Mountains & Mystics
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Some of the highlights included are:
- Experience rural life at a Chamba homestay
- Visit Dharamsala - home to the exiled Dalai Lama
- See the Golden Temple of Amritsar
- Walk pristine mountain trails
- Take a toy train journey through the Himalayan foothills
- Dive into the chaos of Old Delhi
- Stay in a palace of the former Raj in Mandi
- Escape the heat of the plains in Shimla
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- Meals: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 2 dinners
- Accommodation: Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night), Hotel (10 nights), Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
- Transport: Auto rickshaw, Bus, Jeep, Metro, Overnight sleeper train, Private vehicle, Steam train, Train, Van
- Activities: Amritsar - Golden Temple, Amritsar - Jallianwallah Bagh, Amritsar - Wagah Border visit and flag ceremony, Delhi - Jama Masjid, Delhi - Old Delhi walking tour, Delhi - Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple),
- Activities: Dharamsala - Norbulingka Institute guided tour, Mandi - Walking tour, Rishikesh - Walking tour, Shimla - Viceregal Lodge, Shimla - Walking tour
Need to know
- Group size: Min 1, Max 12
- Ages: Min 15
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. India's capital is an exciting, busy, and often chaotic city but it's also one of the most interesting in the world with historical sites from different eras, museums and galleries, shops and endless bazaars! This morning explore the sights and sounds of Old Delhi! Set off on the city's modern metro system, then experience a more traditional form of public transport with a cycle rickshaw ride through bustling streets, like the famous Chandni Chowk. Make a visit to the Jama Masjid, Delhi's oldest mosque and one of its most impressive buildings, then visit the Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) to learn about the Sikh religion.
Leave Delhi by train and head out across the state of Punjab. When you get to Kalka, board the World Heritage-listed 'toy train'. Prepare for a scenic journey as you travel along a railway line which snakes through many tunnels on its spectacular climb to Shimla, the summer capital of India, where the British viceroys would retreat during the monsoon months. Shimla's rolling hills offer an array of nature walks, from gentle to challenging. Head out and explore Mall Road, Shimla's most popular shopping stretch. A viewpoint also offers fantastic views of the Himalayas. Visit the Viceregal Lodge, originally the residence of British Viceroy Lord Dufferin, where the partition agreement that separated India from Pakistan and Bangladesh was drawn up, and discover the extravagance of a Bollywood blockbuster.
Travel by jeep to the small town of Mandi. Situated on the Beas River at a height of 760 metres, Mandi has a rich cultural heritage of both historical and theological significance. It was once part of the salt route to Tibet, today it's the gateway to the Kullu Valley. Head into the centre of town to explore a huge sunken shopping centre, the only one like it in India and the focal point of all entertainment in Mandi. Further out, find hilltop temples with wonderful views. You can spend time hiking in the hills, strolling along the river or checking out the colourful bathing ghats. Stay in the former palace of the Raja of Mandi, which has basic amenities.
Travel by public bus along rough roads to the next Himalayan town, Dharamsala. Famous as the home of the exiled Dalai Lama, this hilltop retreat is full of monasteries, prayer flags and monks in crimson robes. Visit the fascinating Norbulingka Institute, developed to train Tibetan refugees in skills needed to preserve the traditional arts and crafts of Tibet. Its peaceful grounds feature a beautiful temple with some amazing spiritual iconography and ornate statues. Discover workshops for wood carving, metalwork and needlework and a thangka painting school where you can watch intricate pieces being created. The Losel Doll Museum features an exhibit of intricately detailed dolls illustrating the traditional clothing and daily life of the Tibetan people. And take part in a cooking demonstration.
Take a local train down to Amritsar, situated in the heart of the rich fertile plain known as India's breadbasket. Amritsar is the holiest city for the Sikh people and the centre of Sikhism. Tour the sights in a cycle rickshaw. Explore the Golden Temple (Shri Harimandir Sahib), which sits in the middle of a sacred lake surrounded by a marble walkway, and spend time listening to the soothing sounds of the devout chanting verses from the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book. Visit Jallianwala Bagh, the site of the infamous 1919 massacre that played such an important role in the steps to India's independence. Head out to the India-Pakistan border to witness the pomp and circumstance of the daily flag ceremony. We take an overnight sleeper train from Amritsar to Haridwar.
We arrive in Haridwar in the morning, and drive to Rishikesh, where we check in to our local hotel before exploring the surrounds. Aptly named the 'Yoga Capital of the World', Rishikesh is a great place to relax and unwind. As Rishikesh is a holy place on the sacred Ganges river, it is a dry city and alcohol is prohibited. Tonight we camp on the outskirts of Rishikesh in the Rajaji National Park on the banks of the Ganges river. We stay in a fixed campsite with twin shared tents and western toilets. During our time here we take a short jungle walk to nearby waterfalls and caves.
We leave Rishikesh behind and travel to Delhi by train. Transfer from the train station to our hotel in Delhi. There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.