The Best Luxury Tours of India

In November last year, I set out on a holiday to rediscover Shimla, the erstwhile summer capital in Oberoi style. It's one of the best luxury tours of India! I boarded an express train at Delhi railway station to Kalka, one of the major railway junctions connecting the North Western foothills. On arriving at Kalka, I was whisked through the crowds to board the quaint little Himalayan Queen that embarked on a 96km journey to Shimla, offering an unforgettable experience.

Stretching seven miles along a ridge at over a couple of a thousand meters high, Shimla has grown into a large, prosperous town from its earlier beginnings as the summer capital of the British Raj. It is now the capital of Himachal Pradesh, the hill state created in 1966. Like most hill stations, the town sprawls along ridges at many levels, connected by steep lanes and steps. The Mall is now swamped by advertisements for every conceivable consumer item and the shops that stock them, but Christ Church still dominates.

Shimla is still a mix of late Victorian Gothic architecture and later mock-Tudor. Cottages with 'English' gardens and some splendid houses set in the deodar and pine forests can still be seen. The social focal point remains the Mall, where vehicles are prohibited. The post office, banks, shops, and the recently renovated Gaiety Theater are all here. Numerous side paths lead down to the colored local bazaar on the southern slopes. The Mall leads west past the old Secretariat, then turning down to the railway station, the Cecil Hotel, and the State Museum with its small collection of Pahari miniatures and Himachal sculpture. It ends at Observatory Hill, with the old Viceregal Lodge. This huge Victorian pile, built by Lord Dufferin in 1888, is now the Indian Institute of Advanced Study.

I visited the Oberoi Wildflower Hall, situated at over eight thousand feet high in the Himalayas. Set in acres of trees, it is the former residence of Lord Kitchener, and recreates the audacious style of the colonial era. The wood panels throughout and original paintings create a sense of traditional charm. Authentic wooden floors, hand knotted rugs, and stylish furnishings are complemented by spectacular views to make the rooms very special retreats.

For centuries, the Himalayas have inspired the souls of anybody who encounters their grandiosity. This hall offers a peaceful retreat in the mountains, offering spa treatments based on all kinds of traditions in secluded rooms that offer incredible views of the Himalayas. Enjoy the views of mountains and valleys from throughout the hall. Saunter along the trails that take you through the stunning forests and enjoy picnics during your explorations. For the more adventurous, you can arrange longer walks through the splendid countryside with the help of an expert guide. An unbeatable combination for the best luxury tours of India!