Five-Star India’s Golden Triangle, Tigers & Shimla LTC20

Resort: Five-Star India’s Golden Triangle, Tigers & Shimla LTC20
Operator: Great Rail Journeys
Destination: India
Price From: £1945.00

Overview

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.

Highlights

  • New and Old Delhi
  • Palace of the Winds
  • Toy Train rail journey to Shimla
  • Shimla and the Shivalik Express
  • The Taj Mahal
  • Agra Fort
  • Fatehpur Sikri
  • Ranthambore National Park
  • Amber Fort
  • The Pink City of Jaipur

whats Included

  • 5* Hotel Accommodation
  • Selected Porterage
  • 12 nights’ hotel accommodation
  • 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
  • Journey on the Shatabdi Express
  • Journey on the Toy Train
  • Journey on the Gatimaan Express
  • The services of a professional UK Tour Manager from start to finish

Itinerary

Days 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.

Days 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).

Days 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.

Days 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.

Days 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.

Guest Speaker – Raaja Bhasin

Selected departures feature a guest speaker on Day 4 at Oberoi
Cecil Shimla. We enjoy a talk from Raaja Bhasin for a detailed
insight into the town through its people, history and culture.
Raaja Bhasin is an acclaimed writer and researcher; most recently
he served as history consultant on the Channel 4 series ‘Indian
Summers’. Born in Shimla, he was written two books on the former
British retreat.

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