India & Shimla Extension
India, a unique country and civilisation, is a mindboggling potpourri of sights, sounds, colours and experiences as well as a culture-shock of astonishing contrasts. Immerse yourself in this tour and prepare for a revamp of any preconceptions towards one of the world’s ‘must-see’ destinations!
The jewel of our tour is surely the Taj Mahal in the early morning, when its colours and ethereal beauty is at its most amazing. Built to house the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, Emperor Jahan’s wife, it took 20,000 men 22 years to finish it. The end result transcends the extraordinary world monument it is. The tomb represents the ultimate expression of a pure and enduring love, a tangible expression of the unquantifiable. But there’s more. We’ll see the real India, a subcontinent that covers the full gamut of evolution, from the natural world, including the nation’s unofficial symbol, the tiger, in Ranthambore, through the Rajasthan forts and palaces of the Moghul Empire, to the more recent Raj and British colonial influence.
We’ll stay for three nights in Rajasthan, regarded as India’s most colourful state, a region fringed by deserts, populated by a fiercely proud, warrior race and a plethora of forts and palaces. No area in all of India more clearly illustrates the paradox of ancient and modern which exist side by side.
We stay in Rajasthan’s capital city of Jaipur, known as the ‘Pink City’ due to the colour of its walls and so many of its buildings, and we visit the Maharajah’s City Palace as well as the great AmberFort, one of the masterpieces of Rajput architecture, guarding the northern approaches to the city.
We delve, ever deeper, into the culture and history of Rajasthan with our stay at the Alsisar Mahal,a restored fort, converted into one of the region’s best heritage hotels. A wonderfully romantic setting where Belgian crystal chandeliers hang above exquisite marble floors, cut from the very quarries that supplied the builders of the Taj Mahal.
On selected departures our tour continues on to the hill-station of Shimla, effectively the summer capital of India during the Raj. At over 7,300ft, the cooler climate made this the ideal location to escape from the searing summer temperatures on the plains below. Dominated by the baronial splendour of the Viceregal Lodge, Shimla was, in those days, a microcosm of late Victorian English society. Surrounded by vast forests of teak and pine and located across a long ridge with steep mountainous terrain on all sides, Shimla was not the easiest place to get to. But Victorian engineers managed to build one of the marvels of Indian Railways, the 96-kilometre narrow-gauge line to Shimla, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Our journey ‘clickety-clicks’ along those very tracks laid by those intrepid imperial engineers more than a century ago.
But India is not all history and architecture – genuine Indian cuisine is far more varied and interesting that what we are used to at home. From a simple hot chapatti fresh from the oven, to the delicate spices of Kheer, a sweet rice pudding, a trip to India will change your view of Indian cookery – and don’t worry, many of the curries are quite mild! However, for the brave at heart, there’s the gasket-blowing prospect of Phaal curry. Whichever culinary delight you choose, the one guarantee is that the Indian people are supremely hospitable and will go out of their way to ensure their visitors enjoy their stay.
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, our India tour encompasses the very best of northern India, ensuring a lifetime of truly amazing memories.
- A wonderful tour of northern India’s ‘Golden Triangle’
- 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
- Travel on the famous Shimla railway on board a classic toy train for Kalka and stay for 3 nights in Shimla
- 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
- 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, converted into a stunning Heritage Hotel
- 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 travel from the UK with premium economy upgrades available at a supplement plus transfers to and from the hotel included
- Departures available exclusively for solo travellers
- Departures from January to November 2019
- 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: Indian visa - please see 'Visa and Health Information' section for details
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