Golden Triangle & Shimla12 days & 11 nights, Escorted Discovery Group
Escorted Discovery Group
Delhi, Agra, Jaipur & Shimla
Experience a taste of India on this outstanding introductory tour of the country's most celebrated sights. Exploring the Golden Triangle, this journey combines imperial Delhi with the legendary Taj Mahal at Agra and a 3-night stay in the princely city of Jaipur, culminating in the beautiful hills of Shimla.
Day 1Arrive Delhi
You will be met and taken to your hotel.Eros Hotel - 1 Night (D)
Shah Jahan founded the city of Shahjahanabad, now referred to as Old Delhi, in 1648. The famous Red Fort in the heart of Old Delhi was once the most opulent fort of the Mughal empire and it boasts the Diwan-i-Am, Hall of Public Audience; and the Diwan-i-Khas, Hall of Private Audience. A short drive from the fort is the Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in the world, built by Shah Jahan to dominate his city. The Raj Ghat is the location of Gandhi's cremation. Your tour will include visits to the Red Fort, the Jama Masjid mosque and Raj Ghat.
The Red Fort is closed on Mondays.
Day 2New Delhi - Agra
When the British chose Delhi as their capital in 1911, they appointed two architects, Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker, to plan and build a new city to rival the fabled cities of the Mughals. New Delhi was thus built in true colonial style with tree-lined avenues, colonial bungalows, the Parliament House, the War Memorial Arch and the Viceregal Palace, now the official residence of the President of India. Alongside these British architectural gems are several monuments commemorating other occupants of Delhi including the Emperor Humayun and the Muslim saint, Nizamuddin Auliya. Indigenous Indian monuments include Jantar Mantar, the observatory built by Raja Jai Singh of Jaipur, and the Birla Mandir, a modern marble Hindu temple. During your tour you will drive past India Gate and the President's Palace and visit the tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun, and the pre-Mughal monuments including Iltutmish's tomb, Qutb Minar and the tomb of Isa Khan.The Trident Agra - 2 Nights (B, D)
Drive from Delhi to Agra, a distance of 125 miles and journey time of approximately 4 hours.
Visit the Taj Mahal in the changing light of the rising sun, a truly magical time to gaze in wonder at this ode to eternal love, built by Shah Jahan on the death of his bride Mumtaz Mahal. Emperor Shah Jahan said on its creation that it made 'the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes'. The Taj Mahal is widely recognized as the world's most beautiful monument. It was built over a period of 20 years, starting in 1632, by 20,000 laborers and craftsmen, and displays superb craftsmanship. The close up detail of the Taj Mahal is as exquisite as the overall architectural design, with semi-precious stones and beautiful patterns covering the marble surface. Not long after it was finished Shah Jahan was overthrown and imprisoned in Agra Fort where, for the rest of his days, he could only gaze out at the Taj Mahal through a window. Following his death in 1666, Shah Jahan was buried here alongside his treasured Mumtaz.The Trident Agra (B, D)
Akbar began Agra Fort in 1565, with additions to the citadel being made through to the time of Akbar's grandson, Shah Jahan. The citadel consists of marble palaces, ornate alcoves and terrace pavilions. Continue to the tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah. Often referred to as the 'baby Taj', the tomb was built by the Empress Noor Jahan in memory of her father, Itmad-ud-Daulah. An exquisite building, the 'baby Taj' is thought to be a forerunner of the Taj Mahal.
Watch the sun set over the Taj Mahal from Mehtab Bagh, the moonlit garden and an extension of the Taj Mahal which lies on the opposite bank of the Yamuna river. In 1652, Aurangzeb wrote to his father telling of a visit to 'the blessed tomb' and commenting that 'the Mehtab Garden was completely inundated and has lost its charm, but soon it will regain its verdancy. The octagonal pool and the pavilion around it are in splendid condition'. Re-excavated in the 1990s, the site features a huge octagonal tank with fountains, which suggests that the garden complex was used in the cool of the night as a place from which to view the Taj Mahal.
