Hill Stations & Houseboats of Kashmir

Tour through India`s Western Himalaya from Shimla to Srinagar




From $2,100 Land only

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Holiday Overview


  • A classic discovery holiday to Dharamsala and the Dalai Lama
  • Amritsar and the Golden Temple - high point of the Sikh Religion
  • Spend four nights at Srinagar on a deluxe Dal Lake houseboat
  • Delhi Airport transfers, internal flights and all meals included

This discovery holiday takes us on a journey across the Western Himalaya, through the state of Himachal Pradesh, the 'Land of Unmoving Snows', a state composed of a series of river valleys that straddle the ancient trade routes to Central Asia and the Indian peninsula. It passes through Shimla the summer capital of the English during the British Raj. The hill-station retains its nostalgic charm, harking back to days when the British officers, their families in tow, sojourned in these hills to escape the summer heat of the plains. The excursion continues through the world of Tibetan Buddhism, with its myriad deities, powerfully atmospheric temples and monasteries, colourful religious art and esoteric ritual. We will experience this fascinating world in and around Dharamsala, where the two most prestigious Tibetan spiritual leaders, the Dalai Lama and the young Gyalwa Karmapa, are currently based. A night spent in Paragpur gives us the opportunity to walk through the only Heritage Village in India and to enjoy a stay in the charming Judges Court. Visiting the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the holy place of the Sikhs Religion concludes the first part of this great holiday. We then fly north to Srinagar, where we spend 4 nights on a deluxe houseboat on Dal Lake and enjoy 3 days of sightseeing amongst the Mughal Gardens, markets, temples and mellow valleys of beautiful Kashmir.

Is this holiday for you?

This touring and sightseeing adventure holiday incorporates many of the highlights of the Western Himalaya in northern India. There is a fair amount of travelling, as we journey between Delhi, Shimla, Dharamsala and Amritsar. However, the driving and train travel that we undertake is famously scenic and we have opted to fly up to Srinagar and back from there to Delhi to cut travelling time as much as possible. There will inevitably be some walking on city streets and on good trails during a discovery holiday of this type. These walks will be short - this is not a trekking holiday.

Brief Itinerary

View in full
  • Meet at the group hotel in Delhi. Transfers from the airport are provided. Afternoon sightseeing.
  • Take the train to Shimla (2205m), the most important of the former British Raj Hill Stations.
  • A full day of sightseeing in Shimla, taking in the State Museum, Christ's Church and `The Mall`.
  • Drive to Dharamsala, another hill station and current home of the Dalai Lama.
  • Explore Dharamsala. Visit the Norbulinka Institute, Kangra Fort and Tibetan Children's Village.
  • Transfer to Pragpur Heritage Village back out on the plains.
  • Drive west to Amristsar and visit the Golden Temple, founded by the Sikh Guru, Ram Das.
  • Morning visit to the Golden Temple before transferring to the airport for the flight to Srinagar.
  • Explore Srinagar from the houseboat, travelling via Shikara to the Nishat Gardens and Piri Mahal.
  • Excursion and short hike in the Zabarwan Hills to the south-east of Dal Lake. Visit the Mughal Gardens.
  • Visit Old Srinagar with its ancient mosques and temples. Return for a final night on the houseboat.
  • Floating market visit on Dal Lake before transferring to the airport for the flight back to Delhi.
  • Departure day. Delhi Airport transfers provided.
Mon 12 Oct - Sat 24 Oct Code HKD /06/15/ Adult$2,100 Status Guaranteed Call Us
Mon 28 Mar - Sat 09 Apr Code HKD /01/16/ Adult$2,100 Status Available Book now
Mon 02 May - Sat 14 May Code HKD /02/16/ Adult$2,100 Status Available Book now
Mon 13 Jun - Sat 25 Jun Code HKD /03/16/ Adult$2,100 Status Available Book now
Mon 01 Aug - Sat 13 Aug Code HKD /04/16/ Adult$2,100 Status 2 more to guarantee Book now
Mon 19 Sep - Sat 01 Oct Code HKD /05/16/ Adult$2,100 Status Available Book now
Mon 10 Oct - Sat 22 Oct Code HKD /06/16/ Adult$2,100 Status Available Book now
Mon 03 Apr - Sat 15 Apr Code HKD /01/17/ Adult$2,100 Status Available Book now
Mon 01 May - Sat 13 May Code HKD /02/17/ Adult$2,100 Status Available Book now
The LAND ONLY dates and prices are for the itinerary joining in Delhi. For clients making their own flight arrangements, Delhi airport is the most convenient for transfers to the group hotel. Please refer to the 'Joining arrangements & transfers' section in the trip dossier for further details.

