"From the high Himalayas to the stunning Sundarbans, experience the essence of India as you follow its most iconic and sacred river, The Ganges"
Gain a fascinating insight into the country’s rich cultural and religious heritage as you observe riverside rituals and ceremonies, learning more about Hinduism as you journey along the banks of the holy Ganges. Experience the grandeur of Delhi and Kolkata, explore important pilgrimage sites, and admire the amazing wildlife of West Bengal with a visit to the Sundarbans National Park on this unforgettable two-week tour.
Begin your adventure with some fantastic sightseeing in Delhi, before continuing to the beautiful town of Rishikesh. Witness religious ceremonies at the Ghats of the Ganges, enjoy an ayurvedic massage or satisfy your need for a thrill with some adventurous river-rafting. Visit the holy cities of Haridwar and Allahabad, and learn about village life on the fertile banks of the Ganges as you journey downstream to Varanasi. Considered to be the world’s ‘oldest living city’, Varanasi is the epicentre of Hinduism and is a real highlight. Take an overnight train into the vibrant and bustling city of Kolkata, the cultural, educational and commercial hub of Eastern India. Finally, conclude your tour with a welcome excursion into nature at the Sundarbans National Park, home to the royal Bengal tiger.
Active India Holidays are local operators and, as such, have seen first-hand the benefits that tourism can bring to some of India’s most remote regions. They understand that tourism often helps to alleviate poverty and develop communities and, as part of the global tourism industry, acknowledge that they too have a crucial role to play in providing commercial benefits and financial impetus in local communities. The company is conscious of both the negative and positive impacts its operations potentially have within sensitive environments and communities, particularly in the Himalayas where most of Active India’s trekking and adventure operations are conducted.
To ensure that they operate in as responsible a way as possible, Active India trains all of its tour leaders and support staff on sustainability practices. One example is their ‘Leave no Trace’ policy, which ensures that campsites and trails are left free from any waste. The company even extends this policy to include the waste left by travellers who have come before them, collecting and disposing of any extra rubbish in a safe manner. Active India hopes to contribute towards building a tourism industry that brings pleasure to travellers whilst also constructing a future for the local people and places that the industry depends on.
Arrival in Delhi: Arrive at Delhi’s international airport and receive a traditional welcome before transferring to your hotel. Begin your sightseeing with a visit to Red Fort, a historical 17th century building, and the busy and bustling walled city of Old Delhi. Continue to Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque, before driving past the New Delhi area to visit the Presidential Palace, India Gate, Parliament House and a number of colonial buildings. In the evening, explore further at your leisure or simply relax.
Delhi – Haridwar: After breakfast, visit one of Delhi’s major temples – Lakshmi Narayan Temple. Built in 1939, this beautiful temple was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi on the condition that people from all castes (social classes) would be permitted entry. Next, visit Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, one of the main Sikh houses of worship. Take an evening transfer to the railway station to board the overnight train to Haridwar.
Haridwar – Rishikesh: Take a morning transfer to Rishikesh, the ‘birthplace of yoga’ and the gateway to four important Hindu pilgrimage sites: Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. After checking in to your hotel upon arrival, enjoy a free evening to visit the Ghats of the river Ganga (the Ganges) and witness the Aarti ceremony. Alternatively, explore the town at your own pace.
Rishikesh: Spend the day at your leisure, with plenty of activities on offer including nature walks, high-octane river-rafting and relaxing ayurvedic massage.
Rishikesh – Allahabad: Return to Haridwar in the morning, and spend the early afternoon exploring the town. Later, transfer to the railway station to board the train to Allahabad, a city situated at the confluence of the rivers Ganga, Yamuna and the invisible Saraswati. The meeting point is known as Triveni and is sacred to Hindus, making this place an important pilgrimage site. The city was formerly known as Prayag, and is shrouded in history and myth. Today, Allahabad is a melting-pot of cultures with an interesting mixture of Hindus, Muslims, Jains and Christians resident in the city.
Allahabad: Discover some of the highlights of the city with a visit to Akbar’s Fort and the sacred sangam. Sangam is the sacred confluence of the three rivers mentioned above; this is where Hindus come to bathe and wash away their sins. Every twelve years at the Kumbh Fair, millions of devotees gather to perform religious rituals on the ghats of this river.
Allahabad – Varanasi: Take a boat trip along the Ganges from Allahabad to Varanasi. This stretch of the iconic river is arguably the most colourful and interesting, with scenic countryside landscapes, old temples and devotees swarming the river-banks. Observe migratory birds, visit temples and riverside villages and camp on peaceful river islands.
Varanasi: Arriving in Varanasi in the afternoon, you’ll transfer to your hotel for check-in. One of the seven holiest cities in India, Varanasi sits on the banks of the sacred river Ganges and is the centre of the Hindu Universe. Visited by more than a million pilgrims every year, the city is always lively, filled with wandering holy men, religious elders and casual visitors. Explore labyrinthine lanes, visit temples and observe devotees performing various rituals and ceremonies on the Ghats. In the evening, witness the amazing evening aarti (prayer) performed on one of the Ghats, before returning to your hotel.
Varanasi – Kolkata: With an existence dating to around 1800 BCE, Varanasi holds the impressive title of the ‘Oldest Living City of the World’. It is also the holiest city for Hindus. Take an early boat ride out on to the Ganges to witness the events taking place on the Ghats, the steps that lead down to the river. Each day, thousands of Hindu pilgrims and devotees visit Varanasi to offer prayers, meditate and purify themselves by bathing in the river. Return to the hotel for breakfast before exploring at your leisure in the afternoon. Alternatively, take a drive to Sarnath, where Buddha delivered his first sermon. In the evening, board the overnight train to Kolkata.
Kolkata: The main commercial and educational centre of East India, Kolkata holds a rich and unique cultural heritage. The centre of 19th and early 20th century Bengal Renaissance, and an ethnically diverse centre of culture in Bengal and India, Kolkata has gained wide audiences in drama, art, film, theatre and literature. Visit the grand and stately Victoria Memorial, built in a European architectural style using white marble, and admire its rare antique collection. Later, visit the divine Kali Temple, dedicated to the Hindu Goddess Kali.
Kolkata – Sundarbans: Travel from your hotel to the jetty for your boat trip to the Sundarbans National Park. The Sundarbans consists of the world’s largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest, covering an area of around 10,000 square kilometres. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Sundarbans is also a Tiger Reserve and a Biosphere Reserve.
Sundarbans: Discover the vast mangrove forest ecosystem and its amazing wildlife by boat or on foot.
Sundarbans – Kolkata: Leave the Sundarbans after breakfast, travelling by boat to return to Kolkata. Transfer to your hotel before enjoying the rest of the day free for last-minute exploration and sightseeing.
Kolkata: Your tour concludes after breakfast, when you will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight.
- The rate shown is a 'from' price per person (on a double sharing basis)
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- Refunds: 80% refund available until 30 days prior to check-in; 50% refund available 15 days prior to check-in; 25% refund available 6 days prior to check-in; within 5 days of check-in there will be no refund.
- 2 x overnight train journeys
- Breakfasts only while staying at hotels/guesthouse
- Full board meals during camping
- English speaking monument sightseeing guides at cities
- All land transport
- Government service tax as applicable
- Travel insurance
- Indian visa fees
- Any monument entrance fees
- Flights (domestic/international)
- Any optional activities or services not mentioned in inclusions
- Services of any professional English speaking tour leader/escort during the tour
- Miscellaneous expenses for tips, laundry, drinks, any medical emergencies and souvenirs etc.