The Untamed & Wild North East of India

Kolkata – Guwahati - Shillong - Umngot River – Pobitora – 4-night Brahmaputra Cruise

1 to 15 March, 2020

India is known for her spirituality and wildlife. We will experience unparalelled spirituality and wildlife, not available elsehwere. The one-horned rhino. The Royal Bengal Tiger. Variety of river fish and mammels. We will spend time in the comfort of our ship, and venutre out during the day to wildlife, tantric temples and experience way of life in remote villages. Absence of factories and masses of people presents clear, clean and pure environment, where boating on the famed crystal clear Umngot River feels as if we are floating on a clear slab of glass. An unimginable experience.

This tour is ideal for those who have been to India on earlier opportunities. We will be going to parts of India which are least travelled, with a minimum amount of tourists and thus tourism infrastructure.

.

This tour will be led by Adrianna Castelazo. Adrianna loves India and starting in the mid 1990s, has been all over the country more than 50 times. Deepak Singh will accompany her.


We will have a Spanish speaking guide accompanying us throughout the tour.

ITINERARY
Map of this area
(https://goo.gl/maps/tdPMtr5nzn62). Zoom in or out to change details. (The shown route is by road. We will be flying across the longer distances).

1 MARCH DEPART THE AMERICAS
Depart this evening from The Americas for India. Overnight: On board your aircraft.


2 MARCH ARRIVE KOLKATA
Representatives of SJI will meet you as you exit Kolkata’s international air port and transfer you to your hotel. Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight: Kolkata.

Kolkata (previously Calcutta), the bustling capital city of West Bengal, is the hub of Bengali culture and indeed, the cultural capital of whole India and the commercial capital of Eastern India, was earlier known as Calcutta, but changed to Kolkata in 2001. It has derived the name from Kalikata, which is a village name in the area before the British arrival, means the land of Goddess “Kali”. Kolkata boasts of a rich cultural heritage, evident in its distinct cuisine, clothing, lifestyle, its literature and even architecture.

Important sites include the BBD Bagh area. Once the very seat of British Power, fondly remembered as Dalhousie Square, it was later renamed after the three original writers (Binoy, Badal and Dinesh) who toiled in building. Established in the year 1880 the BBD Bagh building and the surrounding area is still remembered by the old timers as a British landmark. The Memorial House of Mother Teresa was opened in Mother Teresa's hometown of Skopje, present-day Republic of Macedonia. The museum has a significant selection of objects from Mother Teresa's life in Skopje and relics from her later life. In the memorial room there is a model of her family home, made by Vojo Georgievski. Next to the memorial room, there is an area with the image of Mother Teresa as well as a memorial park and fountain.


3 MARCH KOLKATA
Full day of sightseeing. Overnight: Kolkata.

The Botanical Garden played an important role in cultivating tea long before it became a household commodity. Today there’s a cactus house, palm collection, river-overlook and a boating-lake with splendid Giant Amazon Lily pads but the biggest draw is a 250-year-old banyan tree, 140m across. It’s reputedly the world’s largest but the central trunk rotted away in the 1920s leaving a curious ‘forest’ of cross-branches and linked aerial roots that have become virtual trees of their own. Kalighat is regarded as one of the 52 Shakti Peethams of India, where the various parts of Sati's body are said to have fallen, in the course of Shiva's Rudra Tandava. Kalighat represents the site where the toes of the right foot of Shakti or Sati fell. Dakshineswar Temple is renowned for its famous Kali Temple, located at the extreme north of Kolkata. This temple is associated with Shri Ramakrishna Paramhans Dev who had been an exponent of integration among different religions


4 MARCH KOLKATA - SUNDERBAN
Depart Kolkata for Sunderban. Overnight: Sunderban Jungle Camp, Bali Island.

Pick up early from hotel and transfer to Godkhali jetty through beautiful countryside and rural bazaar with stopovers at a local tea shop and fishermen’s villages. Arrive at Godkhali. Transfer to our motorized boat. Briefing and interpretation by our local guide cum naturalist followed by 2 hours spectacular cruise through river Hogol, Gomor, Durgaduani and Gumdi. Optional stopover at Gosaba - one of the earliest human settlements of Sunderban to visit the house of Sir Danniel Hamilton, a Scottish banker who introduced agriculture and initiated the first co-operative movement of India here. Arrive at Bali Island and check in into Sunderban Jungle Camp. Lunch followed by 3 hours birding and game cruise to Sudhanyakhali watch tower through creeks and canals.


5 MARCH SUNDERBAN

Whole day in Sunderban. Overnight: Sunderban Jungle Camp, Bali Island.

Depart early, followed by a full day game cruise and birding tour to Netidhopani and Dobanki watch towers. Lunch will be served on board.


6 MARCH SUNDERBAN - KOLKATA
Morning safaris at Sunderban, then transfer to Kolkata. Overnight: Kolkata.

Guided village Walk in which participants are encouraged to have a close interaction with the local villagers and their livelihood, Local craft and cuisines, Indigenous farming and household equipments used by the villagers. Guided adventures cruise by manually oared country boat. Arrive at Godkhali and transfer to Kolkata by car.