Flights SHOULD NOT be booked until you have received your booking confirmation and the trip is showing 'Guaranteed to Run' or 'Limited'.

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* Against Land Only services.

Map & Itinerary

The Route

  • airport
  • point
  • trip direction
  • transfer
  • internalflight

Holiday Itinerary

  • Meet at the group hotel in Delhi. Transfers from the airport are provided. Afternoon sightseeing.

    We rendezvous at our central group hotel in Delhi in the morning. Complimentary Delhi Airport transfers are provided. There will be a guided city tour in the afternoon. We will take a stroll down the Raj Path to see Rashtapati Bhawan, formerly the Viceroy’s Palace, before moving on to the Old Town for a wander from the Red Fort, down Chandi Chowk (the old town’s main thoroughfare), through the narrow alleyways of Shahjenhanabad to emerge at the beautiful Jama Masjid Mosque. KE land only package services begin with lunch.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals ld

  • Take the train to Shimla (2205m), the most important of the former British Raj Hill Stations.

    After an early breakfast at the hotel, we transfer to the railway station and board the train to Kalka. Arriving around midday, we change trains, this time taking the 'toy train' to the former hill-station of Shimla. Arriving at the end of the afternoon, we check in at our hotel. Shimla (2205m) was the most important British hill resort, prior to India's independence. It is named after its patron goddess, Shamla Devi, a manifestation of Kali. It provides superb and panoramic views across the valleys to the lofty peaks of the great Himalayan range, on both sides. The colourful local bazaars or market streets are sprawled over the southern slopes of the ridge.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • A full day of sightseeing in Shimla, taking in the State Museum, Christ's Church and `The Mall`.

    We have a full day of sightseeing in Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh. Set amidst cool pine-clad hills, this charming hill station was discovered by the British in 1819 and used as their summer capital. We visit the Jakhu Temple, the State Museum and Library and Christ's Church. A stroll around the 'Mall' is also not to be missed. Other important attractions of Shimla include the very impressive Rashtrapati Niwas, situated in a commanding position on Observatory Hill and formerly the residence of the British Viceroy. We spend a second night at our Shimla hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Drive to Dharamsala, another hill station and current home of the Dalai Lama.

    Today, we enjoy a pleasant and very scenic drive towards the north-west and across the foothills of the Indian Himalaya. Passing through numerous towns and villages, this is a meandering journey across a deeply incised landscape, with steep valley sides and views of distant peaks. After a 7 to 8-hour drive (including stops) we make the final climb up to Dharamsala, another early nineteenth century British Raj hill-station. Arriving in the late afternoon, we check in at our hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Explore Dharamsala. Visit the Norbulinka Institute, Kangra Fort and Tibetan Children's Village.

    In the morning, after breakfast at our hotel, we start our day with a tour of the Norbulinka Institute, a registered trust functioning under the Chairmanship of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan People. This institute is dedicated to the preservation of Tibetan culture in both its literary and artistic forms. Landmarks include the Seat of Happiness Temple and the Losel Doll Museum. Later, we will also have time to visit the Kangra Fort and Temple Complex, built by Bhuma Chand the founder of the Katoch Dynasty. The fort is situated on a precipitous cliff overhanging the Ban Ganga and Manjhi rivers and still dominates the Kangra Valley. After lunch, we visit the nearby Tibetan Children's Village. At this boarding school, orphans are provided with a Tibetan education, clothes, food, and healthcare. From here we continue to McLeod Ganj, stopping along the way to visit the Kangra Art Museum, a treasure trove of the Kangra Valley's arts and crafts. We return to spend a second night at our Dharamsala hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Transfer to Pragpur Heritage Village back out on the plains.

    Today starts with a 2-hour drive to Pragpur, taking us away from the Dhaula Dhar range and back out onto the plains. Pragpur was founded 3 centuries ago and is built around an ornamental pool. With its cobbled streets, colourful mud-brick houses and slate roofs, Pragpur is known as India's first 'heritage village'. It is the centre of the Kangra school of painting and a vibrant and interesting place to spend an afternoon. There are great views back north to the snow-capped peaks of the Dhaula Dhar. We overnight in a heritage hotel that is something of a throwback to the days of the Raj.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Drive west to Amristsar and visit the Golden Temple, founded by the Sikh Guru, Ram Das.

