Travel like a local on this 54-day trip, exploring India by train from the northeast to the southwest. Skip the backpacking and let the train — and the innumerable beautiful sights — move you, from the Taj Mahal to the colours of Rajasthan to the ruins of Karnataka. This trip will hit some of the country’s highlights, with loads of time to hop off and get to know your surroundings in a way only a Rail tour allows. The trip won’t last forever, but the memories definitely will.
Arrive at any time. Arrival transfer included through the G Adventures-supported Women on Wheels project.
There are no planned activities until an evening welcome meeting.
Take the morning Shatabdi Express to Amritsar and enjoy breakfast on board. In the afternoon, drive to the India-Pakistan border and witness the border ceremony performed by both nations border guards. Later in the evening visit the grounds surrounding the Golden Temple and take an orientation walk of Amritsar.
Amritsar which literally translates as "his pool of nectar", is a flourishing city and religious centre in the state of Punjab. Important from a religious point of view to the Sikh religion, with many pilgrims coming to have a divine bath in the pool of nectar at the Golden Temple. Also an important political city where in 1947 the separation of India and Pakistan created a long white line known as the Wagah Border between the two neighbours.
In the morning visit and explore the Golden Temple and learn about the community service principles of the Sikh Religion. Later, embark on a scenic drive to Dharamshala and take an orientation walk in the evening.
Travel along Himalayan mountain roads to the famous seat of the home of the Dalai Lama. "Dharamshala" translates to "a spiritual dwelling" or loosely, shelter or rest house for pilgrims and travellers. It is a beautiful former British hill station situated in the snow-capped mountains of Himachal Pradesh, in the foothills of the Dhauladar ranges. The city is divided into lower and upper Dharamshala according to the altitude. A popular pilgrimage site, the town is filled with temples, markets, galleries and gathering places.
Enjoy free time to explore Dharamsala. Visit the Main Temple and current residence of Dalai Lama or take a tour of the Norbulingka institute dedicated to preserving the Tibetan culture. Feeling more adventurous? Choose to embark on a short hike to Bhagsunag.
There are lots of ways to spend free time in this charming place. Visit the Kangra Art Museum in the Kotwali bazaar, or take in a performance of the Tibetan folk opera 'Lhamo' at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts.
Opt to visit Norbulingka. Set amidst beautiful gardens, surrounded by the green fields of the Kangra Valley, the Norbulingka Institute stands against a backdrop of the towering Dhauladhar mountains of the outer Himalayan range.
Explore the town of Mandi. Walk around Rewalsar Lake, a sacred spot for Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists. Renowned for its ancient stone temples with fine carvings, Mandi is also known as the "Varanasi of the Hills".
Embark onto the next destination, Shimla, the capital of Himachal province. This was once the British summer capital during the Raj Era. View the colonial era architecture still prominent throughout this city.
Enjoy a CEO-led orientation walk on The Ridge and The Mall (local hangouts) and explore this summer capital of British India. Opt to visit the Viceregal Lodge or admire the neo-Gothic or Tudorbethan architecture of the heritage buildings.
Take the World Heritage-listed toy train from Shimla to Kalka. Switch to the Shatabdi Express for the rest of the journey back to Delhi, with dinner included on board.
Take the World Heritage-listed toy train from Shimla to Kalka. Over the course of 3 hrs, the train winds through tunnels as you head out of the mountains of Shimla.
Enjoy a free day in Delhi.
Take the Shatabdi Express train to Agra, with breakfast served on board. Enjoy a guided tour of the impressive Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. Time permitting, opt to visit the Baby Taj.
Hop on a Shatabdi Express train in the evening to Jaipur.
Take an orientation walk around town. Take a photo of the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) and visit the Amber Fort. Walk around the Old City and markets and opt to visit the City Palace. With free time, choose to visit local artisans in a nearby village, wander the Jantar Mantar, or check out a Bollywood film at the spectacular Art Deco film house, the Raj Mandir.
In the morning board a train and soak in the passing scenery en route to Udaipur. Arrive in the evening with free time to explore the city.
Enjoy an orientation walk, including a visit to the Jagdish Temple and the City Palace, one of the largest royal palaces in India. Attend a Rajasthani cultural show on Gangaur Ghat.
Take a train to Bundi to explore the fort and stepwells.
There is no shortage of notable architecture in Bundi. From palaces to baoris, otherwise known as stepwell reservoirs, explore the many man-made marvels of Bundi.
Explore Bundi with some free time before an overnight trip on the Mumbai Rajdhani Express train, with dinner on board.
Arrive in the morning in bustling Mumbai, home to 20 million people. Take a walking tour of the Colaba area and see the Gateway of India.
Catch a morning flight to beautiful Goa. Spend free time relaxing on the beach or exploring the city's monuments.
Opt to visit the many Portuguese-built monuments, wander around the churches of Old Goa (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), or discover Panjim, the capital of the state. Don't forget to indulge in Goan cuisine.
Enjoy a free day in Goa.
With free time in Goa, opt to explore the city and learn about it's ancient Portuguese colony, visit a market, or relax on the beach.
Enjoy a free day in Goa.
