Head north of Delhi on our Foothills of the Himalayas journey to discover India’s many spiritual sides: from an aarti ceremony on the River Ganges, considered holy by Hindus; to the new Buddhist heartland in Dharamshala, home to the exiled Dalai Lama; and Sikhism’s holiest shrine in Amritsar. Couple this with mountain scenery, a former British hill station, and tea plantations, and this trip offers a varied and fascinating insight.

At a glance

Witness the Ganga Aarti ceremony in Haridwar, one of India’s holiest Hindu cities

Explore India’s first planned city, Chandigarh – a vision in concrete!

Ride the ‘toy train’ up to Shimla, former summer capital of British India

Visit ‘Little Lhasa’ near Dharamshala, home to many Tibetans including His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

Wonder at the sight of the Golden Temple in the historical Sikh city of Amritsar

Revel in the pageantry of the ‘beating the retreat’ ceremony at the Wagah border with Pakistan

Highlights

Itinerary idea in detail

Includes international flights from a choice of UK airports, including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

  • Day 1

    On arrival in Delhi, you’ll be met by a Myway representative, who will accompany you to your hotel.

  • Day 2

    With your expert local guide, slip behind New Delhi’s majestic boulevards and tree-lined avenues to experience local life in this extraordinary city. On a quiet back street you’ll discover the community of 60 washer-men who scrub laundry for hotels, hospitals and better-off residents – many of their families have done this for generations, but the trade is dying out. Explore a well-preserved ancient step well, and spend time at a prominent Sikh temple, where you’ll have the chance to lend a hand in the community kitchen – a traditional part of Sikh temples, which feed people of all religions in their large dining halls. Take lunch in the hall amongst the other diners, before heading back to your hotel for a rest before your evening streetfood tour of Old Delhi. Feast on treats and sweetmeats, and visit what is allegedly the largest spice market in Asia, before stopping at India’s largest mosque before bedtime.

  • Day 3

    Head to Delhi station to board the train to Haridwar. Indian train stations can be a little bewildering, but a Selective Asia representative will accompany you to the correct train carriage and show you to your seats. You’ll be met at the other end by another team member (who’ll know which seats you’re sitting in) and you’ll be transferred to your hotel to check in and freshen up.

    In the evening, your guide will collect you to visit the ghats (riverside stepped platforms) to witness the Ganga Aarti ceremony. This devotional ritual is performed every evening at the holy cities of Haridwar, Rishikesh and Varanasi. During the ceremony, fire is used as an offering to the Goddess Ganga, in the form of candles floated on the river. Chanting and singing typically accompany the lighting of lamps by Hindu priests. It’s a beautiful spiritual sight.

  • Day 4

    Today you’ll explore some of Haridwar’s many intriguing temples with your expert guide. You’ll also visit Har-ki-Pauri, the most famous of the bathing ghats in Haridwar. According to legend, this is where the celestial Garuda bird spilled a sacred drop of elixir, prompting both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu to visit the site thereafter. End your day of exploration at the Jhawla Market and Bara Bazaar, known for its Ayurvedic medicines.

  • Day 5

    You’ll be driven from Haridwar to Chandigarh, stopping en route to visit the Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, a town made famous for its spirituality in the 1960s when the Beatles visited. Arriving during the afternoon, you’ll be taken to your hotel to check in and relax.

  • Day 6

    Explore Chandigarh with your expert local guide, stopping at the intriguing Rock Garden. This 40 acre site is filled with over 2,000 sculptures, created primarily from discarded pottery and junk by government official Nek Chand, who’s been doing this for over 18 years. In the afternoon, board the narrow-gauge train (in operation since 1903) for a slow but picturesque trip through the forested Himalayan foothills to the mountain city of Shimla, where you’ll be met and transferred to your hotel.

