In the Foothills of the Himalaya
|Resort:||In the Foothills of the Himalaya|
Taking you to the iconic temples and hill stations of Northern India, this tour is perfect if youre looking for something a little off the beaten path. Discover the sacred spiritual centres of Amritsar (home of the Golden Temple, Sikhisms holiest shrine) and Dharamshala. Listen for echoes of empire in Shimla and Delhi, the summer and winter capitals of the British Raj. And marvel at the spectacular scenery of the forest-cloaked Himalayan foothills.
10 excursions and visits
Day 1 UK – In flight
Titans VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home for your overnight flight to Delhi.
Day 2 Delhi
Arrive in Delhi, with some time at leisure.
Day 3 Amritsar
We fly to Amritsar, and transfer to our hotel for some time to relax. This evening, we experience one of the great traditions of the city, the putting to bed (Palki) ceremony. Twice a day, the holy book of the Sikh faith, the Granth Sahib, is moved in a grand procession from a dedicated chamber in the Sikh Parliament to the Golden Temple, and back again. This daily ritual is really something to behold, hinting at the tremendous spirituality of Amritsar.
Day 4 Amritsar
We return to the Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of Sikhism. At its heart, set within a sacred pool, is the Hari Mandir (Divine Temple). This gold-plated architectural jewel is topped with intricate spires and cupolas, and decorated inside and out with verses from the Granth Sahib. Well explore the vast temple complex, including community kitchens which provide free meals to 10,000 pilgrims and the poor every day. Afterwards, we head out to walk the busy bazaars of the city and visit the historic Jallianwala Bagh. We also take some time to admire the Durgiana Hindu temple, which takes its inspiration from the Golden Temple.
An afternoon excursion to the India/Pakistan border town of Wagah showcases the pomp and pageantry of the Lowering of the Flag ceremony. Since 1959, armies flaunt their might from each side of the border with a stern display of battle call, foot stomping, marching and national anthems, before the national flags are lowered and the gates are slammed shut for the night.
Day 5 Dharamshala
From Amritsar, we drive the 130-odd miles to Dharamshala, a small hill station surrounded on three sides by snow-capped peaks. This delightful town owes its fame (and its nickname, the little Lhasa of India) to one particular resident, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who chose it as a place of spiritual exile in 1960.
Day 6 Dharamshala
A morning sightseeing tour of Dharamshala includes the residence of the Dalai Lama and the Norbulingka Institute, a registered trust dedicated to the preservation of Tibetan culture in art and literature. We also visit the nearby Tibetan Childrens Village, a boarding school at which orphans are provided with a Tibetan education, clothes, food and healthcare.
Day 7 Pragpur
A mornings drive takes us to the ornamental heritage village of Pragpur by way of a tea plantation and tea factory, where we learn about the plucking and processing of Kangra tea.
In the afternoon, a walking tour of Pragpurs cobbled streets, lined with richly decorated buildings, offers a glimpse of the villages regal past. Our hotel, a splendid country mansion surrounded by orchards, is also a delight to explore.
Day 8 Shimla
The next destination on our Himalayan holidays is Shimla, Queen of the Hills and the summer capital during British rule in India. In this idyllic retreat, 2,200m above sea level, temperatures averaged 15 to 20 degrees cooler than Delhi and the baking hot plains. Its an idyllic retreat, surrounded by pine, deodar, oak and rhododendron forests and criss-crossed by mountain streams – and all set against a backdrop of the snow-capped Himalayas.
Day 9 Shimla
Echoes of empire still abound in Shimla, in its churches, libraries and grand colonial edifices. Our first full day here begins with a walking tour, including a visit to the Jakhu Temple dedicated to Hanuman, the heroic Hindu monkey god.
Day 10 Shimla
A further day at leisure to relax in the beautiful surroundings of Shimla.
Day 11 Kalka – Delhi
A scenic rail journey aboard the Himalayan Toy Train transports us from Shimla through the Shivalik ranges to the delightful hill town of Kandaghat, where we take a break before heading to Kalka railway station to board the Shatabdi Express, bound for Delhi.
Day 12 Delhi
Well take in the best of Delhi, Old and New, from the hand-carved 12th-century Qutab Minar minaret and the garden-tomb of Emperor Humayun, to the Hindu Birla Temple and the grand avenues and government buildings of Lutyens New Delhi. We also visit Raj Ghat, the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, and the 17th-century Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India.
Day 13 Delhi – UK
Transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK. Upon arrival, your Titan vehicle will be waiting for the journey home.