Foothills of the Himalayas

Head north of Delhi on our Foothills of the Himalayas journey to discover India’s many spiritual sides: from an aarti ceremony on the River Ganges, considered holy by Hindus; to the new Buddhist heartland in Dharamshala, home to the exiled Dalai Lama; and Sikhism's holiest shrine in Amritsar. Couple this with mountain scenery, a former British hill station, and tea plantations, and this trip offers a varied and fascinating insight.

At a glance

  • Witness the Ganga Aarti ceremony in Haridwar, one of India’s holiest Hindu cities
  • Explore India’s first planned city, Chandigarh - a vision in concrete!
  • Ride the ‘toy train’ up to Shimla, former summer capital of British India
  • Visit ‘Little Lhasa’ near Dharamshala, home to many Tibetans including His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
  • Wonder at the sight of the Golden Temple in the historical Sikh city of Amritsar
  • Revel in the pageantry of the ‘beating the retreat’ ceremony at the Wagah border with Pakistan
Itinerary
Price & Hotels

Delhi - 2 nights

Many visitors head straight to see Delhi’s awe-inspiring architecture, which is unquestionably eye-popping! But there's much more to the place, from exotic forts and exquisite mosques, to lip-smacking street food, and shopping that caters to every taste and budget imaginable. Your visit will plunge you behind the scenes and into the delights of local life, tasting streetfood, meeting the locals, exploring the markets, and seeing the city’s largest mosque.

Day 1 - Arrive Delhi

On arrival in Delhi, you'll be met by a Selective Asia representative, who will accompany you to your hotel.

Welcome to Selective Asia! This level of personal service (such as private transfers, private tours etc) is what you can expect throughout your trip. A few services (eg boat cruises) will be shared, but we'll always make sure you're aware of these.

Overnight in Delhi

Day 2 - Hidden New Delhi & Old Delhi Streetfood tours

Includes:

With your expert local guide, slip behind New Delhi’s majestic boulevards and tree-lined avenues to experience local life in this extraordinary city. On a quiet back street you'll discover the community of 60 washer-men who scrub laundry for hotels, hospitals and better-off residents - many of their families have done this for generations, but the trade is dying out. Explore a well-preserved ancient step well, and spend time at a prominent Sikh temple, where you'll have the chance to lend a hand in the community kitchen - a traditional part of Sikh temples, which feed people of all religions in their large dining halls. Take lunch in the hall amongst the other diners, before heading back to your hotel for a rest before your evening streetfood tour of Old Delhi. Feast on treats and sweetmeats, and visit what is allegedly the largest spice market in Asia, before stopping at India's largest mosque before bedtime.

Overnight in Delhi

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Haridwar - 2 nights

Translating literally as ‘Gateway to God’, Haridwar is the holiest Hindu city in Uttarakhand state, and sits where the Ganges emerges from the Himalayan foothills onto the North Indian plains. It’s been a centre of Hindu religion and mysticism for centuries, and pilgrims flock here to bathe in the fast-flowing waters, and in the evening the river comes alive with flickering flames as floating offerings are released on to the Ganges from Har-ki-Pauri Ghat.

Day 3 - Train from Delhi to Haridwar, evening aarti ceremony

Includes:

Head to Delhi station to board the train to Haridwar. Indian train stations can be a little bewildering, but a Selective Asia representative will accompany you to the correct train carriage and show you to your seats. You'll be met at the other end by another team member (who'll know which seats you're sitting in) and you'll be transferred to your hotel to check in and freshen up.

In the evening, your guide will collect you to visit the ghats (riverside stepped platforms) to witness the Ganga Aarti ceremony. This devotional ritual is performed every evening at the holy cities of Haridwar, Rishikesh and Varanasi. During the ceremony, fire is used as an offering to the Goddess Ganga, in the form of candles floated on the river. Chanting and singing typically accompany the lighting of lamps by Hindu priests. It’s a beautiful spiritual sight.

Overnight in Haridwar

Day 4 - Explore temples, sacred bathing ghat, & Ayurvedic bazaar

Includes:

Today you'll explore some of Haridwar's many intriguing temples with your expert guide. You'll also visit Har-ki-Pauri, the most famous of the bathing ghats in Haridwar. According to legend, this is where the celestial Garuda bird spilled a sacred drop of elixir, prompting both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu to visit the site thereafter. End your day of exploration at the Jhawla Market and Bara Bazaar, known for its Ayurvedic medicines.

