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India adventure holiday - Smiling Monk

Journey to Little Tibet

Route: Delhi - Jaipur - Agra - Taj Mahal - Delhi - Amritsar - Dharamsala - Manali - Jispa - Leh - Hemis Shukpachen - Tingmosgang - Alchi - Leh - Delhi

This India adventure itinerary is fantastic for travellers eager to combine the classic highlights of India with a journey into an unusual, remote region. You'll begin with a fantastic trip through iconic India, visiting The Pink City of Jaipur, the Taj Mahal and the eerie ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri. After this, you'll head back to Delhi to catch your breath before the next phase of your adventure. You'll catch the train to Amritsar, the spiritual centre of the Sikh culture and home to the Golden Temple. Next, you'll drop in on the exiled Dalai Lama in peace-loving Dharamsala, where you can watch red-robed monks in lively debate and spin a few prayer wheels in the brightly coloured monasteries. After this, you'll head even further into the mighty Himalayas, and relax in laid back Manali before crossing the rugged moonscape between the high peaks of the mountains to the Buddhist monasteries in Ladakh.

To find out more, simply give one of our friendly India Travel Specialists a call on 01273 322044. If you've got more time to explore India, why not take a look at our range of suggested India itineraries. Alternatively, if you would prefer to build your own India trip, you can choose from our selection of unique bite-sized trips to India.
Duration 22 days / 21 nights
Departs every day from Delhi
(Mid-June to Mid-September)


Comfortable hotels with local character. Comfort level 3 (see accommodation).


£1478 per person - based on 2 people sharing a private trip


Accommodation with breakfast, transport and tours as described


Private car, train, and internal flight.


International flights and local entry fees, other meals unless stated.

Day 1: Arrival in Delhi

When you arrive in Delhi on day one of your India itinerary, you’ll be collected by your private driver and taken to your hotel. Your charming hotel is situated in central Delhi, and is an ideal base to explore both the spice markets of Chandi Chowk and the modern bars of Connaught Place. Here, you can catch your breath and rest after your flight. In your Delhi hotel, you’ll have a comfortable room with a private en-suite bathroom.

Although there's nothing planned for you today, if you have time you might want to visit the impressive Qutab Minar complex and Humayun's Tomb, both World Heritage Sites. The Qutab Minar has a 5-storey, 72-metre victory tower of red sandstone. Humayun's Tomb is a grand sandstone mausoleum in proper Mughal style. The Taj Mahal, built much later, follows a similar style of architecture.
India adventure holiday - Traffic in Delhi
India adventure holiday - Your hotel in Jaipur

Day 2: Delhi - Jaipur

On day two of your India itinerary, you'll be transferred to Jaipur by air-conditioned car, a trip which takes around 5 hours. The Pink City is a fantastic place to kick off a trip in India and during your two nights here you can relax, acclimatise, and explore. There is so much to see in this elegant and astonishing city that you could spend weeks here without getting bored. Jaipur centre is a lively mass of saris, saddhus, holy cows, spice markets, street vendors, camel carts, elephants, beggars, rickshaws, temples, forts and palaces.

In Jaipur, you’ll stay in a cosy family hotel for a firsthand experience of typical Indian hospitality. Breakfast is served in the romantic English tea garden and the family will go out of their way to make your stay as enjoyable as possible. The rooms here are tastefully furnished in traditional Indian-style and several have four-poster beds.

Day 3: Jaipur - City Tour 

It's day three of your India itinerary and today you’ll take a guided tour of the remarkable City of Rajasthan, visiting the City Palace, the Observatory and the fairy-tale Palace of the Winds (Hawa Mahal). In the afternoon, you’ll visit the imposing Amber Fort that lies just outside the city limits. From the battlements of the Amber Fort, you’ll have a wonderful view of the rocky hills and the smaller walls and forts constructed by the Rajputs and the Mughals in the area.

