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Himalayan Holidays Shimla Amritsar Jim Corbett Safari Elephants India

India: Golden Triangle + Tigers + Toy Train to Shimla


IPI14D
13 NIGHTS
FROM £1,998
Per person sharing
International flights quoted separately
This fascinating holiday combines the key sights of the Golden Triangle with beautiful Shimla in the Himalayas. Experience the cultural sights of Old & New Delhi, visit the Taj Mahal & Amber Fort in Jaipur & Ranthambore tiger reserve. 3 train rides are incorporated into this holiday, including the famous Himalayan Queen 'Toy Train'. All transfers & specified sightseeing with English speaking guides included.
Shimla Holidays Himalayan Queen Toy Train India Taj Mahal Jaipur Delhi
• 
Old & New Delhi
• 
Taj Mahal
• 
Ranthambore Tiger Reserve
• 
Jaipur
• 
Hawa Mahal
• 
Amber Fort
• 
Alsisar
• 
Golden Temple of Amritsar
• 
Himalayan Queen Toy Train
• 
Shimla
• 
Old & New Delhi
• 
Taj Mahal
• 
Ranthambore Tiger Reserve
• 
Jaipur
• 
Hawa Mahal
• 
Amber Fort
• 
Alsisar
• 
Golden Temple of Amritsar
• 
Himalayan Queen Toy Train
• 
Shimla
Day 1
You will be met at Delhi Airport by your driver and transferred to your hotel in this ancient capital of kingdoms and empires that is now a sprawling metropolis.
 
Delhi's strategic location was one of the main reasons why successive dynasties chose it as their seat of power and today it is a conglomerate of seven cities. The division between the old walled city and New Delhi marks a division in lifestyles, with the old city retaining its past traditions whilst New Delhi strives to match the pace of the 21st century.
Day 2
Today enjoy a full day tour of modern New Delhi and the 17th century walled city of Old Delhi, which came to prominence when Shah Jahan moved his capital here from Agra.
 
In Old Delhi enjoy a cycle rickshaw ride through 300-year old Chandni Chowk market, a maze of lanes crowded with noisy shops selling an extraordinary variety of items and foods, and past the Jamia Masjid (or Friday Mosque), the largest in India, and drive past the imposing walls & battlements of the Red Fort, once the most opulent palace in the Mughal Empire. We continue to the Raj Ghat - the simple but moving memorial on the site where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated.
 
In the afternoon our tour of New Delhi starts with a visit the Qutub Minar, an ancient victory tower built of red sandstone and marble in 1199 and still the tallest minaret in India. With its imposing cylindrical towers and surrounding ruins, it is today a World Heritage site. Our next stop is Humayuns Tomb, the beautiful mausoleum of the Mughul emperor Akbar, that inspired the Taj Mahal.
 
We drive along the Rajpath - the capital's broadest avenue - where you will see the imposing arch of the India Gate war memorial, Parliament House, the Rashtrapati Bhavan presidential residence built for the Viceroy of India, and the government buildings on Raisina Hill.
Day 3
This morning your guide will take you across the river to view the Taj Mahal at sunrise.
 
After returning to your hotel for breakfast, we visit the much quieter Itmad-ud-Daulah - fondly known as the "Baby Taj" as this mausoleum, built to honour the grandfather of Mumtaz, was the forerunner of the Taj Mahal.
 
Afterwards we travel 1-hour to the magnificent red sandstone royal city of Fatehpur Sikri, built by the emperor Mohammad Akbar as the capital of the Mughal Empire. The city was abandoned due to water shortage, when the capital was moved north to Delhi, and in more recent years the fort has provided a dramatic backdrop to several famous films.
 
We then drive 15-minutes to Bharatpur Station to board the express train (air-conditioned chair car) travelling for 2.15-hours to Sawai Madhopur in southeast Rajasthan.
 
You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel situated near Ranthambore National Park. This world famous tiger sanctuary was originally the hunting grounds of the Maharaja of Jaipur. Today it is the largest wildlife reserve in northern India, covering an area of over 250 sq miles (400 sq km).
Day 4
This morning enjoy a private jeep safari in Ranthambore National Park.
 
