India's Golden Triangle & Shimla With Varanasi Extension
14 nights. January 2021 - May 2022. From £2714.00.
Ancient, colonial & natural grandeur
Discover the glorious cities of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, Ranthambhore’s tigers and the Raj-era comforts of India’s most famous hill station. Combine a tour of the classic sights of India’s capital and the wonders of Rajasthan with a journey back in time to Shimla, the quintessentially colonial haven high in the Himalayan foothills. Begin in Delhi, before journeying on to Shimla, the former summer capital of the Raj. The Pink City of Jaipur, with its extraordinary Fort and palaces, Agra’s majestic Fort and peerless Taj Mahal, and stays in famed Ranthambhore Park and a wonderful jungle resort complete this unforgettable journey. Extend your holiday and visit sacred Varanasi is a 3,000 year old city on the the sacred Ganges to which Hindu pilgrims make their way to bathe in the holy waters. View the ghats from a river boat at dawn and journey to Sarnath, one of Buddhism’s holiest sights.
What's Included11 nights' dinner, bed and breakfast accommodation in a series of four-star and five-star standard hotels in Delhi (2 nights), Shimla (2), Jaipur (2), Agra (1), Ranthambhore (2) and Vanaashrya (2), plus one night on the aircraft
Three nights' half-board accommodation at hotels in Varanasi (2 nights) and Delhi (1)
Return scheduled flights to Delhi
Return flights from Delhi to Varanasi
All rail travel in India
Comfortable, air-conditioned coach travel and transfers throughout
Fully escorted by a friendly, experienced tour manager
Holiday HighlightsWatching the sun set (and rise) behind the Taj Mahal
Riding the "toy train" from Kandaghat to Shimla
Complete your holiday with a stay in sacred Varanasi
Searching for Ranthambhore's tigers on two included safaris
Discover the sights of New Delhi
Enjoy a rickshaw ride through Old Delhi
Stay in the five-star Oberoi Cecil Hotel – an institution since the days of the Raj
See Jaipur's Palace of the Winds
Enjoy dinner hosted by a local family in Jaipur
Ride up to Amber Fort for exceptional views
See Chand Baori, Abhaneri’s astonishing stepwell
Stay in the beautiful resort of Vanaashyra
Enjoy an Indian cookery demonstration
PLEASE NOTE: Price is per person and based on two people sharing a twin/double room. Single room supplements and upgrades are not included.
Day 1Fly overnight from the UK to Delhi.
Day 2You'll arrive in Delhi, this morning, meet your tour manager and transfer to your first hotel. After lunch, enjoy a guided tour of some of the city’s major sights, including the historic Red Fort, Jama Masjid Mosque and Raj Ghat (Gandhi’s cremation site), as well as the Raj-era grandeur of New Delhi. Complete the day with an exhilarating rickshaw ride before dinner at the hotel.
Day 3This morning you'll catch the train to Chandigarh. From here, you'll journey up to Kandaghat to board the "toy train" to Shimla. Relax as the narrow-gauge route winds its scenic way into the foothills of the Himalayas, along the line opened by Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, in 1903, to where the magnificent Oberoi Cecil Hotel waits to welcome you.
Day 4We’ll rejoin the "toy train", this morning, for a short journey through the mountains to Tara Devi’s Hindu Temple. Enjoy lunch at Clark’s hotel, the first hotel of the now world famous Oberoi chain, before heading out for an afternoon guided tour of Shimla. We'll visit the teak-panelled rooms of Viceregal Lodge - a former British summer retreat and where the map of Indian Partition was drawn up. Other highlights will include the high, open space of the Ridge, dwarfed by the Gothic spires of the very English Christ Church and offering superb views of the distant peaks, and the shops of Mall Road. We'll pass the colonial Gaiety Theatre, and join the throng at Scandal Point, Shimla's traditional meeting place.
Day 5Today we'll retrace our steps, heading back down to Chandigarh for the return rail journey to Delhi.
Day 6After a morning drive to Jaipur, and lunch when we arrive in the city, you'll have the afternoon free to relax or join our optional excursion to Elefantastic. This conservation sanctuary is home to some of the world’s most extraordinary animals, and you'll the chance to get up close to some of its rescued elephants.
Day 7After breakfast you'll visit the former Rajput capital, Amber, and its vast fort, climbing by jeep to visit the Royal Halls and take in the magnificent views from the ramparts. After lunch, you'll take a guided tour of Jaipur to see the City Palace museums and ancient astronomical observatory of the City Palace, and drive past the 18th-century Palace of the Winds with its ornate windows and screened balconies. This evening, enjoy a special dinner at historic Nokha House, hosted in traditional Rajasthani style by the Rathore family.
Day 8Bid farewell to Jaipur after breakfast, and journey to Agra, the fabled City of Love. After a visit to the royal pavilions, palaces and courtyards of majestic Agra Fort, you’ll make your first visit to the incomparable Taj Mahal, a monument to undying love, to see it in all its glory at sunset.
