North East of India

Orissa, Kolkata and a 7-night cruise on the Lower Ganga

8 to 25 March 2022

Temples in Orissa are perhaps the most powerful tantric temples in India, spend a few days in Kolkata, then spend seven nights onboard Assam Bengal Navigation’s “MV Rajmahal" plying the River Hooghly, or Lower Ganga.

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

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ABN Rajmahal entered service in 2014. Her extra-shallow draught and a lower profile than conventional designs allow her to cruise further upstream than any of her competitors. All 22 air-conditioned cabins have French balconies. The colonial elegance décor is brought to life by traditional Indian-inspired designs. There is a comfortable saloon and bar, dining room and a vast canopied sundeck. A small spa onboard offers a wide range of treatments. All cabins and public rooms are air-conditioned. Food on board is a mixture of Assamese and Continental cuisines. Wines, beer and spirits are available.

The Spanish speaking 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 lead the English speaking tour. We will all be traveling together. Play the joyous and colourful festival of Holi while on board.


We will have both Spanish and English speaking guides accompanying us throughout the tour

ITINERARY
Map of this area
(https://goo.gl/maps/KFTDgUwg8DbwdVhE9). Zoom in or out to change details. (The shown route is by road. We will be flying across the longer distances).

March 8. Departure from The Americas
Leave the Americas this afternoon. Overnight: On board your flight.


March 9. Departure from Europe / Arrival into Kolkata
Leave Europe this morning. Arrive Kolkata late today. Spiritual Journeys representative will welcome you at the airport, and escort you to your hotel. Overnight: Kolkata.


March 10. Kolkata.
Full day of sightseeing in Kolkata. Overnight: Kolkata.

There is much to see in Kolkata, but highlights include a visit to the Kalighat Temple. The name Calcutta is said to have been derived from the word Kalighat. This 350-year temple is dedicated to Goddess Kaali the presiding guardian deity of the city and one of the principal deities of Bengal. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, the second priest in-charge of this temple, was the guru of Swami Vivekananda. Kalighat is regarded as one of the 52 Shakti Peethams of India, where various parts of Shakti's body are said to have fallen, in the course of Shiva's (an important Hindu God) Rudra Tandava. The idol of Kali is made of black stone and it is decorated with gold and silver, and that of Lord Shiva is made in silver. Kalighat represents the site where the toes of the right foot fell. Kalighat Temple is located on the Kalighat by the side of Tolly’s Nullah on the banks of the river Hooghly (Bhagirathi).

Belur Math is set attractively amid palms and manicured lawns, this religious centre spread over 40 acres is the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission, inspired by 19th-century Indian sage Ramakrishna Paramahansa who preached the unity of all religions. A dual-level museum charts Ramakrishna’s life and the travels of his great disciple Swami Vivekananda. The structure incorporates the architectural motifs of a Hindu temple, a Buddhist chaitya, a Christian church and an Islamic mosque. The windows and balconies are Islamic while the temple façade is Hindu. The significance of religious fraternity in one homogenous structure cannot be missed by the devotee.

March 11. Kolkata.
Full day of sightseeing in Kolkata. Overnight: Kolkata.

A visit to Kolkata would be incomplete without a visit to the Mother’s Home. This houses Mother St. Teresa’s Mission and Mother House, including her tomb. Here experience the serenity of the place and learn about her religious and philanthropic work. A small adjacent museum room has her worn sandals and battered enamel dinner bowl on display. Her starkly simple living quarters are also preserved at an upper floor.

Dakshineswar Kali Temple is dedicated to Goddess Bhavatarini, a form of Goddess Kali, this beautiful and vibrant riverside Hindu temple complex was built by Rani Rasmoni, a pious lady from an aristocratic background. She purchased a huge plot of land beside the Hoogly river and established the Kali temple in 1855 in the traditional nava-ratna (9 spires) style of Bengal architecture, at the heart of which is a cream-and-red Kali Temple shaped like an Indian Sacré-Coeur. The site is where Shri Ramakrishna started his remarkable spiritual journey and where he was head priest, and his small room in the outer northwest corner of the temple precinct is now a place of special meditative reverence. Along with the main Kali temple, there are twelve temples of lord Shiva in his twelve different names. The temple construction follows the typical architectural pattern of Bengal. Lord Sri Ramakrishna was the famous priest of this temple, after his elder brother. He resided here with his wife Sri Ma Sarada Devi and it was a place of gathering for his devotees. This place is not just a temple, but a place where a great spiritual revolution took place during the 19th Century.


