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Group Trip Kumbh Mela
This trip will focus on the Kumbh Mela, the biggest religious festival on our planet. Millions of hindus gather on the place where two of India’s most sacred rivers, the Ganga and the Yamuna, merge with the mythical Saraswati river. The devotion, colours and passion of the pilgrims during the Kumbh Mela, all of these are beyond the imagination of us, western people.
From 1 to 13 February 2013
€ 1,825 per person
This price includes:
✓ Return flight to Delhi
✓ Domestic flights
✓ Professional travel assistance
✓ Accommodation (double or twin rooms) + Breakfast
✓ English speaking guide
✓ All transport by comfortable minibus
✓ All excursions, as indicated in the program
This price does not include:
✓ All personal expenses, like phone bills, insurances, medical costs etc.
✓ Lunches and dinners
✓ Tips to drivers and hotel personnel
✓ Entrance fees and camera surcharges
Maximum 16 persons
[restab title=”The Trip in Detail”]
Group Trip Kumbh Mela, Day by Day
|Day 01: Arrival in Delhi||Day 02: Delhi|
|Day 03: Delhi to Jaipur||Day 04: Jaipur|
|Day 05: Jaipur to Agra||Day 06: Agra to Delhi|
|Day 07: Delhi to Varanasi||Day 08: Varanasi to Allahabad|
|Day 09: Allahabad, Kumbh Mela||Day 10: Allahabad, Kumbh Mela|
|Day 11: Allahabad to Khajuraho||Day 12: Khajuraho|
|Day 13: Khajuroha to Delhi, Back Home|
Group Trip Kumbh Mela, in Detail
Day 01 (1 February) – To Delhi
After arrival at Delhi airport you will be transferred to your hotel. Overnight stay in Delhi.
Day 02 (2 February) – Delhi
Today you will meet Delhi’s past, present and future. But do accept beforehand, that it will be impossible to catch 5,000 years of dazzling history in one day. You will do your utmost, naturally! But as the city screams for more space and all cars in the city do the same, travelling around takes time. You will start the day with a visit to Old Delhi, a bazaar-like part of the city, full of colours, people and action. But there are plenty of monuments as well: Red Fort, Jama Mashid, Sikh Temples and Raj Ghat (a simple memorial to Gandhi). In the afternoon you will visit Qutub Minar and Humayun’s Tomb before arriving in New Delhi, the modern part of the city, constructed by the British. Broad avenues, governmental buildings, art galleries and museums dominate the environment here. Quite a contrast with the old part, to say the least.
Day 03 (3 February) – Delhi to Jaipur (5 hours by car)
After an early morning breakfast you will depart for Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. Jaipur, also known as the pink city, has once again a completely different ambiance. Camels in the streets, the Thar desert around, very old buildings and lots of forts will give you an impression that you arrived in a world of foregone times.
Day 04 (4 February) – Jaipur
Discover Amber Fort, probably the best example of Rajput architecture in India. Feel like a Maharaja and climb the hill to this fort on the back of an elephant. Around town are more forts worth visiting, Tiger Fort and Jaigarh Fort to mention two, both offer great views of the city and the surrounding desert. The old city of Jaipur, with the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds), City Palace, Jantar Mantar (observatory) and numerous small shops is also worth exploring. And in the evening you could visit Raj Mandir, one of the biggest cinemas in India, to watch a Bollywood movie.
Day 05 (5 February) – Jaipur to Agra with visit to Fatehpur Sikri (5 hours by car)
Agra, one of the biggest cities in Uttar Pradesh is waiting for you, patiently. But can you wait patiently for Agra, the city of the Taj Mahal? On your way you will make a stop at Fatehpur Sikri, once upon a time an ancient capital of the Mogul Empire. Today, it is a perfectly preserved example of a Mogul city at the height of the empire’s splendour.
