Eastern India is full of culture and wildlife. This itinerary aims to showcase the highlights of the area – including the British colonial capital of Kolkata, the culturally immersive Hornbill Festival, and the ecologically diverse Kaziranga National Park. End your trip at the Glenburn Tea Estate, where you’ll have lovely walks as well as learn soup-to-nuts about tea production.
Day 1: Arrival
Arrive into Delhi and be transferred to your hotel. Enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure to rest.
Delhi’s recorded history dates back to 1500 BC, and each kingdom that ruled over the city left an indelible mark on it. While in the heart of Lutyen’s Delhi, take some time to stroll through the Gandhi Smriti, a memorial dedicated to the life and times of India’s Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. His message of peace and non-violence makes him not just the Father of the Nation for Indians, but an inspiration for men and women world over.
Delhi is known for its street food and a visit to Delhi is incomplete without trying out these delicacies. Experience traditional food stalls that developed in the folds of the culture of Old Delhi. At each stop you will unravel the history, traditions, and culture behind the house specialties.
Day 2: Explore Delhi
Your guide will meet you at the hotel this morning for a full day exploration of India’s bustling capital. On this introductory tour you may visit sites including the Qutb Minar, India Gate, and Mughal-era monuments like the Red Fort and Humayun’s Tomb. If Humayun’s Tomb reminds you of another world-famous memorial, you are not mistaken- this is said to have been the blueprint for the world-famous monument of love, the Taj Mahal.
After hitting Delhi’s main sites, we suggest visit one of the most important museums in the city. Designed by noted Indian architect Charles Correa, the Crafts Museum houses a unique collection of crafts from all over India while the National Museum has the most representative collection of antiquities of India. The National Gallery of Modern Art traces the historical development and evolution of the various schools of modern Indian art.
For dinner this evening you’ll be hosted in a local’s home where they will introduce you to the classical Indian performing art of the kathak dance accompanied by live music. Your guide will be on hand to explain the cultural significance of the dance. Following the performance, your host family will sit down with you over a delicious home cooked meal.
Day 3: Kolkata – In the Footsteps of the Raj
Morning flight to Kolkata. Spend some time settling in to your hotel. Set on the Hooghly River, Kolkata was a rural village before being leased by the British East India Company in 1690. By the late 19th century it was the capital of the Raj, with burgeoning trade and a reputation for being more cosmopolitan than the rest of India. A century later Kolkata was famous for urban chaos and poverty, but somehow it has triumphed and emerged as one of India’s most creative cities.
After lunch, meet your guide for an introductory tour of Kolkata. The British had sought to build “the second city of the Empire” right here in Kolkata and it is this creation that you’ll explore you during your walk through the “European” areas of what was once the capital of the British Empire in India. There are major plans to beautify and restore this heritage site with its rich and varied architectural styles. This is one of the most popular walks that serves as the perfect introduction to British Kolkata and gives you a sneak peek into what went into the making of the colonial capital of India.
Day 4: Kolkata – A Bengali Cookout & The Great Melting Pot
Bengal is a foodie’s paradise and more so Kolkata, where various adventurers have left their gastronomical imprints. A walk through the market with your guide will familiarize you with the ingredients that go into the making of some authentic Bengali food. Follow that up with cooking demonstration by either a local housewife or the owners of one of the city’s fine dining restaurants. The meal will end with a selection of tempting Bengali sweets.
If you’re up for it in the afternoon, we suggest delving deeper into Kolkata’s history as a melting pot. Kolkata has witnessed more cultures in its past than most others would even in this globalized present. Here you’ll learn of the origins and remains of the varied communities that hung their boots and called Kolkata home. Check out why Chinese breakfast still rules Tiretta Bazar and how the Armenians gave the city its oldest surviving Christian church while you pass the Anglo-Indians, Muslims, Marwaris, Biharis and many more that made this city an epicenter for diversity.
Day 5: Kohima War Memorial
Morning flight to Dimapur and onward transfer to Kohima. Spend the afternoon visiting the Kohima War Memorial Cemetery. This memorial is dedicated to the soldiers of the 2nd British Division of the Allied Forces who lost their lives here in World War II. The battle, which lasted three months – from April to June 1944 – halted the Japanese advance into India.