March 12. Kolkata - Bhubaneswar
Fly to Bhubaneswar the capital of the East Indian state of Odisha, on the east coast of the country, this morning. Upon arrival, visit the Lingaraj Temple, a Hindu temple dedicated to Harihara, one of the reincarnations of Shiva and one of the oldest temples of Bhubaneswar. The temple is the most prominent landmark and largest temple of the Bhubaneswar city and the state, and largest in Bhubaneswar. Overnight: Bhubaneswar.


March 13. Bhubaneswar

Start the day with a visit to Ratnagiri and the Lalitgiri archaeological sites, these hills are home to the ruins of the most unique Buddhist monastery in the world.

Later visit the caves of Udaygiri: The hills of Udaygiri are an important place in the archaeological history of India. Of the 18 caves, Hathigumpha (the Elephant Cave) is the most important. The caves here are decorated with statues, tiles and picture series that represent love stories and war legends. The other caves provide Jain legends, myths and icons. Overnight: Bhubaneswar.


March 14. Bhubaneswar - Konark - Pipli – Puri
After breakfast we drive to Konark, home of the Sun Temple (2 hrs), a splendid temple dating from the 13th century. On the beach is Surya, the Sun God, immortalized in stone as he hurries along the sky in a magnificent carriage. With its 12 some huge carved in stone wheels and seven horses, which pull with all his strength the heavy weight, the sun is often - referred to as the peak of Kalinga architecture - based on these stone sculptures.

Later drive to Pipli, famous all over the world for its appliqué work. Pipili most well known for its handicraft is near Puri. The Craft involves embroidering and stitching small pieces of colored cloth with flowers, animals, village scene and traditional designs on to a larger base cloth. The cloth used for patch as well as base is cotton with different color combinations. This appliqué patchwork is commonly used to make garden umbrellas, wallets, wall hangings, lampshades, pouches & bags.

Continue onto Puri on the east coast of the country. Puri is an important city in Orissa, about an hour’s drive from Bhubaneswar. Beautiful wide beaches, fish farms and beautiful resorts are an attraction for tourists from all over the world. For the Hindus, Puri is an important temple town because of the famous temple of the deity Jagannath. Overnight: Puri.


March 15. Puri
Today we visit a fishing village and experience the simple and difficult village life. In the locality, visit Jagannath Temple, which will be viewed from a platform because non-Hindus are not allowed inside this active temple. Visit a pottery village where we experience potters at work in their homes. The pottery is exclusively intended for use in the Jagannath Temple. In the afternoon, visit an artists' village Raghurajpur known for their paintings, carvings, paper masks and paintings on coconut. Overnight: Puri.


March 16. Bhubaneswar – Kolkata
Morning at leisure allowing you to relax. We then drive to Bhubaneswar airport in time for our flight to Kolkata. Overnight: Kolkata.


March 17. Kolkata - Board MV Rajmahal
Transfer from your hotel to embark your 7-night cruise on the Lower Hooghly by midday. Sail past the old Danish colony of Serampore to Barrackpore. Land and take a walk through the cantonment – past the Semaphore Tower, Government House, the Temple of Fame and Flagstaff House – to get a better understanding of India's journey to independence. Sail up to Chandernagore, a French possession until 1950. Overnight: MV Rajmahal.

March 18. On board MV Rajmahal
In the morning we will play Holi, my all time favourite festival of the many festivals of India. Later visit the 18th century church and Dupleix’s House, the erstwhile Governor-General of French India. Sail upstream past the old Dutch settlement of Chinsura before landing to visit the imposing Imambara at Hooghly. With verses from the Koran written on its walls, the Imambara is an opportunity to step back in time and relive a slice of Islamic history in Bengal. Sail into the night to a mooring near Kalna. Overnight: MV Rajmahal.

March 19. On board MV Rajmahal
After breakfast, land at the country town of Kalna and take rickshaws to see a group of some of Bengal’s most attractive terracotta temples, the unique Shiva temple with concentric rings made up of 108 shrinelets, and a muslin-weaving centre. Continue on through the countryside to Mayapur to visit the vast new ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) temple which dominates the skyline. As the headquarters of ISKCON or the Hare Krishna movement, the temple receives over a million singing and dancing devotees a year from around the world. Sail on through the night to a mooring near Matiari. Overnight: MV Rajmahal.

March 20. On board MV Rajmahal
This morning visit the brass-working village of Matiari, a charming riverside village. Interact with the locals of Matiari and witness the whole primitive process of beating out brass water pots and other vessels. Later, cruise on and visit the battlefield of Plassey where, in 1757, Robert Clive, the Commander-in-Chief of British India, defeated Siraj-ud-Daulah, the last independent Nawab of Bengal, to change the course of Indian history. Moor close to Khushbagh for the night. Overnight: MV Rajmahal.

