North India Highlights tour

North India Highlights tour

Tour Experience

Cultural adventure tour from Amritsar and the Himalayan foothills to Delhi, Rajasthan and the Taj Mahal in Agra

Available

All year round

Location

Amritsar, Mcleodganj, Pragpur, Garli, Shimla, Delh

This two week India tour introduces you to the beauty of India’s north, taking you to the foothills of the Himalayas before heading to the arid plains of Rajasthan.

We’ll start in Amritsar, visiting its iconic Sikh Golden Temple and taking in the colourful Wagah border ceremony at the India and Pakistan border. We’ll make our way to the Buddhist hub of Mcleodganj - the home of the Dalai Lama and a host of important temples and monasteries. We’ll stop at a few less visited heritage villages before heading on a spectacular toy train journey through the breathtaking mountain scenery to the old British hill station of Shimla.

Our north India journey then takes us to India’s capital city of Delhi, as we explore its old and new sides, before we travel to the arid state of Rajasthan, exploring the ‘pink city’ of Jaipur, famous for is colourful sandstone and bustling craft markets.
We’ll head to the remote rural village of Tordi, staying in an old converted palace before exploring the birdlife and wildlife of the Keoladeo National Park from the back of a guided cycle rickshaw.

Any India tour would be incomplete without a visit to Agra’s magnificent Taj Mahal, as we witness it up close at sunrise and sunset, from the banks of the Yamuna River. We’ll return to Delhi and visit the Akshardham temple complex where we enjoy a spectacular water and light show on our final evening.

If we have more time, then you can also add further extensions to visit the holy city of Varanasi, head to the beach at Goa, or take some wildlife safaris in search of tigers at Ranthambore National Park.

VIEW THE PHOTOS

INCLUDED

  • All accommodation in mid-range hotels and heritage properties
  • All transport and transfers in AC vehicles
  • Himalayan Queen toy train journey to Shimla
  • 2nd class AC train journey from Chandigarh to Delhi
  • 24-hour airport arrival & departure transfer service
  • Sightseeing tours and activities as per the itinerary
  • Services of a local tour leader and specialist local guides
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary (15 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners)

EXCLUDED

  • International flights (available on request)
  • Visa fees
  • Travel insurance (compulsory, available on request)
  • Meals not indicated in the itinerary
  • Drinks, snacks and other personal expenses (e.g. laundry)
  • Tips for drivers and guides
  • Entrance fees (allow approx. US$154)
  • Any other items not mentioned above

PACKAGE DETAILS

Itinerary

DAY 1 : Welcome to Amritsar - airport to hotel transfer included

After your flight to Amritsar, one of our staff members will be there to meet and greet you, before transferring you to your hotel for the day. Once you’ve settled in, we’ll brief you on what lies ahead, before arranging a time to collect you in the morning.
OVERNIGHT:
Amritsar hotel
EXTRAS:
Single Room Supplement (INSGGF)

DAY 2 : A visit to Amritsar’s Golden Temple

Our first full day of our India tour starts at the holiest shrine of the Sikh religion: the Golden Temple. If you look up, you’ll notice that the entire top of the temple is made of gold and its interior is laden with jewels and gold leaf.
We’ll then spend some time in the temple’s free community kitchen, which sustains over 100,000 people every day. We’ll have a meal here before partaking in a Langar Seva – where we either help to serve or prepare good, or clear up and wash up.
This afternoon, we’ll make our way to rural Punjab, exploring its farmlands before experiencing the colourful Wagah Border Ceremony which occurs every day at sunset. This daily event sees the security forces of India and Pakistan join to participate in unique, rapid dancing, which signifies the brotherhood and cooperation between the two nations.
We’ll travel back to Amritsar and you have the option to head back to your hotel, have dinner at a local restaurant or travel back to the Golden Temple to witness the Palki Sahib Ceremony – which sees the Holy Book, the Guru Granth Saab carried from the main shrine in Hari Mandir to the sanctum, where it rests for a few hours until the opening ceremony the following morning. We have also have the chance to explore the interior of the Golden Temple, which may have been busy with pilgrims earlier in the day.
OVERNIGHT:
Amritsar hotel
MEALS:
Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 3 : A free day in McLeod Ganj

