Reflections of East India
From fragrant tea plantations and snow-capped Himalayan peaks to bustling bazaars and the grandest colonial architecture, discover the hidden wonders of East India. Lose yourself in the soulful city of Kolkata, abuzz with intellect and creativity. Venture into striking Sikkim and see firsthand why this petite state was once regarded as a utopia. Delight in Gangtok’s tapestry of mountain scenery and Buddhist spiritualism. Wander through tea plantations. And make the train journey of a lifetime on the famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.
Planning your holiday is easy,and speak to your friendly Consultant.
Day 1: Arrive Kolkata
Sbāgata and welcome to Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal. Vibrant, uplifting and extremely friendly, Kolkata is perhaps the most soulful city in India. During the British Raj, Calcutta as it was known, was the Jewel of the East and the capital until 1911. Today it is still the most important city in the east, with a rich intellectual and cultural heritage. Receive a warm A&K welcome on arrival and transfer privately to your hotel.
Hotel: The Penthouse Kolkata, 3 nights
Day 2: Kolkata
Immerse yourself in city life with an early morning visit to the vibrant flower market under the famous Howrah Bridge. Wind through the mountains of marigolds and jasmine, then follow in the footsteps of the British Raj with a tour of colonial Kolkata. See Dalhousie Square, now known as B.B.D. Bagh, in the political heart of the city. Admire the colonial buildings, including the prominent Writers’ Building, surrounded by food vendors selling mouth-watering street foods. Continue to the revered Mother Teresa House, established in 1950 to care for the poor and sick. Learn of her ideologies and take a closer look at how Mother Teresa lived. Then sample traditional recipes from both sides of the border as well as Anglo-Indian and colonial cuisine with lunch at Oh! Calcutta. Later, immerse yourself in the serenity of the Victoria Memorial Hall. Admire the domed white marble hall built in memory of Queen Victoria. Stroll through the splendid gardens and step inside to discover Victorian memorabilia and British Raj-era paintings. End the day in the Maidan, the city’s largest urban park and the “lungs of Kolkata”, watching as people come together over a game of cricket.
Day 3: Kolkata
Head into the artisan hub of Kumartuli. Wander the maze of winding lanes in this 400-year-old village and watch as elaborately painted idols of Hindu gods and goddesses are produced for Durga Puja festivities. Board a tram and wind through the narrow streets and observe hawkers selling local products. Later, explore downtown on foot, revelling in the lively atmosphere at Kolkata market, filled with everything from vivid textiles to flowers, spices and teas. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure before an evening of unique Bengali hospitality in the home of Bomti Iyengar, a charming art collector and bon vivant who lives in a great heritage building. Join him for an evening of cooking, feasting and stories, surrounded by his eclectic art collection.
Day 4: Kolkata – Bagdogra – Kalimpong
Transfer privately to the airport and fly to Bagdogra, then journey overland to Kalimpong. A bustling bazaar town, this Himalayan hill station offers a fascinating history as part of the Sikkim Empire, fine Buddhist monasteries, and stimulating walks. Soak up the atmosphere with an evening stroll to the local market, discovering fresh cheese, handmade paper wares and traditional handicrafts.
Hotel: Mayfair Himalayan Spa Resort Kalimpong
Day 5: Kalimpong – Gangtok
Venture to Zang-Dhok-Palri Phodang, the area’s largest and most beautiful monastery and, breathe in the exotic fragrances of the colourful flower nursery filled with rare orchids and cacti. Later, journey to the capital of Sikkim, Gangtok. Once an important transit point for traders travelling between Tibet and India, today Gangtok is a cosmopolitan centre famous for its magnificent views of Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain. Check in to your hotel and spend your afternoon exploring your accommodation and the intriguing surrounds at leisure.
Hotel: Mayfair Spa Resort Gangtok, 2 nights
Day 6: Gangtok
Today, uncover layers of Buddhist and Tibetan culture, beginning at the Rumtek Monastery, the richest Buddhist monastic centre in India housing some of the world’s rarest and most unique religious artefacts. Move on to the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology and lose yourself in a vast collection of rare manuscripts, statues, and tapestries. Admire the varied and vibrant handicrafts of local craftsmen at the Government Institute of Cottage Industries, then spend your afternoon at leisure, relaxing in your hotel’s spa facilities, wandering along MG Road dotted with cafes and bazaars or partaking in an optional activity (additional charge). You could choose to try your hand at a momo cooking class or take a tour of the 200-year-old Enchey Monastery where you might be lucky enough to witness Chaam, a religious masked dance.
Day 7: Gangtok – Darjeeling
Rise early to capture the glowing sunrise over Kanchenjunga, this magnificent mountain towering 8,598 metres above sea level. Return to your hotel for breakfast, then journey through cardamom crop, ginger plantations and paddy fields to Darjeeling. The crown jewel of British colonial hill stations nestled high in the Himalayas, Darjeeling is home to almost a quarter of India’s tea production. Your perfect platform for discovery is the Glenburn Tea Estate, a heavenly plantation retreat that lies on a hillock above the banks of the River Rungeet.
Hotel: Glenburn Tea Estate, 3 nights
Day 8: Darjeeling
Darjeeling’s rich tapestry of cultures is yours to explore today. Start at the Ghoom Monastery, with its colourful prayer flags fluttering in the wind. Continue to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, founded in 1954, just after Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay first scaled Everest. Visit the Darjeeling Zoo, home of the Snow Leopard Breeding Centre. Then see locals making handicrafts and carpets at the Tibetan Refugee Centre. This afternoon enjoy a breathtaking ride on the heritage-listed small-gauge Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, or “Toy Train”, to Ghoom, the world’s second highest railway station. The toy train is a marvel of engineering passing through many small towns and is India’s oldest mountain railway route.
Day 9: Darjeeling
Discover the secrets of Darjeeling’s famous tea at the Glenburn Tea Estate. Join your guide on foot or by vehicle to explore this working tea estate. Meet the employees, learn how to care for the tea bushes and the art of plucking the “two leaves and a bud”. Visit the Tea Factory to see the journey of the leaf from farm to teacup. Then, appreciate the delicate flavours in a tea tasting. This afternoon, choose from an abundance of activities offered by the estate, or simply relax on your verandah drinking in the spectacular views.
Day 10: Darjeeling
Leave the snow-tipped peaks and terraced tea plantations of Darjeeling behind and transfer privately to Bagdogra Airport for your onward journey.
|2020 Dates & Prices||Twin Share||Solo Traveller|
|Departs Kolkata daily:||From $5,750.00||Price on Application|
|Meals:||9 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners|
|Transport:||Airport transfers & private air-conditioned vehicle|
|Flights:||Flight Ticket: Kolkata – Bagdogra|
|Rail:||Darjeeling Himalayan Railway|
|Accommodation:||9 nights accommodation|
|Guide:||Local English Speaking Guide|
|Entrance Fees & Touring:||Entrance fees & activities as per itinerary|
* Tour departure dates are subject to availability at time of booking.
* Prices and itinerary are correct at time of publication and are subject to change without notice.