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Indian Odyssey by Rail

  • 54 Day(s)
  • Trip Code : GAAHIR

India is the perfect destination if you're looking to do some long-term travelling that will stay in your memory for years - so why not skip the backpacking and get on board a train? This 54-day trip allows you to travel like an India native by taking the train from northeast to southwest, spotting innumerable beautiful sights along the way. From touring the Taj Mahal to spotting the colours of Rajasthan to visiting the ruins of Karnataka, this train trip hits some of India's highlights with plenty of time to disembark and get to know your surroundings.

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Itinerary

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Day 1 Delhi

Arrive at any time.

Arrive in Delhi at any time. There are no planned activities, so check into to the hotel (check-in time is 12.00 midday) and enjoy the city. In the early evening (approx 17.00pm) you will meet your fellow group members and go over the details of your trip. Check the notice board to see exactly where and what time this meeting will be held. Delhi offers a multitude of interesting places and attractions to the visitor, so much so that it becomes difficult to decide from where to begin exploring the city. Old Delhi offers mosques, forts, markets and other monuments depicting India's Muslim history while New Delhi is a modern city with tree- lined streets. Home to the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the imperial residence of the British viceroys; India Gate, and the Laxminarayan Temple. Further out you can discover more history including Humayun's Tomb, the Purana Quila, Qutab Minar, and the incredible lotus-shaped Bahai Temple.

Day 2 Delhi/Amritsar (1D)

Support Planeterra's New Delhi Streetkids Project on an included walk led by rehabilitated street kids before travelling to Amritsar by the Shatabdi Express train, with dinner served on board.

Enjoy a city tour by local streetkids, a Planeterra-supported project. It is estimated that 400,000 children live and work on the streets of Delhi. In most cases, their families are too poor to provide for them, they have run away from abusive home environments or they are orphans. Planeterra's New Delhi Streetkids Project supports over 5,000 of these street children through strategically placed contact points, shelters and a health post set up by a local partner organization. These youth centres provide clothing, food, healthcare, education, counseling, recreational activities, job skills training and job placements. Through Planeterra's partnership with Salaam Baalak Trust, scholarships are made available to young people who once lived and worked on the streets of Delhi. By funding vocational training in trade schools and universities, and making job-placements based on each child's individual interest, we can help break the cycle of poverty and give these youth the opportunity to create a brighter future. Many of these adolescents have been fully-trained as tour guides and lead exciting tours through the enchanting inner city streets of Paharganj, the New Delhi railway station, and The Old City. This tour is a unique way for travelers to engage in these children's lives and the guiding provides an opportunity for them to improve their communication and speaking skills. This afternoon catch the Shatabdi Express to Amritsar, with dinner served on board. Estimated travel time: 6 hours

Days 3 Amritsar

Visit the Golden Temple before witnessing the formal India-Pakistan Wagah border ceremony in the evening. Sit in the grandstands and cheer for India as the bystanders wave flags and soldiers march back and forth.

Amritsar is the spiritual and cultural centre of the Sikh Religion. To learn more about the Sikh religion, we visit Harimandir Sahib, also known as the Golden Temple, the most sacred shrine in Sikhism. The Golden Temple kitchen serves free food daily to more than 40,000 visitors. After watching the preparation in the huge kitchens we will join in this event known as 'langar'. The food is simple and tasty and includes delicious dals laden with ghee, scrumptious roti and yummy vegetables. (Note the meal is had sitting on the floor, using your hands and a small donation should be given to the temple on completion of the meal). After, visit Jallianwalla Bagh, the site of the Amritsar Massacre of 1919, one of the defining events of India's struggle for freedom from British rule. Powerfully depicted in the movie Gandhi, it was here on April 13, 1919, that British Indian Army soldiers opened fire on an unarmed gathering of men, women and children. Amritsar is on the Pakistan-India border and in the evening we travel to the border post to watch the formal flag ceremony, which is sure to be one of the highlights of the trip. Every evening hundreds of people gather to watch the famous goose-stepping parade and the ceremonial lowering of their national flags by the Indian and Pakistani armies at sunset.

Days 4-5 McLeod Ganj/Dharamsala

Take an orientation walk around McLeod Ganj, the famous seat of the Tibetan government in exile and current home to the Dalai Lama. Opt for a tour of the Norbulingka Institute, set amongst beautiful gardens, dedicated to preserving Tibetan culture.

