Experience 18 days and 17 nights Tour of India with a local tour guide and discover the mountains and mystics of India through Incredible Culture, Heritage sites of India, religious and historical cities of India, breathtaking landscapes, Majestic View of Himalayas, walking through dense forest, hill stations, moving from one village to other, local market, eat and drink Chai at street stalls and talk to Himalayan peoples. Tour of India starts from Delhi’s the heart of India bustling crowds to the relative calmness of Dharamsala “The home of the Dalai Lama”, every day of this adventure brings a new experience. Take a tour of incredible India and be introduced to the Mountains and Mystics of this incredible country. This is a journey of the body and spirit as we travel through the foothills of the world's highest mountains. These mystical lands look and feel very different from the rest of India - from the food and clothes to the crisp, clean mountain air and spiritual soul of the inhabitants. Discover the complex diversity of India and be enchanted by a land balanced between physical and mystical worlds.
Destination: Delhi, Shimla – Dharamsala – Amritsar Golden temple – Haridwar – Rishikesh – Jaipur and Agra Taj Mahal
Day 01: Arrive in Delhi
Welcome to Delhi. After you have cleared immigration and customs formalities, you are met outside the arrival hall by our representative, who will be holding a sign with your name. He will escort you to your vehicle and assist with transfer and check-in formalities at your hotel. (Check-in time 14:00 hrs) Delhi, India's capital and political hub is an ancient city that has something for everyone. Settled seven times over the centuries, this city has grown in a way that reflects its past, while retaining its cosmopolitan flavor. Delhi is India's showcase, be it architecture, religion, shopping, culture - everything is available here - waiting to be discovered. Imposing, inspiring and right at home among the grand landmarks of the New Delhi's Diplomatic Enclave, this iconic palace style hotel makes a significant statement in terms of architecture and intent. Dinner & Overnight stay in Hotel.
Day 02: In Delhi ---- Highlights: Explore Old and New Delhi
After breakfast proceed for a tour of India's capital. Start your day with a tour of Old Delhi, driving along the Rajpath and visiting the Asia's largest mosque known as Jama Masjid. A ride on a pedicab/rickshaw will take you to the heart of Old Delhi, allowing you to savour the sights, smells and sounds of this ancient city, its past reflected in its present. Your guide will take you through winding lanes recounting tales, anecdotes and legends of a Delhi that goes back thousands of years. The tour takes you to the age old Silver market, through quaint streets selling incredible ware. Drive past Red Fort to visit city's largest Sikh Temple known as Bangla Sahib Gurudwara. After lunch, the sightseeing of the New Delhi begins with drive past India Gate, built in memory of Indian soldiers killed during the First World War, Rashtrapati Bhawan, built in the early 20th century as the Imperial residence of the Viceroy, today the official residence of the President of India and Parliament House, an unique circular building with huge colonnades, houses the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament. Visit Humayuns Tomb, the first Mughal garden tomb, with its four grand gateways, octagonal base-plan, soaring niche-shaped arches, lofty double domes and the symmetrical garden with its central canal. The sightseeing tour of New Delhi comes to an end with the visit of 70-meter high Qutub Minar, which looms majestically across the wide plains of Delhi. It was built during the 12th century Delhi Sultanate period and commemorates the conquest of Delhi by Qutb-ud-din Aibak, the slave and chief general of Mohammad Ghauri. After tour drive back to hotel dinner & overnight stay.
Day 03: Delhi – Shimla ---- Highlights: Ride a toy Train
Early morning transfer to New Delhi railway station to board the train to Shimla Delhi-Kalka Kalka Shatabdi dep: 07:40 hrs arr: 11:45 hrs Kalka-Shimla Himalayan Queen dep: 12:10 hrs arr: 17:20 hrs The Toy Train, a narrow-gauge railway which links Kalka with Simla, was an important rail-link built in 1924. Its "toy trains" still ply between the two stations, passing through 105 tunnels and beautiful railroad stations. Halfway through the journey, after Solan, the lights of Simla glow in the distance, like glimmering jewels studding the dark green of the mountains. At every stop on the journey you will see smiling faces giving a warm welcome. You are met on arrival at Shimla railway station and transferred to the hotel. Spread across 12 km along a ridge that overlooks terraced hillsides and cultivation, Shimla is magnificently robed in dense forests of oak, pine, fir and rhododendron. In the summer the private gardens abound in flowers in full bloom. Originally a small village with a temple to Shamla Devi as its main attraction, the British developed the settlement for its bracing climate and scenic location to make it the summer capital of India for many years. Evening leisure, Dinner & overnight stay in hotel.
