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The Maharajas' Express

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16 days From £10,495 £9,995 per person

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Journey aboard the luxurious Maharajas’ Express, to India’s ancient cities, sacred temples and palaces.

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Save £200pp on all Worldwide holidays, when you book by 10th May 2024.

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Mobility Rating 2

2024 Tour code: MHJ24

About the tour

Retrace the steps of Indian princes, aboard the luxurious Maharajas' Express, travelling to India's ancient cities, sacred temples and fortress palaces. Our holiday starts and ends in vibrant Delhi, we visit the colonial hill-town of Shimla, Punjab's world-renowned Golden Temple, the Pink City of Jaipur and the Ranthambore National Park.

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Unforgettable experiences

The Maharajas' Express
The Maharajas' Express
Journey in elegance and style on one of the world’s most luxurious trains - The Maharajas’ Express. The tasteful décor is inspired by the carriages of Indian royalty, with an excellent standard of cuisine and impeccable service.
Toy Train
Toy Train
Travel on the UNESCO-listed Shivalik Express, affectionately known as the Toy Train. We travel through lush valleys to the Himalayan foot-hills, up to Shimla - once a colonial hill-station and summer retreat.
Ranthambore National Park
Ranthambore National Park
Experience Ranthambore National Park on an early morning game drive, hoping to see a beautiful Bengal tiger in its natural habitat. Once the private hunting grounds of the Maharajas, Ranthambore has been a national park since 1973.
Amritsar
Amritsar
Visit The Golden Temple, the spiritual centre of the Sikh faith. A glis-tening edifice of white marble and copper with a golden dome - its kitchen feeds thousands of people each day.
Amber Fort
Amber Fort
Discover the captivating pink city of Jaipur and the magnificent Amber Fort – a beautiful example of Hindu and Mughal architecture, in red sandstone and white marble.

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - London to Delhi

We depart London Heathrow on our flight to Delhi, arriving in the Indian capital on the morning of Day 2.

Day 2 - Delhi

After arriving in Delhi this morning, we transfer to our hotel.

Delhi is one of India's most colourful and exciting cities, where the old and new exist harmoniously. The British moved the seat of their empire from Kolkata to Delhi and it has been the Capital of India ever since. The seat of many powerful empires in the past, its long history can be traced in its many careful-ly-preserved monuments, ancient forts and tombs. This afternoon, immerse yourself in this vibrant metropolis with some free time, or maybe relax at the hotel after your journey. This evening we dine at our hotel.

Day 3 - The Toy Train to Shimla

We leave Delhi this morning on the Shatabdi Express to Kalka. Here we board the UNESCO-listed, narrow-gauge 'Himalayan Queen', also affectionately referred to as the Toy Train. Covering a journey of 60 miles, we pass through lush green countryside in the Shivalik foothills of the Himalayas, crossing hundreds of bridges and travelling through dozens of tunnels on our way to Shimla. The train moves at a leisurely pace, so there's time to soak in the beautiful scenery as we travel uphill. The mountain town of Shimla was once the summer capital of the British Raj and enjoys a cooler climate than India's bustling cities. On arrival we check into our hotel for two nights where we dine this evening.

Day 4 - Shimla

Our day begins with an informative talk from expert guest speaker, author and historian Raaja Bhasin, whose spellbinding stories of his home town bring to life the history of Shimla. Our exploration of Shimla continues with a sightseeing tour that takes in much of its colonial heritage. We start at the Viceregal Lodge, the summer seat of the viceroys until the 1940s, and historic location where the partition of India into two parts - India and Pakistan - was planned on the world map. The building is now used by Indian scholars. We also visit the Him Chatterjee Art Gallery to see the work of this talented artist and Professor of Visual Arts, known for his vibrant paintings. We enjoy lunch at a colonial hotel on Shimla's famous Mall, a street lined with interesting craft shops. On our walk back to our hotel we see the mock-Tudor landmark, Scandal Point. It may also be possible to have a quick look inside the Gaiety Theatre or visit Christ Church, one the oldest churches in North India, built by the British in 1857 to serve the large Anglican British community. The rest of your evening is free before dinner at the hotel.