Early morning is the best time to see tigers, but be aware that it is extremely difficult to find them in the jungle and sightings are never guaranteed. Best viewings are generally at the end of the dry season (March to May, although it is extremely hot from April onwards), when the tigers search out the waterholes - but you need to take at least 4 game drives for a good chance of a sighting.
 
Other animals you can hope to see include leopard, hyena, jackal, jungle cat, caracal, civet, desert cat, mongoose, ratel, sloth bear, langur & macaque monkeys, wild boar, palm squirrel, flying fox, porcupine, long-eared hedgehog, marsh crocodile, tortoise and soft shelled turtle. Also antelope such as sambar deer, chital, nilgai, chinkara and black buck.
 
In the afternoon return to the park for another game drive. In addition to the many mammals and reptiles, there are over 270 bird species - including eagles, falcons, owls, graylag geese, flamingos, parakeets, fly catchers, bee eaters, grebe, terns, woodpeckers, hornbills and kingfishers.
 
Note: Please note we always try to book private jeep safaris, but these can only be reserved 90 days in advance and cannot be guaranteed - in which case your game drive will be in a shared jeep or a 20-seater canter. You will have a different driver on each jeep safari, as drivers are allocated according to a roster over which we have no control. Whilst some drivers are very good, unfortunately there are some who drive too fast. Speak sternly to your driver if this happens. In the winter months, morning safaris require warm clothes including woolly hats and gloves to protect you from the wind chill in your open vehicle.
 
Zones 1 to 5 of this tiger reserve are closed during the monsoon season (July to early October), but Zones 6 to 10 remain open.
Day 5
After a final early morning jeep safari in Ranthambore National Park, return to your hotel for breakfast.
 
We then travel 4-hours to the chaotic and colourful "Pink City" of Jaipur - home to over 3 million people. On arrival check into your hotel in this capital city of Rajasthan.
Day 6
Today enjoy a full day tour of the city of Jaipur.
 
Our first stop is to view the magnificent Hawa Mahal (the "Palace of the Winds") designed in the form of the crown of the Hindu god Krishna. This five-storey frontage looks like a bee's honeycomb with 953 small windows, each decorated with intricate latticework so that the court ladies living in secluded purdah could watch royal processions, without being seen themselves. Built of red and pink sandstone, it is particularly striking early in the morning when lit by the sunrise.
 
We continue to the Amber Fort  This magnificent royal palace was built from pale yellow & pink sandstone and white marble and is divided into four main sections, each with its own courtyard. You will enter via the main courtyard (Jaleb Chowk) where returning armies would display their war booty and women could view them from the veiled windows of the palace. Once inside explore the amazing Palace of Mirrors and Hall of Public Audience.
 
Afterwards enjoy an Elephant Interaction, spending 2-hours up close and personal with an Asian elephant cared for by a mahout family. You can touch and feed him, and learn about elephant decoration, medicines and treatment. During the summer you can also see him being bathed.
 
After lunch (own account) we visit the City Palace, the former Royal Residence, part of which is now a museum. One of the major attractions here is the armoury with its impressive array of pistols, blunderbusses, flintlocks, swords, rifles and daggers used by the Maharajas of Jaipur. The Textile and Costume museum on the first floor is another fine display, with items from all over India.
 
We also visit the Jantar Mantar Observatory, the largest stone and marble crafted observatory in the world and a World Heritage site. It is the best preserved of five observatories built by Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur. It has 17 large instruments, many of them still in working condition.
Day 7
Rise early this morning for a jeep safari in Jhalana Wildlife Sanctuary, a small 6.6 square mile (17 sq km) wildlife sanctuary situated in the Aravali foothills in the heart of the city. Home to over 20 leopards, sightings of these magnificent big cats are good in this protected forest. You can also hope to see jackal, sambar, spotted deer and gray langur monkeys. Birds you may see include the Spotted owlet, Bay backed shrike, White throated kingfisher, Red collared dove, sandpiper, dunlin and flamingo.
 
