(Calcutta, Pelling, Gangtok, Kalimpong, Bhubaneswar, Puri)
Start in Kolkata, the cultural hub of India or better known as "City of Joy". Enjoy a private tour of the city, with visits to Victoria Memorial, the Hooghly River and the Indian Museum, the oldest museum in Asia. Upon leaving this energetic city, fly to Bagdogra, and transfer to Darjeeling in order to watch the morning sun rise over Mount Everest, the highest mountain peak in the world. Before traveling with your guide to Pelling, catch a ride on the UNESCO Heritage ‘Toy Train’ of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a journey that has delighted travelers for almost a century. Then pay a visit to the beautiful Buddhist monastery of Pemayangtse. Next comes Gangtok, a cosmopolitan town where old world charm and hospitality still exist in this internet age. Most interesting attraction here is the guided tour of the prestigious institute of its kind in India exhibiting hundreds of Buddhist icons. Next, through rolling mountains and tea plantations, drive to Kalimpong, famous for its orchids, and to the majestic caves outside Bhubaneswar, carved during the first and second century BC. This ‘Temple City of India’ also boasts 150 temples. A further natural highlight in this region is a cruise on Chilika Lake to spot sea eagles and geese flying amongst the small islands and one of the world’s largest breeding colonies of flamingos. Look for deer, jackals or hyenas on shore. Enroute to Puri, stop to appreciate the colorful folkloric applique work of Pipli village, patchwork that replicates elephants or peacocks on bags and household items. Also here is the famous Sun Temple at Konark, a colossal chariot with 24 wheels, pulled by seven straining horses. After lunch, return to Puri but not before visiting Raghurajpur village, one of the most famous artists’ villages in Orissa. Not to miss is the traditional local dance practised here by young boys. From Puri, drive to Bhubaneswar to catch your flight back to Kolkata and home. Or decide to stay longer in this fascinating region of India.
Airport transfer with private vehicle, driver, and English-speaking assistant.
Chrome Hotel is located at the heart of the city and is a convenient staying option for both leisure and corporate travelers. The hotel’s luxurious rectilinear ‘Block of Swiss Cheese’ presence, is composed of white blocks housing rooms, against randomly punctuated colorful lights, that envelope the grey exposed concrete and create a strong presence in a fantastic location. The Chrome’s attitude is shaped by the increasing sophistication of today’s traveler and is guided by their experiences, vision and ideas. This has enabled the Chrome to deliver a unique hospitality experience, that achieves new levels of guest loyalty.
Kolkata is the cultural capital of India and the commercial capital of Eastern India. Noted for its revolutionary history, ranging from the Indian struggle for independence to the leftist and trade union movements, Kolkata was the launch pad of the Bengal Renaissance era of the 19th century. Kolkata has long been known for its literary, artistic and revolutionary heritage. Kolkatans tend to have a special appreciation for art and literature; its tradition of welcoming new talent has made it a "City of Furious Creative Energy". For these reasons, Kolkata has often been dubbed as the Cultural Capital of India or the Literary Capital of India.
Fly today from Calcutta to Bagdogra. The flight duration is approximately 1 hour.
Upon arrival at NJP Railway station a Representative will receive you and transfer you to Darjeeling (93 Kms/3.5 Hrs).
It is "One of the three Jewels of the Raj", said a celebrated travel writer of The Windamere Hotel. Established in the 19th century as a cozy boarding house for bachelor English and Scottish tea planters, it was converted into a hotel just before the outbreak of the Second World War. Well known to sophisticated travellers the world over, the Windamere is famous for its unique ambience and charm, and has been the subject of many leading stories in the international media. Windamere is one of the original "Heritage Houses of the Himalayas". It is situated on Observatory Hill, a Darjeeling landmark, believed to be the focus and repository of life-enhancing cosmic energies.
Early morning after a cup of tea, you will visit Tiger Hill before the break of dawn, to see the sun rise over Mount Everest, the highest mountain peak in the world. Darjeeling owes its grandeur to its natural beauty, its clean fresh mountain air and above all, the smiling resilient people for whom it is a home. Known for its natural splendour, Darjeeling’s best gift to its visitors is the dawn of a new day. The mountains awaken first with a tentative peeking of the sun. A steep ride, five kilometers from Ghoom, or an invigorating walk up a steep incline, leads sun worshippers to Tiger Hill. The air is chilly with darkness and damp. To the east, a dull orange sun emerged painting the sky with brilliant strokes of magenta, gold, orange and fuchsia. The snow capped Everest, Kanchenjunga, and other peaks slowly emerge from slumber to start a new day. On your way back stop at the Ghoom Monastery, the holiest monastery in Darjeeling
After breakfast, you will be driven to the Darjeeling Railway station to board a train. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, nicknamed the "Toy Train", is a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow-gauge railway from Siliguri to Darjeeling in West Bengal, run by the Indian Railways. Since 1999 the train has been a World Heritage Site as listed by UNESCO. Only two railways have this status, the Semmering Railway in Austria being the other. A trip on the train has changed little since that time (1920’s), and continues to delight travellers and rail enthusiasts, so much so that it has its own preservation and support group, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society.
