Mark Twain visited Kumbh Mela of 1895 and wrote “It is wonderful, the power of a faith like that, that can make multitudes upon multitudes of the old and weak and the young and frail enter without hesitation or complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resultant miseries without repining. It is done in love, or it is done in fear; I do not know which it is. No matter what the impulse is, the act born of it is beyond imagination, marvelous to our kind of people”

It is been more than a hundred years since the above lines were written and yet they are as true today as they have ever been.

(NOTE: As vehicles of any sort are not allowed in the fairgrounds, clients should be prepared to walk for up to 10 to 16 km during the main event of Kumbh Mela)


*Subject to change*

Day 1: (Jan 20)  On arrival in Kolkata, you will be welcomed by our representative at the airport and transferred to the hotel in Kolkata. (Rooms will be available from 1400 Hrs.) Overnight in Kolkata.

Days 2 & 3: (Jan 21 & 22)  Kolkata is a city of glaring contrasts, a curious blend of the old and the new, partly feudal, partly born out of growing urbanization. It represents a mix of East and West; a graft of a European city imposed on an Asian landscape that gives Calcutta its bewildering charm, confusion, and excitement. Founded 300 years ago by the East India Company, this was the British capital until 1911. It is still the creative capital of India, promoting art, music, and drama and drawing the best from performers and their fans.

We have two full days to explore the city. An early morning pre-breakfast trip takes us to the “Flower market” of Kolkata. Situated on the banks of Hoogly River near the famous Howrah Bridge, the place is alive with vibrant colors as pilgrims and traders come here to buy their supply of temple flowers.

Afterward, cross the iconic Howrah Bridge and visit Howrah Station, one of the country’s largest stations and a busy hub of activity.

From here, embark on a boat ride on the River Hoogly to Kumartuli. See the potters’ colony at Kumartuli, where life-size religious idols are created out of river clay for the city’s numerous festivals.

Kumartulli is 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 as we tour this community.

Afterward, take a local tram ride to College Street Book Market, the world’s largest second-hand book market. Stop at the famous nearby Coffee House, a regular spot for intellectuals and an important cultural spot in Kolkata’s history.

Also, you visit an important British institution, Victoria Memorial, which also houses a permanent collection of art.

Visit the Bagh Bazar area to view the impressive conch shell work before continuing on to the wholesale vegetable and jewelry markets.

Next, visit the beautiful Jain temple complex before continuing to the Mother House, the final resting place of Mother Teresa. Overnight in Kolkata.

Day 4: (Jan 23) After breakfast transfer to airport to board the flight for Varanasi. Once we’re settled into our hotel, we will explore the ghats photographing this amazing spectacle with our knowledgeable guide who will explain the various activities.

Later, we will take a boat ride to see the ghats from the river including a visit to the cremation ghat. We’ll also, witness the evening ceremony of river Ganges. Overnight in Varanasi.

Days 5 & 6: (Jan 24 & 25) We have two full days to photo shoot daily life in Varanasi. Early morning you experience the life of this ancient city. See the beauty of the rising sun on the Ganges Boat Ride. The boat ride passes along some of the 100 ghats, with numerous palaces built by Hindu kings. Experience the early morning rituals of the Hindus being performed, thousands of people taking a bath in the holy river believing they will be free from the circle of rebirth. It is interesting to see the pilgrims offering sweets, flowers, and holy water to the Sun God.
We will also wander around the narrow streets and alleys of Varanasi. Before sunset, take a boat to photograph the ghats from the river.

Evening Ghats and temples lit with oil lamps or candles can be seen during Aarti ceremony (prayer group) while viewing floating Diyas (lamps) on the River Ganges. Overnight in Varanasi.

Day 7: (Jan 26)  Morning you will have one more chance to visit the Ghats and photograph the unending flow of pilgrims who come from far and wide in India by boat and by walking.

After breakfast drive to Prayagraj (formerly Allahabad – about 3.5 hours). On arrival, check-in at our camp.

Later, an orientation walk with your guide to all the important places that you may want to visit during your time. Overnight in Prayagraj.

Days 8-11: (Jan 27-30)  The main highlight for most pilgrims during a Prayag Kumbha Mela is the observance of a sacred bath at the Sangam. It is said that a bath in either of the sacred rivers has purifying effects, but where the three rivers meet, the bather’s purification is increased one hundred times. Furthermore, it is said that when one takes a bath at the Sangam during the Kumbha Mela, the influence is one thousand times increased.

Another important task for a pilgrim is to associate himself with holy men by listening to their sermons and to watch their processions. To watch the Kumbh Mela processions is to witness the march of the ages. As the holy saints pass by on their various and sundry conveyances — elephants, horses, palanquins, chariots, cars, and camels — they are continually transmitting waves of powerful shakti (energy) to all the people who witness this awe-inspiring and most auspicious event. Devotees are overwhelmed by the palpable spiritual vibrations that pervade the entire atmosphere.

We will spend these days witnessing this amazing centuries-old gathering.

During the main bathing days, it will be a grand spectacle to photograph this humanity as well as to photograph the holy men as they walk to take the royal bath here.

We will also have the opportunity to participate in religious discourses, Yoga as well as other rituals associated with the mela. Overnight in Prayagraj.

Day 12: (Jan 31) After breakfast, transfer to Delhi International Airport to board the flight back home.

(NOTE: As vehicles of any sort are not allowed in the fairgrounds, clients should be prepared to walk for up to 10 to 16 km during the main event of Kumbh Mela)