Journey Through The Himalayan Foothills12 days & 11 nights, Escorted Discovery Group
Escorted Discovery Group
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Amritsar, Mcleodganj, Palampur, Pragpur, Shimla, Chandigarh & Delhi
Travel to the holy city of Amritsar and McLeod Ganj, home to the Tibetan government-in-exile. Explore the regions of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, from the Golden Temple through the foothills of the Himalaya to Shimla. Along the way, appreciate the cultural diversity of the region through its temples, monasteries and museums.
Day 1Arrive Amritsar
On arrival in Amritsar, you will be met and taken to your hotel.Hyatt Amritsar - 2 Nights
This evening, proceed to the Golden Temple to see the Palki Sahib ceremony. To the accompaniment of drums and hymns that fill the air, a gold and silver gilded palanquin (palki), decorated with silk brocades, is prepared by the devotees to carry the Guru Granth Sahib (the Holy Book) from the main shrine in Hari Mandir to Darshani Deorhi (gateway leading to the inner sanctum). Performed every evening, several devout followers and visitors participate in the ceremony, which offers each individual at least a few seconds to help carry the palanquin.
The Holy Book rests for a few hours in the inner chambers until the commencement of the early morning Palki Sahib Ceremony for bringing the Guru Granth Sahib from the Akal Takht (inner chambers) to the main shrine in Hari Mandir.
Today, you will visit the Golden Temple, Jallianwala Bagh and the market. Also known as the Hari Mandir, the Golden Temple is the holiest shrine of the Sikh religion. A blend of Hindu and Muslim styles, the temple is topped with a golden dome, said to be gilded with 220 pounds of pure gold. Just a 5 minute walk from the temple is the park known as Jallianwala Bagh, which commemorates the 2,000 Indians who were killed or wounded here by the British in the 1919 massacre. This event is considered one of the most important in India's struggle for independence. From here you will be taken for a stroll through Amritsar's market. You will also visit the Ram Bagh Gardens and the summer palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.Hyatt Amritsar (B)
Experience a sunset visit to Wagah. Every day at sunset the border guards of India and Pakistan assemble for the border closing ceremony. Each army parades in an immaculately turned out display of synchronized marching and bellowed military commands, each side doing its best to out-do the other with its shouting and marching. The ritual ends as the sun goes down, the flag of each country is lowered and the gates are slammed shut.
Day 3To McLeod Ganj National Park
Drive from Amritsar to McLeod Ganj (Dharamsala), a distance of 136 miles and journey time of approximately 7 hours.Pride Surya Resort - 1 Night (B)
This afternoon, enjoy a tour of McLeod Ganj. The main city center is a charming Tibetan settlement with bustling bazaars that sell carpets, handicrafts and delicious Tibetan food. The Dalai Lama resides in McLeod Ganj and this afternoon's tour begins by visiting His Holiness the Dalai Lama's monastery, Tsuglag Khang. From the outside, the monastery resembles a simple brick and mortar building but inside it is beautifully carved and contains paintings, murals and other artefacts that give a great insight into Buddhist life. Your tour also includes a visit to the Norbulingka Institute, which is dedicated to the preservation of Tibetan culture, particularly the traditional Tibetan arts of woodcarving, thangka painting, goldsmithing and embroidery. Proceed to the handicrafts center and a local family house to see the regional gaddi dress.
Day 4To Palampur
Drive from McLeod Ganj to Palampur, a distance of 28 miles and a journey time of approximately 1.5 hours (excluding stops).Taragarh Palace - 1 Night (B, D)
En route, visit Sobha Singh Art Gallery (the master of modern Sikh art), Andretta Terracotta Museum and the rock-cut temples at Masroor, dated by art historians to the sixth to eighth centuries AD.
Day 5To Pragpur
Drive from Palampur to Baijnath, a distance of 11 miles and a journey time of approximately 35 minutes.The Judge's Court - 2 Nights (B, D)
Enjoy a Kangra Mountain Railway from Baijnath to Nagrota. The Kangra Mountain Railway, also known as the Kangra Toy Train, covers a distance of 100 miles across beautiful sub-Himalayan terrain and Joginder Nagar, a valley known for its natural beauty and ancient Hindu shrines. First commissioned in 1929, this incredible feat of engineering passes many small stations, travels across 971 specially designed bridges and through two tunnels. At its highest point of 4,235 feet, the journey provides beautiful views of the Dhauladhar mountain range and the ruins of Kangra fort.
