Valley of Flowers (16 days)

Valley_of_flowers_pic

(Departures July & August)
This cultural tour of India starts in Delhi and Amritsar, before trekking to one of the most beautiful valleys of the mighty Himalayas, the Valley of Flowers, which is one of India’s geographical regions where diverse civilizations and cultures flourish. The Valley of Flowers is a high-altitude Himalayan valley that has been acknowledged by renowned mountaineers and botanists for over a century. It is considered sacred in Hindu religion. This valley was declared a national park in 1982 and is now a World Heritage Site. Visit Agra and the Taj Mahal. Valley of Flowers is an outdoor adventure for those of you who want to combine culture and nature.

Day 1 – Delhi
Namaste! We are warmly welcomed the traditional Indian way with hands clapped together at the airport and transferred to our hotel. The remainder of the day is free to relax.

Overnight: Park Hotel, Delhi (2 Nights)

Day 2 – Delhi
We start our morning tour with New Delhi and visit Birla House, the Former Residence of Mahatma Gandhi before he was assassinated by Nathu Ram Godse on January 30, 1948. Later we visit the famous India Gate followed by the Houses of Parliament, Connaught Place and Humayun’s Tomb*, the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent, built in 1570. We continue to Qutb Minar and its Monuments* Built in the early 13th century the red sandstone tower of Qutb Minar is 72.5 m high. The surrounding archaeological area contains funerary buildings, notably the magnificent Alai-Darwaza Gate, a masterpiece of Indo-Muslim art and two mosques.

Our afternoon concentrates on Old Delhi, starting with the Red Fort Complex*. Named for its massive enclosing walls of red sandstone, it is adjacent to an older fort, the Salimgarh, built by Islam Shah Suri in 1546, with which it forms the Red Fort Complex. The Red Fort is considered to represent the zenith of Mughal creativity which, under the Shah Jahan, was brought to a new level of refinement and each pavilion reveals architectural elements typical of Mughal building, reflecting a fusion of Persian, Timurid and Hindu traditions. Next we visit the Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque. We end our tour with the visit to Raj Ghat, the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi. (B)

Please Note: Red Fort and Birla House are closed on Mondays and Chandni Chowk is closed on Sundays

Day 3 – Delhi/Amritsar
In the morning we are transferred to railway station for our express train to Amritsar. Shatabdi Express trains are fully air-conditioned and travellers enjoy complimentary meals and seating comparable to business class on airlines. On arrival in Amritsar, we are transferred to our hotel. We then we visit the holy Sikh site of Sri Harimandir Sahib, the Golden Temple. The holiest text of Sikhism, the Guru Granth Sahib, is inside the gurdwara. The Holy Scripture is brought in a solemn procession from the Akal Takhat (the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs) in the morning to the temple to be returned at night. The temple’s construction was intended to build a place of worship for men and women from all walks of life and all religions to come and worship God equally. After visiting the Golden Temple, we head to Wagah on the border between India & Pakistan to watch the spectacular Retreat Ceremony put on by the India’s Border Security Force and Pakistan’s Sutlej Rangers at sunset.

Overnight: Ista Hotel, Amritsar (B)

Day 4 – Amritsar/Haridwar/Rishikesh
Today we board our train to Haridwar. Upon arrival at Haridwar we are driven to Rishikesh, a very important Hindu pilgrimage site featuring a number of ashrams and temples on the shores of the Ganges River. Located in the foothills of the Himalayas, the area is filled with thick green forests. Rishikesh is famous for its yoga sessions that are taught here by many yoga experts. We will be visiting Laxman Jhula, Ram Jhula, Geeta Bhawan and other temples & ashrams.

Overnight: Shiva by the Ganges Hotel, Rishikesh (B, D)

Please note: This train does not operate on Thursdays.

Day 5 – Rishikesh/Rudraprayag
In the morning we take a scenic drive along Ganges and Alaknanda rivers to Rudraprayag, situated at the holy confluence of Alaknanda and Mandakani rivers. The entire region is blessed with immense natural beauty. Upon arrival in Rudraprayag we are transferred to our hotel.

Overnight: Monal Resort, Rudraprayag (B, D)

Day 6 – Rudraprayag/Joshimath
We embark on another day of scenic drives to Joshimath, popular centre of pilgrimage, visiting along the way three of the five most important confluences of the Garhwal Himalayas: Karanprayag, Nandprayag and Vishnuprayag. We arrive in Joshimath, our base for trekking to the famous Valley Of Flowers. The season here is short lived, as it only is from mid-July until the end of August.

Overnight: Hotel Dronagiri, Joshimath (2 Nights) (B, L, D)

Day 7 – Joshimath
We study the spirituality in the mountains, as we tour Joshimath and visit the Bhvishya Badri Narsingh temple. The temple is an important pilgrimage centre as it enshrines the lion-headed image of Narsingh, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Afternoon at leisure. In the evening we receive a briefing about the trek. (B, L, D)

Day 8 – Joshimath/Govindghat/Ghangaria
Early morning we drive to Govindghat, a small hamlet situated at the confluence of Alaknanda and Laxman Ganga rivers. From here we trek in a gradual ascent along a well maintained pilgrim trail to the camp at Ghangaria. This is the base from where day walks can be made into the valley of flowers. We arrive in Ghangaria and camp, as camping within the Valley of Flowers is not permitted.

In 1931 Frank Symthe, a British naturalist and mountaineer, stumbled upon it by chance on this valley. He was so attracted towards the beauty of the place he named it as “Valley of Flowers”. He authored a book called “The Valley of Flowers” which unveiled the beauty and floral splendours of the valley and thus threw open the doors of this verdant jewel to nature-enthusiasts all over the world. Local legend associates the valley of flowers has been associated spiritually with the name of’ Hanuman the legendry hero of Ramayana.

