EASTERN HIMALAYAN TRAILS


11 Days / 10 Nights

KOLKATA

Kolkata (Calcutta), India’s second largest city and located on the east bank of the Hooghly river, is often seen as a microcosm of the country. It is an extraordinarily vibrant city and the proud cultural capital of India. Capital of British India for nearly 140 years, many colonial buildings remain and the British legacy can still be felt in the area surrounding Dalhousie Square.
Among the most famous of the monuments in Kolkata are the Victoria Memorial, a large marble edifice planned by Viceroy Curzon, and the impressive steel structure of the Howrah Bridge. For a touch of local life, an early morning visit to the city’s colourful flower market rewards the casual observer with a sea of intense colours and smells. Or wander along College Street with its array of book stalls before enjoying a coffee at the vintage Indian Coffee House.

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DARJEELING & BEYOND

Originally known as Dorje Ling (‘Place of the Thunderbolt’), Darjeeling became India’s summer capital during the Raj. Today, the town is still strewn with buildings from the colonial days and retains much of its old character. A ride on the famous Darjeeling Hill Railway (now a world heritage site), shopping for local crafts at the mall, and a visit to Observatory Hill – an excellent viewing point of Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world – should not be missed. Among the colonialera architecture are Buddhist monasteries and the fascinating Tenzing Norgay mountaineering institute. In addition, those who opt to stay on a working tea estate outside Darjeeling can explore the lush tea plantations, interact with estate workers and learn to pluck ‘two leaves and a bud’.

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KALIMPONG

Kalimpong is a delightful small town in the far north of West Bengal, located at an altitude of 1,250 metres and set in beautiful wooded mountain scenery. This bustling market town was formerly a major centre for tea trade along the Silk Route. The traditional Wednesday and Saturday markets attract villagers from all around plying their fruit, vegetables, woollen cloth and traditional medicines.
Kalimpong is equally famous for its nurseries that export beautiful orchids, dahlias and gladioli. This isolated mountain region offers plenty of opportunities for an authentic insight into a rural way of life. Walks through remote villages and rice fields lead to scenic waterfalls and river beaches at Tista Bazar and Kalijhora.

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GANGTOK

Gangtok, which means ‘lofty’, occupies the west side of a long ridge flanking the Ranipool river and is the capital of the remote state of Sikkim in the eastern Himalaya. Perched at a height of 1,675 metres, Gangtok offers spectacular views of the entire Kanchenjunga range and is rich in Tibetan Buddhist culture.
Visit Enchey monastery, an important seat of the Nyingma order, built on a site blessed by a lama renowned for tantras and his power of flying. Also worth visiting is the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, a specialist museum that houses rare Tibetan scriptures and artefacts. Gangtok is a good base for village walks and to visit other colourful monasteries in the region.

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PELLING & SURROUNDS

At an altitude of nearly 2,150 metres, Pelling is perhaps one of the best places to see the mighty Kanchenjunga at close quarters. The small, quiet town is home to many ancient Buddhist sites dedicated to Guru Rinpoche, the sage who is believed to have introduced Buddhism to the Sikkimese.
Visit the 18th-century Pemayangtse monastery, Sikkim’s major monastery and a treasure trove of religious art. Nearby, the ruins of Rabdentse, Sikkim’s royal capital between the 17th and 18th centuries, reveal the strategic location of this town. Pelling is a convenient base from which to visit the Tashiding monastery, an important pilgrimage centre.

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SHILLONG & BEYOND

Set in a cradle of tall pine conifers, pineapple shrubs and heather-clad hills, Shillong is a popular hill station, with beautiful lakes and waterfalls, and the capital of the state of Meghalaya. Dotted with fine old churches, the erstwhile ‘Abode of Clouds’ is ideally located to visit the towns of Mawsynram and Sohra, which lay claim to being the wettest places on Earth.
If you wish to combine relaxation with a bit of adventure, visit the Khasi village of Mawlynnong, renowned for extraordinary centuries-old living bridges made entirely from the roots of Indian rubber trees. Their development and maintenance is a community affair, taking the Khasi tribe between 10 to 15 years to fully erect a root bridge.

