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Deccan Odyssey

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20252026
16 days From £7,295 per person
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Discover kaleidoscopic India’s breathtaking palaces and magnificent wildlife travelling aboard the nostalgic carriages of the exquisite Deccan Odyssey

Mobility Rating 2

2025 Tour code: DEJ25

About the tour

Our incredible rail holiday takes us from India's vibrant capital, Delhi, to the cooling foothills of the Himalayas by modern rail and charming 'Toy Train'.

Boarding the amazing Deccan Odyssey for seven nights, we bask in the palatial glamour of bygone eras on a once-in-a-lifetime journey across the heart of India, through landscapes stalked by majestic wildlife. Each morning we are welcomed in style to a glittering array of the country's most iconic destinations, including the Taj Mahal, the 'Pink City' of Jaipur and spiritual Varanasi beside the sacred Ganges.

Unforgettable Experiences

Witness the spirituality of ancient Varanasi
Witness the spirituality of ancient Varanasi
On the banks of the sacred Ganges, the ‘cradle of humankind’ is one of the world’s oldest cities. Enjoy a charming boat ride on the holy river, viewing daily life and the ethereal funeral ghats.
Explore delightful Shimla, the former summer capital of British India
Explore delightful Shimla, the former summer capital of British India
Travel by charming ‘Toy Train’ to picturesque Shimla and discover the legacy of the British Raj in the stately Viceregal Lodge where the Partition of India was decreed in 1947.
Spend seven nights aboard the evocative Deccan Odyssey
Spend seven nights aboard the evocative Deccan Odyssey
Unwind in the timeless grandeur of our hotel on rails for a memorable exploration of India’s most beautiful locations, enjoying impeccable service and incredible facilities including a relaxing lounge – and even an onboard spa.
Marvel at the iconic Taj Mahal’s majestic beauty
Marvel at the iconic Taj Mahal’s majestic beauty
Gaze in awe at the ‘poetry in white marble’ of the 17th-century Taj Mahal, constructed by Shah Jahan and regularly considered to be the most beautiful building in the world.
Search for regal Bengal tigers on captivating game drives
Search for regal Bengal tigers on captivating game drives
Experience a day on safari in the pristine wilderness of Ranthambore National Park, with the chance to spot spectacular wildlife, including tigers, leopards and hyenas.
Uncover enchanting palaces in the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur
Uncover enchanting palaces in the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur
Explore the delightful Rajasthani city on a sightseeing tour with an expert guide, including the opulent City Palace and the striking façade of the famed Palace of the Winds.

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - Overnight flight from London to Delhi

We meet our fellow travellers and Tour Manager at London Heathrow ready for our direct flight to magical India. This fascinating, historic country dazzles and beguiles visitors with its wonderful mix of sights, scents and spirituality.

As our flight continues overnight, we can sit back and anticipate the incredible experiences that await us. India boasts many timeless iconic wonders that we will see on this fantastic rail tour. Relaxing in the elegant comfort of our carriages aboard the Deccan Odyssey, we will discover these famed destinations and explore bustling, vibrant cities and pristine wilderness enroute. Easing ourselves into kaleidoscopic Indian life, we will first uncover reminders of the British Raj in the country's capital and Himalayan hill station of Shimla.

Day 2 - Arrival in Delhi with time at leisure

Landing in the Indian capital in late morning, we transfer to our landmark hotel for a chance to unwind. Set in acres of beautiful parkland, the palatial Oberoi Maidens is one of the oldest hotels in Delhi and showcases a grand colonial façade and interior furnishings. With a free morning and afternoon, you could lounge on the terrace or take a dip in the sumptuous outdoor swimming pool.

Delhi is one of India's most colourful and exciting metropolises, symbolising the nation's rich heritage and thriving present. A city where the ancient and modern exist in harmony, it became the capital of India when the British moved the seat of their empire from Kolkata in 1911. While New Delhi boasts broad avenues and colonial architecture, the city's ancient history remains reflected in the Mughal forts, mosques and minarets of characterful Old Delhi.

This evening, we get to know our fellow travellers better with a welcome meeting and dinner at our heritage hotel.

Day 3 - Exploring India’s lively capital on a guided tour

Founded in 1648, Delhi was initially a walled city named Shahjahanabad after Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor who called for its construction. At its heart remain some spectacular sights, and we view them after breakfast at our hotel.