We’ll make our way to the edge of the towering Himalayas to to Dharamshala and McLeod Ganj, where we have the day free to do as we please.
Mcleod Ganj is famous for its places for its Buddhist monasteries, temples, waterfalls and lakes. It’s also the home of the Tibetan government in exile and the residency of the Dalai Lama. Feel free to explore, taking in the beautiful scenery and explore its bustling craft and produce markets.
OVERNIGHT:
McLeod Ganj hotel
MEALS:
Breakfast

DAY 4 : Exploring the Dalai Lama Monastery

After a free day in Mcleod Ganj, we’ll start things with a visit to the Dalai Lama Monastery, taking part in a prayer session known as a puja, which includes chanting mantras, bowing and making offerings. As a show of respect, we’ll offer lamps and religious cloth, made of silk and is worn around our neck.
We’ll also make our way to the Bhagsunag Waterfall and Shiva Temple, which is surrounded by towering cliffs, which provides us with spectacular views. A freshwater spring runs below the temple, which is thought to have healing powers. In fact, its water is collected in large tanks, and the devotees bathe in them to cleanse their ailments.
Our day ends with a trip to the Naddi View Point, which provides breathtaking views of the Dhauladhar mountain ranges and the pristine Dal Lake below.
OVERNIGHT:
McLeod Ganj hotel
MEALS:
Breakfast

DAY 5 : Exploring the Heritage Villages of Pragpur & Garli

Today we’ll visit the Norbulingka Institute, built to commemorate the Tibetan culture’s literary and art forms. We’ll then make our way to the Pragpur Heritage Village, which was founded in the 16th century. Pragpur is notable for its cobbled paths, mud-plastered walls and slate-roofed houses.
If we have time before lunch, we’ll make our way to the Dada Siba Temple, well-known for its miniature wall paintings before exploring another heritage village – Garli in the Kangra Valley. A local guide will take us on a walking tour of the village, as we gain insight about its history before checking in at our accommodation for the evening.
OVERNIGHT:
Garli hotel
MEALS:
Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 6 : A Toy Train Ride to Shimla

We start our day with a drive to Dharampur Himanchal and hop on the ‘toy train’ to Shimla, situated on the edge of the towering Himalayas. Shimla used to be the summer capital of British India and is still one of the stops of the Kalka-Shimla Railway built in 1903. Its narrow gauge railway is one of the most famous train rides on the planet and has since become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We’ll board the Himalayan Queen service, missing the lowest section from Kalka, which shortens the journey considerably but shows you the most scenery. We’ll stop along the way for snacks, before arriving in Shimla in the afternoon, which is known for its unique craft shops, bazaars and markets.
OVERNIGHT:
Shimla hotel
MEALS:
Breakfast

DAY 7 : Exploring Shimla

We have some leisure time this morning to explore Shimla independently or you can choose to hike to the Tara Devi Temple, which offers spectacular views of the Himalayas which surround it.
We’ll continue to explore Shimla this afternoon, this time on foot, as we explore its popular sites such as the Vice Regal Lodge, the Christ Church, the Gaeity Theatre and we’ll also take a cable car ride to Jakhu Temple which is dedicated to the monkey god Hanuman. The temple is perched on Shimla’s highest peak at a towering height of 2455 metres.
OVERNIGHT:
Shimla hotel
MEALS:
Breakfast

DAY 8 : A train ride to Delhi. Transfer to hotel

We have some free time this morning to explore Shimla, but we’ll say our final goodbyes at midday, driving over the hills of Kalka, as we board an evening train to Delhi. Once we arrive, we will transport you to your hotel for the evening.
OVERNIGHT:
Delhi hotel
MEALS:
Breakfast