The City Palace and the Palace of the Winds both stand in the ancient quarter of the city. The City Palace has several beautiful museums with fascinating collections. If you see the flag flying, it means that the Maharaja is in residence. The Palace of the Winds is a world-famous, pyramid-shaped building with dozens of windows. This is where the women of the royal harem could watch the processions in the street below, unseen by the masses.
India adventure holiday - Lake Palace, Jaipur
India adventure holiday - Monkey temple at Galta

Day 4: Jaipur - Galta - Bharatpur - Fatehpur Sikri - Agra

This morning, you'll continue on with your India itinerary as you leave Jaipur and head east towards Galta. The Monkey Temple here is a pilgrimage site that attracts flocks of brightly-robed devotees every day. The stream that trickles out of the rocks here is reputed to be water from the holy River Ganges, although this is geographically impossible. People bathe and sing on the steps (ghats) that lead down into the pools. Their voices echo through the rocky gorge, which opens into a wider valley dotted with temples that have been overrun with monkeys.

After Galta, you’ll drive for another three hours before arriving in Bharatpur, the next stop on your India itinerary. This is a fascinating waterworld, criss-crossed by all sorts of dykes. Maharajas of the historic Singh family used this region as their hunting grounds. If you like, you can stop off here too and stretch your legs.

There are hundreds of rare birds in the Bharatpur wetlands, such as the rare Siberian crane. Currently, there are several tigers here, originally from Ranthambore National Park. It’s unlikely that you’ll see this in action, but keep your eyes peeled all the same.

A few kilometres on, you’ll come to Fatehpur Sikri. The great ruler Akbar set up his capital here, and built a grand city, but after only 40 years the water supply became too difficult to maintain in this dry area, so all of the inhabitants packed up and moved on. Now it is an atmospheric ghost city, full of green parrots and monkeys. You can arrange for a guide locally to lead you through the forgotten city or explore at your own pace. This is also an optional stop, so if you'd prefer to head straight for your Agra hotel just ask your driver.

After visiting Fatehpur Sikri, you’ll drive on to Agra, the next stop on your India itinerary. Here, you’ll arrive at your clean and comfortable hotel near the centre of Agra.
India adventure holiday - Bharatpur wetlands
India adventure holiday - Taj Mahal

Day 5: Agra - Taj Mahal

After breakfast this morning, you’ll set off to visit two breathtaking sites. First, you’ll be taken to the Taj Mahal- this is sure to be a real highlight of your India itinerary. Standing serenely in the first light of the morning, we are sure that this stunning building will beat all your expectations. It was built by Shah Jahan as a token of his love for his deceased wife, and is undoubtedly the most romantic burial site in the world.

After visiting the Taj Mahal, you’ll head for Agra Fort. This huge but restrained structure seems to be immersed in a dreamy atmosphere when it’s bathed in the golden light of late afternoon, which slants through the pillars and galleries. From its majestic walls and through its arches, you can see the Taj Mahal, just as Shah Jahan would have done centuries ago, when he was imprisoned here by his son.

Day 6: Agra - Delhi

Today, you'll be transferred from Agra back to Delhi by private car to continue your India itinerary. You'll stay in a charming hotel in the popular Karol Bagh area of Delhi, with comfortable rooms and modern facilities. The hotel is near to both the alleyways and spice bazaars of Old Delhi and the spacious modern shopping emporiums of Connaught Place.

Using today to take a breather on your India trip, you could explore Delhi's many sights; the crowded, narrow lanes of Chandi Chowk, the stately Humayan’s Tomb, the greenery of Lodi Gardens, and the moving and informative Gandhi Museum.
India adventure holiday - Delhi Traffic
India adventure holiday - The Golden Temple, Amritsar

Day 7: Delhi - Amritsar

You’ll set off early this morning from your hotel in Delhi, taking a taxi or auto-rickshaw to the railway station where you'll continue this India itinerary by rail. From your comfortable express train, you can watch the lush green countryside speed past the window. After about six hours, you’ll arrive in the city of Amritsar, close to the North West border between India and Pakistan. Here, we’ll arrange a transfer to your hotel.

