The Essential East - India Tour Itinerary
The Essential East - 11 days / 10 nights
Ranging from the shores of the Bay of Bengal to the peak of the Kanchanjanga, the third-highest peak in the world and the highest in India, the region offers a spectacular variation in landscapes. Darjeeling is one of the most beautiful hill stations in the East and one that allows you glimpses of the majestic peaks of Mount Everest and Mount Kanchanjanga on a clear day. The Indian Mountaineering Institute is worth a visit to see exhibits of famous expeditions, particularly the first successful attempt by Tenzing and Hillary.
Also worthy of a visit is the Lebong Race Course that has the distinction of being the highest and smallest racecourse in the world. Visit the Tibetan Monastery at Ghoom where an enormous gilded statue of Buddha is enshrined. This monastery also contains several valuable Tibetan manuscripts. Going on to Sikkim, the capital Gangtok is like a fairy-tale place, where pretty houses perch precariously on steep mountain slopes above incredible scenic panoramas. Built in the pagoda style, they have painted turquoise roofs, gleaming above busy bazaars that are filled with elegantly costumed, smiling people. The magic of the scene is very real. Tiny Sikkim has 194 monasteries or gompas of which the 50-year-old Rumtek Monastery is the most famous – an excellent replica of the original in Tibet. Devoted lamas robbed in crimson chant ancient mantras to the rhythm of drums and trumpets while soft light flickers from decorative lamps and, if you sneak a look over your shoulder, you might catch sight of the universe smiling in response.
price on application
Cost Includes: Accommodation for 10 nights, transfers, excursions and sightseeing with English speaking guide, air-conditioned chauffeur driven car in Kolkata, non ac jeep elsewhere, monument entrance fee, porterage, mineral water in car, toy-train ride from Darjeeling to Ghoom and air travel in economy class as per itinerary.
Hotels Superior: Hindustan International (superior) Kolkata, Mayfair Hill Resort (cottage) Darjeeling, Norby Gang Resort (cottage) Pelling, Royal Plaza (standard) Gangtok, Himalayan (standard) Kalimpong
Deluxe (upgrade to): Hyatt Regency (Hyatt guest) Kolkata, Norkhill Resort (standard) Gangtok Luxury (upgrade to): Grand Oberoi (deluxe) Kolkata, Windamere (standard) Darjeeling, Silver Oaks (standard) Kalimpong
Kolkata/Calcutta(2) - Darjeeling(3) - Pelling(1) - Gangtok(2) - Kalimpong(1) - Kolkata(1)
Day 01 ARRIVAL Reception and welcome at Kolkata airport followed by transfer to your hotel.
Day 02 Kolkata Morning is at leisure. In the afternoon visit the city's sights including the Victoria Memorial, St Pauls Cathedral and the Indian Museum.
Day 03 Kolkata – Bagdogra – Darjeeling Fly to Bagdogra in the morning and drive on to the beautiful hill station of Darjeeling, “Queen of the Himalayas” at an altitude of 7000 feet. The bazaar is worth visiting in the evening.
Day 04 Darjeeling Early morning excursion to Tiger Hill followed by a Toy Train ride from Darjeeling station to Ghoom Manastery. Visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, founded by the late Tenzing Norgay, in the evening.
Day 05 Darjeeling The day is at leisure. You could visit the tea gardens where the famous Darjeeling tea is grown.
Day 06 Darjeeling – Pelling Drive to the remote hamlet of Pelling. In the afternoon visit Pemayangste Manastery.
Day 07 Pelling – Gangtok Drive through picturesque valleys to the mountainside capital of Sikkim.
Day 08 Gangktok Visit Rumtek Monastery, the Research Institute of Tibetology which houses nearly 30,000 volumes on astrology, magic and philosophy, the Orchid Sactuary, the Buddhist monastery at the Palace and the Residency, from where you can have and excellent view of the mountains.
Day 09 Gangtok - Kalimpong Morning drive to Kalimpong – a remote hill station on the trade route to Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal. Visit 2 well known 17th century monasteries.
Day 10 Kalimpong – Kolkata In the morning transfer to Bagdogra Airport for the connecting flight to Kolkata. In Kolkata transfer to your hotel. The day is at leisure. You may visit the Missionaries of Charity founded by Mother Teresa later in the day.
Day 11 DEPARTURE Transfer to airport in time for your flight out.
THE BENELUX BONANZA
The journey I was about to undertake would not only in geographical terms span vast distances over land and sea......it was an odyssey which would cover a period of over four hundred years and one in which I would try to establish a "connection" with my ancestors.