Travelling to heritage hotels in hill station towns, and using small vehicles to take off at tangents to little-known temples and villages, this is a beguiling blend of cities, serenity, scenery and spirituality
Flight - 1 night
Delhi - 1 night
Haridwar - 2 nights
Mussoorie - 2 nights
Chandigarh - 1 night
Shimla - 2 nights
Kullu Valley - 3 nights
Palampur - 1 night
Dharamsala - 2 nights
Pragpur - 1 night
Amritsar - 2 nights
Anandpur Sahib - 1 night
Delhi - 1 night
A wonderfully scenic circling of the Himalayan foothills, this is a journey through stunning landscapes, to famous cities, tiny towns, and almost forgotten temples, to reveal the reverence of the region’s three faiths, Hindu, Buddhist, and Sikh. We see Hindu shrines, ashrams, and ceremonies, from the beautiful, bucolic Kullu Valley villages, to Rishikesh and Haridwar, where the sacred Ganges flows down from the mountains to the plains, and the Aarti rites of floating lights take place each evening at dusk. Steeped in its ethereal spirituality, Dharamsala (‘pilgrim’s rest’) is the headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile, and the home of Buddhism and of the Dalai Lama; its temple and monastery enveloped in peace and serenity. Amritsar is the holiest city of the Sikh religion, its Golden Temple the most sacred place of pilgrimage, where the Palki ritual takes the Guru Granth Sahib book ‘to bed’ each night, and back to the temple every morning, symbolically treating the holy book as a human teacher. Stays in Old Delhi and modern Chandigarh complement time-warp hill station towns, including remote and splendidly scenic Mussoorie; and busy Shimla, its colonial buildings contrasting with the twisting lanes of the bazaar.
Cultural & Countryside
Jules Verne Sightseeing
3 UNESCO Heritage Sites
2 Lunches & 10 Dinners
Local Expert Guide
Day 1 Overnight flight direct to Delhi, or from your chosen airport, direct or via Dubai.
Day 2 On arrival, transfer to the classic colonial Hotel Maidens for overnight stay. Later, visit the 14th-century, Agrasen ki Baoli step well, 60m-long and three storeys deep; and the city’s iconic Red Fort, where huge sandstone walls encircle a series of pavilions, linked by the Nahr-i-Behisht (‘stream of paradise’) water channel.
Day 3 Leave Delhi on the early morning train to Haridwar (5hrs), a place of Hindu pilgrimage, where visitors immerse themselves in the holy River Ganges, and light-up the dusk each day with floating flamed offerings to the life-giving Ganga Goddess. Two nights at the heritage Ganga Lahari, on the riverbank. This evening, see the Aarti ‘ceremony of lights’ at the Ghat at Har ki Pauri. (B, D)
Day 4 Morning safari in Rajaji National Park, a tiger reserve, with Indian elephant herds, spread around the Himalayan foothills, and crossed by the Ganges and Song Rivers (closed from 15th June to 15th November). Drive to nearby Rishikesh, known as the ‘the Yoga Capital of the World’, to visit Shantikunj ashram, a Hindu academy for spiritual awakening; and the 137m-span of the Laxman Jhula pedestrian bridge. Attend an evening Aarti ceremony at Triveni Ghat then return to Haridwar. (B)
Day 5 Travel (4hrs) to the hill station town of Mussoorie, once the home of Sir George Everest, with fabulous views to snow-capped peaks, and down into the Doon Valley. Two nights at the heritage WelcomeHotel The Savoy. (B)
Day 6 Visit nearby Landour, a small and peaceful town, little-changed in the last century. Stroll through the shops and cafés of the Sisters Bazaar, and walk to the peak of Lal Tibba, at 3025m, the highest point in the lower Himalayas’ Garhwal region, with fantastic panoramas of far-away hill villages. Afternoon at leisure. (B, L)
Day 7 Travel (8hrs) to the gardens and modernist architecture of Chandigarh, the dream of India’s first Prime Minister, Neru, planned and realised by French architect, Le Corbusier, and lauded as an example of 20th -century urban planning. Visit Le Corbusier’s Capitol Complex, encompassing the High Court, Secretariat, Legislative Assembly, and the huge, steel Open Hand Monument, signifying the city’s ethos, “open to give, open to receive”. Overnight at the 5-star Taj Chandigarh. (B)
Day 8 Visit the Zakir Rose Garden, with 1,600 species of roses in its 30-acre botanical enclave (seasonal periods in bloom). Travel by road to Kandaghat (3hrs), to board the narrow-gauge ‘Toy Train’, renowned for the route’s spectacular scenery, crossing bridges and cutting through tunnels and pine forests, for its journey to Shimla. A picture-perfect retreat, the British-era summer capital now blends cool colonial charm with colourful Himachal character. Two nights at the heritage Clarke’s Hotel, on the traffic-free avenue, The Mall. (B)