Amritsar is the single most important city in the Sikh culture, as it is home to the magnificent Golden Temple complex. A fantastic highlight of this India trip this incredible building rivals even the Taj Mahal. Your heart will leap into your mouth as you approach the gleaming Golden Temple. In the evenings, the Temple is lit romantically with dozens of tiny lights reflecting in the Pool of Nectar that surrounds the building. You’ll spend the night in a good hotel located in a quieter part of the city.

Day 8: Amritsar - Free time

Today will be free to spend as you like, we would recommend heading to the narrow streets of the old city. Here you’ll find various bazaars, each with its own speciality. You can head to Guru Bazaar for gold, or follow your nose to find typical local dishes in the Katra Kathian Bazaar.  

Optional excursion:
About 20 miles west of Amritsar lies the India-Pakistan border where the 'Wagah Border Ceremony' is held every day at sunset. You will be picked up from your hotel in Amritsar and taken to the border. Here you will see big crowds of Indians and Pakistanis standing on their side of the border waiting for the show. There are soldiers wearing colourful uniforms, marching around and they simultaneously lower their countries flags. Then, before shutting the gates for the night, the soldiers from either side give each other a brusque handshake. When the ceremony is finished your driver will take you back to your comfortable hotel. If you would like to add this tour onto your India trip, please let your travel specialist know.
India adventure holiday-Wagah Border Ceremony
India adventure holiday - Glimpse of the Himalayas

Day 9: Amritsar - Dharamsala

On day nine of your India trip, you’ll have breakfast and then travel by private car up into the foothills of the Himalayas to Dharamsala, also known as ‘Little Tibet’. This will be your first glimpse of the mighty mountains on your India itinerary. You’ll arrive here in mid afternoon and once you’ve settled in you can begin to explore. Dharamsala is known principally as the home of the exiled Dalai Lama and his banished government. There is a huge community of Tibetan refugees here, and the monks and monasteries define the atmosphere of the town.

Dharamsala is built on the top of a hill overlooking a beautiful valley. You’ll find the cool climate refreshing after the heat and dust of Delhi and Amritsar. Surrounded by evergreen forests and fresh green tea plantations, this is an excellent place to unwind, recharge, and perhaps take a yoga lesson. Your homely hotel is just walking distance from the Dalai Lama's main temple, in a peaceful and quiet part of town.

Day 10: Dharamsala - Free time

Day ten of your India itinerary is your own to do as little or as much as you like. Listen to the monks chanting prayers in the monastery or watch their lively debates at the temple. Wander up to the beautiful waterfall in the hills above the town, or visit the Norbulingka Institute, an artistic academy for young Tibetans set amongst beautiful gardens. You can also explore the brightly coloured temples, wander amongst stupas and prayer flags in the pine forests, and munch on some momos – delicious Tibetan dumplings. You will then spend another night in your comfortable hotel.

Optional activity:
In Dharamsala, you can also follow meditation and yoga courses to help you stock up on some good karma. If you would like us to book a yoga class for you then please just let one of our travel specialists know. The classes are two hours long and during this time, our certified yoga instructor will teach you the basic principles of this ancient Indian discipline.
India adventure holiday - Fluttering prayer flags
India adventure holiday - Vashisht

Day 11: Dharamsala - Manali

On day eleven of your India itinerary, you'll leave Dharamsala and travel by private car to Manali, where you'll stay for two nights. Manali is a perfect departure point for your journey, which will take you over the second highest black-top road in the world. Set in a peaceful valley, Manali is an easy-going town popular with Indian honeymooners and nature-loving hippies.

The valley is a mountain Shangri-La filled with traditional farmer’s houses, orchards, fields, cows, and refreshing waterfalls. For the first time during your trip to the Himalayas, you’ll begin to feel the altitude (2100 metres – close to 7000 feet), so try to take things easy. Altitude sickness is something that you may experience as you climb higher into the Himalayas. Click here for more information about altitude sickness.

