India and Shimla Tour

India and Shimla Tour

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India is not only an incredible, unique country and civilisation, it’s also a mind-boggling potpourri of sights, sounds, colours and experiences, as well as a  culture-shock of astonishing contrasts. From the flawless grandeur of the Taj Mahal, to the mighty fortresses of Rajasthan and from the reminders of past glories of the Raj in Delhi to the teeming markets of Jaipur, and a five-star stay in the hill station of Shimla, our India tour encompasses the very best that Northern India has to offer and you will return home with some truly amazing memories.

Highlights

  • See the breathtaking Taj Mahal bathed in soft morning light, gazing in awe at the simple purity of its white marble and the exquisite craftsmanship of its inlay work
  • Panoramic city tours of both Old and New Delhi seeing all the major sights
  • Enjoy a guided tour of the 400-year-old deserted Moghul city of Fatehpur Sikri
  • Driving safari in Ranthambore National Park, the best place in India to spot the elusive tigers
  • Explore the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur, capital of the desert kingdom of Rajasthan with a guided city tour, seeing the City Palace, Astronomical Observatory and the Palace of the Winds
  • Stay in an original Rajasthani fort, converted into a stunning Heritage Hotel
  • Marvel at the extraordinary location and beauty of Amber Fort, home of one of India’s most powerful Maharajas
  • Stay in an original Rajasthani fort, beautifully converted into a stunning Heritage Hotel
  • Travel on the famous Shimla railway on board a classic ‘toy train’ from Kalka
  • Guided tour of the Viceregal Lodge in Shimla plus a walking tour of the city
  • Services of our experienced tour manager
  • Hand-picked accommodation rated three to five-stars, including all local taxes, with breakfast and eight meals included
  • Return flights from Dublin via London Heathrow{ with hotel transfers includedif:else}Return travel from the UK with premium economy upgrades are available at a supplement plus transfers to and from the hotel included

Inclusions

  • The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room. Single rooms are subject to availability at the relevant supplement (date dependant) Price includes thirteen nights’ accommodation in three, four or five-star hotels, daily breakfast and eight meals, scheduled flights to/from Delhi, all transfers, all local accommodation taxes, all flight taxes, all touring as mentioned, all local transport by train or coach as described, hotel porterage of one item of luggage per person and the services of an experienced Riviera Travel tour manager.
  • Included excursions are: guided tours of New and Old Delhi, Agra and the Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri, two game drives in Ranthambore, Jaipur city tour, visit to Amber Fort, walking tour of Havelis at Mandawa, walking tour of Shimla
  • Not included: India visa

Itinerary

Day 1

Airport check-in for your overnight direct flight to Delhi.

Day 2

On arrival, we transfer to the five-star Taj Diplomatic Enclave Hotel (previously named the Taj Palace) for one night.   After a short rest we commence our guided tour of New Delhi. The city centre, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1911, is bisected by wide, tree-lined avenues, a hub which clearly reflects the Raj legacy and home to the former Viceroy’s Palace, now the Presidential Palace. Heading down the imposing Rajpath, we pass India Gate and the Parliament building. We’ll visit some of Delhi’s older monuments, including the Qutub Minaret, started in 1199, which is the tallest stone built tower in India.    Nearby is Humayun’s tomb, an outstanding example of Moghul architecture and the first mausoleum of its type, pre-dating the more widely known Taj Mahal by nearly a century. Dinner is included tonight.

Day 3

This morning we continue our city tour, first visiting Old Delhi, starting with the Raj Ghat, a fittingly simple memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. We continue past the imposing walls and battlements of the great Red Fort before visiting the Jama Masjid, one of Asia’s largest mosques. We leave Delhi in the afternoon for our drive to Agra, arriving at the four-star Oberoi Trident Hotel in the late afternoon, where we stay for two nights. 

Day 4

We rise early to catch the sun rising over the Taj Mahal. In the soft morning light, as the mist rises from the Yamuna river behind it, the Taj Mahal seems to float, mirage-like, above the surrounding landscape. A combination of extraordinary beauty, symmetry and history makes this wonder of the world one of the most amazing monuments on the planet and you will have plenty of time to admire it from all angles. Moving on, we continue our tour with a visit to the vast red sandstone Agra Fort. Completed in 1573, it was the headquarters of the Moghul Empire, boasting vast size and opulence, its buildings make it more of a walled palace than a fort. In the evening you have the option of completing a wonderful day with another visit to the Taj Mahal, to witness the shrine at sunset.

Day 5

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.

Day 6

An early start this morning is worth the sacrifice as we head out to the park for our safari using specially built, 20-person, open-top four wheel drive vehicles known as ‘canters’. After many years of conservation, Ranthambore is now the best place to spot tigers in India, but the reserve is about more than tigers – over 300 bird species have been counted including impressive crested eagles, painted stork and wild peacocks. The park’s residents also include large numbers of sambars, the largest Asian antelope, as well as marsh crocodiles, wild boar and rare sloth bears and leopards. Look out for the playful troop of black-faced langur monkeys near the main entrance gate.   We return to our hotel in the late morning, with time to relax before and after lunch. In the afternoon we take our second trip into the park for another chance to spot the elusive tigers. Dinner is included this evening.

Day 7

Leaving Ranthambore after breakfast we head north to the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur. Our afternoon tour will cover all the major highlights of this ancient city. The famous Hawa Mahal, known as the Palace of the Winds, is one of our first stops before we continue to the Astronomical Observatory constructed in 1726 and on to the City Palace, still home to the present Maharajah of Jaipur, where we’ll view collections of costumes, carpets, paintings and impressive armoury. Our hotel for the next two nights is the new four-star Hilton Jaipur on bed and breakfast.

Day 8

This morning another highlight, on a tour of highlights. You’ll visit the immense Amber Fort, located in the hills just a short drive out of Jaipur. Sampling all the most fascinating sights, our guided tour includes the sections reserved for the Maharajah’s wives and concubines as well as the remarkable hall of mirrors, with tiny delicate convex mirrors embedded like a mosaic in the walls and ceilings. 

Day 9

After breakfast, we bid goodbye to Jaipur and head north, deeper into the interior of rural Rajasthan. We pass numerous small villages and towns on our way to the Sekhawati region of the state and the village of Alsisar. This was once part of India’s Silk Road and over the years the merchants here grew very rich, building a large number of luxurious mansions known as ‘havelis’, to display their wealth through the  magnificence of their frescoed walls. Although most of these have now been abandoned, the imposing and luxurious residence of the local kings has been lovingly restored into an amazing Heritage hotel, the Alsisar Mahal, where we stay for the night. A maze of winding corridors, cool courtyards and arched colonnades, all the charming rooms are different, but most are very spacious and some have four-poster double beds. Rooms are air-conditioned, with bath and shower, but no TV. In the afternoon we take a guided walk through the village to explore the best examples of the havelis that lie just outside the walls of the Alsisar. Dinner is included this evening.

Day 10

After breakfast we head back to Delhi and spend one night at the Taj Diplomatic Enclave. Dinner is included this evening. 

  Cost per person: €2,429pp
  Number of nights: 14
  Dates available from: Oct 2018

Tour supplied in Partnership with:

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  Call:  01 905 6300