7 MARCH KOLKATA - SHILLONG (via GUWAHATI by air)

Depart early for Shillong by first flying to Guwahati and then driving to Shillong (3 hrs). Overnight: Shillong.

GUWAHATI: Situated on the southern bank of the River Brahmaputra in the Kamrup District of Assam, is a fast growing premier city. It is the gate way to the North Eastern States of India and a principal center of socio cultural, political, industrial and trade and commerce of the entire region. Dispur, the capital of Assam is a part of Guwahati. In earlier years, this city was full of areca nut trees rappled by pan creepers. Hence this city subsequently got the name Guwahati. The word “Guwa” in Assamese means areca nut and “hat” means market.

Kamakhya Temple: Drive up Nilachal Hill to see the holy Kamakhya temple, the foremost shrine of Assam. Kamakhya Temple dominates Guwahati, as much as the great Brahmaputra river. Kamakhya is an ancient seat of Tantric and shakti cults of Hinduism. With its tantric rites and animal sacrifice, the more squeamish among us may prefer to content themselves with the exteriors.

Sualkuchi : Located on the banks of the Brahmaputra, 1-hr drive north of Guwahati, Sualkuchi is a weaving village that produces some of the best silk textiles in the state. This sleepy little village exudes a charm like no other. Almost every house has an adjacent shed (karkhana) that houses the traditional bamboo looms, the gentle click-clacking of which can be heard from the streets. You can walk into any of the numerous karkhanas and observe the talented weavers giving birth to intricate patterns on the golden Muga silk. In the early years of the 20th century, Sualkuchi was developed as a “crafts village”. Most of the funds for this development work came from eminent Gandhians across the country who responded to the “back to the villages” slogan of Gandhiji’s swadeshi drive. Although the weaving industry of Sualkuchi remained almost confined within the tanti community till the 1930’s with encouragement from the government, people from other communities have taken up silk weaving. There are about 17000 silk looms presently working in Sualkuchi producing an eclectic range of silk products. Most of Sualkuchi’s silk is woven into mekhela-chadar and gamosas. Owing to the increasing demand from other parts of the country, the weavers of Sualkuchi have diversified to saris, shawls and dress material. The silk weaving of Sualkuchi provides direct and indirect employment to more than 25,000 people throughout the year. The large number of looms and the ever increasing output from them has earned Sualkuchi the moniker “Manchester of the East”.

Hajo: The meeting point of Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu faiths on the northern bank of river Brahmaputra, has a number of temples The chief among them being the Hayagrib Madhab Temple – a place of pilgrimage both for the Hindus and the Buddhists. Hajo’s bell-metal work is renowned for the interesting artifacts made by the local craftsmen.


SHILLONG: Shillong, capital of the state of Meghalaya as well as district headquarters of East Khasi Hills District. The name Shillong is derived from U-Shyllong, a powerful deity, and is situated at an altitude of 1,491m above sea level. This beautiful city is 103kms from Guwahati, the nearest air and train link. The presence of many well reputed educational institutions, many of them by missionary groups make Shillong the hub of education for the entire north-east. Meghalaya, swaddled amidst wraith-like mists is aptly called “the abode of clouds”. It is one of India’s prettiest states inhabited by the Khasis, Jaintias and Garos. It is known for its matrilineal society, which governs lineage and ancestral inheritance through the female line. It stands out for its traditional and natural beauty among the other states. Its historical strengths have been irreversibly linked with its superlative natural setting.


8 MARCH SHILLONG – DAWKI (Umngot River) – MAWLYYNONG – SHILLONG
Full day excursion to Dwaki by road (3 hrs) & boating in the crystal clear Umngot River. Then drive to Mawllynong (1 hr) and visit the 53 ft (16 m) living root bridge, locally known as 'Jingkieng Deingjri' which means 'bridge of the rubber tree,' this bridge is remarkable in that it is more than a 100 years old. Late afternoon drive back to Shillong (3 hrs). Overnight: Shillong.

Mawlynnong is a village of 75 households with a population of 400. An idyllic location, this village epitomizes a standard, which all other villages need to aspire to be. Dubbed the cleanest village in India by Discover India Magazine, the primary Village School till class V boasts of no dropout record and the village has a 90 % literacy rate. Paved walkways and beautiful flowerbed all along mark the village, with waterfalls, a living root bridge, hilly rivulets, acacia plantation and an excellent view of the faraway plains of Bangladesh all contribute to the ambience of this village. Farming of betel nut & leaves, broomsticks and pepper along with bee rearing are the primary economic activity of this Village and with the village headman himself taking the responsibility of making visitors comfortable, a day in this village gives an insight into the life of the Khasis, the influence of the Church and its metamorphosis.


9 MARCH: SHILLONG
Spend the day sightseeing in and around Shillong. Overnight: Shillong.

DBCIC (Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Culture) is the largest of its kind in Asia. It is a centre where you can see, learn and experience the diverse culture of all the states of North East India under one roof. Overnight at Shillong. Note: DBCIC Museum remains closed on Sundays.

