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India's Golden Triangle

Do hope you will join our TOFF (Trips for Older Females & Fellows) holiday in INDIA on 30 JANUARY 2014. The cost is £1,995 and the supplement for single occupancy throughout is £695 (but we hope you can find a mate to share with or let me know and I will do my best to pair you up with another good friend.

We shall be travelling with Great Rail Journeys and, as you see below, it is a really exciting programme and will also give you some winter sun. There are a couple of free days and we hope to be able to arrange an optional game drive on one of those days to see big game including tigers.

PLACES ARE LIMITED, SO PLEASE CONFIRM YOUR INTEREST AS SOON AS POSSIBLE by emailing Carlie Newman, TOFF: carlie.newman@hotmail.co.uk

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • New and Old Delhi
  • Toy Train rail journey
  • Shimla and the Shivalik Himalaya
  • The Taj Mahal
  • Agra Fort
  • Fatehpur Sikri
  • The Pink City of Jaipur
  • Amber Fort
  • The Palace of the Winds


Days 1-2 - Fly to Delhi    
   
 
 
We depart London on our overnight flight to Delhi, arriving late morning on Day 2. Delhi is one of India's most colourful and exciting metropolises. A major cultural, political and commercial centre, the old and new cities exist harmoniously together. This afternoon we embark upon an enlightening sightseeing tour exploring the wide, leafy avenues and admire the impressive British colonial architecture of New Delhi. Our tour includes India Gate war memorial with some resemblance to the Arc de Triomphe, and the grandiose Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the Indian president. We also see Humayun's Tomb and Qutab Minar, India's tallest stone tower built by Qutub-uddin Aibak in 1199. We spend the night at the Sheraton New Delhi Hotel, close to South Delhi's city centre. (Day 1-D; Day 2-B,L,D)


Day 3 - By train to Shimla    
   
This morning we leave Delhi behind and travel to the mountain resort of Shimla. We make the journey by train, travelling first aboard the Shatabdi Express which takes us north to Kalka. On arrival we change trains, boarding the narrow-gauge Toy Train, for an exciting journey through mountain landscapes to Shimla. The journey on the Toy Train, which has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status, climbs 4,800 feet in almost five hours, which gives you chance to absorb the beautiful views of the passing scenery. The train snakes its way through cedar and pine forests, passing pear and pomegranate orchards as we climb into the misty peaks of the lush green Himalayan foothills. The narrow-gauge railway covers 96 kilometres, with stunning feats of engineering found around every corner of track. The train crosses more than 800 bridges and viaducts and travels through 102 tunnels, through beautiful valleys and hills to the colonial town of Shimla. Affectionately known as the 'Queen of the Hills', Shimla is nestled in the heart of the Himalayan foothills. The city is a former summer resort, where wealthy colonial residents escaped the sweltering heat of the plains by heading for the mountains, which provided both cooler conditions and a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of Indian life. In the mid-19th century the town was chosen as the summer capital of the British Raj. Our hotel for the next three nights in Shimla is the beautiful 5-star Oberoi Cecil. (B,L,D)


Days 4-5 - Shimla
   
   
We begin our exploration of Shimla with a sightseeing tour. Whilst the main streets are on a level ridge, many of the town's houses are sprinkled colourfully across the steep mountainsides. Today the colonial heritage is preserved in the town's architecture. Our tour of Shimla takes us to the Viceregal Lodge, a majestic, grey-hued structure ringed by tall pines. The 19th century Elizabethan-style mansion is the most impressive colonial building in Shimla and was the summer seat of the viceroys until the 1940s. It is the only building in Shimla to occupy a hill by itself. Our afternoon is taken at a gentle pace. A leisurely stroll along the Mall takes us past the town's Gaiety Theatre, the Victorian-Gothic Christ Church and Scandal Point, the town's popular social meeting place, so-called because it was where traditionally people would meet to gossip. On Day 5 you are free to explore at your leisure. This provides you with a great opportunity to travel further into the Himalayan foothills, and you can enjoy majestic views towards the higher, snow-capped mountain peaks of the world's tallest mountain range. Alternatively you could explore Shimla further, visiting Wildflower Hall, a former residence of Lord Kitchener. (Day 4-B,L,D; Day 5-B,D)


Day 6 - By train to Delhi    
   
We depart Shimla in the morning, with another journey on the scenic Toy Train. We travel back down the mountains through stunning landscapes, tunnels and lush green valleys to Kalka. Here we join the mainline, boarding the Shatabdi Express to Delhi where we spend another night at the Sheraton New Delhi Hotel. (B,L,D)


