Head north and experience the diversified religious and cultural landscape: Shimla, draped in pine forests and reminiscent of the colonial era; Palampur, featuring artistic brilliance; Dharamshala, home to the Dalai Lama; and Amritsar, an ancient Indian city that houses the Golden Temple.
Welcome to India! Upon arrival, meet our representative and transfer to the hotel.
Delhi is India's capital, a bustling metropolis that incorporates the ancient with the modern. Amidst the skyscrapers, the monuments stand as a silent reminder to India's legacy. Driving from the airport, you will be impressed with Delhi's spacious, tree-lined streets and garden parks.
Overnight at the hotel.
Delhi - Shimla
Depart early in the morning for your first class rail journey to Shimla. The train is one of the most unique railway tracks in the world. It was first sketched in 1847, almost 50 years before it was actually constructed. Your journey, popularly called Toy Trains, is a breathtaking experience as it passes through the Himalayas, lush valleys embellished with pine and meadows of wildflowers. Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel.
Shimla is named after the Shyamala Devi, an incarnation of the Hindu Goddess Kali. Located in the Northwest Himalayas, the city is draped in forests of pine, oak, and rhododendron. Shimla was also the summer capital during the British Raj and the architecture remains reminiscent of the colonial era.
Overnight in Shimla.
ST's Hotel Recommendation
During the times of the British Raj, Oberoi Cecil was the most exclusive hotel in Shimla and known for its fabulous ballroom dances and fashionable clientele. The heritage hotel features rich wooden floors, glowing fireplaces, a grand atrium lobby, and panoramic mountain views.
Today, tour the highlights of Shimla. Start with Viceregal Lodge, where two conferences were held between Indian and British leaders during Independence. (Also, if you are a Harry Potter fan, the architecture is very similar to that of the Hogwarts Castle!) Continue to Jakhu Temple, dedicated to Lord Hanuman and one of Shimla’s most famous hilltop temples. The temple features impressive murals of Lord Hanuman and Lord Ram’s accomplishments from the Ramayana.
After lunch, visit Christ Church. The English church was established in the year 1846 at the eastern end of the Ridge. This is one of the oldest enduring church in the northern region of India and also one of Shimla’s prominent landmarks. This church has inspiration from the memorials of Raj era along with the typical Victorian style stained glasses.
Conclude your tour at Bantony Castle, a heritage red bricked mansion established in the year 1880. Once upon a time it was the home of Maharaja of Sirmaur.
Evening at leisure to explore the town. Overnight.
Shimla - Palampur
After breakfast, drive to Palampur (6 hours). Situated on a plateau, Palampur is surrounded by the Bundla stream and pine forests. The town is famous for its tea gardens and majestic snowy mountains. Many compare Palampur's beauty and geography to that of Lucerne, Switzerland.
Upon arrival, check into your hotel. Overnight in Palampur.
After breakfast, visit the Baijnath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. Later, visit Andretta Potteries, once the home to famous painter Sardar Sobha Singh and playwright Norah Richards. It has now become a center for artistic activities. If interested, Sodha Travel can arrange for an exclusive afternoon pottery lesson.
Evening at leisure or enjoy a home cooking lesson. Overnight.
Palampur - Pragpur
Drive to Pragpur (2 hours) and check into the Heritage Hotel Judge's Court. The country manor is located in the medieval hamlet of Pragpur in the Kangra Valley. The property was India's first classified country manor with an ambiance reminiscent of the turn of the 20th century.
Day at leisure to participate in various resort activities or explore the surrounding hills. Overnight.
Pragpur - Dharamshala
After breakfast, drive to Dharamshala (1.5 hours). Dharamshala is the principal township of the Kangra Valley and is magnificently set against the Dhauladhar mountains. The town has been the seat of His Holiness the Dalai Lama since 1960 when the Chinese occupied Tibet. Dharamshala also houses many Tibetan refugees and is often called Little Lhasa.
Upon arrival, check into your hotel. Afternoon at leisure and overnight.
Today, visit the highlights of Dharamshala: St. John Church, Namgyalma Stupa, Dal Lake, Dharamkot, the Tibetan market and Mcleodganj, home to the Dalai Lama. In the evening, visit the Buddhist learning centers.
For the adventure seekers, you can instead trek from Naddi Village to Dharamkot. Start from the Tibetan Children’s Village, a non-profit educational community for impoverished Tibetan children in exile. Drive to Naddi, a village with stunning views of the Dhauladhar Mountain Range. From here, visit the Golu Mata Temple on foot and continue downhill Dharamkot. End your walk near the Vipassana Center where your car will return you to the hotel.
Evening at leisure and overnight.
Dharamshala - Amritsar
Today is a longer day of transport but not without spectacular HImalayan vistas. Drive from Dharamshala - Amritsar (7 hours), stopping along the way for roadside chai and chats with local communities.
Arrive in Amritsar and transfer to your hotel. Amritsar is one of the most ancient cities in India and an important seat of Sikh history and culture. As a gateway for travelers on route from Central Asia, Amritsar soon became the center of commercial activities. Located in the state of Punjab, the city also houses the Golden Temple, the most sacred shrine of Sikhism.
Evening at leisure and overnight.
In the morning, visit the Golden Temple. Shining in the morning light, the gilded splendor of its paneling, dome, and minarets illustrates spiritual transcendence. The temple is a fairy palace to the devotees of the Sikh faith.
Adjacent to the temple is Langar Hall, considered the largest community kitchen in the world. In addition to the ideals of equality, the tradition of langar expresses the ethics of sharing, inclusiveness, and oneness. The food is freshly prepared and comprises of parshaada (roti), cooked vegetables, daal, kheer, and karaha prashad.
The service is performed by the volunteers called Sewadars. This practice of selfless service goes beyond the bound of religion and serves to nourish the soul, creating a sense of unity and oneness. The experience of the Gurudwara Walk will empower you to be one of the sewadars at the Gurudwara. In the role of a sewadar, experience the ultimate joy of giving.
Continue to the Jallianwala Bagh, the historic site and memorial to the massacre in 1919. Many know this event as portrayed in the Oscar-winning movie Gandhi. The site now houses a garden and national monument.
In the evening, experience the border ceremony at Wagah Border, the border line running along the Grand Trunk Road. People from all across the country visit to witness the Beating Retreat Ceremony that is held daily before sunset. The ceremony includes the closing of the international gates and lowering the flags of both the countries.
The flag ceremony is conducted by the Indian Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers since 1959. Officially, the purpose of the ceremony is to formally close the border for the night and lower the national flag. However, it is an entertainment ceremony and a patriotic display for the thousands of people who come here every day.
Overnight in Amritsar.
Amritsar - Delhi and Departure
Today, transfer to the airport for your flight to Delhi. Upon arrival, connect to your onward flight. Bon Voyage!
Private vehicle and driver
Airfare from Amritsar - Delhi
Train ticketing from Delhi - Shimla
Comprehensive touring with a private guide
Entrance fees to the monuments
Local, immersive experiences
Airport and rail transfers with assistance
Road/interstate taxes, fuel surcharges, and parking fees