I started my big adventure on the 25th November 2016 flying from Heathrow with Virgin Atlantic in Premium Economy class, which was extremely comfortable.I had an overnight flight and landed in Delhi the following morning full of excitement.
The drive from the airport to the hotel was an experience!!!! There seems to be no rules to driving at all in India.
We arrived at the 5* Taj Hotel and had just enough time to freshen up before we met our tour group of sixteen people for an afternoon tour on foot of old Delhi. I must mention the Cox & Kings tour Guide MK, he was absolutely superb, so humorous, and full of knowledge and he stayed with us for the whole trip.
This is a city of extremes; there is poverty, and breath taking grandeur. There are seven cities which make up Delhi all from different centuries, and different architecture. The forts, and Mausoleums where beautiful, with amazing carvings of the Indian Gods.
The next day we saw New Delhi with its Palaces and great arches of the British Raj.
We left Delhi the next day and travelled to Agra and stayed in another great hotel.
The next morning we got up at 4am, to see the sunrise over the Taj Mahal, this memory will stay with me for ever as one of the most beautiful and spiritual things I have seen.
We also visited the ancient red fort of Agra, which was very majestic.
We then travelled on to Jaipur in Rajasthan, my favourite city I think of the tour.
We stayed for 2 nights in a former hunting Lodge of the Maharajah of Jaipur, (who still owns it).There are only 16 rooms and it is set in 30 acres of beautiful countryside.
Jaipur is a very romantic city, and the first sight of the famous amber fort left us all speechless.So majestic with the mountains in the background.We went up to the base of the fort in jeeps, but you can go further up on Elephants if you wish.
The elephants are now only allowed to do three trips each a day by Indian law.The inside of the fort was wonderful very opulent with wonderful architecture, and artistry.
We also visited local crafts, one of them being the beautiful handmade carpets, rugs and jewellery of Kashmir, needless to say I bought some very beautiful silver jewellery!
We travelled back to Delhi on the train, and travelled Indian 1st class which took us 5 hrs in total, due to people, dogs, cows and goats being on the railway line!!
The next morning we took a coach to the station which would take us on the toy train up to Shimla at the base of the Himalayas.The journey in this little train took 5hrs, but what breath-taking scenery on the way up.The building of this railway must have been so difficult, but a real feat of engineering .Shimla was the summer capital for the English, to escape the heat of the plains.It is still very colonial, and the Indian government are in the process of restoring the buildings to their former glory.
We stayed in the most beautiful 5* hotel called The Wild Flower Hotel. This is the former home of Clive of India, the views from the balcony was breath taking as far as the eye could see the snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas.
Next day we took the car and train back to Delhi and stayed overnight at the 5*Taj
The next morning we took the train from Delhi to Rathambore to do a 2 night Tiger Safari , the pictures of Indian train stations you see on the TV and films, are true!! People of all casts, cultures, and dress queuing for trains.We arrived at Rathambore, and were taken to our lovely hotel very near the entrance to the national park to rest.
The following morning at 6am (very cold!!!) we were picked up in a jeep to start our search for the Bengal tigers.The national park has an ongoing breeding program for the Bengal tigers, as they were hunted to near extinction by the Maharajahs.
Unfortunately they must have known I was coming as we didn’t manage to see any tigers, but we saw many wonderful birds and animals.
We took the train back to Delhi, and stayed in an airport hotel overnight before flying back to the UK.
This was a wonderful adventure, and I would love to go back to India again as each region is so different, in culture .food, and dress.
Maggie has also travelled to India