Day 7 - Exploring Old Delhi    
   
This morning we visit fascinating and colourful Old Delhi. We take an intriguing rickshaw ride through the narrow streets of Delhi's bazaar - which gives us an incredible and authentic insight into the real, everyday lives of the millions of people who live in the city. As your rickshaw travels towards Chandi Chowk, you will be immersed in real India - surrounded by people, sounds and smells as we squeeze past vegetable carts and impromptu market stalls, avoiding delivery men carrying boxes on their heads. We duck underneath Sari displays and ride through the fragrant steam of street-side food stands and restaurants. We visit the Jama Masjid - the largest mosque in India. We also see Raj Ghat, a simple but moving memorial to Mahandas Gandhi, "the father of the Nation", and pass Delhi's Red Fort. (B,D)


Day 8 - The Taj Mahal and Agra Fort    
   
We join the southbound Shatabdi 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 overlooking the Taj Mahal, the mausoleum he built to his wife Mumtaz Mahal. We then travel across the city to the Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world, considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, combining elements from Persian, Turkish, Indian, and Islamic architectural styles. The building is one of the most recognisable landmarks in the world and the most famous sight in India. It stands on the banks of the Yamuna River in vast gardens which cover approximately 17 hectares - every bit beautifully sculptured and immaculately manicured - laid out to provide perfect symmetry in the same way as the Taj Mahal itself. Every part of the Taj Mahal experience is magical, from the very first glimpse of the white marble through the Agra haze as you approach, to the moment you leave in the twilight after watching the sun set behind the marble domes. Following our visit to the Taj Mahal, we transfer to the 5-star Mughal Sheraton for the night. (B,D)


Day 9 - Fatehpur Sikri    
   
We depart Agra by coach along the newly built Agra to Jaipur highway. Our first stop is 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 thanks to favourable weather conditions and due to it being built and then abandoned only a few years later. After a guided tour, you are free to explore, strolling through the empty, ghostly buildings of this ancient Mughal city. The empty city feels like a museum dedicated to 16th century India and is completely free from the adornments and hustle and bustle of modern cities. Among the incredible sights in this once powerful and religious city is Akbar's Grand Mosque - the gateway for which is simply jaw-dropping. We enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before continuing north to Jaipur, close to the Thar desert. We spend the next three nights at the 5-star Sheraton Rajputana Palace. (B,L,D)


Day 10 - Jaipur    
   
We begin our stay in the 'Pink City' of Jaipur with an exciting sightseeing tour. We head to the grand City Palace, home to the current Maharaja of Jaipur. The ornate building was completed in 1728, and is now enclosed by high walls and set in fine gardens. We also see the unique early 18th century Astronomical Observatory and immerse ourselves in the unique sights, sounds and smells of the colourful Jaipur market. (B,D)


Day 11 - At leisure in Jaipur    
   
Today you are free to further explore this wonderful city, take advantage of the hotel's many facilities or relax in the extensive grounds. Alternatively, you may wish to visit the Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing, a small textile museum dedicated to this ancient craft of hand block painting, or Jawahar Kala Kendra, an arts and crafts centre, built in 1986 to provide space to the cultural and spiritual values of India and display the rich craft heritage. Alternatively take a rickshaw to the Monkey Temple (Galwar Bagh). (B,D)


Day 12 - The Amber Fort then return to Delhi    
   
This morning we travel past the beautiful Jal Mahal water palace, located in the middle of Man Sagar Lake. The palace offers a good photo opportunity, although you will not be able to take pictures of the first three floors, which are built below the waterline. We then continue to the Aravali Hills on the outskirts of Jaipur to visit the Amber Fort. Located high on a hillside, the fort's imposing façade hides an intricate and beautiful interior. To reach the fort we board the most unusual and environmentally friendly form of transport on the tour - painted elephants - for a short but unforgettable journey to the gates of the fort. We have chance to explore some of the ornate rooms within the palace complex before we continue our tour driving past the Palace of the Winds. The red and pink sandstone Palace is an ornate and elaborate building which has carved balconies from which the royal ladies, who were normally confined to their quarters, could view the outside world without being seen. Your afternoon is free before we board the evening train to Delhi for a final night at the Sheraton New Delhi Hotel. (B,D)


Day 13 - Return home    
   
We transfer mid-morning to Delhi Airport for our daytime return flight to London, arriving at Heathrow late in the afternoon. (B)

B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

These meals, where shown, are included in the price of your holiday

     
     
     

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