The Untouched North East of India
14-nights, including a 7-night cruise down the mighty Brahmaputra

Arriving in Delhi, visit temples in Orissa, perhaps the most powerful tantric temples in India, onto Calcutta and then Assam, spending seven nights onboard the MV "Charaidew", a ship with 12 air conditioned en-suite cabins plying the magnificent River Brahmaputra.

Think of Assam, and “tea” comes up. Perhaps “temples”. Perhaps “tigers”. On this tour, we will be exposed to Buddhist archaeology, Hindu Temples, Islamic architecture, Kaziranga National Park, (a UNESCO World Heritage and one of the finest game reserves in the world) where we will go on a jungle safari on an elephant, and a 4-wd drivve safari at the Orang National Park. And of course, our cup of chai.

One of the world’s great rivers, the treachrous Brahmaputra, or Tsangpo as known in Tibetan, with its shifting sand basin, runs for 1800 miles from its source in the Tibetan Himalayas to its delta in the Bay of Bengal. At its narrowest part during our journey, it is a mere 1 km (0.6 mile) wide, and widening to 4-5 km (3-4 miles) at its widest. Poor roads, desolate and infantile tourist infrastructure is perhaps why we find this region so exciting.

Due to the size of the ship, this tour is limited to 24 people.

ITINERARY

Day 1, Sun. Leave the Americas this afternoon.

Day 2, Mon. Delhi. Leave Europe this morning. Arrive Delhi late today. Spiritual Journeys representative will welcome you at the airport, and escort you to your hotel. Overnight: Delhi.

Day 3, Tue. Bhubaneshwar. Fly to Bhubaneshwar, and spend the day at Hirapur & Chaurasi. Hirapur has one of the few temples to the 64 Yoginis. A circular structure of the 9th century, with stone images of many of the Yoginis still in place. Chaurasi temple looks beautiful in photographs, perhaps most beautiful of the Orissan temples. It is dedicated to the Tantric goddess, Varahi, a sow! Overnight: Bhubaneshwar.

Day 4, Wed. Bhubaneshwar. Spend the day at Jajpur & Konark. Jajpur far off the beaten track, lies on the holy river Baitarani, once considered the southern boundary of Indian civilization. The city is dedicated to another fierce goddess, and also reveres Varaha, the white boar. Konarak, called the black pagoda by British sailors, is a stone chariot/temple for Surya, the sun god. It has monumental wheels, horses, gods, musicians - one of the not-to-be-missed wonders of India. Overnight: Bhubaneshwar.

Day 5, Thur. Bhubaneshwar. Capital of the state of Orissa, it is not an area much visited by foreign tourists. Orissa is famous for its handicrafts, especially Ikat fabrics. Bhubaneshwar is originally a temple city, and capital of many successive dynasties. Sculpture here is first rate. The Tantric temple, Vaital Deul, to a fierce goddess, should be particularly interesting. We will spend the day at leisure, exploring the city on our own. Late this evening, we will take an overnight train to Kolkata. Overnight: Bhubaneshwar.

Day 6, Fri. Kolkata. Fly to Kolkata, get immersed in this huge city. Visit Mother Theresa’s School and Hospital, and Kalighat temple on the banks of the river Hooghly (Bhagirathi). The name Kolkata (previously Calcutta) is said to have been derived from the word Kalighat. Kaali is regarded as one of the principal deities of Bengal. Many other site of this once commercial capital of India. Overnight: Kolkata.

Day 7, Sat. Guwahati. Fly to Guwahati. Upon arrival, take a short sightseeing tour of the city. Drive up Nilachal Hill to see the holy Kamakhya temple. With its tantric rites and animal sacrifice, the more squeamish may prefer to content themselves with the exterior. Visit the poignant Commonwealth War Graves cemetery. Finally walk through a local market before embarking on your cruise vessel, the MV "Charaidew". We set sail and cruise on the Brahmaputra for about an hour and a half upstream to Kurua on the north bank. Overnight: On Board MV Charaidew.

Day 8, Sun. Ganesh Pahar. The day is spent cruising upstream, with hills rising on either side. Battling against strong currents, we reach an idyllic stop at Ganesh Pahar, where we can explore a delightfully serene hinterland lying under jungle-covered slopes. Overnight: On Board MV Charaidew.

Day 9, Mon. Leaving the hills behind, we enjoy our first taste of the wilderness experience, sand banks like icebergs on either side. We may make a short stop to visit a bank side village, creating a sensation as we do. We moor for the night in a lunar landscape of sand islands, with hopefully the Himalayas in view and providing a contrasting backdrop in the distance. Overnight: On Board MV Charaidew.

Day 10, Tue. Orang National Park. Rising early, we take to our country boat for another cruise up a side stream, this time into the Orang National Park. Here in this rarely visited park we go on 4-wd drive vehicles and ride through forest and grassland looking for rhino, deer and other wildlife. Returning to Charaidew, we cruise upstream to the little trading settlement of Singri Ghat, its main street running alongside a tea garden. Overnight: On Board MV Charaidew.

Day 11, Wed. Tezpur. We cruise on this morning to Tezpur, and drive out to the 6th century Da Parbatia temple ruins with a beautifully carved portal, then explore the town by cycle rickshaw, stopping at Cole Park with medieval stone carvings saved from sites all over the region and perhaps penetrating the bungalow once lived in by Alexander Bruce, pioneer of the tea industry. Overnight: On Board MV Charaidew.

Day 12, Thu. Kaziranga National Park. We continue upstream, passing below a seemingly endless new bridge across the vast width of the river bed, to moor at Steemer Ghat, a lovely beach backed by jungle-covered hills. In the afternoon we drive to Kaziranga's Western Range for a jeep safari and to scan the wilderness from an observation tower. Kaziranga is a World Heritage site and with a population of well over 1000 rhinoceros is the best place in the world to see these beasts. There are also good populations of tiger, wild elephant, sambar, swamp deer, hog deer, wild pig and many other species. Overnight: On Board MV Charaidew.

Day 13, Fri. Kaziranga National Park. Disembark pre-dawn and drive to Kaziranga's Central Range for an early morning elephant safari, the best way to get really close to the rhino and other animals. After breakfast at a lodge, we walk through terraced tea gardens and past a Karbi tribal village, then drive to a Mising tribal village, with their distinctive houses raised on piles. After lunch either take a jeep safari in the little visited Eastern Range before returning to the boat, or if preferred return directly to Steemer Ghat, visit a delightful Assamese village nearby and walk along a path alive with butterflies to a solitary temple on the river bank. Overnight: On Board MV Charaidew.

Day 14, Sat. Guwahati. We disembark early and start our 4 hour drive back to Guwahati airport and fly to Delhi. Arriving in Delhi, spend the rest of the day at leisure. Evening: Son et Lumiere at the Red Fort. Overnight: Delhi.

Day 15, Sun. Delhi. Spend the morning sightseeing, and the afternoon at leisure. Time to shop. Bid adieu to India and go to the International airport very late at night for our flight home. Our hotel room will be kept available for us till we leave late, this night.

Day 16, Mon. The Americas. Arrive back this evening.

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Additional Information: Deepak Singh, Spiritual Journeys, Inc., 262 Upland Road, Cambridge, MA USA. E-mail: Ph: +1-508-358-4267.