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India’s Golden Triangle, Tigers and Shimla

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Historic temples, elusive tigers and beautiful palaces

14 days From £1,995 per person
Operated by our sister company Great Rail Journeys

2022 Tour code: LTC22

About the tour

Marvel at historic temples, spot elusive tigers and visit beautiful palaces and gardens as we explore kaleidoscopic India, taking in the tranquillity of Shimla, enigmatic Delhi, the 'Pink City' of Jaipur, and Agra home of the resplendent Taj Mahal.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Days 1-2 - London and Delhi

We depart London Heathrow on our flight to Delhi, arriving late morning on Day 2 for a one-night stay. Delhi is one of India's most colourful and exciting metropolises, where the old and new exist harmoniously. Start immersing yourself in this vibrant metropolis with some free time, or you could relax at the hotel.

Day 3 - The Toy Train

We leave Delhi on the Shatabdi Express to Kalka. Here we board the UNESCO-listed, narrow-gauge 'Himalayan Queen', also affectionately referred to as the Toy Train. Covering a journey of 60 miles, we pass through the Shivalik foothills of the Himalayas, crossing 864 bridges and powering through 102 tunnels on our way to Shimla. The train moves at a leisurely pace, giving us time to soak in the incredible panoramas of the surrounding scenery. Alternatively, you may choose to make the journey by car.

Days 4-5 - Shimla

Our day begins with an informative talk from expert guest speaker, Raaja Bhasin. Our exploration of Shimla then continues with a sightseeing tour that takes in much of the local colonial heritage. We start at the Viceregal Lodge, the summer seat of the viceroys until the 1940s. This afternoon, a leisurely stroll takes us past the town's Gaiety Theatre, the Victorian-Gothic Christ Church and Scandal Point, so named because it was a popular meeting place for people to gather and share gossip.

On Day 5, you're free to explore at your own pace. You could take a trip to Kufri for stunning views across the mountains, followed by a high tea lunch at Wildflower Hall.

Days 6-7 - Old and New Delhi

We return to Delhi for two more nights, visiting Old Delhi on Day 7 and taking a rickshaw ride through the narrow streets of the bazaar to Chandni Chowk. We also visit Jama Masjid, which boasts the title of India's largest mosque, Raj Ghat, a simple but moving memorial to Gandhi, and pass Delhi's iconic Red Fort. Later, we embark on a sightseeing tour of the wide, leafy avenues and impressive Mughal and colonial architecture of New Delhi, exploring the India Gate war memorial, the grand Rashtrapati Bhavan, Mughal Emperor Humayun's Tomb and Qutab Minar, India's tallest stone tower.

Day 8 - Agra and the Taj Mahal

We join the Gatimaan Express bound for Agra this morning. On arrival, we check into our hotel for the night before visiting the imposing Agra Fort, built by the Mughal emperor Akbar in the late 16th century. Built on a hill above Agra, its centrepiece is a tower with a marble balcony where Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan spent his last days imprisoned. Inside the fort are some of the most exquisite specimens of Mughal architecture, including the Moti Masjid. Later we travel across the city to the spectacular Taj Mahal, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Built by Shah Jahan in 1653 in memory of his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal, this iconic white marble building is a true monument to undying love and is considered to be the world's finest example of Mughal and Persian architecture.

Day 9 - Fatehpur Sikri

Leaving Agra by coach, we stop at Fatehpur Sikri, a perfectly-preserved red sandstone city built in the 16th century as India's political capital, but abandoned after only 14 years due to lack of water. Remarkably, the city almost remains exactly as it was over 400 years ago, giving us an excellent insight into the opulent life-style of the Mughal era. After a guided tour, we continue to Ranthambore National Park, our base for the next two nights.

Days 10-11 - Ranthambore National Park

We experience a highlight of our holiday as we head into Ranthambore National Park, one of the best places in the world to spot a Bengal tiger in its natural habitat. Declared a Project Tiger Reserve in 1973, the park is a favourite among wildlife photographers and tourists alike, as its reasonable tiger population means it is possible to spy one of these majestic creatures basking in the sun or sauntering through the wilderness. We enjoy a talk by a naturalist at the hotel before our first game drive in open-topped safari vehicles called 'canters' which are for the exclusive use of Great Rail Journeys.

We're treated to another game drive on Day 11, increasing our chances of observing other types of native wildlife such as leopards, deer and crocodiles. This afternoon, we continue to Jaipur, attending an authentic Aarti Fire Ceremony at the Birla Temple before checking into our hotel for two nights.

Day 12 - Jaipur

Discovering the 'Pink City' of Jaipur on a full-day sightseeing tour, we travel by Jeep firstly to the Amber Fort, located high on a hillside overlooking Maota Lake. We have the chance to explore the ornate rooms within the palace complex before continuing our tour to the ornately decorated City Palace, home to the current Maharajah of Jaipur as well as an early 18th-century Astronomical Observatory. We also drive past the Palace of the Winds, a stunning façade built in 1799 whose intricately latticed windows were designed to allow the ladies of the royal household to look over the streets below without being seen.

Days 13-14 - Delhi and London

Returning to Delhi by coach for a final night, we transfer to the airport on Day 14 for our flight back to London Heathrow.

Additional information

Guest Speaker - Raaja Bhasin

Selected departures feature a guest speaker on Day 4 at Oberoi Cecil Shimla. We enjoy a talk from Raaja Bhasin for a detailed insight into the town through its people, history and culture. Raaja Bhasin is an acclaimed writer and researcher; most recently he served as history consultant on the Channel 4 series 'Indian Summers'. Born in Shimla, he was written two books on the former British retreat.

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We will write to you around 10 weeks before your departure date with the precise meeting times for your tour group.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

ITC Mughal Agra, Agra

ITC Mughal Agra, Agra

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ITC Sheraton Rajputana, Jaipur

ITC Sheraton Rajputana, Jaipur

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The Oberoi Cecil Hotel, Shimla

The Oberoi Cecil Hotel, Shimla

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Trains

Gatimaan Express
Shatabdi Express
Toy Train

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India’s Golden Triangle, Tigers and Shimla

Historic temples, elusive tigers and beautiful palaces

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Luke Simpson
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Lynne Broadley
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