    After breakfast, we drive west to Amritsar, arriving in the early afternoon. We check in at our hotel and have some free time, before heading out to see the city’s undoubted highlight – the Golden Temple. Amritsar was effectively founded by the fourth Guru of Sikhism, Guru Ram Das, who excavated a pool or ‘tank’ in 1577, which subsequently became known as Amritsar (meaning Pool of the Nectar of Imortality). The city grew up around this pool and, in due course, a splendid Sikh edifice (that we now know as the Golden Temple) was constructed in the middle of this pool. Our evening visit allows us to see the Golden Temple, the most sacred manifestation of the Sikh Religion, bathed in lights and reflecting magnificently in the pool. Overnight in Amritsar.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Morning visit to the Golden Temple before transferring to the airport for the flight to Srinagar.

    Many of Amritsar 's inhabitants start their day with a visit to the Golden Temple and we will do the same, to experience again the magic of this special place. Walking through the streets of the old city, we will be a part of this unending pilgrimage. After our visit, we will return to the hotel for breakfast and then, mid morning, go to the airport to catch the flight to Srinagar, in the idyllic Vale of Kashmir. On arrival at Srinagar Airport, we are met and taken to our houseboat accommodation on Dal Lake. This is a first opportunity for us to see the beautiful floating gardens that lie amongst the backwaters of the lake. Admiring the sunset from the houseboat is an unforgettable highlight.

    • Accommodation Houseboat

    • Meals bld

  • Explore Srinagar from the houseboat, travelling via Shikara to the Nishat Gardens and Piri Mahal.

    After a leisurely breakfast, we board a shikara (the traditional type of boat used on the lake) and set out to visit the famous Nishat Gardens. The morning light shows the gardens at their glorious best and an hour or so spent there is a truly unique experience. Later, we will visit the Piri Mahal, the Fairy Palace, also built during the time of the Moghul emperors. Your shikara will be waiting for you and you will be slowly paddled back to the houseboat for lunch and a chance to relax on board for the rest of the day, with perhaps a chance to bargain with the vendors who come alongside the houseboat to sell their handicrafts or carpets and much besides. We spend a second night on the houseboat.

    • Accommodation Houseboat

    • Meals bld

  • Excursion and short hike in the Zabarwan Hills to the south-east of Dal Lake. Visit the Mughal Gardens.

    Rising above Dal Lake towards the south-east and clearly visible from our houseboat are the picturesque Zabarwan Hills. Today, after a short drive to the village of Astaan Marg, we will set out to hike on a good trail to a viewpoint amongst these hills. This is not a long or difficult hike and anyone with a reasonable degree of fitness will cope easily with it. As well as the lake, below us, we can see the whole extent of the Vale of Kashmir. Returning to the city for lunch, we then go to the northern end of the lake to see the Mughal Gardens, also known as Shalimar Bagh. Possibly dating back as far as the 2nd century, the more recent development of these gardens is credited to the Emperor Jahangir whose reign lasted from 1605 to 1627. Sandwiched between the lake and a rocky mountain ridge, and with their rectilinear layout, pools, fountains and walled enclosures, the Mughal Gardens are quite spectacular. We return to spend a third night on the houseboat.

    • Accommodation Houseboat

    • Meals bld

  • Visit Old Srinagar with its ancient mosques and temples. Return for a final night on the houseboat.

    After breakfast on board, we set out on an excursion beside the Jehlum River to the old town of Srinagar. We drive through narrow lanes to visit the Jama Masjid Mosque, which dates back to 1400. The peace and tranquility of the mosque’s magnificent courtyard (surrounded by 370 wooden pillars) is in marked contrast to the hustle and bustle of the city streets. In the afternoon, we pay a visit to the much older (2nd century BC) Shankaracharya Temple, which is situated around 300 metres above the valley floor on a hill known as Takht-I-Sulaiman. This scared site offers splendid views of the valley and the snow covered mountains of the Pir Panjal range. After our visit, we go back to the houseboat for dinner and our final night on board.

    • Accommodation Houseboat

    • Meals bld

  • Floating market visit on Dal Lake before transferring to the airport for the flight back to Delhi.

    We have another early start today, as we take a shikara out onto the lake to visit the floating vegetable market. This is another chance to see the local people bartering for their daily wares and, perhaps, to get involved ourselves. Returning to the houseboat for breakfast, we be able to spend a bit of free time enjoying the views of the lake, before going to the airport to catch the flight southwards to Delhi. On our return to Delhi, we stay overnight at a comfortable hotel close to the airport.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Departure day. Delhi Airport transfers provided.