Day 9 Stroll along the Mall on a morning tour of Shimla, which includes a visit to the grand Viceregal Lodge (now named Rashtrapati Niwas), its majestic façade matched by manicured gardens, at the top of Observatory Hill; the Shimla Museum, recording its British colonial era; and the town’s Christ Church, known for the five windows of the Virtues. (B)
Day 10 Drive (4hrs) to Mandi, visiting the majestic Victoria Bridge, built in 1877, and taking a ‘Temple Walk’ among the 81 old stone shrines. Continue (4hrs) to the Kullu Valley (Valley of Gods), where every village has its own deity, and slopes are cloaked with apple orchards and deodar trees. Three nights at the boutique Shivadya Resort & Spa in Karjan village. (B, L, D)
Day 11 Visit Seol village for a morning walk to a Himalayan stream, and through the forest to the very traditional village of Dashal, with an 11th-century Shiva temple. Later, drive to Naggar, the old capital of the Kullu Valley. Visit the Roerich Art Gallery, its collection of rare paintings exhibited in the late artist’s home; and walk to the medieval Naggar Castle, now part-hotel. (B, D)
Day 12 Enjoy a village walk in Karjan and an afternoon at leisure, perhaps to trek to Sajla waterfall, cascading into a rocky pool in a beautiful, forested setting. Later, visit Karjan’s temple; experience the hot water springs of Vashisht Baths; and continue to Old Manali for the pagoda Temple of Hadimba Devi and its statues of the gods, said to be where the sage Manu meditated. (B, D)
Day 13 Drive (6hrs) to Paprola to travel again on the ‘Toy Train’, this time to Palampur, known for its tea gardens and brilliant birdlife. Overnight at the 4-star Rakkh Palampur. (B, D)
Day 14 Travel by road to Dharamsala, the residence of the Dalai Lama. Visit the spellbinding surrounds of the Norbulingka Institute, established to support Tibetan refugees and to preserve Tibetan culture art, and crafts. Two nights at the simply styled and scenically positioned Clouds End Villa. (B, D)
Day 15 At 1,700m above sea level, McLeod Ganj is the upper section of Dharamsala, and the spiritual home of Tibetan Buddhism. Among the shrines and statues of the serene Tsuglagkhang Complex, visit the magnificent Namgyal Monastery, and Tibetan Museum of traditions and art. Enjoy exotic views on a village walk this afternoon. (B, D)
Day 16 Drive just 20km south to visit Kangra Fort, the little-known but largest fortress in the Himalayas and, dating back to 400BC, believed to be the oldest in India. Continue to Pragpur. An intriguing step-back-in-time, with an ongoing programme of conservation, its cobbled lanes are lined with painted, mud-rendered houses, its market draped with colourful fabrics. Overnight at the heritage hotel Judge’s Court, a country manor built for Justice Sir Jai Lai. (B, D)
Day 17 Travel (4hrs) to Amritsar. On arrival, transfer to the boutique hotel Ranjit Vilas, brimming with traditional Punjab character, for a two-night stay. This evening, attend the Palki religious ceremony at the Golden Temple. (B)
Day 18 Visit the Golden Temple, gleaming with hundreds of kilos of gold leaf. Continue to the ‘world’s largest’ community kitchen, its thousands of volunteers feeding tens of thousands of pilgrims every day; and the garden memorial to those killed in the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Afternoon at leisure, perhaps to explore the city’s labyrinth of lanes and bazaars. Early-evening excursion to the Indo-Pakistan Wagah Border village, to see the Changing of the Guard ceremony. (B, D)
Day 19 Travel (4hrs) to Anandpur Sahib, the Sikh ‘holy city of spiritual bliss’, where a tour of the town includes a visit to its Gurudwara. Enjoy high tea at the popular Mr Sodhi’s Haveli restaurant. Overnight at the Anand at The Satluj eco-farm. (B, D)
Day 20 Visit the Virasat e Khalsa heritage museum, offering an insight of the birth of Sikhism, 500years ago. Travel on the Vande Bharat Express train to Delhi (4.5 hrs) for overnight at the 5-star Vivanta by Taj Dwarka. (B)
Day 21 Transfer to the airport for the return flight to your chosen airport. (B)
This is a full itinerary with some visits on foot with uneven surfaces and inclines.
The weather can be cold at altitude during February and November.