Day 12: Manali - Free time

Today is free to spend as you wish, if you like you can enjoy a relaxing soak in the natural hot springs at nearby Vashisht. This is a 3km walk from Manali alongside a fast-flowing river through flower-filled grassland.

Drinking tea helps to combat the effects of altitude, and there are dozens of cosy teahouses in Manali. You can also drop in on the Hadimba wooden temple and eat in one of the lovely restaurants in Old Manali. Your welcoming hotel is located in this Old Quarter, nestled amongst thick pine trees.
India adventure holiday - The journey to Jispa

Day 13: Manali - Jispa

On day thirteen of your India trip from Manali to Leh, you’ll make an early start for the long drive towards Manali to Jispa (about 6-7hrs). From Manali, you’ll climb higher and higher, leaving the green landscape behind you as you pass the tree line. You’ll head towards the mountain peaks and ever deeper valleys. On the way, you’ll climb over a mountain pass at a height of about 4,000 metres (13,120 feet) and you’ll really feel the altitude here as the cool wind whips about your face. You’ll be surrounded by gigantic peaks towering at over 6,000 metres (19,700 feet), and you'll stop regularly to enjoy the jaw-dropping views on this incredible India trip from Manali to Leh. This is, quite literally, the high point of the day. Finally, you’ll descend a little into the small village of Jispa, where you’ll spend a night in a simple, but comfortable hotel.

Day 14: Jispa - Leh

Today, you’ll set off on the long journey to Leh (approximately 11-12hrs). This is the next stop on your India trip from Manali to Leh and after leaving Jispa, you’ll climb even higher into the Himalayas. Already well above the tree line, you’ll find yourself amidst a stony desert of snow. You’ll cross high mountain passes that will have your heart in your mouth, and vast sandy plains with no signs of life. When you make rest stops, you can enjoy some steaming masala chai, spiced with cardamom and cloves. Be sure to drink lots of water at all times, keeping altitude sickness at bay. Finally, at the end of the day fourteen of your trip from Manali to Leh, you’ll pull into the green Leh Valley.

After the long journey, you’ll probably want to do absolutely nothing, and this is precisely what you can do. You’ll spend the next two nights of this India trip in a cosy guesthouse in Leh.
India adventure holiday - Leh Monks
India adventure holiday - Giant prayer wheels

Day 15: Leh - Free time

On day fifteen of your India itinerary there’s nothing planned, so you’ll have plenty of time to get used to the altitude and take a look around Leh. The town lies at 3,500 metres (11,480 feet) above sea level and there is a nine-storey palace in the historic town that looks very similar to the Potala in Lhasa. You can also visit the bazaar, overloaded with colourful jewellery and wonderful Tibetan textiles. Alternatively, find a bench in the crisp sunshine and settle down with a good book. Most importantly, take everything at a relaxed pace.

Day 16: Leh - Tibetan monastery tour

Today your english-speaking guide will collect you from the guesthouse by jeep. Day sixteen of your India itinerary is monastery day, and your first stop will be Shey Monastery, the oldest in the area. Shey Gompa Monastery stands on the far side of an extensive grass plain lined with conifers and surrounded by steep bare walls of rock. Inside the complex, there is a statue of Buddha reaching a staggering height of over 12 metres.

From here, you’ll travel to one of the best places for observing religious ceremonies in India. In Thikse Monastery, you’ll see monks praying, chanting, ringing bells and blowing horns that echo around the valley. The last monastery you’ll visit today is Hemis, the largest and richest of the three. The inner courtyard here is filled with colourful fluttering prayer flags and there are traditional Thangka pictures hanging on the walls. At the end of this remarkable afternoon, you’ll go back to your guesthouse in Leh where you can sip a cup of chai and try some local Indian sweets.
India adventure holiday - Monk blowing a horn
India adventure holiday - Stunning scenery

Day 17: Leh - Hemis Shukpachen

Today, it's an early start as your India itinerary takes you on a 4-day trek. From Leh you’ll travel by car to the village of Yangtang, and from here you’ll continue on foot. You don’t need to bring much along – just enough to keep you comfortable and warm. We can advise layering your clothes, as during the day you’ll be walking in the crisp mountain sun. However, when the sun disappears behind the mountains it really does get very chilly, very quickly, so keep something warm handy at all times.

