Gujarat, India’s westernmost state has varied terrain and numerous off the beaten track attractions. During Navratri, entire state erupts into a circle of ecstasy that throbs nonstop nine day and night celebration. West Bengal in eastern India is one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse states of India. It offers a remarkable range of destinations and experiences within a single state. In the tropical southern areas, the sea-washed hamlet of Mandarmani vies for attention with Bishnupur’s ornate terracotta-tiled Hindu temples and palaces. The striped Bengal tiger stealthily swims through muddy rivulets in the Sunderbans; while a bunch of European ghost towns line the banks of the Hooghly (Ganges) further upstream as reminders of the state’s maritime heyday.
Your tour begins:
CITY TOUR: Embark on a Heritage City Walk Tour. Not only will you discover the Walled city’s beautiful Indo-Islamic architecture, its tranquil Jain Temples and its colorful bird feeders, but you will also get immersed in the old city’s fascinating communities and ‘pols’. Next visit Calico Museum of textiles, one of the finest museums of the world. The museum exhibits an enormous collection of fabrics, which are collected from all over the country. After lunch, visit Sabarmati Ashram – the central point from where the struggle for India’s Independence was started. Till the year 1930, it was Colorful temple architecture, Gujarat tour the home of Mahatma Gandhi. Hathee Singh Temple – known for its fabulous architectural styling and designing that consists of intricate carvings. Dada Hari Vav – is an elaborately designed stepped well which is also one of the most complicated structures of the Ahmedabad city. Rest of the day is at leisure.
LOTHAL EXCURSION: Lothal, literally “Mound of the Dead”, is the most extensively excavated site of Harappan culture in India, and therefore allows the most insight into the story of the Indus Valley Civilization, Lothal was once a flourishing center of trade and industry, famous for its expertly constructed system of underground sanitary drainage, and an astonishing precision of standardized weights and measures. In the height of its prosperity, it not only survived but was strengthened by three floods, using the disaster as an opportunity to improve on the infrastructure. The fourth flood finally brought the settlement to the desperate and impoverished conditions that indicated the end of a powerful civilization. Roam the ruins to be transported to an era 4,500 years ago, and see in your mind’s eye the palace on high, and the artisans and crafts below, and the bustling dockyard that once reached out to the rest of the world. Return back to Ahmedabad where rest of your day is free.
Street fruit seller. Later visit some on the tribal villages such as Rabari, Koli and Banania who still maintain their rich heritage of lifestyle, embroidery, unique clothes, Jewelry, music and dances.
Travel west to Bhuj in the Kutch area of Gujarat. Bhuj connects you to a range of civilizations and important events in South Asian history through prehistoric archaeological finds, remnants of the Indus Valley Civilization (Harappan), places associated with the Mahabharata and Alexander the Great’s march into India and tombs, palaces and other buildings from the rule of the Naga chiefs, the Jadeja Rajputs, the Gujarat Sultans and the British Raj. Upon arrival check in at the HOTEL.
This evening attend the grand opening ceremony of Navratri festival, one of the most popular and widely celebrated festivals of Gujarat. We will visit a different venues for Navratri festival and participate in Dandiya and Garba dances with locals.
TOUR OF HANDICRAFTS VILLAGES
Amidst the Desert land of infinite dimensions, are suspended, quaint little villages. Here you will come across master craft people’ exposing their traditional art, turning out master pieces every day. Their ornaments, clothes, utensils, everything they use – will make you feel as if you have stepped into lifestyle museum leaving you spellbound. Khavda area has a well-blended population of Meghwals (Hindus) and Muslims hailing from Sindh, leading to interesting combinations of work styles and social traditions. You will find Hindus, more likely to be woodcarvers and Muslims more likely to do leather work, working side by side in the same village. Bhujodi is a major textile center of Kutch, with the vast majority of the 1200 inhabitants involved in textile handicraft. Handicrafts of Gujarat tour production. Here you can meet weavers, tie-dye artists and block printers, most of who belong to the Vankar community. Visit the Ashapura Crafts Park, set up by a corporate non-profit wing to help artisans display and sell their work. Next visit Shrujan a local non-profit set up to encourage tribal women to market their work and earn a better living from it. The campus is an excellent example of local architecture built with local environment in mind. Dhamadka, is a major center of the ajrakh block-printing technique. You will have opportunity to meet artisans and their families, see the work being done and buy crafts directly from the artisans themselves.
This evening offer last opportunity to view and participate in the Navratri celebrations in Gujarat. View , photograph and participate in the festivities with locals.
Go pandal (temporary temples made of bamboo and cloth) hopping. HOTEL
To Kolkata flower market tour worship Maa Durga, hundreds of thousands of pandals are set-up. Kolkata alone hosts more than two thousand pandals each year. Puja Parikrama (Pandal Hopping) remains the major attraction of the nights during the festival. Besides worshiping the Goddess, pandals are often set up to draw more and more people for their praise and admiration. Prizes too are won on the basis of the sheer decoration, design and grandeur of these pandals. Locals visit pandals in the city to seek divine blessings and relish the artistic beauty on the display.
