India photo tour - Bengal from south to north

Culture and lifestyle photo tour for women

During our India photo tour, we explore the true color of Kolkata, the capital city of West Bengal. Walk and sometimes ride a tram on the oldest roads to actually feel how the laid back part of the city breaths. Lead by the expert guide who will fill you up with history and stories, walkthrough College Street, the heritage education hub of the city. If your inquisitive soul isn’t appeased yet, spend some more time to get introduced to the Bengal/Kolkata culture through its street foods and heritage eateries. The specialist guide will take you to the specialized eating joints famous for certain recipes while narrating some enticing stories of the city, its people, and their way of life; the way of life that believes in amity. Or you can enjoy a full course authentic Bengali meal at a Bengali kitchen. Here, the chef will not only serve you the variety of food, each of which is distinct in taste and flavor, she also will give you an insight of interesting facts and nuances about the past and present of East and West Bengal food culture, with a special emphasis on the significance of the Bengali widows’ role in the development of the art of cooking. In between, we’ll create a sharp contrast with, Bishnupur, home to some of India’s finest architectures that date back to the 17th century. Explore the history of the “terracotta” temples of this old town; listen to the stories painted on the terracotta tiles and enjoy the serenity of nature and the simplicity of the people here. You can visit the Baluchari weaving workshop, one of its kind.

india photo tour
India photo tour
India photo tour
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India photo tour

Itinerary of India Photo Tour

Day 1: Arrival to Kolkata, India

Kolkata is a collage of images and moods. To truly appreciate Kolkata, one needs to feel the city. To an outsider, Kolkata might seem to be overwhelming and full of contradictions. But only to those with patience and insight, she reveals her true beauty. To understand Kolkata, one needs to understand her people. Friendly, philosophical, always ready to debate on any issue under the sun! Always ready to welcome a stranger as a friend!

On your arrival at Kolkata International Airport you will be greeted warmly by our representative, who will give you a short brief on the tour and the city and help you to get on the car. We take you to your pre-booked hotel and assist you to check-in.

Regular check-in time in the hotel is 2.00 PM. If you arrive early you may have to wait at the lobby for some time for the rooms to get ready. If you arrive too early you may ask us for a pre-booking from the previous night.

A Cruise on the Ganges will be the best way to explore the city and its history.

As the sun sets, painting an evening sky with a hundred shades of red and orange, the Evening Cruise sails to Belur Math to see the ‘Sandhya Arati’ (Evening Prayer). With the illuminated Howrah Bridge, bring in the magic of the evening you will be welcome on board with a warm smile and a drink. While sipping your drinks you will be swept away as you cruise through the nocturnal enchantment of the city’s riverside heritage with soothing music. We will take you back to the hotel for dinner.

Day 2: The kitchen inside: A food experience at a Bengali home & City walk in Kolkata

Food makes it possible to approach culture in a more experiential and participatory way that is not purely contemplative. A couple of decades back, Sociology of food made a tentative backdoor entry in the sphere of high academics as a tool to study culture, and today it is a well-established means to understand societies. The immense array of Bengali food reflects both the culinary passion of its people and the diverse cultural history of the place. The most promising factor of Bengali food is that a whole plant (leaf, stem, flower, and fruit) can be served in the plate and you will savor that into the last bits.

In this tour Nandini will lead you through a daily vegetable & fish market first, to feel the choices, habits, and passion of the Bengali commoners. Then get familiarized with a Bengali kitchen at her home, where she will let you take part in cooking, and finally have a full course authentic Bengali meal, enriched with both East and West Bengal specialties. Throughout this stretch she will keep you focused with interesting facts and nuances about the past and present of East and West Bengal food culture, with a special emphasis on the significance of the Bengali widows’ role in the development of the art of cooking.

After this food, experience gets ready for the special city walking tour with our storyteller and we take you to the original city of Kolkata which is much older than the colonial era. Walkthrough the main road. The hawkers and shoppers invaded streets of North Kolkata have an odd charm of melancholic, rusty, oldness to them, content with the worn out, tired buildings keeping their heads up on the sides of the street. Walk and watch around as our storyteller unfolds the history of an old civilization.