Made from red sandstone and white marble, the 17th-century Jama Masjid is one of India's largest mosques, while the simple but moving Raj Ghat is where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated. Passing the striking Red Fort, we enter Chandni Chowk bazaar for a rickshaw ride through its lively streets. This is a great introduction to Indian life as we view craftspeople at work in an authentic area of Delhi.

There is free time over lunch before we explore New Delhi's wide, leafy avenues. With large parts designed by Edward Lutyens, the city was lauded as a testament to Britain's imperial aspirations when it became the seat of government in 1931. Admiring the imposing India Gate and the president's residence, we also visit to the opulent 16th-century tomb of Mughal emperor Humayun.

We return to our hotel this evening in time for dinner.

Day 4 - Himalayan Queen ‘Toy Train’ to delightful Shimla

Early this morning, we transfer to the station to travel to Kalka in the foothills of the Himalayas, with a picnic lunch to enjoy at our seats in AC Chair Class carriages on the modern Shatabdi Express.

Travelling through 170 miles of northern Indian scenery in a little over four hours, we arrive in Kalka where we board the UNESCO-listed, narrow-gauge Himalayan Queen, affectionately referred to as the 'Toy Train'. Over 60 miles, this vintage train trundles up through the stunning Shivalik Hills, passing lush green countryside and tree-covered valleys. We cross hundreds of bridges and traverse 102 tunnels on this scenic and leisurely journey to the mountain town of Shimla.

Formerly the summer capital of the British Raj, attractive Shimla enjoys a cooler climate than India's bustling cities. On arrival we check into our historic 5-Star hotel that has enjoyed wonderful views across the valleys and hills for more than a century. The centre of Shimla's social scene during the Raj, the Oberoi Cecil remains popular today with our customers. This evening we enjoy dinner together in the hotel.

Day 5 - Uncovering momentous history in evocative Shimla

Author and historian Raaja Bhasin joins us after breakfast to deliver an informative talk full of spellbinding stories about his hometown as he brings Shimla's history to life. Afterwards, we put our newfound knowledge of Shimla to good use as we are taxied around the sights of this charismatic city.

We start our guided tour at the Viceregal Lodge, the most historically important building in the city. As the summer residence of the Indian Viceroy, the leader of the British Raj, many significant historical moments occurred here, including the discussions which lead to the Partition of India in 1947.

Our exploration continues on a visit to the colourful Sankat Mochan Temple, a serene complex dedicated to half-human, half-monkey Hindu god Hanuman, where we can admire views across the sprawling hill station of Shimla. We stop for lunch at the historic Clarkes Hotel, a grand colonial lodge with half-timbered façades before visiting the Gothic revival Gaiety Theatre of irrefutably British style has seen many famous people tread its boards, including Rudyard Kipling.

Dinner this evening is back at our superb hotel.

Day 6 - Free day to explore stunning Shimla

Today is spent at leisure among the fresh mountain air and beautiful tree-covered slopes of Shimla. One option is to take a trip to Kufri, where the sense of entering the elemental and intimidating Himalayas really dawns. Although a resort with many amenities, visiting Kufri really feels like you are heading off the beaten track. From here, indulge in the luxury of a high-tea lunch in the opulent surroundings of Wildflower Hall - the former residence of Lord Kitchener.

Alternatively, take a leisurely stroll down Mall Road and the Ridge, the centre of Shimla's colonial town, where all life is on display. Discover the chocolate-box Children's Library and Scandal Point - so named as it was once a popular place for people to gather and share gossip. Visit a viewpoint for stunning vistas across the forests and valleys, with Shimla's charming houses tumbling down the hills.

As the sun sets, perhaps make your way to Lakkar Bazaar, a long stretch of open-air stalls selling traditional woodwork and souvenirs. This evening we regroup at our hotel for dinner.

Day 7 - Leaving Shimla for a ride down the mountains to Delhi

Returning down the mountains by car after breakfast this morning, we admire the twisting route from a new perspective. Journeying amid incredible scenery of verdant valleys fading into the haze, we arrive at Chandigarh Junction railway station to board the train in AC Chair Class for our journey back to dazzling Delhi.

With a picnic lunch to enjoy at our seats on the Shatabdi Express, we can gaze out of our windows to gain a glimpse of daily life in the state of Haryana, from the buzz of large towns to pastoral rural scenes, even spotting the occasional temple enroute.