Day 5 - Amritsar

After a leisurely morning we are transferred to Chandigarh Railway Station where we board our train for Amritsar. On arrival into Amritsar this evening we are transferred to our hotel for the next two nights. We are now in the state of Punjab, and Amritsar is one of the holiest centres for the Sikh religion. Here you can visit the Golden Temple, inside which is one of the largest community kitchens of the world, feeding thousands of people every day. We check into our hotel for a two night stay.

Day 6 - Amritsar

After a free morning, we witness the changing of the guard ceremony at the Wagah Border, 18 miles away, between India and Pakistan. This daily activity attracts many visitors for the impressive great degree of skill and precision shown by the border security forces of both countries. We return to our hotel for dinner, after which you have the opportunity to experience the devotional Palki ceremony at the Golden Temple, a beautiful spiritual event.

Day 7 - Old Amristar, the Golden Temple and Delhi

This morning we take a Heritage Walk through the narrow lanes of Old Amritsar on our way to the Golden Temple. We see the shrine built in honour of 21 Sikh soldiers who fought for the British against the Afghans. We walk through interesting markets, learn about the Sikh religion and catch glimpses of local life. We then reach the Golden Temple, the spiritual centre of the Sikh faith. Also called Harmandir, the temple is made of white marble and copper gilt with a dome covered with gold leaf. We continue to Jallianwala Bagh, a sombre memorial of one of the darkest events in Indian history when British troops opened fire on unarmed and peaceful celebrators gathered in a walled park on Punjabi New Year. We check out of our hotel after lunch to board the train for Delhi where we arrive late this evening for two more nights.

Day 8 - Old Delhi

Today is dedicated to exploring the fascinating history, architecture and culture of Old Delhi. We visit the World Heritage Site, Qutub Minar, an exquisite minaret and a masterpiece of Mughal architecture, then walk through the tranquil Archaeological Park, seeing monuments from many different eras. We visit the Gandhi Simitri, a museum dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi, then drive past India Gate, the Parliament Complex and the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the President's residence. We walk through Sunder Nursery, a 16th century heritage park and Delhi's first arboretum, then wander through Old Delhi town, experiencing wafting aromas and local culture, to the Jama Masjid mosque. After an exciting rickshaw ride in bustling Chadni Chowk, our day ends in the wonderful ethnic ambience of Haveli Dharampura, where we enjoy a divine dinner, artfully prepared by seven-course chefs - combining Modern Indian and rich Mughal cuisine.

Day 9 – The Maharajas’ Express

This morning we enjoy a warm musical welcome as we board one of the world's most luxurious trains, The Maharajas' Express. This sumptuous train recreates the lifestyle of a princely era, the time of the Maharajas. Leaving Delhi, we settle into our elegant cabins for a six night journey into ever-changing scenery. Our journey takes us through the iridescent lands of Jaipur to the vibrant green wilderness of Ranthambore National Park as we discover ancient capitals and sacred cities, the timeless Taj Mahal and temples of Varanasi, on the River Ganges. Our first stop is Jaipur this afternoon, where we visit the City Palace galleries, including the Textile Museum, the Arts Museum and Arms Museum. We enjoy an exclusive dinner at the beautiful Rambagh Palace Hotel, once the residence of the Maharaja of Jaipur. After dinner we return to our comfortable cabins aboard the Maharajas' Express.

Day 10 – Jaipur & the Amber Fort

After breakfast on board, we visit Jaipur's glorious Amber Fort. Set in picturesque and rugged hills this fort palace is a fascinating blend of Hindu and Mughal architecture, constructed of red sand stone and white marble. The rugged exterior hides an inner paradise with a beautiful fusion of art and architecture. Step back into the Mughal era as you enter the Chamber of Mirrors and the Hall of Victory. We return to the train for lunch and this afternoon you may choose from a range of optional activities such as a spa at a hotel or a private guided tour of the city.

