The Himalayan Railway Adventure
From Kolkata To Siliguri, Kurseong, Darjeeling, Bagdogra, Chandigarh, Shimla, Delhi - 12 Nights

Departing from:
Kolkata
Destination:
Siliguri, Kurseong, Darjeeling, Bagdogra, Chandigarh, Shimla, Delhi
Duration:
12 Nights
Offer:
Optional 4 day extension to the Golden Triangle
Travel Dates:
08/02/23 to 18/02/23
Offer Expires:
06/02/23
Tour Operator:
Railway Adventures
Reference Code:
RA

From

AU$9,875

Price per person

Package Details

Overview

Come aboard this grand tour of one of the world’s oldest and most fascinating cultures on a collection of world heritage-listed railways that forge their way into the spectacular landscapes of the Himalayan Mountains. On this jaw-dropping tour, you will see some of the grand relics of its fascinating rail history and visit some of the most amazing destinations in India, along with World Heritage sites that will take your breath away.
The mountain railways of India are UNESCO World Heritage-listed in their own right, only the second railways in the world to be so acclaimed. Your journey will focus on how the British Raj escaped the heat of the plains with their mini– England Hill Stations accessed by quirky little mountain trains. The views are astounding, the culture is rich with history and colour and the trains you’ll ride are some of the most celebrated and unique in the world.

Details

Day 1 • Monday: KOLKATA

Arrive in Kolkata by International flight. Upon arrival, you will be greeted and provided with assistance at the airport. You will transfer to the 5-star luxury of the Oberoi Grand Hotel. Spend the rest of your first day relaxing at this 125-year-old hotel, a fusion of classic Victorian and traditional Indian grandeur. The hotel has been an icon on the landscape of Kolkata for more than a century, with a reputation for taking care of its guests like no other.  Kolkata is the erstwhile capital of colonial India, a thriving city famous for its culture, cuisine, and historical monuments. Often referred to as the City of Joy, it is also known for its unique ‘Adda,’ a freestyle exchange of socio-political ideas and intellectual debate that is engaged in enthusiastically within public spaces over a cup of steaming chai.  Overnight: The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata 

Day 2 • Tuesday: KOLKATA

We begin our day with a walking tour which will give us an insight into the confluence of culture that the city has experienced, more so than most other cities, even in the globalised present. During our walk, we will trace the origins and remains of the varied communities that hung their boots here and called Calcutta home. We will board a privately chartered heritage tram to explore the narrow streets and some of the most picturesque parts of the city. The Kolkata trams were due to be closed by the government, but Australian tram conductor Mr Roberto D’Andrea fought to save them and forged a strong bond between the two countries.  This evening we will gather for a celebratory welcome dinner with your tour leader, fellow travellers and our local guide. Overnight: The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata (B, L, D)

Day 3 • Wednesday: KOLKATA – SILIGURI

After a buffet breakfast at the hotel enjoy a guided tour of Kolkata visiting St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Victoria Memorial Museum, and the Indian Museum before joining the pilgrims at the famous Kalighat Temple, where followers of many faiths gather each day to pray to the Mother Goddess Kali. We will also visit the Hooghly River which is integral to the very identity of Bengal. We will explore this visual, aural, and olfactory riot, from the wrestlers who exercise on its soft clay to the boatmen who ferry people across, from the flower-sellers to the boys who throw magnets and retrieve coin offerings from its bed, from the Howrah Bridge to the cremation Ghats. In the afternoon we soak up the atmosphere of this bustling city on a tour through the streets and in the evening, after dinner in the city, we board the legendary Darjeeling Mail Train. This train’s name harks back to the colonial days and is now the pride of the modern Indian rail system. Spend the night in your first-class (or second-class) sleeping carriage a truly authentic Indian experience. Overnight: The Darjeeling Mail (B, L, D)

Day 4 • Thursday: SILIGURI – KURSEONG

The Darjeeling Mail pulls into Siliguri, nestled in the foothills of the mighty Himalayas, where you are transferred to the Sarovar Portico Hotel for breakfast and a chance to freshen up. Later in the morning, we board our private chartered train on the World Heritage-listed Himalayan Mountain Railway, parts of which are steam-hauled. At Tindharia you have the chance to visit the loco shed and explore some of the fascinating histories of this region and its amazing railway.  We then take a short coach ride from Tindharia to Kurseong through some very picturesque countryside. This area isn’t called the Land of the White Orchids for nothing. In the afternoon we arrive and check in at the charming boutique hotel, Cochrane Place, which is the restored former colonial home and is dripping with the essence of the Raj. Inspired by the Railways, its rooms have been named after the famous railway sectors and spices native to the Indian subcontinent. Spend the rest of the day at leisure either at Cochrane Place or wander out into Kurseong and take in the spectacular views and wafting aromas of the region’s most famous product – tea.  Later you can indulge in the luxurious surroundings over dinner at the hotel. Overnight: Cochrane Place, Kurseong (B, L, D)

