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.
We depart London Heathrow on our flight to Delhi, arriving late morning on Day 2. Delhi is one of India's most colourful and exciting metropolises, where the old and new cities exist harmoniously together. We spend the night at our 5-Star hotel.
We leave Delhi on the Shatabdi Express to Kalka. Here we board the UNESCO-listed narrow-gauge Shivalik Express, which is also affectionately referred to as the 'Toy Train'. Covering a journey of 96km, the train gradually passes through the Shivalik foothills of the Himalayas, passing over 864 bridges and through 102 tunnels on its journey to Shimla. The train moves at a leisurely pace, giving us time to soak in the incredible panorama of the surrounding scenery. Alternatively, you may choose to make the journey by car.
Shimla was 'discovered' by the British in 1817, and was later used as a fashionable retreat from the summer heat thanks to it's lovely temperate climate. In 1684, the Government of India declared Shimla as their official headquarters during the hot season. Because of this, many of the town's buildings are very British in style. We spend three nights at the heritage 5-Star Oberoi Cecil Hotel.
We begin our exploration of Shimla with a sightseeing tour, of the town's colonial heritage. We begin at the Viceregal Lodge, the summer seat of the viceroys until the 1940s.
This afternoon, a leisurely stroll takes us past the town's Gaiety Theatre, the Victorian-Gothic Christ Church and Scandal Point, named thus due to it being a popular social meeting place where people would gather and share gossip.
On Day 5 you are free to explore at leisure. This provides you with a great opportunity to travel further into the Himalayas for majestic views towards the higher, snowcapped mountain peaks of the world's tallest mountain range. Alternatively you could explore more of Shimla, visiting Wildflower Hall, a former residence of Lord Kitchener. Now a hotel, this beautiful building sits amidst a verdant forest with incredible views of the surrounding peaks of the Himalayas
We depart Shimla and return back to Delhi, for two more nights. On Day 7 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. As you travel towards Chandi Chowk, you will be immersed in real India - we visit the Jama Masjid - India's largest mosque, Raj Ghat, a simple but moving memorial to Gandhi, 'the father of the Nation', and pass Delhi's Red Fort.
Later we embark on a sightseeing tour exploring the wide, leafy avenues and impressive colonial architecture of New Delhi. Our tour includes India Gate war memorial, the grandiose Rashtrapati Bhavan, Humayun's Tomb and Qutab Minar, India's tallest stone tower, built in 1199.
We join the southbound Gatimaan Express early this morning to Agra. On arrival we visit Agra's imposing Red Fort, originating from the 15th century and considered India's most important fortification. Built on a hill above Agra, its centrepiece is a tower with a marble balcony where Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan spent his last days imprisoned.
Later we travel across the city to the Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, to visit this marvellous sight. Built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1653 in memory of his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal, this iconic white marble building is a true monument to undying love, and is the world's finest example of Mughal and Persian architecture.
We depart Agra by coach, stopping at Fatehpur Sikri, a perfectly preserved ancient red sandstone city built in the 16th century as India's political capital, but abandoned after only 14 years due to lack of water. Remarkably, the city remains exactly as it was 400 years ago, giving us an excellent insight into how life was during the time of the Mughal Empire. After a guided tour of the empty, ghostly buildings, we continue to Jaipur, for three nights at the 5-Star ITC Hotel Rajputana.
We begin our stay in the 'Pink City' with an exciting sightseeing tour that includes the grand and ornately decorated City Palace, home to the current Maharajah of Jaipur, as well as the unique early 18th century and UNESCO listed Astronomical Observatory and the sights, sounds and smells of colourful Jaipur market.
On Day 11 we travel past the beautiful Jal Mahal water palace, located in the middle of a lake, before heading to the outskirts of Jaipur to visit the Amber Fort. Located high on a hillside, to reach the fort we travel by Jeep. We have the chance to explore some of the ornate rooms within the palace complex before we continue our tour, driving past the Palace of the Winds, a facade built in 1799 so the ladies of the Royal Household could look over the streets below without being seen.
Today we drive back to Delhi, where we spend our final evening. On Day 13, we transfer to the airport for our flight to London, via Abu Dhabi, arriving late in the afternoon.
