Art, ancient civilizations and wildlife thrive in this northwestern coastal state of Gujarat. It is one of India’s richest state both economically as well as culturally. The art flourishes in its cities and artisans thrives in its villages. Gujarat is famous for its exquisite handicrafts like embroidery, tie dye fabrics, enameled silverware and other handicrafts.

No one can traverse the whole of India and not feel the palpable difference between North and South. The dominant features of South India are its tropical climate with lush-green tropical vegetation in the coastal areas, as well as its architecture, cuisine, culture, languages and lifestyle. In spite of repeated exposure to foreign influences, these elements have, at their core, remained essentially Dravidian. We will witness a great ancient Elephant Festival in Palakkad.

We have timed our trip with a spectacular ritual dance of Theyyam. Theyyam is the product of a synthesis of ritual, vocal and instrumental music, dance, painting, sculpture and literature.
It attributes great importance to the worship of heroes and ancestral spirits and is a socio-religious ceremony. The colorful pageantry, the enthusiastic crowd and the religious favor are all worth witnessing.

Hola Mohalla is a Sikh festival consisting of camping out and enjoying various displays of fighting prowess and bravery, followed by kirtan, music, and poetry. For meals, which is an integral part of the Sikh institution, visitors sit together in pangats and eat vegetarian food of the Langars. The event concludes with a long, military-style procession near Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib, one of the five seats of temporal authority of the Sikhs. Throughout this photo tour, we’ll see how India has absorbed the influences of so many waves of colonizers and yet has remained distinctly and proudly Indian.


*Subject to change*

Day 1: 
On arrival in Kannur, you will be met by a representative from our local tour company and be transferred to the hotel. Overnight in Kannur.

Day 2-3:
Schedule-dependent, we’ll drive to witness the Theyyam festival in the nearby villages around Kannur. There may be a chance on one of these days to visit pre-dawn.

Theyyam (or Theyyaattam, meaning ‘the god’s dance’) is a pattern of hero worship performed in North Kerala. It is a ritual and a folk-dance form supported by a vast literature of folk songs. The Kolam dance custom is widely prevalent as a form of worship of the Bhootas or spirits. We’ll photograph the performances at the local temples into the evening and late night!

You’ll have the morning to recover, or you can see some of the rituals in the day time on Day 3. You can also relax at the beach or explore some of the nearby fishing villages. Overnight in Kannur.

Day 4:
After breakfast, we’ll drive to Palakkad. On arrival, check in at the resort. In the afternoon, we’ll head to the festival grounds to witness the major 25 Elephant festival near Palakkad. The colorful mosaic of Kerala festivals and fairs is as diverse as the land. It is an expression of the spirit of celebration that is an essential part of the State. We will visit an ancient temple where they are celebrating a centuries’ old festival, complete with decorated elephants. Drummers will make this a grand spectacle for us! Overnight in Palakkad.

Day 5:
We’ll travel to Cochin this morning, checking in to our hotel in the afternoon. This ancient port has now split into two main parts: the old town of Fort Cochin on the peninsula, with its winding alleyways lined with merchant houses and spice markets, and the brash, modern industrious city of Ernakulam on the mainland. We’ll take an afternoon walk around the old Fort area and experience its various art galleries, coffee shops and designer boutiques. We’ll take a sunset boat ride to photograph the Chinese fishing nets from the Cochin harbor. Overnight in Cochin.

Day 6:
We’ll start our day with a pre-dawn cruise to photograph the fishermen in the harbor. After breakfast, we’ll spend the day exploring Cochin. Documented since Roman times, Cochin is the oldest European settlement in India. With its enchanting Jewish quarter, picturesque Chinese fishing nets, Portuguese churches, Hindu temples and bustling spice and antiques bazaars, Cochin has a seamless blend of diverse architectural and religious influences. Today particularly offers a diverse array of photo opportunities during several stops including a Jewish synagogue, the Vasco D’ Gama Church, a Dutch Palace and Chinese fishing nets. Our group will take an afternoon walk around the Fort Cochin area we’ll visit and photograph the laundry wala. We’ll also visit various art galleries, coffee shops and designer boutiques in the area. Later, we’ll visit the Kathakali center and photograph artists putting on makeup and later, witness the traditional Kathakali dance drama. Overnight in Cochin.

Day 7:
After breakfast, we’ll spend the first part of the day around the Fort area to photograph for the last time. In the late afternoon, we’ll transfer to the Cochin airport to board the flight to Delhi. On arrival, we’ll check into our hotel. Overnight in Delhi.

Day 8:
In the late morning, we’ll board our flight to Amritsar. On arrival, we’ll transfer to our hotel to check in. Amritsar is home to the Golden Temple, the religious place for the Sikh Community in India. We’ll visit the Golden Temple at sunset to photograph in the last light of the day. Overnight in Amritsar.

