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Taj, Tigers & The Himalayan Magic!!

Day 01: Arrival / Delhi

Late night arrival. Meeting and assistance upon arrival as our representatives welcome you and escort you to your car. Whilst the room keys and check-in is organized, our representative would introduce the tour to you and hand over the documents to you.

Welcome to India, or as we say ‘atithi devo bhava’ (the guest is an incarnation of God). Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you!!

Overnight at The Connaught – 4* Downtown Hotel (Standard Room)

Day 02: Delhi

India Gate, DelhiFollowing a leisurely breakfast, we proceed on a guided tour of New Delhi, Visiting such sights as Bahai Temple, Humayun’s Tomb (1586) , the Qutab Minar 72 meters high and one of the most perfect towers in the Persian world.  The Iron Pillar which has survived the vagaries of weather for over 1500 years.  Continue with a drive through Embassy area, the Government buildings (1921-1930) and Connaught Place, the heart and main shopping district of the capital.

Late afternoon we cross the city and into the walled gates of the Old city with visits to the Jama Mosque (1650) and drive through the fabled area of Chandni Chowk (aptly translates to Moonlight Square) where the throngs of shoppers and vendors meet in the oldest area of Delhi. Visit the Red Fort (1639-1648 built by Shah Jehan the builder of the Taj Mahal in Agra) to view the inlaid and carved Royal Chambers, on to Raj Ghat and nearby ghats where the founder of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi and thereafter Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were cremated.
Qutab Minar, Delhi
The highlight of this tour would be a ride on cycle rickshaws. Now these are 3-wheel cycles with a sofa seat at the back. The Rickshawalla (Rickshaw driver) sits on a small cushion in the front and two passengers on the sofa seat behind. This is a remarkable way to explore and picture the hustle and bustle as well as the colour of the narrow winding streets bursting with people and pavement shops selling wares of all description - including a laughing set of dentures. The ride would be accompanied by peals of laughter both from the passengers as well as the onlookers.

Home Visit & A Welcome Dinner with an Indian Family: This evening we would visit an Indian family for an Indian home experience. The evening is designed to give you a ‘feel’ and insight into Indian family life as well as experience typical Indian hospitality and home made Indian food.

Overnight at The Connaught – 4* Downtown Hotel (Standard Room)

 Day 03: Delhi / Ranthambhore (Golden Temple Mail – 0750 / 1315 Hours)

Morning transfer to the train station to board your train to Ranthambhore

Upon arrival check in to Pugmark – A Wildlife Resort

Afternoon jungle excursion in open top vehicle (Subject to train arriving on time)

Overnight at Pugmark – A Wildlife Resort

 

Day 04: Ranthambhore

Morning & evening Jungle excursions in open top vehicle. Ranthambhore is known to have India's Friendliest tigers Assured of protection; these nocturnal creatures are seen often in the day. Sprawled on the Aravalli and Vindhya ranges of Rajasthan, Ranthambhore National Park encompasses an area of 410 Sq. km. in which lives a healthy population of about 40 tigers. A large number of deer inhabit the area and leopards are occasionally sighted. The Pandam Taloa lake, located adjacent to the Jogi Mahal hunting lodge, is the park's favorite water source. Smaller pools at Raj Bagh and Milak also attract a variety of wild life The best way to explore Ranthambore is in open top vans as the park is well connected by arterial roads and tracks. Some of the popular sighting areas are Nal Ghati , Lahpur , ,Bakuala , Anantpur and the Kachida valley . Mammals: Tiger, Panther, Hyena, Jackal, Jungle Cat, Caracal, Sloth Bear, Sambar, Chital, Nilgai, Wild Boar, Chinkara, Indian hare mongoose. Birds: Bonelli's eagle, crested serpent eagle, great Indian horned owl, grey partridge sandgrouse, quail, spurfowl, common peafowl, tree pie, paradise flycatcher, pheasant tailed jacana, painted stork, black stork, spoonbill, green pigeon, ducks.

