This extraordinary tour in the company of Arts Society accredited lecturer Oliver Everett, offers a fascinating blend of colonial history, Indian Heritage and glimpses of rural life. From the holy city of Varanasi and silent cruise waters of the Ganges to the bustling, chaotic and heritage rich city of Kolkatta (former Calcutta).
Explore the holy city of Varanasi
Visit Bodhgaya where Siddhartha Gautama achieved enlightenment
Visit Sarnath where Siddhartha Gautama gave his first sermon
Cruise along Ganges on ABN Sukapha, the cruiser chartered for this tour
Discover little visited places of heritage on or close to the Ganges
Explore Colonial Calcutta
Fly from Heathrow for an overnight flight to Delhi.
Arrive Delhi and connect for flight to Varanasi. On your arrival in Varanasi, assistance and transfer to your hotel. Varanasi (also known as Benaras), is considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities of the world, dating back to 3000 years ago. Mark Twain once said: “Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together”. An accurate description would be India’s pilgrimage destination par excellence. Evening at leisure. First of two nights in Varanasi.
Morning drive to visit Sarnath, the place where Buddha first taught his Dharma or the teachings of Buddhism. An afternoon visit to Varanasi’s principle museum, Bharat Kala Bhawan, on the Benares Hindu University Campus. This evening, experience Ganga aarti at Dasashwamedh Ghats,. A truly mesmerising event, this aarti is the essence of Varanasi. Evening a boat ride in Ganges at dusk to witness the Ganga Aarti ritual along the Dasashwamedh ghats. This daily fire offering, where young priests perform their daily rituals with brass lamps and spiritual mantras in front of large crowds from all over India and the world, dates back to the Vedic period and is the central element of the religious life of this holy city. Overnight in Varanasi.
After breakfast, drive for Bodhgaya (5 hrs) along the Grand Trunk Road, India’s oldest highway. Stop enroute at Sasaram to see the tomb of the Mughal Emperor Sher Shah Suri. Bodhgaya is the crucible of Buddhism, the place where Prince Siddharta attained enlightenment under a bodhi tree 2600 years ago.The Mahabodhi Temple complex at Bodhgaya has fragments from the 3rd century BC and a richly elaborate 55 metre high temple of the 6th century BC, a rare survival. Overnight in Bodhgaya.
In the morning, drive 70 miles to Patna airport in time to board a short flight to Kolkatta. On arrival, transfer to your hotel. After setting into the hotel, visit the South Park Street Cemetery, where tombs of the early British settlers are of a monumental classicism without parallel in Britain. Overnight in Calcutta.
Early morning, optional walk through the colourful flower market. Afternoon transfer to train station to take a 4-hour train journey from Kolkata to Farakka, and a short road transfer to your ship. First of seven nights onboard ABN Sukhapa.
Morning cruise along a straight canal to Jangipur, where you disembark for day excursion by road to Gaur, near the town of Malda. 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. Visit the plentiful remains of mosques, palaces and gateways telling tales of the past centuries, before rejoining your ship in the evening. Overnight onboard ABN Sukhapa.
Morning sailing down the Lower Ganges, a charming waterway twisting and turning between banks lined with mustard fields and mango orchards. Moor at the delightful sleepy village of Baranagar with three miniature terracotta temples. Walk through the fields to explore the temples and get glimpses of the local rural life.This is rural India at its most idyllic. Continue on down past Azimganj, boasting some fine riverside mansions, to Murshidabad, where Hazarduari Palace dominates the waterfront. Built in the nineteenth century by architect Duncan Mcleod under the reign of the Nawab, the palace hosts an extensive collection of pictures, china, weapons and other objects. Continue to visit the great Katra Mosque and Nashipara Palace before driving out to visit the Katgola Palace, a palace built in classical Georgian style by rich local merchants. Overnight onboard ABN Sukhapa.
Sail downstream to visit Khushbagh, a peaceful Mughul-style garden enclosing the tombs of Siraj-ud-Daulah – the last independent Nawab of Bengal – and his family. Return to the ship and continue sailing past the old British cantonment of Berhampur to a rural mooring close to the battlefield of Plassey where, in 1757, Robert Clive, the Commander-in-Chief of British India, defeated Siraj-ud-Daulah, to change the course of Indian history. You can walk through the fields to the commemorative obelisk. Cruise on to a mooring near Katwa, a market town with narrow bustling bazaars (markets). Overnight onboard ABN Sukhapa.
Visit the brassworking village of Matiari where you can see the traditional process of beating out brass water pots and other vessels. 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. Overnight onboard ABN Sukhapa.
Sail to the town of Kalna. Take cycle rickshaws to see group of some of Bengal’s most attractive terracotta temples, as well as the unique Shiva temple with concentric rings made up of 108 shrinelets. Sail on, leaving fields behind and arrive at the outskirts of Kolkata. Stop at Bandel to visit the imposing Imambara at Hooghly. With verses from the Koran written on its walls, the Imambara highlights Islamic history in Bengal. Overnight onboard ABN Sukhapa
Sail downstream, past fine waterfront buildings and the old Dutch settlement at Chinsura – to land at Chandernagore, a French possession until 1950. Visit the 18th century church and Dupleix’s House, the erstwhile Governor-General of French India, before continuing down to Barrackpore. Disembark and take a walk through the cantonment, past the Semaphore Tower, Government House, the Temple of Fame and Flagstaff House. Overnight onboard ABN Sukhapa
Early this morning, cruise under the Howrah Bridge to central Kolkata to disembark. Meet your guide for a city heritage walk that takes in some of the finest structures of the British Raj, most European in style but adapted to Bengali climate: the Dalhousie square covering the Georgian classicism of St John’s Church (1784) and the Town Hall, the Gothic High Court and Classical General Post, the Anglican cathedral of St Paul (1847) and the Victoria Memorial (1906–21), the most imposing building in Calcutta. Overnight in Calcutta.
Early morning assistance and transfer to airport to board your return flight.
Oliver Everett is one of the Art Society’s (NADFAS) popular lecturers – you may have heard one of his favourite talks, “the life and times of the Indian Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan, builder of the Taj Mahal”. Oliver loves India and has a lot of experience with it. Oliver lived in India for four years in the Diplomatic Service working in the British High Commission in Delhi. He regularly visits the country and maintains many contacts there. Indian history is a particular interest of his, especially the role of the Princely States – the Maharajas, their palaces and collections; and their relations with the Mughal Emperors, with the British Empire and subsequently with independent India. He will put the tour in the rich context of India’s history, personalities, architecture, arts, crafts and traditions.
|START DATE||END DATE||PRICE(PP)||SPECIAL(PP)|
|03 Feb, 2019||16 Feb, 2019||£5295 per person|
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