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Itinerary:  Incredible India for Photographers

 

Tour Highlights

Royal Expeditions specializes in taking you to where you want to be without you needing to find it yourself, while providing an experience that is relaxed and comfortable while still giving you the depth of experience you seek…

  1. - Visit Camel Fair Pushkar & Dev Diwali festival Varanasi.
  2. - Photography lessons and photo critiques each day with Nick. Laptops supplied.
  3. - There’s much to learn for both experienced photographers and complete novices
  4. - Luxury accommodation best 5 star boutique hotels & Luxury tented Camps
  5. - Long distances are covered by plane and short journeys by air conditioned, spacious vehicles.
  6. - Breakfast and most meals are covered.
  7. - Small, intimate group of maximum 12 people

Overview

Join the foremost expert in photographing Indian spiritual communities on a rare and exclusive opportunity to experience the magic of India while discovering the key principles behind capturing beautiful and impactful photographs.

Nick Fleming’s photography has been exhibited throughout central London and the UK, and he has lectured at the Royal Geographical Society, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the Indian High Commission. He was selected as the sole photographer in the Microsoft “I’m a PC” global campaign, and was the first photographer to be invited to exhibit and lecture at Art in Action, the UK’s largest festival of fine art and master craftsmanship.

Throughout the 15 years of his project, Living Divinely, Nick Fleming has spent many months living with spiritual communities and groups in order to cultivate a mutual relationship of trust which allows him to record the moments that truly reflect their way of life, uninhibited by any artifice. He’s travelled from Assam and Aranachul Pradesh in the far east, to the high Himalayas and Kashmir in the North, to Kerala and Maharashtra in the south as well as throughout Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. He’s lived with the Nihang spiritual warriors, Vaishnavite monks, and the Buddhist monks of Tawang. He’s travelled with Hindu mountain Brahmins, and photographed Naga Babas and Nath Yogis, and Sufis.

On this unique photo expedition, you’ll benefit from the experience and rapport Nick has acquired over 15 years, and with the help of his trusted guides you’ll be able to communicate and gain a much fuller understanding of the people and cultures you meet, resulting in more meaningful photographs and deeper experiences.


Day 1 - Arrival Delhi

31st Oct - You will be met on arrival and transferred to hotel Imperial, that has an old world charm in heart of New Delhi.

Evening welcome cocktails at the Delhi residence of Rani Chandresh Kumari, Member of Parliament – Chairperson of Royal Expeditions (subject to presence in Delhi)


Day 2 - Delhi / Jodhpur

1st Nov – Morning at leisure or take optional opportunity to photograph flower market and temple activities at sunrise. After breakfast transfer to airport for flight to the Blue City of Jodhpur. Upon arrival we'll check into the grandest of Indian palaces – Umaid Bhawan Palace. In the afternoon we'll have a guided tour of the Blue City of Jodhpur. We'll visit the massive fort, royal palaces, the armory and Jaswant Thada - the Royal Crematorium. We'll spend two nights in Jodhpur.

Notes – We focus on Colour, Culture, life lived in walled city streets, visit traditional crafts men at work in century old workshops.


Day 3 - Jodhpur

2nd Nov – Today we will explore and photograph the best walled city in India. It portrays the microcosm of the miracle that is India, a country where people live together in harmony despite conflicting faiths and serried living conditions. Every inch of the walled city hums with life and activity. At sunrise walk in the walled city starting from the hilltop fort. You will be dazzled by the Brahmans' blue painted houses, which are dotted all over the city. After breakfast visit markets in the old city. Evening visit temples of the walled city. Dinner today will in the walled city at hotel Raas.


