Phenomenal rail journeys of Asia
By Sukie Chapman
18 January 2018
You love rail travel but also want to explore further afield than Europe; this is a conundrum many of our customers call us about.Read more
India is one of the top travel spots for the adventurous at heart. Visit this dazzling land and uncover its mysteries on your remarkable rail tour.
An escorted rail tour of India with Great Rail Journeys presents an adventure in a land which is both exotic and, in places, surprisingly familiar. India is a destination that has everything a visitor could want, and delights in sharing its treasures with guests. Journeying by train through India, you'll be enchanted by its magnificent landscapes. Our India rail holidays reveal other stunning wonders in the form of the country's diverse architecture. From the spectacular UNESCO-listed temples at Mahabalipuram to the spectacular twentieth-century Lotus Temple in New Delhi, India's architectural heritage never disappoints. And, of course, no rail tour of northern India could omit the journey to Agra, site of the most majestic and iconic of all India's buildings. The Taj Mahal, a sublime vision in white marble, is perfectly framed by its immaculate gardens.
It's often the case on an escorted rail tour with Great Rail Journeys that the train travel between destinations is as enjoyable and memorable an aspect of the tour as the destinations themselves. India is no exception. For many of our journeys between India's great cities we travel in air-conditioned comfort aboard the Shatabdi Express; a modern, clean and efficient service that is the pride of its operator. Frequently our India rail tour itineraries feature excursions on truly remarkable trains, such as the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway which ascends almost 7,000 feet into the mountains. At the opposite end of the scale, India's Palace on Wheels is one of the country's most sumptuously-appointed trains and, for our guests, the closest experience to travelling in a luxury five-star hotel. Each of our Indian train holidays is an adventure in itself, and whichever you choose you're assured of an experience that is unforgettable.
Where exotic adventures are concerned, India is at the top of the list for many travellers. Packed with beautiful landscapes, diverse architecture, leafy tea fields and bustling cities, India is an exciting destination with limitless prospects. Here are our top 5 reasons to explore India on a Great Rail Journeys holiday.
With over 20 spoken languages, a range of religious practices and an incredible history of art and performance, India has some of the richest culture in the world. Experience it first-hand on a Great Rail Journeys tour.
India boasts an impressive 32 UNESCO World Heritage sites, including world-famous monuments like the 17th century Red Fort in Delhi and the abandoned capital of Fatehpur Sikri. See India's amazing sights with Great Rail Journeys.
The famous setting for 'The Jungle Book', India is host to some spectacular wildlife. Spot tigers in Ranthambore National Park on our India's Golden Triangle & Tiger Safari.
Indian cuisine is amongst the most popular in the world, with many western countries offering tweaked versions of traditional recipes. Enjoy the original flavours of India on your Great Rail Journeys tour.
India is a riot of colour. From the deep greens of its rainforests, to the 'Blue City' of Jodhpur, to the stunning white marble of the Taj Mahal, experience the palette of India on your Great Rail Journeys holiday.
This amazing adventure through historic India takes us to some of the glorious country's most exciting sights. On our fascinating journey we discover thriving cities, spectacular forts, and have a chance to see a tiger in the wild, culminating with a night in a 200-year-old palace.… see more
12 days from £1,795 ppView tour details >
The kaleidoscopic sights of this colourful country take your breath away. Our Indian rail tour takes in the Red and Amber Forts, historic temples, beautiful palaces and ornate gardens, as we visit Delhi, the 'Pink City' of Jaipur and Agra with its white marble icon, the Taj Mahal.… see more
13 days from £1,895 ppView tour details >
Venture into the spectacular Himalayan Mountains on this tour which celebrates the best that this stunning mountain range, and the country of India have to offer. Discover ancient mountains, Tibetan mysticism and colourful cities.… see more
11 days from £2,295 ppView tour details >
During this truly unforgettable tour of southern India, we visit the cities, temples and tea plantations of the Tamil Nadu region before heading to Kerala. We explore the captivating city of Kochi, relax on Kerala's beaches and cruise through the backwaters of Vambanad Lake.… see more
16 days from £2,695 ppView tour details >
Embark on this incredible adventure travelling south along India's west coast by rail. Explore an array of India's most impressive sights, from bustling Mumbai and the old port of Mangaluru, as we travel on the famous Konkan Railway.… see more
15 days from £2,795 ppView tour details >
Explore the highlights of India and Nepal on this grand tour which includes some of the world's most beautiful temples, sights and scenery. We witness colourful ceremonies, a game drive, and experience breathtaking views of the Himalaya from Pokhara on this adventurous tour.… see more
18 days from £2,895 ppView tour details >
India offers our guests a wealth of unmissable highlights and at Great Rail Journeys we want to introduce you to a selection of the most memorable natural, historical, and cultural wonders whilst also providing exceptional value for money.
