1. Witnessing a mesmerising aarti ceremony in Varanasi
  2. Taking a sunrise boat ride along the holy River Ganges
  3. Discovering Kolkata, arguably India’s cultural capital
  4. Sipping some of the world’s finest teas in Darjeeling
  5. Basking in glorious Kangchenjunga views

Day 1: Arrive in Delhi

Welcome to India’s thrilling capital – a city of stunning Mughal architecture, bustling bazaars and colonial-era boulevards. On arrival, either relax at your hotel or venture out independently. Overnight at Thikana.

Day 2: Delhi

Explore Old Delhi’s labyrinth-like streets on foot before arriving at the Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque. After seeing New Delhi by car, the day culminates at Humayun’s Tomb and Qutb Minar. Overnight at Thikana.

Day 3: Delhi to Varanasi

Fly east to Varanasi, a mesmerizingly colourful city that lays claim to being India’s spiritual capital. The evening is spent on the ghats beside the holy River Ganges, witnessing a traditional aarti ceremony. Overnight at Jukaso Ganges.

Day 4: Varanasi

Take an early-morning boat ride from the ghats to witness pilgrims performing puja in front of the rising sun. Later, take a walking tour of the most sacred ghats – including Manikarnika, Varanasi’s main cremation site. Overnight at Jukaso Ganges.

Day 5: Varanasi to Kolkata

Discover the temples and ruins of Sarnath, where Buddha performed his inaugural sermon in 530 BC after achieving enlightenment. Later, proceed to the airport for the onward flight to Kolkata. Overnight at Oberoi Grand.

Day 6: Kolkata

Welcome to Kolkata, arguably India’s capital of culture. Visit the historic Dalhousie Square, the 19th century St. Paul’s Cathedral, the iconic marble Victoria Memorial and the moving Mother Theresa’s Motherhouse. Overnight at Oberoi Grand.

Day 7: Kolkata to Darjeeling

Transfer to the airport for the flight north to Bagdogra. Board a private jeep for the ascent into the Himalayan foothills, with Darjeeling – the legendary tea-growing hill station – being today’s final destination. Overnight at Windamere.

Day 8: Darjeeling

Watch a magical Himalayan sunrise at Tiger Hill – which offers panoramic views of Everest and Kangchenjunga – before visiting Ghum’s Yiga Choling Gompa monastery. Later, take a ride on the famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. Overnight at Windamere.

Day 9: Darjeeling to Pelling

Travel north across the border into spectacular Sikkim, admiring stunning Himalayan views along the way. Today’s destination is Pelling, a town almost within touching distance of mighty Kangchenjunga. Overnight at Elgin Mount Pandim.

Day 10: Pelling

Enjoy awe-inspiring Kangchenjunga views from the hilltop Pemayangtse Monastery before roaming the ruins of Rabdentse, Sikkim’s capital between 1670 and 1814 and an important Buddhist pilgrimage site. Overnight at Elgin Mount Pandim.

Day 11: Pelling to Gangtok

Travel west along winding mountain roads – admiring rivers, villages and Sikkimese towns en route – to Gangtok, the state capital and a popular travellers’ haunt. On arrival, the rest of the day is spent at leisure. Overnight at Elgin Nor-Khill.

Day 12: Gangtok

Spend the day exploring Gangtok and its surroundings, including the Rumtek and Enchey monasteries and the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, which features a fantastic collection of Tibetan and Vajrayana Buddhist artefacts. Overnight at Elgin Nor-Khill.

Day 13: Gangtok to Kalimpong

Journey south back into West Bengal to Kalimpong, a major flower-growing centre. After exploring a nursery, visit the Zang Dhok Palri Phodang, Tharpa Choling and Thongsa Gompa monasteries. Overnight at Elgin Silver Oaks.

Day 14: Kalimpong to Delhi

Return to Bagdogra before flying to Delhi and connecting to your onward international departure.

Activities to consider

  • Walking tour of Delhi led by street children, courtesy of the Salaam Baalak Trust
  • Traditional Punjabi family meal and cooking lesson at Mrs Kidwai’s Kitchen
  • Witnessing a second aarti ceremony on the banks of the Ganges in Varanasi

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