Day 4 - Jodhpur / Chhatra Sagar

3rd Nov – Morning we drive out of the city and then after an hour, We will be met by open top vehicle that will take us through rural country roads to Chhatra Sagar Nimaj. The most striking aspect of a visit to country side is the abundance of colour which is an antidote to the harsh desert landscape. The people of Rajasthan have created vibrancy like nowhere else with their canary yellow turbans, lime green saris and flame red headscarves. We visit different village communities including Bisnoi’s, Raikas along the way. We will also meet farmers and shepherds who are going or coming from the Pushkar fair with their Camels, Sheep’s, Cows etc. You get to interact and photograph local craftsmen at work, potters, blacksmith, goldsmith and weavers. We also visit local charity Sunder Rang projects where you can see women making traditional handicrafts. Picnic Lunch will be served in the country side today. Overnight stay in luxury tents at Chhatra Sagar. Rated twice by Tatler Travel Guide as best 101 hotels in the world.

Notes –We focus on life in the country side, visits local village homes, see local craftsmen at work, we also come across Marwari horse breeders, Camel headers, nomadic tribes, shepherds walking with live stock, Farmers on tractors with trolley full of family members making way to and from Pushkar fair


Day 5 - Nimaj / Pushkar

4th Nov – Morning visit the local communities around Nimaj. You will see the settlements of Seervi (Agrarian Community) and Gujjars (Sheperds) and a 7th Century Temple dedicated to Goddess Durga. The settlements are nearly 400 years old and the Seervis being Agrarian community stay on the farmlands. 3-4 families are settled around open well, which is the only source of irrigation and drinking water. Each settlement has approximately 40 members.

You will be able to walk in the farms growing chilly, aniseed, cumin Seed, mustard and wheat. One can sit on the charpai (Jute Cot) and sip Masala Chai (tea) served by the farmers and walk within the settlement, which offers great photo opportunities. The ladies wear bright colors and heavy gold Jewelery, the men wear white to stay cool under the bright sun. They are vegetarians and keep buffaloes and cows for dairy products.

Gujjars. They rear sheep and goats and stay in a group of 50-60 families, which form a village. To cater to their requirements a family of potter, silversmith, tanner / cobbler and oil render are settled.

By walking within the village you will be able to visit the house of a Gujjar and how they churn curd to make butter and how they make yarn of goat hair to weave rugs. As the Gujjars wear very heavy silver jewelry, the silversmith is always busy and guests can see him working with his primitive tools. See the oil vender who still uses the Ox to extract oil out of sesame seeds. The village has a Government school and should it not be a holiday the guests can visit the School. The 7th Century Druga Temple offers a great insight into the culture and life of that period.

After lunch drive 3 to 4 hours through back roads to Pushkar Fair. Along the way you will find villagers making their way from and to the Fair on foot. Stay at Royal Tents for three nights. Every evening you will be treated to memorable cultural programs of folk dance and music around the camp fire here.

The Pushkar Fair is one of the largest camel markets in the world. That it happens in India makes it exotic enough. But even though it is nominally located in a very small town, the fair is overwhelming in its magnitude and especially in its visual impact.

The location for the fair is Pushkar, an ancient religious town, in the Thar desert of Rajasthan, the Indian state with many of the holiest Hindu sites. Surrounded by ghats and innumerable temples, the nearby lake is dedicated to Brahma, the Lord of Creation. Yet, once a year––for ten days in the Hindu month of "kartik"–– pilgrims flood this little town of Pushkar. Their arrival in carts, on camels, or on foot transforms the quiet area around the lake into a spectacular fairground, the largest in the country. Thousands of nomads and pilgrims come, with their camels and cattle, to do a little horse trading, camel swapping, and otherwise to transact business. Myriad delights await visitors in the hundreds of roadside stalls set up especially for these few days.

During the day, the camels are raced, tested, bought, and sold. Evenings at the Pushkar Fair have their own charm when thousands of campfires light up the dark. Ballads, folk dramas, skits, and folk dances are frequently staged. The night air echoes with haunting Rajasthani folk songs. It is still primarily a rural gathering, with thousands of colorful and friendly Rajasthani villagers gathering together for commerce.

The photographs from the fair are legendary in their evocative feeling. This is a peep back into time, into a biblical period. It is true that this fair has become a popular photographic destination and that the influx of photographers has already changed the nature of the festival, but it is still one of the greatest shows on earth and well worth the experience. We are visiting the fair early when all the trading activities take place and leave before the mass tourism begins.


