Five-Star India’s Golden Triangle, Tigers & Shimla LTC21
|Resort:||Five-Star India’s Golden Triangle, Tigers & Shimla LTC21|
|Operator:||Great Rail Journeys|
Explore India’s Golden Triangle as you bask in the comfort of 5-Star hotels. Marvel at historic temples, spot an elusive Bengal 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.
Days 1-2 – London and 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. We spend the night at the 5-Star Taj Palace.
Day 3 – By train to Shimla
We leave Delhi, travelling on the Shatabdi Express to Kalka. Here we board the UNESCO-listed narrow-gauge Himalayan Queen, 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, crossing 864 bridges and powering 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.
Days 4-5 – Shimla
We begin our day with an informative talk from our expert guest speaker, Raaja Bhasin. Our exploration of Shimla then 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, so named because it was a popular meeting place for people to gather and share gossip. On Day 5, you are free to explore at leisure. Perhaps take a trip to Kufri offering stunning views of the mountains, followed by a high tea lunch at Wildflower Hall (payable locally).
Days 6-7 – Exploring Old and New Delhi
We leave Shimla and return to Delhi for 2 more nights. On Day 7, we visit Old Delhi, taking a rickshaw ride through the narrow streets of Delhi’s bazaar to Chandni Chowk for an incredible insight into the lives of the millions of people who live in the city. We also visit Jama Masjid which boasts the title of India’s largest mosque, Raj Ghat, a simple but moving memorial to Gandhi, and pass Delhi’s Red Fort. Later, we embark on a sightseeing tour of the wide, leafy avenues and impressive Mughal and colonial architecture of New Delhi, exploring the India Gate war memorial, the grand Rashtrapati Bhavan, Mughal Emperor Humayun’s Tomb, and Qutab Minar, India’s tallest stone towers.
Day 8 – The Taj Mahal and Agra Fort
We join the Gatimaan Express early this morning headed to Agra. On arrival, we visit the imposing Agra Fort, built by the Mughal emperor Akbar in the late 16th century. 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. Inside the fort are some of the most exquisite specimens of Mughal architecture, including the Moti Masjid. Later we travel across the city to the spectacular Taj Mahal, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Built by 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 considered to be 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 medieval 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 the opulent lifestyle of the Mughal era. After a guided tour, we continue to Ranthambore. Our hotel here is the 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 Bengal tiger. Declared a Project Tiger Reserve in 1973, the park is a favourite among wildlife photographers and tourists alike, as its reasonable tiger population means it is possible to spot one of the majestic creatures basking in the sun or sauntering through the wilderness. We enjoy a talk by a naturalist at the hotel before heading out on a game drive this afternoon to try to catch a glimpse of the elusive creature. We travel in open-topped safari vehicles called ‘Canters’ which are for the exclusive use of Great Rail Journeys. We are treated to another game drive on the morning of Day 11, increasing our chances of observing other types of native wildlife such as leopards, deer, and crocodiles.
This afternoon, we continue to Jaipur, ‘seeing an Aarti Ceremony at Birla Temple, before checking into our hotel for 2 nights.
Day 12 – Jaipur
We discover the ‘Pink City’ on a full-day sightseeing tour, travelling by Jeep to the Amber Fort, located high on a hillside overlooking Maota Lake. We have the chance to explore the ornate rooms within the palace complex before continuing our tour to the ornately decorated City Palace, home to the current Maharajah of Jaipur, as well as an early 18th-century Astronomical Observatory. We also drive past the Palace of the Winds, a stunning faade 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 – Delhi and London
This afternoon we travel back to Delhi by coach. On Day 14, we transfer to the airport for our flight to London Heathrow, arriving late in the afternoon.