Travel along Himalayan mountain roads to the famous seat of the Tibetan government in exile, Dharamsala. Sometimes known as "Little Lhasa" after the Tibetan capital city, Dharamsala has been connected with Buddhism for centuries, with many monasteries established here in the past. When the Dalai Lama left Tibet he established a "government-in-exile" in Dharamsala. Since that time, many Tibetan exiles have settled in the town, numbering several thousand. Most of these exiles live in Upper Dharamsala, or McLeod Ganj, where they established temples and schools. Dharamsala and McLeod Ganj pulsate with the sights and sounds of old Tibet. Shops strung out along the narrow streets of McLeod Ganj sell traditional Tibetan arts and handicrafts and the aroma of Tibetan dishes lingers in the air. In 1988 the Tibetan community founded the Norbulingka Institute in an effort to promote and preserve Tibetan culture in exile. The Institute promotes the traditional arts and literary studies of Tibet to ensure they are not lost forever, and a visit offers the best introduction to Tibetan culture and art available anywhere in the world. On Day 5 we have the option to visit Norbulingka. Set amidst beautiful gardens, surrounded by the green fields of the Kangra Valley, the Norbulingka Institute stands against a backdrop of the towering Dhauladhar mountains of the outer Himalayan range. DALAI LAMA TEACHINGS The Dalai Lama sometimes gives teachings in Dharamsala (and other cities throughout India). To see the current schedule check the following web site: www.dalailama.com. Estimated travel time: 6 hours

Days 6-7 Shimla

Enjoy a long drive to the charming town of Shimla, high in the Himalayas. Enjoy a CEO-led orientation walk on The Ridge and The Mall (local hangouts) to explore this summer capital of British India. Opt to visit the Viceregal Lodge or admire the neo-Gothi

Enjoy a long drive to the charming town of Shimla, high in the Himalayas. Enjoy a CEO-led orientation walk on The Ridge and The Mall (local hangouts) to explore this summer capital of British India. Opt to visit the Viceregal Lodge or admire the neo-Gothic or Tudorbethan architecture of the heritage buildings.

Days 8-9 Delhi (1D)

Take the World Heritage-listed toy train from Shimla to Kalka. Over the course of three hours the train winds through tunnels as you head out of the mountains of Shimla. Switch to the Shatabdi Express for the rest of the way back to Delhi, with dinner inc

Take the World Heritage-listed toy train from Shimla to Kalka. Over the course of three hours the train winds through tunnels as you head out of the mountains of Shimla. Switch to the Shatabdi Express for the rest of the way back to Delhi, with dinner included on board. Day 9 is a free day to explore more of this extraordinary city.

Day 10 Agra (1B)

Take the morning Shatabdi Express train to Agra, with breakfast served on board. Enjoy a guided tour of the impressive Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. Time permitting, opt to visit the Baby Taj.

Take the morning Shatabdi Express train to Agra, with breakfast served on board. Enjoy a guided tour of the impressive Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. Time permitting, opt to visit the Baby Taj.

Days 11-12 Jaipur

Hop a Shatabdi Express train in the evening to Jaipur. In the morning take an orientation walk around town. Take a photo opportunity at the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) and visit the Amber Fort. Walk around the Old City and markets and opt to visit th

Hop a Shatabdi Express train in the evening to Jaipur. In the morning take an orientation walk around town. Take a photo opportunity at the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) and visit the Amber Fort. Walk around the Old City and markets and opt to visit the City Palace. With free time on Day 12, choose to visit local artisans in a nearby village, wander the Jantar Mantar or check out a Bollywood film at the spectacular Art Deco film house, the Raj Mandir.

Days 13-14 Udaipur

In the afternoon, continue by the Udaipur Express train to Udaipur. Enjoy an orientation walk including a visit to the Jagdish Temple and the City Palace, one of the largest royal palaces in India. Attend a Rajasthani Cultural show on Gangaur Ghat. With f

In the afternoon, continue by the Udaipur Express train to Udaipur. Enjoy an orientation walk including a visit to the Jagdish Temple and the City Palace, one of the largest royal palaces in India. Attend a Rajasthani Cultural show on Gangaur Ghat. With free time here, opt to visit the many beautiful lakes, take a boat ride, visit the Monsoon Palace for some excellent views or take an Indian cooking class.

Days 15-16 Bundi (1D)

Enjoy a free day in Udaipur before an evening train to Bundi on the Bundi Mewar Express. On Day 16, explore the Bundi Fort and stepwells before an overnight on the Mumbai Rajdhani Express, with dinner on board.

Enjoy a free day in Udaipur before an evening train to Bundi on the Bundi Mewar Express, about four and half hours. On Day 16, explore the Bundi Fort and stepwells before an overnight on the Mumbai Rajdhani Express, with dinner on board.

Days 17-18 Mumbai

In the morning arrive to bustling Mumbai, home to 20 million people. Take a walking tour of the Colaba area and see the Gateway of India. Spend Day 18 exploring more of Mumbai before an overnight on the Konkan Kanya Express train to Goa.