    KE Land Only package services end after breakfast at the hotel. Complimentary airport transfers are provided on this day.

    • Meals b

Holiday Information

  • Professional English-speaking local guide
  • Group airport transfers
  • All accommodation as described in the trip dossier
  • Meals as detailed in the Meal Plan
  • All land transport required by the itinerary
  • The flights from Amritsar to Srinagar and Srinagar to Delhi
  • National park entrance fees
  • All excursions mentioned in the itinerary

  • Travel insurance
  • Indian Visa
  • Airport taxes
  • Airport transfers other than group transfers
  • Extra activities and excursions
  • Tips for local staff
  • Miscellaneous personal expenditure

The group will have one night at a conveniently located hotel in Delhi at the beginning of the holiday and a second night at the same hotel at the end of the holiday. We will also have 2 nights at a simple hotel in Shimla and 2 nights at a similar establishment in Dharamsala. We will also have 1 night at a heritage hotel in Paragpur and 1 night at a hotel in Amritsar. Whilst in Kashmir, we will have 4 nights in a deluxe houseboat on Dal Lake. All accommodation is allocated on a twin-sharing basis. If you are travelling by yourself, you will be paired up with another single client of the same sex. Depending upon availability, it may be possible to arrange single rooms in hotels. For additional hotel prices and single supplement costs please refer to the dates and prices page of the trip on our website.

View the gallery below for images of the style of accommodation used

All meals are included, from lunch on Day 1 of the Land Only itinerary to breakfast on Day 13.

Part of the experience of any visit to India is the chance to sample the excellent local food. Indian cuisine offers a wide variety of dishes - much more than the curries we are used to in Indian restaurants at home - but there are also familiar international dishes at most of the places we stay.

All clients arriving in Delhi on Day 1 of the Land Only itinerary will be met at the airport by a KE representative, who will arrange the transfer to the group hotel. Clients should let us know if Delhi Airport transfers are not required. Independent Delhi Airport transfers can be arranged to meet clients arriving prior to Day 1 at additional cost. Hotel contact details together with an emergency number, will be provided with your booking confirmation. On the final day of the holiday (Day 13) transfers back to Delhi Airport will be provided.

The group will be accompanied throughout by a professional English-speaking local tour leader.

Approximately £150 - £200 (or equivalent in Euros, US dollars etc.) changed into local currency (Indian rupees), should be allowed for miscellaneous expenses, including tips for your guides, snacks, beer and soft drinks, etc. There are several opportunities to buy souvenirs on this trip. It is not necessary to purchase local currency (Indian Rupees) before you travel. Sterling, US dollars and Euro are readily exchanged in Delhi. Since you will be changing the majority of your spending money into local currency on the day of arrival, we recommend taking this in cash. Credit cards can be used to purchase many goods in Delhi and Agra and are particularly useful for more expensive souvenirs. It is also possible to withdraw cash (rupees only) from cash machines in Delhi, Shjimla, Dharamsala, Amritsar and Srinagar using credit and debit cards.

Tipping is an accepted and expected part of Indian culture, although you should only tip for services which are well done. We recommend that tips to your guides and driver be made from the group as a whole and that the group decides together on an appropriate amount. As a rough guide we suggest that a contribution of £30 - £50 (depending on group size) in rupee equivalent from each member of the group should give a reasonable pool for these tips.

You should restrict your luggage to one main travel bag plus a small daypack to carry your camera, binoculars, water bottle etc.. Please note that the check-in baggage limit on all internal flights within India is now 15kg and you are responsible for any excess baggage charges that the airline may apply.

All KE clients will receive a FREE KE trek bag.  These have been specially made to stand up to the rigours of adventure travel.  Your KE bag will be posted to you when your trip is guaranteed to run or on receipt of your booking if the trip is already guaranteed.  If you have travelled with us before and already have a KE trek bag you can select an alternative free gift in the booking process.

This holiday involves going to moderately high altitude.  During the course of your trip you will reach altitudes in excess of 2500 metres.  Most people will have no difficulty with this level of altitude but before coming on the holiday, we recommend you read the advice on trekking at high altitude.  You can also talk to one of our trekking experts if you have any concerns about altitude.

The following checklist should help you with your packing. As a general rule, you should always try to keep the weight of your equipment to a minimum.

