The Travellers' Club - Holidays for discerning travellers Halnaker Park Cottage, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 0QH
Telephone 01243 773597

FOOTHILLS  OF  THE HIMALAYAS

26 February - 9 March 2012

with Richard Hunt

To book this tour, click here

PROVISIONAL COST: including direct scheduled flights, all transport, accommodation in good, and above all, interesting hotels (in twin rooms with substantial 'American' breakfast - all rooms have private facilities),full board at Corbett Wild Life sanctuary, entrance fees, guided visits: £2466

[Note: for those extending the Heart of Central India tour (6-29 February) the cost will be £1675].

EXTRAS: Insurance; visa (currently £30); other meals and incidentals (about £8/£10 per day); single room supplement (much regretted) £875. As we try to use smaller hotels, single rooms are in very short supply.

This is an exciting journey through the foothills of the Himalayas with visits to the Jim Corbett Wild Life sanctuary, the holy city of Haridwar on the sacred Ganges River, the hill station of Mussoorie, and to the old summer capital of the British Raj at Shimla.  We start the tour in Delhi, enjoying the luxury of The Imperial Hotel, with time for some sightseeing in this fascinating city, or an optional visit by train to Agra & the Taj Mahal. Our journey then takes us to the Corbett Sanctuary for two days of searching for wild life in the beautiful park. We drive on to Haridwar, one of the Hindu seven sacred cities, to which every Hindu may aspire to make a pilgrimage. Here we can see the temples and evening rituals on the river bank, and visit Rishikesh, where the Ganges emerges from the Himalayas - another pilgrim centre with its ashrams and temples. Higher in the foothills is Mussoorie, another hill station and we climb higher still to reach Shimla, the hill station created by and so much loved by the British, which became their summer capital, a sort of Dorking in the Hills surrounded by mountains and with a Viceregal Residence, The Mall, clubs, churches, Gaiety Theatre and a library. From Shimla we travel back to Delhi - by mountain railway ‘toy train’ – a marvelous journey via 103 tunnels and innumerable viaducts to Kalka and then by express train to Delhi. An overnight stay at a convenient hotel near the airport  before flying back to London.

DELHI: Our direct flight departs in the evening from Heathrow and arrives in Delhi at 11.30 next day. DELHI was not always the capital, but has played a vital role in Indian history over the past 5000 years. Successive waves of invaders have conquered and rebuilt the city; others just pillaged!  There are the remains of seven cities in the environs: they were built by Hindu rulers; successive Muslim conquerors who swept in from Turkey, Persia and Afghanistan; and the British, who declared Delhi capital once more in 1911 and soon began the building of New Delhi. The result is an enormous variety of monuments: the Q'Tub Minar complex (Tower of victory 1193) celebrated an Afghan invasion, but used much older Hindu temple stone; Moghul masterpieces include the tomb of Emperor Humayun, Shah Jehan's Red Fort & marble palaces & his huge mosque, the Jama Masjid. The British built the modern Imperial city of Sir Edwin Lutyens. There is much else to see: a superb crafts museum and village where crafts from India are practised; narrow streets and bazaars of the old city; the National Museum; the shops!!! Several members of our group will have visited Delhi before! We must pick our itinerary with care! We can arrange an optional tour by train or car to the Taj Mahal at Agra.
2 nights at the Imperial Hotel. Centrally located in New Delhi, it was built in the ‘30s as the fashionable colonial hotel & has been recently beautifully renovated. There is a wonderful collection of 18th & 19th prints and drawings (we hope the art curator will take us on a private tour), a charming garden (breakfast, lunches and tea are served on the terrace) & large swimming pool. An excellent place to start our tour!

CORBETT NATIONAL PARK. Jim Corbett was born in Nainital in 1875 and became a famous hunter– turned-conservationist. He was the inspiration for India’s first national park, set up in 1936. It is one of the most beautiful of all, comprising the Ramganga River valley and the forest slopes of the Himalayan foothills, and is very rich in flora and fauna. There are over 100 tigers here – shall we be lucky? If not, there are leopards (even more difficult to see!), many deer, elephants, porcupine, wild boar, fox, crocodile… And the bird life is wonderful with over 600 species.
2 nights full  board at THE CORBETT HIDEAWAY RESORT. Safaris by jeep & possibly by elephant

