“A panoramic journey of contrasts - spectacular scenery mixed with rich culture, from teeming Calcutta to the glorious hill stations.”
This trip is amazing in many ways.
We visit the Himalayas during rhododendron season. The forests are particularly rich with flowers in this part of the mountains as it suffered less from deforestation than for instance, Nepal. With luck we will see the most spectacular panoramic view in the whole range. Seven out of the eight highest mountains in the world can be see from one vantage point, subject to the weather offering clear views.
Darjeeling is one of the best hill stations in India, retaining its British character but largely populated by Nepali peoples, the Gurkhas. The views of Kanchenjunga (the third highest mountain in the world) are very fine, and of course there are the famous tea gardens for which it is so famous.
Calcutta, an amazing city. It has the best museums in India, a fascinating history particularly in relation to the British Raj, the struggle for independence and a peculiar emphasis on literature, music and folk arts that is a hallmark of Bengali culture. The city is crowded and chaotic as one would expect and is full of excellent markets and restaurants. There is of course poverty in Calcutta, it is a huge city, but this is consistent with the other large cities on the Subcontinent such as Bombay, Delhi and Madras.
Bhubaneswar is a very holy place with amazing temples. At one time there were supposed to be 7,000 temples in the city of which 500 remain. It is the ancient capital of Kalinga, the enemies of Emperor Asoka. The city attracts many pilgrims and one can see architecture and sculpture of the highest quality here. Nearby are the famous caves of Udayagiri and Khandagiri.
Puri is one of the seven holy cities of India, and the location of one of the greatest of all festivals, the Rath Yatra or Jaghannath festival. Our visit will probably coincide with the Chandan Yatra festival to celebrate the Hindu New Year. Puri is special in that it is a temple town next to the beach.
Konarak. Ruined but magnificent temple considered one of the finest examples of Hindu architecture and consequently a World Heritage Site.
Also there is good shopping in Darjeeling and Calcutta and interesting wildlife both in the mountains and by the sea.
Fly from London to Calcutta.
Arrive in Calcutta. On arrival we will be met and driven to the Park Hotel for two nights.
Full day in Calcutta. I will take you on a tour of the city, which will include the Botanical Gardens, Queen Victoria memorial and the Kali Ghat
Late morning transfer to the airport to catch a flight to Bagdogra. In Bagdogra we will be met and driven to Darjeeling. Overnight at the Mayfair Hotel.
Full day in Darjeeling. This will include a sightseeing of the Himalayan Mountaineering institute, the Zoo with the Snow Leopard and Red Panda breeding programs, a visit to the Tibetan self help refugee centre and if desired, Tiger Hill at dawn to see Kanchenjunga. On this day I will take my mother to Gangtok to get her settled in. I will return in the evening or very early the next day.
Commence trek. This will really involve a drive to a place called Rimbeck where we will stay the night. In the afternoon we will be able to explore the village and the surrounding fields.
Day 2 of the trek. From Rimbick to Ramam. This is quite a long day but not difficult walking. Mostly on flat paths the trek will lead us through rhododendron forests passing traders coming in from Nepal selling agricultural produce. The final part of the day to the trekkers hut does require some uphill walking at the end of the day but the trekkers hut is very nice.
Ramam to Molley. This is a short but tough days walk up hill through the woods for 3 to 4 hours. Once at the top however there is an excellent view of Kanchenjunga. Overnight in trekkers Hut.
Final day of trek. This is a long but relatively easy walk from Molley to Sandakpu. Gradually the view opens out so that one can see the whole great Himalayan range from Dhailigiri and Annapurna in the east embracing Manaslu, Lhotse, Everest and Makalu as well as Kabru, Kanchenjunga, Pandim, and the peaks of Bhutan. Overnight in trekker’s hut in Sandakpu.
Early morning walk up to really appreciate the magnificence of the view. We will then drive down to Darjeeling. Overnight at the Mayfair Hotel.
Drive down from Darjeeling to Bagdogra to catch the flight to Calcutta departing 15.25 arriving 16.20. I would like to then catch the overnight train to Puri, which departs in the evening 22.15 and arrives the following morning at 08.15. On arrival we will check into the Mayfair Hotel in Puri. Rest of the day exploring Puri and relaxing on the beach.
Full day in Puri. Suggested visit to the famous sun temple at Konarak.
In Puri on the beach.
Drive to Bhubaneshwar. Overnight Mayfair Hotel
Full day in Bhubaneswar, sightseeing
Transfer to airport to catch a morning flight to Calcutta. Rest of the day shopping etc. in Calcutta. Evening transfer to Dum Dum airport, international terminal for flight back to UK in evening.
Arrive back in the UK