Day 04: In Shimla ---- Highlights: Explore Shimla
Breakfast at the hotel Spend the day exploring Shimla. Places of interest include The Mall, Shimla's principal promenade which terminates at Scandal Point, from where the views of the Himalayas are unmatched; the Viceregal Lodge, the erstwhile viceroy's residence is today the Institute of Advanced Studies. The Shimla State Museum houses numerous art objects from around India including a priceless collection of paintings. The hills surrounding the town offer superb views - a brisk walk up Jakhoo Hill leads to a temple dedicated to Hanuman. Glen Forest, by a stream's edge, is a delightful picnic spot in a dense forest clearing. Summer Hill has several forest trails for easy walking.
Day 05: Shimla - Dharamsala
Breakfast at the hotel In the morning depart on the long but scenic drive through lush forests and quaint settlements to Dharamshala (205km/7 hrs). On arrival, check in at the hotel, Evening leisure, Dinner & overnight stay.
Day 06: In Dharamsala ---- Highlights: Explore Dharamsala
Breakfast at the hotel Spend the day exploring Dharamsala, the principal township of the region, magnificently set amongst pine forests with the backdrop of the Dhauladhar range. Lower Dharamsala, with its bazaars and civic centres is the commercial heart. Some 450 m higher up is Upper Dharamsala, where McLeod Ganj and Forsyth Ganj are located, each with their individual flavour and lifestyle. McLeod Ganj is the settlement of Tibetan Buddhists who sought refuge here in 1960 following their exile from Tibet. The Buddha Temple is situated opposite the residence of the Dalai Lama and around it are located a monastery and a nursery. A few kilometers' walk away is the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts which organizes a ten-day folk opera commencing the second Saturday of April. Other places of interest include St John's Church, located in a forest grove midway between Forsyth Ganj and McLeod Ganj. Visitors here can see a memorial dedicated to Lord Elgin, one of the Viceroys of India who died in Dharamsala and was buried here in 1863. The church has some exquisite stained glass windows. The War Memorial is a beautifully designed monument, raised in memory of those who laid down their lives for their motherland. Dinner & Overnight stay.
Day 07: Dharamsala – Amritsar ---- Highlights: Visit the Golden Temple
Breakfast at the hotel. In the morning depart on the drive to Amritsar (190 km/4 h). On arrival in Amritsar, check in at the hotel. Amritsar, the "Pool of Nectar", is named after the sacred pool in the Golden Temple, the holiest of Sikh sites. In the evening, after dinner, you could visit the Golden Temple at the time for evening prayers. Devotees come to sit and listen in rapt attention to the evening recitations, and to enjoy the beauty of the verses and the ragas in which these prayers are rendered. The evening, prayers end with the Rahras, the Arti and the shabad kirtan, concluding with the ardas at 21:45 hrs. When the prayers end, the Siri Guru Granth Sahib is reverently closed, wrapped in fresh layers of rich silk and muslin, and ceremoniously carried to the palki waiting outside, which is shouldered by devout Sikhs and taken to the Kotha Sahib where the Siri Guru Granth Sahib will rest for the night. The massive silver and rosewood doors of the Darshani Deorhi are shut and a group of volunteers inside the Harimandir starts the ritual cleansing of the shrine with milk and water in preparation for the next day.
Day 08: Amritsar ---- Highlights: Explore Amritsar
Breakfast at the hotel. In the morning, visit the Golden Temple, the holiest of Sikh sites. The Harmandir (Golden Temple) is the spiritual nerve centre of the Sikh faith. The Akal Takht is the seat of the Sikh's religious committee. Guru Gobind Singh's shrine is dedicated to the 10th and last guru of the Sikhs. You can explore and appreciate the spirituality of the place at your own pace. Besides its physical beauty, the strong and tranquil spiritual atmosphere is soul-stirring without being overwhelming. The constant recitation of the holy book brings a certain sense of peace to the individual. Walk through the temple complex and soak in the atmosphere. You will also have an opportunity to meet some Sikh religious leaders who would introduce you to the basic tenets of Sikhism. Of special mention is the community kitchen, which feeds over 5,000 people at a time, throughout the day. Langar is the term used in the Sikh religion or in Punjab in general for common kitchen/canteen. where food is served in a Gurudwara to all the visitors for free. At the langar, only vegetarian food is served, to ensure that all people, regardless of their dietary restrictions, can eat as equals. Langar is open to Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike. It was designed to uphold the principle of equality between all people regardless of religion, caste, colour, creed, age, gender or social status, a revolutionary concept in the caste-ordered society of 16th-century India where Sikhism began. In addition to the ideals of equality, the tradition of langar expresses the ethics of sharing, community, inclusiveness and oneness of all humankind. "...the Light of God is in all hearts." On the way back, visit Jallianwala Bagh, noted for the most notorious massacre under British rule. The Jallianwala Bagh is located about a quarter of a mile from the Golden Temple. It is the Memorial which commemorates the sacrifices of hundreds of men, women and children who were victims of ruthless firing of the British forces. The incident took place on April 13, 1919, when thousands of people had gathered in Jallianwala Bagh to voice their feelings against the repressive policies of the British Government.