Day 6: Hornbill Festival
Nagaland, with its diverse tribal culture, rugged hills, emerald valleys, and rich variety of flora and fauna, is a land of festivals. The Hornbill Festival, held in Kohima from December 1-10, is an initiative of Nagaland government to attract tourists to theie state and to improve inter-tribe relations. The region is predominantly tribal and the festival brings together 17 tribes of Nagaland to showcase their culture. They consider their festivals sacred and so participation is compulsory. More than 60% of the population of Nagaland depends on agriculture and therefore most of their festivals revolve around food production. For visitors, this festival fosters a closer understanding of the people and culture of Nagaland through its food, song, dance, and customs on display.
Day 7: Hornbill Festival
Enjoy another day experiencing all the Hornbill Festival has to offer.
Day 8: Gibbon Sanctuary
Today, enroute to Kaziranga National Park, you’ll visit the Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary. Officially constituted in 1997, the sanctuary is located in an isolated protected area of evergreen forest in Assam. The Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary contains India’s only gibbons – the Hoolock Gibbons, and North-eastern India’s only nocturnal primate, the Bengal Slow Loris. The park has 7 species of primates, the Bengal Slow Loris, the Stump-tailed Macaque, Northern Pig-tailed Macaque, Eastern Assamese Macaque, Rhesus Macaque and Capped Langur. Also found at the sanctuary are elephants, leopards, jungle cats, wild boar, three types of civet, four types of squirrel, and several other types of mammal. At least 219 species of bird and several types of snake are known to live in the park.
Day 9: Kaziranga National Park
A UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site, Kaziranga National Park is a unique park on the banks of the Brahmaputra River. As per the census in March 2015, the park has 2,401 rhinos. The park is also home to large breeding populations of tigers, elephants, wild water buffalo, and soft ground barasingha.
The history of Kaziranga as a protected area can be traced back to 1904, when Mary Curzon, wife of the Viceroy of India, visited the area. After failing to see a single rhinoceros, for which the area was renowned, she persuaded her husband to take urgent measures to protect the dwindling species. On June 1, 1905, the Kaziranga Proposed Reserve Forest was created.
Day 10: Kaziranga National Park
Continue exploring Kaziranga National Park. Perhaps you’d like to focus on bird watching today. The park is home to a variety of migratory birds, water birds, predators, scavengers, and game birds including the Ferruginous Duck, Baer’s Pochard Lesser Adjutant, Greater Adjutant, Black-necked Stork, Asian Openbill Stork, Blyth’s kingfisher, Dalmatian pelican, spot-billed pelican, Nordmann’s greenshank, and black-bellied tern.
Day 11: Glenburn Tea Estate
Early morning transfer by car to Guwahati. Fly to Bagdogra and transfer to Glenburn Tea Estate. Enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.
Glenburn is a heavenly little plantation retreat that lies on a hillock above the banks of the Rungeet River, high in the Himalayas, overlooked by the mighty Kanchenjunga mountain range. Started by a Scottish tea company in 1859, Glenburn then passed into the hands of one of India’s pioneering tea planting families, The Prakash Family. Over the years, the Prakashs have come to be known as the “Chaiwala family” which literally means “tea planters.”
Day 12: Tea Estate Experience
Learn about tea plantation and preparation of tea as a product. The “tea estate” experience was inspired by the vineyards of Europe and other parts of the world, where visitors observe the wine-making process, taste the wine and shop for wine, local crafts and produce. They found the whole experience educational and very interesting, and were inspired to open their own tea estate to teach visitors how a tea leaf makes it to their tea cup.
Day 13: Leisure Activities at Glenburn Tea Estate
The Glenburn Tea Estate experience is not just limited to tea-related activities. They organize nature walks, fishing, yoga, cooking classes, and have a relaxing spa. It is the perfect place to end your long journey through the culturally diverse, rugged, yet beautiful, India.
Day 14: Delhi
Transfer to Bagdogra Airport after early breakfast. Fly to Delhi. Enjoy your final day in India doing some last minute shopping or visiting sites you missed in the beginning of the trip.
Day 15: Return Home
Catch your flight back home.