Overnight in Haridwar

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Chandigarh - 1 night

The unique city of Chandigarh was one of the early planned cities in post-independent India, and is internationally known for its architecture and urban design. Then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru recruited Swiss architect Le Corbusier and international planners, who created a cosmopolitan city of grand civic buildings interspersed with lakes and gardens. Seventy years later, the concrete buildings, parks, monuments and civic squares are all still here, if a little worn around the edges! Your visit will include trips to the city’s surreal ‘Rock Garden’ sculpture park, and a narrow-gauge train trip through the Himalayan foothills as you travel onwards to Shimla.

Day 5 - Drive to Chandigarh via ashram

Includes:

You'll be driven from Haridwar to Chandigarh, stopping en route to visit the Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, a town made famous for its spirituality in the 1960s when the Beatles visited. Arriving during the afternoon, you'll be taken to your hotel to check in and relax.

Overnight in Chandigarh

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Shimla - 2 nights

Perched at an altitude of 2,159 metres, Shimla is blessed with superb mountain views and a cooler climate (during winter snowfall is a frequent occurrence, so remember to pack some warm clothing). It’s no wonder the British Raj chose it as their summer capital, and evidence of their residence can still be seen in the town’s architecture, which you’ll explore with your expert local guide.

Day 6 - City tour, sculpture park, train through Himalayan foothills to Shimla

Includes:

Explore Chandigarh with your expert local guide, stopping at the intriguing Rock Garden. This 40 acre site is filled with over 2,000 sculptures, created primarily from discarded pottery and junk by government official Nek Chand, who's been doing this for over 18 years. In the afternoon, board the narrow-gauge train (in operation since 1903) for a slow but picturesque trip through the forested Himalayan foothills to the mountain city of Shimla, where you'll be met and transferred to your hotel.

Overnight in Shimla

Day 7 - Heritage walking tour

Includes:

After breakfast, your guide will collect you for a heritage walking tour of Shimla. Amongst other sites you'll visit the Viceregal Lodge, which was the official summer residence of the British Viceroy of India from 1888 until World War II. In the lead-up to Independence, the Lodge hosted two historic talks between Indian and British political leaders. You'll also visit significant buildings such as the Victorian Gaiety Theatre, which was a social hub during the Viceroy era, and the oh-so-English Christ Church, which is one of the oldest churches in northern India.

Overnight in Shimla

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Palampur - 1 night

Surrounded by tea plantations, the hill station of Palampur enjoys a scenic setting amongst slopes covered in pine trees and views of the snow-capped Dhauladhar range. Faded Victorian-style mansions hint at days gone by when British colonists developed Palampur into a bustling town and a centre of trade and commerce.

Day 8 - Scenic drive to Palampur

Includes:

Today you'll be driven through scenic landscape to the picturesque town of Palampur, stopping several times en route to visit local villages, stretch your legs and enjoy the views on what is a long but beautiful trip. Once you reach Palampur, check in to your accommodation in its lush surroundings and unwind in preparation for tomorrow’s forest hike.

Overnight in Palampur

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Dharamshala - 2 nights

Surrounded by stunning scenery in the Kangra Valley, Dharamshala offers superb hiking for all abilities. Apart from being India’s smallest tea growing region, Dharamshala is probably best known as the home of the exiled Dalai Lama, although technically he resides a short distance away, in the suburb of McLeod Ganj - otherwise known as ‘Little Lhasa’, due to its large population of Tibetans. The suburb is full of Buddhist temples, stupas, monasteries , convents, meditation centres and Tibetan schools, and attracts many Buddhist pilgrims, along with a fair number of intrigued tourists! Your stay will include visits to the Dalai Lama temple complex and the excellent Tibet Museum.

Day 9 - Palampur forest temple hike, drive to Dharamshala

Includes:

Spend a relaxed morning exploring Palampur and its scenic surroundings. With your guide, you'll follow a forest trail to the hilltop temple of Birni Devi, where you can enjoy stunning mountain views, before visiting a nearby tea plantation. In the afternoon, you'll be driven the short distance to Dharamshala, where you'll check into your hotel and spend the remainder of your day at leisure.

Overnight in Dharamshala

Day 10 - Dalai Lama temple complex, Tibet Museum, gothic church

Includes:

This morning your guide will take you to Mcleod Ganj to explore the Dalai Lama temple complex and the adjacent Tibet Museum, with its intriguing collection of artefacts and photos. Afterwards, visit the gothic church of St. John in the Wilderness - surrounded by a cedar forest, this tranquil spot is the final resting place of Lord Elgin, the second British Viceroy of India during the 19th century. Once you've explored to your satisfaction, you'll be driven back to town where the rest of your day will be at leisure.

