Flights usually depart London Heathrow in the evening.
The group flight will arrive into Delhi in the morning and we will transfer to our hotel. Those who have made their own flight arrangements will join us at the hotel (rooms may not be available until noon but it is often earlier than this). During the afternoon we will do some sightseeing visiting the Red Fort and Jamia Masjid mosque.
Today will do some further sightseeing of Delhi including Birla Temple and Bangla Sahib. The Birla Temple in Delhi is a Hindu temple dedicated to Laxminarayan, the entire temple is adorned with carvings depicting the scenes from Hindu mythology. Gurudwara Bangla Sahib is the most prominent Sikh gurdwara, or Sikh house of worship, in Delhi. It is known for its association with the eighth Sikh Guru, Guru Har Krishan, and the pond inside its complex whose water is considered holy by Sikhs and is known as 'Amrit'. In the evening we transfer to the railway station in order to catch an overnight train to Haridwar. Overnight Sleeper Train
In the morning we arrive in Haridwar and transfer to Rishikesh; the rest of the day is free to explore. The town is one of the most popular pilgrimage places for Hindus and is a magnet for spiritual seekers.
Today is a free day for optional activities; you can go rafting on the Ganges, have an Ayurveda massage, go on a nature walk or spend time visiting the ashrams and yoga centres that are abundant here. The lanes around each end of the Lakshman Jhula Bridge are full of shops, food stalls and places selling religious artifacts. The ghats here are not large but always have people around them bathing and praying.
In the morning we will transfer to Haridwar where we will visit Har-Ki-Pauri, the footstep of God, the town's main bathing ghat. This ghat is supposed to be at the precise spot where the Ganges leaves the mountains and enters the plains; it is one of the most sacred pilgrim places and is surrounded by shops selling religious artifacts. In the afternoon we transfer to the railway station for our overnight train to Allahabad. Overnight Sleeper Train
In the morning we arrive in Allahabad and transfer to our hotel. Today we visit the Sacred 'Sangam', literally meaning confluence, this is where three of the holiest rivers in Hindu mythology meet; these are the Ganga, the Yamuna and the mythical underground river of enlightenment, Saraswati. We also visit the majestic Akbar's Fort, built by Emperor Akbar in 1583 it stands on the banks of the Yamuna near the confluence of rivers. The evening is free for you to explore the town at your leisure.
Day 8 - 9
We transfer to the boat jetty for 2 full days, and 2 nights, sailing on the Ganges by country boats. During this time we will get an insight into the riverside way of life, passing through some of the paddy fields, we will get a chance to visit some river side villages to see how they live and work. We should see some fishermen and if we are lucky we may also see some dolphins.
We arrive in Varanasi today by boat and will return to the river in the evening for the Pooja ceremony on the ghats. Varanasi is one of the most holy cities in India and stands at the centre of the Hindu Universe. As such, the city lives and breathes Hinduism: there are thousands of pilgrims, wandering holy men (Sadhus), religious elders and casual visitors. It is a city to get immersed in by exploring its maze of narrow lanes, the many temples and watch the Hindu ceremonies that occur around the clock. There is time to explore the emporiums specialising in silks and brocades or maybe take a massage by the banks of the Ganges.
Just before dawn, we take a boat out on the Ganges to witness the extraordinary spectacle on the ghats, the steps leading down to the river. Every day thousands of Hindu pilgrims come to these three miles of riverbank to immerse themselves in the waters. The rest of the day is free to continue exploring the city, relax at the hotel or go on optional sightseeing excursions. In the late afternoon we board the overnight train to Calcutta. Overnight Sleeper Train
We arrive in Calcutta during the morning and will transfer to our hotel. During the afternoon we will do some sightseeing including the dramatic white marble Victoria Memorial with its formal gardens and water features, it is this city's greatest colonial monument. We will also visit Kalighat temple which is dedicated to Kali and although plain in style is the city's most important temple.
In the morning we drive for approximately 3 hours to get to the jetty where we meet the boat that takes us into Sundarbans Tiger Reserve.
This is the largest tiger reserve in the world with a wide range of other wildlife including salt water crocodiles, dolphins, Spotted deer, Fishing cats, Wild boar, Olive Ridley turtles, otters, Monitor lizards and a whole host of birds. We will explore some of this huge mangrove forest delta on a cruise down the numerous creeks.
We will travel back to Calcutta today, the rest of the day is free for some last minuete sightseeing or shopping.
Those on the flight inclusive package will depart for London this morning for the daytime flight back to London; Land Only arrangements will finish after check-out from the hotel.