You will have the opportunity to ride a tram in the busy road and also taste famous Mughal Biryani in an old food joint. After a quality walking tour, we will return to the hotel in the evening.

Day 3: The temples outside: Excursion to Bishnupur

Post breakfast drive (5 hrs) to Bishnupur, the temple town of Bengal, meant for the best Terra Cotta relief works in India

Bishnupur is a town in the Bankura District of West Bengal and located at about 132 km from Kolkata. It is famous for its terracotta temples and Baluchari sarees. The town has a glorious past that is reflected in its rich architecture, music, and handicrafts such as pottery and weaving. It prospered in the 17th and early 18th centuries. Ruled by a line of Hindu Rajas of the Malla dynasty, Bishnupur developed a unique form of architecture and has perhaps the most brilliant and detailed terracotta work in Eastern India that has withstood the ravages of time. Apart from its heritage, Bishnupur is also known for its traditional handloom sarees. Pottery, artifacts, and even jewelry made of terracotta in Bishnupur are also very popular. Bishnupur is also famous for the School of Hindustani Music which flourished under royal patronage along with the Bishnupur School of Painting.

Stopover at Joypur forest village en route at an organic farmhouse for lunch.

Check-in by late afternoon.

Storytelling session on Bengal’s art and culture &/OR A traditional musical session.

Day 4: Local excursion in & surrounding of Bishnupur

Focal point

Excursion comprises of terracotta temples which have ornate carvings adorn the walls.

Other highlights

  • Baluchari weaving
  • Dashaavatar taash (a unique playing card with mythology, found only in Bengal)
  • Dokra – the metal crafted in lost wax technic.

Day 05: Drive Back to Kolkata and afternoon city tour

Post lunch we will cover the following landmark in Kolkata.

Howrah Bridge – The iconic Howrah Bridge on Strand Lane in Kolkata is one of the breathtaking architectures built during British India. Howrah Bridge is an example where art meets architecture for its sheer beauty and stoutness.

KumorTuli (The Potters’ village)  – A part of North Kolkata is filled with dingy lanes and as you stop by any of them the aroma that draws your attention at once is the rustic smell of wet clay. This is the wonderland where the Gods and Goddesses of Bengali’s are given face and shape; and the busy kumors or the potters of this locality keep the idol-making business going with ardor and allegiance.

Mother’s House  – Pay homage to Mother at her residence known as Missionaries of Charity. Mother Theresa started this charity and along with the sisters of charity she has spread their mission of mercy to all parts of the world. The Mother died here on 3rd September 1997. She was buried down in this House.

Victoria Memorial – Conceived by Lord Curzon, the then Vice Roy of British India, in the early 20th century this fabulous monument built in the memory of Queen Victoria changed the skyline of Kolkata. Apart from its incredible architecture this monument has a rare collection of old paintings and manuscripts from British and Indian History and from the Mughal Dynasty.

(Museum remains open between 10 AM till 5 PM. Closed on Monday and National Holiday: The garden premises is open throughout the year)

Day 06: Departure from Kolkata Airport to Bagdogra

Transfer to Kolkata airport and get a flight to Bagdogra in Darjeeling foothills – 50 min flight

Arrival at Bagdogra

A small but busy airport for North Bengal and Sikkim surrounded by lush green tea gardens on the Himalayan foothills. On a clear day you will be able to see the long mountain range of the Himalayas from the flight.

On your arrival, you will be greeted warmly by our representative, who will give you a short brief on the tour and hand you over the travel documents before taking you to the car.

Transfer to Chamong (Alt 5500Ft / 1650M) – 60kms in 2.5hrs

Drive to Chamong. Within a drive of 30min, you will be in nature with tea gardens, forests, river valleys, and hills surrounding you.

We arrive at Chamong, a newly established tea country resort in the lower valley of Darjeeling Hills. The pure air, the crisp breeze, the soft, misting rain all come together in a wonderland where the tea grows with a finer flavor than anywhere else in the world. Here you will have first-hand exposure to learning different processes the tealeaf passes through before it reaches you in your morning cup.

After lunch, we go for a short walk in the nearby village and meet the locals. In the afternoon we return to Chamong by jeep.  Have a relaxed evening at Chamong and enjoy a barbecue bonfire in the garden.