Overnight: Camp in Ghangaria (3 Nights) (B, L, D)

Day 9 – Ghangaria/Valley Of Flowers/Ghangaria
An easy 4 km trek gets us to the highlight of our journey, the Valley of Flowers*. Nestled high in West Himalaya, India’s Valley of Flowers National Park is renowned for its meadows of endemic alpine flowers and outstanding natural beauty.

This richly diverse area is also home to rare and endangered animals, including the Asiatic black bear, snow leopard, brown bear and blue sheep. The gentle landscape of the Valley of Flowers National Park complements the rugged mountain wilderness of Nanda Devi National Park. Together they encompass a unique transition zone between the mountain ranges of the Zanskar and Great Himalaya, praised by mountaineers and botanists for over a century and in Hindu mythology for much longer. The sheer number of certain flowers is so large that most people tend to think that there are only a few kinds of flowers there. Sometimes one has to wade in knee-deep flowers to reach an area, which could have flowers of a different kind. The more you look, the more you see, and there doesn’t seem to be a limit to it.

We find Himalayan Hogweed present in large numbers. Low on the ground, masses of the famous Edelweiss, the symbol of the Alps can be found. It usually grows in inaccessible places, at high altitudes in the mountains of Europe, Asia, and South America. Its white colour is considered in Switzerland a symbol of purity and beauty. Various shades of blue, spread throughout the tiny beautiful blue flowers called forget-me-not and much sought after the blue poppy infect. Then there are the unusual blue geraniums. The valley is 10 km long and 2 km wide and is divided by the Pushpawati stream and several tiny streams and waterfalls set against the backdrop of snow-clad peaks. After enjoying the beauty of valley we return to Ghangaria. (B, L, D)

Day 10 – Ghangaria/Hemkund/Ghangaria
A steep trek from Ghangharia leads to Hemkund Sahib, an important pilgrimage site for both Hindus and Sikhs. With a setting of a glacial lake surrounded by seven mountain peaks there is a Sikh Gurudwara and a Lakshman temple. Here Guru Govind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikh faith had meditated on the bank of this lake in one of his earlier births. After our exploration of the area we head down to our overnight camp in Ghangaria. *Total trekking time is approximately 7 hours. (B, L, D)

Day 11 – Ghangaria/Govind Ghat/Joshimath
In the morning we take a short two hour trek leading us to Govind Ghat, where our vehicles will be awaiting us to drive us to to Joshimath for our overnight stay.

Overnight: Hotel Dronagiri, Joshimath (B, L, D)

Day 12 – Joshimath/Rudraprayag
Our jeep safari continues to Rudraprayag with beautiful scenery.

Overnight: Monal Resort, Rudraprayag (B, L, D)

Day 13 – Rudraprayag/Deharadun
Today we head for the enchanting hill station of Deharadun. This is a very scenic drive.

Overnight: Hotel Madhuban, Deharadun (B)

Day 14 – Deharadun/Deharadun
An early morning train gives us beautiful scenery as we depart Deradun for Delhi. The 5:10 departure from Deharadun will get us at Delhi at 11:15 where our transport will be awaiting us for our drive to Sikandra where lie the remains of Akbar the Great – one of the greatest of the Mughal rulers. A very simple mausoleum for a person of his stature. We then proceed to Agra.

Overnight: The Gateway Hotel, Agra (2 nights) (B)

Day 15 – Agra/Fatehpur Sikri
We start our day with a visit to one of the most well-known wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal*. An immense mausoleum of white marble, built in Agra between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife, the Taj Mahal is the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage. Situated on the right bank of the Yamuna in a vast Mogul garden, this funerary monument combines elements and styles of Persian, Central Asian and Islamic architecture. We then visit Agra Fort*. This powerful fortress of red sandstone encompasses, within its 2.5-km-long enclosure walls, the imperial city of the Mughal rulers. It comprises many fairy-tale palaces, such as the Jahangir Palace and the Khas Mahal, built by Shah Jahan; audience halls, such as the Diwan-i-Khas; and two very beautiful mosques. We also visit Fatehpur Sikri*.

Built during the second half of the 16th century by the Emperor Akbar, the City of Victory was the capital of the Mughal Empire for only some 10 years. The complex of monuments and temples, all in a uniform architectural style, includes one of the largest mosques in India, the Jama Masjid and the artistically designed mausoleum of the revered Sufi saint, Salim Chisty. (B)

Please Note: Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays. On nights with a Full Moon the Taj Mahal’s pure white marble shimmers silver in the moonlight and is open to visitors. We can arrange for an optional tour to enjoy this very special occasion. (B)

Day 16 – Agra/Delhi/Departure
Transfer to the airport for your departure flight. (B)

CALL NOW to BOOK 415-331-3791

Includes:
• Accommodation as mentioned or similar including hotel taxes
• Meals as mentioned (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
• All sightseeing and transfers as per the itinerary by AC vehicles
• Train fares
• Services of local English speaking guides/drivers
• Services of trekking guide, cook and helper during the trek
• Entrance fees to museums & sites included in the itinerary
• Portage of one piece of baggage upto 15 kg during trekking
• Trekking equipments: tents, kitchen tent, dining tent, etc

Does Not Include:
• International airfare
• Airport/Departure taxes
• Insurance/visas
• Tips/gratuities
• Sleeping bags (arranged locally at an additional cost of $ 50)

CALL NOW for all DETAILS 415-331-3791