Drive from Nagrota to Pragpur, stopping en route at Kangra fort. The journey will take approximately 5.5 hours, excluding stops.
Located 12 miles from Dharamsala, Kangra fort holds significant historical importance to the Kangra district. Built by the royal Rajput family, which traces its origins to the ancient Trigarta Kingdom, it is thought to be the oldest fort in India.
Day at leisure, with opportunities for leisurely walks in the surrounding villages, including Garli, or visit the temples at Jwalamukhi and Chintpurni.The Judge's Court (B, L, D)
Day 7Bhimbetka caves - Shimla
You will be driven from Pragpur to Shimla, a distance of about 150 miles and a journey time of approximately 6 to 7 hours. En-route stop at shops selling locally produced fruit wines.The Oberoi Cecil - 2 Nights (B)
Today, proceed on a full day tour of Shimla. The tour includes Jakhu temple, the Viceregal Lodge, Himachal State Museum and the Gaiety Theatre. Dedicated to the monkey god Hanuman, Jakhu temple sits at an altitude of 8,055 feet and has excellent 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. It is home to magnificently kept lawns and botanical gardens. Proceed to the Himachal State Museum, which is housed in a Victorian mansion and contains an impressive collection of Himachali, Rajasthani and Punjabi miniatures, as well as colorful traditional costumes and jewellery, delicate stone and wood carvings, and interesting photographs of Himachal temples. The final visit is to the restored gothic Gaiety Theatre, which was once visited by Rudyard Kipling.The Oberoi Cecil (B)
Later in the day, enjoy some free time to stroll along the Mall and the Ridge
Day 9To Chandigarh via Toy Train
Today enjoy a Toy Train journey from Shimla to Solan. The narrow gauge railway from Kalka to 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 that the Shimla area is famous for.Taj Chandigarh - 2 Nights (B)
Continue on the road to Chandigarh, a distance of 75 miles and journey time of approximately 3.5 hours.
Today, enjoy a full day tour of Chandigarh. Chandigarh, one of the greatest experiments in urban planning of the 20th century, attracts worldwide attention for its architecture and planned landscaping. Today's tour starts at Le Corbusier Museum, which traces the making of the city through the work of its chief architect. Continue to the Architecture Museum to learn about the history of Chandigarh's planning and development. At the Government Museum & Art Gallery there will be a private tour. Proceed to the Rock Garden, a 16-hectare park of paths, courtyards, plazas, waterfalls and thousands of lively sculptures made from recycled materials, which was built in complete secrecy in dense forest outside the city over four decades.Taj Chandigarh (B)
Day 11To Delhi
Today, you will be collected at your hotel and taken to the station.The Lalit New Delhi - 1 Night (B)
On arrival in Delhi, 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)
In the Indian Subcontinent, there are completely different customs when it comes to road use and road craft, and all manner of vehicles, people and animals can be found moving about, even on the main roads. To most visitors, road journeys in the Indian Subcontinent can seem quite startling at first; however, all Cox & Kings drivers are very experienced and in tune with other road users, allowing you to relax and absorb the extraordinary sights and sounds en route.
For Escorted Groups, Cox & Kings uses air-conditioned buses of an appropriate size for the number of people traveling, while on Private Journeys, Cox & Kings uses mid-size cars with an option to upgrade to luxury segment vehicles, available on request. They all feature air-conditioning and our drivers are experienced. Please refer to page 51 for further details.
Important Note: Road conditions in the Indian Subcontinent change throughout the year, due to monsoon rains and extreme weather patterns and journey times can vary enormously at all times of the year which is beyond the control of Cox & Kings.
Air travel in the Indian Subcontinent is more affordable now. There are full service brands that operate domestic and international flights and then there are low cost airlines that have gained popularity due to low cost airfares being offered.
Flight Delays & Insurance: Due to increase in air traffic, government restrictions and changing weather conditions, flight delays have become more commonplace. Domestic flights in India can incur last minute schedule changes, delays, over flying, and / or cancellation without prior notice. November through January, fog can also create delays in Northern India airports, causing flight postponement or cancellation.
Flight delays can cause problems with onward connections, hotel and holiday arrangements. Although the airline will sometimes make arrangements to get you to your next destination at no extra cost, costs may be involved for you, in the form of additional accommodation, transfers and onward tickets. Unfortunately, since most services are paid for in advance, any services missed due to delays are non-refundable. Please note many international flight tickets are restricted and nonrefundable. Therefore, Cox & Kings requires that you are insured against such eventualities, and recommends traveling with a comprehensive Travel Insurance Policy from your point of origin.
