The Taj Mahal is not only an sumptuous masterpiece of Indian architecture, but also a truly meaningful stop on any traveller’s journey. Overlooking the picturesque scene of Moata Lake, the monumental Amber Fort is one sight that will forever be under India’s protection. Experience authentic Rajasthani luxury with a heritage stay at the lavish Bhanwar Vilas in Karauli. Old and New Delhi fuse to create a city that pays homage to past empires, while wrestling with its modern identity
Visit India and follow the famous Golden Triangle. Enjoy the perfect introduction to India’s three most popular destinations – Delhi, Agra and Jaipur – as we explore the icons and discover the secrets of this fascinating region. Experience the history of massive forts, the opulence of Rajasthan’s palaces and the traditions of a heritage homestay. Head north into the Himalayan foothills and be introduced to the Mountains and Mystics of this incredible country. 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 sway of the inhabitants. Discover the complex diversity of India and be enchanted by a land balanced between physical and spiritual worlds.
Breakfast Included: 2 Lunches Included: 1 Lunches Included: 3
Namaste. Welcome to India. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader. If you're going to be late, please inform hotel reception. Perhaps visit the World Heritage-listed Humayun's Tomb, Qutub Minar or Red Fort of Delhi if you have any spare time.
Join your group leader on an excursion through Old Delhi. Ride the city’s metro system, and then hop in a rickshaw to the once water-filled square of Chandni Chowk. Discover the Jama Masjid, Delhi’s oldest mosque, before learning about the history of the Sikh religion at the Sheeshganj Gurudwara.
Travel by express train into Rajasthan and on to its capital, Jaipur (approximately five hours). A friendly, busy town crammed with palaces and bazaars full of jewellery, textiles and folk-based arts, Jaipur is a favourite for many travellers. Visit the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds), then head over to Jaipur's Royal City Palace and explore its extravagant rooms and apartments. Later, discover one of the five astronomical observatories built by Maharaja Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur.
Choose to take an early morning hot air balloon experience, often a highlight of visiting Jaipur. Ballooning can be done over Jaipur on the morning of day four between September and June. For additional information, please see the Important Notes section of the Essential Trip Information. In the afternoon around 2.30 pm, visit the Amber Fort. Set on a hilltop overlooking Maota Lake, the fort is an authentic example of Rajput architecture and the Sheesh Mahal (Hall of Mirrors) is one of its more spectacular buildings.
Rural Heritage Stay
Leave the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur behind and drive to Karauli (approximately 5-6 hours). This delightful town was founded in 1348 and is packed with rural ambience and traditional temples. Take a guided walk around the Old Quarter, interacting with friendly locals and learning about rural Indian life off the tourist trail. Be sure to visit the eclectic market stalls along the way and sample some seasonal local sweets made from Indian ingredients, including petha (pumpkin), jiggery (organic sugar), peanut brittle and gazak (sesame seeds).
On the journey to Agra, stop en route at the one-time capital of the Mughal empire, Fatehpur Sikri (approximately four hours). Its stunning mosque displays both Persian and Hindu design and is secured by a 54-metre high entrance. Once in Agra, there’s the option of visiting the marble tomb that was saved for the greatest of the Mughal Emperors, Akbar's Mausoleum. The day then culminates in a visit to the Taj Mahal, built in the 1640s as a memorial to the wife of Emperor Shah Jahan.
In the morning, take a guided tour along the banks of the Yamuna River to the iconic Agra Fort. Originally designed by Emperor Akbar in 1565 to be a military structure, it was converted into a palace during Emperor Shah Jahan's reign and later became his prison. In the early afternoon, take the 3-4 hour journey back to Delhi by private bus. Arrive back at the hotel with enough time to freshen up and head put for dinner in this buzzing city.
There are no activities planned for today. Check out the great range of Urban Adventures on offer, but be sure to pre book.
As this is a combination of two of our favourite India trips, the make up of your group may change today, and you may also have a new leader.
There is another group meeting at 6pm tonight where you will meet the rest of the group. Your tour leader will give you further information locally.
Depart Delhi by train for the 4-5 hour journey across the state of Punjab to Kalka. From Kalka, board the World Heritage-listed 'toy train' and enjoy the six-hour climb through villages, tunnels and mountain passes. It's a long day of travelling, but Shimla's faded colonial charm will make up for it. On arrival in the evening, explore the town on an orientation walk.
Head out and explore Mall Road, Shimla's most popular shopping stretch. A nearby viewpoint also offers fantastic views of the Himalayas. Join the group for a visit to the Viceregal Lodge to witness where the partition agreement that separated India from Pakistan and Bangladesh was drawn up.
If you like, join the hoards of monkeys milling about Jakhu Temple or stock up on souvenirs and specialty wooden crafts at Lakkar Bazaar. Set among rolling hills, Shimla also offers an array of nature walks that range from gentle to challenging. In the evening, enjoy an optional trip to the cinema and bop along to a Bollywood blockbuster.
Travel by jeep to the small town of Mandi. Situated on the Beas River, Mandi has a rich cultural heritage of both historical and theological significance. Once part of the salt route to Tibet, today it's the gateway to the Kullu Valley. Head into town for an orientation walk and explore a huge sunken shopping centre - the only one like it in India and the focal point of entertainment in Mandi. You can also spend time at the bathing ghats along the river or hike to hilltop temples just outside of town. In the evening, join the group for dinner and then stay in the former palace of the Raja of Mandi, which today has basic amenities.
The journey up to the mountains of India is an adventure in itself. Join locals on a public bus for the six-hour drive along bumpy roads to Dharamsala. Strung with prayer flags and busy with robed monks strolling between monasteries, this hilltop retreat is home to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile. Spend the afternoon wandering the peaceful streets, which are set to the backdrop of the Himalayas. There’s a lot to gain here from talking to locals and learning about the many facets of Tibetan Buddhism.