Sightseeing of the town visiting Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological park (Closed on Thursday), Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (Closed on Thursday), Tenzing - Gombu Rock, Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center (Closed on Sunday). A guide will accompany you on this trip.
Drive today from Darjeeling to Pelling. Approximate driving time 3 hrs (80km).
The Pemayangtse Monastery is a Buddhist monastery in Pemayangtse, near Pelling in the northeastern Indian state of Sikkim, located 140 kilometres (87 mi) west of Gangtok. Planned, designed and founded by Lama Lhatsun Chempo in 1705, it is one of the oldest and premier monasteries of Sikkim. It is not only one of the oldest monasteries of Sikkim but also the most famous in west Sikkim. The monastery was built for "pure monks" (ta-tshang) meaning "monks of pure Tibetan lineage", celibate and without any physical abnormality. This practice is still retained. Only the monks of Pemayangtse Monastery are entitled to the title "ta-tshang". Pemayangtse means "Perfect Sublime Lotus", and is said to represent one of the four plexus of the human body.
The Elgin Mount Pandim offers a unique and personal tryst with the Himalayas. Set in eight acres of virgin forest and landscaped gardens, it evokes the charm created by it's previous owners, the royal family of Sikkim - and offers a peaceful retreat about 150 kilometers from Siliguri, with a glorious view of the Singalila range. The 300-year old Pemayangtse monastery is right next to the resort on a verdant hill top covered by moist temperate oak forests. The Elgin Mount Pandim bedrooms are set in the midst of an atmosphere of greenery in the heart of Pemayangtse. Each of the 32 rooms overlook the singalila range with a magnificent view from the windows. Each room is different with subtle tasteful colors to showcase the design elements that surrounded royalty of yore. The rooms are quiet, elegant and expansive with an air of serenity about them, which reflects a typical Sikkimese ambiance.
Drive today from pelling to Gangtok. Approximate driving time 6 hrs (130kms).
The Elgin Nor-Khill (“the house of jewels") in Gangtok is known for its tradition and ethnic Sikkimese ambiance. The Kanchan garden affords a rich view of the hills with Kanchenjungha in the background, which inspired the Chogyal of Sikkim to paint for hours. The Nor-Khill was built by the King of Sikkim in 1932 and is the oldest heritage hotel in Gangtok, which entertains guests like his holiness The Dalai Lama, the US Ambassador to India His Excellency John Galbraith, movie stars and you and your family. The has a multi-cuisine restaurant named The Shangri La and a bar called The Dragon.
Visit the Enchey Monastery – an important seat of the Nyingmapa order, the Enchey Monastery is built on the site blessed by Lama Druptok Karpo, a tantrik master known for his power of flying. Your visits of the day ends with the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology (closed on Sundays). The most prestigious of its kind in India, this Buddhist institute is a treasure of vast collection of rare Lepcha, Tibetan & Sanskrit manuscripts, statues and rare thanks (tapestries used in Buddhist liturgy). It is over 200 Buddhist icons and other prized objects of art. Today it is a renowned worldwide centre for Buddhist philosophy and religion. Visit the Cottage industry which is a great source of earnings for locals and a fine way to retain the centuries old tradition and flow of life. You will be accompanied on the trip by a private guide.
Meet your driver for a private transfer to Kalimpong.
Sight seeing of the town visiting Flower Nurseries, Zang Dog Palri Fo-Brang Monastery, Durpin Dara, Tharpa Choling Monastery and Thongsa Gumpa. A guide will accompany you on this trip.
The Silver Oaks hotel symbolizes an era gone by. The British architecture and the old world charm of the place are unique. The Silver Oaks was built in 1930 and was the home of a leading British Business family of Mr. / Mrs. John Mason. They lived in Kalimpong for over 40 years. It took several years for the present management to restore the old structure. Finally The Silver Oaks was acquired by The Elgin Heritage Hotels of the Himalayas. The restoration work took five years to complete. Water colors and lithographs by old masters adorn the walls. Period furniture offer comfort as well as add to the old world opulence of the interiors.
Meet your driver for a private transfer to Airport of Bagdogra (83 Kms/ 3 Hrs)
Fly today from Bagdogra to Calcutta. Approximate flight time one hour.
Fly today from Calcutta to Bhubaneswar. Approximate flight time is 1 hr.
Airport transfer with private vehicle and driver.
