Discover Delhi, Agra and Jaipur before launching into the Himalaya, a land of contrasts to the plains and deserts of India

Visit India and follow the famous Golden Triangle. Enjoy the perfect introduction to India's three most popular destinations - Delhi, Agra and Jaipur - as we explore the icons and discover the secrets of this fascinating region. Experience the history of massive forts, the opulence of Rajasthan's palaces and the traditions of a heritage homestay. Head north into the Himalayan foothills and be introduced to the Mountains and Mystics of this incredible country. These mystical lands look and feel very different from the rest of India - from the food and clothes to the crisp, clean mountain air and spiritual sway of the inhabitants. Discover the complex diversity of India and be enchanted by a land balanced between physical and spiritual worlds.


Start
New Delhi, India
Finish
New Delhi, India
Country
India
Style
Original
Code
HHSGC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • The Taj Mahal is not only an sumptuous masterpiece of Indian architecture, but also a truly meaningful stop on any traveller’s journey

  • Overlooking the picturesque scene of Moata Lake, the monumental Amber Fort is one sight that will forever be under India’s protection

  • Experience authentic Rajasthani luxury with a heritage stay at the lavish Bhanwar Vilas in Karauli

  • Old and New Delhi fuse to create a city that pays homage to past empires, while wrestling with its modern identity

  • The colonial charm of Shimla Hill Station offers a great introduction to the Himalayas, and the World Heritage-listed ‘toy-train’ is a great way to get there

  • As the home of the Dalai Lama, tranquil Dharmasala is the ideal place for an enlightening experience of Tibetan spirituality, culture and history

  • Learn about Sikhism on a visit to the faith’s most sacred monument, the luminous Golden Temple in Amritsar

  • Breeze through the self-proclaimed ‘Yoga Capital of the World’ in Rishikesh and camp along the banks of the holy Ganges River

Is this trip right for you?

  • From April 2017, the main dome of the Taj Mahal will undergo mud pack therapy to restore its original colour. It is expected the dome will be covered in iron scaffolding during the process which is expected to last a year.

  • Old Delhi can be very busy and crowded. While it’s an exciting place to see local life moving around you, be aware that on the walking tour you’ll need to navigate through people, tight spaces and walkways.

  • Rajasthan can reach extremely high temperatures in the summer. While we aim to do our walking tours early in the morning when it’s cooler, remember to keep hydrated and to bring a hat, sunscreen, a long-sleeved shirt and anything else that will protect you from the sun.

  • We visit a number of temples on this trip, which requires a certain level of modesty. Please bring clothes that cover the arms and pants/skirts that go past the knees.

  • This trip involves some long train rides, which can be tiresome but offer a quintessential Indian experience. The journey from Delhi to Shimla takes nearly a full day of train travel and you’ll also be taking a ten-hour overnight sleeper train from Amritsar to Haridwar.

  • Sleeper trains are clean and air-conditioned and a great way to travel long distances while still getting maximum time in each place. Beds are padded berths with sheets, pillow and blanket provided (although some people prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet). Please note that you may be sharing with locals of the same or opposite gender.

  • We’ll be taking a local bus between Mandi and Dharmsala. The road through the mountains is rough and bumpy, but the scenery, adventure and opportunity to mingle with locals will distract you from any discomfort.

  • In Dharmsala, our vehicle can’t get all the way to the hotel so some walking (500 m) with your luggage will be required.

  • As Rishikesh is a sacred town, no alcohol is permitted.

  • This trip travels into the Himalayas, where temperatures can get very low. We don’t run the trip in winter, but ensure that you’re well prepared for cold weather at any time of the year. The sun can also be strong at higher altitudes, so make sure you bring a hat, sunscreen and any other relevant sun protection.

  • Long distance and overnight trains can often be delayed and occasionally cancelled due to heavy fog between Dec-Feb. Please see the transport section of the essential trip information.

