Here’s your chance to witness three of India’s most photogenic festivals, all in the space of a 14 day trip! First we’ll witness Holi Celebration, India’s “Festival of Colors”, an occasion to celebrate the coming of the spring. We will concentrate on photographing Widow’s Holi at Vrindavan, a more sedate and reverent celebration, where flowers are thrown rather than water and color. Next we travel to Punjab to see the Hola Mohalla festival where Sikhs practice their military exercises, hold mock battles and partake in martial arts parades, where Nihang warriors & Nihang Horsemen on beautifully decorated horses display their skills. To round out our three festival tour, we travel to the Kavant Fair, a gathering of Gujarat’s Rathva community, to recreate the joy of existence and life. We will photograph the exuberance of Rathva men and women dressed in their distinctive finery, who congregate to sing, dance, discuss marriages and liaisons and barter goods and services.
For those of you wanting to explore even more, join us on an adventure as we travel over-land to Udaipur, home of the Majarajas where we will photograph the city palace and environs. We’ll be staying at the beautiful Trident Hotel. Spread out over 40 acres and surrounded by wooded lawns and containing 150 year old wild life conservatory, this elegant hotel overlooking Lake Pichola is the perfect spot to wind down your visit to India.
Day 1: After arriving in Delhi, everyone will be transferred to our hotel for check-in. Overnight in Delhi.
Day 2: Today we’ll meander throughout Delhi with two definite stops being the magnificent India Gate and the Qutub Minar. In “Old Delhi” we’ll visit a wide variety of unique places which Karl pre-selected to captivate our attention and lenses. That afternoon offers a view of the famous Red Fort, then to the Heritage Walk to wander amongst silver merchants. The end of today will be spent at India’s largest Muslim mosque (Jama Masjid). Overnight in Delhi.
Day 3: Today’s drive from Delhi to Mathura will be followed by hotel check-in then local temples of Mathura and Vrindavan await us that afternoon. Overnight in Vrindavan.
Day 4: Holi, the celebration of colors established in India, beckons our cameras today. Our group is set to experience the festivities first-hand, amongst widows of the Vrindavan ashram. As expected, stunningly colorful shots await as we view women in traditional attire dance and throw colored ‘chalk’ on each other, electrifying the air with ethereal bursts of vivid color. Overnight in Vrindavan.
Day 5: By today’s end we’ll be at Amritsar, the religious place of the Sikh Community in India. After driving from Mathura to Delhi airport, our group will board the flight to Amritsar. That evening, we’ll check into the hotel and spend the night in Amritsar.
Day 6: This morning, we shall explore the famous Golden Temple (circa 1600) while the afternoon’s destination will be Anandpur Sahib. After checking-in to our hotel, a late afternoon walking tour will provide an initial orientation to tomorrow’s fair. Overnight in Anandpur Sahib.
Day 7: Today is our first day at the Hola Mohalla Festival to experience and capture aspects unique to this particular festival: dramatic mock martial arts battles, weaponry, archery, and wrestling. All the while, musicians, and singers compete for our attention. Viewing the benevolent local women making and serving food to pilgrims from all castes is also sure to become etched in one’s memory (mind and camera). Overnight in Anandpur Sahib.
Day 8: This will be our final day to revel in the amazing spectacle of Hola Mohalla. We may experience some activities listed in day 7, as well as seeing horse-riding displays by the Nahib Sikh Army. Another highlight is the Nehangs, a prestigious armed Sikh order who wear a striking blend of blue and orange, with twisted mustaches and staggeringly giant embellished turbans. Overnight in Anandpur Sahib.
Day 9: After breakfast today, we’ll drive to the Chndigarh airport. A flight to Delhi follows and that evening, the second flight to Vadodara. After landing, we will head to the hotel to check in. Overnight in Vadodara.
Day 10: This morning starts will an early breakfast then it’s off to the Kavant Gair fair. Here we will witness the centuries-old gathering of the Rathwa community who congregate in celebration of life. To be sure, the fair offers an explosion of photo ops: Kavant dancers adorned with peacock feathers and painted faces, others dressed in their distinctive finery singing and dancing, bartering goods, etc. Today’s fair provides a glimpse into the culture of a primitive tribe of Gujarat, the Rathwa Bhils. They have maintained many pre-Hindu traditions and beliefs, art and culture of their ancestors. That night, our group will check into our Swiss Tents. Note: each tent has private attached toilets with running water, beds and electricity. Overnight in Kavant.
Day 11: Today we will visit some of the outlying villages of Rathwa tribes to experience and shoot their way of life, customs and their community’s characteristic ancient religious paintings (Pithoras). Overnight in Kavant.
Day 12: Today we’ll drive to Ahmedabad, stopping at Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This special place has a concentration of largely unexcavated archaeological remains, some include prehistoric (chalcolithic) sites, a hill fortress of an early Hindu capital and remains of the 16th century Gujarat capital. From there, our destination is Ahmadabad where we will check into the hotel in Ahmedabad.
Day 13: The ancient city of Ahmadabad awaits us today. Our guide will lead us throughout the winding narrow lanes; this walled city was built before motor vehicles, meant for pedestrians and bicycles, so best explored on foot. We will venture into small neighborhoods (Pols) which are part of local cottage industries. Outside of the residences, we are sure to stumble upon photogenic locals crafting their wares like traditional jewelry. A stop at the Ashram of Mahatma Gandhi is another trip highlight. Awaiting us later that afternoon is the old market of Ahmedabad. To say this will be highly photogenic is an understatement. Topping off the day is the Sidi Saiyyed Mosque (circa 1573). The mosque is famous for beautifully carved stone latticework windows (jalis). It is a fine example of Indo-Saracenic architecture. Overnight in Ahmedabad.
Day 14: After breakfast, those not taking the extension will be transferred to the Ahmedabad airport to board a flight for Delhi, and then homeward bound.
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Day 14: Today our small group will drive to Udaipur, and on the way stop at Adlaj Vav, a stepwell used for storing water in the medieval times. On arrival in Udaipur, we’ll check into the hotel. This city lies in a valley amidst the hills of south Rajasthan. It is considered a romantic city with its lakes, gardens, temples, and palaces – an Oasis in the Thar desert. The old city is a traditionally planned fortified walled city, a maze of narrow winding lanes flanked by photo-worthy houses adorned with Mewar folk art, stained glass, jali screens, and massive havelis with large inner courtyards and shops. Overnight in Udaipur.
Day 15: This morning, we’ll visit the City Palace (circa 1570) built on the bank of the Pichola Lake. The impressive complex of several palaces is a blend of Rajput and Mughul influences. Half of it is still occupied by the Royal family and partly converted into a museum. We will also see Jagdish Temple (circa 1651), a fine example of the Nagara style of temple architecture. This temple features very photogenic fountains, trees and flowers. A nice boat ride on the Pichola Lake will occupy our afternoon. Overnight in Udaipur.
Day 16: Today our group will transfer to the Udaipur airport to board the flight to Delhi. On arrival, transfer to the International terminal to board the flight for onward journey.