Day 6 - Pushkar

5th – Explore the fair grounds and temples for photo opportunities. Optional at additional cost Hot Air Balloon Safari over the fair grounds.

Notes - We will also visit the old town on foot and will have access to witness some traditional rituals and meet some holy men.


Day 7 - Pushkar

6th Nov - Explore the fair grounds and temples for photo opportunities.


Day 8 - Pushkar / Jaipur

7th Nov – Early morning explore fair grounds. After breakfast drive 3 hours to Jaipur. Stay at the new boutique all suite hotel Devi Ratn (opening shortly).This boutique hotel is committed to explore a new idiom of contemporary design, that’s rooted in the understanding of Rajasthan’s culture and climate. Devi Ratn takes its name from the "Nav Ratn"; nine pure gemstones that are said to focus the cosmic energy of an associated celestial body, ruled by a deity. The lustrous gem-craft of Jaipur, is reflected in the materials used and the intricate quality of detail in public and private spaces. Domes and arches rise out on the horizon, towering structures in red sandstone filter the light of the sun creating patterns on the ground as you approach this inspired hotel.

After lunch sightseeing of Pink city, Visit the City palace, museum and the observatory. Also time for exploring the walled city markets around the palace of winds for photo opportunities. This beautiful city was planned by in 1727. If you walk in the old part of the city today you realise that this remarkable place was ahead of its time. It was considered a marvel of town planning and many merchants, scholars, priests and artisans made Jaipur their home. Traditional crafts include jewelry, metalwork, enameling, tie-dye, stone carving, pottery, leather-work and miniature painting. These crafts were patronised by the rulers in 18th century and still thrive to this day.


Day 9 - Jaipur

8th Nov – Morning we visit Amber and nearby village where elephants are stabled. We have opportunity to photograph the activities at elephant’s camp. Later we explore the Amber Fort with its mighty gates, temples, huge ornate halls, palaces, pavilions and gardens. Amber fort is a perfect blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture. The old town of Amber is also fascinating and is dotted with ancient temples, havelis, step wells and scenic views. We will also visit the Anokhi Museum, housed in an exquisitely restored haveli and has exhibits documenting the local textile traditions, as well as demonstrations and interactive workshops.

Afternoon free time to explore the bazars of the Jaipur’s walled city on your own.


Day 10 - Jaipur / Varanasi

9th Nov – Morning fly to Varanasi via Delhi. Varanasi is one of India’s most enigmatic cities situated on the legendary River Ganga (Ganges). Regarded as holy by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. It is arguably one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Here you will have opportunity to explore the cultural riches and social dynamism of this exotic city and river.

On arrival stay at the Taj Ganges for two nights. Evening witness the prayer ceremony on the Ganges.

Note – We will focus on activities around Temple Ghats (steps on river side) and bathing ghats. You will need zoom lenses (Zoom 300 mm or more) as you are not allowed to photograph from close range on some Ghats. We will in the old part of town, visit flower market, stalls making street food. We will have private access to witness Akhra traditional wrestling gym and see some practice matches, visit a religious ashram, old peoples home, monastery where Sadhu’s live. We may also visit clay idol makers workshop.


Day 11 - Varanasi

10th Nov – At sunrise boat ride to explore the activities at the Ghats (River Side Steps). After breakfast explore the Ghats and temples by foot. Evening witness the prayer ceremony on the Ganges.

Today is Kartik Purnima is the last day of Kartik month as per Hindu lunar calendars. This festival is observed with a lot of gusto in Varanasi. Ganga is the most auspicious river as per Hinduism and Kartik Snan (bath) in Ganga river is considered as highly meritorious ritual. Kartik Purnima is also known as Dev Diwali as it marks the victory of good over evil.