Overnight in Dharamshala

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Amritsar - 2 nights

Amritsar is the largest city in Punjab, and the spiritual capital of the Sikh faith. Its extraordinary Golden Temple is the holiest shrine of Sikhism, and protects the Adi Granth (the sacred scripture of Sikhism) within its inner sanctum. The temple is just a small part of a huge gurdwara complex, and is surrounded by a tank of sacred waters said to have healing properties; pilgrims visit from all over the world to bathe here. Amritsar has a chequered history, blighted by the 1919 massacre of civilians by British troops, and scenes of shocking violence during Partition. Your stay will include visits to the Golden Temple, the Jallianwala Bagh remembrance garden, and the famous nightly border-closing ceremony on the India-Pakistan boundary.

Day 11 - Drive to Amritsar, Golden Temple by night

Includes:

After breakfast, you'll be driven to the holy city of Amritsar, which sits close to the border with Pakistan. Upon arrival, check in to your hotel, where there’ll be time to relax before you head out for your first glimpse of Amritsar’s iconic Golden Temple. The site is particularly photogenic when illuminated at night, and devotees flock to lay eyes on, housed in the temple’s inner sanctum) during the daily evening ceremony when the text is ‘put to bed’. Having taken endless photos and soaked up the ambiance, you’ll be driven back to your hotel.

Overnight in Amritsar

Day 12 - City tour

Includes:

Begin today's tour of Amritsar by returning to the Golden Temple for some contemplative time, before visiting Jallianwala Bagh. This walled garden contains a flame of remembrance to mark the site where, on 13 April 1919, British troops opened fire on a large Indian crowd who had assembled for a peaceful protest. As you might imagine, the massacre marked a change in the relationship between India and Britain. In the afternoon, head out to witness the famous ‘lowering of the flags' ceremony, which takes place just before sunset every day at the Wagah Border between India and Pakistan. A military ceremony which formally closes the border for the night, the ritual's sheer pageantry has turned it into quite an event, with competitive cheering between huge crowds from both nations. Enjoy the spectacle of the soldiers’ impressive marching, before the flags are lowered and the border gate is shut, whereupon you'll be driven back to your hotel.

Day 13 - Depart Amritsar

Includes:

Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

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We only provide privately guided holidays - meaning that you will not be expected to share guides or transport for the duration of your visit. You can also start on any day you choose.

Please click on the hotel category buttons below to view hotel details. These are recommended properties only - we have many alternative options for you to choose from if you would prefer. You can mix hotel categories throughout your holiday.

Hotel class Price per person (based on total # travelling)
2 persons 3 - 4 persons 5 - 6 persons
First Class £2,131US$2,777 £1,979US$2,579 £1,781US$2,321

The Claridges

Combining classic elegance with contemporary facilities and service, The Claridges maintains the high standards we’ve come to expect from this historic Indian hotel... See more

Aloha on the Ganges

Aloha on the Ganges is a laid-back retreat on a peaceful Rishikesh riverbank, just a few miles upstream from the pilgrimage town of Haridwar...

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Lemon Tree Hotel

Conveniently located near Chandigarh airport, the Lemon Tree’s bright decor and signature lemony scent create a calm and uplifting base for exploring this modern city...

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Clarkes Hotel

Behind its modest colonial exterior, the Clarkes Hotel offers a warm welcome and a cosy, vintage ambiance...

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Taragarh Palace

This heritage hotel in Palampur’s Kangra Valley offers a traditional welcome in a tranquil mountain setting...

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Chonor House

Perched serenely on a Dharamshala hillside, near to the Dalai Lama’s residence, Chonor House is a memorable property showcasing Tibet’s culture and history...

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Ranjit's Svaasa

Tucked away from Amritsar’s busy streets, Ranjit's Svaasa is a welcoming oasis within calm green courtyards...

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Superior £2,335US$3,042 £2,197US$2,863 £1,976US$2,575

The Claridges

Combining classic elegance with contemporary facilities and service, The Claridges maintains the high standards we’ve come to expect from this historic Indian hotel... See more

The Haveli Hari Ganga

With the Ganges’ sacred waters lapping against its walls, the delightful Haveli Hari Ganga enjoys a truly special location...

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The Lalit Chandigarh

Conveniently situated in Chandigarh’s modern tech quarter, near the picturesque Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary, the Lalit offers sophisticated contemporary luxury...

