Eastern Adventure & Colonial India
13 – 25 November 2023
Eastern Adventure & Colonial India 13 - 25 November 2023
India as we know it today is, for better or worse, shaped by those who have invaded, ruled, traded with, and left behind their enduring legacy. From the Chinese, the Malay, the Persians, the Mughals, the French, the Danes, the Dutch and of course the British, each have left their mark and have contributed to the richness and diversity which visitors to modern India today experience.
Whilst for some visitors, a visit to the so called, “Golden Triangle” is enough for them to say they have “done India!”, for those who know better there is much still to explore, off the more traditional tourist routes, and through regions where trade and faith have brought visitors for centuries. I invite you to join me, as we travel down the Eastern side of India and into the Deccan and across into the central regions, rediscovering lost communities, forgotten people, and royal palaces along the way.
Mark Woodrow is a Parish Priest in rural Suffolk and a self-confessed Indophile. Having previously lived and worked in India, where fell in love with the food, the climate and the vibrancy that India offers, he is now also an experienced group leader, helping both large and small groups discover the vast diversity of people, traditions, faiths, cultures and geography that the Indian Sub-Continent has to offer. Mark is also an elected Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland.
Day 1 : To Kolkata
We meet at London Heathrow Airport to travel to Kolkata via Dubai. Our Emirates airlines flight EK002 will leave Heathrow Terminal 3 at 13:40 and arrive Dubai at 00:40. We will connect onward Emirates Flight EK570 at 02:00.
Day 2 : Kolkata
We arrive into Kolkata in the morning, where we clear immigration formalities, have the opportunity to exchange some currency, before transferring by Air Conditioned Coach the 45m/1hr to the wonderful The Great Eastern Hotel, Kolkata, where we have to opportunity to unpack, freshen up and perhaps have a nap, or explore the hotel's leisure facilities, before our evening River Cruise along the Hooghly River to Belur Math, where the Sri Ramakrishna Temple can be found, it is designed to celebrate all religions in India, and when viewed from different perspectives looks like a temple, a mosque and a church. We return by river watching the sun set. Enjoy a leisurely dinner before retiring for the night. D
Day 3 : Kolkata
Well rested, after breakfast we enjoy a full day sightseeing around Kolkata, including visits to the Flower Market and Howrah Bridge; the Magen David & Neveh Shalome Synagogues (There are now less than a dozen Jew’s left in Kolkata, most having moved to Israel or other places around the world, but the synagogues are well kept by their Muslim custodian.)
A walk through the narrow streets of Kumar Tuli to see the traditional workshops of the clay statue sculptors give a wonderful insight into ‘real life’ on the streets of Kolkata. After a Tram ride on one of the cities ancient trams, we will arrive at the Old Book Market for a wander around the wonderful book stalls and have a coffee at the famous Indian Coffee House, a meeting place for students and in the past, revolutionaries!
If time allows there will also be the opportunity to visit Mother Teressa’s house and perhaps a visit to the final resting place on many Colonial officials at the South Park Street Cemetery and hear all about its ‘ghostly’ visitors. And no visit to Kolkata is completed without a visit to the Victoria Memorial and a wander through its gardens.
After a busy day, we return to our hotel with plenty of time to freshen up before dinner, with the rest of the evening at leisure. B, D
Day 4 : Kolkata
After breakfast we head back to the Hooghly River for our trip northwards to the former Danish Settlement of Serampore, site of the famous Serampore College which was once home to the largest library in India. We continue up the Hooghly to the French outpost of Chandarnagar (Museum closed on Thursdays) where we take the time to enjoy the colonial ambience, before returning to Kolkata by coach.
The rest of the day at leisure. Evening Meal in Hotel.
The rest of the day at leisure. Evening Meal in Hotel. B, D
Day 5 : To Bhubaneshwar
We have an early wakeup call and an early breakfast, as we make our way back to the Airport for our short 70-minute flight with Indigo Airlines at 11.10am (check-in 2 hours prior) to Bhubaneswar. After landing we make the short journey (20 minutes) to the Trident Hotel. (Where possible we will check in early) and have time to rest before our afternoon walking tour of the historic temple area.