Our escorted rail tours of India provide an easy, comfortable and exciting way to see this remarkable country, and the price of each includes return scheduled flights, rail and other transport costs, quality accommodation, many meals and an extensive programme of guided sight-seeing tours and excursions.
Escorted throughout your Indian train holiday by our experienced and knowledgeable Tour Manager, you can sit back and enjoy all that India has to offer with the reassurance that expert assistance, advice and information is on-hand whenever it's needed.
You're also assured of a high standard of accommodation in India as we handpick our hotels for their location, comfort, service and value. Whenever possible we like to choose reputable family-run hotels for the personal service they offer and for their relaxing informal atmosphere.
Home to more than a billion inhabitants, India is the world's seventh largest country and is bordered by Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma and Bangladesh.
India's history begins with the establishment of the Indus Valley Civilization in the Bronze Age (3300-1300 BC), and the later arrival of Indo-Aryan settlers. These two phases are known as the pre-Vedic and Vedic periods. It is in the Vedic period that Hinduism originated; India's oldest manuscripts, the Vedas, date from this period.
In the fifth century, the emperor Ashoka united large regions of India. His conversion to Buddhism led to the religions adoption in other parts of Asia. During the third-century's Maurya Dynasty the principles, belief systems and behaviours that still inform modern Hinduism were incorporated into the religion.
Islam arrived in India in the eighth century and three centuries later had established Muslim rule over Northern India. In the sixteenth century the Muslims were ousted by the invading Mughal Empire, under which India was unified again and Indian culture flourished. European traders arrived in India the following century, eventually asserting dominance over Mughal-controlled regions and ultimately deposing the empire via military action. This marked the beginning of British colonial rule in India. An initial Indian Rebellion in 1857 failed to restore Indian governance and the country formally became part of the British Empire. It was not until 1947, following the Second World War, that India regained the independence that it still enjoys today.
The majority of India is subject to a tropical climate. Summer, which lasts from April to October is very hot; temperatures in northern and western areas can exceed 40°C (104°F). Monsoon rains fall in June and October and can bring thunderstorms and flooding depending upon their severity. Except in the mountainous regions of northern India which receive snowfall, India's winters are relatively mild with temperatures averaging between 5°C-12°C (41°F-54°F).
India's cuisine has been shaped over centuries by different cultures and civilizations. Although virtually every different region of India has evolved its own distinctive cuisine the common feature that links them all is the generous use of spices. Rice, lentils and chick peas are common ingredients of Indian dishes, with chicken, pork and fish the most popular meats. The spicy heat of southern Indian dishes is often tempered by the addition of coconut milk. Meals may be accompanied by flatbreads including naan, puri, or paratha. Aloo dishes feature potatoes as their main ingredient, whilst paneer is a type of Indian cheese. Chai, a blend of rich black tea, milk and spices, is effectively India's national beverage and is found everywhere.
One of the best pieces of advice when touring India by rail is to carry a cheap pair of sandals with you. Many of India's temples will only allow visitors to enter them barefoot and having a pair of sandals that easily slip on and off saves time and effort.
Indian markets have a thriving bargaining culture. When negotiating with a street merchant never accept the first price you are offered. This could be ten or even twenty times the price they will settle for. In return, offer a much lower bid than you're actually prepared to pay for an item and enjoy a good-natured haggle until you reach a mutually agreeable price.