Himalayas and the Ganges at Varanasi
Day One, Darjeeling
Arrival at Bagdogra (IXB) by Spice Jet from Delhi. ETA 13:40 hrs and transfer to Darjeeling.
Darjeeling is one of the most magnificent hill resorts in the world. It conjures up visions of snow peaks and serene, vibrant green hills steeped in splendour. This is a land of breathtaking beauty crowned by the majestic Himalayas. This heavenly retreat is bathed in hues of every shade. Flaming red rhododendrons, sparkling white magnolias, miles of undulating hillsides covered with emerald green tea bushes, exotic forests of silver fir, are all under a blanket of brilliant azure sky dappled with clouds. The crest of Kanchenjunga peak shining in the first dawn light truly supports Darjeeling's title as queen of hill stations..
Evening at leisure. Overnight stay at hotel in Darjeeling.
Day Two, Darjeeling
Early morning we will go to Tiger Hill for a beautiful sunrise. Situated at an altitude of 2590 meters (8482 ft.) and 13 kms from the town, this spot has earned international fame for its magnificent view of sunrises over “Kanchenjunga” and the great Eastern Himalayan Mountains. Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, is also visible from here.
Later visit the bazaars of Darjeeling. There is a lot to choose from…
• HMI: The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute was set up following the successful ascent of Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world by local hero Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Sir Edmund Hillary on 28 May 1953. The oldest mountaineering institute in the country, it carries out various mountaineering courses every year. In addition to Tenzing, legendary mountaineers such as Nawang Gombu (the first man to climb Everest twice) and Lattoo Dorjee Sherpa have helped build the reputation of this pioneering institute. The Institute’s museum is worth a visit.
• Zoological Park: Adjacent to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, is a high altitude wildlife park and new home for the Siberian Tiger, Himalayan Black Bear, Deer, Red Panda, Snow Leopard and birds. The Snow Leopard breeding centre was started in 1986 to breed Snow Leopards in captivity with the help of International Snow Leopard.
• Ropeway:Darjeeling-Rangit Valley Passenger Cable Car is popularly known as the Ropeway. It is about 3 km north of the town and situated at what is known as the North Point. The ropeway, India’s oldest passenger ropeway, connects Darjeeling with Singla Bazaar at the bottom of the valley. The present ropeway has been extensively modernised and visitors can now safely travel over the clouds to witness the aerial view of the lush green tea gardens below.
• Tenzing Gombu Rock Situated at Lebong Cart Road, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute conducts preliminary courses on Rock Climbing.
• Tea Garden: One among about seventy tea gardens in this hilly region, this is one of the nearest, about 3 km from the town. Here one can see the processing of the world famous Darjeeling tea. Times: 8 am to 12 noon and 1 pm to 4.30 pm. Closed on Sunday afternoons and every Monday.
• Japanese Temple: The Japanese Peace Pagoda was established by Nipponzan Myohoji, a Japanese Buddhist order. Situated on the slopes of the Jalapahar Hill the pagoda can be reached by foot or taxi. The pagoda is the highest free structure in the town. It also showcases the four avatars of the Buddha.
• Art Gallery: About 2 km from town on the way to Ghoom. It houses fine art and embroidery work of Mrs. Ava Devi. Times: 8 am to 12 noon and 1 pm to 5 pm.
Overnight at Darjeeling.
Day Three, Gangtok
Post breakfast transfer to Gangtok. Wreathed in clouds, Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim is located on a ridge at a height of 5500 feet. With a spectacular view of the Khangchendzonga, the town provides a perfect base for travel through the state. Once an important transit point for traders traveling between Tibet and India, it is today a busy administrative and business centre and presents an interesting mix of cultures and communities.
Gangtok is a cosmopolitan town which offers the tourist all possible amenities. Hotels are available in a range of prices along with a variety of eateries serving cuisine for all tastes.
Overnight stay at hotel.
Day Four, Gangtok
After an early breakfast visit
• Baba Mandir: The temple lies on the road between the Nathula and the Jelepla Passes and is visited by hundreds of people each day. The temple is believed to have wish-fulfilling powers and many devotees leave behind bottles of water at the temple which they pick up on their way back as holy water. The legend of Baba goes back 35 years when Sepoy Harbhajan Singh of the 23rd Punjab Regiment went missing while leading a pack of mules from his battalion stationed at Tukla to Deng Dhukla, both remote areas located in East Sikkim. A manhunt was launched and it took the army three days to find his body. It is believed that he himself led the soldiers to the site. Soon after, soldiers in the regiment started reporting that Baba had been appearing in their dreams and directing that a shrine be built in his memory. A memorial was raised in his memory and believers say that even today Baba visits every night, puts on his uniform and does his rounds. He is worshipped as a saint who grants boons and guards the lives of soldiers posted along the border.
• Tsomngo Lake: 38 km from Gangtok and at an altitude of 12,400 ft, the ethereally beautiful Tsomgo lake is a must on every visitor’s itinerary. A winding road through rugged mountain terrain and sharp cliffs takes you to Tsomgo, which means "source of the water" in the Bhutia language. The lake derives its water from the melting snows of the mountains surrounding the lake. Of legendary beauty, the lake looks different in different seasons. In winter the placid lake remains frozen, with the area around it covered in snow; while in late spring the profusion of flowers in bloom adds a riot of colours around the lake.
