Foothills of the Himalayas - A Journey from Amritsar to Shimla
15 days from £3320 per person
From the magnificent Golden Temple of Amritsar, heart of the Sikh religion, to the quintessentially British hill station of Shimla, this tour incorporates the best of India's beautiful and the evocative Himalayan foothills. Stop en-route in the colourful Tibetan enclave of Dharamsala, home of the exiled Dalai Lama, nearby Palampur and Pragpur, a small heritage village located close to the Kangra Valley. Ample time is included to enjoy Shimla and the surrounding valleys before returning by train to Delhi for an exploration of both historic Old Delhi and Lutyens planned Raj-era capital.
The spectacular Sri Harmandir Sahib or Golden Temple at Amritsar is the holiest of the Sikh religion. The upper floors are covered with gold and the building is surrounded by water.
Tucked away in the upper reaches of the Kangra Valley, Dharamsala is the residence of the Dalai Lama and the main Indian centre for Tibetan exiles.
High in the dense forests of the Himalayas, Shimla was developed as the summer capital of British India to enable the civil servants and their families to escape the heat of the plains.
Day 1 Depart the UK
Today depart the UK on the British Airways flight to Delhi. (N)
Day 2 Arrive Delhi
Arrive into Delhi and stay for two nights at Le Meridien New Delhi. Alternatively upgrade to the Claridges Hotel. Delhi is India's capital and a city of two halves. Old Delhi – the heart of Muslim India between the 17th and 19th centuries – is an historic district of grand mosques, majestic forts and crumbling monuments. In contrast New Delhi, with its large government buildings, wide tree-lined avenues and pretty white-washed bungalows was purpose-built in the 1930s by the British as a colonial capital and remains the epicentre of Indian political power. (N)
Day 3 Delhi to Amritsar - by air
Today fly to Amritsar, capital of the Punjab, and stay for two nights at the Ranjit's Svaasa Hotel. Alternatively upgrade to the Taj Swarna Hotel. Founded in the late 16th century, Amritsar is the centre of the Sikh religion and is best known for the spectacular Golden Temple complex. The temple acquired its distinctive golden exterior in 1830 after Maharaja Ranjit Singh donated 100kg of gold to be applied to the roof and walls and since that date the complex has changed little. In the evening visit the Golden Temple and witness the Palki Ceremony. (B)
Day 4 Amritsar
The Golden Temple is a highlight of any visit to Amritsar and this morning return to visit this magnificent complex. Later visit the small 16th century Durgiana Temple dedicated to the goddess Durga and the Jallianwala Bagh garden and memorial which commemorates the site of the 1919 massacre. In the late afternoon drive outside of the city to the Indo-Pakistan Wagah Border to experience the daily colourful, but chaotic, border closing ceremony. (B)
Day 5 Amritsar to Dharamsala – 210kms
This morning it is a scenic drive to Dharamsala which occupies a stunning setting atop a spur of the Dhauladhar Range. Established by the British in 1815, Dharamsala is best known for being the home of the Dalai Lama and today the atmosphere has a decidedly Tibetan flavour which is strongly felt in the upper part of Dharamsala known as McLeodganj where the Dalai Lama resides. Stay for two nights at either the Norling Guesthouse or Chonor House. (B/D)
Day 6 Dharamsala
Today explore Dharamsala and McLeodganj. Places of interest include the Namgyal Monastery which resembles the original in Lhasa, the Kalachakra Temple with its interesting murals and the fascinating Norbulingka Institute, a major centre for Buddhist teaching opened to safeguard the survival of Tibetan Buddhism's cultural heritage. (B/D)
Day 7 Dharamsala to Palampur– 50kms
After breakfast leave Dharamsala and drive to Palampur for an overnight stay at Norwood Green, a collection of four comfortable cottages, set within the lush green tea gardens of Palampur. (B/D)
Day 8 Palampur to Pragpur – 90kms
This morning it is a scenic drive to Pragpur for a two night's stay at Judge's Court, a small heritage hotel built early in the 17th century. Indo-European in design, Judge's Court has ten comfortable bedrooms and is set within a large orchard of mango, lychee, plum, citrus, clove and cardamom. (B/D)
Day 9 Pragpur
At leisure to enjoy Pragpur and the Kangra Valley. This area is ideal for walks, especially along the River Beas. The medieval hamlet of Pragpur with its cobbled streets has the distinction of being declared India's first heritage village and has one of the finest remaining collections of traditional regional architecture. (B/D)
Day 10 Pragpur to Shimla – 200kms
Leave Pragpur and drive through the beautiful Kangra Valley to the charming hill station of Shimla, summer capital of the British Raj. With its wooden bungalows, gardens of gladioli and hydrangea and stone churches, this quaint town has retained much of its bygone atmosphere. Stay three nights at the Clarkes Hotel. Alternatively upgrade to the Oberoi Cecil Hotel or the Oberoi Wildflower Hall which is located in the village of Mashobra outside of Shimla. (B)
Day 11 Shimla
Day 12 Shimla
Over the next two days explore the town and surrounding area. Places of interest include Christ Church where the original chancel window was designed by Lockwood Kipling, Rudyard's father, nearby Gaiety Theatre and Town Hall which were both built at the turn of the 20th century in the ‘arts and crafts’ style. Also of interest is the Tibetan Bazar and the grand Viceregal Lodge. In addition there are many walks in and around the town including the climb up Jakhu Hill from where there are excellent mountain views. (B)
Day 13 Shimla to Chandigarh – 140kms
Chandigarh to Delhi – by air
This morning leave Shimla and take the famous ‘toy train’ down to Kandaghat. Here you will be met and driven on to Chandigarh, India's first planned city, to visit the extraordinary Rock Garden which comprises of a collection of stones and domestic rubbish sculpted into models of people and animals. Later transfer to Chandigarh Airport in time to catch your onward flight to Delhi. On arrival stay for two nights at Le Meridien New Delhi or upgrade to rge Claridges Hotel or the Imperial Hotel. (B)
Day 14 Delhi
After breakfast commence a morning tour of Old Delhi with your guide to explore the area's dense network of bustling alleyways, homes, bazaars and mosques visiting famous Chandni Chowk market, the beautiful Jama Masjid, the Red Fort and Rajghat. In the afternoon continue to New Delhi which was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and is today home to Rashtrapati Bhawan, the official residence of the Indian President, Rajpath and the imposing India Gate. (B)
Day 15 Delhi to the UK
Today transfer back to Delhi Airport to catch the British Airways flight non-stop to the UK. (B)
KEY: N = No meals B = Breakfast L = Lunch D = Dinner
- International flights from the UK
- Domestic flights
- Train travel as specified
- Private car with English speaking driver
- Sightseeing with local English speaking guides
- Hotel accommodation and taxes
What's not included
- Cost of visas
- Travel Insurance
- Expenses of a personal nature
Guide to Price
The price above is a guide and can vary according to selected airlines, hotels and season. If you wish to travel alone we will be very happy to assist you with your arrangements and will provide a proposal on request
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