Day 09: Amritsar - Haridwar – Rishikesh ---- Highlights: The Holy Ganga River, Aarti
Early morning transfer to the railway station to board the train to Haridwar, located at the foot of the Shivalik hills on the banks of the holy Ganga. Amritsar-Haridwar Jan Shatabdi dep: 06:55 hrs arr: 14:00 hrs You are met on arrival at Haridwar railway station and transferred to Rishikesh located north of Haridwar on the right bank of the Ganga, surrounded on three sides by the Himalayan ranges. On arrival, check in at one of the yoga ashrams on the banks of the holy river / Hotel, evening visit Ganga Aarti ceremony on the bank of Ganges, Dinner & overnight stay in Hotel.
Day 10: In Rishikesh ---- Highlights: Explore Rishikesh with Yoga & Meditation.
The day begins with an early morning yoga session. After breakfast, spend the day exploring Rishikesh "Yoga Capital of the World",. Legend has it that God revealed himself to Raibhaya Rishi as Hrishikesh, after long penance and this sacred spot was henceforth known as such. Rishikesh is the starting point of several pilgrimages to the holy shrines of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. A renowned centre of Yoga discipline and learning, Rishikesh is dotted with shrines and ashrams. Some 5 km away is the Lakshman Jhoola, suspension bridge. The Lakshman Temple, dedicated to the brother of Lord Ram, where he is believed to have performed penance, is nearby. Other interesting temples include the Parmarth temple with many images from Hindu Mythology. In the evening, witness the beautiful aarti (religious ceremony) at Triveni Ghat, where three streams of the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati are believed to be flowing together underground. Prayers to goddess Ganga are invoked, followed by the lighting of butter lamps which are set afloat on the river. Triveni Ghat is also important as the sacred place where Pinda Shradha is performed, a ceremony where food is offered to the departed soul.
Day 11: In Rishikesh ---- Highlights: Yoga & Pooja
The day begins with an early morning yoga session. The rest of the day is at leisure to explore the temples and ashrams, evening dinner on the bank of Ganges River. Overnight stay in Hotel.
Day 12: Rishikesh - Haridwar - Delhi ---- Highlights: Explore Haridwar
Yoga session in the morning is followed by breakfast after drive to Delhi via Haridwar Known as Mayapuri in the Puranas, it is mentioned in the memories of the Chinese traveller Huien TSang. Legend has it that the ancestors of Raja Bharigarh were burnt at this holy spot by the curse of Sage Kapila. They were redeemed by the Raja's penance which brought the Ganga down from Lord Shiva's locks. Millions of devotees flock to this temple city annually to redeem themselves. The most sacred of the bathing ghats lining the river is Har-ki-Pauri. This is the venue of the Kumbha and Ardh Kumbha Melas, held every 12 and 6 years respectively, when hundreds of thousands of Hindu pilgrims, priests and sadhus gather. The Daksha Mahadev Temple is the most important temple. According to legend, Daksha, the father of Sati (Shiva's first wife) performed a sacrifice here but neglected to invite Shiva. Sati was so infuriated at this insult to her husband that she managed to spontaneously self-immolate! After sightseeing tour continue drive to Delhi arrive check in hotel dinner & overnight stay.