Itinerary

Namaste. Welcome to India. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader. If you're going to be late, please inform hotel reception. Perhaps visit the World Heritage-listed Humayun's Tomb, Qutub Minar or Red Fort of Delhi if you have any spare time.
Optional Activities
  • Delhi - Humayun's Tomb - INR500
  • Delhi - Red Fort - INR500
  • Delhi - Gandhi's Delhi Urban Adventure - INR2500
  • Delhi - City Food Crawl Urban Adventure - INR3500
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Join your group leader on an excursion through Old Delhi. Ride the city’s metro system, and then hop in a rickshaw to the once water-filled square of Chandni Chowk. Discover the Jama Masjid, Delhi’s oldest mosque, before learning about the history of the Sikh religion at the Sheeshganj Gurudwara.
Included Activities
  • Delhi - Old Delhi Walking Tour
  • Delhi - Jama Masjid
  • Delhi - Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel by express train into Rajasthan and on to its capital, Jaipur (approximately five hours). A friendly, busy town crammed with palaces and bazaars full of jewellery, textiles and folk-based arts, Jaipur is a favourite for many travellers. Visit the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds), then head over to Jaipur's Royal City Palace and explore its extravagant rooms and apartments. Later, discover one of the five astronomical observatories built by Maharaja Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur.
Included Activities
  • Jaipur - Amber Fort
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Choose to take an early morning hot air balloon experience, often a highlight of visiting Jaipur. Ballooning can be done over Jaipur on the morning of day four between September and June. For additional information, please see the Important Notes section of the Essential Trip Information. In the afternoon around 2.30 pm, visit the Amber Fort. Set on a hilltop overlooking Maota Lake, the fort is an authentic example of Rajput architecture and the Sheesh Mahal (Hall of Mirrors) is one of its more spectacular buildings.
Optional Activities
  • Jaipur - City Palace - INR400
  • Jaipur - Jantar Mantar Observatory - INR200
  • Jaipur - Bollywood Movie - Raj Mandir Cinema - INR400
  • Jaipur - Balloon Safari - USD250
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Leave the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur behind and drive to Karauli (approximately 5-6 hours). This delightful town was founded in 1348 and is packed with rural ambience and traditional temples. Take a guided walk around the Old Quarter, interacting with friendly locals and learning about rural Indian life off the tourist trail. Be sure to visit the eclectic market stalls along the way and sample some seasonal local sweets made from Indian ingredients, including petha (pumpkin), jiggery (organic sugar), peanut brittle and gazak (sesame seeds).
Included Activities
  • Karauli - Village Walk
Meals Included
  • Dinner
On the journey to Agra, stop en route at the one-time capital of the Mughal empire, Fatehpur Sikri (approximately four hours). Its stunning mosque displays both Persian and Hindu design and is secured by a 54-metre high entrance. Once in Agra, there’s the option of visiting the marble tomb that was saved for the greatest of the Mughal Emperors, Akbar's Mausoleum. The day then culminates in a visit to the Taj Mahal, built in the 1640s as a memorial to the wife of Emperor Shah Jahan.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Fatehpur Sikri
  • Agra - Taj Mahal
Optional Activities
  • Agra - Additional entries to Taj Mahal - INR1000
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
In the morning, take a guided tour along the banks of the Yamuna River to the iconic Agra Fort. Originally designed by Emperor Akbar in 1565 to be a military structure, it was converted into a palace during Emperor Shah Jahan's reign and later became his prison. In the early afternoon, take the 3-4 hour journey back to Delhi by private bus. Arrive back at the hotel with enough time to freshen up and head put for dinner in this buzzing city.
Included Activities
  • Agra - Agra Fort
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
There are no activities planned for today. Check out the great range of Urban Adventures on offer, but be sure to pre book.