We visit the Mukteshwar temple with its extensive carvings, and onto the nearby Parsurameswara Temple. A gentle walk of approx. 1km will take us past many other smaller and less important temples, past Bindu Sagar before finally arriving at Lingaraja Temple. This is the most impressive of all the temple complexes, whilst non-Hindu’s are not permitted to go inside, there is a viewing platform where we take in the size and development of the complex. Meeting back up with our coach to visit Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves.
After freshening up at the hotel, we return to Bindu Sagar to enjoy the Musical Fountain and Light Show (Bindu Sagar Fountain and Light Sound show subject to operation of the temple authority at the time of visit. followed by dinner at the hotel. B, D
Day 6 : Bhubaneshwar
After breakfast we drive to one of the highlights of the trip, the UNESCO World Heritage Konark Sun Temple. Designed to be the cosmis chariot of the sun god Surya, with its seven stone horses representing the seven days of the week, and the enormous 24 stone cartwheels representing the hours of the day, the magnificent carvings and sheer size of it, together with the fact that the community that built it back in the 13th Century effectively disappeared, makes it intriguing.
Onto the town of Puri, which is one the holiest pilgrimage places in India, all centred around the Jagannath Mandir, which was built in 1198AD, which like Lingraj Temple in Bhubaneshwa it is not open to non-Hindus we can take advantage of the excellent view from the rooftop one of the nearby buildings.
A short drive onto Raghurajpur where local heritage artists have gathered to live and work alongside one another and where we will spend an hour or so visiting the 120 thatched homes/workshops, decorated with the geometric patterns and mythological scenes that has all but disappeared from Odisha. Look out for the Patachitra (Odishan cloth paintings) and the decorative leaf painters, as well many other artisan creations.
We return to our hotel in the late afternoon, where you may wish to enjoy a swim to cool off, before a drink in the bar before Dinner. B, D
Day 7 : To Hyderabad
Today, an early wakeup call, early/packed breakfast and early check-out. we take the short trip back to Bhubaneshwar Airport for our early-morning Indigo Airlines flight at 08:55am (check-in 2 hours prior) to Hyderabad.
We transfer to the Taj Falaknuma Palace Hotel. The hotel is a destination in and of itself, perched 2,000 feet above the city and offering stunning panoramic views, it was once home to the Nizam (the princely ruler of the extensive Hyderabad state), who was reputedly the richest man in the world at the time. From the moment we arrive we will be treated as if we were royalty, being met at the gatehouse and transported via horse and carriage up to the Palace itself, through the 32 acres of manicured landscapes complete with peacocks! We enjoy the rest of the day at the pool, or spa, or wandering the grounds, where the butlers and staff are there to cater to your every need.
In the evening we head out to the 16th Century Golconda Fort which is built into the 120m high granite hill, where we will enjoy a spectacular Light Show, before returning to our Palace for Dinner. B, D
Day 8 : Hyderabad
After a magnificent breakfast, we begin a full day of sightseeing around Hyderabad, including the world famous Charminar (meaning four minarets) and home to the oldest mosque in the city. It is located in the area of the city famous for its lanes crammed full of markets and shops. Whilst in the area we also visit Mecca Masjid, one of the largest in the world with a capacity for more than 10,000 men to pray during important Muslim festivals.
We will take time to visit the Qutb Shai Tombs, the final resting place of many of the cities rulers, it is a great place to get some interesting photographs with each mausoleum being intricately decorated.
Chowmahalla Palace is another highlight of our time in Hyderabad, built and extended during the 18th and 19th Century, it has been home to a number of Nizams and is richly decorated and includes displays of many of the Nizams possessions, including a collection of vintage cars which has a 1911 Yellow Rolls Royce which was only used for very special occasions and has so far only travelled 356 miles!
We return back to our own Palace in time to relax and freshen up before enjoying a live Qawwali Performance (traditional Sufi music) in the central courtyard, followed by a drink and dinner. B, D
Day 9 : To Mysore
After a leisurely breakfast overlooking the city, we have the morning to enjoy a last-minute spa treatment, swim, a wander around the historic rooms or simply reading a book in the grounds, before checking out and departing for the Airport for our afternoon Alliance Air flight at 13:35pm (check-in 2 hours prior) down to Mysore.