Smit Village is the seat of Khasi Royalty and tradition located in Mawryngkneng of East Khasi Hills district. It is the traditional seat of power of the Hima Khyrim, a sub-tribe of the Khasis. The Smit plateau has mesmerizing pine trees and charming cottages. Enjoy a village walk to get acquainted to their lifestyle. A traditional wooden house, the Ling Shad, built without any metal nails, exemplifies the traditional Khasi architecture. It belongs to the King of the Khyrim and is believed to be more than 100 years old.

Laitlum Canyon offers a magnificent view of the Khasi Hills.

10 MARCH: SHILLONG to GUWAHATI by road and start Bhramaputra River Cruise
Depart early and drive to Guwahati, and embark on your ship ABN Charaidew for our four-night cruise. Cruise downstream to an overnight stop close to the south bank village of Vijaynagar. Today is the color festival of Holi, celebrated all over the country. Overnight: On board ABN Charaidew.


11 MARCH: On Cruise
After breakfast, disembark and explore a riverside village on foot. Cruise upstream to the little town of Sualkuchi, loud with the clatter of looms, and visit its silk-weaving workshops on foot. We shall see the whole process of silk manufacture, from cocoon and spinning to dyeing and hand-weaving into exquisite mekhela chadars (a two-piece sari, the traditional attire of Assamese women). Later, drive to Hajo – a place sacred to Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists – and visit a hilltop Muslim shrine with far-reaching views over the surrounding rural landscape; a simple Hindu temple with its frieze of elephants; and a sacred tank full of great carp, catfish and turtles. Reboard the ship and cruise to an overnight mooring near the Saraighat War Memorial. Overnight: On board ABN Charaidew.


12 MARCH: On Cruise
This morning, cruise upstream and disembark at Pandu docks to go on a short sightseeing tour of the city of Guwahati. Drive up Nilachal Hill to see the holy Kamakhya temple. With its tantric rites and animal sacrifice, the more squeamish among us may prefer to content themselves with its exteriors. Visit the poignant Commonwealth War Graves cemetery as well as a shop selling local crafts. Cross by country boat to the mid-stream Peacock Island with its population of Golden Langurs before reboarding and cruising for about 1.5 hours to Kurua in the north bank. Overnight: On board ABN Charaidew.


13 MARCH: On Cruise
Cruise upstream past jungle-covered hills and turn into the Mayong River. Then, take a
country boat for a kilometre or two to the roadhead from where we drive to Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. This small park has a dense population of the Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros, and we shall be unlucky if we do not spot some of these armoured beasts on a jeep safari around the park. Return to the ship in the afternoon and cruise to a riverside village, which you can explore on foot. Later, sail down to spend the last night close to the picturesque Aswaklanta Temple on the north bank opposite Guwahati.
Overnight: On board ABN Charaidew.


14 MARCH: On Cruise – Disembark Guwahati & Guwahati – Kolkata

Cruise down to Saraighat Bridge. Disembark after breakfast and transfer to Guwahati airport to board the flight to Kolkata (1800/1910). Thereafter straight away proceed to International terminal to board the connecting international flight for home town.


15 MARCH: Arrive Mexico
Arrive today into Mexico.

End of services offered by Spiritual Journeys, Inc.

HOTELS ENVISAGED:

City Hotel, Room Type
No of nights
Review
Kolkata The Oberoi, Deluxe
2 + 1
Sunderban Sunderban Tiger Camp, Tent
2
Shillong Ri Kynjai Resort, Superior
3
Cruise ABN Charaidew, Cabin
4

 

COSTS:
For group of minimum 15 people all arriving, traveling and departing together, 2-people sharing one twin share room, or one person in a single room, all US$ per person.

Tour, per person
Main Deck (4 Cabins, one QUEEN bed)
Upper Deck (12 Cabins, two SINGLE beds)
Upper Deck, Luxury (2 Cabins, one KING bed)
Shared, 2 people per cabin
5,990.00
6,190.00
Sold Out
Single, own Cabin
7,300.00
7,700.00
Sold Out

TOUR PRICE INCLUDES:
• Accommodation as per above itinerary in twin share/double rooms/cabins,
• Tours and transfers as specified including entry fees, on a private basis in an air-conditioned vehicle,
• Services of an accompanying Spanish speaking guide throughout tour,
• All flights in economy class,
• All breakfasts and lunches, and dinners while on board, but drinks are not included, and,
• Current applicable VAT Government tax and services charge.

TOUR PRICES EXCLUDES:
• International airfares and taxes, unless otherwise specified,
• Visa expenses, processing and issuance fees,
• Meals other than specified as included,
• Travel Insurance or expenses of a personal nature (mini-bar, phone call, laundry, etc.),
• Tips or gratuities to guides/drivers/porters / hotel, restaurant or boat staff, etc.,
• Drinks or personal expenses or entrance fees for any extra sightseeing or optional activities,
• Hotel early check- in and late check-out, and,
• Optional tour(s).

Registration:  Please use our Registration Form to register, and pay either the deposit or your payment by going to our secure system at Pay Now.

Additional Information: Please e-mail Deepak Singh (English) or Adrianna Castelazo (Spanish) or telephone Deepak Singh at +1-508-358-4267.