Day 5 • Friday: KURSEONG – DARJEELING

After breakfast we spend the morning on our chartered train riding from Kurseong to Darjeeling, employing steam locomotives again where possible. This railway rightly deserves its UNESCO listing.  Zig-zagging, looping and even starting its journey travelling backwards, this amazing little train moves straight through a crowded bazaar and past many hill stations on its climb to world-famous Darjeeling. Transfer to the tranquillity and sedate colonial opulence of the Windamere Hotel and spend the rest of the day relaxing in your new surroundings. Established in the 19th century as a cosy boarding house for English and Scottish tea planters, it’s now well known to sophisticated travellers the world over for its unique ambience and charm. Enjoy a cuppa as you take in the vista and catch sight of Kanchenjunga, the third-highest mountain in the world.  Overnight: The Windamere Hotel, Darjeeling (B, D)

Day 6 • Saturday: DARJEELING

An early start is required to witness the magnificent sunrise over the majestic mountains at Tiger Hill where the dawn light hits the peak of Kangchenjunga, India’s highest peak. In the afternoon we visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Zoological Park and Tibetan Refugee Centre where beautiful Tibetan handicrafts are made. You can also experience the story of the Dalai Lama and other refugees who have taken shelter in this beautiful sanctuary and then visit Happy Valley Tea Estate for tea tasting and then back in town take a walk- through Observatory Hill, or do some shopping in the famous Mall Road. 

Overnight: Windamere Hotel, Darjeeling (B, D)

Day 7• SUNDAY: DARJEELING – DELHI – CHANDIGARH

Today we head back down the mountains to the foothills and the city of Bagdogra where we will board our flight to Delhi. Once in the grand city, we will be further transferred to the New Delhi railway terminal to board our late afternoon express train to Chandigarh arriving later in the evening. We will provide a boxed dinner and if you’re still in need of sustenance, we will host a light supper at the hotel later. Overnight: Taj, Chandigarh (B, D)

Day 8 • Monday: CHANDIGARH – SHIMLA

After breakfast at the hotel, we transfer to Kalka for the iconic train journey on the Himalayan Queen in our own carriages attached to the main train. The scenic journey features all the character of a local train, calling at stations along the way and taking goods and passengers on their journeys over the five hours of the steady climb up the mountains. It’s a journey acclaimed by UNESCO in its World Heritage Status. This journey is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to marvel at spectacular scenery on a line that winds its way up the mountains, crossing more than 800 bridges and diving through over 100 tunnels. On arrival, we transfer to the hotel to settle in for the next three nights. Dinner will be hosted at the hotel. Overnight: Clarkes Hotel, Shimla (B, L, D) 

Day 9 • Tuesday: SHIMLA

A century ago, the British selected Shimla as their summer capital, using it as a retreat from the blistering heat of the plains. Named ‘the abode of the high and mighty,’ Shimla is situated at over 2000m, with beautiful promenades, graceful colonial buildings, wooded ravines, evergreen forests, and the snow-capped Himalayas as a backdrop. We will take a walking tour through the British heritage of the city. Begin with a visit to the Viceregal Lodge. The official summer residence of the British viceroys was completed in 1888 and the entire Indian subcontinent was ruled from here for just over half of every year (usually early April to late October) from then till WWII.  Also, we will stop by the Gaiety Theatre – this lovely Victorian theatre, opened in 1877 and now splendidly restored, has long been a focus of Shimla’s social life. Rudyard Kipling and various viceroys are among those who have trodden its Burmese teak boards.  Overnight: Clarkes Hotel, Shimla (B, L, D)

Day 10 • Wednesday: SHIMLA

Today you are welcome to have a day at leisure, however we will happily host a tour to visit the Shimla Water Catchment Sanctuary for birdwatching, where you might see Partridges, peacocks, Orioles or Jungle Fowl. We shall also visit the famous Jakhoo Temple, where a 108ft statue of the monkey-god Hanuman can be seen above the treetops on Shimla’s highest hilltop. Hundreds of rhesus macaques loiter around here hoping for gifts of food from visitors. You will have time to wander the streets or cap off the day with some fine mountain tea at the Indian Coffee House. Late in the afternoon, we transfer back to the hotel for dinner. Overnight: Clarkes Hotel, Shimla (B, L, D)

