Tailor-Made Holiday

Western Himalayas - Amritsar, Pragpur and Shimla

Visit key religious centres significant to Buddhism, Sikh and Christianity

13 days

from $3,250pp (excluding flights)

The 12-day, culturally varied holiday of North West India begins in Delhi before spending time in the Punjabi capital of Amritsar. Leave Amritsar, ascending by road and rail through the green tea estates of Kangra Valley, to reach the lofty heights of Mcleod Ganj and Shimla.

  • Visit the Golden Temple of Amritsar
  • Take picturesque train journeys on narrow gauge railways
  • Converse with a Buddhist monk in Mcleodganj
  • Meet with a historian at his residence in Shimla
  • Visit Chandigarh, a meticulously planned city by Le Corbusier

The Punjab

Start your Punjabi adventure in Amritsar, home to the Golden Temple, the spiritual nerve centre of the Sikh faith. Reach Amritsar by efficient express train running from Delhi to Amritsar in under six hours. Amritsar is a pleasant city to explore on foot with your guide. Join the community kitchen in the early morning and help make a chapatti -each morning the kitchen feeds 30,000 people, incredible. Don’t miss the evening putting to bed ceremony, where the Adi Granth is lovingly returned to its resting place where it spends the night – it is quite something to see. For pure good-humoured and patriotic theatre, visit Wagah near Amritsar on the Pakistan border, for the nightly closing the border ceremony.

Ascending from Amritsar by road, travel through the Kangra valley, home to lush green tea estates and farmland, before reaching Palampur and Pragpur. These pretty villages provide perfect territory for some soft trekking. Perched upon terraced hill tops over shadowed by the Dhauladhar mountain range, breath in the fresh air. Nearly a century old, the narrow gauge railways continue to function, albeit slowly,  through the foothills  – it says something about the original manufacturing by the North British Locomotive Company. Catch a ride on the historical Kangra Mountain railway, earmarked for UNESCO status.

The Hill Stations

Exchange Hindu shrines for Buddhist prayer flags at Mcleod Ganj, the residence of the current 14th Dalai Lama. This area became a settlement of Tibetan Buddhism from 1960 following their exile from Tibet. Today it is a cultural crossroads, converse with a monk and learn about life in this small corner of Tibetan India. Hear more of their quest to preserve their traditional arts, crafts and unique culture.

What better way to explore the summer capital of British India than in the company of a local author who is well versed on the history of Shimla. Christianity made a late appearance after the arrival of the British less than 150 years ago. The Christ Church dominates the ridge of Shimla, built in 1844. 

This British hill station is linked to the plains by the Kalka-Shimla railway, built at the turn of the 20th century, overseen by chief engineer H. S Harington. Featured in the Guinness Book of Records, it chugs through 103 tunnels as it descends the hillsides before reaching Kalka. Travel by rail to Kalka and then a short drive to Chandigarh, an interesting town, particularly if you have a penchant for architecture. Designed by Le Corbusier, the grid formed streets and a stark contrast to the usual chaotic development of other Indian cities. A must see is the Rock Garden whilst here.

When is the best time to vist the foothills of the Himalayas?

The ideal time to visit Amritsar is during October to March. Avoid very hot summers or equally chilly winters. The foothills of the Himalayas offer a welcome escape from the summer heat and can be comfortably visited during the early summer months of April and May.

How to make this holiday special

Why not extend your stay in Shimla and treat yourself to a relaxing stay at Wildflower Hall, a short 45 minute drive out of Shimla. Once the estate of Lord Kitchener, today this mountain retreat, managed by Oberoi is pure magic. The views are simply magical and the well thought through activities and spa programmes will keep you busy.

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 
$ 4387.5 $ 877.5

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Fly London to Delhi

Delhi may be one of the world's largest metropolises, but architectural wonders - new and old - fill the city, hidden beneath Delhi's urban sprawl. Mughal treasures, including the Red Fort and Jama Masjid, are complemented by more recent additions to Delhi's architectural heritage, such as the stunning Lotus and Akshardham Temples. Meanwhile, contemporary Delhi thrives in Connaught Place, which - with its colonially-designed buildings, - is the most westernised part of the centre. Globalisation is in evidence, with brand names splashed across every storefront.

VIP Meet and Greet upon arrival
Our representatives will be there to meet you as you disembark the plane and will accompany you to the immigration desk and meet you again at the baggage carousel.

