Five Star India’s Golden Triangle, Tigers & Shimla
Marvel at historic temples, spot an elusive tiger and visit beautiful palaces and gardens as we explore kaleidoscopic India, taking in the tranquillity of Shimla, enigmatic Delhi, the 'Pink City' of Jaipur and Agra with its resplendent marble icon, the Taj Mahal.
- The services of a professional UK Tour Manager from start to finish
- Return flights from London Heathrow to Delhi
- All rail and Volvo coach travel throughout
- Toyota Innova car transfers in Shimla
- Porterage included from Delhi to Shimla, Shimla to Delhi, and Delhi to Agra
- 12 nights' hotel accommodation including 4 nights at the 5-Star Taj Palace in Delhi, 3 nights at the 5-Star Oberoi Cecil Hotel in Shimla, 1 night at the 5-Star ITC Mughal Hotel in Agra, 2 nights at the 5-Star Sawai Vilas in Ranthambore, and 2 nights at the 5-Star ITC Rajputana Sheraton in Jaipur
- 30 meals including 12 breakfasts, 6 lunches, including 2 packed lunches, and 12 dinners
- Journeys on the Shatabdi Express and UNESCO-listed Toy Train
- Guided city tours in Delhi, Shimla and Jaipur
- The Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri and the Amber Fort
- 2 game drives in Ranthambore National Park
- Specialist guest speaker
Day 1- 2: Fly to Delhi
We depart from London Heathrow on our flight to Delhi, arriving late morning on Day 2. Delhi is one of India's most colourful and exciting metropolises, where the old and new exist harmoniously together. We spend the night at the 5-Star Taj Palace.
Day 3: By train to Shimla
We leave Delhi on the Shatabdi Express to Kalka. Here we board the UNESCOlisted 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.
Day 4 - 5: Shimla
We begin our day with an informative talk form 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 Theatre, 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 5 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 6 - 7: Exploring Old and New Delhi
We leave Shimla and return back to Delhi, for two more nights. On Day 7 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 8: 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 centrepiece 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 favourite 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.
Day 9: 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.
Day 10 - 11: Tiger spotting in Ranthambore National Park
We experience a true highlight of our trip this afternoon as we head into Ranthambore National Park, one of the best places in the world to spot a wild tiger. Declared a Project Tiger reserve in 1973, the park is a favourite of wildlife photographers and tourists alike, as its large tiger population means it is possible to spot one of the majestic creatures basking in the sun or sauntering through the wilderness. We head out on a game drive to try to catch a glimpse of the elusive tiger, travelling in open-topped safari vehicles called 'Canters' which are for the exclusive use of Great Rail Journeys customers. We are treated to a further morning game drive on Day 11, increasing our chances of observing the activities of the stunning 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 12: Jaipur
We begin our stay in the 'Pink City' with full-day sightseeing tour, travelling 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.
Day 13 - 14: Return to Delhi and home
This afternoon we drive back to Delhi, where we spend our final evening. On Day 14, we transfer to the airport for our flight to London, arriving late in the afternoon.
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