Magniﬁcent palaces and forts are waiting to be discovered on this Indian rail adventure aboard the Palace on Wheels train. Experience the lifestyle of the Maharajahs as we visit walled cities, marvel at the astonishing Taj Mahal and enjoy tiger spotting in Ranthambore National Park.
We depart London Heathrow for our overnight flight to the Indian capital, Delhi. On arrival in the late-morning of Day 2, we transfer to the 4-Star Oberoi Maidens Hotel for a two-night stay, in the heart of New Delhi close to diplomatic missions, shops and historical landmarks.
Today is devoted to a fascinating sightseeing tour. We start with an engaging rickshaw ride through the streets of Old Delhi, an explosion of sights, sounds, and activity, and visit the Jama Masjib Mosque. We then go on to New Delhi, passing by President House and Parliament House. We visit Gandhi's Smriti, a museum dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi, before discovering Connaught Square on a walking tour. Finally, we rest and sample high tea at the Imperial Hotel.
After breakfast at our hotel, we transfer to the train station to board the Shatabdi Express to Kalka. On arrival, we embark on a journey on the UNESCO-listed narrow-gauge Toy Train to Shimla. Alternatively, you may choose to make the journey by road.
Today, we explore Shimla by car and see sights such as the Viceregal Lodge, a striking 19th century Elizabethan-style mansion that was the summer seat of the viceroys of India until the 1940's. After lunch, we take a leisurely stroll along the Mall to the town's Gaiety Theatre, the Victorian-Gothic Christ Church and Scandal Point - so called because it was where people would traditionally meet to gossip. A car is available if you would prefer not to walk during the afternoon.
Day 6 is free for you to explore Shimla at your leisure. This provides you with a great opportunity to travel further into the Himalayas, or visit Wildflower Hall, a former residence of Lord Kitchener.
We leave Shimla in the morning and travel by road, for the journey back down the mountains through stunning scenery to Kalka. Here we join the Shatabdi Express to Delhi, for another night at the Oberoi Maidens Hotel.
Enjoy a free morning today, until this afternoon where we visit Delhi's National Rail Museum, which tells the history of India's railways. After, we transfer to our hotel train, the Palace on Wheels, for an enchanting journey through the bygone eras of the Maharajas. We have time to settle into our comfortable cabins before we enjoy dinner together in the restaurant car as the train heads into the night.
Our first stop is the capital of Rajasthan. Founded in 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Singh II, this lovely city is often referred to as 'the Pink City' after the buildings were painted pink in the 19th century to celebrate a visit by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Sightseeing includes the imposing Palace of the Winds, whose ornate façade once enabled the ladies of the royal court to observe life in the street below whilst remaining in 'purdah.' We also visit the magnificent Amber Fort, one of three hilltop forts that dominate the hills above Jaipur, and enjoy lunch in the Palace Hotel. During the night the train continues west.
We leave the train to visit the Ranthambore National Park, one of the largest national parks in India, covering 151 square miles of land. It is here that we try and spot tigers, leopards and other native wildlife before we head to Chittorgarh to see the majestic hilltop fort that sprawls across an area of 692 acres, as well as the Tower of Victory and the intricate Tower of Fame.
The Palace on Wheels reaches Udaipur this morning. We leave the train for lunch at a local hotel before taking a cruise on the serene waters of Lake Pichola, an artificial lake created over 650 years ago. We sail around the small island and the Lake Palace Hotel, originally the Palace of the Maharani of Udaipur, a breathtaking white marble building that was originally built in 1746. On our return to Udaipur we rejoin the train. On Day 12 we arrive in Jaisalmer, a fairytale walled town in the Thar Desert. We explore the narrow, twisting streets of the town centre, see beautiful merchants' houses with intricately carved sandstone façades and enjoy a camel ride into the surrounding desert. We dine together at a local hotel before the train departs for Jodhpur.
Jodhpur is known as the 'Blue City' due to the hue of the houses within the old walls. During a morning tour we see the impenetrable walls of the 'Citadel of the Sun', the Mehrangarh Fort and Palace with fine sandstone carvings, soaking up the atmosphere and architecture of this excellent throwback to stately Indian court life. We enjoy lunch in the Palace Hotel and visit Jaswant Thada, a white marble cenotaph. We rejoin the train and journey towards Agra.
After a visit by rickshaw to the Bharatpur bird sanctuary, we rejoin the train and travel to Agra. This afternoon we visit Agra Fort, the majestic red sandstone citadel and the captivating Taj Mahal, the iconic masterpiece in white marble. Built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1653, for his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal is the world's finest example of Mughal and Persian architecture. We return to the train for our final night on board and a farewell dinner.
We arrive back in Delhi this morning, having completed our magnificent journey on board the Palace on Wheels and transfer to the airport for our flight to London.
On some departures we enjoy a talk from Raaja Bhasin in Shimla, gaining a detailed insight into the town through its people, history and culture. Known for his unique insight into this region's fascinating heritage, Raaja Bhasin is an acclaimed writer and researcher; most recently serving as a historical consultant on Channel 4's 'Indian Summers' series. Born locally, he is considered an authority on Shimla and the wider area of Himachal Pradesh having written five critically acclaimed books, as well as many articles, stories and even a TedTalk relating to the subject. He has been actively involved in many heritage projects, including the Kalka Shimla Railway line which is the route you will be travelling along. Thanks to the efforts of Raaja and his team, this route was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2008 something that, as we journey through the mountains learning about the distinctive and inspiring engineering that made the line possible, we will soon understand why.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Enhancing your tour
of travellers would recommend this tour
based on 10 verified reviews
Exciting and fun with plenty of new discoveries each day
The itinerary was excellent. The description of the Palace in the booklet was “over the top”. That aside it was a memorable holiday.
We enjoyed every day of our holiday in India. Arriving at the station in the morning to be met by musicians, elephants and camels was a real surprise which started each day perfectly. The staff on the train were lovely and the organisation of the tour could not be faulted. My expectations were exceeded in every way. The Toy train to Shimla was slow, hot and not particularly comfortable but was worth it for the experience and the amazing views.
Wonderful experience from start to finish. Thoroughly enjoyed our adventure through India
such a memorable experience
Although a fantastic experience their was not enough free time.
An amazing experience with spectular sights. The only slight disappointment was the train itself which was not a 'palace'. However the slightly 'tired' train could have been excused if it had been possible to sleep while it was moving! The continuous rocking made it impossible to get any sleep which did make the busy schedule during the day slightly harder work. Food was good but the arrangement for serving the Continental and Indian food at the same time was weird. The excursions were well organised and unforgettable including amazing palaces (the Taj Mahal was even grander than ever imagined), beautiful scenery (Shimla and the Himalayas), three tiger sightings, and taking part in the Holi festival. The hotels were very good and the Wildflower Hall in Shimla was one of the best we have ever stayed in. Overall a true experience!
The itinerary was excellent and offered a wide variety of experiences. The train is a bit dated but I felt it was all in keeping with the whole trip.
An adventure on one of India's famous hotel trains