In Varanasi, after performing Kartik Snan in Ganga River, devotees visit Kasi Vishwanath temple and offer special prayers. Devotees also offer Gangajal to the Lord. Lord Bhairav Nath temple is also visited during Kartik Purnima. Gange Aarti ( Prayers with oil lamps) is the most important event at night time on Dev Diwali.


Day 12 - Varanasi / Delhi / Depart

11th Nov – At sunrise boat ride to explore the activities at the Ghats (River Side Steps). Morning at leisure.

After early lunch explore Sarnath sacred site for Buddhists worldwide, for this is where Gautama Buddha came back after attaining enlightenment to do his first teaching. We will get to see Buddhist pilgrims and monks from all over the world here.

Later transfer to airport for flight to Delhi. On arrival transfer to International terminal to board onwards International flight (Check In is three hours prior to departure)


Note

TOUR COST INFORMATION

Trip price: US$ 8500 per person on twin sharing basis.*
Additional cost for Single Room Supplement: US$ 2250
Non Photographer spouse/partner US$: 8250 per person.

International Flights - The cost of international flights from the US, UK (or elsewhere) to and from India are not included, and must be arranged so that you arrive in Delhi by afternoon of October 31, 2011.

Additional days in Delhi ; Extension tours to see Taj Mahal, Himalayas, Tigers ; Upgrades to Suites or Business class in internal flight can be arranged on an individual basis with Royal Expeditions.

Deposit: A deposit of $2000 is required to secure a place on the Photo Expedition. This down payment is fully refundable if notice is given 90 days prior to the departure date. The balance of the cost is due 90 days prior to departure date. Payments can be made directly to Royal Expeditions by American Express, Visa, or Mastercard or by bank wire transfer.

Ideas for extending this Journey

Taj Mahal, Agra – 2 nights 3 days

Wednesday 10th Nov 2011 Day 12 Delhi - On arrival in Delhi overnight stay Claridges / Ramada Hotel

Thursday 11th Nov 2011 Day 13 Delhi / Agra – Morning train to Agra 0615 / 0740 hrs. On arrival sightseeing of Agra. Visit Agra Fort. Evening Taj Mahal at sunset. Overnight hotel Trident or Taj gateway

Friday 12th Nov 2011 Day 14 Agra / Delhi / Departure – Morning Optional taj at sunrise from across the river (Taj Mahal closed on Fridays). After breakfast Fatehpur Sikri and drive 4 hrs back to Delhi airport to board onwards flight

Cost from USD 655 per person based on 2 pax travelling together and sharing a double / twin room

Taj Mahal, Tigers and Birds – 6 nights 7 days

Wednesday 10th Nov 2011 Day 12 Delhi - On arrival in Delhi overnight stay Claridges / Ramada Hotel

Thursday 11th Nov 2011 Day 13 Delhi / Agra – Morning train to Agra 0615 / 0740 hrs. On arrival sightseeing of Agra. Visit Agra Fort. Evening Taj Mahal at sunset. Overnight hotel Trident or Taj gateway

Friday 12th Nov 2011 Day 14 Agra / Bharatpur - After breakfast Fatehpur Sikri tour and later drive to Bharatpur bird park. Evening visit the bird park.
Overnight Laxmi Vilas Palace

Saturday 13th Nov 2011 Day 15 Bharatpur / Ranthambore – Early morning visit bird park. Transfer to board day train to Sawai Madhopur . Met on arrival and transfer to lodge. Evening interaction with local wildlife photographer. Overnight Ranthambore bagh.

Sunday 14th Nov 2011 Day 16 Ranthambore – Morning and Afternoon game drives in open top vehicles ( on shared basis) . Overnight Ranthambore bagh

Monday 15th Nov 2011 Day 17 Ranthambore – Morning and Afternoon game drives in open top vehicles ( on shared basis) . Overnight Ranthambore bagh

Tuesday 16th Nov 2011 Day 18 Ranthambore / Delhi – Morning game drive. Transfer to station to board train to Delhi ( Golde n Temple Mail, 1230-1830 hours).Met on arrival at railway Station and transfer to International airport.

