Gardens of India with Joe Swift

Summary

Without question, India is the most engaging, vibrant, chaotic, colourful, spiritual and life-affirming country you will ever visit.  It’s like an avalanche to the senses – a true wonder to behold. The Telegraph and Cleveland Collection have teamed up to bring you a unique escorted tour with all the headline-grabbing sights of India and led in part by TV presenter Joe Swift. The Taj Mahal, the Red Fort, the Shimla, the architectural grandeur of Jaipur, the Lodhi garden, the Zakir Hussain Rose Garden are all sights part of this incredible 12 day tour. You will be staying at some of India’s most luxurious accommodation which ensures that your trip will be truly unforgettable.

 

Tour Includes:

  • Economy class international and domestic flights
  • Five-star accommodation & breakfast throughout
  • Dinner and lunch as detailed
  • Dinner and Question & Answer evening with Joe Swift
  • Garden visits & lunch with botanist in the Lodhi Gardens
  • Entrance to all attractions as detailed
  • Private transfers and transportation
  • Airline departure taxes
  • Service of a Cleveland Collection tour manager

Price

From £3,980 per person based on 2 people sharing

Best time to go

The tour departs in February when the flowers will be in bloom and the climate is warm but not unbearably.

Departure Date

13 February 2018

Tour Highlights

  • Accompanied by expert Joe Swift
  • Visit an amazing selection of India's most beautiful gardens
  • Stay in luxurious accommodation throughout
  • Sightseeing in some of India's most exciting cities
  • Single supplement: £1175

Day 1: Departure

Depart London on the direct overnight British Airways flight to Delhi.

 

Day 2: New Delhi

On arrival, the group will be met and transferred to stay for 3 nights at the Sheraton Hotel. After lunch, the group will visit the Garden of Five Senses. This is a space with a variety of activities, inviting public interaction and exploration. Developed by Delhi Tourism Transportation Development Corporation, this garden was conceptualised to answer the city's need for leisure space for the public, and for people to socialise and unwind. A welcome dinner will be held in the hotel’s Delhi Pavilion Restaurant.

OvernightThe Sheraton Hotel [Full Board]

India garden tour The Sheraton New Delhi
 

Day 3: New Delhi

Today the group will be joined by Joe Swift, garden designer and presenter of the BBC’s Gardener’s World & BBC’s coverage of the Chelsea Flower Show, to enjoy a guided tour of New Delhi. Sights will include the India Gate; Qutub Minar, the world’s tallest brick minaret; and the spectacular Humayun’s Tomb. Visit the Lodhi Gardens, spread over 90 acres used as a burial site for pre-Mughal Sayyid and Lodi rulers, with the domed mausoleum tombs of Mohammad Shar, Sikandar Lodi & Shisha Gumbad. Lunch will be in the garden’s restaurant with a renowned local botanist who will explain the history behind the Mughal gardens. A Q&A session this evening with Joe Swift will be followed by dinner.

Overnight: The Sheraton Hotel [Full Board]


 

Day 4: New Delhi

This morning the group will spend time in the company of Joe Swift at the Mughal Gardens. Only open to the public for 4 weeks each year, these beautiful gardens cover 13 acres, & are home to more than 250 varieties of roses. Areas include the Musical Garden, the Spiritual Garden, the Herbal Garden, Bonsai garden and the Biodiversity Park. The Mughals were great builders and construction of gardens was a beloved pastime. Their style is influenced by Persian gardens, particularly the Charbagh structure, (meaning Four Gardens). They are usually square or rectangle with a central focal point such as a tomb and divided into four quarters by channels of water, (representing the 4 rivers flowing from the Garden of Eden). After lunch, the focus switches to fascinating Old Delhi, with visits to the Jama Masjid and to the famous Red Fort, which is home to an attractive Palace Garden.

Overnight: The Sheraton Hotel [Full Board]

India garden tours mughal gardens

 

Day 5: Chandigarh

Depart to Chandigarh and after lunch, visit the Rock Garden of Chandigarh. Created by Nek Chand featured in the BBC series Around the World in 80 Gardens, this unique garden nestles amidst 20 acres of woods & consists of art objects fashioned from industrial & urban waste. Then journey to the Zakir Hussain Rose Garden, a botanical garden with over 5,000 rose bushes of over 1,500 varieties, making it Asia’s largest Rose Garden. For 3 days the Rose Festival, a major cultural event visited by over 20,000 people and celebrated as a tribute to the magnificence of the rose is held here annually with lots of activities. The day is rounded off by a city tour of Chandigarh including the beautiful Sukhna Lake.

OvernightJW Marriott Hotel [Half Board]

India Garden Tour

 

Day 6: Shimla

After breakfast, the group will travel to the spectacular Pinjore Gardens. The garden here has been laid in seven terraces which descend into the distance and achieve an almost magical effect. The main gate opens onto the highest first terrace, which has two Rajasthani-style palaces – the ‘palace of glass’ & the ‘airy palace’. The second terrace with arched doorways has the ‘painted palace’ whilst the third terrace has cypress trees, flower beds & groves of fruit trees. The next terrace down has the ‘palace of water’ with a square fountain bed, fountains & tree groves are on the next terrace, with the lowermost terrace having an open-air theatre. After lunch, the group travels to Shimla to stay 2 nights at Wildflower Hall. At dinner, a University Professor, will elaborate on the concept of gardens in India, and host an informal Q&A session.