Spend a free day relaxing on the beach or opt to visit the many Portuguese-built monuments, wander around the churches of Old Goa (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), or discover Panjim, the capital. Don't forget to indulge in Goan cuisine.
Travel by Visakhapatnam Howrah Express train and then by van to reach Hampi, in the heart of Karnataka.
Enjoy a walking tour and explore the spectacular ruins of Hampi Palaces, Vittala Temple complex, Virupaksh Temple, Hazararama Temple, and the boulders on the river. In the evening, take an overnight Hampi Express train to Mysore.
Arrive to Mysore and explore the Mysore Palace and Chamundi Hill.
Drive to Bylakuppe and explore the Namdroling Monastery - home to nearly 5,000 Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns. Later drive to Madikeri for the evening.
Explore Madikeri (the coffee hub of India) and enjoy a tour of a coffee plantation. Later, enjoy an orientation walk around the town and then enjoy free time to explore in the afternoon.
Take a morning drive to the coastal town of Kannur. Catch the Ernakulam Express to Kochi in the afternoon.
Explore the Fort Kochi area and see the Chinese fishing nets at work. If time permits, visit the Jewish area and synagogue, the Dutch Palace, and Spice Market.
Make the most of Kochi with free time to explore.
Take the early train to Alleppey to explore the Kerala backwaters. Walk in the paddy fields and take a canoe ride through the canals the region is famous for.
This evening enjoy a taste of local life with a homestay.
Enjoy some more time in Kerala before an evening train to Kanyakumari for a full day exploring the area.
Spend the day in Kanyakumari. Drive to the southernmost tip of India and take a ferry across to Vivekananda Rock and the Ramkrishna Ashram. Take an evening Kanyakumari Express train to Madurai.
Explore the Meenakshi Temple and colourful markets of Madurai.
Take the morning Vaigai Express to Chengalpattu before continue by van to Mamallapuram.
Cycle around and explore the rock-cut Shore Temple and Mamallapuram Beach.
Drive to Chennai and explore Marina Beach and San Thome Basilica. Later, board an overnight train to Hyderabad.
Accommodation on the train tonight will be either in two tier or three tier bunks.
Learn more about the region's history with a visit to the iconic Charminar and historic Golconda Fort.
Enjoy a free morning to continue exploring this state capital before catching an evening flight to Bhubaneshwar. Continue by van to reach Puri.
Opt to visit the Salar Jung Museum or the scenic Qutb Shahi Tombs with free time.
Explore Raghuraj Pur village and beautiful Puri beaches.
Take a morning Shatabdi Express train to Kolkata, with lunch provided on board. Arrive in the afternoon and take an orientation walk with the CEO.
Explore the vintage monuments and streets of this former capital of the British Era, also visit Missionaries' of Charity the noble peace prize winner, Mother Teresa's house and final resting place.. Opt to take a ferry ride across the Hooghly River. Opt to join the group for dinner at one of the famed restaurants on Park Street for the final night out.
Spend some free time exploring this fascinating city.
Visit the Victoria Memorial and explore Mother Teresa's House. Enjoy free time later and opt to explore the Indian Museum. In the evening, board an overnight New Jalpaiguri Kamrup Express train to New Jalpaiguri.
Arrive at New Jalpaiguri and continue onwards by van to Darjeeling. Take an orientation tour of the town before enjoying free time with the rest of the evening.
Famous for the black tea grown amongst the tea plantations, enjoy the scenic views of Darjeeling. Set upon the foothills of the Himalayas, expect the climate to be much different from the plains.
Watch the sunrise at Tiger Hill, visit a tea estate and explore the Mahakal Temple. Later, travel the World Heritage-listed Darjeeling Himalayan Railway on a vintage steam engine train. Continue with a visit to the Peace Pagoda.
Continue by private van to Gangtok and take an orientation tour of the town. Take in the stunning scenery of the Himalayas surrounding this quaint town.
Start the day with an orientation walk, then enjoy a free day to explore this scenic town.
Continue by private vehicle to Kalimpong. Stop along the way at Rumtek Monastery. Embark on an orientation walk of the town of Kalimpong then enjoy the rest of the day to explore at leisure.
Drive to New Jalpaiguri Station with a stop en route at Deolo Hills to take in views of the mountainous scenery. Catch the overnight train to Varanasi.
Arrive to Mughal Sarai in the morning and continue by van to Varanasi. Enjoy an evening visit to the ghats and watch the prayer sessions.
Take a sunrise boat trip on the Ganges. Enjoy a free afternoon to explore Sarnath and the city of Varanasi.
Take a morning Varanasi-Lucknow Intercity train. In the afternoon, visit the Bara Imambara.
Spend most of the day exploring Lucknow. Opt to explore The Residency and be immersed in colonial era history. In the afternoon, board the Swarna Shatabdi Express train to Delhi, with dinner provided on board. Enjoy the night in the bustle of Delhi.
Depart at any time.
With extra time, you can book our 'Agra Independent Adventure' including accommodation, transport, and a guided visit to India's most famous sight, the Taj Mahal.
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Trip Name: Indian Odyssey by Rail
Duration: 54 Days
From Price: £3,949
Supplier Tour ID: AHIR/145654
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