On arrival we transfer the short distance to the Radisson Blu Hotel this will be our home for the next two nights. There will be time to unwind and relax before a drink in the bar and dinner. B, D
Day 10 : Mysore
After breakfast we enjoy a full days sightseeing in and around magnificent monuments, temples, historic buildings, and of course the UNESCO World Heritage Mysore Palace which was rebuilt in 1912 following a devastating fire. The Durbar Hall, Marriage Pavilion and Elephant Gate should not be missed.
There will be time to explore Devaraja Market, Jaganmohan Palace with its collection of art from across India and Asia. Time permitting it may also be possible to visit St Philomena’s Cathedral (the second tallest in Asia).
We return to the hotel for Dinner and maybe a drink in the bar. B, D
Day 11 : To Bangalore
We enjoy a free morning, so after breakfast, you might want to explore the local area on foot, visit the Open-air Rail Museum which is just a short walk away from the hotel (a ride on the toy train there is optional!). Check-out hotel at noon (12:00). In the afternoon we make our way to Mysore Junction where we will board the express train at 14:15pm for our 2-hour trip to Bangalore. We transfer to the modern boutique Vivanta Residency Road Hotel and after freshening up enjoy dinner together. B, D
Day 12 : Bangalore
After breakfast we spend the day exploring this very cosmopolitan city, which was very much at the heart of the British Colonial Rule. Sir Winston Churchill apparently still owes Rs 13 at the Bangalore Club! It is also the technology hub of modern India and has been since it became the first Indian city to have electric lighting in 1905.
Today we will visit the National Gallery of Modern Art, with its extensive collection of pre and post independence art. We visit the current home of the Maharaja at Bangalore Palace, designed to look ‘vaguely like Windsor Castle’! We will stop in at Tipu Sultan’s Palace to admire its frescos and teak pillars, then onto the Venkata-raman Temple and Jamia Masjid, before practicing our haggling skills as we pick up some last minute bargains at nearby Krishnarajendra (KR) Market with its spices, copperware and flower market. Hopefully despite a busy day there will still be time to wander through Lalbagh Botanical Gardens enjoying its impressive collection of plants and enjoying the shade of its ancient trees.
Returning to our hotel with time to relax and freshen up, before enjoying our final group dinner together. B, D
Day 13 : To London
Sadly all good things must come to an end, and so after an early breakfast we travel to Bangalore Airport for our International flight to London Heathrow (or other reginal airport on request), where we land in the early evening. B
|Price per person
|Single room supplement|
- International air fare in economy class including all taxes. Business class supplement and departures from regional UK airports are available on request.
- Internal flights in economy class as mentioned in the itinerary with 23kg checked in baggage and 12 Kg cabin baggage.
- Airconditioned accommodation with ensuite facilities as mentioned in the itinerary.
- Daily breakfast and dinner at all hotels.
- All transfers and sightseeing by an air conditioned private chauffeur driven coach.
- Entry fee to all monuments and places of interest mentioned in the itinerary.
- Services of a local English speaking guide.
- Services of Mark Woodrow as your tour leader.
- 100% protection of payment under our ATOL & ABTA Licences
- Complimentary mineral water while on transfers and on sightseeing.
- Visa fee for India. (E-Tourist visa facility is now available for India, we will send relevant information how to apply to all participants).
- Travel Insurance*
- Any expenses of a personal nature.
- Tips & Gratuties
It is essential to have adequate insurance in place before your departure. This should be appropriate for your age, health and destination you are visiting.
• Make sure it includes comprehensive medical and repatriation cover.
• Make sure it provides cover for your whole trip (whether one day or over a year).
• Make sure it covers you for all activities.
• Disclose pre-existing medical conditions.
• Take your policy number and the 24-hour emergency contact numbers with you.
If you have any doubts about your cover, check with your insurer. Please note Covid-19 cover is now available.
For a competitive quotation please visit https://www.indusexperiences.co.uk/insurance/