It is said that there were about 7,000 temples in Bhubaneswar, which earned it the coveted title of the 'Temple City of India' , although only a few hundred of these remain today. The temples are all located 2-3km south of the modern city centre and are fairly spread out so it's a good idea to hire an auto-rickshaw in order to tour around. They date back from the 7th to the 13th centuries, a period which saw the waning of Buddhism and a revival of Hinduism under the successive dynasties that ruled Orissa. The main temples include the large Lingaraj Temple which is a complex that contains the main temple as well as some 150 smaller temples and shrines.
These caves, on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar, were carved during the 1st and 2nd century BC, by the Kalinga kings (the dynasty defeated by Ashoka in the 3rd century BC, but which re-established itself some time after Ashoka's death). The Kalinga kings were Jains, and these caves was used as places of religious retreat by Jain monks and the kings themselves.
Travel to the Trident Hilton Bhubaneswar hotel, just 20 minutes from the airport and half an hour from the major business hub. Bhubaneswar attractions and shops are only 2 miles away and, the hotel is a great base to explore further afield in Orissa, with Puri only 75 minutes by car. Bhubaneshwar’s Trident Hilton incorporates 62 well-furnished guestrooms that are not only decked up in a graceful way but also exudes elegance. The comfort quotient of the rooms is amplified by the presence of a wide range of contemporary in-room amenities that includes: Attached Bathrooms, Cable Television, Telephone with direct dial facility.
Leave for Puri enroute visiting Pipli Applique work and famous Sun Temple at Konark. The brilliant applique work of Pipli village is known for its folk character and vitality. With an artist's eye, the Pipli tailors deftly stich motifs of elephants, peacocks and flowers on a cloth background to form harmonious and colourful patterns. Crudely effective, this traditional patchwork art -originally done on canopies for temple decorations has been adapted to suit modern living - beach and garden umbrellas, lampshades, bedcovers, bags and similar items of everyday use.
Konarak is renowned for its magnificent Sun Temple built by Raja Narsimhadeva of the Ganga Dynasty in the 13th century AD. The temple is a pageant of human grandeur, in its perception, and in the execution of even the finest details. It resembles a colossal chariot, with 24 wheels, pulled by seven straining horses, and has a three-tiered pyramidal roof topped off by a fine spire .
After visit, lunch at Konark Lotus Eco Resort.
This evening spend time at leisure or relax at your hotel.
Cuddled up in the sands of the popular Puri beach, Mayfair Puri sprawls across a picturesque landscape. Set up in lush green surrounding, this luxury beach resort overlooks the sun kissed Bay of Bengal. The hotel boasts all the indulgences one could wish for, making it most popular hotel in Puri to relax and unwind.
Morning drive to Satpada -Chilika Lake, the largest brackish water lake in the country famous for its migratory birds and Irawadi dolphins. Studded with small islands including the picturesquely named Honeymoon Island and Breakfast Island, the lake is separated from the Bay of Bengal by a sandy ridge. The pear-shaped lake spreads across 1,200 sq km, and has a unique ecosystem with a range of aquatic flora and fauna found in and around its brackish waters. An impressive array of bird life, both native and migrant, makes Chilka one of the best places in India for a bit of satisfying bird-watching. White bellied sea eagles, greylag geese, purple moorhen, jacana, herons and flamingos are among the many species which make the lake a bird watcher's delight. Chilka, in fact, is home to one of the world's largest breeding colonies of flamingos. Other than the birds, Chilka's shores are home to blackbuck, spotted deer, golden jackals and hyenas, and the lake is rich in aquatic life. After two hours boating, you will have lunch at the Panthanibas.
After lunch return to Puri enroute visiting Raghurajpur village one of the most famous artists village in Orissa, the village of Raghurajpur boasts not only of the exquisite pattachitras and talapattachitras, but also of being the native place of Guru kelucharan Mohapatra, the famed Odissi dancer. Even today, under the tutelage of renowned Gurus, young boys can be seen practicing the Gotipua dance here. A visit to Orissa would definitely be incomplete without a visit to this little village.
Drive today from Puri to Bhubaneswar. Approximate drive time 90 minutes.
Fly today from Bhubaneswar to Calcutta. Approximate flight time is 1 hr.
India & Area
Alton J Hundley ,
March 14, 2011
"Our trip to India was a wonderful and magical event! We owe our gratitude to Kensington Tours for making the trip run so smoothly. The guides were exceptionally friendly and caring towards our four year old son and our driver was absolutely amazing!"