Day 13: Delhi – Jaipur
After breakfast, depart on the 280 km (7-hour) drive to Jaipur, Jaipur is an essential stop in any tour of Rajasthan. The old walled section of the city is known as the Pink City; it was painted red (a lucky color in Hindu culture) to welcome England's Prince Alfred in 1853 and the fading old buildings retain their hue. Jaipur is one of India's newer cities, founded in 1727, and was the creation of Jai Singh II, the Maharaja of the Kuchwaha Rajputs, who decided, when Mogul power was on the decline, to move from his outmoded hillside fortress at Amber to establish a new capital on the plains further south. On arrival in Jaipur, check in at the hotel. Dinner & Overnight stay.
Day 14: In Jaipur ---- Highlights: Explore Jaipur, Elephant Ride
After an early breakfast, depart for Amber, the capital for 6 centuries before Jaipur was built, which lies 11 km north of Jaipur. Rising majestically on the slopes of a hill, this 11th century fort and palace complex is a blend of Hindu and Muslim styles - the earlier constructions in the inner apartments designed by the Hindu founder are austere, while later constructions abound in the rich flourishes characteristic of Muslim influence. Experience the thrill of riding up to the fort on gaily decorated elephants, in the manner the Rajputs of old made their royal ascent centuries ago. In the afternoon explore Jaipur, one of the best-planned cities in India, built of rose-pink sandstone by the great astronomer-king Jai Singh II in 1727. The City Palace stands in the centre of the city. Part of it is still the Maharaja's residence, while most of the complex has been developed into a museum containing rare manuscripts, fine specimens of Rajput and Mughal paintings, royal apparel and an armoury. Jantar Mantar observatory was built by the founder of Jaipur, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh. The huge stone instruments were devised to study the movements of the sun, moon and planets and are incredibly accurate. Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) is the landmark of Jaipur. Built of pink sandstone with a delicate honeycomb design and rising five storeys high, it is composed of semi-octagonal overhanging windows, each with its perforated screen, which allowed the ladies of the court to look onto the main street without being seen. There is time to wander through the colourful bazaars, a veritable collector's paradise where you can watch ancient craft forms: Meenakari or enamelling work, exquisite jewellery in silver or gold sparkling with emeralds, rubies, white sapphires and dangling pearls. In tiny ateliers you can see the age-old tie-dye methods of cloth printing, miniature paintings on cotton or silk, statues hand-carved in wood or bone, fine metalwork and the renowned blue pottery of Jaipur.
Day 15: Jaipur - Fatehpur Sikri - Agra ---- Highlights: Fatehpur Sikri
After breakfast, depart for Agra, renowned the world over for the fabulous Taj Mahal, and is situated on the right bank of the river Yamuna. Agra is a city with a glorious past and has the distinction of being the capital of various ruling dynasties. En route, an hour out of Agra, stop at Fatehpur Sikri, the deserted sandstone city, which was the glorious but short-lived imperial capital of Akbar, the greatest of Mughal emperors. Lying on a rocky ridge, it is today a haunting complex of empty palaces, forts and mosques. A variety of architectural styles are found, since craftsmen representing many schools were employed. This magnificent fort palace had to be abandoned after just 15 years of occupation due to lack of potable water. On arrival in Agra, check in at the hotel. Dinner & Overnight stay.
Day 16: Agra – Delhi ---- Highlights: Taj Mahal and Agra Fort
The highlight of your trip will be a visit to the Taj Mahal, (CLOSED ON FRIDAYS) the greatest monument to love and one of the wonders of the modern world, constructed by Emperor Shah Jehan as a mausoleum for his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal. Completed in 1652, skilled craftsmen from Persia, Turkey, France and Italy and some 20,000 labourers worked for 17 years to build this edifice, Marble was brought from Makrana, near Jodhpur and precious stones of onyx, amethyst, malachite, lapis lazuli, turquoise, jade, crystal and mother of pearl were carried from Persia, Russia, Afghanistan, Tibet and China. Watch the rays of the rising sun bathe the pristine white marble edifice in warm hues of gold, ochre, orange, rust and flame - a truly breathtaking experience. Return to the hotel for breakfast Later in the morning, visit the red sandstone Agra Fort, which stands like a crescent on the banks of the Yamuna River, enclosed by forbidding 20-meter high walls, with a 12-meter moat between them. Three successive Mughal emperors - Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jehan - helped create this massive structure which contains Hindu and Muslim architecture. The structure of Agra Fort at Agra and Red Fort at Delhi is moreover the same from inside. in afternoon, depart on the 230 km (6-hour) drive to Delhi, Check in hotel, Dinner & overnight stay.
Day 17: Departure
After breakfast transferred to the airport for your onward destination.
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