As this is a combination of two of our favourite India trips, the make up of your group may change today, and you may also have a new leader.
There is another group meeting at 6pm tonight where you will meet the rest of the group. Your tour leader will give you further information locally.
Optional Activities
  • Delhi - Gandhi's Delhi Urban Adventure - INR2500
  • Delhi - City Food Crawl Urban Adventure - INR3500
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Depart Delhi by train for the 4-5 hour journey across the state of Punjab to Kalka. From Kalka, board the World Heritage-listed 'toy train' and enjoy the six-hour climb through villages, tunnels and mountain passes. It's a long day of travelling, but Shimla's faded colonial charm will make up for it. On arrival in the evening, explore the town on an orientation walk.
Included Activities
  • Shimla - Walking tour
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Head out and explore Mall Road, Shimla's most popular shopping stretch. A nearby viewpoint also offers fantastic views of the Himalayas. Join the group for a visit to the Viceregal Lodge to witness where the partition agreement that separated India from Pakistan and Bangladesh was drawn up.
If you like, join the hoards of monkeys milling about Jakhu Temple or stock up on souvenirs and specialty wooden crafts at Lakkar Bazaar. Set among rolling hills, Shimla also offers an array of nature walks that range from gentle to challenging. In the evening, enjoy an optional trip to the cinema and bop along to a Bollywood blockbuster.
Included Activities
  • Shimla - Viceregal Lodge
Optional Activities
  • Shimla - Cinema - INR100
  • Shimla - Jakhu Temple - Free
  • Shimla - Lakkhar Bazar - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel by jeep to the small town of Mandi. Situated on the Beas River, Mandi has a rich cultural heritage of both historical and theological significance. Once part of the salt route to Tibet, today it's the gateway to the Kullu Valley. Head into town for an orientation walk and explore a huge sunken shopping centre - the only one like it in India and the focal point of entertainment in Mandi. You can also spend time at the bathing ghats along the river or hike to hilltop temples just outside of town. In the evening, join the group for dinner and then stay in the former palace of the Raja of Mandi, which today has basic amenities.
Included Activities
  • Mandi - Walking tour
  • Mandi - Dinner
Meals Included
  • Dinner
The journey up to the mountains of India is an adventure in itself. Join locals on a public bus for the six-hour drive along bumpy roads to Dharamsala. Strung with prayer flags and busy with robed monks strolling between monasteries, this hilltop retreat is home to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile. Spend the afternoon wandering the peaceful streets, which are set to the backdrop of the Himalayas. There’s a lot to gain here from talking to locals and learning about the many facets of Tibetan Buddhism.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today visit the fascinating Norbulingka Institute, developed to train Tibetan refugees in skills needed to preserve the traditional arts and crafts of Tibet. Its grounds feature a beautiful temple and several workshops where you can witness woodcarving, painting and needlework in action. Then make your way to the Tsuglag Khang complex to see the Dalai Lama’s temple.
You may also like to visit the Losel Doll Museum, which is a great way to learn about the daily lives and customs of people all over Tibet. Finally, treat yourself to a massage or try your hand at making traditional Tibetan momos (dumplings) in a cooking class. Please check with your leader for availability.
Included Activities
  • Dharamsala/McLeod Ganj - Norbulingka Institute guided tour
  • Dharamsala/McLeod Ganj - Dalai Lama Temple
Optional Activities
  • Dharamsala/McLeod Ganj - Cooking Class - INR400
  • Dharamsala/McLeod Ganj - Massage - INR1000
  • Dharamsala/McLeod Ganj - Losel Doll Museum - INR50
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Take a local train down to Amritsar, situated in the heart of the fertile plain known as India's ‘breadbasket’ and the centre of Sikhism in India. Tour the sights and weave your way through the rambling streets and bazaars of the Old City in a cycle rickshaw. Explore the Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib), which sits in the middle of a sacred lake. Listen to the soothing sounds of the devout chanting verses from the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib.
Included Activities
  • Amritsar - Golden Temple
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Visit Jallianwala Bagh, the site of the infamous 1919 massacre that played a vital role in India's independence. Then head out to the India-Pakistan border to witness the pomp and circumstance of the daily flag ceremony, a military practice that the security forces of India and Pakistan have followed since 1959. Tonight take an overnight sleeper train from Amritsar to Haridwar. Sleeper trains are clean and air-conditioned, and beds are padded berths with sheets, pillow and blanket provided (although some people prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet). Please note that you may be sharing with locals of the same or opposite gender.
Included Activities
  • Amritsar - Jallianwallah Bagh
  • Amritsar - Wagah Border visit and flag ceremony
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
After pulling into Haridwar in the morning, there’s an hour drive to Rishikesh. Check in to your hotel before going on an orientation walk. Aptly named the 'Yoga Capital of the World', Rishikesh is a great place to relax and seek a little enlightenment. In the evening, take a stroll along the holy Ganges River as temple bells ring and the nightly fire ritual of Ganga Aarti begins. Being sacred, Rishikesh is a dry town and alcohol is prohibited.
Included Activities
  • Rishikesh - Orientation walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Rishikesh - Yoga Class - INR600
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
The morning is yours to roam around Rishikesh. Perhaps tuck into a masala dosa for breakfast before walking it off on one of the trails along the Ganges. In the afternoon, reunite with your group for a walk through the jungle to nearby waterfalls and caves. Tonight, experience sleeping under the stars near the banks of the Ganges just outside of Rishikesh, you’ll be staying in a fixed campsite with twin-shared tents and western-style toilets.
Optional Activities
  • Rishikesh - Cycle Hire - INR300
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Bid farewell to Rishikesh and take the train back to Delhi (approx 7-9 hours). The train arrives back into Delhi around 11pm. You’ll be transferred to your hotel on arrival .
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
There are no activities planned for today, so you’re free to depart the accommodation at any time.
Optional Activities
  • Delhi - Gandhi's Delhi Urban Adventure - INR2500
  • Delhi - Home-Cooked Experience Urban Adventure - INR4000
  • Delhi - City Food Crawl Urban Adventure - INR3500
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