OvernightWildflower Hall [Full Board]

India Garden Tour Wildflower Hall Shimla


Day 7: Shimla

This morning a tour of Shimla, the summer capital of the British Raj, awaits. Called the "Queen of Hill Stations" by the British and immortalised in Channel 4’s Indian Summers, Shimla is situated in the foothills of the Himalayas, at a height of 7,238 feet, and is stunningly surrounded by pine, cedar, oak and rhododendron forests. After lunch explore the gardens of the Viceregal Lodge, an Elizabethan-style mansion built in 1888 for Lord Dufferin. Sitting on the flat top of Observatory Hill, this historical building’s gardens are beautiful.

Overnight: Wildflower Hall [Full Board]

india garden tour viceral lodge shimla

 

Day 8: New Delhi

After breakfast travel on the toy train from Shimla to Solan. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the train travels on a narrow gauge line covering almost 100 km along a mostly mountainous route, where the top speed rarely exceeds 20 mph. Built by the British in 1904 to connect Shimla with the rest of the Indian rail system, it includes 107 tunnels and 864 bridges and is known for the dramatic views of the hills and the surrounding villages. After lunch in Solan, the group will depart for Delhi for an overnight stay at the Sheraton Hotel.

Overnight: The Sheraton Hotel [Breakfast]

India garden tours shimla

 

Day 9: Agra

After breakfast, travel to Agra to stay overnight at the ITC Mughal Hotel. Once a small village on the banks of the Yamuna, Agra was transformed by 2 great Mughal monarchs as a place of contrasting edifices of red sandstone and white marble. After lunch, the 1st stop will be the Ram Bagh Garden. The oldest Mughal Garden in India, built by Emperor Babur in 1528 and the first Persian garden created to represent an ideal Islamic paradise, with an abundance of waterways and fountains. The second stop today will the truly magnificent Taj Mahal. Built by Emperor Shahjahan to enshrine the mortal remains of his beloved Queen Mumtaz Mahal, it is an extraordinary building. The Taj Mahal occupies the north end corner of the garden in which it is built. The symmetry of the garden allows an unhindered view of the mausoleum from any spot.

OvernightITC Mughal Hotel [Half Board]

India garden tour with Joe swift taj mahal

 

Day 10: Jaipur

After breakfast, the group will be taken to view the Agra Fort, which houses the Dewan-e-Khas and Dewan-e-Aam (Halls of Private and Public Audience), before continuing onwards to visit Fatehpur Sikri - a deserted red sandstone city built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar in the late 16th century. Abandoned soon after it was built when the local wells ran dry, today it remains a ghost town complete with palaces and mosques. After lunch, the journey continues to Jaipur to stay 2 nights at the ITC Rajputana Hotel. Jaipur is known for its arts and crafts, jewellery, hand-painted fabrics and stone sculptures, and is one of North India’s finest examples of a planned city embodying Rajput and Mughal architecture.

Overnight: ITC Rajputana Hotel [Half Board]

India Garden tours Agra fort
 

Day 11: Jaipur

After an early breakfast, the group will visit the UNESCO World Heritage hilltop fortress at Amber, ascending the imposing fort on a decoratively-painted elephant. After pausing to view the elegant Hawa Mahal, or ‘Palace of Winds’; an elaborate building encrusted with delicate screens and carved balconies, the next highlight will be Jantar Mantar, an observatory built in the 18th century. After lunch, visit the City Palace; built within the fortified area of the original city around a series of garden courts, it boasts one of the finest monumental entrances in India. It is now principally a museum, with the former royal family retaining a part of the palace. You will also visit Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh Garden laid out in the Mughal style and depicts the legends of Radha and Krishna through a series of tiered multi-level gardens with fountains, watercourses and painted pavilions. Then the Kanak Vrindavan Garden located in a valley surrounded by hills, an exquisitely landscaped garden.

Overnight: ITC Rajputana Hotel [Half Board]

India garden tour Jaipur

 

Day 12: Departure

This morning you will depart for Delhi via Jaipur, to connect with the direct daytime British Airways flight, arriving London Heathrow late afternoon.


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Our Experts

"Although I’m seen as a contemporary designer some of my favourite gardens are the older traditional ones proving that quality and great design brings longevity."

Joe Swift

Joe has been gardening since he left school & is a fully trained garden designer from the The English Gardening School at the Chelsea Physic Garden. He has hosted BBC Two's gardening shows ‘Gardeners’ World’ since 1998, and regularly appears in the coverage of RHS Chelsea, Hampton Court, Gardeners’ World Live and Tatton Park Flower shows.

He is one of the founders of a garden design company 'Modular Garden' & has authored 3 books - 'The Plant Room', 'Joe's Urban Garden Handbook', and 'Joe's Allotment'. Joe is also president of the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) and is involved with many gardening charities including The Horniman Museum and The Harington Scheme.

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