You will be greeted at the airport before your overnight flight to Delhi.
We will transfer to the five-star Taj Palace Hotel (selected 2019 departures will stay at the five-star Hyatt Regency Hotel) for an overnight stay. After time to freshen up, we begin our solo tour with a visit to New Delhi, where we see the Parliament building and the India Gate, as well as some of the more ancient sites of Qutub and the tomb of Humayun. This evening we enjoy a pleasant and informal welcome dinner, where you’ll have the opportunity to get to know your tour manager and other like-minded travellers exploring the world on their own.
After breakfast, we continue our exploration of the city to Old Delhi, where we visit Mahatma Gandhi’s modest memorial, as well as the imposing Red Fort and one of Asia’s largest mosques, Jama Masjid. We continue to Agra where we stay at either four-star hotel – the Oberoi Trident or Marriott Courtyard.
An early start this morning will be worth the while when we witness the glorious sun rising over the stunning Taj Mahal. As the mist rises above the adjoining Yamuna River, the constantly changing colours of the marble domes further highlight the symmetrical beauty of one of the modern wonders of the world. Our tour continues to the huge terracotta-coloured Agra Fort, the headquarters of the Moghul Empire for many years. Later this evening, you’ll have the option to return to the Taj Mahal to enjoy the sunset.
Leaving Agra this morning we continue towards the ancient abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri, built in 1571, as Emperor Akbar’s imperial capital. Although it was mysteriously abandoned just 15 years late it remains in a remarkable state of preservation, with numerous palaces, wide courtyards and beautiful carvings. Just 15kms away is the Bagh Bharatpur a luxury Heritage hotel in Bharatpur where we stop for lunch (included) before going on to the railway station to catch the Shatabdi express for our comfortable two and a half hour journey to Ranthambore National Park. Originally the private hunting preserve of Maharajahs, its 400 square kilometres of forested rolling hills, valleys and lakes form a unique ecosystem. Started in 1973, India’s famous Tiger Project was created to protect the country’s tiger population. Despite many difficulties, the tigers of Ranthambore have survived and numbers have stabilised. Our hotel for the next two nights is the comfortable family-run three-star Ranthambore Regency. Dinner is included this evening.
This morning, we rise early in the hopes of catching a glimpse of Ranthambore’s famous tigers on safari. Specially adapted four-wheel-drive vehicles manned by expert drivers will take us around the vast national park to spot the many different wildlife species that call it home, including antelopes, monkeys, crocodiles, wild boar, and rare sloth bears. We return to our hotel later this morning with plenty of time to relax and have a bite before our second safari drive to spot yet more fantastic wild creatures. Dinner is included this evening.
The ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur is our destination today, as we leave the natural playground of Ranthambore behind. One of Jaipur’s highlights is the Astronomical Observatory, home to a multitude of huge sundials. We will also visit the City Palace where the Maharajah of Jaipur still resides. Later we check into our hotel, the new four-star Hilton Jaipur for two nights.
Another icon of India is the colossal Amber Fort, located in the hills above Jaipur. We are treated to a local guide’s expert insights, so we can truly appreciate the fine details of this most magnificent of structures.
This morning we head deeper into rural Rajasthan. Passing small towns and villages, we continue to the village of Alsisar in the Sekhawati region. Once part of the Silk Road, the area became increasingly affluent and luxury mansions began to be built here. One such mansion has been preserved and converted into a luxurious Heritage Hotel, the Alsisar Mahal, where we stay tonight. This afternoon, a local guide will take us through the village to see the remaining mansions or ‘havelis’. Dinner is included this evening.
After breakfast we leave Rajasthan behind and return to the nation’s capital, New Delhi, for a one-night stay before our journey into the Himalayas. Tonight we stay at the five-star Taj Palace Hotel (selected 2019 departures will stay at the five-star Hyatt Regency Hotel). Dinner is included this evening.
This morning we take the express train from Delhi to Kalka in ‘chair-class’ carriages with air-conditioning and large windows. We transfer at Kalka to the narrow-gauge ‘toy train’, which although does not have the same creature comforts, offers increasingly stunning views as it crosses 800 bridges and goes through 100 tunnels along the 100km-route to the small station in Shimla. After a busy day of travelling, we will check into the luxurious Oberoi Cecil hotel for three nights.
Shimla’s colonial past is the main theme of our exploration today as we encounter the Viceregal Lodge and its stunning botanical gardens. Certain parts of the building are open to visitors and give a tantalising glimpse into the life of the Viceroy and his staff, who resided here for six months of the year.
Enjoy a day at leisure in Shimla, relax at the hotel pool or spa, or maybe take another stroll along the mall and do some last minute bargain hunting in the markets. Alternatively, there are a number of short local ‘treks’ that can be arranged in the surrounding hills. A sumptuous buffet dinner is included this evening.
This morning after breakfast, we drive to Kalka and then return by express train to New Delhi for our last night at the Taj Diplomatic Enclave (selected 2019 departures will stay at the five-star Hyatt Regency Hotel).
We leave Delhi in the early afternoon for our flight home, arriving back the in the UK on the same day after a truly wondrous holiday.