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BHUBANESWAR

Once the capital of the Kalinga empire, which flourished nearly 2,000 years ago, Bhubaneswar’s greatest attraction is the architectural legacy of that period. Spread around the Bindu Sagar lake, Bhubaneswar was often referred to as ‘Temple Town’ as the lake was once reputed to be surrounded by 7,000 temples. Of the 500 that survive today, most date from between the eighth and 13th centuries, but the sites in the vicinity reveal that the region’s importance stretches back to a much earlier date. These sites include the remains of a moated city at Sisupalgarh and the rock edicts at Dhauli, which transformed Buddhism into an important, international religion. Saffron recommends a stay of 2 nights, including a visit to the Jain caves of Khandagiri and Udayagiri.

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PURI & KONARK

Situated on the Bay of Bengal, Puri, endowed with expansive beaches, is also one of the four holiest pilgrimage centres for Hindus. The 12thcentury Jagannath temple, referred to by some as the White Pagoda, is only open to Hindus but can be glimpsed from the roofs of buildings nearby. Close by in Konark is the Unesco-protected sun temple. Built in the 13th century, the black sandstone temple complex takes the form of the chariot of Surya, the sun god, and is heavily decorated with exquisite stone carvings. Its imposing dimensions and faultless proportions are covered with images depicting countless scenes ranging from courtly life to military battles. For wildlife enthusiasts, a trip to Lake Chilika is a must, to see Irrawaddy dolphins and a variety of migratory birds.

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KOLKATA

Kolkata (Calcutta), India’s second largest city and located on the east bank of the Hooghly river, is often seen as a microcosm of the country. It is an extraordinarily vibrant city and the proud cultural capital of India. Capital of British India for nearly 140 years, many colonial buildings remain and the British legacy can still be felt in the area surrounding Dalhousie Square.

Among the most famous of the monuments in Kolkata are the Victoria Memorial, a large marble edifice planned by Viceroy Curzon, and the impressive steel structure of the Howrah Bridge. For a touch of local life, an early morning visit to the city’s colourful flower market rewards the casual observer with a sea of intense colours and smells. Or wander along College Street with its array of book stalls before enjoying a coffee at the vintage Indian Coffee House. Saffron recommends at least 3 nights to discover the city’s many delights.


DARJEELING & BEYOND

Originally known as Dorje Ling (‘Place of the Thunderbolt’), Darjeeling became India’s summer capital during the Raj. Today, the town is still strewn with buildings from the colonial days and retains much of its old character. A ride on the famous Darjeeling Hill Railway (now a world heritage site), shopping for local crafts at the mall, and a visit to Observatory Hill – an excellent viewing point of Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world – should not be missed. Among the colonialera architecture are Buddhist monasteries and the fascinating Tenzing Norgay mountaineering institute. In addition, those who opt to stay on a working tea estate outside Darjeeling can explore the lush tea plantations, interact with estate workers and learn to pluck ‘two leaves and a bud’.


KALIMPONG

Kalimpong is a delightful small town in the far north of West Bengal, located at an altitude of 1,250 metres and set in beautiful wooded mountain scenery. This bustling market town was formerly a major centre for tea trade along the Silk Route. The traditional Wednesday and Saturday markets attract villagers from all around plying their fruit, vegetables, woollen cloth and traditional medicines.

Kalimpong is equally famous for its nurseries that export beautiful orchids, dahlias and gladioli. This isolated mountain region offers plenty of opportunities for an authentic insight into a rural way of life. Walks through remote villages and rice fields lead to scenic waterfalls and river beaches at Tista Bazar and Kalijhora.


GANGTOK

Gangtok, which means ‘lofty’, occupies the west side of a long ridge flanking the Ranipool river and is the capital of the remote state of Sikkim in the eastern Himalaya. Perched at a height of 1,675 metres, Gangtok offers spectacular views of the entire Kanchenjunga range and is rich in Tibetan Buddhist culture.

Visit Enchey monastery, an important seat of the Nyingma order, built on a site blessed by a lama renowned for tantras and his power of flying. Also worth visiting is the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, a specialist museum that houses rare Tibetan scriptures and artefacts. Gangtok is a good base for village walks and to visit other colourful monasteries in the region.


PELLING & SURROUNDS

At an altitude of nearly 2,150 metres, Pelling is perhaps one of the best places to see the mighty Kanchenjunga at close quarters. The small, quiet town is home to many ancient Buddhist sites dedicated to Guru Rinpoche, the sage who is believed to have introduced Buddhism to the Sikkimese.