Day 9Awaken early to pay a second visit to the Taj Mahal, watching the sun rise over it from across the Yamuna River. We'll return to the hotel for breakfast, and then leave Agra behind as we head to Abhaneri. This ancient village is home to Chand Baori, one of the oldest and most intricate stepwells in India, its 13 storeys and 3500 steps offering access to water and much-needed refuge from the sun's heat. After lunch at the sumptuous Umaid Lake Palace heritage hotel, we'll continue to Ranthambhore National Park. This former royal hunting ground is now a key centre for Project Tiger, and its grasslands, streams and beautiful pools are home to striped hyenas, sambar deer, sloth bears and of course tigers. This evening, prior to tomorrow's adventures, enjoy a tiger talk from a local naturalist.
Day 10Today’s two canter (open-air vehicle) safaris in the Park are sure to be highlights of your entire holiday. Join a knowledgeable naturalist guide to search your surroundings for signs of tigers, leopards and other species in their natural environment.
Day 11Rest and relax this morning, or join our optional excursion to Ranthambhore Fort, climbing the gradual, 273-step path to take in the stupendous views. Later, journey into the Aravali Hills and head to the jungle resort of Vanaashyra, calling en route at the fascinating ruins of 17th-century Bhangarh fort.
Day 12Rest and relax at Vanaashyra, then enjoy an afternoon camel-cart ride and a cookery demonstration before a farewell dinner at the resort.
Day 13Fly to historic Varanasi, and transfer to your hotel. Take some time to relax before venturing out into the old city's pulsating heart. Rub shoulders with holy men and walk with devotees towards this evening's Aarti ceremony on the banks of the sacred Ganges. Later, take dinner in your hotel.
Day 14After breakfast this morning, take a boat ride along the great Ganges, known locally as Mother Ganga - India's most sacred river. Later, take in over 2000 years of history as you are taken on a guided tour of this most important of Indian conurbations. Afterwards, enjoy lunch and take an excursion to Sarnath to visit is museum and ruins.
Day 15Spend this morning relaxing in your hotel, or choose to venture out into Varanasi's beguiling streets for one last time. In the afternoon, transfer to the airport and fly to Delhi. Upon arrival, check-in to your hotel, dine and rest.
Day 16This morning take breakfast in your hotel, before transferring to the airport and boarding your flight home. Back to top
Hotel transfer timesThe transfer time from the airport to your hotel is approximately one hour.
Taj Mahal restoration workThe white marble of the Taj Mahal is being gradually cleaned in a process that will take up to four years. Parts of the monument's surface may be covered during this process though your visit and access to the main dome is not likely to be restricted.
Train to ShimlaDependent on flight times from Delhi, the 'toy train' journey may take place on Day Five, en route back down to Chandigarh.
Passports and visasBritish citizens require machine-readable passports when travelling overseas. Your passport must contain two blank pages and be valid for 180 days after your return date from India. A visa is also required for entry to India. Full details of how and when to apply will be sent out about eight weeks before departure. British CITIZENS and some other European nationals satisfying certain conditions may use the online e-Tourist Visa application process at a cost of $10 (US) per person for entry to India for arrivals in the months of April, May and June or $25 (US) per person for arrivals in other months. Other British passport holders, who are not British CITIZENS, must apply for a full visa which costs £112. You may also, at extra cost, use the services of CIBT, our recommended visa handling partner, who will handle the whole process for you. Note that all travellers of Pakistani descent, regardless of citizenship, will generally be subject to more detailed processing by the Indian authorities, which can take up to four months from application.
Foreign Office Travel AdviceVisit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice to find out the latest Foreign And Commonwealth Office travel advice for your holiday destination, as well as information about passports and visas.
On your flightAll outbound flights leave in the evening and land at your destination the next day. All return flights leave in the morning and land in the UK on the same day. On-board meals will usually include dinner and breakfast on outbound flights, and lunch and a snack on the flight home. Drinks are complimentary.
Luggage allowanceYou are permitted to take one suitcase per person on the aircraft, which should not exceed 23kg.
Special requirementsIf you have notified us of any special requirements, please check that they have been noted and acknowledged. This is especially important with any dietary needs you may have.
Disabled accessThe majority of our tours involve a certain amount of walking, including a short walk from the coach stop to the town, attraction or venue you're visiting. If you are bringing a wheelchair, please let us know at the time of booking so that appropriate arrangements can be made. In many developing countries access is sometimes not as easy as at home. Should you have walking difficulties, getting around monuments and attractions may be harder and, in some cases, impossible. Should you have any concerns whatsoever please do contact us prior to travel.
Travel vaccinationsRequirements and advice can vary over time, and from person to person, so please contact your GP about eight weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or any other preventive measures.
Itinerary changesOccasionally, for operational reasons, we may have to change the order of the excursions on your holiday. The final day-by-day itinerary will be confirmed on your Final Travel Documents, which you will receive approximately three weeks prior to your departure.
Changes to your hotelsShould circumstances require, we reserve the right to accommodate you in alternative hotels, of a similar standard, nearby. Full details of your hotels will be sent with your Final Travel Documents.
Road ConditionsIn developing countries road networks are continually being improved and expanded, which can mean that, from time to time, roadworks and rough road surfaces can extend journey times. Some journeys are made on winding mountain roads and passes, which may also make for slow travelling - although the scenery is usually worth it! Many roads do not have separate pavements or safety barriers, and great care should be taken when crossing or walking alongside roads. Back to top