Tailor-Made Holiday

Darjeeling and Sikkim Discovery

The Highlights of India's Eastern States

12 days

from £3,630pp (excluding flights)

Explore the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas on this scenic holiday. Starting in Kolkata, the first capital of the British Indian Empire, visit the colonial outpost of Darjeeling, home to the British Raj until 1947. Walk amongst the misty lush green slopes of the tea plantations, planted as early as 1841. Cross the Rungeet River and pass into the mountain kingdom of Sikkim, with Tibetan Buddhism coexisting with Hindu shrines. 

  • Take the slow and scenic Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
  • Witness the processing of world renowned Darjeeling tea followed by a tea tasting ceremony
  • Catch a glimpse of the mighty Mount Kanchnejunga, India’s highest mountain
  • Venture to Sikkim’s frontier and visit the glacial Tsongmo Lake, home to yaks.

Kolkata

Start this trip in Kolkata, a baptism of fire. With so many people here The Oberoi Grand will be your sanctuary over the next two days as you discover the spirit of the colonial era of Kolkata. A private guide is the only way to find out the most about a city, whilst gaining an insight into life as a local. Weave your way through the flower market in the early morning light, one of the largest whole sale markets of India –be sure to wear covered shoes. Take a walking tour of the colonial buildings, the old post office, the stark white Victoria Memorial and the grand Governor’s residence.

Darjeeling

A short flight from Kolkata brings you to Bagdogra, located at the northern reaches of the flat plains.  The only way is up as you travel the winding hair pin turns into the foothills. Seated above the Rungeet River and overlooking the mighty mountain ranges, Darjeeling is heavenly. The hill station was built by the British Raj from as early as 1835.  Enjoy fresh Darjeeling tea at the Glenburn plantation, a 150-year-old colonial house. Take a ride on the Darjeeling Mountain Railway to visit the Yiga-Choling Monastery near Ghoom which houses famous Buddhist scriptures.

sikkim - Gangtok

Retrace your steps a little to cross into permit controlled Sikkim, seperated from the rest of India by the Rungeet River. The last state to give up its monarchy and integrate into India. The capital city of Gangtok has a spectacular setting with fine views over the ranges, although surprisingly at a lower altitude than Darjeeling . It is the stronghold of the Namgyalak Institute of Tibetology due to many refugees who have settled here over the years.  Whilst in Gangtok, visit Rumtek Monstery, known for its beautiful monastic paintings and intricate woodwork. Take a scenic walk across the farmed terraces before leaving. This region is renowned for its orchid laden forests, with orchids in full bloom between April and June.

Returning to Bagdogra for an onward flight to Delhi, spend the final night back in the folds of urban life for last minute shopping and exquisite experiental dining.

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Price Excluding Flights £Flight cost from 
£ 3630 £ 650

Itinerary at a glance

Collapse all
Day 1

Fly London to Dubai

Day 2

Fly Dubai to Kolkata


Travelling to Kolkata is considered by many to be discovering the country’s cultural hub. Spend a little time here and gain insight into how 14 plus million people live together. The former capital of the Raj, Calcutta still retains much of its dramatic colonial architecture. Its legacy lives on in the imperious Victoria Memorial in the heart of the city, today home to an impressive collection, and the churces of St John and St Andrew. Stroll through the early morning flower markets, past the bookshops on College Street, and watch the world come to life in the institutional coffee shops. Whilst in the city sample the Bengali cuisine. The city is on the bank of the Hoogly River, and for an excellent view of the Howrah Bridge take a ferry upstream armed with a pocket full of sweets - the local delicacy.


Evening Boat Cruise up the Hooghly River
In a private river boat, discover an unseen side of Kolkata, with a ring-side view of the myriad happenings on the river's ghats. Sail past Belur Math, headquarters of The Ramakrishna Mission, as the city's two huge and famous bridges, Howrah and Vidyasagar Setu, pass overhead.


You will be staying at Oberoi Grand, bed and breakfast

Day 3

Half Day Walking Tour of Kolkata
Early in the morning is a great time to get out and about and explore Kolkata on foot. As the city wakes up, watch people begin their day, walking to the great River Hoogly to perform their early morning rituals. Visit the colourful flower markets, the Armenian and Portuguese churches, Jewish synagogues and wander around Dalhousie Square. There are plenty of chances to savour some Bengali morsels along the way - the food in Kolkata is just as important as the history and culture of the city.