Cost from USD 1540 per person based on 2 pax travelling together and sharing a double / twin room

31 October - 11 November 2011

 

TOFTThe Hotels covered in this Itinerary are:
The Imperial
Umaid Bhawan Palace
Chhatra Sagar
Royal Tented Camp, Pushkar
Hotel Deviratan
Taj Ganges Varanasi

The Imperial

From the time The Imperial opened its doors in the 1930s, when India was beginning to write the last chapters of its saga on independence, there was little space in New Delhi for an Indo- British rubbing of shoulders. The Imperial provided such a space. Pandit Nehru, Mahatama Gandhi, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Lord Mountbatten would meet at The Imperial to discuss the partition of India and creation of Pakistan.The Nehru family had a permanent suite here.

The Imperial is a fine confluence of a rich historical past and contemporary international appeal. After many restorations, it has managed to preserve its charm, and exudes it’s former glory. The original Frasers and Daniells paintings and the tavern named after them, the symbolically baptized “1911” restaurant and bar, the Royal ballroom were the places where have met and are still as popular today. The Hotel is a jewel of architecture and its location in the heart of the city makes it the ideal venue for tourists around the world.


Umaid Bhawan Palace

Perched high above the desert capital of Jodhpur, Umaid Bhawan Palace is the last of the great palaces of India and one of the largest residences in the world – set amidst 26 acres of lush gardens.

Named after Maharaja Umaid Singh, grandfather of the present Maharaja of Jodhpur, this golden-yellow sandstone monument was conceived on the grandest possible scale, in the fashionable Art Deco style of that time. After 15 years in construction, the 347-room palace was finally completed in 1943 – and has served as the principal residence of the Jodhpur royal family since.


Royal Tented Camp, Pushkar

The Royal Camp captures the luxurious nostalgia of a bygone age of the Maharaja's safari and shikar camps. The luxury tents combine innovative designs that demonstrate many skills and crafts of Marwar.

Each tent at the Camp consists of an outer verandah (4m x 2m) with deck chairs, table and electric lantern where one can relax sipping morning or evening tea. The bedroom (4m x 4 m) has two single beds with bedside tables, a dressing table with mirror and 'durries' to cover the floor. Each tent also has an attached bathroom with a water closet and telephone shower. The sleeping area can be curtained off with mosquito nets, if desired, and there are three windows with netting and blinds for ventilation.

Meals at the camp can be taken at the dinning tent. The Campfire is the focal point for the evening entertainment programme and rhythms of the Thar-music, dancing, magic shows, puppet shows, jugglers, flaming torches and camel parades.


Hotel Deviratan

New boutique all-suite hotel Devi Ratn. This boutique hotel is committed to explore a new idiom of contemporary design, that’s rooted in the understanding of Rajasthan’s culture and climate. Devi Ratn takes its name from the "Nav Ratn"; nine pure gemstones that are said to focus the cosmic energy of an associated celestial body, ruled by a deity. The lustrous gem-craft of Jaipur, is reflected in the materials used and the intricate quality of detail in public and private spaces. Domes and arches rise out on the horizon, towering structures in red sandstone filter the light of the sun creating patterns on the ground as you approach this inspired hotel.


Taj Ganges Varanasi

Centrally located on Raja Bazaar Road at Nadesar Palace Grounds. Set amidst12 acres, the hotel is an oasis of greenery in this bustling temple town. This Western-style high rise has a lavish lobby and spacious modern rooms elegantly appointed with central air-conditioning.


Map of India

Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrival Delhi
Day 2 - Delhi / Jodhpur
Day 3 - Jodhpur
Day 4 - Jodhpur / Chhatra Sagar
Day 5 - Nimaj / Pushkar
Day 6 - Pushkar
Day 7 - Pushkar
Day 8 - Pushkar / Jaipur
Day 9 - Jaipur
Day 10 - Jaipur / Varanasi
Day 11 - Varanasi
Day 12 - Varanasi / Delhi / Depart

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