Day 06 (6 February) – Agra to Delhi (3 hours by car)
Yes, you know this building. You have seen it. And yes, you do know that this is a fantastic construction. Still, reality will surpass all your expectations. The Taj Mahal, arguably the most beautiful monument on the planet. Built by Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, it has been described as the most extravagant monument ever built for love. The Taj Mahal is at its best in the early morning. So wake up early and be amazed by the beauty of the Taj.
But Agra is more than just the Taj Mahal. In fact, here are other monuments that in any other town would be promoted as masterpieces: Agra Fort, Itimad-ud-Daulah (Baby Taj), Akbar’s Mausoleum are among them. All are worth exploring and will keep you pleasantly busy the rest of the day.
Late afternoon you will depart for Delhi, where you will stay for the night.
Day 07 (7 February) – Delhi to Varanasi (by plane)
Varanasi is for Hindus what Mecca is for Muslims or the Vatican for Catholics. But it is different, of course. Because India is different. Hinduism in all its facets right in front of your eyes, your ears, your nose. Pilgrims dipping in the Ganga (do not imitate them). The burning ghats on the shores of the Ganga (impossible to ignore even if you wish to). Holy men covered in ashes or completely naked. And there is more. Much more!
Day 08 (8 February) – Varanasi to Allahabad (2 hours by car)
Take a boat trip on the Ganga and watch the morning bathe of the thousands of pilgrims, see the flames on the burning ghats, touch the water with your fingers and simply amaze yourself about this city. Make an excursion to Sarnath, one of the holiest places in Buddhism. A quiet and relaxed place, in sharp contrast with the crazy ambiance of Varanasi.
In the afternoon you will depart for Allahabad where you will attend the Kumbh ka Mela for the next few days.
Day 09 and 10 (9 and 10 February) – Allahabad, Kumbh Mela
According to Hindu mythology Vishnu saved the world from the tyranny of the demons by taking control of a pot (Kumbha) of nectar. While escaping from the demons with the pot he dropped four drops of nectar in four different places: Allahabad, Nashik, Haridwar and Ujjain. Based on complicated calculations, in which the position of the sun and Jupiter play an important role, the Kumbh Mela will be held in Allahabad from the 27th of January to the 25th of February 2013.
The Kumbh Mela is the largest religious congregation on the planet. Millions of Hindu devotees gather on the place where two of India’s holiest rivers, the Ganga and the Yamuna, meet the mythical Saraswati river. The devotion, colours and the passion of the pilgrims, it is far beyond our western imagination. Already in 1895 Mark Twain wrote:
‘It is wonderful, the power of a faith like that, that can make multitudes upon multitudes of the old and the weak and the young and frail enter without hesitation or complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resultant miseries without repining. It is done in love or it is done in fear; I do not know which it is. No matter what the impulse is, the act born of it is beyond imagination, marvellous to our kind of people, the cold whites.’
Be here on the 10th of February, which is the main bathing day. See the saddhus, dressed in ashes or completely naked, be the first ones to bathe in the holy rivers. Followed by millions more.
Look around, talk, meet, greet, shake hands, take pictures, sit, smell, feel, touch, walk, eat, drink, dance, be greeted, think, care, be inspired and be amazed. Yes, it is an assault to your senses. But such a great one.
Day 11 (11 February) – Allahabad to Khajuraho (5 hours by car)
Five hours in a car and you will be in Khajuraho. After the crowds at the Kumbh Ka Mela you might feel you ended up somewhere in the middle of nowhere. And in fact, you did. Khajuraho is nothing more than a tiny village with only 20,000 inhabitants. But with an attraction that is absolutely worth exploring. The temples of Khajuraho! World famous thanks to the many Kama sutra sculptures. Yes, it is true, they are about women and sex. But this should not distract from the great skills of the artists.