Afterwards we visit the town of Sanganer, a busy suburban hub of craft workshops where local artisans sell traditional Bagru textile prints and handmade paper. Here you can see textiles being produced using traditional 'Tie & Dye' techniques. You can also hear Rajasthani music and dance, with restaurants serving classic northern Indian cuisine.
 
In the evening enjoy the unique experience of dining with a local family, where you will taste spicy Rajasthan food and gain insight into their Hindu lifestyle, with different generations living under the same roof.
 
Note: You may wish to take a small token gift for your hosts, but this is not essential.
Day 8
Today we leave Jaipur and head northwards, travelling 5-hours deep into the interior of rural Rajasthan to the small village of Alsisar in the Sekhawati region.
 
As this route was once part of India’s Silk Road, along the way you will see many ‘havelis' - luxury mansions of wealthy merchants, with magnificent frescoed walls with intricate carvings and ornate designs. Although many of these are now abandoned, some have been lovingly restored and are now heritage hotels.
Day 9
Today we leave Alsisar and travel 5-hours through rurual India to the bustling city of Delhi.
 
Check into your hotel in this bustling modern city.
 
Day 10
This morning transfer to Delhi Railway Station in good time to board the 07.40 express train (air conditioned chair class) travelling 4-hours to Kalka in the foothills of the Himalayas. A packed lunch will be provided.
 
On arrival in Kalka, change trains onto the narrow guage Toy Train, travelling 5-hours through beautiful scenery to Shimla. One of India's five 'toy trains' built by the British, it is registered in the Guinness Book as the greatest narrow gauge engineering achievement in India. The train passes through breathtaking landscapes of the majestic Himalayas - with 103 tunnels, 969 bridges, 919 curves and over 20 railway stations along the way. Enjoy splendid views of the snow-clad Himalayas, covered with thickly populated pine and oak forests.
 
Arrive at the hill station of Shimla in the late afternoon, where you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Referred to as the "Queen of Hills", Shimla was the summer capital of British India and is steeped in colonial history. On arrival check into your hotel and relax in the fresh mountain air.
 
Note: The small Toy Train is not air-conditioned, so be prepared for an interesting cultural experience (not a luxury journey). Your driver will continue overland and meet up with this slow train at some stations along the way, giving you the option to disembark and continue by road. Some of these drivers may encourage you to do this. If this happens and you wish to remain on the train, speak firmly to them. Please note your porterage is already pre-paid.
Day 11
Today enjoy a half day tour of Shimla.
 
We start with a visit to the splendid Rashtrapati Niwas (Viceregal Lodge) that was built in 1888 by Lord Dufferin in Scottish baronial style, to house the British Viceroy and his staff for the six months they were based in the town. It is now a museum with beautifully laid out Botanical Gardens and a touching collection of hotographs from the late Victorian era and the last years of the Raj. It also houses the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies.
 
Afterwards we walk along the pedestrianised Mall from Scandal Point and Christ Church, past the Post Office, Gaiety Theatre and Town Hall. Here commerce rubs shoulders with stately colonial buildings, churches and other landmarks and at the end you will find the colourful local market - the Lakkar Bazaar. Shimla is particularly well known for the quality of its local pashmina shawls.
 
The afternoon is free to relax at your hotel or visit the hot springs that are believed to have medicinal value. You can also visit the ancient Jakhoo Hindu temple, situated at the highest point in the town (pay for guide & entrance fees locally).
Day 12
At leisure to relax at Shimla in the foothills of the mighty Himalayas.
Day 13
Today transfer 3-hours to Kalka Railway Station stopping along the way for lunch (own account). Arrive in good time to board the 17.45 express train travelling 4-hours to Delhi (air conditioned chair class).
 
You will be met at Delhi Railway Station and transferred to your hotel situated near the airport.
Day 14
Transfer to Delhi Airport for your flight home.
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