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Relax and enjoy the full, in-flight service on your direct, scheduled flight to New Delhi, India.
The moment you touch down at Indira Ghandi Airport in New Delhi, you can’t help but feel the thrill and excitement of being in a vibrant, different culture – welcome to India! At the airport you’ll be met by our Indian tour guide and transferred by private coach to your hotel. After a quick freshen-up, you’ll spend your first afternoon on a sightseeing tour of New Delhi: the mega-metropolis capital city of India. Within a few hours, you’ll get a real taste of the long, rich history of this multi-faceted city.
One of the first things people notice is the orderly layout of the roads, which are wide and lined with impressive colonial buildings. Many of the buildings were established soon after the British Imperial capital transferred here from Calcutta, in 1911. Later in the afternoon, we’ll visit Old Delhi and drive past the busy and bustling Chandni Chowk: a crowded and hectic bazaar. You’ll also see the dramatic Red Fort. Built in 1648, the red sandstone fort, overlooks the river Yamuna, and is surrounded by a wall approximately 2.4 km in circumference. Afterwards, we’ll explore the Jama Masjid Mosque – now the second largest Mosque in India, but certainly the most impressive! Built in 1658, it has a capacity of over 20,000 people. The tour concludes with a moving visit to Raj Ghat and the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi. After a full day of sightseeing, you’ll be ready to return to the hotel for dinner and a good nights’ sleep.
This morning we’ll spend some additional time in New Delhi. One of the most famous sights is the impressive Qutab Minar, which at 73 metres high is recognized as one of the highest individual free-standing towers in the world. We’ll also drive past Parliament House and stop at the iconic India Gate to take some photographs. Finally, we’ll visit either a Hindu Temple, a local Sikh temple, or perhaps the beautiful, award-winning Lotus Temple.
This afternoon, your party will depart by train from New Delhi to Amritsar. The train journey is an excellent way to view the Indian countryside and see life outside the city. On arrival at the train station, we’ll transfer to our hotel for dinner and an overnight stay.
We’ll begin the day with an early-morning visit to the majestic Golden Temple. This is the holiest shrine in India for Sikhs. The Temple’s entire upper half is covered with copper which is then layered with gold plate. The architecture and design of the Golden Temple is a combination of both Hindu and Muslim styles. Amritsar was built around the Golden Temple and the Amrit Sarovar Lake, from where it derives its name. The temple complex itself is surrounded by a fortified wall with eighteen gates, and you will notice and see Sikhs in ceremonial clothing, wandering around this sacred site every day.
After visiting The Golden Temple, we’ll visit the gardens at Jallianwala Bagh. Prepare to be moved to tears as you visit the place where one of India’s darkest events took place. On 13 April, 1919 British troops, led by General Reginald Dyer, fired mercilessly upon a group of unarmed civilians, including defenseless women and children. The grounds are surrounded by high walls on all sides, with access gained through a small, narrow lane. There is a memorial plaque at the entrance way, which tells the history of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Inside, a memorial to the dead stands at the Eastern end, where the bullet-riddled walls remain as testament to the bloody massacre.
Later in the afternoon we’ll visit the Wagh Border. This is the final frontier and the only border crossing between India and Pakistan. It is an interesting and unique place, especially at sunset, when the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) conduct the 'Retreat Ceremony’ on their side of the border. The changing of the guards and the ceremonial lowering of the flags is carried out with great pomp and tradition. You’ll join the crowds and hopefully soak up the amazing atmosphere as you watch this magnificent event.
This morning we’ll depart Amritsar for Dharamshala, which lies at the foothills of the Himalayas. Set against the backdrop of the snow-clad peaks of the Dahuladhar Mountains, Dharamshala sits amid magnificient pine forests, tea gardens and beautiful rolling hills. Get ready to be impressed with its spectacular views and fresh mountain air!
Dharamsala is one of the principle towns of Kangra valley. These days it has become synonymous with the Tibetan government that lives here in exile. Dharamsala can be divided in two parts; the lower Dharamsala and the upper Dharamsala.
We arrive at your hotel in the afternoon. You’ll have chance to freshen-up and get used to the beautiful surroundings before setting off for sightseeing in upper Dharamsala town. We’ll visit the suburb of Mcleod Ganj where the residence of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama is located. Mcleod Ganj is often known as ‘Little Lhasa’ because of its connection to the exiled Tibetan Government and its head, the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan Government has been in-exile here for over three decades, since fleeing Lhasa in Tibet in 1959, when the Dalai Lama crossed over the border in 15-days on foot to Northern India.
This morning we’ll head back to Mcleod Ganj to see some more interesting Tibetan sights. We’ll visit the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA), Tibetan Medical Center, the SOS Village School, the Tibetan library at Khangchen Kyishong and Dip Tse Chokling Monastery. We’ll also take a short hike in the Himalayas to see some of the local villages. This will be your final opportunity to enjoy the spectacular mountain views.
In the morning, we leave behind the majestic landscape of the Himalayas for the city of Chandigarh. We’ll arrive in Chandigarh in the afternoon and visit the famous Rock Gardens; the epitome of creativity and innovation and filled with various art objects, including some created using a variety of industrial and urban waste products, like bike frames, mudguards, handle bars, cutlery, light bulbs and car components.