You’ll hike for around four hours on the first day of your trek during this trip to the Himalayas, passing through little villages where time seems to have stood still. Over the course of the day, you’ll see the landscape change from murmuring streams and fields of barley into barren, rugged mountains. When you arrive in Yangtang, a car will be waiting for you. It will take you on a short journey to your host family in Hemis Shukpachen.

Day 18: Hemis Shukpachen - Tingmosgang

Don’t be surprised if your muscles are protesting a little this morning - they’ll soon loosen up during your 4-hour hike today. The lush green area you are hiking through today is full of apricot and apple trees, and you can freshen up in the fast-flowing streams and waterfalls. Today, the hiking is really relaxed as the route follows level ground with very few differences in height. You’ll soon arrive in Tingmosgang, with a stunning genuine monastery perched on the mountainside above the village. In the afternoon, you are free to do your own exploring or snooze in the sun. Tonight you’ll stay in a simple but authentic homestay. In addition, to your hearty evening meal, lunch en route is also provided during this part your India itinerary.
India adventure holiday - Friendly locals
India adventure holiday - Breathtaking Monastery

Day 19: Tingmosgang – Khalse – Lamayuru - Alchi

Today you’ll cover substantial ground, and you’ll cross the longer distances by car. After breakfast, you’ll wave goodbye to your host family and begin your last hike. Your path passes by the remote village of Tian and continues through barley fields. Gradually, you’ll start climbing up to higher regions and traverse a mountain pass at 3630 metres (11900 feet). From this vast plateau, you’ll have a sweeping view of the surrounding mountains. Finally, you’ll descend to meet the main road and a car will be waiting to take you to Lamayuru, where erosion has created some spectacular rock formations in the white mountains. Right in the centre of this area on some rather wobbly steep rocks, stands one of the most famous and most spectacular monasteries in Ladakh. This is a great time for some photos on your India itinerary. With the mountain peaks in the background, this monastery looks like something from an remote adventure film, and you’ll find it hard to believe that you’re really here. You’ll visit the monastery with your guide and then drive on to your accommodation in Alchi, where your host family go out of their way to make you feel at home. They are very warm, hospitable people.

Day 20: Alchi - Monastery visit

Day twenty of your India itinerary is a quiet day of rest and relaxation. There are no long hikes or car journeys. In the morning, you’ll visit the Alchi Monastery. Unlike many other monasteries in the region, it is not built on a mountainside and is much easier to reach. UNESCO has designated the monastery as a World Heritage Site, due to its exquisitely carved wood decorations, gigantic statues and imaginative murals in traditional Kashmiri style.

In the afternoon, you’ll drive back to Leh and the rest of the day is free for you to do as you wish. You’ll spend the night in a cosy guesthouse.
India adventure holiday - Alchi Monastery
India adventure holiday - Saying goodbye

Day 21: Leh - Delhi

Today marks the end of your India trip in Leh, and you’ll fly back today to Delhi for the final night of your India itinerary. You'll stay in the same charming hotel in Central Delhi as before, with comfortable rooms and modern facilities. The hotel is close to both the alleyways and spice bazaars of Old Delhi and the spacious shopping emporiums of Connaught Place. 

You can use day twenty-one of your India trip in Delhi to explore the city's sights- the crowded, narrow lanes of Chandi Chowk, the stately Humayan’s Tomb, the greenery of Lodi Gardens, and the fascinating and moving Gandhi Museum.

Day 22: Departure from Delhi

Your India itinerary after breakfast this morning. When the time comes, you'll be collected from your hotel and transferred to the airport to check in for your flight back to the UK, or if you are staying on in India your Travel Specialist can discuss further options and ways of extending this suggested itinerary. 
Make sure you allow a minimum of three hours to check in for your international flights.
India adventure holiday- internal flight

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