India – A Photographer’s Paradise – 14 Days from $6,788pp* February 2018 Escorted by David Benson

India is a photographer’s paradise!

There are photographic opportunities on every street corner. On this tour you will be exposed to the colours of Rajasthan with women in their colourful sarees, the crowded bazaars and the imposing palaces and forts.

In Varanasi, the most famous holy place in India, you will not stop taking shots of the sights & rituals along the banks of the Ganges River.

Join David Benson on this fantastic tour. David will escort this tour providing coaching, hints & tips on how to get that “shot of a lifetime.”

David has been a keen photographer for over 50 years and turned professional 32 years ago. David managed one of Kodak’s Mini Labs for 11 years before branching out on his own opening a camera store at Avoca Beach on the NSW Central Coast.

David then devoted his time doing weddings, winning several awards from the Australian Institute of Professional Photography. He also does commercial shots for major magazines and maintains his love of  landscape photography.

David recently spent a month in India and after experiencing this exotic country and the stunning scenery, wants to share his experiences with fellow travellers on this 12 Days tour of  North India.

Before you depart, he will also available to advise you what is the best camera equipment to take with you for this tour.

 David will be on hand offering tips & hints and coaching you  to help you take that shot of a lifetime.

Itinerary

Day 1 : Arrive Delhi

After clearing Customs and Immigration, step into the receiving area, where our representative will meet you and escort you to the hotel.

Overnight at the hotel

Day 2 : Delhi (B)

Delhi is a dynamic city where the past coexists with the present. While historic evidence shows that the area around Delhi was first occupied around 2,500 years ago, Hindu mythology predates that by another 500 years. The British captured the city in 1803 and when they decided to make it the capital of India in 1911, they commissioned Sir Edwin Lutyens to draw up the plans. The result is slightly surprising with spacious tree-lined avenues punctuated with architecture which is among the most striking in the world.

On the tour of “Old Delhi,” you will head out to explore this exotic locale with its narrow dirt roads, myriads of people and inexpensive and colorful bazaars that keep alive the traditional workmanship for which Delhi has always been famous. We stop first at the Gandhi Memorial (Raj Ghat), the simple black marble slab honoring India’s beloved Mahatma Gandhi.  The political and spiritual leader of India’s independence movement, Gandhi was renowned for his advocacy of civil disobedience as a form of nonviolent resistance. Drive past the Red Fort, and visit the Jama Masjid, one of the largest Muslim mosques in India.

A bicycle rickshaw will take you into the heart of Chandni Chowk (the silver square – so named because of the silver merchants). 

Drive past India Gate, a 42-metre archway built in memory of Indian soldiers killed during the First World War and Rashtrapati Bhawan, built in the early 20th century as the Imperial residence of the Viceroy.  Today, it is the official residence of the President of India. 

We continue on to see Qutub Minar, one of Delhi’s most visited and striking monuments.  Sultan Qutb al-Din Aibak laid the foundation for the monument after defeating the last Hindu Kingdom in 1200 CE.  With a height of 240 feet, this red stone tower ranks as the highest brick minaret in the world.

Overnight at the hotel (B)

Day 3 : Delhi to Jodhpur by flight then drive to Nagaur (approx. 3.5 hours drive)

After breakfast, transfer to Delhi airport to connect with flight to Jodhpur. On arrive drive to Nagaur, site of the camel fair – and also the source of the Makarana marble used to build the Taj Mahal.  Thanks to its central location on the edge of the Thar Desert, Nagaur has long served as a crossroads for livestock traders and merchants, a role it continues to play today.

Early this evening we reach our deluxe tented camp (our individual two-person tents have well-appointed beds, electricity, and attached private bath with shower), where we enjoy a cultural show of music and dance before joining other camp guests for dinner in the large dining tent decorated with colorful Rajasthani fabrics.

Overnight at the tented camp (B, D)

Day 4 :Nagaur Fair

Today we encounter desert culture up close with both morning and afternoon visits to the Nagaur Fair, Rajasthan’s second largest.  Commonly referred to as the Cattle Fair, Nagaur is where Indians come from near and far to trade, parade, celebrate, and race oxen, camels, and cows.  It is a lively, colorful scene that is part bazaar and trade fair, part sporting event.

On a walking tour of the lively fair we see the Mirchi bazaar, where merchants sell wooden items, iron crafts, and leather goods; and storytellers and jugglers entertain along the streets.  We take a camel-cart ride to see some of the camel races, performances, and competitions that comprise the fair.  Mid-day we take a break and return to our camp for lunch before visiting Nagaur again this afternoon.