HARIDWAR. We descend the slopes to Haridwar: This sacred town marks the emergence of the Ganges or Ganga into the plains. The devout believe that this is one of the four places in India upon which the nectar of immortality, AMRIT, fell.  It has been churned out of the formless ocean and was being carried in a kumbha-pot when it split.  The bathing ghats (steps) here are most important where virtually all devotees have a holy bath (but entirely optional for Travellers’ Club members). The ghats are also the scene of a memorable ritual (Aarti) every evening, where priests offer fire to the river to the sound of prayers and tinkling bells.
From Haridwar we can make a picturesque visit to Rishikesh, perhaps visiting the river at dawn, when devotees offer milk to the river and feed the fish, passing the old suspension bridge – originally of jute (!) – which was on the old pilgrim route into the mountains, and seeing many temples and ashrams along the way.
2 nights at Haveli Hari Ganga. This is a comfortable heritage ‘Haveli’ (mansion) on the waterside close to the town centre. It has spa, massage and yoga facilities.

MUSSOORIE at 1970 metres is spread out along a horseshoe ridge. It was begun in 1827 by a Captain Young, and soon acquired the trappings of a hill station – Mall, Club, Anglican Church (1837) – and was a place of military recuperation. There are pleasant walks in the neighbourhood and we may make an expedition to the Kempty waterfalls, 15 kms away. As with many of the Himalayan views, the recommendation is to see them at sunrise! Not always followed by Travellers’ Club members!
1 night at Nabha Palace Hotel, a small ‘palace’ owned by the Claridges group. Beautiful location.

SHIMLA After an early breakfast, we drive through the hills to Shimla (245 KMS / 8½ hours). Once a small part of the Nepalese Kingdom, the first British house was built in Simla in 1822. Within ten years it was a flourishing township, by 1864 the effective summer capital of India.  Today it is the capital of the State of Himachal Pradesh. The Mall, the Ridge with the half-timbered houses, the two churches, the theatre, the bookshops and teahouses were as home from home for the British families who took refuge from the heat of the plains.  The green hills and the far off white peaks of the Pir Panjal and Great Himalayan Ranges are breathtakingly beautiful.  The bustling bazaars and lanes busy with people from all over the Himalayas endlessly fascinating.  The Viceregal Lodge (now the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies), the Botanical Gardens and Wildflower Hall (once the residence of C in C Lord Kitchener, but completely rebuilt as a hotel) are among the places we will visit and there are many attractive long and short walks in the area. Golf (a most picturesque course), riding and fishing are all possible.
3 nights at the Oberoi Cecil Hotel (famous from the days of the Raj). With indoor pool and all facilities.

RETURN TO DELHI After a leisurely buffet breakfast at the hotel, we catch the morning toy train (10.30 am) from Shimla station, just a short distance from our hotel. This is a truly magical journey as we descend through 103 short tunnels and innumerable viaducts in our descent, with beautiful views all the way. We eventually reach Kalka railway station in time to connect our onward train to Delhi.
Departure: Kalka                     at: 1730 Hours                        By: Kalka Shatabdi
Arrive: Delhi                           at: 2140 Hours
An overnight stay at the Mapple Emerald Hotel, conveniently located near the airport for our departure next day.
DEPARTURE: Our last morning offers a leisurely breakfast before departure to the airport at 10.30.

 

Date Itinerary
Sunday 26 Feb Flight London to Delhi Departure from heahrow approx 21.30
27 Arr Delhi approx 11.30  Check in Imperial Hotel 2 nights. At leisure /evening sound&light show
28 Delhi sightseeing OR optional train/car visit to Taj Mahal
29 Drive to Jim Corbett Park. The Corbett Hideway (2 nights) afternoon jeep safari.
Thu 1 March Morning and afternoon safaris in the park.
2 Morning safari. Drive to Haridwar. The Haveli Hari Ganga Hotel 2 nights. Evening ceremony
3 Explore Haridwar or at leisure
4 Drive via Rishikesh to Mussoorie. Kasmanda Palace Hotel 1 night
5 Drive to Shimla (245 kms / 8½ hours). Cecil Hotel (3 nights)
6 Sightseeing / at leisure – visit to Wildflower Hall
7 Sightseeing / at leisure
8 Toy train to Delhi – arrive 21.40. Overnight at Mapple Emerald Hotel
9 Breakfast at hotel. Depart at 10.30, check in 13.30. Arrive Heathrow approx 17.40
 

Himalayan Peaks, The Shimla railway, and The ‘arti’ fire ceremony at Haridwar