Day 11 • Thursday: SHIMLA – DELHI

This morning we bid adieu to the queen of the hills and transfer to the station to board our private carriages on the train back down the mountain. The return journey offers a different perspective on the landscape through pine forests and past charming Victorian-style railway stations. At Barog, about halfway back down the mountain, we transfer to our private cars to continue the journey to Kalka and the connection to our fast ‘Shatabdi’ train to Delhi.  Later in the evening, we arrive in the Indian capital, a treasure trove of ancient culture and history with remnants of lost empires. On the way in we stop at the exquisite Sikh Temple, called the Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, where more than 10,000 people are fed each day. We then check into our hotel, The Imperial, the most iconic hotel in New Delhi and provides a grand finish to our adventure. It was built in 1931 by Bromfield, an associate of Sir Edwin Lutyens, and inaugurated in 1936 by Lord Willingdon. The Imperial is the perfect blend of Victorian décor and Art Deco, allowing guests to travel back in time to the days of the British Raj. Overnight: The Imperial Hotel, Delhi (B, L) 

Day 11 • Friday: DELHI

Today we will explore the intricate, bustling streets of Old Delhi, visit the Jama Masjid Mosque, one of Asia’s largest mosques, and experience an exhilarating rickshaw ride through the old by-lanes of this fascinating city-within-a-city. We will visit Red fort, yet another example of the finest Mughal architecture, and stop at Raj Ghat, a memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi. We will also visit the National Rail Museum, which has a wide collection of royal carriages, locomotives, and old trains of a bygone era. It also has the Vice Regal Dining Car, the luxury Prince of Wales Saloon, Maharaja of Baroda’s Saloon and Maharaja of Mysore’s Saloon.  Tonight, we enjoy a grand farewell dinner at the hotel in the company of our fellow travellers and tour leader. Overnight: The Imperial Hotel, Delhi (B, D)

Day 11 • Saturday: DEHLI – DEPART

Today is the last day of our journey, and to bid farewell to India and its railways. We will take a six-hour journey onboard the famous Fairy Queen. It is the oldest working steam locomotive in the world, which made its maiden journey in the year 1855 for the erstwhile East Indian Railway. We will be transferred to Delhi International airport to board the flight back home. (B, L)

OPTIONAL EXTENSION…….

TO THE GOLDEN TRIANGLE OF ROYAL RAJASTHAN AND THE WONDERS OF INDIA’S CELEBRATED MUGHAL ERA, INCLUDING THE TAJ MAHAL

Day 11 • Saturday: DELHI – JAIPUR

Continue by coach from Alwar to Jaipur, the enthralling and charming city also known as The “Pink City”. Jaipur has retained its flair for royal celebration: the entire city was painted pink in 1876 to welcome the Prince of Wales (it was refreshed to celebrate the visit of Queen Elizabeth II and, later, Diana, Princess of Wales.)  Overnight: Jai Mahal Palace, Jaipur (B)

Day 12 • Sunday: JAIPUR

Within the pink walls of Jaipur, we will find lively bazaars, camel carts, cows and rickshaw drivers.  There is much to see and do, including a visit to the Amber Fort, the City Palace and the Observatory.  As well as the numerous historical sights. Overnight: Jai Mahal Palace, Jaipur (B, L)

Day 13 • Monday: JAIPUR – AGRA

We continue to Agra, the home of one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the immortal Taj Mahal, which was built in 1653 by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan, as a monument of love to his wife, Mumtaz Mahal.  As well as the spectacular Taj Mahal, we will also visit Agra Fort where Shah Jahan was imprisoned after being overthrown by his son. Overnight: Taj Convention, Agra (B)  

Day 14 Tuesday 21: AGRA – DELHI – DEPARTURES

We will be transferred to Delhi International Airport for our flight home. (B)  

Inclusions

Price includes
12 nights’ accommodation in comfortable, centrally located hotels and one sleeper train
All excursions and entrance fees to attractions, as listed in the itinerary
All transfers and tours
Bottled water throughout
Daily breakfast, 8 lunches and 10 dinners
Domestic Flight (Economy Class) Bagdogra-Delhi and Shimla-Delhi with 15 Kilo luggage allowance per flight
Drinks included with welcome and farewell dinners
English Speaking local guide
Tipping and gratuities

Price does not include
Airport transfers on arrival and departure
All other personal expenses such as drinks, phone calls, laundry services, and camera fees where applicable
All other personal expenses such as drinks, phone calls, laundry services, camera fees where applicable
Early Check-in or check-out
Excursions listed as optional and extra in the brochure
Indian Visas
International flights
Luggage allowance on domestic flights over 15 Kilos
Meals and services not mentioned in itinerary
Meals and services not mentioned in the itinerary

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