You will be staying at The Claridges, Bed & Breakfast

Day 2

Half a Day to Explore Old Delhi
A lifetime experience in the streets of Delhi is waiting for you on this memorable rickshaw ride through the streets of Old Delhi.Pass through the vibrant bazaars that sit at the foot of the Jama Masjid, arguably the most famous place of Muslim worship in India.

Watch vendors cook up delicious street-side delicacies, admire as bicycle mechanics service Delhi's innumerable two-wheeled cycles and stand aside as children race through the crowds. Leave the rickshaw at Khari Baoli and walk through the spice markets. Learn about the history, traditions and cultures behind these street specialities ranging from two hundred year old sweet shops to the Paratha Wallah - the street that specialises in flat breads.

Half a Day Exploring New Delhi
Today discover Sir Edwin Lutyen's beautiful garden city of New Delhi. Now packed with political buildings, the city was designed by British architects during the early 20th century. Visit the Raj Path, India Gate, Rastrapathi Bhawan and other landmarks.

Afterwards, head south to the Lal Kot, the ancient Tomara capital of the region. Explore some of the city's earliest monuments, including the medieval sites of Qutb Minar, Quwwat-ul-Islam and Alai Darwa.

Constructed in the 12th century, Qutb Minar is an impressive brick-built tower of victory that celebrates Islam's march eastwards. One of Delhi's foremost sites, it is the tallest minar in India.

Finish at Humayun's Tomb, one of Delhi's Mughal wonders and the architectural inspiration for the construction of the Taj Mahal. A stunning mix of red stonework and while tiled domes, the emphasis on symmetry makes it particularly spectacular.

Please ensure you carry your passport with you today in case it is required to enter any monuments or buildings.

Visit the Gurudwara Sikh Temple
This temple has one of the biggest (and cleanest) poor kitchen's in Delhi and witness the hundreds of people that come to eat here each day for free - and if you are feeling like it you would be guided by your guide on how to help - perhaps rolling chapattis (Indian flat bread) or stirring the huge pots of lentil stew or perhaps serving! It is not the usual option for a sightseeing experience in Delhi but perhaps one of the most rewarding.

You will be staying at The Claridges, Bed & Breakfast

Day 3

You will be escorted to the train station in New Delhi and assistance will be provided on boarding

Travel from Delhi to Amritsar (Rail Journey)

Drive to Kathgodam Railway station to board your train to Delhi - Kathgodam Express (1535/2050hrs)

The capital of the Punjab, Amritsar bordering with Pakistan is famous for its Golden Temple, a two storey marble structure with an imposing gold dome. Visitors attend the going to bed ceremony at the temple in the evening .The daily kitchen is a sight that must be experienced, where volunteers prepare a simple meal for as many visitors as require feeding. Amritsar has an airport and is well situated for exploring the Himalayan foothills. Amritsar is an easy drive away from Wagah, a village divided in two by a country border. A daily Beating the Retreat takes place with great pomp and ceremony.

Evening Trip to see the Wagah Border Ceremony
Visit the Wagah Border to witness 'the lowering of the flags' ceremony that takes place every day before sunset. Rich in symbolism, beautifully choreographed and packed with aggression, this incredible practice has been going on for more than half a century. Watch as both sides - Indian and Pakistani - take part in this bizarre ritual, which culminates in the border gates closing for the night.

You will be staying at Taj Swarna, Amritsar, Bed & Breakfast

Day 4

Early Morning Walk to the Golden Temple
Explore the city on foot in the cooler temperatures of early morning. Begin with a visit to the city's undoubted highlight, the Golden Temple. The spiritual nerve-centre of the Sikh faith, this magnificent construction is also known as 'Harmandir'. Constructed from white marble and copper gilt, the temple is topped with a stunning gilded dome. Famous for its community kitchen, volunteers here feed more than 30,000 people each day.

Afterwards, visit the poignant Jallianwala Bagh, which commemorates the innocent victims of a notorious massacre by British forces. A stain on history, this atrocity galvanised the Indian independence movement. Later, continue to the beautiful Ram Bagh gardens.

Returning to the hotel this morning for time at leisure

Evening Visit to See the 'Putting to Bed' Ceremony
In the evening, head to the Golden Temple to witness the vibrant 'Putting to Bed' ceremony. Watch as the Adi Granth - the original Sikh holy book - is lovingly returned to the beautiful Akal Takht, where it spends the night.