Day 12 (12 February) – Khajuraho
Stroll around in tiny Khajuraho, perhaps even by bicycle? If there is one place in India where it is pleasant and convenient to cycle around, it is here. Moreover, it is a comfortable way to explore the various temples, that are scattered all over. These temples are approximately 1,000 years old. Keep this in mind when you see them. Not only the state of the temples is simply amazing, also the sculptures are, without exaggerating, incredibly fascinating. In a country where kissing in Bollywood movies is replaced by dances, it was possible and allowed to make these temples? Already 1,000 years ago. It might be a bit brutal to write that you might be inspired. But for sure you will be attracted. For the whole day.
Day 13 (13 February) – Khajuraho to Delhi and Back Home
Back to Delhi, the city where you started this tour. Probably you will still remember her? In any case, it is rather a different environment than peaceful Khajuraho. Depending on the time of departure from Delhi you might have time to shop around a bit, to visit a museum or anything else that you would like to do. Naturally, you will be transferred to the airport to catch your flight back home.
At the end of an Indian day you will surely be pleased to be able to relax in a nice hotel and a comfortable room. Therefore, we are spending a lot of time and making serious efforts to find these places. From our point of view, it is of the utmost importance that the hotels do contribute to your overall India experience. Below you can find an overview of the hotels that we are using during this trip. Please, note that in case one or more of these hotels will not be available, we will offer a similar hotel.
[restab title=”Practical Information”]
Before starting your journey to India you are required to possess:
✓ An original passport of your country (with a validity of minimum 6 months after leaving India)
✓ A valid Indian visa.
Generally the following documents are required for obtaining Indian Visa. However, the requirement may vary from country to country.
✓ Original passport valid for at least 6 months
✓ Visa fee
✓ Two passport size photographs
✓ Supporting documents, where necessary
✓ Duly completed visa application form
The procedure for obtaining visa depends on your nationality and your country of residence. In some countries you should apply for a visa in person or by post at the Indian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. In other countries the application has been outsourced and is dealt with by an external organization. Due to these differences it is highly advisable to contact the Indian Representation in your country.
For a complete overview of the Indian Representations in the world you can click here: Indian Embassies and Consulates worldwide.
Fortunately, most travellers’ illnesses can be prevented with some common-sense behavior or treated with a well-stocked traveller’s medical kit. However, environmental issues like heat, cold and altitude can cause health problems. Hygiene is poor in some regions so food and water-borne diseases are common. Insect-borne diseases are present, especially in the tropical parts. Therefore, it is essential to be well prepared before travelling to India.
Before you go
✓ Compose your personal medical kit
✓ Check your health insurance
✓ Consult your government’s travel-health website
✓ Visit a specialized travel-clinic to be informed about recommended vaccinations
Medical care is hugely variable, especially beyond the big cities. Some cities now have clinics catering specifically to travellers and expatriates. These clinics are usually more expensive, but are worth utilizing, as they should offer a higher standard of care.
Self-treatment may be appropriate if your problem is minor (traveller’s diarrhea), you are carrying the relevant meditation and you cannot attend a recommended clinic. However, if you suspect you may potentially have a serious disease, especially malaria, do not waste time. Just travel to the nearest quality clinic.
Some golden prevention rules:
✓ Never drink tap water
✓ Check the seal when buying bottled water
✓ Avoid ice unless you know it has been made safely
✓ Be careful with fresh juices, especially in street stalls
✓ Eat freshly cooked food
✓ Peel all fruits and cook vegetables
✓ Follow the crowd, go there where the locals eat
✓ Give yourself a few days to get used to the local cuisine
India is so vast that climatic conditions in the far north have little relation to those of the extreme south. Generally speaking, the country has a three-season year – the hot, the wet (monsoon) and the cool. The most pleasant time to visit most of the country is during the cooler period of November to March. Though visiting the Himalayas during this period is normally too cold. This is more pleasant during the wet and the hot season (from April till October).
India is a wonderful place for children, however extra caution is needed in hot and crowded conditions. Pay particular attention to hygiene and be very cautious in traffic.