Overnight stay at Gangtok
Day Five, Varanasi
Transfer to Bagdogra to take a flight to Varanasi. Depart Bagdogra ETD 12:20hrs. by Jet Konnect and arrival at Varanasi ETA 17:20hrs.
Varanasi, or Benaras, (also known as Kashi) is one of the oldest living cities in the world. Varanasi`s prominence in Hindu mythology is virtually unchallenged. Mark Twain, the English author, who was enthralled by the legend and sanctity of Benaras, once wrote: “Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together”. According to the Vamana Puranaā, the Varuna and the Assi rivers originated from the body of the primordial Person at the beginning of time itself. The tract of land lying between them is believed to be Varanasiā, the holiest of all pilgrimages. The word Kashi originated from the word Kasā which means to shine. Steeped in tradition and mythological legacy, Kashi is the original ground created by Shiva and Parvati, upon which they stood at the beginning of time. Varanasi is the microcosm of Hinduism, a city of traditional classical culture, glorified by myth and legend and sanctified by religion. It has always attracted a large number of pilgrims and worshippers from time immemorial. To be in Varanasi is an experience in discovering an eternal oneness of the body and soul. To every visitor; Varanasi offers a breathtaking experience. The rays of dawn shimmering across the Ganges, the temples and shrines along the banks bathed in a golden hue, soul stirring hymns and mantras together with the fragrance of incense filling the air, a refreshing dip in the holy waters at the Ghats. Varanasi, is a land where experience and discovery reach the ultimate bliss. Varanasi is also renowned for its rich tapestry of music, arts, crafts and education. Some of the world renowned exponents India has produced in these fields were schooled in Varanasiās cultural ethos. Luminaries apart, Varanasi abounds in the art of silk weaving, an exotic work of art which manifests itself in precious Banarasi Silk Sarees and Silk brocades which are cherished as collector items across the world today.
Overnight stay at hotel
Day Six, Varanasi
Sarnath and Viswanath temple visit.
Viswanath Temple, also known as the Golden Temple, is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the presiding deity of the city. Varanasi is said to be the point at which the first jyotirlinga, (the fiery pillar of light by which Shiva manifested giving him supremacy amongst the Gods), broke through the Earth crust and flared towards the heavens. More than the Ghats and even the Ganga, the Shivalinga installed in the temple remains the devotional focus of Varanasi.
Sarnath: Buddhists worldwide look upon India as the land of the Buddha and a visit to this country means a pilgrimage to those places sacred to the memory of the Enlightened One. After the Buddha attained enlightenment in Bodh Gaya he came to Sarnath. Here in the Deer Park, he delivered his first sermon, or in religious language, set in motion the wheel of Law (Maha-Dharmachakra Pravartan). On the day before his death Buddha included Sarnath along with Lumbini, Bodh Gaya and Kushinagar as the four places he thought to be sacred to his followers. The Emperor Ashoka, who spread the Buddha’s message of love and compassion throughout his vast empire, visited Sarnath around 234 BC,and erected a stupa here. Several Buddhist structures were raised at Sarnath between the 3rd century BC and the 11th century AD, and today it presents the most expansive ruins among places on the Buddhist trail. Sarnath is 10 km from the holy city of Varanasi, and is an exceedingly tranquil place. The ruins, the museum and temple are all within walking distance.
Overnight stay at Varanasi
Transfer to Varanasi Airport. Depart for New Delhi by Spice Jet. Transfer to hotel in New Delhi
End of Services
Minimum on tour: 4
Best time: August to March
Tour fees (in US dollars) per person
Twin share accommodation $1960
Single room accommodtion $ 2744
• 3.5* - 4 * AC twin share accommodation.
• All breakfasts.
• All buffet dinners
• AC car or coach with English-speaking driver and local guides.
• Airport-hotel-airport transfers.
• Dance show.
• All entry fees
• All activities fees.
• Mineral water and soft drinks during excursions.
• Insurance of any kind.
• Personal expenses.
• Tipping: $120 per person for the entire tour. This can be given to the group leader at the beginning of the tour for disbursement during the tour.
India is a country of 1.30 billion mostly peace-loving people. Sometimes a foreign authority issues advisories to its citizens regarding taking extreme care when in India. Your welfare is equally our concern.
- You will be received and seen off at the airports.
- Our representative will display your name on a placard.
- If we feel certain areas are to be avoided we may modify routes, etc without in anyway effecting your overall experience which would be enthralling.
- Please obtain proper receipts for all the products you buy and do so only from authorised shops.
Shanti Gowans is the globally recognised author and founder of Shanti Yoga™, Meditation and Ayurveda for the self, family and community.
Shantiji has brought the concepts and practices of a healthy body and a still mind to thousands of Australians through her Yoga and Meditation programs on national television... Read more about Shantiji's biography
Travel with Shanti & Peter Gowans this November for a trip of a lifetime.