Visit the 18th-century Pemayangtse monastery, Sikkim’s major monastery and a treasure trove of religious art. Nearby, the ruins of Rabdentse, Sikkim’s royal capital between the 17th and 18th centuries, reveal the strategic location of this town. Pelling is a convenient base from which to visit the Tashiding monastery, an important pilgrimage centre.


SHILLONG & BEYOND

Set in a cradle of tall pine conifers, pineapple shrubs and heather-clad hills, Shillong is a popular hill station, with beautiful lakes and waterfalls, and the capital of the state of Meghalaya. Dotted with fine old churches, the erstwhile ‘Abode of Clouds’ is ideally located to visit the towns of Mawsynram and Sohra, which lay claim to being the wettest places on Earth.

If you wish to combine relaxation with a bit of adventure, visit the Khasi village of Mawlynnong, renowned for extraordinary centuries-old living bridges made entirely from the roots of Indian rubber trees. Their development and maintenance is a community affair, taking the Khasi tribe between 10 to 15 years to fully erect a root bridge.


BHUBANESWAR

Once the capital of the Kalinga empire, which flourished nearly 2,000 years ago, Bhubaneswar’s greatest attraction is the architectural legacy of that period. Spread around the Bindu Sagar lake, Bhubaneswar was often referred to as ‘Temple Town’ as the lake was once reputed to be surrounded by 7,000 temples. Of the 500 that survive today, most date from between the eighth and 13th centuries, but the sites in the vicinity reveal that the region’s importance stretches back to a much earlier date. These sites include the remains of a moated city at Sisupalgarh and the rock edicts at Dhauli, which transformed Buddhism into an important, international religion. Saffron recommends a stay of 2 nights, including a visit to the Jain caves of Khandagiri and Udayagiri.


PURI & KONARK

Situated on the Bay of Bengal, Puri, endowed with expansive beaches, is also one of the four holiest pilgrimage centres for Hindus. The 12thcentury Jagannath temple, referred to by some as the White Pagoda, is only open to Hindus but can be glimpsed from the roofs of buildings nearby. Close by in Konark is the Unesco-protected sun temple. Built in the 13th century, the black sandstone temple complex takes the form of the chariot of Surya, the sun god, and is heavily decorated with exquisite stone carvings. Its imposing dimensions and faultless proportions are covered with images depicting countless scenes ranging from courtly life to military battles. For wildlife enthusiasts, a trip to Lake Chilika is a must, to see Irrawaddy dolphins and a variety of migratory birds.

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Day 1: Fly to Kolkata (N)

Day 2 : Kolkata
TArrive in Kolkata (Calcutta) and transfer to the Oberoi Grand for a 2-night stay. (N)

Day 3 : Kolkata
Morning walking tour including a visit to the colourful flower market. Afternoon cruise on the Hooghly river. (B)

Day 4 : Fly to Bagdogra • Kalimpong
Fly to Bagdogra and drive to the remote hill station of Kalimpong. Stay overnight at the Elgin Silver Oaks. (B, L, D)

Day 5 : Gangtok
Drive to Gangtok, which offers superb views of the entire Kanchenjunga range. Stay 2 nights at the Elgin Nor-Khill. (B, L, D)

Day 6 : Gangtok
Morning tour of the 16th-century Rumtek monastery and the 200-year-old Enchey monastery. (B, L, D)

Day 7 : Pelling
Drive to Pelling and visit the Pemayangtse monastery and the Rabdentse ruins. Overnight at the Elgin Mount Pandim. (B, L, D)

Day 8 : Darjeeling
Morning visit to Khecheopari lake before driving to Darjeeling. Stay 3 nights at Glenburn Tea Estate outside Darjeeling. (B, L, D)

Day 9 : Darjeeling
T Full-day guided walking tour of the estate.(B, L, D)

Day 10 : Darjeeling
Ride the toy train from Darjeeling to Ghoom. Afternoon guided walking tour of Darjeeling including the Tibetan Refugee Centre and the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. (B, L, D)

Day 11 : Fly to Kolkata
Drive to Bagdogra and fly to Kolkata for an overnight stay at the Oberoi Grand. (B)

Day 12 : Fly home (N)

GUIDE PRICE $3,975 PER PERSON

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