  • The packed weight of your trek bag while trekking should be no more than 15 kgs./33 lbs.
  • You must bring the following items:

    • Comfortable walking shoes or lightweight hiking boots
    • Trainers/ sneakers or similar
    • Socks
    • Trousers / pants
    • Underwear
    • Short and long sleeve thermal shirt
    • Casual shirts
    • Smart casual clothes (for evening wear)
    • Fleece jacket or warm jumper/sweater
    • Waterproof jacket
    • Sunhat
    • Warm fleece hat
    • Eyewear - Sunglasses
    • Torch/flashlight
    • Sun protection (including total bloc for lips, nose etc.)
    • Water bottle
    • Washbag and toiletries
    • Antibacterial handwash
    • Small padlock (to lock trek bag)
    • Small daypack 15 - 20 litres
    • Basic First Aid Kit including; A broad spectrum antibiotic, antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, diarrhoea treatment (Imodium) painkillers, plasters and blister treatment, and re-hydration salts (Dioralite).

    The following items are optional:

    • Spare laces
    • Scarf or buff
    • Nailbrush
    • Wet wipes
    • Travel clothes
    • Camera, film/memory cards, batteries
    • Penknife (remember to pack sharp objects in hold baggage)
    • Repair kit – (eg. needle, thread, duct tape)


    * Although this is not a trekking trip, there is the opportunity to do a reasonable amount of walking whilst sightseeing. If you intend to make the most of the holiday, you should make sure that you take suitable footwear.

    For each holiday there is a minimum number of participants required to enable it to go ahead. Once the minimum number is reached, the trip status will change from 'Available' to 'Guaranteed to run'. You can check the trip status for each departure in ‘Dates and Prices’ table. Other than in exceptional circumstances, we will not cancel a trip once it has achieved this guaranteed to run status and so you are free to proceed with your international flight booking and other travel arrangements.

    A passport with 6 months remaining validity at the end of your stay is generally required. The information that we provide is for UK passport holders. Please check the relevant embassy or consulate for other nationalities. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documents and visas for your holiday. Visa requirements and charges are subject to change without notice. If you are travelling outside the EU you should have at least 2 blank pages in your passport.

    Visa India

    All nationalities require a visa. The visa fee is $60 and you need to apply for this online prior to departure at https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html. Please download the detailed information document: Visa PDF India

    You should contact your GP or travel clinic to check whether you require any specific vaccinations or other preventive measures. You should be up to date with routine courses and boosters as recommended in the UK e.g. diphtheria-tetanus-polio and measles-mumps-rubella, along with hepatitis A and typhoid. Malarial prophylaxis is not usually required for trips in the mountains, however if you are visiting rural and remote low lying areas then they might be necessary. On holidays to more remote areas you should also have a dentist check up. A good online resource is Travel Health Pro.

    The currency of India is the Indian Rupee.

    We recommend you check if you require an adaptor for your electrical items at:


    Although there is no strenuous walking on this holiday, there are several sights which are best explored on foot and it makes a lot of sense to get some additional exercise before coming on any active holiday. Walking, jogging, squash and swimming are all good for developing fitness and stamina. Some of the days it will get quite hot and you should be prepared for this. Before departure, we suggest that you do some reading about the country, its people and the things you are likely to see.

    As a reputable tour operator, KE supports the British Foreign & Commonwealth Offices ‘Know before you go’ campaign to enable British citizens to prepare for their journeys overseas, and we recommend that all KE travellers take a look at the FCO Travel Advice for their chosen destination on the official FCO website: www.fco.gov.uk. North Americans can also check out the U.S. Department of State website: www.travel.state.gov for essential travel advice and tips.

    KE treat the safety and security of all clients as the most important aspect of any trip we organise. We would not run any trip that we did not consider reasonably safe.  Should the FCO advise against travel for any reason, we will contact everyone booked to travel to discuss the situation.  We receive regular updates direct from the FCO and are in constant touch with our contacts on the ground.  If you have any questions about government travel advice, please call our office.

    We run this holiday either side of the summer monsoon season. Weather conditions should be broadly similar in the pre and post monsoon seasons, with daytime maximum temperatures of up to 30 degrees Centigrade at the lowest points on our journey (and hotter than that in Delhi during the June departure), becoming progressively cooler as we gain height. Night-time temperatures at our highest overnight stops (Shimla, Dharamsala) can drop to 15 or even 10 degrees Centigrade. In Himachal Pradesh, most of the annual rainfall occurs during the monsoon months of July to September - but this is a mountainous area and short-lived storms cannot be ruled out at any time of the year.

    India – Lonely Planet Guide India – The Rough Guide Tourist and Trekking Guide to ladakh and Zanskar: Including Karakoram and Srinagar Valley - Bawa AISA Kashmir Guide (1920). HM Kotak.

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