DAY 9 : Exploring Old and New Delhi

Our day starts with a morning tour of India’s capital, New Delhi. Built on the banks of the Yamuna river, New Delhi is a beautiful blend of a historical past and a vibrant present.
We start at India Gate in the centre of New Delhi, a 42-metre high “Arc-de-Triomphe” like archway, a war memorial built to commemorate the 82,000 soldiers who partook in the undivided Indian Army. We’ll drive past various government buildings such as the President’s Palace and the Parliament of India, before passing Humayun’s Tomb – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Bangla Sahab Gurudwara Sikh Temple.
We’ll stop at Connaught Place Station and join the locals on the metro to Old Delhi where we’ll walk through one of the oldest and busiest markets in Old Delhi, Chandni Chowk, before exploring the narrow streets of Chawri Bazar which specialises in selling brass, copper and paper products. Throughout the afternoon our guide will also introduce you to the wide range of street food snacks and delicacies so you can get a final taste of the delicious and varied Indian cuisine. Our walking tour will also take in a rickshaw ride and the Jama Masjid mosque, one of the largest in India.
OVERNIGHT:
Delhi hotel
MEALS:
Breakfast

DAY 10 Jaipur and a visit to Amber Fort

Today we head to Jaipur, the capital and the largest city of the Indian state of Rajasthan in Western India. We’ll stop to visit Amber Fort, the jewel in Jaipur’s crown – an ancient fortress built on a hilltop in the 16th century dedicated to the ruling Kachhawa clan of Amber. Be mesmerised by this majestic architectural wonder, with its pink sandstone and marble palace shining in the sun. It’s massive fortress walls sprawls across the hills, with many seeing a resemblance of the Great Wall of China.
We’ll also stop for a Lassi tasting at MI Road – a popular traditional yoghurt-based drink made with a blend of yoghurt, water, spices and sometimes fruit, before checking in at your accommodation for the night. A fun option this evening is to head out and watch a Bollywood movie at the Raj Mandir cinema.
OVERNIGHT
Jaipur hotel
MEALS
Breakfast

DAY 11 Exploring the city of Jaipur

You have an option of going on an early morning hot air balloon ride over Jaipur, flying over its palaces, forts and lakes – a truly mesmerising experience.
If you chose to sleep a little later, your morning starts with a sightseeing tour of Jaipur, as we visit the strange Jantar Mantar monument, a collection of nineteen architectural astronomical instruments, built by the Rajput king Sawai Jai Singh II between 1724 and 1730. Jaipur was the first planned city of medieval India and we’ll also explore its City Palace. Built by Raja Man Singh during 1729-1732 AD, the City Palace was once the seat of kings as it was from here that they ruled the region. This tangle of courtyards, manicured gardens and exceptionally crafted mahals is one of the most revered attractions in India.
After lunch, we spend the afternoon walking in the walled city to discover some of Jaipur’s famous crafts markets and craftsmen in action such as jewellers, silversmiths, textile workshops and bangle makers. We’ll also visit markets for vegetable, fruits and spices.
OVERNIGHT
Jaipur hotel
MEALS
Breakfast
EXTRAS
Hot air balloon in Jaipur

DAY 12 Meet the locals at Tordi Garh, optional activities available

Today we leave the region’s popular tourist areas and head into the heart of rural Rajasthan to the village of Tordi. In the 16th century, Th. Akhey Singh, one of the descendants of Khangar Singh (the founder of Khangarot clan) overthrew the regional chief and built a hilltop fortress here, the ruins of which can still be seen today. The family still lives in the palace and fort built later in the plains below and we’ll stay in a wing of the palace which has been converted for guests.
The afternoon sees us exploring the village, visiting a temple, school and a potter’s house before interacting with the local villagers, getting invaluable insight into seeing their way of life.
You can also take some optional activities arranged by the family at the palace. These include camel cart rides to the sand dunes and a jeep safari to a 300-year old step well, a shepherd’s village, local farm and sunset at the Tordi Sagar Dam or at the dunes. You can also hike to the 400-year old Tordi Fort and enjoy snacks and drinks there for sunset or sunrise. Those keen can also try some horse riding or have some henna hand art applied.
OVERNIGHT
Tordi Garh hotel
MEALS
Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 13 Birdwatching and the world's largest step well