Overnight at tented camp (B, L, D)

Day 5 : Nagaur to Jaipur (approx. 6.5 hour drive)

This morning we leave Nagaur and drive to Jaipur, one of the great cities of the Rajput.  Jaipur was the home of India’s legendary Hindu warriors, whose historic forts, palaces, and gardens lend a timeless quality to this storied region.  Called the “pink city” for its buildings of rose-hued sandstone, Jaipur today retains the exquisite symmetry of its original construction, as well as the eight historic gates that protected the city centuries ago.  We reach our hotel here late this afternoon.

Overnight at the hotel (B)

Day 6 : Jaipur

Jaipur was the home of India’s legendary Hindu warriors, whose historic forts, palaces, and gardens lend a timeless quality to this storied region.  Called the “pink city” for its buildings of rose-hued sandstone, Jaipur today retains the exquisite symmetry of its original construction, as well as the eight historic gates that protected the city centuries ago.  We stop first today at Hawa Mahal, the elaborately carved “Palace of the Winds,” whose pink sandstone façade allowed the ladies of the court to view the streets of the city from behind its 953 small windows – and also allowed cooling breezes to enter.  We continue on to Amber Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built by the Kachhawah Rajputs as their capital from 1037 to 1728 and considered the pinnacle of Rajput architecture.  We tour the unoccupied citadel this morning, approaching by jeep to admire the fresco-covered portal, the impressive room of mirrors, walls of jewel-encrusted marble, and the royal apartments offering beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding valleys.

We continue on to Jantar Mantar, the incredible open-air Royal Observatory (ca. 1728) housing oversized astronomical instruments and a UNESCO World Heritage Site; and City Palace, former residence of the Maharajas of Jaipur, built in the shape of the city itself and now converted to a museum that houses the rulers’ magnificent art collections.

Overnight at the hotel (B)

Day 7 : Jaipur to Agra via Fatehpur Sikri

This morning we drive to Agra en route visiting Fatehpur Sikri, the Capital of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. The fortress is a UNESCO world heritage site and is built entirely of red sandstone.  The tomb of the revered saint Salim Chisti is built in pristine white marble and stands in stunning contrast to the red sandstone. View the exquisite filigreed marble lattice work and mother of pearl interior.  This deserted sandstone city was the glorious but ephemeral capital during Akbar’s reign. Lying on a rocky ridge, this fortress is today a haunting complex with empty palaces, forts and mosques representing a variety of architectural styles.  You often wonder how these ancient fortresses must have come alive with music, laughter, beautiful courtesans and the color and pomp of royalty!

We continue on to the ancient Mughal stronghold of Agra, arriving in the afternoon.

Later, we proceed to visit the Itimad-ud-Daulah, often called the “Baby Taj,” the two-story marble mausoleum that inspired the Taj Mahal.  Following our stop here, we get a preview of tomorrow’s excitement as we view the Taj Mahal from Mehtab Bagh, an idyllic garden complex located directly across the Yamuna River from the fabled mausoleum.

Overnight at the hotel (B)

Day 8 : Agra

Early this morning we savor a travel highlight as we embark on a tour of the Taj Mahal, the magnificent tomb of white marble built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz, who had implored her husband to build a monument symbolizing their undying love for each other.  Some 20,000 laborers and artisans from around the world spent 22 years constructing what became Mumtaz’s mausoleum, which was begun in 1632.  Along with its exquisite symmetry, the Taj features striking examples of pietra dura, a decorative art in which craftsmen embed precisely cut semi-precious stones in marble to form dazzling patterns. Return to hotel for breakfast. 

Thereafter, visit the Agra Fort – Few forts in the world has a more fascinating story to tell than the Great Fort of Agra. Originally planned as an impregnable military structure by Akbar, the Agra Fort, over a period of time, acquired all the elegance, lavishness and majesty of an imperial palace. Situated 3 km upstream of the Taj Mahal on the right bank of the Yamuna, it took eight years to complete and entailed an expenditure of three and a half million rupees. 

In the evening, we will return to the Taj Mahal for sunset.

Overnight at the hotel (B)

Day 9 : Agra to Varanasi by flight.

After relaxed breakfast, check-out and transfer to Agra airport to connect with flight to Varanasi.

Varanasi is a holy city. Like Jerusalem, Rome, and Athens, Varanasi is one of the world’s ancient living cities.  It is the center of Hindu culture; like Jerusalem it is seen as a holy land and has survived the centuries because of its sanctified place in Indian religious life. On arrival, check-in to the hotel and rest of the day is free at leisure.

Overnight at the hotel (B)

Day 10 : Varanasi

After breakfast, we proceed to visit Sarnath which is one of four holy Buddhist sites and an exceedingly tranquil place. It is the place where the enlightened Buddha gave his first sermon. Visit the Dhamek Stupa- built in 500 CE to commemorate the Buddha’s activities in this location. (Sarnath Museum is closed on Fridays). Return to the hotel.