Day 9:
We’ll begin our morning at the Golden Temple again, in order to see the morning activities. One such activity is the “langar,” or feeding of the devotees. There is a huge kitchen in the back of the temple where hundreds of volunteers come everyday to help cook food for thousands of devotees. And after the food is served, the volunteers help clean the dishes as well!

We will also visit Jalia wala Bagh, a monument of great Indian national importance.  We’ll enjoy the old part of the town and see daily life at this holiest of the holi city of the Sikhs. In the afternoon, we’ll drive 30 kms to the Wagah Border for the changing of the guard ceremony by Pakistani Rangers and Indian BSF. Overnight in Amritsar.

Day 10:
After breakfast, we’ll drive to Anandpur Sahib, where we’ll check into our Swiss tents. (Note: each of these tents have private attached toilets with running cold water, and hot water will be supplied in the morning and evening. There will be proper beds as well as electricity in each tent.) Hola Mahalla (or simply Hola) is a Sikh event which takes place on the first of the lunar month of Chet, which usually falls in March. We’ll spend the rest of the day getting an orientation to the fair. Overnight in Anandpur Sahib.

Day 11:
We’ll spend the day experiencing and photographing the Hola Mohalla Festival. The colorful festivities include dramatic mock martial-arts battles, impressive displays of weaponry, archery and wrestling. There’s also music, poetry, and prayers, singing and chanting. Food is served to pilgrims from all castes and creeds by women from the neighboring villages, who set up langars (community kitchens). This is impressive and humbling to watch as, regardless of caste, all Sikh’s sit together.

You’ll have the opportunity to practice your action photography skills while observing exciting horse-riding displays from the Nahib Sikh Army. Riders gallop bareback, performing tricks such as riding astride two horses. One of the main attractions at the festival are the Nehangs – a prestigious armed Sikh order who wear a striking blend of blue and orange, with twisted moustaches and staggeringly giant embellished turbans. Overnight in Anandpur Sahib.

Day 12:
This morning, you will have one last chance to wander around the festival grounds. After that we will drive to the airport to board our flight for Ahmedabad, and transfer to our hotel upon arrival.

One of the intellectual and artistic capitals of India, Ahmedabad is also a repository of architectural styles and now also a UNESCO World Heritage City. The city is congested and hectic, but it has a wealth of museums (including the famous Calico Museum), performing-arts centers, and galleries. Some of the best universities in the country, especially for design and management, are also found here. Overnight in Ahmedabad.

Day 13:
This morning, we’ll take a heritage walk in the old city of Ahmedabad, visiting centuries-old living quarters of Jains, Hindus and Muslim. These small neighborhoods, called Pols, are both the backbone and heartbeat of the old city of Ahmedabad. In recent years, families have started moving out to live in more modern houses further from the city center, but many of them still feel a strong attachment to the close-knit communities of the pols that shaped their lives while growing up. The walled city was built before motor vehicles, meant for pedestrians and bicycles, so its small, windy streets are best explored on foot.

After breakfast, we’ll visit the Ashram of Mahatma Gandhi, where he spent a large part of his later life. We will also photograph the various vegetable, flower as well as the old markets of Ahmedabad. In the afternoon, we’ll visit the Sidi Saiyyed Masjid, Jama Masjid, and Sultan Ahmed Shah mosques. Overnight in Ahmedabad.

Day 14: (Mar 21)
After breakfast, we’ll drive to Dasada. On the way, we will stop at Adalaj, Patan and Modhera. Adalaj Vav is one of the great examples of step wells, intricately carved and five stories deep. These wells once provided water for drinking, washing, and bathing. Patan, the once-capital of medieval Gujarat, is known for it’s Hindu and Jain architecture. The Modhera Sun Temple was built in 1026 AD, and is said to resemble the famous Konark temple in Orissa. Once we arrive in Dasada, we’ll check into our hotel. Overnight in Dasada.

Day 15: (Mar 22)
This morning, we’ll explore the Rann of Kutch. The Rann is one of the most remarkable and unique landscapes of its kind in the entire world. It is a vast, desiccated, unbroken bare surface of dark silt, encrusted with salts which transforms into a spectacular coastal wetland after the rains. We’ll enjoy a game drive to see the landscape as well as the unique wildlife that lives here. We will also visit the various working salt mines that work in the area. In the afternoon, we’ll visit the Rabari villages as well as the Mir settlements. Rabari and Banjara are the two important tribes of the region. While the Rabari, the most nomadic of Gujarat’s tribes, constantly migrate in search for better grazing ground for their camels and sheep, the Banjara and other tribes have settled here. Overnight in Dasada.

Day 16: (Mar 23)
We’ll take an early safari to photograph the surrounding villages one last time this morning. After breakfast you’ll be transferred to the airport to board your flights home.

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