Day 11 – Ranthambore National Park and Fatehpur Sikri

Today we experience another highlight of our holiday, an early morning safari to the Ranthambore National Park. Originally the private hunting ground of the Maharajas, Ranthambore was declared a National Park in 1973. Although these beautiful creatures can be elusive, so a sighting can't be guaranteed, it is possible to see a Bengal tiger. The park is also home to wild boar, sloth bear, hyena, jackal and leopard. After our game drive we return to the train for breakfast and continue to the deserted Mughal city of Fatehpur Sikri. Arriving after lunch, we take a guided tour of the fascinating sights - imposing gateways, halls, beautifully sculptured palaces with unusual water features, which blend Hindi and Islamic architectural styles. This deserted red sandstone city is a World Heritage Site, which was built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar as his capital in the late 16th century. Back onboard our train, we enjoy dinner.

Day 12 – Agra and the Taj Mahal

Early this morning we arrive into Agra, home to one of the world's great architectural wonders - the Taj Mahal. This world-renowned palace is an architectural masterpiece, constructed entirely out of white marble with beautiful inlay work and marble screens. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his favourite queen, Mumtaz. Approximately 20,000 of India's most revered craftsmen were recruited to give shape to this poetry in marble. Later we enjoy breakfast with views of the Taj Mahal, from atop the Taj Khema. We return to the train for lunch then have an afternoon at leisure. Optional activities include a spa at a hotel or a visit to Agra Fort. After dinner our train proceeds to Orchha.

Day 13 - Orchha Fort and Khajuraho

We disembark early this morning to visit the quaint village of Orchha to see the Orchha Fort, built in the 1500s by the Bundela rulers, overlooking the Betwa river. We take a short Tuk Tuk ride to experience village life in the hinterland then return to the train for breakfast. We then continue our journey through some of the most dramatic and picturesque landscapes to Khajuraho, renowned for its architecture and exquisite sculptures. Built between 950 and 1050 AD 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. We explore some of the finest examples of Chandela art including the Kandariya Mahadev Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This evening you can choose from optional activities - a Dances of India show, spa facilities at a hotel or a Sound and Light show at the temple complex.

Day 14 – Temple city of Varanasi

Today as we enjoy breakfast on-board, our journey continues through rich agricultural fields, to the holy city of Varanasi. One of the world's oldest living cities, Varanasi has a spiritual legacy of over 3000 years. A place of pilgrimage, this holy city is set on the banks of the sacred river Ganges. Varanasi epitomises the chaos and colour of India with lively bazaars, vibrant silks, festivals, temples, mosques and palaces. Our first stop is for lunch at Hotel Taj Ganges. We then visit the ancient ruins of Sarnath, where Buddha delivered his first sermon. We then take a boat cruise on the Ganges, stopping enroute to visit a Silk Weaving Centre, with a fine collection of Banarasi silk saris and brocades. Our cruise continues and we witness a magical evening aarti - a Hindu puja ceremony - which is performed each evening at the ghats of the holy Ganges. We then return to the comforts of our train and dinner on-board, before continuing our journey back to Delhi.

Day 15 - Return to Delhi

After a leisurely breakfast on board, the magnificent Maharajas' Express train pulls into Delhi Safdarjung Railway Station where we disembark and transfer to our hotel. After some free time to rest or revisit some sights, before making our way to the hotel for dinner.

Day 16 - London

After breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our flight back to London.

Additional information

Departure times

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.

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

Taj Swarna

Taj Swarna, Amritsar

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ITC Maurya Hotel, New Delhi

ITC Maurya Hotel, New Delhi

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The Oberoi Cecil Hotel, Shimla

The Oberoi Cecil Hotel, Shimla

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Trains

Shatabdi Express
The Maharajas' Express
Toy Train

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