Northern India Astronomical and Cultural Tour

17 Days - Easy Touring

Day 1
Friday, October 19

DELHI TO GANGTOK: Fly from Delhi to Bagdogra Airport arriving there mid-day. Arrive Bagdogra and drive (4-5 hours) to Gangtok, the Capital of Sikkim.

Tashi Delek Hotel (L,D)

Day 2
Saturday, October 20

GANGTOK: Acclimatization day. The morning is free to sleep in, wander the bazaars of Gangtok, or simply relax at the hotel. Those who wish may go on a guided tour. Return to the hotel for lunch.

After lunch we head out to visit Rumtek Monastery, the largest and the most powerful monastery in Sikkim today. The incarnate Rimpoche (head Lama of a Buddhist sect) lives in this very traditionally built monastery. It has beautiful wall paintings and thangkas.

Tashi Delek Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 3
Sunday, October 21

GANGTOK: In the morning visit the Gangtok Monastery, situated high on the hill overlooking the town. Also visit the Tibet Center and Museum. The afternoon is free to further explore Gangtok on your own.

Tashi Delek Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 4
Monday, October 22

TASHIDING, PEMAYANGTSE: Departing Gangtok after an early breakfast we head out into the interior to Tashiding (Lotus Monastery), a four-hour drive away. Half hour walk uphill brings us to this remote but beautiful monastery. After visiting this monastery and a picnic lunch we continue our drive (two hours) to Pemayangtse. Pemayangtse (the Sublime Lotus) is the site of an ancient Tibetan monastery, the second in Sikkim, around which a small village now flourishes. We stay at the First class Tourist Hotel, built walking distance from the monastery, with panoramic views of Khangchendzonga and Pandim Mountains.

Norbugang Resort (B,L,D)

Day 5
Tuesday, October 23

PEMAYANGTSE TO KALIMPONG: Wake up early in the morning to see the sunrise on the Pandim peaks. After breakfast we will visit Pemayangtse Monastery and then start our drive to Kalimpong. A spectacular serpentine mountain road with mountain panoramas leads us up to Kalimpong, formerly a terminus point for the mule trains from Tibet and now a relaxed and quite "hill station."

In Kalimpong we are guests of the MacDonald family in their Himalayan Hotel. MacDonald traveled to Tibet at the turn of the century with the Younghusband expedition and was stationed in Lhasa for 20 years as the British Trade Agent to Tibet. His grandchildren are currently running his home as a hotel. We have the balance of the day to explore this lovely area. Amidst the splendor of beauty and the fragrance of flowers, stands Kalimpong at an altitude of 4500 feet. It's the river Relli which meanders down the valley of the lush green hills and the glimpses of snow-capped Himalayan Ranges to the north that enhances the enchantment of the place. Life obviously becomes varied and colorful because of the inhabitant, comprised of various ethnic groups, who have learned to live in peace and harmony. The monastery on top of the hill offers panoramic views of the surrounding valleys. This monastery also has prayers every evening at 4:00 PM that are open to the public. Time allowing, we will wander around the bazaar late this afternoon. Tonight, we will go to the Himalayan View Point for star-viewing and astronomy lectures. (This will be a chilly night - warm woolens are a must.)

Himalayan Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 6
Wednesday October 24

KALIMPONG TO DARJEELING: This morning, we will visit the Tibet center and Kalimpong Monastery before departing for Darjeeling. Darjeeling is, what the English called, a Hill Station. Built at an altitude of 7,000 feet on a northeast-facing slope, with only low mountains between it and the Khangchendzonga massif. Darjeeling is perhaps best known for its tea, but after visiting there, it is best remembered for its magnificent mountain vistas. In the old days expeditions to all the major peaks would originate here. No two houses are built on the same level, the town is a maze of steps and terraces, lots of up and down. Tonight we will drive out to Tiger Hill for a lecture on the constellations and individual planets, along with star viewing. (As in Day 5, warm clothing is required.)

Mayfair Resort (B,L,D)

Day 7
Thursday, October 25

DARJEELING: Drive back out to the top of Tiger Hill (9,000 feet) at 5 AM to catch the sunrise on the Khangchendzonga massif 28,253 feet. You can also see Jannu 25,443 feet, Kabru 24,216 feet. Fluted Peak, Tent Peak and both the Khangchendzonga ridges. Looking west, in the distance are visible Everest 29,198 feet, Lohtse 28,102 feet and Makulu 27,927 feet. After spending a couple of hours on top (we may even have a picnic breakfast here) we return to Darjeeling.