In the morning, arrive to bustling Mumbai, home to 20 million people. Take a walking tour of the Colaba area and see the Gateway of India. Spend Day 18 exploring more of Mumbai before an overnight on the Konkan Kanya Express train to Goa.

Days 19-21 Goa

Arrive to beautiful Goa and spend your free time relaxing on the beach. Opt to visit the many Portuguese-built monuments, wander around the churches of Old Goa (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) or discover Panjim, the capital of the Goan state. Don't forget

Arrive to beautiful Goa and spend your free time relaxing on the beach. Opt to visit the many Portuguese-built monuments, wander around the churches of Old Goa (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) or discover Panjim, the capital of the Goan state. Don't forget to indulge in Goan cuisine.

Days 22-23 Hampi

Travel by Visakhapatnam Howrah Express train and bus to reach Hampi, in the heart of Karnataka. Spend all of Day 23 on a walking tour and exploring the spectacular ruins of Hampi Palaces, Hararama Temple and the boulders on the river. In the evening, take

Travel by Visakhapatnam Howrah Express train and bus to reach Hampi, in the heart of Karnataka. Spend all of Day 23 on a walking tour and exploring the spectacular ruins of Hampi Palaces, Hararama Temple and the boulders on the river. In the evening, take an overnight Hampi Express train to Mysore.

Days 24-25 Mysore

Arrive to Mysore and explore the Mysore Palace and Chamunda Hill. Spend Day 25 on a day trip to Srirangapatnam.

Arrive to Mysore and explore the Mysore Palace and Chamunda Hill. Spend Day 25 on a day trip to Srirangapatnam.

Days 26-27 Bangalore

Take a morning Shatabdi Express train to Bangalore. Explore the Lal Bagh Gardens and Bangalore Palace. Spend Day 27 visiting Bangalore markets and Cubbon Park. In the evening, take an overnight Ernakulam SF Express train to Kochi.

Take a morning Shatabdi Express train to Bangalore. Explore the Lal Bagh Gardens and Bangalore Palace. Spend Day 27 visiting Bangalore markets and Cubbon Park. In the evening, take an overnight Ernakulam SF Express train to Kochi.

Day 28-29 Kochi

Explore the Fort Kochi area and see the Chinese fishing nets at work. If time allows, visit the Jewish area and synagogue, the Dutch Palace and Spice Market.

Explore the Fort Kochi area and see the Chinese fishing nets at work. If time allows, visit the Jewish area and synagogue, the Dutch Palace and Spice Market.

Days 30-31 Alleppey (1B, 1D)

Take a morning Ernad Express train to Alleppey for an overnight in a Kerala Backwaters homestay. Walk in the paddy fields and take a canoe ride through the canals the region is famous for. Day 31 is a free day to continue exploring.

Take a morning Ernad Express train to Alleppey for an overnight in a Kerala Backwaters homestay. Walk in the paddy fields and take a canoe ride through the canals the region is famous for. Day 31 is a free day to continue exploring.

Day 32 Kanyakumari

Take an evening Ernad Express train to Kanyakumari for a full day exploring the area.

Take an evening Ernad Express train to Kanyakumari for a full day exploring the area.

Days 33-34 Madurai

Most of Day 33 is in Kanyakumari. Drive to the southernmost tip of India and take a ferry across to Vivekananda Rock and Ramkrishna Ashram. Take an evening Kanyakumari Express train to Madurai. On Day 34, explore the Meenakshi Temple and colourful Madurai

Most of Day 33 is in Kanyakumari. Drive to the southernmost tip of India and take a ferry across to Vivekananda Rock and Ramkrishna Ashram. Take an evening Kanyakumari Express train to Madurai, about four and a half hours. On Day 34, explore the Meenakshi Temple and colourful Madurai markets.

Days 35-36 Mamallapuram

Take morning Vaigai Express train to Chengalpattu before continue by van to Mamallapuram. Cycle around and explore the rock-cut Shore Temple and Mamallapuram Beach.

Take morning Vaigai Express train to Chengalpattu before continue by van to Mamallapuram. Cycle around explore the rock-cut Shore Temple and Mamallapuram Beach.

Day 37 Chennai

Drive about one hour to Chennai and catch an early Coromondal Express train to Vizag. It's a full day train with plenty of time to relax and watch the scenery of the East Coast glide by.

Drive about one hour to Chennai and catch an early Coromondal Express train to Vizag. It's a full day train with plenty of time to relax and watch the scenery of the East Coast glide by.

Day 38 Vizag

Arrive to Vizag and explore northern beaches and the Simachalam Temple.

Arrive to Vizag and explore northern beaches and the Simachalam Temple.

Days 39-40 Puri

Take an early Puri Express train to Bhubaneshwar and marvel at the scenery. Continue by van to reach Puri. Explore the Jagannath Temple, Raghuraj Pur village and beautiful Puri beaches.

