Sponsored by Blackrapid
Tour Date: November 7-20, 2012
Tour Price: $6900 ***INCLUDES RT AIRFARE from USA gateway city
Registration Deadline: September 12, 2012
Single supplement $1000
Guest Pro Photographer: Dan Ballard
- Visit and photograph Taj in the changing lights of sunrise, during the day & option to see during sunset
- Visit & photograph 500 year temple intricately sculpted pillars, carved walls and ceilings
- Ride gaily caparisoned elephant
- Local markets to see the camel caravans, horse carriages and carts, villagers in their traditional dresses, turbans and more
- Folk dances, music and sample the local cuisines
- Step wells- ancient way of water harvesting
- Celebrate the most famous Indian festival of Diwali with locals, Visit and photograph the traditional festival markets, locals dressed in their best for the festival
- 100 years old erotic carvings on tantric temples of Khajuraho
- Boat ride on Ganges and colorful evening prayer ceremony
- Spectacular sunrise and sunsets over Himalayas
- Opportunity to see & photograph Mt. Everest
- Explore Buddhist stupas, Durbar squares, temples, Forts & palaces
What’s Not Included
- All hotel accommodations
- English-speaking guides
- Meals according to itinerary
- International RT airfare from USA gateway city
- In country air travel
- Ground transportation
- Admissions fees according to itinerary
- Professional photographic instruction
- Boat ticket(s) according to itinerary
- Any Passport and Visa arrangements
- Early check-in, late check-out surcharge
- Additional drinks and other personal expenses (alcoholic drinks, laundry, phone calls etc.)
- Any services not specifically mentioned in the tour program
- Tips for guides or baggage handlers
- Airport Taxes
Guest Pro Photographer: Dan Ballard
Dan Ballard is an internationally known travel and landscape photographer from Colorado. His images take you on a visual journey to some of the world’s most beautiful and far-reaching corners. Dan has visited nearly 50 countries on five continents around the glove, and his work has attracted the attention and praise of some of the biggest names and companies in the photo industry. Dan has a passion for teaching his art. He is a confident and entertaining tour and workshop leader.
Web site: www.danballardphotography.com
Day 1: ARRIVE DELHI
Arrive in Delhi, sprawling on the banks of the River Yamuna, the capital of India, typifies the soul of the country. The legacy of that past survives in the many monuments left behind by the regents, each a chronicle of the glory of its time and an imprint of each ruler's character. Meeting assistance on arrival by local and transfer to HOTEL
This afternoon visit the local markets to see and photograph the markets decorated in celebration of the Deepawali festival. Deepawali is the most important and best India festival. Locals dress in the best and go around shopping in preparation for the festival. In the evening drive around the town to see homes decorated with oil lamps, candles etc. A visit to a Indian home to see the festivities can be arranged (if desired)
Day 2: DELHI
Breakfast at Hotel. Morning tour of Old Delhi. Your first stop is Mahatma Gandhi Memorial at Raj Ghat; the Ashoka Pillar & the famous Chandni Chowk bazaars, once the shopping arcade of Mughal royalty. Take a Rickshaw ride through the narrow and colorful lanes of old market offering an excellent opportunity to photograph the daily life in Old Delhi. Finally visit marble domes and slender minarets of the Jama Masjid. Climb up the stairs to photograph the old city and Red Fort. Enjoy lunch at local restaurant (optional). Your sightseeing tour of New Delhi this afternoon includes a drive along Rajpath to photograph the Parliament House, President's Palace and India Gate, a memorial to India's soldiers. Continue to Humayun's tomb, forerunner to Taj Mahal. Your final stop is at the Qutab Minar and ruins of Hindu temples destroyed during the Qutabshahi period.
Day 3: DELHI/ UDAIPUR
Local representative will assist you to airport to board flight to Udaipur, which is also referred to as the Venice of the East, this lake city is perhaps the most romantic of all the Indian centers. A fairytale collection of exotic gardens, mirror-calm lakes and fantasy island palaces. HOTEL
This afternoon city tour of Udaipur includes, the City Palace, the huge palace towering over the lake, the largest palace complex in Rajasthan. Actually a conglomeration of buildings added by various Maharana’s, the palace manages to retain a surprising uniformity. Saheliyon-ki-Bari (Garden where women of the royal household would meet). This small ornamental garden, with its fountains, kiosks, marble elephants and delightful lotus pool. The Jagdish Temple (Built in 1651 AD by Maharana Jagat Singh, this Indo-Aryan temple is the most beautiful temple of Udaipur). At Sunset time take boat ride on lake Pichola to photograph the City place and Lake palace in fading light of setting sun.
