Day 1 - UK to Amritsar
Depart London on your scheduled overnight flight to Amritsar via Delhi.
Day 2 - Amritsar
On arrival you will be met by a local guide and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure to explore the Sikh's holy city and its network of historic bazaars.
Day 3 - Amritsar
Following breakfast, you'll enjoy a visit to the Golden Temple, one of the most awe-inspiring and memorable sights in India. Sikhism's holiest shrine, the spectacular golden temple blends Hindu and Islamic architecture, which is set off by its stunning location at the centre of a shimmering pool, known as the Pool of Nectar. After lunch, the afternoon is yours to explore at your own pace, alternatively you can take an optional excursion to the Wagah Border. Famous for its fascinating flag-lowering ceremony, Indian and Pakistani guards decked in full uniform lower their respective flags and close the border gates with as much pomp and fervour as they can muster.
Optional excursion (payable locally): A tour to see the Wagah border between India and Pakistan and the daily flag ceremony.
Day 4 - Amritsar to Shimla
This morning you'll board the train to Chandigarh before taking a winding, scenic drive through lush pine forests to the former summer capital of British India. Beautifully situated on a hilltop in the snow-capped Shivalik Ranges and offering stunning views of the Himalayan mountains, the British Raj would annually transfer here to avoid the heat of Calcutta.
Day 5 - Shimla
After breakfast this morning you'll depart Shimla for the neighbouring hill station of Kufri. Set in the foothills of the Himalayas, this charming town is surrounded by dense forest and snow-capped mountains, offering staggering viewpoints of the surrounding countryside and the vast mountains beyond. After admiring Kufri's natural wonders, tour the impressive Rashtrapati Niwas, former residence of the British Viceroy. Built in Jacobethan style, this fascinating glimpse into British colonial history allows you to explore the maze of corridors, grand teak-panelled rooms and sprawling lawns.
Day 6 - Shimla to Delhi
Today, you'll travel in style with a ride on the UNESCO recognised 'Toy Train' - built for the British Viceroy and his delegates, the train is hauled along by a tiny diesel locomotive which rattles at a leisurely pace through breath-taking scenery to its final destination of Kalka. The train will stop at Dharampur Station where you will disembark for lunch. From here you'll transfer by car to Kalka Station and catch a connecting train to Delhi where you will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel.
Day 7 - Delhi
The symbol of old and new India, Delhi is simultaneously a buzzing, international metropolis and a city rich in history. Today you'll discover it in all its glory on a full day tour, traversing through Old Delhi's narrow, spice-scented streets by rickshaw, you'll feel like you've travelled back in time while taking in sights such as the Mughal Empire's imposing Red Fort and the UNESCO listed Humanyun's Tomb, whose Persian-style elegance and landscaped garden setting makes it one of Delhi's finest historic sites. Crossing to the intricately planned colonial centre of New Delhi, you'll visit the minimalistic Mahatma Gandhi Memorial adorned in floral tributes, before exploring the ruins of Quatub Minar complex. Before falling to ruin, this red-sandstone city was built in the 13th Century by the Delhi Sultanate and housed a number of mosques and tombs, as well the intricate tower centrepiece from which the complex gets its name.
Day 8 - Delhi
Having found your bearings on yesterday's tour today is at leisure to explore the city at your own pace. Wander the broad avenues of New Delhi and discover fascinating museums, impressive colonial architecture or lose yourself in the teeming bazaars and monuments of Old Delhi.
Day 9 - Delhi to Agra
Depart Delhi this morning for the wondrous city of Agra the former capital of the mighty Mughal dynasty, whose legacy can be seen in the colossal forts and opulent buildings. Your afternoon will be at leisure to explore the fascinating mausoleums and bustling marketplaces of this charming city.
Day 10 - Agra
This unforgettable day begins with a sunrise tour of the truly magnificent Taj Mahal, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and widely considered to be the most beautiful building on the planet. Built on the orders of heartbroken Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan upon the death of his wife, this stunning white marble mausoleum took over 20,000 people and around 20 years to build and words simply don't do it justice. You'll return to your hotel for breakfast and a well-deserved rest before visiting the impressive, red sandstone Agra Fort. One of the finest Mughal forts in India, this colossal giant began construction in 1565 as a military structure, but was later transformed into an opulent palace for the emperor.
Day 11 - Agra to Jaipur
After breakfast, drive to the Pink city of Jaipur, stopping en route at the ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri, the former imperial capital of Emperor Akbar. A world heritage site, the city includes three magnificent palaces, one for each of his favourite wives and a stunning mosque, however the reason for the city's abandonment still remains a mystery. After lunch, proceed to Jaipur before arriving in time for dinner.
Day 12 - Jaipur
Begin your day with a visit to the impressive Amber Fort, built from pink sandstone and white marble this magnificent fort is largely made up of a royal palace, home to the royal family until 1728. Spread over four vast courtyards, you'll ascend to the fort either by jeep or by elephant, experience the grandeur of a Maharaja. The tour will continue to the City Palace, an impressive blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture before visiting the famous open-air observatory of Jantar Mantar. Finally you'll marvel at the numerous windows of the stunning Hawa Mahal, also known as the Palace of the Winds, before wandering through the city's colourful markets.
Day 13 - Jaipur
Today is at leisure to explore this beautiful city at your own pace. Explore the colouful bazaars, temples and museums the city has to offer or simply admire this flamboyant showcase of Rajasthani architecture.
Optional excursion (payable locally): The Elephant Village. Have the opportunity to see, touch and feed the elephants The village was set up by the local Rajasthan Government in 2010.
