Suggested flight (not included in the cost of the tour) Jet Airways flight 9W 121 departing London Heathrow at 20.40 hrs.
Arrive in Delhi at 11.10 hrs and connect to Jet Airways flight 9W 260 departing Delhi at 12.10 hrs arriving Kathmandu at 14.25 hrs.
Transfer to the luxury Hyatt Regency Kathmandu city resort hotel situated outside the city centre near the Boudhanath Stupa. Afternoon city tour of Kathmandu including the famous UNESCO Pashupatinath Temple which is considered one of the most sacred temples of the Hindu faith, serving as the seat of the national deity, Lord Pashupatinath, and famous for its burning ghats. Also visit the great white stupa at Boudhanath, one of the world’s largest stupas and also the most important Tibetan Buddhist monument outside Tibet. Traditional six-course Nepali dinner at Dwarikas Hotel’s Krishnarpan restaurant.
Day 1: Visit Swayambhunath, the ‘Monkey Temple’, the oldest shrine in the world established more than 2,500 years ago, situated on top of a high hill and commanding superb views of the valley below. The four sides of this ancient structure are painted with the compassionate eyes of Buddha. Continue to Durbar Square in Patan, city of arts and architecture, founded in 250 AD and also known as Lalitpur. It is renowned for its fine works in bronze, silver and copper.
Lunch in the Café of Patan Museum which faces Durbar Square and is housed in a beautifully restored and renovated former Malla palace. Afternoon at leisure with options to spend the afternoon in the shopping district of Thamel, soaking up the atmosphere, shopping or relaxing in bars; or further explore Kathmandu; or return to hotel to unwind by pool or enjoy the spa. Traditional Tibetan dinner at the home of long-term local resident Lisa Choegyal.
Day 2: Morning trek through the scenic beauty of the Kathmandu Valley to the medieval town of Bhaktapur with a special curated picnic lunch en route.
Explore Bhaktapur, an ancient Newar town which is the third largest in the Kathmandu Valley and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its rich culture, temples, and wood, metal and stone artwork. Late afternoon tea and snack stop in Bhaktapur before returning to Kathmandu. Dinner under own arrangements.
Dawn flight from Kathmandu airport over Mount Everest (8,848 metres) during which you will have a bird’s-eye view of the highest peak in the world and the Himalayan panorama. Later this morning, take a flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara and transfer to the Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge where two nights are spent. Situated on a spectacular hilltop ridge above the Pokhara Valley, the lodge has stunning mountain views. Accommodation is in hand-cut stone bungalows, set in natural gardens around the hilltop. The lodge’s spa services include massage, yoga and meditation.Lunch at the lodge. Afternoon at leisure before a short hike through the surrounding hills. Sunset drinks on the open terrace while enjoying the stunning views. Cooking demonstration followed by dinner at the lodge.
Ridge-top walk through the natural beauty of the Annapurna Mountains with breath taking views. Stop for a picnic lunch en route.
Return to relax or enjoy the lodge’s facilities. Photo workshop with Chris followed by dinner at the lodge.
Morning at leisure before transferring to Pokhara for a flight to Kathmandu.
Lunch under own arrangements at Dwarikas Hotel. Transfer to the airport for a flight to Kolkata. Transfer to the Oberoi Grand Hotel where one night is spent. Centrally located in the commercial heart of Kolkata’s main shopping and business district, the Oberoi Grand was a classically designed residence and combines Victorian architecture and charm with state-of-the-art amenities and facilities. Dinner at Kewpie’s, a family-run restaurant serving Bengali cuisine.
Early morning walking tour of Kolkata beginning at the labyrinthine Flower Market on the banks of the River Hooghly. Continue to the heart of British Kolkata, Dalhousie Square, now known as B.B.D. Bagh, with landmarks such as the classical Post Office, the site of the notorious Black Hole and Government House (seat of the Viceroys). Visit St. John’s Church, modelled on St. Martin-in-the-Fields and crammed full with fascinating tombs both within and without. Return to the hotel for a late breakfast.
Lunch under own arrangements. Transfer to Kolkata airport for a flight to Varanasi. Transfer to the Brijrama Palace Hotel on the Darbhanga Ghat where two nights are spent. The palace was built by the Royal House of Nagpur and is considered to be one of the oldest buildings on the ghats with just 32 rooms that offer a unique experience of old-world charm with completely modern facilities. Evening boat trip on the Ganges to see the sunset Aarti ceremony, a daily ritual conducted by Hindu priests, worshipping the river goddess with incense, camphor, flowers and earthen lamps. Dinner at the hotel’s Darbhangar restaurant.
Early morning boat ride on the Ganges past the ghats to see pilgrims gathering on the steps that lead down to the river to bathe in the misty dawn light. Return to the hotel for breakfast and a morning at leisure.
Boat ride to Gai Ghat which is decorated with a huge statue of a cow symbolising Mother Earth and used to be the marker of the southern-most limit of the city. Walk back to the hotel along the ghats and through the backstreets, stopping to see temples, mosques, and the ancient Jantar Mantar observatory built by Maharaja Jai Singh in 1737. Try a fruit flavoured lassi at one of the lassi shops for which Varanasi has become known. Dinner on the hotel’s roof terrace.
Morning at leisure with lunch under your own arrangements.
Transfer to Varanasi airport for a flight to Khajuraho. On arrival transfer to the Sarai at Toria Lodge where three nights are spent. The Sarai at Toria is a uniquely designed lodge situated on a beautiful riverside site, close to Khajuraho and Panna National Park. It is the vision of a husband and wife partnership with a passion for wildlife and conversation. Their aim is to manage the Sarai at Toria in an environmentally and socially responsible manner, providing comfort and indulgence while protecting the natural and the cultural environment. Take a relaxing walk through the crop fields of the surrounding countryside to the local villages. Dinner at the hotel.
Day 1: Early morning jeep safari in Panna National Park. Return to the hotel for breakfast.
Lunch at the hotel. Afternoon at leisure to relax or try a boat ride or fishing on the pristine Ken River or go birding in the nearby forest and wetland areas. Dinner at the lodge.
Day 2: Early morning jeep safari in Panna National Park. Return to the hotel for breakfast.
Lunch at the hotel. Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the hotel facilities or optional outdoor activities. Dinner at the lodge.
Morning tour of Khajuraho, famous for its magnificent World Heritage temples. Built during the Chandela Dynasty (10th – 11th centuries), the temples are beautiful examples of Indo Aryan architecture, featuring exquisite carvings, many of them erotic. Dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and a Jain Thirthankar (spiritual guide), the temples showcase the art and architecture of medieval India.
Lunch at a local restaurant. Transfer to Khajuraho airport for a flight to Delhi. On arrival, transfer to the Trident Gurgaon Hotel, where one night is spent. Conveniently located for the airport, the Trident hotel offers a tranquil setting with 7 acres of stunning landscaped gardens, walkways, courtyards, pools and fountains. Farewell dinner at the hotel by the pool.
Morning at leisure with lunch under own arrangements.
Transfer to Delhi International Airport. Suggested flight (not included in the cost of the tour) Jet Airways flight 9W 122 departing Delhi at 13.10 hrs arriving at London Heathrow at 17.40 hrs.
Ayesha provided superb advice - she is to be commended! We had the most excellent adventure - everything went smoothly, first time in any of our India trips!- JK, India, 2014