Half Day 'Cultural Kolkata' Tour
Focus on the confluence of cultures that Kolkata showcases on a walk led by a long time city resident. Begin in the area known as Bow Barracks, home to the Anglo Indian community, ending at Burra Bazaar. Along the way you will be introduced to the Chinese, Armenian, Jewish and Portuguese influences, walk through narrow alleyways teeming with people and colour and come across unexpected sites such as a police station decorated with replicas of Picasso, a blackboard that serves as the Facebook page for the Anglo Indian community and Chinese breakfast being served from street carts - a long time Kolkata tradition. There are many sights, which are quintessential 'Kolkata', and this walk introduces you to a city usually only seen by locals. As part of the walk your guide will ntroduce you to some of the best street food and the famous Bengali sweets.


You will be staying at Oberoi Grand, bed and breakfast

Day 4

Half Day Walking Tour of North Kolkata
Take a stroll through the meandering lanes of north Kolkata or 'Black Town', where a parallel culture heavily influenced by the Europeans flourished among the pioneering families of Bengal. Walk past hidden courtyards and merchants' mansions. Visit the house in which the famous poet Rabindranath Tagore was born, as well as the elegant Marble Palace. Take lunch at a lovely Bengali restaurant situated in the historic Star Theatre where Bengali Theatre has its roots. The food is simple and fresh, with local specialities such as Daab Chingri (prawn curry in tender coconut) and ice cream desert made from fresh jaggery. In the afternoon visit Kumartuli or the potters market, where giant life like religious idols are created for festivals out of clay, bamboo and straw. On the way back to the hotel, visit Mother Teresa's Home and her missionaries charity. End with a pit stop at Flury's Tea Room, an institution in Kolkata's city.


You will be staying at Oberoi Grand, bed and breakfast

Day 5

Fly Kolkata to Bagdogra

Drive from Bagdogra to Gangtok (Road Journey)


Gangtok, meaning hill top, is the capital city of the Himalayan state of Sikkim, known for its flowers, particularly orchids, and its preservation of Tibetan culture through the many refugees who have been settle there for years. Located at an altitude of 1,547 metres, Gangtok has stunning views of the Himalayas, and is home to a number of important Tibetan monasteries and Buddhist sites. The views over the Kanchenjunga Range are spectacular.


Time at leisure


You will be staying at Nor-Khill Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 6

Half Day City Tour
Visit Enchey Monastery, the Institute of Tibetology, Do Drul Chorten and the Cottage Industry.
Enchey Monastery is perched on a ridge above Gangtok and gives spectacular views of the town. Built in 1910 on the site of the hermitage of a tantric saint, Lama Drutob Karpo, the monastery houses monks of the Nyingmapa Order of Tibetan Buddhism.
The Namgyal Institute of Tibetology was established in 1958 and promote research in Mahayana Buddhism and the language and traditions of Tibet.
Adjacent to the institute are two exquisite stupas, the Do Drul Chorten, built to commemorate the victory of good over evil, and the Jhang Chub Chorten, built in the memory of Thrukshik Rinpoche, a devotee, spiritualist and interpreter of Buddhism.
Afterwards visit the Directorate of Handloom and Handicrafts, which was set up to promote traditional Sikkimese art and handicrafts. You can not only purchase items, but can also see the artisans at work.


Rumtek Monastery
Rumtek Monastery is situated 24km from Gangtok and houses monks of the Kagyupa order of Tibetan Buddhism. Behind the monastery is the lavishly decorated Karmae Nalanda Institute of Buddhist Studies, which attracts students from all over the world.


You will be staying at Nor-Khill Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 7

Visit Tsongmo Lake
Drive uphill towards Nathu-La, before Tsongmo Lake visit the Alpine Sanctuary.

Visit the Lake at an elevation of 3,750 meters above sea level. The Lake is surrounded by steep mountains which are covered with snow during the winter. During summer the snow melts and forms the source of the lake. Sometimes, weather dependent, the Lake can remain frozen up until the month of May.

Please note that there are no proper places to stop for food in this area, therefore, a picnic lunch will be prepared for you to enjoy whilst you are on the journey.

On the way back you may have time to stop at Tashi View Point located along the Sikkim sub highway. The view point gives a great view of the Himalaya's and the layers of lush green hills that surround Gangtok.


You will be staying at Nor-Khill Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 8

Drive from Gangtok to Darjeeling (Road Journey)


The hill station of Darjeeling takes West Bengals pride of place. Sitting on a ridge 2,200 metres above sea level, surrounded by emerald-green tea plantations and a backdrop of Khangchendzonga mountain range, the scenery is jaw dropping. Explore colonial-era architecture, visit Buddhist monasteries and explore the steep narrow streets bustling with local residents, originally from Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet. Darjeeling tea is never too far away.