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Oberoi Cecil

This well-received heritage hotel has been a Shimla landmark since the British Raj era, with its grand atrium soaring to the glass ceiling and lined with balconies...

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The Lodge at Wah

Within the grounds of a long-established, family-run tea estate, the Lodge at Wah offers guests a tranquil retreat with a homely welcome...

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Fortune Park Moksha

Resting against a peaceful, tree-covered hillside, Fortune Park Moksha offers classic style and stunning views...

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Ranjit's Svaasa

Tucked away from Amritsar’s busy streets, Ranjit's Svaasa is a welcoming oasis within calm green courtyards...

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Solo travellers are always welcome - please contact us for a tailored quote.

These prices are shown in GBPUSD.
Selective Asia is a UK-registered company, but our client-base spans the globe, so we bank in both GBP and USD and can therefore provide a fixed price in either currency.
We also have payment facilities in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the EU, and can typically offer better-than-bank exchange rates on the date of payment in these currencies (against a booking priced in GBP).

Itinerary additions

At Selective Asia we specialise in creating unique, tailor-made experiences. The holiday itineraries provided on this website are intended to help you visualise what is achievable in your destinations of choice, over a given period of time and at an intended budget.
Whilst many clients are happy with one of our recommended itineraries in the current form (and at the price quoted), there are those that wish to personalise their holiday in some way, whether it be a change of hotel, an additional destination or even start from scratch. This is when our tailor-made specialists come into their own; with many years of experience both living and working in the region they are ideally equipped to advise on alternatives and to facilitate any necessary changes.

The important stuff

Please note: During high season periods (such as Christmas and New Year) hotels often levy a surcharge and these are not included in the above prices. Your consultant will be happy to advise you of these.

Inclusive:

  • English speaking, local guide
  • All accommodation listed
  • Land transportation by private air-conditioned vehicles
  • Any domestic flights listed (unless marked otherwise)
  • Any train journey listed (unless marked otherwise)
  • All admission fees at attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
  • All meals listed
  • International flight reconfirmation.

Exclusive:

  • Flights to/from Asia. We are an ATOL bonded operator and can arrange flights for all our clients, regardless of whether you are departing from the UK or from almost any other worldwide destination.
  • Entry visas
  • International airport departure taxes
  • Any meals not listed in the itinerary
  • Drinks, other than water on activity days
  • Personal expenses (laundry, telephone, drinks, tip...)
  • Travel insurance
  • All other services not listed in 'inclusive'

Please note

All prices are correct at the time of publishing. They are liable to change and can only be confirmed upon submitting an enquiry.

 

Extras

Flights

We will arrange all internal flights used within our holiday itineraries. We can also arrange discounted flights from all UK airports to Asia and we are a fully bonded ATOL operator. If you would like a quote for your international flights then please complete the required section on the enquiry form.

Visa

You will require a visa to enter India. Your consultant will be happy to advise you on visa requirements.

Passport

Please ensure that you have a valid passport with at least 6 months validity remaining after your return date. You will also need at least one blank page for each of the countries you are visiting.

Insurance

You will require a comprehensive travel insurance that covers you for medical costs associated with hospitalisation, emergency travel and repatriation back to your home country. We offer our customers a specially discounted insurance policy, ideally suited to the needs that a trip such as this creates. Tick the insurance box in the enquiry form and we will send you a quote to suit your needs.

Vaccinations and Malaria Prevention

You will undoubtedly require vaccinations for your visit to Asia. Please consult your doctor or a vaccination clinic for the most up-to-date advice. They will also be able to advise you of the most suitable anti-malarial medication if required. It is important that you do this well in advance of your departure date.

Booking Procedure

Only once you are completely happy with any holiday itinerary we create for you will we ask for a payment. In order that we can secure availability for your booking we would typically require a deposit of 20%.

Travelling Responsibly

We care about the places and the communities that you will travel through. It is important to us that we travel as responsibly as possible throughout Asia and that we are giving something back to the regions and the people that make these journeys so special. Full details on our approach to responsible travel can be found on a dedicated section of this website.

Make it yours!

Call us on 01273 670 001

Get in touch

Make it yours!

Call us on 01273 670 001

Get in touch

Our tailor-made service costs you no extra

This itinerary is designed to work straight off the peg, but we'll happily tailor it until it's a perfect fit for you, to ensure we’re making the absolute best of your time and funds. All you need to do is ask...

Your own private guides & drivers

You'll typically have your own private guides & drivers throughout your trip. When you will be sharing a service (eg a boat cruise) with others, we'll always let you know.