India – The grand tour
11 days from £936 per person Saving you £189 per person*
This itinerary isn’t set in stone. Pick, mix, swap however you like – your trip will be totally tailor made for you.
Day 1 Arrival in Kolkata
Your guide will welcome you at Kolkata Airport and take you to your hotel.
Day 2 Kolkata
Start the day with a heritage walk around Dalhousie Square, the centre of the city’s financial, social and political power during the British period. Your walk begins at the Governor’s House (Raj Bhavan), passes the Treasury Building to St John’s Church, up to the Kolkata General Post Office, and around past the Collectorate Office and the Writer’s Building – the seat of the state government. Later you can circle St Andrew’s Kirk, walk down the Old Court House Street and pass the Old Currency Building.
Continue your city tour with more city highlights, such as the well-used Howrah Bridge, the Kali Temple, the Indian Museum, the fascinating Kumartuli artisan village and the 125-year-old Heritage Flower Market. After all that, you’ll be happy to settle down for a quiet evening to yourself.
Day 3 Kolkata – Bagdogra – Darjeeling
Fly to Bagdogra, from where your guide will take you on to Darjeeling, the hill station nestled in the Himalayas and particularly famous for its tea and railway. Darjeeling was the ancient Gorkha capital and was developed in the mid-19th century by the British.
Check in to your hotel and relax for the evening.
Day 4 Darjeeling
You’ve got a full day ahead of guided sightseeing in Darjeeling, starting with the Tibetan Ghoom Monastery, before moving on to ride the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. The line climbs steeply through a number of loops, including Batasia Loop, which offers a panoramic view of Darjeeling perched on its hill and Mount Kanchenjunga in the background.
Next stop is the Tibetan Refugee Centre, which was established by Tibetan refugees after following the Dalai Lama here. You’ll also visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, created in 1954 to champion mountaineering as an organised sport in India. Today you’ll find a residential school for mountaineering students, Swiss-style houses for the Sherpa trainers and a well-stocked museum with a whole host of mountaineering artefacts.
Day 5 Darjeeling
Spend the morning on Tiger Hill, a spot renowned the world over for the magnificent view it offers of the sunrise over the Kanchenjunga peak and the great eastern Himalayan mountains. On a clear day you can even see Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak.
In the afternoon you’ll tour a tea garden, giving you an insight into how the tea bush is grown and tended to produce the world’s favourite aromatic blend. You’ll learn how to pick the two leaves and a bud that eventually make their way into tea cups around the globe.
You’ll have the remainder of the day to yourself.
Day 6 Darjeeling – Bagdogra – Delhi
Return to Bagdogra and board your flight to Delhi, where you’ll be greeted and taken to your hotel for your first night in India’s capital. Delhi is a bustling metropolis that serves as a major gateway to the country, combining climbing skyscrapers with monuments from a bygone time.
Day 7 Delhi
Start your day with a visit to charming Old Delhi, starting with the Jama Masjid. It’s the largest mosque in India and one of the last architectural works of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (whose best-known work is the Taj Mahal). See the lanes of the colourful Chandni Chowk shopping bazaar by rickshaw, discover the monumental Red Fort and pay a visit to Raj Ghat, the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi.
Move into contrasting New Delhi for your afternoon tour, which includes a drive along the ceremonial Rajpath, past the imposing Rashtrapati Bhavan (presidential residence), the India Gate memorial and the Parliament House. You’ll also see Mughal Emperor Humayun’s Tomb and the Qutab Minar tower before dinner.
Day 8 Delhi – Agra
Travel to Agra and check in to your next hotel before visiting one of the biggest stops on your trip: the Taj Mahal. It took nearly 22 years to complete this grand palace, a monument to Emperor Shah Jahan’s wife. There are 22 small domes over the Taj Mahal representing the 22 years, with verses of the holy Koran inscribed on them.
Next up is the crescent-shaped Agra Fort, nestled on the west banks of the River Yamuna. It was commissioned by Akbar, one of the greatest Mughal Emperors, in 1565, and has been much added to since then. Explore its palaces, gardens and halls with your guide.
You’ve got the evening all to yourself.
Day 9 Agra – Jaipur
Today you’ll be driven to Fatehpur Sikri, a sprawling complex of palaces, mosques, temples and other structures. It’s a stunning amalgamation of Persian and Indian styles of building.
You’ll continue to Jaipur, with its pink sandstone palaces and green gardens, to check in to your hotel for a relaxed evening.
Day 10 Jaipur
Time to see the magnificent Amber Fort. It was built in red sandstone and marble in 1592 by Raja Man Singh and contains examples of both Hindu and Muslim architecture.
Next stop is the beautiful City Palace complex, a delightful blend of Mughal and traditional Rajasthani architecture housing the Chandra Mahal, Shri Govind Dev Temple and the City Palace Museum. You can also visit Jantar Mantar, the Royal Astronomical Observatory.
Finish your tour marvelling at the magnificent Hawa Mahal pink palace with its intricate lattice work then take a walk through the old bazaars of Jaipur, popularly known as Bapu Bazaar.
Day 11 Time to go home
Have a relaxing morning before being accompanied back to Delhi to catch your flight home.
*Prices are based on private arrangements (not lower priced escorted tours with set dates). Quality three star accommodation is quoted here (unless mentioned otherwise), with breakfast included and other meals where mentioned. Mostly private transfers with an English speaking driver/guide and all activities mentioned, with top guides, are included. Domestic flights and transport all included from Day 1 to end point. Can be tailored to your needs, so prices could be lower for budget arrangements or higher for luxury.
International flight is not included