Time at leisure to explore Darjeeling by foot


You will be staying at Windamere Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 9

Take the Toy Train Ride from Darjeeling to Ghoom Monastery
Today you will take the train from Darjeeling town to Ghoom Monastery. This is a slow and scenic journey through the streets and winding tracks of the Darjeeling Hills up to the colourful Ghoom Monastery. If the sky is cloud free the views should be incredible. Please note that there are no toilets or refreshments on the train.


Later depart Darjeeling for the tea plantations


Activities at Glenburn Estate
Activities available include: a day tour around the tea estate with a visit to a tea factory and tea tasting; various hikes to see the suspension bridge to Sikkim across the River Rung Dung, a local village or convent and orchard; fishing; river rafting; spa treatments and cookery lessons.


You will be staying at Glenburn Tea Estate, full board

Day 10

Activities at Glenburn Estate
Activities available include: a day tour around the tea estate with a visit to a tea factory and tea tasting; various hikes to see the suspension bridge to Sikkim across the River Rung Dung, a local village or convent and orchard; fishing; river rafting; spa treatments and cookery lessons.


You will be staying at Glenburn Tea Estate, full board

Day 11

Drive from Darjeeling to Bagdogra (Road Journey)

Fly Bagdogra to Kolkata


Day Use Room Only to freshen up before international flight

Fly Kolkata to Dubai overnight


You will be staying at Swissotel, room only

Day 12

Fly Dubai to London

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Oberoi Grand

Oberoi Grand

The Oberoi Grand, fondly referred as the 'Grande Dame of Chowringhee' offers the ultimate classical residence in the City of Joy....

View Accommodation

Glenburn Tea Estate

Glenburn Tea Estate

Surrounded by the Himalayas, The Glenburn Tea Estate is a refined, secluded hotel, situated one hour's drive from Darjeeling....

View Accommodation

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of India

Joe Parkes, Travel Expert

"It was extremely helpful to work in conjunction with Joe and his much more up to date knowledge of India and arrive at an itinerary which we were happy with. We enjoyed the whole trip and probably what made it special for us was the fact that all the arrangements worked so well and we really didn’t have to worry about anything at all. Even when we decided to make a small change it was dealt with efficiently and promptly. We can't think of anything that would have made our trip more enjoyable."

"The service from start to finish has been excellent. Joe was very quick to respond to any queries and put together an excellent itinerary at short notice."

"A pleasure to deal with Joe. Efficient, helpful, knowledgeable and fun!"

Read More

Kate Hitchen, Travel Expert

"Kate was calm and bent over backwards to accommodate my jitters about going to Kashmir in the light of tighter FCO guidelines just a few days before our departure. She was absolutely correct in advising against what I thought we should do. Several times during the holiday we said that, 'Kate was dead right about that!'."

"We asked for a rather particular kind of Indian holiday. You delivered it in full. Highlights? Honestly, each day was a highlight in itself. "

Read More

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Enquire about this holiday:
Speak to an India holiday expert:

Tailor-Made Holiday Ideas

Booking a Tailor-made holiday gives you the flexibility to customise your journey, travelling when and where suits you.

Holiday Ideas in India

You are unique, so we believe your holiday should be too.

We listen to what you want and create a personalised itinerary tailored around you.

Your holiday. Your experience. Your way.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Call our Travel Experts on +01285 880 980
Start Your Journey
 

Expertise

  • Established for over 25 years creating journeys across 100 destinations worldwide
  • Exclusive access to the best private guides

PRICING

  • We negotiate the best rates with hotels and expert guides
  • Be protected from fluctuations in exchange rates

RESPONSIBLE STEPPES

  • Each time you travel with us we donate £5 to a local charity in the UK and £10 to an international charity

Fully Protected

  • Your monies are financially protected
  • 24/7 Emergency UK contact whilst abroad
 

Featured in the Press

Financial Times
The Telegraph
Sunday Times logo
CNT
Wanderlust

Our Partners

African Parks
Galapagos Conservation Trsut
OF_Primary_Logo_Tan
Restless Development
Save The Rhino
Tusk Trust
World Land Trsut
Gorilla Doctors
 

© Steppes Travel, 51 Castle St, Cirencester, GL7 1QD, United Kingdom