Later in the day we will visit a Tea Estate as well as the Tibetan Refugee Center.

Mayfair Resort (B,L,D)

Day 8
Friday, October 26

DARJEELING TO DELHI: Depart mid-morning for Bagogra airport, a 2-3 hour drive, for the afternoon flight back to Delhi. On arrival in Delhi, you will be picked up at the domestic airport and driven to your hotel.

Imperial Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 9
Saturday, October 27

DELHI: Even when Bombay and Madras were mere trading posts and Calcutta village of mud huts, Delhi had been the seat of an empire for five hundred years. Through the centuries eight cities have been built on this site by the Hindus, the Mughals, and the British, each adding their own flavor. In a matter of minutes you can be transported from a sprawling, elegant garden city to the ancient twisting alleyways of Old Delhi. This morning we head out to explore Old Delhi with its narrow dirt roads, its myriad people and inexpensive and colorful bazaars that keep alive the traditional workmanship for which Delhi has always been famous. Visit the Red Fort, Jama Masjid, Chandni Chowke, Raj Ghat (the cremation ground of Mahatma Gandhi) and drive through the walled city. Later this afternoon, we will visit the Nehru Planetarium. From here, we may witness a meteor shower using the planetarium's large telescope.

Imperial Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 10
Sunday, October 28

JAIPUR: Experience the quintessential Indian mode of transportation - the train. The early morning "Pink City Express" takes us to Jaipur while we ride in the comfortable first class air-conditioned chair car. Early in the afternoon we arrive in Jaipur, the Pink City, and transfer to the Jai Mahal Palace Hotel. Enjoy a half-day sightseeing excursion o the city, which is very beautiful and very different from the other cities on this tour. Visit Hava Mahal (Palace of the Winds), the City Palace, where the present King resides. There is also a Mughal Art museum housing a fine collection of Mughal miniatures.

We will spend time exploring Jantar Mantar, an 18th century astronomical and astrological observatory with several sundials, the largest of which is accurate to .02 seconds. At first glance, the observatory looks like a collection of sculptures. In fact, each construction has a specific purpose - measuring the position of stars, altitudes and azimuths, and calculating eclipses.

Jai Mahal Palace Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 11
Monday, October 29

JAIPUR: In the morning we tour the Amber Fort and Palace. This s a beautiful and very well preserved 16th century structure built on 4 levels and surrounded by ruins. Among the many splendors of the fort is a small room with a ceiling covered in tiny mirrors. Step into the darkened room where a person lights two candles and moves them in circles, creating a pattern that looks like an incredible star filled sky. When this place was inhabited, a dancing girl did this as part of her dance of love for the Maharaja. Visit the temple of Kali, the Hall of Victory or Jai Mahl and the Jagmandir. We will also have the unique experience of traveling on elephant back to and from the top of the hill on which the fort is situated. Balance of the day is free to further explore Jaipur on your own or shop in the many bazaars that make up the city.

Jai Mahal Palace Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 12
Tuesday, October 30

JAIPUR TO BHARATPUR: After an early breakfast start your drive (4 hours) to Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary in Bharatpur and check in at the Forest Lodge. En route we will pass many farming villages and small towns. You can ask your driver to stop whenever you see something interesting.

Ghana is perhaps the most spectacular water-bird sanctuary in Asia, and definitely the largest. Over three hundred species of indigenous and migratory water birds nest here. From October until December water birds like the painted storks, openbills, spoonbills, white Ibises, the Indian darters, cormorants, herons and egrets, nest in the acacia trees growing in the vast spread of shallow swamp land and the Sauras cranes nest in trees around the lake. In December, migratory geese, duck and cranes begin to arrive in great hordes and are the main attraction of the sanctuary. Rosy, Gray and Dalmatian pelicans can also be observed here at this time. Even the rare Siberian crane winters here.

Afternoon excursion into the sanctuary to watch the nesting birds. We use bicycle rickshaws to enter and then take flat-bottomed boats to go deep into the park. If the water level is low we can walk along established trails interspersed through out the park.