Here you will be given the opportunity to walk through the beautiful lush garden and pluck tea with the garden workers before you reach the factory. You can see the various method of tea processing from the collection of tea leaves until it is taken to its final grade. You can also go through the tea testing session with the garden manager. it’s an experience best savored when the tea and holiday come together – in a Chiavari Tea Retreat.

Read more (Day 5 - 14)

Day 07:  Tea Garden tour full day with picnic lunch by a river

Today we have a guided tea garden tour in Chamong. Start the walking from a small Shiva temple near the resort, which is located on a hill top offering a nice bird eye view of the surrounding valley. Walk on the gentle road through the garden with the morning sun. Meet the workers on the way plucking the tea (during April to October). You also have the option of visiting the tea factory during the harvest time, where the garden manager will explain you the various process of tea manufacturing. A special tea testing session can also be arranged for you here. Chamong is also a very interesting place for bird life. You can walk to the river bed below the garden for about an hour and we will serve a picnic lunch for you. Interested people can also take a bath in the stream, which can be very refreshing. Spend your time in the serene environment before coming to the resort. You can walk back or also have an option for car pick up. In the afternoon you can use the spa in the resort and spend the rest of the day at leisure. Or unwind with a Green Tea Facial at the Spa

As the sun sets behind the majestic Himalayas, gather round the open fireplace in your room with your companions. Dip into the stock of board games or cuddle up with a book from the well-stocked library.

Chamong offers a brilliant night sky. On a clear weather you can spend a valuable time observing the different constellations and milky way.

Day 08:  Chamong to Singalila National Park Excursion – (3hrs each way)

Today we have a very early breakfast at Chamong (6AM recommended) and then drive to Singalila National Park – a beautiful hiking route in the highest part of Bengal, lying between Nepal and India. Singalila National Park is known for a vibrant Rhododendron Valley with sweeping view of a 360degree panorama of Greater Himalayan Range, which includes highest mountain peaks of the world Mt Everest and Mt Kunchenjungha. The bumpy ride over the steep gravel road, which is accessed mainly by foot or few old fashioned 4-wheel jeep is challenging but the discomfort is overcome by the mesmerizing view on your way.

From Manebhanjang we change our vehicle to a 4-wheel drive and ride to Tonglu. At 3000m or 10000ft above sea level Tonglu – known as a trekkers’ paradise, is an excellent camping area in the higher Darjeeling Hills. The vast panorama of the greater Himalayan Ranges which includes Kunchenjungha Range in Sikkim, Mt Everest in Nepal, Chola Range in Bhutan is visible over the layers of valleys. We have ample opportunity to walk in the beautiful trails to Kalepokhri as the jeep follows. We drive to Sandakphu – the highest part of Singalila at 3600M. Spend some time at the top watching the mesmerizing view of the greater Himalayan range in a clear weather.  You have ample opportunity to hike and also we give you tea and lunch break in some of the Homestays along the way.  In the afternoon we return to Chamong by jeep.  Have a relaxed evening at Chamong and enjoy a bonfire in the garden.

Day 09:  Chamong to Darjeeling (Alt 6825Ft / 2050M) – 35kms in 1.5hrs

Today we proceed to Darjeeling in the morning. The journey runs along the ridge bordering the neighboring country Nepal and passes through some of the most beautifully located tea gardens in the rolling hill slopes and misty pine forests. Proceed to Darjeeling via Ghoom. The Queen of hills – greets you with all its grandeur: the great view of mountains and valleys dotted with tea gardens and forests, and a blend of traditional heritage and modern cultures.

On arrival in Darjeeling we visit the following places

· Mahakal Temple

The oldest temple of Lord Shiva, locally known as Mahakal Temple is located on the observatory hill above Darjeeling Mall. It takes about 15 minutes uphill walk to the temple from the mall and you can see coexistence of Buddhist and Hindu religion. A walk through the thickly wooded hills is rewarding on a clear day when you can see a vast panorama with several snow peaks on the horizons. Walk down few steps and you can see the primitive cave with several Hindu idols placed inside it. (Be aware of monkeys in the temple and in the pathways)

· The Mall or Chowrasta

Take a stroll on the Mall or Chowrasta in the heart of Darjeeling town. It is a must to visit place for all tourists who want to take a feel of the city. The place has many old book and curio shops and some of them are more than 100 years old. Walk around the shady wooded pedestrian road and enjoy the mist and sunshine. Or just seat leisurely on the chairs lined up along the sides of Mall watching the crowd, hills and valleys. Have a cup of coffee at Caventer’s open air restaurant and watch a glorious sunset.

