If we had to sum up East India in three words, it would be tea, temples and time to reflect. Here at Black Tomato we’ve created a luxurious Indian adventure that combines all three. Our travel experts have hand-crafted a 14-night trip through India’s Eastern Wonders, starting in the colossal capital of Delhi, then heading east to lose yourself in the greatest tea region, Darjeeling where you’ll get a unique taste for all things tea. For adventurous souls we’ll then take you trekking into the mountains of Sikkim a state that houses the mighty Himalayas, and that’s bordered by Bhutan, Tibet and Nepal. After visiting hidden villages and monasteries you’ll work your way south through the culturally-rich Kolkata to the peaceful serenity of the Andaman islands.
A tea date that could move mountains
Touchdown in India’s madly magical capital, Delhi, and spend a night here adjusting and acclimatising to the new colours, smells and sounds. The next day we’ll whisk you off to the West Bengal region for a tea experience unlike any other. Nestled high in the Himalayan foothills, and stretching down to the snow-fed Himalayan rivers of Rungeet and Rung Dung, you’ll find your luxury plantation retreat, Glenburn Tea Estate. Spend the next few days here exploring all that this colourful region offers, from tea-draped landscapes to the majestic Mt Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest peak that forms your permanent backdrop. What’s more, in the hands of one of India’s pioneering tea plantation families, you’ll learn all there is to know about this fascinating and world-famous tea in the comfort of a luxury retreat in the hills.Read more...
A trip to this region is not complete without a ride on the Darjeeling Hill Railway, the ‘Toy Train’ (as it’s nicknamed) in this vast landscape, justly recognised as a World Heritage Site. Take the Batasia Loop on the train and head out of town in search of your spiritual side at Ghoom Monastery, equally stunning inside and out, and a great introduction to the days to follow. We’ve organised a guided tour around the beautiful Darjeeling tea gardens and factory, followed by a tranquil meander through the grounds to take in your surroundings.
Shakti Sikkim Village Experience
After indulging in Darjeeling, head off to the dizzying heights of Rinchenpong, where your Shakti Villa Walk experience begins. At 6400ft the view will take your breath away, literally. This unspoilt hidden town is the gateway to an adventure in the mountains of Sikkim. Spend the next few days walking up and over the hills and past never-ending tea plantations to discover a hidden India. Don’t forget to look to your side as you walk, though, and take in that spectacular mountain range running alongside you. Wake up early for morning prayers at the 200 year-old family monastery, cross spectacular bridges and journey through some of the most untouched villages in India.
You’ll stop at traditional houses en route where you’ll be welcomed with the most genuine hospitality from locals. These houses have been spruced up to form a luxury accommodation to suit your every need, all the while retaining strong regional traditions. Pass the Cardamom Hills, watch sunrise over Kanchenjunga peak, and visit the red panda wildlife sanctuary to see this protected species in its natural habitat. Come late afternoon, relax in your traditional Sikkimese house with a cup of tea, and enjoy that panoramic view sprawling before you.
Kicking back on The Andaman Islands
Descend from the mountains and take a short flight south to Kolkata, where Europe and India collide to form a myriad of colour and refined elegance. What could be more appropriate here than a stay at the Oberoi Grand, the most luxurious and history-evoking hotel in this city. Not only this, but you’ll be perfectly placed for exploring the most prominent landmarks of the city. On your private tour you’ll head first to Dalhousie Square, surrounded by Raj buildings which have taken their inspiration from famous English homes. The Howrah Bridge and Victoria Memorial are the city’s most notable landmarks, emanating grandeur and power in opposite yet equal measure. Save the best till last, nevertheless, with a boat ride on the Hooghly, a tributary to the famous Ganges, and gaze in awe at the Dakshineswar Temple with its intriguing and unique architecture.
Your final stop on this awe-inspiring tour of India’s hidden gems lies way out in the Bay of Bengal, on the charming Andaman Islands. And this couldn’t be a more ideal spot to relax and reflect on all that you’ve seen in this beautiful nation. Jalakara, your paradise hideaway, lies on Havelock Island, on the hillside and backing on to jungle. An island adventure paradise indeed. Venture from the comfort of your poolside lounger (if you dare) to explore this island, from its world-class diving opportunities to an extensive selection of bird and animal trails.