Take an early Puri Express train to Bhubaneshwar and marvel at the scenery. Continue by van to reach Puri. Explore the Jagannath Temple, Raghuraj Pur village and beautiful Puri beaches.

Day 41-43 Kolkata (1L)

Take a morning Shatabdi Express train to Kolkata, with lunch provided. Arrive in the afternoon. Day 42 and 43 are free days to explore Kolkata - visit the Victoria Memorial, New Market and take a ferry on the Ganges. In the evening of Day 43, board an ove

Take a morning Shatabdi Express train to Kolkata, with lunch provided, and arrive in the afternoon. Free time to exploring Kolkata on Day 42 - visit the Victoria Memorial, New Market and take a ferry on the Ganges. In the evening of Day 43, board an overnight train to New Jalpaiguri.

Day 44 Kalimpong (1L)

Arrive to New Jalpaiguri in the morning and continue by van to Kalimpong. Explore MacFarlane Memorial Church and visit a cactus and orchid nursery and the Lepcha Museum, dedicated to preserving the dwindling culture of the indigenous Lepcha tribe. After,

Arrive to New Jalpaiguri in the morning and continue by van to Kalimpong. Explore MacFarlane Memorial Church and visit a cactus and orchid nursery and the Lepcha Museum, dedicated to preserving the dwindling culture of the indigenous Lepcha tribe. After, enjoy lunch with a local family including a cooking demonstration.

Days 45-46 Gangtok

Continue by private van to Gangtok and take an orientation tour of the town. On Day 46, enjoy a day trip to Rumtek Monastery.

Continue by private van to Gangtok and take an orientation tour of the town. On Day 46, enjoy a day trip to Rumtek Monastery.

Days 47-48 Darjeeling

Head to Darjeeling by private van and take an orientation tour of the town. On Day 48, watch the sunrise at Tiger Hill, visit a tea estate, explore the Mahakal Temple and meet Tibetans at a Refugee Camp. After, visit the Peace Pagoda.

Head to Darjeeling by private van and take an orientation tour of the town. On Day 48, watch the sunrise at Tiger Hill, visit a tea estate, explore the Mahakal Temple and meet Tibetans at a Refugee Camp. After, visit the Peace Pagoda.

Day 49 Toy Train/Siliguri

In the morning take the Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express toy train to Kurseong before driving to Siliguri. Visit Akshardham.

In the morning take the Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express toy train to Kurseong before driving to Siliguri. Visit Akshardham.

Days 50-51 Varanasi

Enjoy free time in Siliguri before an overnight North East Express train to Mughalsarai. Arrive to Mughalsarai in the morning of Day 51 and continue by van one hour to Varanasi. Enjoy an evening visit to the ghats.

Enjoy free time in Siliguri before an overnight North East Express train to Mughalsarai. Arrive to Mughalsarai in the morning of Day 51 and continue by van one hour to Varanasi. Enjoy an evening visit to the ghats.

Days 52-53 Lucknow (1D)

Take a sunrise boat trip on the Ganges with free time before an afternoon Varanasi Lucknow Intercity train. Spend most of Day 53 exploring Lucknow, including a visit to Bara Imambara. In the afternoon, board the Swarna Shatabdi Express train to Delhi, wit

Take a sunrise boat trip on the Ganges with free time before an afternoon Varanasi Lucknow Intercity train. Spend most of Day 53 exploring Lucknow, including a visit to Bara Imambara. In the afternoon, board the Swarna Shatabdi Express train to Delhi, with dinner provided on board. Enjoy the final night of the journey and the bustle of Delhi.

Day 54 Delhi

Depart at any time. With extra time, you can book our 'Agra Extension' including accommodation, transport, and a guided visit to India's most famous sight, the Taj Mahal.

Depart at any time.

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  • TRIP NAME: INDIAN ODYSSEY BY RAIL
  • DURATION: 54 DAYS
  • FROM PRICE: $5499
  • TRIP CODE : GAAHIR
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  • India

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  • Trip Style: Small Group Adventures
  • Comfort Level: Standard
  • Physical Demands: Trips may include activities like hiking, biking, rafting or kayaking. No sweat, right?

What's included?

Planeterra-supported Delhi Streetkids walk. Golden Temple visit and evening Wagah border ceremony (Amritsar). McLeod Ganj orientation walk. Bhagsunag visit. Taj Mahal visit (Agra). Agra Fort visit. Jaipur orientation walk. Amber Fort visit. Udaipur orientation walk. Jagdish Temple and City Palace visit. Rajasthani cultural show. Bundi Fort and stepwells visit. Colaba area walking tour (Mumbai). Gateway of India visit. Beach time in Goa. Walkin ...

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