On arrival in the capital, we are transferred back to the Oberoi Maidens hotel in late afternoon, with time to relax or take a dip in the pool before dinner this evening.

Day 8 - Boarding the Deccan Odyssey for an incredible journey

A relaxing morning with breakfast at our wonderful hotel precedes a highlight of our Indian holiday as we are transferred to the railway station to board the Deccan Odyssey. The enduring opulence of our hotel on rails harks back to the golden age of travel, when royals would journey between the nation's beautiful cities and astonishing wonders in regal comfort.

We are greeted on board by the friendly and professional staff who offer impeccable service throughout our expedition. As we settle in to our private ensuite cabins, with a dedicated crew member in each carriage, there is time to relax or make use of the Deccan Odyssey's excellent facilities. With a stylish lounge complete with a range of books and even an onboard spa, there is no shortage of ways to spend your time on this fantastic train.

After our train begins its journey, we gather for a welcome drink. The chefs on the Deccan Odyssey prepare excellent cuisine that reflects the local area which we sample over dinner in one of the elegant restaurant cars.

Day 9 - Tiger safari in stunning Ranthambore National Park

Waking up as the Deccan Odyssey rolls through eastern Rajasthan, we enjoy breakfast on board as we anticipate an unforgettable experience.

Disembarking in Sawai Madhopur, we set out on game drives in Ranthambore National Park either side of lunch on our train. In modern open-topped safari vehicles called 'canters', we delve into India's most fascinating national park, guided by local experts who are well-versed in the animals' daily movements. Declared a Project Tiger Reserve in 1973, it is a favourite among wildlife photographers and tourists as it can be possible to see a mighty Bengal tiger in the wild. These regal animals are elusive, but we will be keeping our eyes peeled in the hope of seeing a majestic beast basking in the sun or sauntering through the wilderness.

While tigers are the main attraction, Ranthambore is also home to a host of incredible species, such as leopards, hyenas, caracals, crocodiles, snakes and ocelot. We return to our train for dinner, where can discuss the day's viewing before the Deccan Odyssey moves on.

Day 10 - Exploring the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur

Ahead of a visit by the Prince of Wales in 1876, Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II decided to paint the city in shades of resplendent pink, a decision that has come to define this vibrant city.

After breakfast on board the Deccan Odyssey, we set out on a tour of colourful Jaipur. Our sightseeing begins with a visit to the City Palace, a gorgeous 17th-century palace blending decorative Mughal and Rajput architecture and home to the current maharaja, before travelling to one of Jaipur's most renowned sights. The ornate façade of the Palace of the Winds, gleams in pink and yellow sandstone. This now decorate feature, built in 1799, allowed cool air to flow into the palace making the interior inhabitable during the hot summers.

An authentic and buzzing Indian city, it is not unheard of to see sacred cows wandering casually along Jaipur's busy streets. To gain an insight into life here, we explore the bazaar where we can try our hand at haggling for handmade goods.

We enjoy dinner on the Deccan Odyssey this evening.

Day 11 - Marvelling at the ‘poetry in marble’ of the Taj Mahal

One of India's most famous attractions is found in royal Agra - the spellbinding Taj Mahal, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

On arrival in the 'City of Love' after breakfast, we get the chance to admire this UNESCO-listed mausoleum complex built by emperor Shah Jahan to honour his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Poetry in white marble, the spectral Taj Mahal stands a monument to undying love and is regarded as the pinnacle of Mughal architecture and the most beautiful building ever constructed. Despite it being a global icon, a guided tour of the sumptuous Taj Mahal and its magnificently manicured grounds still feels like discovering it for yourself.

Afterwards, we view the Taj Mahal from Agra Fort. The centrepiece of this historic complex is the Musamman Burj, an octagonal tower with a marble balcony where Shah Jahan spent his last eight years of his life imprisoned. Inside the fort are some exquisite specimens of Mughal architecture, including the Moti Masjid - a white marble mosque.

After a day sightseeing, we return to our train for dinner this evening.

Day 12 - Gwalior’s stunning fort and regal Orchha

Pulling into Gwalior after breakfast this morning, we explore one of the finest and most historic hill forts in Madhya Pradesh. The origins of Gwalior's majestic fort are unknown, but it is believed to date from before the 10th century - with some monuments suggesting it could have existed as far back as the 6th century.

