Steeped in a rich colonial past and alive with memories of the Raj, the hill stations of Uttarakhand offer a glimpse of Imperial India. And yet just a few hour’s drive away in Haridwar the ancient pilgrimage rituals of Hinduism go on as they have for centuries. A little further up the Ganges from Haridwar is the town of Rishikesh, a magnet for spiritual seekers from the west for over 40 years. A small state with some of India’s most picturesque forests and hills, and rapidly becoming a centre for adventure tourism, the contrasts on offer in Uttarakhand are remarkable and this short tour will offer a taste of this diversity
Day 1: Arrive Delhi. On arrival in Delhi you’ll be met and transferred to your hotel. India’s capital is an amazing city- a place of endless contradictions and contrasts, where rich and timeless traditions meet the grinding day to day reality of life in a modern Asian mega-city. The welcome is warm and the parade of humanity endless. Take today to acclimatise and perhaps take a first foray into the markets and bazaars of the city. Overnight in Delhi.
Day 2: Delhi Sightseeing.One day hardly does justice to the myriad facets of Delhi but your day’s sightseeing will include many highlights from both New Delhi, with its grandiose colonial architecture and the majestic monuments of Old Delhi including Humayun’s Tomb and Qutb Minar, the tallest minaret tower in Asia. Round off your first day with a cycle rickshaw ride around the lanes and alleys of Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi’s most famous market area. Overnight in Delhi.
Day 3: Delhi - Dehra Dun.An early start and transfer to New Delhi railway station where you will board a first class carriage on the Shatabdi Express train bound for Dehra Dun, the capital of Uttarakhand. On arrival at 12.40pm you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Afternoon sightseeing around Dehra Dun will include Ram Rai Darbar mausoleum, and a 60 metrehigh Buddhist stupa, said to be the tallest in the world. Overnight in Dehra Dun.
Day 4: Dehra Dun - Mussoorie. After breakfast, drive a short distance to Mussoorie, a delightful hill station and a favourite retreat for the British during the Raj era. Like all of the hill stations of this region, Mussoorie retains elements of its British past and, again like all the other hill stations it is a great place to walk, both in the town and on short walks and hikes to nearby scenic spots. Take the rest of the day to enjoy the crisp mountain air and natural beauty on offer. Overnight in Mussoorie.
Day 5: Mussoorie. A free day in Mussoorie- walking can be arranged or your driver will take you out of town to see some truly stunning scenery in this transition zone between the expansive plains below and the Himalayan foothills above. Overnight in Mussoorie.
Day 6: Mussoorie - Haridwar. Drive 4 hours to Haridwar and explore this bustling pilgrimage town. Staying near the Ganges gets you right into the heart of the pilgrimage scene. Every day at dusk thousands of tiny oil lamps are set afloat on the river- the ensuing ceremony is as intense as it is chaotic! Overnight in Haridwar.
Day 7: Haridwar - Rishikesh. Drive one hour to Rishikesh- another Ganges-side holy city, once best known as the place where the Beatles stayed in India but now a major centre for spiritual seekers, yoga aficionados and adventurers. Talk a walking tour of the town- it is very compact and a lot of fun to explore on foot. Afternoon at leisure, or explore the wonderful nearby waterfalls- a nice walk to a lovely natural pool superb for swimming. Overnight Rishikesh.
Day 8: Rishikesh. If you’ve got a taste for adventure, then we will arrange a morning of white-water rafting (or longer for the really keen) - plunging down the Ganges in an inflatable boat is an unforgettable experience. If you’d rather enjoy something more serene you can enjoy the river scenery on a drive up the valley where there are some delightful temples. Overnight in Rishikesh.
Day 9: Rishikesh - Haridwar- Delhi. Depart Rishikesh after breakfast and drive via Haridwar to Delhi. On arrival in Delhi, transfer directly to the airport for your flight home or to explore another part of India.