North East of India
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.
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.
8. Departure from The Americas
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
18. On board MV Rajmahal
19. On board MV Rajmahal
20. On board MV Rajmahal
21. On board MV Rajmahal
22. On board MV Rajmahal
23. On board MV Rajmahal
24. Disembark MV Rajmahal, drive to Kolkata, and departure
25. Arrival Home
End of services offered by Spiritual Journeys, Inc.
PRICE WOULD INCLUDE:
PRICE WOULD EXCLUDE:
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).
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.
6: DELHI TO AGRA
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.
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.
~ ~ End of Pre-Tour as Arranged by Spiritual Journeys, Inc ~ ~
US $ per person (in addition to the Main Tour, above):