March 21. On board MV Rajmahal
This morning, walk to the Khushbagh, a peaceful Mughal-style garden that encloses the tombs of Siraj-ud-Daulah – the last independent Nawab of Bengal – and his family. Continue a little way upstream to where the great Hazarduari Palace dominates the waterfront. Built by an English architect in 1837, the palace hosts an extensive collection of pictures, china, weapons and other objects. Carry on to visit the great Katra Mosque before driving out to see the Katgola Palace. Built in classical Georgian style by rich local merchants, Katgola Palace represents the other side of the coin of the 'White Mughal' period when English and Indian cultures came close to fusion. Moor overnight on the riverbank across from town at Baranagar. Overnight: MV Rajmahal.

March 22. On board MV Rajmahal
This morning, walk through the fields of the delightfully sleepy village of Baranagar to visit its three gorgeous miniature terracotta temples. This is rural India at its most idyllic. Continue up the lower Ganges (or the Hooghly), which transforms into a charming waterway twisting and turning between banks lined with mustard fields and mango orchards. Carry on up a long canal section to a mooring close to the Farakka Barrage. Overnight: MV Rajmahal.

March 23. On board MV Rajmahal
Disembark and go on a full-day excursion by road to Gaur, near the town of Malda, or English Bazaar. This quiet, deserted place was once one of India’s great cities, first under the Hindus in 12th century, then as the Muslim capital of Eastern India from the 14th to the 16th century. There are plentiful remains of mosques, palaces and gateways and you visit a number of the most interesting before rejoining the ship in the evening. Overnight: MV Rajmahal.

March 24. Disembark MV Rajmahal, drive to Kolkata, and departure
Disembark and transfer to Farakka train station in the morning for your train journey (4 hrs) to Kolkata. Our representatives will meet you when you arrive and transfer you to the airport for your onward flight. Overnight: On board your flight.

March 25. Arrival Home
Arrive back into Europe this morning, and The Americas this evening.

End of services offered by Spiritual Journeys, Inc.

HOTELS ENVISAGED:

City Hotel, Room Type
No of nights
Review
Kolkata The Oberoi, Deluxe
3 + 1
Bhubaneswar Not Determined
2
 
Puri Not Determined
2
 
Cruise ABN Rajmahal,Cabin
7

 

COSTS:
US Dollar, per person, with MINIMUM 15 guests with the entire ship chartered by us. If we have 14 or fewer passengers, we will NOT charter the ship, and we will have others on board.

Tour, per person
Main Deck (4 Cabins, two SINGLE beds)
Upper Deck (14 Cabins, two SINGLE beds)
Main Deck (4 Cabins, one SINGLE bed, cabins are smaller)
Shared, 2 people per cabin
7,360.00
7,960.00
Not Available
Single, own Cabin
10,215.00
10,815.00
10,215.00

TOUR PRICE WOULD INCLUDE:
• 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 as well as an English 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 PRICE WOULD EXCLUDE:
• 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).

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In addition to the main tour, a short optional tour for those who would like to visit Jaipur (Palaces and Fort) and Agra (home of the Taj Mahal).


Palaces & the Taj
Map of this area (https://goo.gl/maps/S9QNfXoat562). Map shows all travel by road, but Jaipur/Kolkata would be by air.


March 3: DEPART THE AMERICAS
Depart this evening from The Americas for India. Overnight: On board your aircraft.


March 4: ARRIVE DELHI
Depart Europe. Representatives of SJI will meet you as you exit Delhi’s international air port and transfer you to your hotel. Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight: Le Meridien, Delhi.


March 5: DELHI
Spend the day sightseeing in Delhi. Overnight: Le Meridien, Delhi.

Visit Humayun’s Tomb built by Haji Begum, the widow of the second Mughal Emperor, Humayun’s, nine years after his death and took eight years to complete. It is designed by the Persian architect Misak Mirza Ghiyaz. Octagonal in shape, raised on a plinth, with double domes, high arches, laid in the centre of a large walled enclosure, the monument is an imposing structure, The Qutub Minar – Delhi’s landmark, 73 mtr. Tall victory tower was started by Qutub-ud-din Aibak, the first Muslim ruler in 1193 but could finish only the 1st storey of sand stones. Iltutmish succeeding him added 2nd& 3rd floor in sand stone and later in 1368 Firoz Shah Tughlak constructed 4th& 5th storey in both sand stone and marble. Delhi’s most curious antique, the uncorroded Iron Pillar, which dates back to the 4th century AD.