COSTS & MONEY
On the financial front, India pleases all pockets. Accommodation ranges from simple backpacker lodgings to luxurious palaces. Eating out in India is in any case great value for money. In some budget restaurants you can eat for less than a euro. While at the urban restaurants prices might start from around 4 euros.
ATMs are found in most urban centres across the country. Major currencies such as US dollars, British pounds and euros are easy to change throughout India. Credit cards are accepted at a growing number of shops, restaurants and hotels.
Internet cafes are widespread in India and connections are usually reasonably fast. It is advisable to save your messages regularly as power cuts can be common. In an ever-increasing number of hotels, restaurants and coffee shops Wi-fi access is available.
To avoid expensive roaming costs get hooked up to a local mobile-phone network. It is inexpensive and relatively straightforward. In most Indian towns you simply buy a prepaid mobile-phone kit (SIM card and phone number) from a phone shop or a grocery store. Thereafter, you must purchase new credits on that network, sold as scratch cards in shops and call centres. Note that SIM cards are state specific. They can be used in other states, but you pay for calls at roaming rates and you will be charged for incoming calls as well.
FOOD & DRINK
Indian food is different. Not only in taste but also in cooking methods. It reflects a perfect blend of various cultures and ages. Just like Indian culture, food in India has also been influenced by various civilizations.
Foods of India are well known for being spicy. And it is true, throughout India, spices are used generously. This is not only done to make the food tasty. But also because spices carry, in one or the other way, nutritional and medicinal properties.
North Indian Food
Kashmiri cuisine is strongly influenced by the Central Asian cuisine. In Kashmir, mostly all the dishes are accompanied with rice. In other northern states like Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh dishes are accompanied with chapattis and other types of bread. In this part of India you will come across meat-dominated Mughlai cuisine, which includes curries, kebabs and koftas. Tandoori meat dishes are another North Indian favourite. The name is derived from the clay oven, or tandoor, in which the marinated meat is cooked.
West Indian Food
Rajasthan and Gujarat are the states that represent the dessert flavor of Indian food. Here an immense variety of dals and achars (pickles/preserves) is used. Simply to substitute the relative lack of fresh vegetables in these areas. In Maharashtra, the food is usually a mix between north and south. Here people use both rice and wheat. Along the coastline of Mumbai a wide variety of fish is available. Some of the delicious preparations include dishes like Bombay Prawn and Pomfret. In Goa you can notice the Portuguese influence in the cooking style as well as in the dishes. One of the most well known dishes of this region is the extremely spicy Vindaloo.
East Indian Food
In eastern India, the Bengali and Assamese styles of cooking are noticeable. The staple food of Bengalis is the combination of rice and fish. Bengalis really love eating varieties of fish. A special way of preparing is by wrapping it in a pumpkin leaf and then to cook it (this is known as ‘Hilsa’). Another unusual ingredient that is commonly used in the Bengali cooking is the ‘Bamboo Shoot’.
South Indian Food
In the south of India, people use a lot of spices and coconuts. As most of them have coastal kitchens fish is also widely available. To impart sourness to the dishes tamarind is frequently used in Tamil Nadu. In Andhra Pradesh cuisine chilies are excessively used. In Kerala, some of the delicious dishes are lamb stew, Malabar fried prawns, Idlis and Dosas. Another famous item of this region is the sweetened coconut milk.
Tea is a staple beverage throughout India; the finest varieties are grown in Darjeeling and Assam. It is generally prepared as masala chai, wherein the tea leaves are boiled in a mix of water, spices such as cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger, and large quantities of milk to create a thick, sweet, milky concoction. Different varieties and flavors of tea are prepared to suit different tastes all over the country.
Another popular beverage, coffee, is largely served in South India. One of the finest varieties of is grown around Mysore, Karnataka, and is marketed under the trade name ‘Mysore Nuggets’. Indian filter coffee, or kafee, is also especially popular in South India.
Lassi is a popular and traditional Punjabi yogurt-based drink. It is made by blending yogurt with water or milk and Indian spices.
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