Day 10: Full day in Darjeeling

DHR (Darjeeling Himalayan Rail) Joy Ride

A ride in the heritage Himalayan toy train run by 100 years old steam engine is perhaps the most lucrative experience in Darjeeling. The ride starts from Darjeeling and takes you to Ghoom with a stop to picturesque Batasia Loop and Ghoom Station with a visit to the museum. The train runs 4 times a day but the morning shift is most attractive as it gives a nice view of the mountains passing through the tea garden, market and village houses. The train returns to Darjeeling in 1.5hrs covering a total distance of 18kms.

Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre

During the Chinese invasion in India many Tibetan families took refuge in Darjeeling and to give them a financial and social security the Govt of India established this Refugee center, where many Tibetan families earn a living by producing Tibetan handicrafts. You can see the family engaged in making garments, carpets, jewellery, paintings and can purchase them from the fare price shop attached to the center.   (This center is closed on Sunday)

Himalayan Mountaineering Institute

The oldest museum on the mountaineering in India is HMI and a must to visit place for all tourists coming to Darjeeling. It holds rare collection of photographs and equipment used in the earliest expedition to Mt Everest by legendary climbers including Tenzin Norgey, Edmund Hillery and John Mallory. The institute also aims to promote the technique of climbing mountain peaks. (This center is closed on Thursday)

Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park

This is one of the most popular zoological parks in India and known for its rare collection of high altitude alpine mammals and birds. The most important hosts of this park include Siberian Tiger, Snow Leopard, red panda, clouded leopard, wild yaks, blue ships Tibetan fox and many rare birds and reptiles. This is also a captive breeding center for Snow Leopard and Red Panda. (This center is closed on Thursday)

In the evening you can go for a short walk to the Mall or Chowrasta to get a feel the daily buzz of local life. This is an important social gathering place in Darjeeling where the tourists as well as the local people come, meet, shop and dine.

Day 11: Return to Bagdogra to catch a flight to Kollata

Darjeeling to Bagdogra – 90kms in 3hrs

We check out from Hotel after breakfast.

Drive to Bagdogra Airport. We help you to board your flight back to Kolkata and then take a connecting flight back home. Farewell and tour ends.

Dates:

date is on you

Duration:

11 days/10 nights

Highlights:

  • Food & History walk
  • Textile  & Terracotta
  • Rural experience
  • Excursions in the mountains
  • Tea garden experience
  • Steam train ride
  • Interact with villagers

Places:

Kolkata

Bishnupur

Bagdogra

Chamong

Singalila National Park

Darjeeling

Included:

  • Accommodation on full board basis in all places.
  • Vehicle support throughout with driver in Kolkata and in Darjeeling
  • Special story walker for walking/food tour in Kolkata
  • Sailing in Ganges with temple visit for 3hrs with drinks and snacks
  • Accompanied English speaking guide for all days
  • Toy train ride in Darjeeling
  • All activity as mentioned in the plan with flexibility
  • Domestic flight from Kolkata to Bagdogra return
    • (Economy class with 15kilo C In and 7 Kilo Cabin luggage)
  • All entrances and Tax as applicable
  • Professional photography instructor Marketa Vollmerova

Not included:

  • International airfares
  • Drinks
  • Tips
  • What is not mentioned as included

Price

$ 4.350

per person in double room

for min. 2 people

$ 850

Single supplement

This tour is operated by Alpine Nature Beyond Pvt. Ltd. 

Approved Inbound Tour Operator by Ministry of Tourism Govt of India

Address: 57-Ananda Mangal Square, 3rd Floor, Station Feeder Road, SiliguriDist: Darjeeling, India, Pin -734405

Getting there:

You will organise your own travel to and from Kolkata to you home and visa to India.