Day 4: RANAKPUR & JAIPUR
This morning you will be driven to Ranakpur for shooting the fabulous 500 -year old Jain Temples. The temples are superbly preserved in near perfect condition. The most distinctive feature are the 29 halls of the main temple, some octagonal and many more than one story high, are dissected by 1444 pillars, each sculpted with unique designs which no two are the exactly alike. The carving on the walls, while musicians and dancers have been modeled out of brackets between the pillars and the ceiling. Enjoy Lunch at Hotel (optional) before returning to Jaipur and boarding flight to Jaipur, owing its name, foundations and careful planning to the great warrior, astronomer, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II. Transfer and overnight at HOTEL
Day 5: JAIPUR- CITY TOUR & AMBER FORT
Visit the ancient capital of Amber, ascending the Palace Fortress on the back of a gaily caparisoned elephant. Tour the intricate chambers and hallways of the palace. En route to Amber, photograph the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) built in 1799 AD. Afternoon, tour the City Palace, once the formal residence of the royal family, built in a blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture. Continue to Jantar Mantar, the largest of Jai Singh's remarkable observatories. Its complex instruments, whose setting and shapes are scientifically designed, represent the high points of medieval Indian astronomy. This evening enjoy a traditional Rajasthani dinner at a theme village.
Day 6: JAIPUR/ ABHANERI /FATEHPUR SIKRI / AGRA
Rise early this morning to visit some of the wholesale markets of Jaipur. Trading starts very early in the morning where goods by camels, donkeys, Horse carriages /carts, trucks and various other means are brought from nearby villages Opportunity to watch and photograph- a live auction, fresh produce markets, shops preparing for the day and even locals buying the daily requirements. After breakfast, you will travel overland to Agra. Stop enroute at Abhaneri, an ancient village in Rajasthan, famous for its post Gupta or early medieval monuments, intricately carved sculptures and temples. The Harshat Mata temple reflects the fine 8th century example of architectural excellence. Even though, the place is in ruins, the temple is proof to the Pratihara sculpture. There is a ten faced sculpture depicting Ravana shaking the Kailash mountain. Visit the water tank or step wells an ancient way of storing rain water. The tank’s staircase is a stunning design that a coin once dropped is impossible to retrieve. Next stop at Fatehpur Sikri, a deserted capital city, built by Emperor Akbar in 1569 and abandoned 15 years later due to severe water shortage. Within the city, you will tour the Diwan-I-Aam or Hall of Public Audiences, located just inside the gates, the north east end of the deserted city. There is a large open courtyard surrounded by cloisters. It is here that Emperor Akbar came before the people each morning. It is believed that Akbar played chess, using slave girls as the pieces. Diwan-I-Khaas or the Hall of Private Audience is a two storied building. The exterior of the hall is simple but the interior is fascinating. A stone column stands in the centre of the hall supporting a flat topped throne. From the four corners of the building, there are stone bridges leading across the throne. Panch Mahal or Five Storey Palace is a five storied building and the architecture is Persian in style like a Buddhist monastery. The palace was probably used by the ladies of the court and originally had stone screens on the sides and its dome is supported by four columns. Palace of Jodha Bai is named after Jehangir's wife Jodha Bai. This palace is a fine blend of Hindu columns and Muslim Cupolas. Inside the palace is the Palace of the Winds where the walls are entirely made of stone lattice work. Birbal Palace was the residence of Birbal, who was Akbar's favorite courtier, famous for his wit and wisdom. Miriam's House also known as the Golden House was Akbar's Christian wife from Goa. Ankh Michauli is where the emperor played hide and seek with the ladies of the harem and was probably used for storing records. Sheikh Salim Chisti Dargah is the tomb of Sheikh Salim Chisti, originally built of red sandstone but was later rebuilt in white marble by Jehangir. Continue to Agra and check in at your Hotel.
Day 7: AGRA TOURING
Visit the Taj Mahal by sunrise, built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan between 1631-52, as a tomb and memorial to his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal (Jewel of the Palace). After Breakfast stop at the Taj Museum of Agra for a close look at the original pieces of drawings of this wonderful marble monument. A look at the drawings reveals the level of accuracy and precision that has gone in planning the structure of the Taj Mahal. The architect had also guessed that the construction would be done in 22 years. Drawings of the interiors show the position of the graves in such precision that the foot of the graves faces the viewer from any angle. Many more such breathtaking collections include royal ornaments, wonderful paintings, portraits of Mughal emperors etc. Revisit Taj Mahal during the day followed by Agra Fort built by three of the greatest Mughal emperors. You will have opportunity to photograph Taj Mahal and the river from the Fort. Afternoon visit the a marble handicrafts center to see and photograph the art of inlay work. Later time free to revisit the Taj Mahal by sunset on your own.