You will be staying at Taj Swarna, Amritsar, Bed & Breakfast

Day 5

Drive from Amritsar to Palampur (Road Journey)

Driven from Amritsar to Palampur. A journey of approximately six hours.

You will be staying at Rakkh, Bed & Breakfast

Day 6

Train Ride on the Kangra Mountain Railway
Today morning enjoy train ride on Kangra Mountain Railway with the guide. Train ride from Kangra railway station to Baijnath - is a great way to mingle with locals and pass through lush farmland. After the train ride visit the Baijnath Shiva Temple and drive short distance to visit the small artists-village of Andretta. Visit the world famous Andretta Pottery Studio.

A full day exploring McLeod Ganj
Explore McLeod Ganj, the settlement of Tibetan Buddhists who sought refuge here in 1960 following their exile from Tibet. The Buddha Temple is situated opposite the residence of the Dalai Lama and around it are located a monastery and a nursery. A few kilometres walk away is the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts which is open to the public and worth a visit.

You will be staying at Rakkh, Bed & Breakfast

Day 7

Drive from Palampur to Pragpur (Road Journey)

Drive to Kathgodam Railway station to board your train to Delhi - Kathgodam Express (1535/2050hrs)

Sightseeing Tour of Pragpur
Pragpur is a small hamlet nestled in the valley of the Dhauladhar mountains of Himachal Pradesh. The town has retained a predominantly medieval ambience and has been named a "heritage village". Great effort have been made to preserve it's culture and relics. There is an interesting museum and a number of heritage buildings to visit during a tour around the town and Pragpur also provides easy access to nature trails and adventure sports which are a wonderful way to see the area. There are numerous trails available to suit all fitness levels.

You will be staying at Judges Court, Bed & Breakfast

Day 8

Drive from Pragpur to Shimla (Road Journey)

Drive to Kathgodam Railway station to board your train to Delhi - Kathgodam Express (1535/2050hrs)

Time at leisure. Take a wander through the mall

You will be staying at Oberoi Cecil, Bed & Breakfast

Day 9

Walking Tour of Shimla
With an English speaking guide visit the town of Shimla. The tour will include visiting some of the colonial landmark buildings, the Jakhu temple, the Viceregal Lodge, Chadwick Falls and the local down town bazaars.

You will be staying at Oberoi Cecil, Bed & Breakfast

Day 10

Toy Train Ride - Shimla to Kalka
Today enjoy a Toy Train ride, a narrow-gauge railway which links Shimla to Kalka, was an important rail-link built in 1924. Its "toy trains" still ply between the two stations, passing through 105 tunnels and beautiful railroad stations. At every stop on the journey you will see smiling faces giving a warm welcome. The journey takes approximately five to six hours at a slow pace. We recommend you take a packed lunch from your hotel before leaving Shimla.

You are met on arrival at Kalka railway station and transferred to Chandigarh (1 hrs approx). On arrival in Chandigarh, check in at the hotel.

The remainder of the day at leisure enjoying the plush surroundings of your hotel

You will be staying at Oberoi Sukhvilas & Spa, Bed & Breakfast

Day 11

Half Day Sightseeing Tour
Spend some time exploring Chandigarh, a town designed by the architect Le Corbusier. The brutal modernist structures and planned grid formed streets make for a stark contrast to India's usual chaotic cities. Highlights include the Nek Chand Rock Garden, the city's rose garden and the peaceful Sukhna Lake.

You will be staying at Oberoi Sukhvilas & Spa, Bed & Breakfast

Day 12

Fly Chandigarh to Delhi

Spend the afternoon at an airport hotel before departing on the international flight

You will be staying at Holiday Inn Express - Airside, Bed & Breakfast

Day 13

Fly Delhi to London


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

The Claridges

The Claridges

Built in 1952, The Claridges remains one of New Delhi’s most iconic hotels....

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Oberoi Sukhvilas & Spa

Oberoi Sukhvilas & Spa

The Oberoi Sukhvilas Resort & Spa is an exquisite luxury spa resort in Chandigarh, surrounded by over 8,000 acres of the Siswan Forest at the foothills of the outer Himalayas....

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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

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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!"

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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. "

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

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