Overnight at Pugmark – A Wildlife Resort

Day 05: Ranthambhore / Fatehpur Sikri / Agra (270 Kms)

Morning Jungle excursion in open top vehicle

After breakfast, we will drive to Agra stopping at Fatehpur Sikri (ghost capital) for a tour of these magnificent and world heritage buildings, which are still in a state of perfect reservation. The city is divided into religious and secular sections. The profusion of sculpture is breathtaking. Also, the white marble mosque in the secular section is incredible. It is a very sacred mosque and pilgrims from far and near arrives here to pay their respects. From here we continur our drive to Agra

Upon arrival check into hotel Howard Park Plaza

Rest of the day is at leisure for your independent activies

Overnight at Howard Park Plaza (Standard Room)

Day 06: Agra / Delhi (205 Kms) 

Agra is the city of the Taj Mahal, perhaps the most photographed monument in the world. However, there is a degree of enigma about the Taj. Once you hear about a building so much and once you see so many pictures of a building your expectations are real high; and this is the enigma about the Taj Mahal. No matter how many pictures you have seen or no matter how high your expectations are the Taj never lets you down - the unparalleled glory and beauty of the building surpasses beyond all human imaginations. At sunrise we visit one of the greatest sights of one’s lifetime - the Taj Mahal at sunrise. Before departure for the monument we shall be served tea/coffee and cookies so that our eyes open real wide to behold this breathtaking sight. A dawn visit to the fabled Taj Mahal to witness the magical effects caused by the reflections of the changing colours of the rising Sun on this brilliant white marble building. Later we return back to our hotel for breakfast.

After a leisurely breakfast, we ride to the massive Agra Fort. The elegant buildings inside reflect an interesting synthesis of Hindu and Central Asian architectural styles. Built by Emperor Akbar, the maze of the courtyards, mosques & private chambers of the fort echo the story of the Mughal Empire. The Moti Masjid & other magnificent buildings reflect the skill of the ancient Indian architects.

After the tour of Agra Fort we will drive to Delhi along one of the India’s finest freeways.

Upon arrival check into your hotel The Connaught

Overnight at The Connaught – 4* Downtown Hotel (Standard Room)

 Day 07:   Delhi / Bagdogra (DN 629 – 1100 / 1440 Hrs)
                                    Bagdogra / Darjeeling (Drive)

Morning, we will drive to Delhi airport to board your flight to Bagdogra

 Meeting & assistance upon arrival and drive to Darjeeling. Enroute we stop at the Kurseong Tourist Centre for a refreshing cup of the famous Darjeeling tea.

This evening is at leisure. Darjeeling offers plenty of options for walking. Of special mention is the circular  walk around the Observatory Hill for breathtaking scenes of natural beauty of the Himalayas and the city below. The shopping options of Darjeeling are revealed once you visit some of the curio shops along Nehru Road. All things Himalayan are sold here—‘thankas’ (paintings), brass statues, religious objects, jewellery, woodcarvings, woven fabrics, carpets etc. However, bargaining is the order of the day, so be prepare to jostle with the shopkeepers. 

Overnight at Hotel Windamere

 Day 08: Darjeeling

An early morning drive to Tiger Hill for a breathtaking dawn view over Kanchanjunga and other eastern Himalayan peaks is a fantastic experience. On your way back you may visit the Ghoom monastery, which is the oldest and the most famous monastery in Darjeeling. It enshrines an image of the Maitreya Buddha (the coming Buddha).

We would have an opportunity to ride on the exquisite Toy train from Ghoom to Darjeeling – a truly fascinating experience as the train clinges on to the hills

We return to our hotel; for breakfast following which we tour the city. Darjeeling has some very fascinating places of interest. The Botanical Gardens that contain a representative collection of Himalayan plants, flower and orchids. The hot houses are very interesting. The Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre established in 1959 to help rehabilitate Tibetan refugees who fled from Tibet produces superb carpets, woolens, wood carvings and leather work. You could walk through the workshops and observe the work in progress. The weaving and dyeing shops and the woodcarving shop are particularly interesting and the workers, very friendly - the women have very beautiful and expressive features. The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute set up to train mountaineers, also has a museum containing an interesting collection of historic mountaineering equipment, specimens of Himalayan flora and fauna and relief model of the Himalayas. Another must in Darjeeling is a visit to the Happy Valley Tea garden. Here tea is still produced by the ‘ orthodox’ method as opposed to the ‘curling, tearing and crushing’ (CTC) method adopted in the plains. The process is a fascinating one to observe with possibilities of lots of good pictures

Overnight at Hotel Windamere

Day 09: Darjeeling / Pemayangtse

After an early breakfast we drive to Pemayangtse with packed lunches. One reaches Pemayangtse only through one of the most incredibly beautiful journies in the world. The views afforded by the journey itself is worth the effort.  We would have opportunities to stop a few times, walk through the countryside, enjoy the enchanting beauty of the place and interact with the natives through our guide.