Laxmi Vilas "Palace" Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 13
Wednesday, October 31

FATEPUR SIKRI TO AGRA: After a sunrise excursion into the park and breakfast at the lodge we drive 2 hours to Agra. On the way we stop at the ghost city of Fatepur Sikri (15 miles short of Agra). In the late 16th century, the Mughal Emperor, Akbar the Great built this fort and palace to relocate his capital from Agra. After 14 years there was not enough water to support the population, so the capital was moved back to the Red Fort in Agra. The dryness that plagued Akbar and forced him to abandon his dream city is what has perfectly preserved it for admiration today. Continue driving to Agra, arriving there early afternoon. After checking into Hotel Taj View, we leave to watch the sunset on the Taj Mahal.

The Taj Mahal was built by the Shah Jahan in 1631 to enshrine the mortal remains of his Queen Mumtaz Mahal. It took seventeen years, 20,000 workers, and a King's treasury to build this wonder. With your guide wander the inner chambers of the Mughal "Monument to Love." Besides enjoying the Taj Mahal close up, you can watch the light play on its magnificent lines from all parts of the city. Sometimes the reflection of the Taj in the Yamuna River is as spectacular as the real thing. After sunset at the Taj Mahal, return to our hotel. Tonight, a special dinner event has been planned for us.

Hotel Taj View (B,L,D)

Day 14
Thursday, November 1

AGRA TO DELHI: Watching the sunrise over the Taj is a spectacular start to this day. Later in the morning we explore the forerunner of the Taj Mahal - Itmad ud Daula. In memory of her father, this mausoleum, was built by Queen Nur Jahan in 1622, and is a perfect example of fine inlaid stone-work and translucent marble screens which Agra is so famous. It is believed that this monument was the inspiration for Shah Jahan to build the Taj. Later in the morning we tour and photograph Agra's Red Fort. This fort had been the capital to four generations of Mughal emperor, ruling Northern India from the early 16th century till the British. It is an almost perfect fusion between military might and lavish beauty. Also visit Sikandra (Emperor Akbar's Tomb) located just outside the city.

In the evening transfer top the railways station for the 8:00 PM Express train to Deli. Dinner will be served on the train. Arrive Delhi at 10:00 PM and transfer to your hotel.

Imperial Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 15
Friday, November 2

OUTBOUND: Transfer to the international airport for your outbound flight.


Trip Dates:

October 18 - November 2, 2001

Land Cost (per person, double occupancy):

$4945 (based on 20 - 24 full-paying participants)

$5165 (based on 15 - 19 full-paying participants)

$5825 (based on 10 - 14 full-paying participants)

Child Rate (12 or under, sharing with 2 adults):

$4070 (based on 20 - 24 full-paying participants)

$4280 (based on 15 - 19 full-paying participants)

$4675 (based on 10 - 14 full-paying participants)

Single supplement: $850

Intra-India Airfare:

$370 Delhi - Bagdogra - Delhi

Intra-India Airfare( for children 12 or under):

$ 270 Delhi - Bagdogra - Delhi

[ Triple accommodations are available. ]


Included in Land Cost

  •   All accommodations as specified in the itinerary (or similar)
  •  Services of a Geographic Expeditions' professional trip leader
  •  All meals as specified in the itinerary Bottled water daily per person
  •  Special Astronomy tours and activities
  •  Special dinner event
  •  All transportation within India except Intra-India air
  •  Sightseeing as noted
  •  Transfers as specified in this itinerary
  •  Service charges and taxes
  •  All entry fees to all museums and monuments
  •  All gratuities (except to LPI Astronomer)
  •  Geographic Expeditions' Medical and Accident Insurance and Assistance Plan

Not Included in Land Cost

  •  International airfare and en route stopovers to/from India
  •  Airport departure taxes
  •  Meals other than as noted in itinerary
  •  Items of a personal nature such as alcoholic beverages, tips, etc.
  •  Trip cancellation travel delay or baggage insurance. (Note: This optional  coverage is highly recommended and can be purchased through Geographic  Expeditions)
  •  Charges incurred as a result of delays beyond Geographic Expedition's  control.
A Note Regarding Tier Pricing: Our land costs are based on a full or almost full group and is tier priced for the smaller group size. As you can imagine, our expenses are higher with a smaller group than with a full one. In order to operate a trip with a smaller number of participants, we charge a little more to cover fixed costs. The higher land cost will be noted on your initial invoice and then deducted at the time of your final payment if the group has reached a larger size. We have found that participants prefer to pay a bit more as opposed to having the trip canceled.

Inquiries & Reservations

The Treasure Site®, Inc.

Voice: 703 758-7846

Refunds for Unused Portions of the Trip

No refunds can be made for any accommodations, services or features not taken. If cancellation occurs while the trip is in progress, there will be no refund for any unused portion.

