Liss’ local travel agent, Sarah, has just returned from a wonderful week in India with a mix of Norad travel guests from our Trowbridge and Liss branches. Read Sarah’s day-to-day India diary below.
Day 1 – Our Delhi Journey Begins!
After a 7 ½ hour flight from Heathrow we landed in Delhi ready to begin our India adventure. Our 12-person strong group was ready to be immersed in the culture, history and natural beauty that makes India such a bewildering destination.
After checking into our hotels, we met our tour guide, Saket who would be with us for the duration of the trip. Saket is a local resident of Delhi and a freelance tour guide of India. Eager to start our adventure, we spent our first evening exploring Delhi’s markets and learning about the spicy and aromatic ingredients they use for cooking. Saket then took us to a traditional Delhi household to learn the nuances of North Indian home cooking. We were hosted by the lovely Jyoti who taught us how to make amazing vegetable curries, soft and delicious naan bread and crunchy poppadoms! It was a unique, intimate experience and everyone enjoyed their first taste of authentic Indian cuisine.
Day 2 - A full day sightseeing of both Old and New Delhi
Our first full day was spent sightseeing around both old and New Delhi. In the morning we covered Old Delhi, visiting the Jama Masjid – which is the principal mosque as well as the largest and most well-known mosque in India. We then headed to Raj Ghat, a memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi - Indian activist, leader of the Indian independence movement and known as ‘the Father of the Nation’. The highlight of the morning was a hectic rickshaw cycle through the mile long Chandni Chowk, popularly called the Silver Street. It was absolute chaos but a lot of fun and lovely way to see the back streets.
We then headed to New Delhi for the afternoon where we discovered Qutab Minar, the tallest stone tower in India, and the Humayun Tomb. We finished our afternoon at the Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, an important historical and religious location in India. The iconic tank, which can still be seen in the temple compound, was apparently blessed by the Guru himself and can cure people of small pox and cholera. The building is an impressive piece of architecture and we had the pleasure of going inside into the kitchen and seeing food being prepared for hundreds of people. Some of the group got involved and used their new culinary knowledge from the previous night to help roll out naan bread.
Day 3 – Agra
This morning was our first experience of a train journey in India, and we were pleasantly surprised. After a comfortable two-hour journey, we arrived in the city of Agra, in northern India’s Uttar Pradesh state. Our first destination was Agra Fort, a beautiful red-stone fortress which was the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty until 1638, when the capital was shifted from Agra to Delhi. No visit to Agra is complete without a visit to the Taj Mahal and timing our visit at sunset ensured that the group wasn’t left disappointed by the view!
Day 4 – En-Route to Ranthambore
We left Agra with our next stop being wildlife reserve, Ranthambore National Park. We took the bus, finishing the last leg of the journey off by train. En-route we visited the UNESCO world heritage site of Fatehpur Sikri. Fatehpur Sikri is an ancient fortified city home to a stunning mosque and three palaces, built by Mughal emperor Akbar.
Day 5 – On a Tiger Hunt
We had a very early start this morning as we departed on our first morning game drive in Ranthambore National Park. We were lucky enough to spot a tiger wandering in the distance which was an amazing moment!
We went out again in the afternoon and couldn’t believe our luck as once again we had another amazing tiger sighting! This time the tiger was much closer to our jeep. The tiger had just come up from the river and walked right in front of us before lying in the middle of the road for a couple moments, giving us the perfect photo opportunity. It was an incredible moment and the highlight of the tour for many. Along with the tigers we saw marsh crocodiles, eagles, storks and peacocks.
Day 6 – Jaipur
After saying goodbye to the wildlife in Ranthambore, we took a 4-hour bus journey to Jaipur. Also known as the Pink City, Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan. The Pink City gets its nickname from the pink sandstone which was used to construct the buildings in the old walled city. We spent the evening at Dera Amer Elephant Safari where we were treated to an up-close experience with the elephants in camp. We spent some time washing and feeding the elephants which was a wonderful way to get to know these magnificent creatures in a caring environment. We then had dinner and drinks around an open fire in camp to finish off a magical evening
Day 7 - Our last full day sightseeing
Today was our last full day before heading back to Delhi for our flight home. We woke up early to make sure we made the most of our day. Our first stop was Amber Fort, located just outside Jaipur. This magnificent fort comprises an extensive palace complex, built from pale yellow and pink sandstone, and white marble, and is divided into four main sections, each with its own courtyard.
En-route back to Delhi we stopped at the 'Palace of The Winds’, otherwise known as Hawa Mahal. It is really an elaborate facade behind which the ladies of the court used to watch the daily goings on in the street below. The magnificent palace is enclosed by high walls and set amidst fine gardens and courtyards. It includes the Chandra Mahal and Mubarak Mahal palaces and other buildings in the palace complex, all of which are adorned with exquisite colours and paintings.
For the final stop of the tour some of the group went to Astronomical Observatory made by the Maharaja of Jaipur. It is one of the five such astronomical wonders constructed by Sawai Jai Singh and makes accurate predictions even to this day.
After an adventure and culture filled seven days I’m sure the whole group slept sound in the Delhi airport hotel before our morning flight back to the UK. I hope that the group were able to experience a taster of India and through the itinerary we put together you can see why I love this beautiful country so much. It won’t be long before I return as it seems to get more and more under my skin and each time I leave I just want more.
Has the India group tour piqued your interest in India or a group tour? Why not call Sarah and discuss your next adventure.
T: 01730 892298
I thank you for leading us on our lovely Indian trip. The itinerary was great, with an enormous amount packed in, all very varied. The BBQ with the elephants, cooking demo and for me a visit to my old home were wonderful not forgetting Agra and all the forts and Indian history. All the hotels were comfy and the quality of the food was superb. The train journeys were quite an experience and not to be missed and it was lovely to see the country side and talk with fellow travellers about their country. Our guide Saket was very charming and you kept us all in step and on time, even when we went off piste... a miracle of diplomacy! Our group jelled really well and we had some lovely laughs thanks to you. Not forgetting the TIGERS. It was a wonderful experience and I would recommend it (Norad) to anybody. Jilly Caesar
This was an itinerary with plenty of content, ideal for showing off the best of the Golden Triangle. I had never been before and I had high expectations that this would be a good trip, and these were most definitely met! Sarah was an excellent host on behalf of Norad Travel - she went out of her way to make sure that everyone was happy and well looked after, with any queries posed by the group being answered promptly and keeping us informed along the way. One person in our party had the misfortune of her suitcase not turning up at Delhi. Sarah handled this very efficiently - went with her to get replacement clothes, chased up the luggage (which arrived the following day), and dealt with the claim form.
All in all, a thoroughly successful and highly enjoyable trip, which I will remember for a long time to come. Marina Voak
I seem to have a bit of jet lag still but I really enjoyed the holiday. So many lovely people in our group and that we met en route. Sarah did a great job helping make things run so smoothly and I am very appreciative of the help she gave me with the food and support. We were truly privileged with the tiger sightings! June Sowerbutts
The tour was outstanding and delivered everything promised in the brochure. Sarah was so helpful at the airport when my suitcase was lost by the airline, and later when I had to go to replace some clothes, that it did not seem such a disaster at the time. It was a good mixture of people on the trip ,a group that got on well together. I hope we get the chance to cross paths again in the future. Christine Smith