This morning we’ll transfer to the local railway station to board our day train to New Delhi. Upon our arrival in Delhi, we’ll continue by private coach to Agra for our overnight stay. After checking into our hotel and freshening-up, there’ll be some free time to use as you want. Agra was a well-established city before becoming part of the Mughal Empire. The Mughals’ love of architecture translated into beautiful monuments such as the Taj Mahal, built as a symbol of love, and the Agra Fort.
The glory of Agra, then known as Akbarabad, was at its peak during the 16th-century reign of Akbar, who made it a centre of culture, commerce, art and learning. Most of the buildings belong to the period between the mid-16th century and 17th century and were of extremely high quality. These monuments were built in the typical, contemporary Mughal style. The narrow lanes of the city, bustling with artisans and craftsmen and filled with the scent of Mughali cuisine, are redolent of those past times.
Our tour of India would not be complete without a trip to see the world-famous and utterly awesome Taj Mahal. This is considered one of the greatest monuments ever constructed and is one of the seven wonders of the modern world. It was built by Emperor Shah Jehan as a mausoleum for his beloved Queen, Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal was completed in 1652 by skilled craftsmen from Persia, Turkey, Italy and France. It took over 20,000 labourers more than 22 years to build, and cost an enormous amount of money. Fifty Kilos of gold were used on the white marble structure, and the result is absolutely breathtaking!
Later in the afternoon, we’ll visit the red sandstone Agra Fort, which forms a crescent on the banks of the Yamuna River. It is enclosed by a forbidding 20-metre high wall and a 12 metre moat. Three successive Mughal emperors, Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jehan, helped create this impressive and enormous structure, which contains a combination of Hindu and Muslim architecture. After our visit to the Agra Fort, we will return to New Delhi, for our final, farewell dinner.
We will transfer to the airport, and catch our scheduled flight back to London, which arrives the same evening.
The moment you touch down at Indira Gandhi Airport in New Delhi, you can’t help but feel the thrill and excitement of being in a vibrant, different culture – welcome to India! Within a few hours, you’ll get a real taste of the long, rich history of this multi-faceted city.Visit Old Delhi and drive past the busy and bustling Chandni Chowk: a crowded and hectic bazaar.
Visit the dramatic Red Fort, built in 1648 and explore the Jama Masjid Mosque – now the second largest Mosque in India, but certainly the most impressive! Drive past Parliament House and stop at the iconic India Gate to take some photographs. The tour concludes with a moving visit to Raj Ghat and the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi.
Chandni Chowk, or ‘moonlight place’, in reference to the fact that a canal used to run down it's centre, reflecting the moon, is an assault on the senses unlike many others. It's essentially the 'High Street' of Old Delhi and is chaotic, atmospheric and completely absorbing. From fake sunglasses to luxuriant and vibrant fabrics to an extraordinary variety of food and drink to sample, getting lost in the lanes of Chandni Chowk is a truly immersive experience.
© Mahesh Bhanupanth
With it's spectacular turreted façade and imposing sandstone walls, the Red Fort is an evocative example of strongholds of the Mughal empire. Founded by Shah Jahan in the 17th century (Shah Jahan was also responsible for the Taj Mahal) the fort has had various occupants since it's foundation, the British converted it into a barracks in the 19th century.
The main gate, Lahore Gate, is one of the emotional and symbolic focal points of the modern Indian nation and attracts a major crowd on each Independence Day. Inside you'll find many significant buildings including the Pearl Mosque and Palace of Colour. A sound and light show is staged every night (except Mondays) depicting the key events from the history of the fort.
Another imposing legacy building of the Shah Jahan, with a capacity of of 25,000 the Jama Masjid is a huge mosque with 3 great gates, four towers and 2 40m high minarets. The contrast of red sandstone and white marble make this a sight to behold, it is possible to attend worship but only at 7.45 in the morning for non-Muslims.
Probably India's most famous son, Mahatma Gandhi was tragically assassinated in 1948. His memorial is a simple square platform of black marble laid on the spot where he was cremated. Over two million people joined the five-mile long funeral procession that took over five hours to reach Raj Ghat from Birla house, where he was assassinated.
Qutb Minar is the tallest brick minaret in the world. It forms part of the Qutub Complex along with the ancient and medieval monuments surrounding it, the whole complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At 120 metres tall it is very imposing and was built in 1193 immediately after the defeat of Delhi's last Hindu kingdom. The mosque at its base was the first to be built in India and an inscription declares that it was built using materials from 27 demolished Hindu temples
Originally called the House of Parliament, it was designed by the British architect Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker in 1912-1913 and construction began in 1921. It is a cirular colonnaded building housing ministerial offices,numerous committee rooms and an excellent library. Conceived in the Imperial Style, the Parliament House consists of an open verandah with 144 columns.