Today we’ll head to Bharatpur and the bird watcher’s paradise that is the Keoladeo Ghana National Park. Enroute, we’ll visit the Abhaneri step well, the largest and deepest step well in the world, which boasts 3500 steps and is 13 stories deep. You may recognise this as the place that Sonny tried to express his feelings for Sunaina in the recent movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
Once you’ve checked into your accommodation for the day, we’ll take a guided cycle rickshaw ride through the Keoladeo Ghana National Park. Originally a duck hunting reserve of the local Maharajas, the park is now a World Heritage Site, with over 360 species of birds recorded here. Its strategic location on the Central Asian migratory flyway makes it an internationally important site for wintering water birds, and it is especially famous for the endangered Siberian Crane and its huge heronry which in good years can host more than 20,000 nesting birds of various species. As well as the extensive birdlife, the park is home to wild boar, black buck, sambar, chital, mongoose, porcupine, several different wild cats, and some huge pythons.
OVERNIGHT
Bharatpur hotel
MEALS
Breakfast

DAY 14 : Fatephur Sikri, and a first view of the Taj Mahal

We head to Agra via Fatehpur Sikri, a fortified ancient city which was the short-lived capital of the Mughal empire between 1572 and 1585. This sprawling and well-preserved site is fascinating to explore. Once you’ve checked in into your hotel, we’ll spend the afternoon on a Mughal Heritage Walk through the ancient village of Kachhpura and surrounding farmland on the banks of the Yamuna River across from the Taj Mahal and Red Fort. This walk has been designed by a local NGO and helps support the local community through employment and new infrastructure. During the walk one of the villagers will give a guide to their village life, the layout of their homes, with living, cooking & religious areas, the farming done, and the local cottage industry for leather shoe making which helps Agra export shoes all over the world. You’ll also see some lesser known but important Mughal era monuments. Finally today we’ll stroll around the park at Mehtab Bagh – originally built by Emperor Babur as the last in a series of 11 parks on the Yamuna River’s east bank, before taking in the magnificent sight of the Taj Mahal at sunset.
A special evening option is available today, where you can join a Hindu family for a Vegetarian Thali cooking lesson and meal.
OVERNIGHT
Agra hotel
MEALS
Breakfast
EXTRAS
Cook with a Hindu family in Agra

DAY 15 : A Taj Mahal sunrise and a multimedia water show

We start today early for our tour of the Taj Mahal. Truly one of the wonders of the world this elaborate monument to love was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and took over twenty-two years to complete. Sunrise is a great time to visit as the light changes gradually with the colours of the Taj changing too.
After breakfast, we visit Agra Fort, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is a huge complex with a fascinating history, being the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty until 1638 when the capital was shifted from Agra to Delhi.
After lunch, we’ll drive to Delhi, and on arrival visit the Swaminarayan Akshardham New Delhi, a Hindu mandir and a spiritual-cultural campus, home to millennia of traditional Hindu and Indian culture and architecture. It’s one of India’s most popular tourist attractions, in fact, it’s estimated that it draws in 70% of all visitors who explore Delhi.
We’ll be mesmerized by the Sahaj Anand water show – a multimedia water exhibition, which makes use of multicoloured lasers, under-water flames, video projection, water jets combine to provide a captivating experience which tells the story of Kena Upanishad – a Vedic Sanskrit text.
OVERNIGHT
Delhi hotel
MEALS
Breakfast
EXTRAS
Extra day in Delhi – post-tour

DAY 16 : Bon voyage! Airport transfer included

You have some free time to buy any gifts for your loved ones back home before we transfer you to the airport to catch your flight back home.
OVERNIGHT
N/A
MEALS
Breakfast
EXTRAS
Extra day in Delhi – post-tour

DURATION

16 days

Price

A$2899

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