Drive past Rashtrapati Bhavan – The house that houses the President of India and the house that boasts of having welcomed the most powerful men in history. The Rashtrapati Bhavan was designed by Edwin Lutyens and built in 1931, to be the central point of the British power in Delhi, and the Secretariat Buildings – the centre of Government activity, down the impressive Rajpath (the main avenue), to the World War I memorial arch, India Gate, the High Court Building and the Old Fort, India Gate – Sir Edwin Lutyens designed this war memorial to 90,000 Indian soldiers who died on the North-west Frontiers during World War I. The Duke of Connaught laid the foundation in 1921 and was completed in 10 years. Time permitting, visit a Sikh place of worship.

 

March 6: DELHI TO AGRA
Depart by road to Agra (4 hrs). Spend rest of day sightseeing and shopping in Agra, visiting Agra Fort where Shah Jehan spent the last years of his life, imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb. The most impressive part of the Fort are the Dewan-eAm, Hall of Public Audience where the Emperor met officials and listened to petitioners, and the Dewan-e-Khas Hall of Private Audience where he received foreign dignitaries. The Peacock throne (now in Iran) was in this fort, before being moved to Delhi by Emperor Aurangzeb. Overnight: Double Tree by Hilton, Agra.


March 7: AGRA – FATEHPUR SIKRI – JAIPUR

Sightseeing in Agra then drive to Jaipur via Fathepur Sikri. Overnight: Hilton, Jaipur.

Before dawn, visit the spectacular Taj Mahal - the most extravagant monument ever built for love. On the death of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, Moghul Emperor Shah Jehan built her this memorial over which 20,000 men laboured for 22 years to create a masterpiece in white marble inlaid with semi precious stones; the art is called pietra dura. Stroll down the ornamental gardens laid out along the classical Mughal charbagh lines. This garden is separated by a long watercourse, which reflects the monument in perfect symmetry (closed on Fridays). Return to your hotel for breakfast, then drive to Jaipur (6 hrs) via Fathepur Sikri.

In its imposing red sandstone structure lies the city of Fathepur Sikri envisioned by Emperor Akbar only to be abandoned a mere fourteen years later due to water scarcity.

March 8: JAIPUR
Spend a day of sightseeing. Overnight: Hilton, Jaipur.

Compare the city of Old Delhi with the city of Jaipur, a city unique amongst its medieval contemporaries. The streets, palaces, temples, residences, shopping place are all in accordance to the ancient Hindu rules of Vastu Shastra. The pink wash was added in 1853 in honour of the visit of Prince Albert. Perched atop the hill looking down majestically is the Amber fort. We ride up into the palace astride elephants just like the Maharajas of yore. The plain and time worn exteriors belie the exquisite detail with which the interiors were crafted with a gentle breeze which cools the interiors. In the famed Sheesh Mahal look up and be prepared to feel a surge of color as the optical effect makes you a part of this royal past. In the city, drive past Hawa Mahal, where again notice the jails. The Maharaja's City Palace, much of which has been converted into a museum covers almost one-seventh area of the city in a fortified unit. Here the Armoury Museum housing an impressive array of weaponry-pistols, blunderbusses, flintlocks, swords, rifles and daggers. Become one with the planetary bodies at Jantar Mantar, the largest stone and marble crafted observatory in the world. Jaipur is also an interesting place for those interested in jewelry, clothes, carpets and other handicrafts items. The city is a veritable paradise for those seeking souvenirs of the craftsmanship of Rajasthan.


March 9: JAIPUR – KOLKATTA (By Air)
Immediately after breakfast, depart by air to Kolkatta. Upon arrival, join rest of the group in your hotel in Kolkatta, and start main tour. Overnight: Kolkatta.

~ ~ End of Pre-Tour as Arranged by Spiritual Journeys, Inc ~ ~

 

COSTS: US $ per person (in addition to the Main Tour, above):
One person, staying in one single room: $ 1,420.00 per person
Two people, staying in one twin share room: $ 1,910.00 per person


COST WOULD INCLUDE:
• Accommodation as per above itinerary in either single or twin share/double rooms,
• Tours and transfers as specified including entry fees, in a private air-conditioned vehicle,
• The services of an accompanying Spanish and English speaking guide throughout tour,
• All flights in economy class,
• All breakfasts, and,
• Current applicable VAT Government tax and services charge.


COST WOULD EXCLUDE:
• 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.