2 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 3 dinners

Transport

Auto rickshaw, Car, Cycle rickshaw, Metro, Overnight sleeper train, Private vehicle, Shuttle Bus, Steam train, Taxi, Train

Accommodation

Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night), Heritage Property (1 night), Hotel (14 nights), Overnight sleeper train (1 night)

Included activities

  • Delhi - Old Delhi Walking Tour
  • Delhi - Jama Masjid
  • Delhi - Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple)
  • Jaipur - Amber Fort
  • Karauli - Village Walk
  • Fatehpur Sikri
  • Agra - Taj Mahal
  • Agra - Agra Fort
  • Shimla - Walking tour
  • Shimla - Viceregal Lodge
  • Mandi - Walking tour
  • Mandi - Dinner
  • Dharamsala/McLeod Ganj - Norbulingka Institute guided tour
  • Dharamsala/McLeod Ganj - Dalai Lama Temple
  • Amritsar - Golden Temple
  • Amritsar - Jallianwallah Bagh
  • Amritsar - Wagah Border visit and flag ceremony
  • Rishikesh - Orientation walking tour

Dates & availability

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Important notes

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT
A Single Supplement is available on this trip and is valid for all nights on the tour with the exception of the overnight sleeper trains. See under the Single Traveller section of your Trip Notes for more information.

This is a combination trip, the make up of your group and your tour leader may change on day 7.

JAIPUR HOT AIR BALLOON FLIGHTS
Hot air balloon flights are operated by Sky Waltz in Jaipur. Flights operate mornings from September to June and morning and evening from September to March.
Morning flights depart around sunrise and evening flights late afternoon and last 60 mins. Return transfers, tea and coffee plus light refreshments and a certificate of flight are included in the cost.
You can register your interest and pay your tour leader at your joining meeting on day 1 of your trip.
Payment must be made by cash in either INR/AUD/USD/GBP only and is USD$250pp (subject to change)
Flights are subject to weather conditions and tickets are fully refundable in case of poor weather.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

Reviews

Our India Horizons trips score an average of 5 out of 5 based on 3 reviews in the last year.

India Horizons, March 2017

Sophia Puckett

India Horizons, March 2017

Rebecca Brislan