Overnight at Hotel Norbu Gang Resort

Day 10: Pemayangtse
 
The views of snow capped Himalayan range is unbelievable. One has to just draw the curtains of one’s bedroom and lo behold! You could almost touch the range. Even the shadows of the great peaks are clearly visible. Sunrise here is soul stirring! The reflections of the rising Sun on the snow capped peaks is magical and cannot be duplicated in words. We also visit the Pemayangtse monastery, which is the second oldest monastery in Sikkim and belongs to the Tantric –Nyingma—Pa sect established by an Indian teacher. The sects monasteries are characterised by a prominent image of the teacher along with two female consorts, and this monastery is the head of all others in Sikkim. The sect followers wear red caps. We would also visit the peaceful and tranquil Khechipalri Lake.

Overnight at Hotel Norbu Gang Resort

Day 11: Pemayantse / Martham Village Resort

After leisurely breakfast, a spectacular journey, mostly down hill on undulating roads with hair pin bends caressing the mighty Himalayas, through tremendous landscapes of terraced fields on the slopes of the Himalayas, swiftly flowing Teesta river down the valley and wild banana plantations as well as through quaint Sikkimese villages bring us to Martham

Upon Arrival, Check into the Martam Village Resort. Described as 'paradise on earth', a holiday in Martam Village Resort is a unique experience. Situated in the breathtaking and tranquil countryside of East Sikkim in the foot hills of the mighty Himalayas, the resort overlooks a beautiful valley of rice terraced fields, bounded by forest covered hills. The accommodation is ethnic in seven thatched cottages built in traditional Sikkimese style to blend with the surrounding villages. The cottages have twin bedded rooms with large picture window framing the countryside. Each room has attached bath room with all modern western facilities.. The attractive and excellent restaurant has a cosy dinning hall and bar serving delicious cuisines, including local Sikkimese food and drinks. One can also experience the traditional herbal bath, watch folk dances of Sikkim and visit the witch doctor. Being next to nowhere, but for nature, Martam Village Resort is the perfect location for visitors who love nature or adventure and for those seeking peace and relaxation. It would be a wonderful idea to visit some ethnic Sikkimese villages untouched by civilisation and enjoy the fabled Sikkimese hospitality.

Overnight at Martham Village Resort

Day 12:  Martham / Rumtek / Martham

Morning at leisure for nature walks or visits to nearby Himalayan villages untouched by modern times.

Afternoon, we visit the world famous Rumtek The original monastery was built by a ruler of Sikkim. However, a new monastery replicating the former one was built in the 16th century. Thus, though the monastery is new, it enshrines all that is best in traditional Tibetan monastic architecture. When seen in the clear light of Sikkim, this magnificent building with its red pillars, brilliantly painted fretwork and superbly glowing murals glitters like a jewel set in the green hills

Day 13:  Martham / Gangtok / Martham

 A leisurely breakfast and then a full day excursion of Gangtok. The 24 km drive is in itself a fantastic drive through paradise. Changing vistas of mountains unfold at every bend and there are delighted vignettes of the hamlets and fields of the people of rural Sikkim.

The capital of the Sikkim State, Gangtok occupies the West Side of a long ridge flanking the Ranipool River. The scenery is spectacular and there are excellent views of the entire Kanchanjunga range from many points in the vicinity. We first visit the Tsuk- la -Khang chapel. It is the Buddhist principal place of worship and assembly and the repository of a large collection of scriptures. It is a beautiful and impressive building, its interior covered with murals. Lavishly decorated altars hold images of the Buddha, bodhisattavas, and tantric deities. There are also several interesting wooden carvings. The Namgyalk Institute of Tibetology. Established in the 1958 this unique monastery built in a traditional style promotes research on the language and traditions of Tibet, as well as on Mahayana Buddhism. Next week we visit the Orchid Sanctuary close to the Institute. Enclosed by a peaceful forest, the orchid sanctuary has a majority of 454 species of orchids found in Sikkim a kilometre away is a huge white chorten with a golden apex. Next to it is a monastery for young lamas with a shrine containing a huge image of an Indian teacher of Buddhism in Tibet. The Institute of Cottage Industries specialises in producing hand-woven carpets, blankets, shawls, Leapcha weaves, patterned decorative paper and Choktse tables, exquisitely carved in relief.

Overnight At Hotel Martham Village Resort

Day 14:  Martham / Bagdogra
  Bagdogra / Delhi (DN 629– 1515 / 1715 Hrs)
      
Following a leisurely breakfast, we bid farewell to the Himalayas and drive to Bagdogra airport to connect our flight to Delhi.

Meeting & assistance upon arrival in Delhi and transfer to hotel The Connaught

Overnight at The Connaught – 4* Downtown Hotel (Standard Room)

Day 15: Delhi / Departure

Transfer to the international airport to board a flight back home

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