Day 4Fatehpur Sikri - Jaipur
Today you will drive from Agra to Jaipur, a distance of 145 miles and a journey time of approximately 8 hours including a stop for lunch and a visit to Fatehpur Sikri.The Gateway Hotel Ramgarh Lodge Jaipur - 3 Nights (B, L, D)
The magnificent deserted red sandstone city of Fatehpur Sikri with its forts, palaces and mosques is located 23 miles from Agra. The city, designed as a tribute to the Sufi saint, Sheikh Salim Chisti, who had predicted the birth of Akbar's son and heir, was begun in 1571 and was abandoned just 15 years later due to a shortage of water.
You will take a morning excursion to the ancient Rajput capital of Amber, located on a hill 7 miles north of Jaipur. Amber was the capital of the Kachhawa Rajputs from 1037 until the Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh founded Jaipur in 1727, but the majestic fort-palace was not begun until about 1600. The building was added to by successive Rajput rulers, however, the architecture displays many Mughal influences in addition to the traditional Rajput designs. Whilst visiting the palace you will be able to explore the intricate chambers and hallways, the maze of passages and courtyards and witness the wonderful views of the Jal Mahal water palace below.The Gateway Hotel Ramgarh Lodge Jaipur (B, D)
Returning to Jaipur, you will visit the City Palace which is still inhabited by Jai Singh's descendants and is a superb fusion of Rajput and Mughal architecture. A city within a city, it includes the temple of Govindevji, the Jantar Mantar astronomical observatory and the Maharaja's museum with his personal collection of weaponry, miniature paintings, royal attire and jewellery. On the periphery of the Palace stands the Hawa Mahal, the Palace of Winds, an elaborate pink sandstone facade behind which the ladies of the court used to watch the daily goings on in the street below.
Day at leisure or optional activity as below.The Gateway Hotel Ramgarh Lodge Jaipur (B, D)
This morning, depart for the ruins of Bhangarh which lies to the north-west of Jaipur, approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes' drive away. The city of Bhangarh was founded around 1573 by the Mughal ruler Bhagwant Das as a residence for his son Madho Singh. With the decline of the empire, the city was attacked in 1720 by the army of Jai Singh II with many people fleeing the city. Coupled with this, a famine in 1783 struck, which eventually led to the abandonment of the city. Today, it is possible to see the original streets, featuring shops along the main road, havelis, a mosque and palace. The ruins are also believed to be the most haunted in India with admittance to the site banned before sunrise and after sunset. There is a signpost from the Architectural Survey of India to this affect. After your visit, return to Jaipur.
Day 7To Delhi
Drive from Jaipur to Delhi, a journey of 160 miles and approximately 6 hours.Eros Hotel - 1 Night (B, D)
Day 8To Shimla
Take the Kalka Shatabadi train from Delhi to Kalka. Your train tickets will be given to you on arrival in India.The Oberoi Cecil - 3 Nights (B, L, D)
Take the Himalayan Queen train from Kalka to Shimla. Your train tickets will be given to you on arrival in India.
The narrow gauge railway between Kalka and Shimla, completed in 1903, is considered one of the finest engineering feats in India. A journey along this track on the 'toy train' is one of the best ways to experience the beautiful Himalayan scenery which the Shimla area is famous for.
The tour includes Jakhu Temple, the Viceregal Lodge, botanical gardens, and the Mall. Dedicated to the monkey god Hanuman, Jakhu Temple is at an altitude of 8,055 feet, and is reached by either a 45 minute walk from Scandal Corner or by driving directly to the temple itself. From the temple, there are fine views over Shimla, the surrounding valleys, and the snow-capped peaks to the north. The Viceregal Lodge, finished in 1888, was formerly the residence of the British viceroy Lord Dufferin, and the summer seat of British government in India until the 1940s. Located here are magnificently kept lawns and botanical gardens. Finish off the tour with a stroll down the Mall, where you will find rows of colonial half-timbered buildings and curiosity shops.The Oberoi Cecil (B, D)
The Viceregal Lodge is closed to visitors every Monday and during other national holidays such as Diwali and Holi.
Day at leisure.The Oberoi Cecil (B, D)
Day 11To Delhi
Drive from Shimla to Chandigarh, a distance of 75 miles and journey time of approximately 3.5 hours.Eros Hotel - 1 Night (B, D)
Take the Kalka Shatabdi train from Chandigarh to New Delhi Railway Station:
You will be met and taken to your hotel.
Day 12Depart Delhi
You will be collected at your hotel and taken to the airport.(B)