Day 8: AGRA/ ORCHHA/ KHAJURAHO
Transfer to train station and board an express train to Jhansi. From here travel overland to Orchha, a small medieval town lies beside the Malwa plateau. The Betwa River waters this capital city of the Bundela rulers. It is well known for its excellent architecture. The place offers a perfect blend of traditionalism with modernity; enjoy a Vegetarian lunch before embarking on a short tour visiting Orchha Fort and Palace. Later travel to by road to Khajuraho. On arrival, check in at the Hotel
Day 9: KHAJURAHO
Tour Khajuraho, a city of living temples, of the Indo-Aryan type and generally classified as " Nagara " or North Indian. These temples were built during the Chandela period, a dynasty that survived for five centuries before falling to the onslaught of Islam. These Hindu temples with erotic carvings were built 1000 years ago with art and architecture merged to perfection. The temples are in three groups in an area of about 8 square miles. Visit the western group in the morning, largest and most important of the temples situated at the axis of the Lalguan-rajnagar road. Spend your afternoon visiting the village. Visit the eastern group in the evening, comprising of the Brahamin and Jain shrines close to the present Khajuraho village.
Day 10: KHAJURAHO / VARANASI
Fly to Varanasi, one of the oldest living cities in the world. Afternoon excursion to Sarnath, a place where Buddha preached his first lessons on Nirvana. Later visit the museum with its fine collection of Buddhist artifacts. This evening witness and photograph the special evening prayer ceremony at banks of Ganges, photograph the river & the temples by sunset. HOTEL.
Day 11: VARANASI- BOAT RIDE / KATHMANDU
Early morning boat ride on the holy river Ganges to see the devout praying and bathing on the Ghats (Banks), with funeral pyres burning in the distance. After breakfast, we do a half-day city tour of Varanasi visiting the Temples and by lanes. Later this afternoon transfer to airport for flight to Kathmandu (scenic flight over Himalayas), the capital of the Kingdom of Nepal. Once known as Kantipur, the city is named after Kasthamandap, an imposing pagoda near Hanuman Dhoka & old Palace. Embark on an afternoon city tour, including the Durbar Square with its pagoda-shaped temples, bazaars and the Royal Residential Palace, temple of the Living Goddess Kumari, worshiped as a deity by all Devout Nepalese. Bodhnath, home of the largest Buddhist stupa in the world and Pashupatinath, the most sacred Lord Shiva's shrine in Nepal on the banks of the holy Bagmati River. HOTEL
Day 12: PATAN, BUNGMATI & KHOKANA
OPTIONAL- Take a one hour flight over Himalayas including Mt. Everest early this morning. Your exploration of Kathmandu valley begins at Patan, the 'city of beauty' with its many palaces and temples embellished with intricately carved gods and goddesses in erotic poses. Tibetan refugee camp presents an opportunity to see the deft hands of Tibetans weaving carpets and other distinct Tibetan handicrafts.
Travel to the typical Newar village of Bungmati. Founded in the 7th century, Bungmati is home to one of the most important Gods of the Kathmandu Valley known as Matsyendranath, the God of Rain and compassion, worshipped equally by Hindus and Buddhists, and accredited by local people with the introduction of rice plantations in the valley. The rich heritage and relatively unchanging lifestyle of the Newar people is clear to see both in Bungamati and in the nearby village of Khokana, which we also visit. On the southern edge of the Kathmandu valley, the mighty Lichchhavi rulers of Nepal established Khokana in the 7th century, and remains relatively isolated from modern Nepali life. B
Day 13: BHADGAON & NAGARKOT
Enjoy a drive through the terraced rice fields to the primitive city of Bhadgaon. The Durbar Square includes the Big Bell, once rung to usher in curfew, the Bell of the Barking Dogs, the Lion Gate, the Picture Gallery and the famous Golden Gate. Continue to Nagarkot, east of Kathmandu and at an altitude of 2175 m above sea level, Nagarkot is a popular destination for the view of sunrise and sunset and panoramic view of Himalayas including Mount Everest. Overnight at Nagarkot.
Day 14: NAGARKOT / KATHMANDU/ DEPART
Wake up early morning to catch the sunrise over the Himalayan range. Countless Himalayan Peaks including Gauri Shankar, Langtang ranges, Ganesh Himal, Dorjelakpa, Everest ranges are visible from here. Breakfast at Hotel & time free to stroll the village before returning to Kathmandu and onward connection to your international destination.