Day 14 - Jaipur to Varanasi
Following breakfast, you'll fly to Varanasi where you'll be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel. One of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world; the great Hindu city of Varanasi stretches along the River Ganges, its waterfront lined with temples and pavilions, interspersed with vast stone steps or ghats used daily by thousand of pilgrims in their daily ritual ablutions. This evening you'll tour the ghats and witness a Ganga Aarti ceremony where a small lamp containing a candle and flowers representing an offering of fire is floated down the river.
Day 15 - Varanasi
Awake early this morning for a sunrise boat trip on the Ganges where you can gain a different perspective of this colourful waterfront city and the spiritual importance of the river in the Hindu religion. Returning to your hotel for breakfast and a rest you'll then spend the afternoon exploring the ancient temples of Sarnath, a sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site on which the Buddha gave his first sermon after achieving enlightenment around 530BC. After exploring the many ruins you'll return to Varanasi where your evening is at leisure.
Day 16 - Varanasi to Kolkata
Today is at free for you to explore Varanasi's temples and forts, before your evening flight to Kolkata.
Day 17 - Kolkata
The showpiece capital of the British Raj, Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) was considered as the greatest colonial city of the Orient. You'll begin today's tour with a trip back to these times by visiting the grand imperial buildings around Dalhousie Square such as the majestic, white-domed General Post Office. Following lunch, enjoy a fascinating boat trip on the Hooghly river offering you a panoramic view of the city whilst sailing through the two spectacular Howrah and Vidyasagar bridges.
Day 18 - Kolkata
Your day is at leisure offering you the opportunity to explore the delights of Kolkata. Walk the chaotic back alleys, visit the shopping malls or meander through the botanical gardens.
Day 19 - Kolkata to Darjeeling
Following breakfast, embark on a short flight to Bagdogra. Continue your journey to stunning Darjeeling often referred to as the Queen of Hill stations. Surrounded by emerald green tea plantations, Darjeeling is the centre of India's most celebrated tea growing district whilst also affording you unforgettable views of the Himalayas.
Day 20 - Darjeeling
Begin your day with a ride on the UNESCO World Heritage Toy train, a unique 2-hour experience absorbing the magnificent beauty of the mountains which covers a total distance of 14kms. The train journeys to Batasia Loop, travelling around a wonderful manicured garden providing unparalleled views of Darjeeling town and the serene snow peaks of Kanchenjunga. The rest of your day is at leisure.
Day 21 - Darjeeling to Mumbai
Following breakfast, you will transfer to Bagdogra Airport for your flight Mumbai. After checking in at your hotel the rest if the day is at leisure to start exploring this multi-faceted city.
Day 22 - Mumbai
An early morning start to commence your full day tour of Mumbai awaits you. Your first stop is the iconic stone arch landmark known as the Gateway of India to board a motorboat to Elephanta Island, explore the ancient caves dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Back in Mumbai you will delight in admiring such sites as the grand Jain Temple before meandering through the picturesque Hanging Gardens which offer beautiful views of the city and sea before arriving at the beach at Chowpatty. Continue to the museum of Mani Bhavan where Mahatama Gandhi stayed during his visits to Mumbai between 1917-1943 and finally explore the beautiful Kamala Nehru Park.
Day 23 - Mumbai to Cochin
Following breakfast, you will fly to Kerala and arrive in Cochin known as the 'Queen of the Arabian Sea' for your afternoon tour of the city. Marvel at Mattancherry Dutch palace, and St. Francis church, the oldest European church in India and the impressive promenade lined with distinct Chinese fishing nets.
Day 24 - Cochin to Alleppey
Today you will board a traditional House Boat at Alleppey for your tranquil journey through the scenic winding backwaters absorbing the stunning rural scenery and admiring the local villages. After an authentic meal served on board by your private chef spend the night on board, a once in a lifetime experience.
Day 25 - Alleppey to Thekkady
Today you will disembark from the houseboat and enjoy a drive through the spectacular countryside to arrive at the hill station of Thekkady (Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary) which conjures up images of rolling lush hills and spice scented plantations. The Periyar forests of Thekkady are one of the finest wildlife reserves in India, and spread across the entire district are picturesque plantations and hill towns. In the evening, you can choose to relax at the hotel or visit spice market.
Day 26 - Thekkady to Cochin
This morning you will enjoy a charming boat trip on the Periyar Lake to admire the stunning scenery and view various species of wildlife including wild elephants, water buffalo and you may even catch a glimpse of a tiger. Once you disembark you will proceed to Cochin.
Day 27 - Cochin
Your last full day is at leisure; we have included a complimentary Ayurvedic massage of 45 minutes per person as a final treat to end this unforgettable tour.
Day 28 - Cochin to UK
After breakfast, transfer to Airport for return flight to UK via Mumbai.
Touring with Mercury Holidays
Mercury Holidays have been operating for over 36 years and have more recently added a fantastic range of escorted tours to their portfolio of holidays. They have grown from small beginnings to become one of the UK's leading independent Tour Operators. They specialise in arranging award-winning package holidays, escorted tours and river cruises to destinations the world over - and all at unbelievable prices!
Their escorted tours offer the ideal choice for those seeking the value of a carefully planned itinerary along with the security and reassurance of a knowledgeable and experienced local guide on hand to ensure your touring holiday is nothing short of perfection. Packed with special touches and little extras, their itineraries will show you the true character of each destination and take you beyond the norm, whether your chosen destination is closer to home or far-flung. They also offer a price match guarantee if you find a like for like tour for less.
There are no hidden extras in their tours, and all flights, accommodation, transfers and entry fees are included. They also offer tailored extensions to create your perfect tour holiday itinerary. If you’re travelling solo, where possible they have secured a limited number of places without a single supplement on each escorted tour. These are strictly subject to availability and once they are all booked a supplement may apply.
Another multi-award winning company, they have scooped no less than 8 British Travel Awards and 90% of their clients are more than satisfied with their service.