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Spirit of the Himalaya


Discover ancient mountains, Tibetan mysticism and colourful cities

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2020 Tour code: HMJ20

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Days 1-2 - To Amritsar

Meet your group and Tour Manager at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Amritsar.

Amritsar is found in the north of India, in the region of Punjab and close to the border of Pakistan. It's close location to Pakistan has lent Amritsar a unique culture which takes aspects from both countries. Dating back to 1577 under the rule of Sikh leader Guru Ram Das, Amritsar has a strong heritage, made obvious by spectacular buildings designed in classic Indian style. Pale white walls combine with glorious golden domes and towers give an almost mythological feel to Amritsar, and walking through these streets are an excellent introduction to the mysteries, magic and mysticism of a country drenched in history and reverence.

We take a guided tour of Amritsar to begin our first explorations of India and its cities, and this tour takes us around some of the most impressive sights here in the historical old town.

Later tonight we venture into the city to watch the incredible Palki Ceremony at the city's famous Golden Temple, a Sikh holy shrine and one of India's most breathtaking sights. During this atmospheric tradition, the Guru Granth Sahib, or Sikh holy book, is paraded triumphantly through a crowd of worshippers and 'put to bed'.

Harimandir Sahib, Amritsar
Day 3 - Exploring Amritsar

We return to the Golden Temple after breakfast this morning, for a guided tour of this fascinating holy site. Set on a lake, at the end of an elegant causeway, the temple is an island of tranquillity, with architectural styles drawing from Hindu and Islamic traditions, and pietra dura artwork featuring delicate flower and animal motifs, not unlike the Taj Mahal. The gilded dome alone contains 118st of gold, though some estimates put the total amount for the complex at 236st. Despite its decadent appearance, the temple also serves humble purposes, earning this stunning monument the reputation as the world's largest soup kitchen, with an estimated 100,000 people fed here daily.

After our tour, we continue to the Jallianwala Bagh Gardens, a serene memorial sight. Later, we visit the Wagah Border, which separates Pakistan and India, to witness the exuberant ceremony marking the lowering of both countries' flags.

Golden Temple, Amritsar
Day 4 - To Dharamshala

Today, we depart Amritsar and travel by Toyota Innova cars, continuing through classic Indian countryside and providing us with a fascinating insight into rural India. We travel to the remarkable city of Dharamshala further to the north. Here we check into our hotel.

Days 5-6 - Dharamshala

Dharamshala is located high up in the beautiful Himachal Pradesh region of India in the foothills of the Himalayas. Notably, this is the site of the Dalai Lama's residence and where the Tibetain exile community settled. We discover much of this on a guided tour, visiting the temple of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Settlement, a Tibetan Children's village and the Norbulingka Institute dedicated to the preservation of Tibetan arts and culture.

On Day 6, we travel to the charming colonial town of Shimla. On our way, we visit the striking Kangra Fort and Museum, an impressive fortification from the days of the Rajput. Arriving into Shimla, we check into our hotel.

Tibetan Monastery, Himachal Pradesh
Days 7-8 - Discovering Shimla

A living, breathing reminder of the days of colonial India, Shimla's kaleidoscopic streets are a delight to explore, with a plethora of sights, sounds and smells to enthral visitors from across the world. We begin our exploration of Shimla with a sightseeing tour of the town's colonial heritage. We head to the Viceregal Lodge, the summer seat of the viceroys until the 1940s and continue on to the Sankat Mochan Temple.

On Day 8 you are free to explore at leisure. Alternatively, embark on an optional excursion to the Kufri area of upper Shimla, where you can enjoy incredible views of the snow-capped mountain peaks of the Himalayas, followed by a visit to Wildflower Hall, the former residence of Lord Kitchener - a noted senior British Army officer. Now a hotel, this beautiful building sits amidst a verdant forest with incredible views of the surrounding peaks of the Himalayas Here, you will enjoy a high tea lunch and a walk around the gardens (payable locally).

Days 9-10 - To New Delhi

We leave Shimla behind today as we travel to the magnificent metropolis of Delhi, the capital of India. Our mode of transport sees us journey on the wonderful Shimla Toy train to Kalka. Wending its way down through the foothills and tea plantations, this is one of India's favourite trains. Dressed in jaunty reds, blues and golds, the Toy Train crosses bridges, and burrows under dense forests on a train journey which highlights the astonishing beauty of India. On arrival into Kalka, we change for the Shatabdi Express, offering comfort and efficient service for the journey to Delhi. This bustling megacity is a true image of an Indian city, with buildings from across the ages gathered into thriving, colourful streets.

On Day 10, we visit Old Delhi, taking a rickshaw ride through the narrow streets of Delhi's bazaar for an incredible insight into the lives of the millions of people who live in the city. We also venture into bustling New Delhi, with its vibrant squares and striking buildings, celebrating the heritage and elegance of modern day India. On this day, you also have the option of a full day tour to Agra, seeing the resplendent Taj Mahal and the stunning Agra Fort*.

*This option requires a supplement of £125 per person. For more information, please call.

Toy Train
Day 11 - Return Home

Today heralds the final day of our Indian and Himalayan odyssey, as you make your way to Delhi's airport for your flight back home.

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