In the evening, we take a boat ride in the holy River Ganges where you will witness the beautiful and captivating ‘Aarti’ ceremony’ at twilight. ‘Aarti’ is a Hindu religious ritual of worship, in which wicks soaked in ghee (purified butter) or camphor are offered to one or more deities. An absolute must see in Varanasi, the evening aarti is conducted every day at sunset by priests, worshiping the river goddess with incense, camphor, flowers and earthen lamps.

Overnight at the hotel (B)

Day 11 : Varanasi

We rise early this morning and take a boat ride on the Ganga past the ghats – an excellent photographic opportunity awaits us. Here, pilgrims gather on the steps that lead down to the river to bathe in the waters of the sacred river, as the city begins to come alive, in the magical misty light of dawn. Hindus believe that bathing in the Ganges at least once in a lifetime is both a duty and a privilege; it can help lead to the forgiveness of sin and the attainment of salvation.  We visit several of the important ghats by boat as we experience for ourselves the spiritual mystique of these hallowed waters.

Please note: Photography of the burning ghats (cremation ghats) is strictly prohibited. 

Return to the hotel for breakfast and afternoon is free at leisure.Var 

Banaras has been famous for its music, Gharana is a traditional style and way of teaching and performing Indian classical music. This style is many hundreds of years old and has been passed from master to student, from generation to generation. This afternoon visit to the home of Sitar Maestro who will play his traditional instruments.

From here we continue to explore the Ghats on foot to have the more photo opportunities.

Overnight at the hotel (B)

Day 12 : Varanasi to Delhi by flight

After breakfast, check-out and transfer to Varanasi airport to board the flight to Delhi. On arrival, check-in to the hotel near the Delhi airport.

Later visit the ultimate entertainment and leisure destination, sprawling across acres of land, the magnificent Kingdom of Dreams. Here, the carnival that is India is distilled into one iconic destination. This fabulous Kingdom brings to life a blend of India’s art, culture, heritage, craft, cuisine and performing art…all with the technological wizardry of today. In a world class theatre Nautanki Mahal, enter a world of entertainment that brings the best of Indian & International talent to create a Bollywood spectacle live on stage that is truly cinematic (Show starts at 1900 hrs. – timings & schedule are subject to change)

Overnight at the hotel (B)

Day 13 : Depart Delhi

After breakfast, transfer to Delhi airport to connect with flight to onward destination (room reserved till 12 noon)

(B)

*Inclusions:-

  • Return economy airfares flying Air India
  • Deluxe accommodation on a twin share basis
  • Transport in air conditioned vehicle with driver
  • All entrance fees at the monuments as per itinerary
  • Rickshaw ride in Old Delhi
  • Camel cart ride in Nagaur
  • Elephant ride in Jaipur
  • 2 visits to Taj Mahal
  • Sunrise & sunset boat ride on the Ganges River
  • Sitar, Table & Kathak dance performance in Varanasi
  • Gold Pass entry to Kingdom of Dreamsshow in New Delhi
  • Services of English speaking accompanying tour director from Day 1 till Day 8 and local guide in Varanasi
  • Mineral water each day
  • Assistance at the airports
  • All currently applicable taxes

Exclusions:-

  • Expenses of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, alcoholic beverages, camera/video camera fees at monuments, medical expenses etc.
  • Travel Insurance (strongly recommended
  • Tipping
  • Any meals or beverages not mentioned in the inclusions or itinerary
  • Any further taxes levied bty the Government of India

Notes: Prices are correct as at 18 May 2017 and subject to change without notice due to changes in currency fluctuations and Government taxes and increases in airline fuel surcharges.

*Terms & Conditions of Booking

 Booking Process:

 Deposit

To confirm your reservation a non refundable deposit of $440 per person is required at time of booking.

Balance Payment

The balance payment is due 90 days before departure, If booking within 90 days of departure full payment is required on confirmation.

Cancellation Policy

Should you need to cancel your booking, please advise us immediately in writing. Cancellation fees are applicable as follows:-

Cancel more than 60 days before departure                                 Loss of deposit

Cancel 59 – 45 days before departure                                           50% of tour cost

Cancel 44 days or less before departure                                       100% of tour cost

Comprehensive Travel Insurance Policy

It is a condition of this booking that guests have taken out a comprehensive travel insurance which includes cover for cancellation fees, medical expenses and emergency evacuation.

Please let me know if you like further information on  travel insurance.

India Tourist Visa

Guests travelling on Australian Passports require an India Tourist Visa. Please refer to www.vfs-in-au.net for information on India Visa Applications. We are more than happy to assist you with the visa application process.

Health & Vaccinations

Please refer to your doctor for advise on health and vaccinations precautions for the areas visited on this tour. Information is also available at www.traveldoctor.com.au .Note it is the guests responsibility to have the appropriate vaccinations.

This tour will require guests to have a reasonable level of fitness. Guests with any pre-existing illness or medical dietary requirements should consult their doctor to determine whether they are able to participate in the activities of this tour.

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