Foothills of the Himalayas
Duration: 12 nights part-escorted tour
Price from: £2199pp
Delhi 2 nights
Amritsar 2 nights
Dharamsala 3 nights
Pragpur 2 nights
Shimla 3 nights
Day 1: Fly to Delhi.
Day 2 Delhi: On arrival, transfer to your hotel.
Day 3 Delhi: At leisure, or perhaps take one of the optional tours: breakfast trail, rickshaw ride or, for a bit of adventure, a bicycle ride through Old Delhi’s streets (all additional expense).
Later, visit a duo of UNESCO World Heritage sites. First up is the 16th century Humayun’s Tomb, and then the magnifent 12th century Qutab Minar. This evening, explore the 13th century Hauz Khas Village with its quirky shops, art galleries and restaurants.
Day 4 Delhi/Amritsar: Transfer to the airport for the flight to Amritsar. This afternoon, visit the Golden Temple and spend time in the community kitchen which is manned entirely by volunteers who feed up to 100,000 people every day for free. After dinner, return to the Golden Temple and join the pilgrims to witness the “Going to Bed Ceremony”, where the Sikhs holy book, considered a living master, is taken to its resting place for the night.
Day 5 Amritsar: Visit the Jallianwala Bagh and the Durgiana Temple dedicated to a Hindu goddess but modelled after the Golden Temple. Later, head out to the Wagah Border via Sarai Amanat Khan, a serai (resting place) set up by the legendary calligrapher of the Taj Mahal, Amanat Khan. It is the only place, apart from the Taj Mahal, where you can see Khan’s calligraphy work.
Day 6 Amritsar/Dharamsala: Travel by road to Dharamsala (approx 125 miles/4¼ hours drive). This afternoon, visit the Dalai Lama’s Monastery and participate in Kora, a Tibetan Buddhist ritual of walking around a sacred site in a clockwise direction. Later, take a stroll around Mcleodganj market and its eclectic shops.
Day 7 Dharamsala: Explore the Norbulingka Institute, a beautiful tranquil space resembling a Japanese Garden and with many workshops dedicated to Tibetan art and craft. Continue to the Gyuto Tantric University whose monks specialise in a unique style of chanting where they use their throats for amplification causing an almost hypnotic effect. End the day at Dolma Ling Nunnery to see the nuns debating.
Day 8 Dharamsala: Explore the Kangra Valley, beginning with an audio tour of the Kangra Fort, the largest in the Himalayas and built 3,500 years ago. Later, join the locals for a ride on the Kangra Toy Train and end the day at the 12th century Baijnath Temple.
Day 9 Dharamsala/Pragpur: Drive to Pragpur (approx 40 miles/1¾ hours drive). En route stop at Sujanpur Tira to admire the exquisite Pahari miniature paintings of the Kangra School at Narvadeshwar Temple. On arrival in Pragpur, there’s time for a leisurely stroll before attending the evening aarti (prayer ceremony) in the village temple.
Day 10 Pragpur: Visit the 6th century Mashroor Rock Temple, a quaint complex of monolithic temples. This afternoon, take a leisurely walk around Garli Village and marvel at the foresight of the Sood trading community who built the entire infrastructure here in the early 20th century.
Day 11 Pragpur/Shimla: Drive to Shimla, the erstwhile summer capital of colonial India (approx 123 miles/6 hours drive). On arrival, take a walk around one of Shimla’s seven hills, the Elysium Hill.
Day 12 Shimla: Explore Shimla’s heritage zone and hear wonderful stories about its many colonial buildings.
Day 13 Shimla: There is an option to go on a nature walk starting from the house where Rudyard Kipling wrote “Kim” and “Plain Tales from the Hills”, past a haunted hill, villages, meadows and forests to an art gallery. Alternatively, you could take an excursion to Dhami (additional expense), once a princely state, where you can spend the day with the hosts, walking and bird watching.
Day 14 Shimla/Delhi: Board the Toy Train for a scenic two hour ride from Shimla to Kandaghat. The track opened in 1903 and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Later, drive to Chandigarh for the evening flight to Delhi and your onward journey.
Accommodation: In 3* hotels throughout. Higher grade hotels are available in each destination.
Tour price: The price shown includes international flights, onward domestic flights, private transfers, monument entrance fees (as detailed), services of an English speaking guide during sightseeing (driver only for transfers between cities), sightseeing as outlined and accommodation.