During our stay in Kolkata, we are going to experience and learn many of the rituals of Durga puja: Mahalaya marks the journey of the Goddess Durga from her heavenly abode to the mortal world. Thousands of people offer their prayers on the banks of the Ganges or any holy river for their ancestors. On Mahashashthi, the Goddess finally arrives in the mortal world and she is welcomed amidst much fanfare. The beating of the ‘dhak’ brings out the essence of the Puja after a year-long wait. Her face is unveiled and that is the main ritual on this day. Kalaparambho, the ritual performed before the commencement of the Puja precedes Bodhon, the welcoming ritual performed to welcome the Devi back at home, the Amontron, the summoning of people in the vast pool of her blessings and Adibas.
Maha-ashtami brings in hundreds of devotees who pray for their well-being in front of the Goddess. They perform this by offering ‘anjalis’ to the Goddess. Kumari pujo or the worship of little girls as Goddesses is performed with much devotion. The vital ritual of the day is the Shandhi Pujo, usually performed after the day light fades, which connects Ashtami and Navami. Mahanavami is the concluding day of the puja, as it marks the end of the Shandhi Pujo. The bhog which is given to the goddess Durga is now distributed among the devotees, and this signifies imparting power, harmony and holy food. This holy food is known as Mahabhog. On Dashami the Goddess Durga is given a tearful farewell. The ‘Sindoor khela’, where married women play with vermilion and give sweets to the goddess for her safe journey is extremely popular among the Bengali married women. Bishorjon is the final ritual when the idols are immersed in holy rivers and she again goes back to her heavenly abode.
We will also learn about the rich textile and craft heritage, which includes beautiful silk weaving, conch shell carving, dhokra metal casting and terracotta pottery.
City tour & DURGA PUJA CELBRATIONS
Visit Kumartulli, known for its internationally renowned artisans who craft the most beautiful idols from straw and clay. How these images are crafted, the conditions in which the artisans live and work, where their material is sourced from, and which industries depend on these creations for their very survival will be observed in life-affirming action.
This afternoon tour the Secretariat, High Court, Legislative Assembly building, Victoria Memorial, Jain Temple and New Market. Mother Teresa’s work demonstrates true conviction is accompanied by action and love in action is service. Tour the ashram to see her work and meet with her followers.
One evening enjoy traditional Bengali dinner with music and dance presentation and you may join the tour to visit Durga puja pandals
KOLKATA- Heritage walk
Tour Sovabazar, the ever-vital hub of traditional Bengali culture. ‘Sovabazar area contains a fascinatingly cosmopolitan blend of the seemingly incongruous architectural forms (from Islamic to Baroque, from Victorian to Bengali) which made up the old world dwellings of the city’s wealthier Bengalis. Tour is designed to give you authentic flavor of Bengali culture.
Near the southeast end of Howrah Bridge, the Kolkata flower market is fascinatingly colorful virtually 24 hours a day. Apart from being a photographer’s paradise, the flower market is also a perfect spot to view the nearby Howrah Bridge. Wrestlers practice their art on a small caged area of sand just back from the river. More than 125 years old, it’s east India’s largest wholesale flower market with thousands of flower sellers visiting it every day. The market is dominated by sacks overflowing with long garlands of marigolds, popularly used in Hindu devotional rituals. /tg_program]
Tour the Maharaja’s palace, built between 1897 and 1907, the palace is a splendid structure in the Indo-Saracenic Style, among its many attractions are a magnificent gold throne displayed during the Dasara celebrations. Next visit the Jaganmohan Palace houses an excellent collection of ceramics, ivory, sandalwood, stone, antique furniture and ancient musical instruments, St. Philomena’s Church – this imposing Gothic structure with beautiful stained glass windows and lofty towers is a must see. Evening-attend rehearsal of Torch Light Parade at Bannimantap. Continue to Chamundi Hill, named after the goddess Chamundi, to see the 17th century statue of Nandi Shiva’s mount, 16 feet high, carved out of one rock. Your afternoon is free to explore the royal city on own.
This evening. we will visit the illuminated Mysore palace and participate in the folk dance show and other festivities. Details will be provided as they become available
2019: LAND TOUR PRICE: $3,795.00 per person sharing
Single room: $4,525.00
Internal India airfares (as of Feb.1, 2018): $185.00 per person
CALL FOR INTERNATIONAL AIR FARES FROM YOUR HOME CITY- We offer discounted airfares in Economy, Business & First class.
NOTE: Airfares are subject to change by airlines without notice. Subject to availability & airline schedules.