fly back to the vibrant metropolis of Delhi. Your evening is at leisure to continue exploring its eccentric markets and beautiful architecture at leisure. Overnight Delhi.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 9 - Kathmandu

Returning to the airport, we board our flight to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Gorgeous scenery abounds as we arrive and begin making our way toward our hotel. The city is nestled in a valley with views of the Himalayan Mountains at every angle, and the valley itself, Kathmandu Valley, has earned UNESCO World Heritage Site status for its immense cultural heritage. See both Buddhist and Hindu influences in the buildings and temples and admire the eclectic environment they create. Overnight Kathmandu.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 10 - Patan/Kathmandu Sightseeing

Serenity fills our morning as we venture to the neighboring town of Patan. Here, you are invited to close your eyes and listen as a master creates tranquil music with singing bowls. This experience has a profound spiritual connotation in Buddhist culture, as the music is meant to aid in meditation and relaxation. Following, we return to Kathmandu for a guided sightseeing tour that explores its multiple city squares and significant attractions. Highlights may include Kathmandu's Durbar Square, one of three royal squares in the valley, and the UNESCO World Heritage Boudhanath Stupa. This structure is one of the largest stupas in the world and has a highly symbolic architecture that speaks to the principles and beliefs of Buddhism. Our tour continues with a rickshaw ride to Thamel, a lively district filled with shops, restaurants, street vendors, and unmatched culture. You will quickly see why it has been Nepal's tourist hub since the '60s.

We conclude our adventure-filled day with dinner at a well-known restaurant, the Rum Doodle. This spot has long been a favorite hangout for brave mountaineers and travelers through the Himalayas, and visitors' stories are told in the white footprints that they leave around the restaurant. We are joined by a local Sherpa who tells of his experiences climbing Mount Everest. Overnight Kathmandu.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 11 - Chitwan National Park

Our day begins with a visit to the most iconic stupa in the Kathmandu Valley: Swayambhunath Stupa. This 1,500-year-old site houses numerous shrines and monasteries and is easily spotted from a distance, thanks to its white marble dome and golden spire. The stupa has been an important Buddhist pilgrimage destination since the 5th century and inspires everyone visiting. Following, we spend a few hours traversing the beautiful Nepalese landscape, eventually arriving at Chitwan National Park near the Nepal-India border. Upon checking in at our hotel, we enjoy an introduction to the park and its wildlife during an informative talk from a local naturalist.

Later, we venture to a nearby village populated by the Tharu people, a group of indigenous ethnic people that have lived in the lowlands for thousands of years. Here, we learn about their culture and unique way of life. Like most other Tharu, these villagers raise cattle, hunt, fish, and collect forest products to sustain themselves. However, five higher-status clans claim royal descent. Learn about their rituals and Hindu religion, as well as their hierarchy - a council and a headman that rule each village - during our visit. Overnight Chitwan.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 12 - Chitwan National Park Safari

Asia's majestic wildlife is on display today as we explore Chitwan National Park. Our first stop of the day is at the Gharial breeding center. This site was founded in 1978 to protect the endangered Asian crocodilians and their natural nesting areas. In addition to these measures, the center also hatches eggs artificially and raises the narrow-nosed reptiles until they are ready to be released into the wild.

After lunch, the excursion continues with a Jeep safari that ventures into Chitwan National Park's deep jungles, murky wetlands, and wind-swept grasslands. This park is famous for its biodiversity and is home to a wide range of animals, including Indian rhinos, golden jackals, leopards, hyenas, sloth bears, and more. If you are lucky, you may spot a Bengal tiger lurking amongst the forests or a herd of Asian elephants plowing through the greenery or drinking alongside the water. We are accompanied by an expert guide that takes us along animal trails, using his knowledge to help us spot those creatures that call the park home. Overnight Chitwan National Park.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 13 - The Himalayas/Pokhara

Today sees us out of one type of wilderness and into another as we drive into the Himalayas. Our route takes us through beautiful landscapes where glacial rapids and jungle-covered mountains provide exceptional scenery. Pass by small mountain villages and crystalline bodies of water as we approach Pokhara. This city is the second-most visited in Nepal and offers unmatched vistas over the Annapurna Range - one of the highest in the world - and Fishtail Peak, also known as Machapuchare. This mountain is one of the world's most sacred - said to be home to the Hindu god Shiva - and untouched, as it has never been summited. Soak in amazing views of its imposing presence as we arrive in Pokhara and check in at our hotel. You may spend the rest of your day getting to know your new location, whether by exploring on foot or through your camera lens. Overnight Pokhara.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 14 - Pokhara at Leisure

Enjoy a full day to relax in this mountainous haven or venture into the surrounding region. Pokhara is an outdoor lover's paradise, with plenty of options for boating, white water rafting, paragliding, and, of course, hiking. The rugged nature of the landscape presents numerous advanced hikes, though you could also stroll along the scenic shores of Phewa Lake.

One of the most popular attractions in the region is the World Peace Pagoda at the top of Anadu Hill. You can get here by taking a local boat across the lake and then joining a trail to the summit. The easy-going walk meanders through peaceful forests and takes about an hour to reach the Pagoda. Alternatively, you can skip the hiking altogether and take a taxi or bus transfer to the top. Once you get to the summit, you will understand the hubbub. This white-domed stupa was built in 1973 by Japanese Monks to inspire peace and humanity between cultures. Climb its steps to look out over the land and soak in views of the Annapurna Massif, Phewa Lake, and the city of Pokhara. During your visit, you could even visit the Lumbini Crane Sanctuary, just adjacent to the property. Overnight Pokhara.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 15 - Pokhara Sightseeing/Lake Phewa Cruise

Awaken in the wee hours for a once-in-a-lifetime experience: watching the sunrise over the snow-covered Annapurnas. Our early-morning coach takes us to the mountain viewpoint on Sarangkot Hill. From here, you have a panoramic vista over the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri Ranges and Fishtail Mountain, and watching them come aglow under pastel skies is magical.

We return to our hotel for breakfast, then set out once more on a guided tour of Pokhara. We visit the Gurkha Memorial Museum, where you can explore the uniforms and weaponry of Gurka soldiers of the British Army through photographs and exhibits, and the Old Bazaar, once a bustling trade hub and now a sleepy marketplace hosted in front of historic buildings. The final stop of our excursion takes us to a local Tibetan settlement to experience its ancient traditions and customs. Returning to Pokhara this afternoon, we relax with a view while cruising Phewa Lake. Panoramic vistas of lofty mountains, Anadu Hill's forested slopes, and the colorful city provide a magnificent final look at this part of Nepal. Overnight Pokhara.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 16 - Kathmandu

We are transferred to the airport this morning to board a flight back to Kathmandu. You are welcome to continue sightseeing through this capital city at leisure this afternoon or relax at your hotel, reveling in the memories of this captivating expedition. Overnight Kathmandu.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 17 - Tour Conclusion

After 17 days of immersing yourself in this part of the world's most vibrant cultures and serene places, your tour concludes this morning. A group transfer takes you to Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport, where you may depart for home.

Includes
  • Breakfast

Additional information

Departure times

Departure times vary based on selected rail vacation. This information will be provided in your final documents. For more information please speak with your rail specialist.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular vacation with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.