Travel beyond the main tourist routes in smaller vehicles (3 guests per car all with a window seat).
Travel is not ‘off road’ but these vehicles allow for greater contact with local people and easier access whilst still travelling with a small Jules Verne group through dramatic passes and mountain scenery.
Heritage properties are full of charm and interest but rarely have lifts and rooms can vary in size and décor.
Established in 1903 as one of the first hotels of Delhi and recognized as a Heritage Hotel in 1994. Its architecture is the most glorious illustration of old-world European charm with its colonial impressions. Restaurants, bar, pool, gym and WiFi (free). 55 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, mini-bar, safe, tea/coffee making facilities and TV.
A heritage hotel steeped in rich history and traditions, located right on the banks of the holy River Ganges a 5-minute walk from the sacred Brahma Kund Ghat. Restaurant, spa and WiFi (free). Air-conditioned rooms with private facilities, safe, tea/coffee making facilities and satellite TV.
A heritage hotel built in Gothic architecture located in the beautiful Gharwal Hills and at the Liberty end of Mall Road. Restaurant, bar and WiFi (free). 50 air-conditioned mountain view rooms with private facilities, hairdryer, safe, mini-bar, TV and tea/coffee making facilities.
A 5-star hotel with sophisticated architecture and interiors. Restaurants, bar, gym, spa, pool and WiFi (free). 149 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, safe, mini-bar, tea/coffee making facilities and satellite TV.
Located on the Shimla Mall Road, Clarkes Hotel is an oasis of calm on the bustling promenade and within walking distance of many attractions. This Heritage hotel is one of the oldest hotels in Shimla, known for its architecture dating from the colonial era. Restaurant, bar, WiFi (free) and 32 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, safe, mini-bar, tea/coffee making facilities and satellite TV.
This boutique hotel has a unique location with the Himalayas as its backdrop in Karjan village. Restaurant, spa and WiFi (free). 15 air-conditioned rooms with private facilities, hairdryer, safe, mini-bar, TV and tea/coffee making facilities.
A 4-star boutique hotel perched on a hilltop surrounded by terraced hillsides. Restaurant, spa and WiFi (free). 15 air-conditioned cottages with private facilities, hairdryer, safe and tea/coffee making facilities.
Sprawled across a 9 acre property with its own step field, gardens and forests the Clouds End Villa is the residence of the Maharaja of Kangra. WiFi (free) and 16 rooms with fan, tea/coffee making facilities and satellite TV.
A heritage hotel located in the medieval hamlet of Pragpur, on the edge of the Himalayan mountains. Restaurant, bar, plunge pool and WiFi (free). 10 air-conditioned rooms with safe, mini-fridge, tea/coffee making facilities and TV.
A boutique family-run hotel with strong Punjab influences. Restaurant, WiFi (free) and 22 air-conditioned rooms with TVs.
This eco-farm is located on the outskirts of Anandpur Sahib and on the banks of the Satluj River. Restaurant and lounge. Tented cottages with private facilities, air-conditioning, safe and tea/coffee making facilities.
A 5-star airport hotel with 4 restaurants, bar, swimming pool, gym, spa and WiFi (free). 250 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, safe, mini-bar, tea/coffee making facilities and satellite TV.
Time to relax or see even more of India!
No one can cover all of India on one tour, so why not make the most of your time in India by choosing further experiences?
We invite you to customise your tour by adding one or more extensions from our great range shown on the following pages. Relax in a resort or discover more of India with our specialist guides.
Also please consider adding extra nights before the tour if you would like to draw breath after the flight to India or stay on to reflect, relax or explore independently. Extra nights can also be added to most extensions. Please talk to one of our knowledgeable Personal Travel Experts to let us know what you are looking for and they will work out the best way. Sometimes extra transfers, internal flights and nights are recommended or needed, and sometimes two extensions can be combined into a more logical sequence.
per person in a twin/double room
Virgin Atlantic from Heathrow
Supplements per person
Double for sole use £745
Emirates from Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham or Glasgow - On request
Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy - On request
Virgin Atlantic Business Class - On request
We offer a wide variety of pre- and post-tour extensions, click here for more information.
Pre/post tour extra nights and transfers are available.
Privately guided tours are on request, please call to discuss your requirements
Arrival or departure transfer add £24
Air travel and taxes, transfers, 19 nights’ accommodation, breakfast daily, 2 lunches and 10 dinners, itinerary as described, services of guides and local representatives. If our specially negotiated airfares are unavailable at the time of booking, a supplement may apply.
Travel insurance, visa procurement, optional excursions, overseas airport taxes, tipping, any government taxes or compulsory charges introduced after publication.
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