India & Area
Fred and Sharon Tooley ,
November 11, 2010
"We've just returned from our second "once in a lifetime" trip with Kensington Tours. A year ago we went to Kenya and Tanzania and felt that no future trips could match that incredible benchmark. We were wrong! When we had the wonderful opportunity to travel to India and Nepal this year, we once again called Kensington. What an amazing, amazing adventure we had! The fact that we have had two "once in a lifetime" trips with Kensington, tells us that we may not know where our next adventure will take us but we do know that Kensington Tours will take us there. We send huge thanks to Brad Crockett who coordinated a trip that was like no other. We thank he and Karishma Kaul both for walking us through our concerns, dealt with via email, while in country regarding a tight flight/luggage transfer and to both of them for arranging the marvelous hotels, lodges and incomparable guides and drivers for us in both India and Nepal. We want to especially thank them for Ghanshyam, our driver for our entire stay in India. Without him, and our trusty "Tempo Traveller" we simply wouldn't have survived the traffic and hours of travel--he was not only a great driver, but a terrific guide during those long drives between cities. We will never forget the thrill of seeing Machali, the magnificent tiger known as "Lady of the Lake" at Ranthambore National Park in India. We will never forget the speechless first sight of the Taj Mahal--nor, we doubt, will we ever have an experience that will ever compare with seeing a tiger in Chitwan National Park, Nepal while on a late afternoon elephant back safari in dense jungle cover--the sights, the sounds of the elephants...words may fail, but the memories will never fade. Thank you, Kensington.
Fred & Sharon Tooley 2011"
India & Area
Glenn Dorfman ,
March 10, 2010
"Our two weeks in India and Nepal doing the Golden Triangle, Varanasi and the Ganges, and Kathmandu went precisely as planned. Airport greetings and transfers, the drivers and especially the guides were all just great; highly qualified, interesting and dedicated to see that you have an interesting and safe experience. I have many examples to share of this. The itinerary was perfect. We have no complaints at all. Would be glad to share more details with prospective travelers."
India & Area
Mohmud Kassam ,
February 24, 2010
"Very helpful from the beginning and helped us change our itinerary so many times until we got it right. We really appreciate your effort. All guides were somewhat knowledgeable. We found that they were not as forthcoming as we would have liked and therefore we had to ask many questions to get more out of them. They were however very pleasant and patient. Vehicles were excellent! We chose Kensington Tours because you gave us the option of a “private guided trip” which is exactly what we were looking for. We have been on many tours and did not want a tour package where we had to go with a big group. Overall our experience was very good. The trip was exactly what we were looking for. The accommodation, cars and guides and agent reps were all very good and helpful. India was incredible!"
India & Area
Claudia Pedreira ,
February 09, 2010
"Sorry for the late response, I've been meaning to write to you since we came back to thank you so much for your assistance with coordinating our trip. India was such an amazing experience and truly a fascinating country. We appreciate the upgrades and the travel by private car as it made a difference in our trip. All three hotels were excellent and we found the local tour service to be prompt and very accommodating. I will certainly be using Kensington Tours again for any future travel. Thanks again!"
India & Area
Joan and Sam Hubball ,
February 09, 2010
I am thinking about you and your wonderful plan and our amazing trip to India. I think the flexibility within the tour, the number of rich experiences due to the private nature of the trip, the mind,body, spirit connections of the country made this a true life experience, not a trip. I will write you a long letter with more specifics this week as I believe there are so many places and people who deserve acknowledgment and recognition for some of the most gracious and experienced tourism service. For now,Bindu, everyone should stay at the Rambagh Palace in Jaipur and everyone must see Varanasi. We are so glad we chose the more aggressive approach...I cannot imagine our trip without any of the places we've seen!
Warmest regards, heartfelt thanks for the plan, and will be in touch soon, Joan Hubball
India & Area
Helmut and Helga Igel ,
December 14, 2009
"Hi Bindu. Everything worked out great. The hotels all where very good. What made the trip a real pleasure was our driver, Manohar Lal Thakur. He always went out his way to take care of any requests we had. The Indian people are the friendlest we have ever met! We will use Kensington again on one of our next trips.
India & Area
Illa Gandhi ,
January 07, 2010
"We had a great time in India. Karishma Kaul from Kensington tours did a tremendous job putting our trip together. The company did second to none job making us feel at home. It was because of them, it felt like a holiday. Thank you Karishma for a wonderful experience."
India & Area
Cheryl Smith ,
September 28, 2009
"My trip to India was incredible, and I want to thank you for organizing the tours. They took very good care of us. The hotels were nice, and we felt very safe. The guides and the driver were fantastic. The guides were very knowledgeable and patient in answering all of our questions and waiting for us when I know we extended our slotted time in some places (like shopping). For instance, I went to the airport to depart and expected only a driver. I was very surprised and grateful to have another person with the driver who helped me enter the airport, obtain my boarding pass, and showed me where to get to security. "
India & Area
Frank Walchak ,
September 28, 2009
"We just arrived this morning from Delhi. The hotels, tour and driver were all excellent. We certainly got our monies worth. Thank you again for setting up this great trip. Prior to the golden triangle, we operated on 93 children with burns, cleft lip and palate at a medical school outside of Bangalore. Frank and Carolyn Walchak
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