Originally called the All India War Memorial, the India Gate is inscribed with 13,300 names of servicemen and acts as memorial to a further 82,000 soldiers of the undivided Indian Army who died in the period 1914–21. This 42m-high stone memorial arch, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, is similar in style to the Arch of Constantine, outside the Colosseum in Rome, and is often compared to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
The spectacular Lotus Temple, a Bahá'í House of Worship attracts an average of 4 million visitors a year and it's easy to see why. Completed in 1986 and reminiscent in style and scale to Sydney Opera House, the temple emulates a lotus flower, with 27 immaculate white-marble petals. The temple was created to bring faiths together; visitors are invited to pray or meditate silently according to their own beliefs.
Visit the majestic Golden Temple, the holiest shrine in India for Sikhs. The Temple’s entire upper half is covered with copper which is then layered with gold plate. The architecture and design of the Golden Temple is a combination of both Hindu and Muslim styles.
Visit the garden site of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and later visit the Wagh Border, the final frontier and the only border crossing between India and Pakistan. It is an interesting and unique place, especially at sunset, when the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) conduct the 'Retreat Ceremony’ on their side of the border
The spiritual centre of the Sikh religion, the Golden Temple is part of a huge Gurdwara complex, literally translated as 'Door to the Guru' and the Sikh equivalent of a church, temple or mosque. Known as Harmandir Sahib, the complex is visited by over 100,000 people daily, attending the holy shrine daily for worship, and also partaking in the free community kitchen and meals(Langar).
All are welcome, regardless of any religious or spiritual distinctions, a tradition that is a hallmark of all Sikh Gurudwaras. The focus of attention is the tank that surrounds the gleaming central shrine – the Amrit Sarovar ('Pool of nectar') , from which Amritsar takes its name, excavated by the fourth guru Ram Das in 1577. Ringed by a marble walkway, the tank is said to have healing powers, and pilgrims come from across the world to bathe in the sacred waters.
The site of a terrible massacre by the British Army on innocent pilgrims in 1919, Jallianwala Bagh is a public garden where you'll find a memorial to the massacre, erected in 1951.
Symbolic of a historic rivalry and division between India and Pakistan, the 'Beating Retreat' ceremony at the Wagah border is a spectacle unlike any other across the globe. Clad in the most flamboyant of uniforms, soldiers from each side of the border synchronise a flag raising and lowering ceremony to intimidate and ultimately 'out-pomp' their neighbours.
The crossing is significant as it s the only crossing point between Pakistan and India that is regularly open to foreigners. Huge crowds gather daily to witness the event so if you are considering attending it is wise to plan an early arrival for the best vantage point!
McLeod Ganj harbours another interesting historically significant story - In March 1959, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, fled to India after the failed uprising in 1959 in Tibet against the Communist Party of China.
The Indian Government offered him refuge in Dharamshala, where he set up the Government of Tibet in exile in 1960, while McLeod Ganj became his official residence and also home to several Buddhist monasteries and thousands of Tibetan refugees. It is now known as "Little Lhasa" because of its large population of Tibetans.
© Tibet Sun/Lobsang Wangyal
The Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) was founded by Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama on reaching McLeod Ganj. It was then called Tibetan Music, Dance and Drama Society, which was one of the first institutes set up by the Dalai Lama, and was established to preserve Tibetan artistic heritage, especially opera, dance, and music.
Another Tibetan institute founded by the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Medical Centre is famous for championing Tibetan medicine with a straightforward mission:
India is predicted to be the most populous country in the world within the next 30 years and is already extremely densely populated. An oasis of calm in a city, the Rock Gardens were started by Nek Chand, a government official, in 1957. The gardens were a secret until the park was inaugurated as a public space in 1976.
A tour of India would not be complete without a trip to see the world-famous and utterly awesome Taj Mahal. This is considered one of the greatest monuments ever constructed and is one of the seven wonders of the modern world. Also visit the red sandstone Agra Fort, which forms a crescent on the banks of the Yamuna River. Three successive Mughal emperors, Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jahan, helped create this impressive and enormous structure, which contains a combination of Hindu and Muslim architecture.
Undisputably India's most iconic landmark, and without doubt the most spectacular of Shah Jahan's buildings, the Taj Mahal can sometimes represent the sole reason for a tourists visit to India. It was built as a memorial for the Shah's third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14th child in 1631.
The death of Mumtaz left the emperor so heartbroken that his hair is said to have turned grey virtually overnight. Construction of the Taj began the following year and, although the main building is thought to have been built in eight years, the whole complex was not completed until 1653.
Not long after it was finished Shah Jahan was overthrown by his son Aurangzeb and imprisoned in Agra Fort where, for the rest of his days, he could only gaze out at his creation through a window. Following his death in 1666, Shah Jahan was buried here alongside Mumtaz.
The Fort at Agra is, in it's own way, equally as impressive as the neighbouring Taj Mahal, if not quite as aesthetically pleasing. This vast Mughal fortress dates from the 1560's will walls rising over 20m in height and a circumference of 2.5km.
As a result it has been a prized and long fought for stronghold across 5 centuries, with various dynasties and powers in possession. The British used the fort as a garrison and even today much of the fort is closed to the public as it is in use by the Indian military.
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