Early Starts: A number of flights within the Indian Subcontinent arrive / depart early in the morning and, while we will endeavor to schedule your tour with a flight which arrives / departs at a reasonable time, sometimes there is little or no alternative and early check-in / check-out times may be required.
Special Requests: Cox & Kings will endeavor to request any specific meals or services, on the condition that we are told at the time of booking. Specific seat requests with most major airlines can now only be requested if traveling in one of the premium classes. We are able to request general seating preferences for Economy Class passengers. However, all special requests are at the discretion of the airline and cannot be guaranteed.
Travel within the Indian Subcontinent is an adventure at every moment. We will endeavor to keep all clients apprised of any changes and or alterations to the program due to flight arrival or departure re-scheduling or other situations that may occur throughout your travel.
Important Note: Airlines and train schedules and fares are subject to last minute change. In the event that any amendment or cancellation arises or increase in fare, Cox & Kings cannot be held liable for the same.
The Indian Subcontinent has made an indelible mark in the area of hospitality. The distinctive features of these hotels are high standard and quality accommodation and service along with contemporary facilities at par with world standards. The availability of hotels in the Subcontinent ranges from Deluxe, Luxury, First Class and Budget to Heritage and Boutique.
Accommodation standards vary dramatically throughout the Subcontinent and in general cannot be compared to the West. In larger cities such as Delhi and Mumbai, the hotels we use are fully modernized with excellent facilities, while in other cities and towns the hotels are smaller but still offer good facilities. In the desert cities of Rajasthan, areas of Southern India and small hill towns, many hotels we use are small, privately owned properties or converted palaces, retaining much of their original ambience, but the room size, shape and design can vary enormously (even in the same price bracket). On certain circuits in Rajasthan, enjoy the experience of staying at one of the marvelous Heritage hotels – once the residence of Maharajas. Although palace hotels often have simple facilities and service can be slow, we ask for your patience as this is more than compensated for by their atmosphere and charm.
Check-in & Check-out Times: Most hotels work on a check-in of 1400 hours and check-out of 1200 hours. If a flight arrives in the morning, you may be taken for breakfast or sightseeing before check-in. We will endeavor to get your room as early as possible in these instances.
Game Parks & Remote Areas: Even when you travel off the beaten track with Cox & Kings,you can be sure that your accommodation in game lodges, smaller hotels and tented camps is the best available. Sometimes the best hotel may be the only hotel, which may be very modest. In these cases we feel that the simplicity of such accommodation is outweighed by the experience. Game park accommodation cannot be compared to that available in parts of Africa and is often reached down narrow and makeshift roads.
Meals: Meals included in the tour program are indicated in the itineraries at the end of each day with codes: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L) and Dinner (D).
Maps: Type of travel is indicated in the maps at the beginning of each itinerary with symbols:
Road Travel (), Train Travel (),Air Travel (), Day Excursion ( ).
Cox & Kings is happy to arrange for you to extend your stay in the Indian Subcontinent. We have suggested possible extension options for the tours in this brochure, however we would also be delighted to design a custom extension, either pre or post tour, to fit in with your particular interests. Please note that tour extensions are operated on the same basis as Private Journeys.
Many of the sites in the Indian Subcontinent necessitate a reasonable amount of walking, either to the site or around it. Whilst the walking is normally easy going, a full-day’s sightseeing can be quite tiring and sometimes strenuous. In addition, at ancient monuments there are many steep sections and uneven surfaces. A reasonable amount of fitness is required.
Capital: New Delhi
Population: 1.21 billion
Currency: Indian Rupee
Official Language(s): Hindi
The kaleidoscope that is India must be seen to be believed. From the opulence of the palaces of the Maharajas and the Mughal monuments like the Taj Mahal to the stunning natural beauty of its forests, mountains and seas, India entices the traveler with a blend of the ancient and the modern.
What To See
Watch the changing light on the white marble mausoleum of the Taj Mahal. Experience the romance of Rajasthan in the royal city of Jaipur and the Blue City of Jodhpur, perched on the edge of the Thar Desert. Track the elusive tiger in Ranthambore National Park. Visit the verdant hill stations and tea plantations of the foothills of the Himalayas and the Western Ghats. Marvel at the sacred Ganges in Varanasi. Kick back on the meandering backwaters of Kerala. And don’t forget to leave some time for browsing the bustling markets and bazaars, visiting the holy Hindu, Buddhist and Jain temples, relaxing at the golden beaches and sampling a variety of India’s sumptuous cuisine.