Pre-Departure Packet

After you sign-up on the trip, a detailed packet of information on health and safety, travel documents, clothing, background information and suggested reading will be sent to you.


Visas are required for USA citizens for India. Visa applications and instructions will be sent to participants in their trip preparation packet.

Immunizations and Health Matters

No immunizations are required but several are recommended by the Atlanta Center for Disease Control. Participants will be sent a list of the suggested immunizations and a packet of health information in their trip preparation packet.


While we endeavor to make the itinerary as accurate as possible, it should be considered as an approximate schedule of activities rather than a rigid schedule of events. Trip itineraries are subject to revision due to weather, government restrictions and other reasons beyond our control. We will make every effort to notify trip participants in advance of any changes, but due to the nature of travel in Asia, this is not always possible.

Term and Conditions of this trip are contained in the Limitation of Liability on the trip application.

The People Organizing Your Trip at Geographic Expeditions

Sanjay Saxena, Regional Director for India is a native of New Delhi. Son of a brigadier general in the Indian Army, fluent in Hindi\Urdu, Nepali, and English, Sanjay has lived and traveled all over the subcontinent. His deep, insiders' knowledge of his homeland and his talent for creating handcrafted itineraries to traditional and little-seen destinations make him one of the travel world's ranking India specialists.

A graduate in physics from Delhi University, Sanjay began his Himalayan mountaineering career at the age of 15 after attending the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering. A professional guide since 1979, Sanjay has led trekking and touring groups to Kashmir, Ladakh, Zangskar, Garhwal, Sikkim, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, and Mongolia. His 200-mile whitewater descent of the Brahmaputra River in 1992 was filmed for the BBC series "Classic Adventures" ad was shown on the A&E network in the USA. An accomplished photographer, Sanjay has led photographic culture tours in India, Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet. Sanjay also operates and leads our Solar Eclipse tours.

Vivian (Vivi) Mayer, Country Manager for India and Nepal was born in Santafe de Bogota, Colombia. Vivi began her travel life early, first to Miami where she spend much of her childhood, then north to Tufts University in Massachusetts, where she graduated with a degree in Engineering, and then on to the greater world. She has lived in France, England and the Middle East, as well as ventured far and wide around the globe. A graduate of the NOLS course, she is a fervent ourdoorswoman, an avid cultural student, and has "a passion for giving people the opportunity to experience the wonders of the world and the simplicity, yet complexity of the nature that makes it up."

Geographic Expeditions

Geographic Expeditions is a professional travel management corporation, which provides a broad range of travel and location management services for individuals, travel agents and corporations. It also supplies an array of location and marketing support services and specializes in remote locations and complex logistics. The company has operations throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Pacific.

Geographic Expeditions was organized in 1981 (as InnerAsia Expeditions) to develop and operate specialized travel programs in central Asia. It was the first American company to negotiate protocols with the Chinese government to operate treks into Tibet and western China. Nepal, India and Bhutan were added soon thereafter. It has pioneered travel in Tibet, Bhutan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Burma, Patagonia and remote sections of the former Soviet Union. Over the years, Geographic has expanded from its Central Asian roots to the rest of the world. Currently the company provides travel services for approximately 4,500 passengers a year.

Geographic has acted as tourism development consultants to numerous governments and non-governmental organizations. Another expanding and significant area of Geographic's services is location consultation and management for a grand variety of companies such as ABC Television, Boeing, Sotheby's, the Walt Disney Company, ESPN, the BBC, Travel and Leisure, the National Geographic Society, Fox Broadcasting, HarperCollins, and CBS Television. The company also arranges special interest trips for a variety of non-profit organizations such as: the American Museum of Natural History, the Audubon Society, Stanford Alumni Association, the Tibet House, World Monuments Fund, the University of Chicago, Houston Museum of Science, Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology Outward Bound, the California Culinary Academy, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Nature Conservancy and many, many more.

Operating Standards

The staff of Geographic Expeditions is dedicated to preserving the character of the lands and cultures they visit. They invite you to call them for a description of the steps they are taking to promote environmental and cultural preservation.

Copyright Geographic Expeditions 2001

For further information regarding this trip and available dates, please contact:

The Treasure Site®, Inc.

Voice: 703 758-7846

The Treasure Site®, Inc. is dedicated to inspiring scientific, technological, and cultural exploration.

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