India's Golden Triangle
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 day with an informative talk from our expert guest speaker, Raaja Bhasin*, before our exploration of Shimla continues with a sightseeing tour that takes in much of the local colonial heritage. We begin at the Viceregal Lodge, the summer seat of the viceroys until the 1940s and we continue to the Sankat Mochan Temple.
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. 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).
*Please note: Dates and times of our guest speakers lectures may be subject to change and their availability.
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, arriving late in the early evening.
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.
Please note: This tour may be suitable for reduced mobility passengers, please call for further information.
of travellers would recommend this tour
based on 30 verified reviews
First time with Great Rail Journey as my usual single provider could only get me to Shimla as an add on and on my own. Have no interest in going to Rathambore for the tigers as I can see them at Chessington. Taj Mahal has been on a 50 year To Do list. Face timed with an Indian gentleman with his wife and 6 week old son. She was delighted when I came on the phone with a Namaste.
Well organised well informed. Ivan the tour manager was fantastic. Hemms the local guide was full of knowledge and kept us well informed. All tours throughout were fantastic and made the holiday.
Excellent organisation - nothing left to chance. Hectic schedule but some ‘downtime’ allowed. First visit to India and we certainly saw many sights (and sites)
Outstanding in every way. it was everything that I hoped for. We will be booking for next year for the Grand Tour taking in Nepal and Amritsar.
Enjoyed the itinerary, train travel and accommodations. Tour manager very good. Our luggage didn’t arrive for 6 days. The efforts of the local guide and Taj Palace staff were above and beyond.
Mostly well organised few blips but in general excellent
First class travel, hotels and guides
It was an excellent holiday. We met lots of lovely people on the tour. The tour guide was excellent. All went well for my first trip to India.
ALways wanted to visit India And the tour lived up to expectation.
5-Star Indian rail tour