Grand Tour of India & Nepal KTJ21
|Resort:||Grand Tour of India & Nepal KTJ21|
|Operator:||Great Rail Journeys|
Explore the highlights of India and Nepal on this grand holiday that includes some of the world’s most beautiful temples, sights, and scenery. We witness colourful ceremonies, vibrant cities, an animal safari in Chitwan National Park, and experience breathtaking views of the Himalayas.
Days 1-4 – London, Amritsar, and Delhi
We depart London Heathrow and travel to the Indian city of Amritsar, via Doha. Arriving early on Day 2, we transfer to the Hyatt Regency Hotel and have some time at leisure to settle in. In the afternoon, we visit the Wagah Border, which separates Pakistan and India, to witness the Beating Retreat Ceremony, a ceremonial military concert and lowering of flags at sunset. On the morning of Day 3 we enjoy a guided tour of Amritsar, seeing the Golden Temple, a resplendent building with gilded faade and ornate carvings decking its inner walls.
We also visit the poignant Jallianwala Bagh Gardens and memorial site. Afterwards, we board our train to Delhi, arriving later this evening.
On Day 4, we embark on a full-day sightseeing tour of Delhi, seeing the colourful markets of Old Delhi and taking a rickshaw ride through the lively bazaar. We continue to New Delhi, home to Qutab Minar, Humayun’s Tomb, and India Gate.
Days 5-7 – Agra, the Taj Mahal, and Lucknow
We board the early train to Agra today where, on arrival, we visit the vast Agra Fort before crossing the city for a sunset visit to the iconic Taj Mahal, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. On Day 6 we travel by coach to Lucknow, a historic city that played an important role both during the Mughal and colonial periods. On Day 7, we visit the famous La Martiniere Boys’ School, founded by an endowment from Major-General Claude Martin. We also see the magnificent Bada Imambara that houses a mosque and a labyrinth said to have a 1000 passageways. We then see the British Residency, the site of a siege during the rebellion of 1857 against British rule.
Days 8-9 – Varanasi and sunrise on the Ganges
Our final long-distance train journey of the holiday takes us to Varanasi, the sacred city of the Hindus that attracts thousands of pilgrims every year and is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. After checking into our hotel, this evening we watch the spectacular Aarti ceremony, an elaborate Hindu ritual. Priests carry tiered metal lamps, moving rhythmically to the sounds of sacred Hindu songs, and the flames sway in unison creating an entrancing ambience.
Early in the morning of Day 9, we cruise the holy river Ganges, admiring the sun as it spreads its first orange hues on the slate-coloured water. We then take an excursion to Sarnath, where Buddha is said to have given his first sermon and which now, understandably, holds great significance for Buddhists. This afternoon, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Kolkata.
Days 10-12 – Kolkata and Kathmandu
We embark on a sightseeing tour of Kolkata today, exploring the vibrant and bustling flower market, Mother Teresa’s house, and Victoria Memorial – a beautiful white marble structure boasting sprawling gardens. Later, we visit the railway museum – a huge open field in the heart of the city offering panoramic views of the Kolkata skyline – and the Potter’s Colony, where generations of potters engage in the art of making Hindu deities for festive occasions. Travelling aboard the Circular Train, a local commuter service, we then make our way to the banks of Hooghly River to see the memorial of James Prinsep, an English scholar and numismatist.
On Day 11, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Kathmandu in Nepal. We begin Day 12 with a sightseeing tour of the neighbouring city of Patan. Here, we listen to a master create music with singing bowls, an experience that has deep spiritual connotations in Buddhist culture. Later, we return to Kathmandu for a sightseeing tour, exploring its Durbar Square, the erstwhile royal square, the ancient religious architecture of Swayambhunath Stupa, and taking a rickshaw ride to Thamel, a lively part of the city. Tonight we dine at the well-known Rum Doodle restaurant, once a hang out for brave mountaineers. Here we chat to a local Sherpa who relives their experiences of climbing Mount Everest.
Days 13-14 – Kathmandu to Chitwan
This morning we visit Boudhanath Stupa, before travelling to Chitwan National Park. After checking into our hotel, we head to an elephant stable to meet some of these gentle giants and enjoy a chat with a local naturalist. Afterwards, we travel by traditional ox cart to a nearby village populated by the Tharu People. Here we learn about their unique way of life and culture. We visit a gharial, or Indian crocodile breeding centre, on Day 14. Here this endangered species is bred and monitored to prevent extinction. After lunch, we take a wonderful Jeep safari through the jungles and grasslands of Chitwan National Park. Famous for its biodiversity, here we may spot the Indian Rhino stalking its way through the wetlands and grassy plains.
The park is also home to Bengal tigers, leopards, hyenas, and sloth bears and we may even be lucky enough to see elephants bathing in the Rapti River.
Days 15-17 – Into the Himalayas
We drive into the Himalayas today, passing glacial turquoise rapids and jungle-covered mountains on our way to Pokhara. With staggering views of Fishtail Peak, this is one of the world’s most scenic destinations. Day 16 is at leisure here.
On Day 17, we drive up to Sarangkot, a mountain viewpoint which offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience – witnessing sunrise over snow-clad Annapurna, one of the highest peaks in the world. After breakfast we explore Pokhara, visiting the Gorkha Museum, the Old Bazaar, and a Tibetan settlement where we experience authentic Tibetan culture. In the afternoon, we enjoy a cruise across the tranquil waters of Lake Phewa, admiring the lofty mountains that border it.
Days 18-19 – Kathmandu and London
We take the coach back to Kathmandu, where we stay for one final night, stopping for lunch along the way. On Day 19, we transfer to the airport for our flight to London Heathrow, via Doha.