(Calcutta, Darjeeling, 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.
A transfer with private vehicle, driver, and English-speaking assistant between the airport and Calcutta is provided.
Your guide will pick you up from your accommodation for a private tour of Calcutta. The city is the capital of the Indian state West Bengal, the cultural capital of India and the commercial capital of Eastern India. Calcutta is noted for its revolutionary history, ranging from the Indian struggle for independence to the leftist and trade union movements. The city has long been known for its literary, artistic and revolutionary heritage. As the former capital of India, it was the birthplace of modern Indian literary and artistic thought. There is a strength and spirit in Calcutta that, despite all it has suffered, makes it one of the world's great cities. If you are looking for prettiness, this is not a city for you. But Calcutta allows you to touch the pulse of Bengal's great culture, past and present, and see through the decay, the grandeur of a great colonial city.
Fly today from Calcutta to Bagdogra. The flight duration is approximately 1 hour.
A transfer from Bagdogra to Darjeeling is provided. The approximate driving time is 3.5 hours.
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.
After breakfast, your guide will take you to the Darjeeling Railway station to board a train. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, nicknamed the "Toy Train", is a 2 feet (61 centimeter) narrow-gauge railway from Siliguri to Darjeeling in West Bengal, run by the Indian Railways. Since 1999 the train has been a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site. Only two railways claim this status, the Semmering Railway in Austria being the second one. The trip on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway has changed little since that time (1920’s), and continues to delight travellers and rail enthusiasts. The passion of some people is so great that the train has its own preservation and support group, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society.
Today your private guide takes you on a tour of Darjeeling visiting the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (closed on Thursdays), the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (closed on Thursdays), Tenzing - Gombu Rock and the Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center (closed on Sundays).
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.
Drive today from pelling to Gangtok. Approximate driving time 6 hrs (130kms).
Visit the Enchey Monastery, which is an important seat of the Nyingmapa order. The Enchey Monastery is built on the site blessed by Lama Druptok Karpo, a tantric master known for his power of flying. Your 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 and Sanskrit manuscripts, statues and rare thanks (tapestries used in Buddhist liturgy). The institute is a renowned worldwide center 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. A private guide will you accompany on the trip.
Meet your driver for a private transfer to Kalimpong. The drive takes approximately 3 hours.
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.
Meet your driver for a private transfer to Airport of Bagdogra.
Fly today from Bagdogra to Calcutta. The approximate flight time is one hour.
Fly today from Calcutta to Bhubaneswar. The approximate flight time is on hour.
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.
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.
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. The approximate flight time is one hour.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
India & Area
Jim Allard ,
December 09, 2014
"Sunita Singh did an outstanding job
Overall an excellent trip, well carried out.
The drivers in Delhi and overland from Agra to Udaipur made a great impression. Both were accomplished and accommodating. Access to transport in Delhi and Mumbai on our leisure days was noted and appreciated.
Guides in Delhi, Agra and Udaipur were standouts. The transfer reps all did an excellent job particularly since, on a number of occasions, they were there in the middle of the night.
All accommodations except for Mumbai were excellent. Memories of the culture of India ranks first but a close second in our minds will be the palace hotels.
The Leela Palace offers a peaceful and intimate refuge from the bustle of Delhi. Our reaction to the Nadesar was that it was the best hotel ever. Little did we realize each subsequent hotel in Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur would top that, except for the last in Mumbai.
We were there at an important moment in India's development and the various viewpoints in different cities reflects the promise and challenges facing the country.
Some thought the shock of Varanasi could be better absorbed later in the itinerary, however, the geography preempts that alternative.
Always room for improvement so we would offer the following
Biggest disappointment was the Taj Tower in Mumbai. Small rooms that could be anywhere on the planet. Better choice would be the old wing which matches up better with the overall experience.
Not all of the guides were understandable. They all seemed intelligent and knowledgable but were lacking in delivery of a dialogue. Some speak in a droning monologue that is difficult to follow and includes blinding detail that is soon forgotten.
Two glitches that were remedied: The pickup of the van in Agra had an impossible seating arrangement but that was corrected overnight to our complete satisfaction. The Lake Palace Rooms in Udaipur were initially a problem. One room was lovely but the other two were substandard, although the hotel said they were in the same class. Basically, the better room had the bathroom and closet along the full wall while the substandard alternative used only half the wall resulting in a minute closet, no shower, a single sink and no window. They initially stated that there was nothing better but within an hour the duty manager had found two adjacent rooms on another floor that had the double sinks, separate claw bath and shower overlooking the lake as well as better closet space. They graciously moved us while we were at dinner on the rooftop.
Finally there is always the gouging at shops where the guides get a commission. At a couple of stops this seemed egregious but we are all seasoned travellers and work around that annoyance.
Some of the others may wish to add to these comments but those are my thoughts.
Good memories, thanks"
India & Area
December 08, 2014
"Seamless first class organization and management of our tour.
Sunita Singh did an outstanding job setting up all our accommodations, guides and internal transport."
India & Area
November 28, 2014
"My Husband and I recently traveled to India the had the most amazing experience..
India is a remarkable country. it is the oldest civilization in the world and we were constantly marveling at the continuity of the culture over the millenniums.
We highly recommend that you book your India trip with the Kensington Tours INDIA Specialist, Senior Sales Consultant Sunita Singh who has lived in India & travelled extensively within the country and neighboring countries.
The entire trip was well planned and ran without a hitch. The guides were excellent, well educated, very knowledgable and extremely solicitous of us. A special recommendation to our driver Rakesh (spelling?) who negotiated the roads and sometimes heavy and interesting traffic with skill and good humor.
This was a private tour comprising of my husband and I. We were most impressed with the way the trip was organized and with the quality and care shown by every Kensington representative along the way.
We visited all the important destinations which exceeded our expectations. A wonderful aspect of traveling in this manner was that our guides were able to take us off the beaten path and we experienced local India in this way.
Our travels took us to Delhi, Varanasi, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Udaipur, the temples in Ranakpur and Agra. Varanasi was the highlight of the vacation. It is such a spiritual and special place and well worth the detour. The hotels were all 5 star plus and luxurious. We especially loved The Lake Palace in Udaipur and the Rambagh Palace in Jaipur. The Oberoi in Agra was also amazing.
It was a treat and a privilege to travel through Rajasthan in this way. India is such a special country to visit."
India & Area
Mike Simon ,
May 06, 2014
"Kensington planned a wonderful fascinating itinerary for us. All of the guides were so accommodating and flexible, wanting to be sure we were being cared for. India can be a difficult place in which to travel without the proper drivers and guides. Kensington's staff was all top notch."
India & Area
Jim & Gayle Stinson ,
April 21, 2014
"Our individualized, private trip to India was just fabulous. Thanks to all for a trip of a lifetime!"
India & Area
Sharleen Dickson ,
April 21, 2014
"The driver and guides were excellent!"
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