Selected departures feature a guest speaker on Day 4 at Oberoi Cecil Shimla. We enjoy a talk from Raaja Bhasin for a detailed insight into the town through its people, history and culture. Raaja Bhasin is an acclaimed writer and researcher; most recently he served as history consultant on the Channel 4 series 'Indian Summers'. Born in Shimla, he was written two books on the former British retreat.
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
British Citizens require a visa to enter India. We can help you with visa applications up to 21 days before departure - please see the Visa section of 'Things You Should Know' for further details.
of travellers would recommend this tour
based on 71 verified reviews
Organisation was excellent and the book day was as per my expectationsbfrom the brochure. The tour manager Ian Dobie was also excellent and ensured that everything went smoothly.
To begin with - let me balance some of the negative comments on this thread - if you don't want to see overcrowded roads, dated trains, livestock in the street, poverty, litter, pollution, questionable toilets or people desperately trying to make a living by selling you things - don't go to India. They are all part of it - and part of its charm. If you want to experience a completely different culture which is vibrant, colourful and alive within a safe, professional, seamless structure then choose Great Rail. I can not fault the experience, right from being picked up by the tour manager at Heathrow to picking up the luggage from the carousel on our return. Both the English and Indian guides were courteous, knowledgeable and extremely efficient. Yes we went to a carpet shop, a textile shop and a jewellery store but they fed us and gave really interesting talks. There was no obligation to buy but some did as the products were beautiful! Yes the guides held up products from street sellers when we got onto the bus but they negotiated the best price first! They knew that the price would reduce as we got closer to the coach and constantly advised us on ways to deal with these sellers. These items were not expensive and they clearly support the income of a poor community. One 5 year old boy tried to sell us wooden elephants in 4 languages! Full marks for tenacity! We travelled by train, coach and a fleet of taxis - each providing a different experience and view of this fascinating country. The hotels were comfortable, especially the Oberoi in Shimla which was incredible. The food was good, and again, indian! The itinerary was busy but there was some time to relax and enjoy the hotel pools. India etches itself on your mind - warts and all - I would not hesitate to recommend this holiday.
Overall it was brilliant on many levels but I would have liked to seen more Indian life and one or two less monuments and forts.I think most highlights of the trip came from being in amongst the Indian people such as the rickshaw rides and seeing hand crafts being done. More trips where the group could potentially 'have a go' would have been good.More exposure to local music,dance or traditional practices would have also enhanced the experience. We also missed the opportunity to eat outside or experience restaurants outside hotels. Lastly the packed lunches need replacing with something smaller and more practical. Having said all this,it was still the best holiday we've ever had.It's important to note that this is largely due to the group dynamic and the fantastic UK and local tour guides,Lin and Mahendra.
Very well organized tour. Raj our local tour guide was fantastic Able to offer little extra trips to fill any available free time and seemed to have a contact to make things happen at short notice.
The trip was amazing.....nothing was too much for our Tour Manager Bob Whitworth....he made everything flow smoothly. Hotels were excellent...food amazing and all our trips informative thanks to Dilip our Indian Tour Guide
Excellent organisation and the local guide was extremely knowledgeable and very happy to answer any questions we had. Hotels were very good and transport comfortable.
Everything was perfect from start to finish, met by Ruth at Heathrow and kept well informed throughout. The tour wasn't too tiring and the hotels and food were superb.
It was the holiday of a lifetime, all the hotels were of a high standard, food excellent and the itinerary was fabulous. We only had two minor complaints, the first being that we had to pay for WiFi in two of the hotels and the second was that we had to pay excess baggage when we flew from Delhi to Kerala which we weren’t expecting, and were very upset about. However we would be very happy to use Great Rail Journeys again and would recommend the company to family and friends
Two of the hotels (ITC) we stayed at were not quite up to 5 star standard. The Tour manager and the local guide were excellent and made it a holiday to remember. There was some problem with Virgin Atlantic and seating arrangements on the way home, but was resolved by take-off.
A fantastic holiday...or rather an experience/adventure. It was very well organised and we well catered for. It exceeded our expectations and we saw and experienced many things. Our tour Manager David was excellent as was our local guide Raj. They definitely helped to make it the success it was. It was very tiring though but packed a lot in. I would have liked a little more time to shop! Would definitely recommend the company and tour
5-Star Indian rail tour