Much of what we see stretched across nearly two miles of plateau was built around 1500. With ornate palaces and exquisite rock carvings, this impressive complex astonishes with its decorative architecture and incredible views.

Lunch is served back on the Deccan Odyssey as we travel onwards to nearby Orchha. A small town that was once the seat of a princely state, Orchha is packed with a supreme array of fantastic temples and palaces. Although an important pilgrimage site due to its temple dedicated to Rama, walking amongst these once resplendent palaces on the forested shores of the Betwa River recalls an age of adventure as if we are the first people to discover this spectacular location.

After dinner, our beautiful train continues its journey eastwards.

Day 13 - Ancient temples of Khajuraho

Rulers of large parts of northern central India from the 9th to the 14th century, the Chandela dynasty have become known for their exceptional art and architecture. After breakfast this morning, we embark on a guided tour of their original capital, Khajuraho.

Awash with spellbinding Hindu and Jain monuments that represent some of the finest temple art in the world, we explore this enchanting collection of ornate temples - including the large Kandariya Mahadeva temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. Built between 950 and 1050AD in an inspired burst of creativity, the temples are superb examples of Indo-Aryan architecture. The sensual engravings depict the whole range of human emotions and relationships. Recognised by UNESCO, this expansive and amazing temple city was overgrown by jungle when British explorer Captain TS Burt was shown it in 1838.

Dinner is served back on our train this evening, as we travel overnight to the spiritual capital of India.

Day 14 - Sensational Varanasi on the sacred Ganges

As we enjoy breakfast onboard, our journey continues to the holy city of Varanasi. One of the world's oldest living cities, Varanasi has a spiritual legacy of more than 3,000 years.

A place of pilgrimage, this revered site set on the banks of the sacred Ganges is known as the cradle of humankind. This authentic historic city buzzes with people bustling down its narrow streets, but the main focus is the mighty Ganges. We set sail in charming small boats on this most hallowed of rivers observing daily life on its banks. Women in beautiful saris washing their clothes, kids at play splashing about and Buddhist holy men in orange robes praying and meditating can all be seen in spellbinding Varanasi.

We also get to experience one of Varanasi's most striking and famous sights as we witness the funeral ghats. To be cremated on the banks of the sacred Ganges is said to conclude the reincarnation process, allowing the spirit to reach Nirvana.

After dinner aboard our train, we settle down for our final night on the Deccan Odyssey.

Day 15 - Disembarking the Deccan Odyssey in Delhi

Our amazing journey aboard the Deccan Odyssey concludes after breakfast as the train rolls into Delhi. On arrival, we return to the Oberoi Maidens Hotel where there is time to relax or explore independently.

You may wish to revisit Raj Ghat, which we previously viewed on our guided tour. Here, you can find the National Gandhi Museum which displays personal items, images and other materials connected with the famed non-violent independence campaigner. Across the road, you can find the evocative ruins of the 14th-century Feroz Shah Kotla citadel. Cricket fans will recognise this moniker as the former name of the capital's historic cricket stadium which is nearby.

Lunch is on your own today and you might like to experience authentic Indian cuisine before returning to our hotel for dinner together this evening.

Day 16 - Homeward bound

After an early breakfast this morning, we leave our wonderful hotel and transfer to Delhi airport for our direct flight to London Heathrow.

As our incredible Indian holiday comes to an end, we can begin to recall the many fantastic highlights of our trip. We uncovered the history of Delhi through its impressive architecture and bustling bazaars before travelling through the foothills of the Himalayas on the charming 'Toy Train' to the colonial retreat of Shimla.

Boarding the evocative carriages of the Deccan Odyssey we enjoyed impeccable service as we discovered India's best spots in style. From the wildlife-rich wilderness of Ranthambore National Park to the 'Pink City' of Jaipur, we journeyed to Agra and its iconic Taj Mahal. The ancient forts and temples of Gwalior, Orchha and Khajuraho demonstrated the brilliance of historic architecture, before we arrived in majestic Varanasi to witness the spirituality of life on the Ganges.

Arriving back in London, we say a fond farewell to our Tour Manager and fellow travellers, with whom we have shared these unforgettable experiences.

Additional information

Visa requirements
Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

Oberoi Maidens Hotel

Oberoi Maidens Hotel, Delhi

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The Oberoi Cecil Hotel, Shimla

The Oberoi Cecil Hotel, Shimla

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Trains

Deccan Odyssey
Shatabdi Express
Toy Train

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