  • Day 7

    After breakfast, your guide will collect you for a heritage walking tour of Shimla. Amongst other sites you’ll visit the Viceregal Lodge, which was the official summer residence of the British Viceroy of India from 1888 until World War II. In the lead-up to Independence, the Lodge hosted two historic talks between Indian and British political leaders. You’ll also visit significant buildings such as the Victorian Gaiety Theatre, which was a social hub during the Viceroy era, and the oh-so-English Christ Church, which is one of the oldest churches in northern India.

  • Day 8

    Today you’ll be driven through scenic landscape to the picturesque town of Palampur, stopping several times en route to visit local villages, stretch your legs and enjoy the views on what is a long but beautiful trip. Once you reach Palampur, check in to your accommodation in its lush surroundings and unwind in preparation for tomorrow’s forest hike.

  • Day 9

    Spend a relaxed morning exploring Palampur and its scenic surroundings. With your guide, you’ll follow a forest trail to the hilltop temple of Birni Devi, where you can enjoy stunning mountain views, before visiting a nearby tea plantation. In the afternoon, you’ll be driven the short distance to Dharamshala, where you’ll check into your hotel and spend the remainder of your day at leisure.

  • Day 10

    This morning your guide will take you to Mcleod Ganj to explore the Dalai Lama temple complex and the adjacent Tibet Museum, with its intriguing collection of artefacts and photos. Afterwards, visit the gothic church of St. John in the Wilderness – surrounded by a cedar forest, this tranquil spot is the final resting place of Lord Elgin, the second British Viceroy of India during the 19th century. Once you’ve explored to your satisfaction, you’ll be driven back to town where the rest of your day will be at leisure.

  • Day 11

    After breakfast, you’ll be driven to the holy city of Amritsar, which sits close to the border with Pakistan. Upon arrival, check in to your hotel, where there’ll be time to relax before you head out for your first glimpse of Amritsar’s iconic Golden Temple. The site is particularly photogenic when illuminated at night, and devotees flock to lay eyes on, housed in the temple’s inner sanctum) during the daily evening ceremony when the text is ‘put to bed’. Having taken endless photos and soaked up the ambiance, you’ll be driven back to your hotel.

  • Day 12

    Begin today’s tour of Amritsar by returning to the Golden Temple for some contemplative time, before visiting Jallianwala Bagh. This walled garden contains a flame of remembrance to mark the site where, on 13 April 1919, British troops opened fire on a large Indian crowd who had assembled for a peaceful protest. As you might imagine, the massacre marked a change in the relationship between India and Britain. In the afternoon, head out to witness the famous ‘lowering of the flags’ ceremony, which takes place just before sunset every day at the Wagah Border between India and Pakistan. A military ceremony which formally closes the border for the night, the ritual’s sheer pageantry has turned it into quite an event, with competitive cheering between huge crowds from both nations. Enjoy the spectacle of the soldiers’ impressive marching, before the flags are lowered and the border gate is shut, whereupon you’ll be driven back to your hotel.

  • Day 13

    Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

Accommodation options

While the itinerary price reflects the suggested accommodation, Audley trips are 100% tailor-made, and a specialist can help you select the option best suited to your tastes and budget.

Booking Policy

  • English speaking, local guide
  • All accommodation listed
  • Land transportation by private air-conditioned vehicles
  • Any domestic flights listed (unless marked otherwise)
  • All admission fees at attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
  • All meals listedEnglish speaking, local guide
  • All accommodation listed
  • Land transportation by private air-conditioned vehicles
  • Any domestic flights listed (unless marked otherwise)
  • All admission fees at attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
  • All meals listed

  • Entry visas
  • International airport departure taxes
  • Any meals not listed in the itinerary
  • Drinks, other than water on activity days
  • Personal expenses (laundry, telephone, drinks, tip…)
  • Travel insurance
  • All other services not listed in ‘inclusive’

 

Please note: During high season periods (such as Christmas and New Year) hotels often levy a surcharge and these are not included in the above prices. Your consultant will be happy to advise you of these.

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