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Wild Lives Photo Journey: Tigers and Exclusive Kumbh Mela

January 6, 2025 - January 19, 2025

| $15,995

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This photography tour combines two wonderful aspects of India, one of the world’s most spectacular and significant religious gatherings and the magnificent and powerful tiger! Kumbh Mela or Kumbha Mela is a major pilgrimage and festival in Hinduism. It is celebrated in a cycle of approximately 12 years. It draws millions of faithful pilgrims and visitors from around the world, making it an enthralling event for photographers.

Following the Kumbh Mela Festival we will travel to Bandhavgarh National Park where a highlight will be the chance to photograph elusive tigers and leopards. The park boasts the highest density of Tigers in the world, and we will have exclusive access to a very special permit that will allow us to spend one of our days at this location entering the park earlier and leaving later than other visitors, as well as unrestricted access to routes and zones – a once in a lifetime opportunity to photograph tigers.

In addition to the Bengal tiger, the park has a rich diversity of fauna and flora, including leopard, striped hyena, macaques, langur monkeys, sambar and chital deer, Indian wolves, Indian hare, monitor lizards and a great diversity avifauna.

Reserve Your Spot Today

 

Led by Art Wolfe

Assisted by Gavriel Jecan

Limited to 10 participants

Transportation and Accommodation

All meals, lodging, and transportation specified on the itinerary are included. You will be responsible for your flight to and from Delhi. You are encouraged to arrive one day prior to the workshop so that there is no worry of flight delays causing any problems.

Itinerary

Shooting schedules have the ability to be altered to effectively cater to the photographic desires of the group, as well as to adapt to changeable weather conditions.

Day 1 Jan 6, 2025 Arrival in Delhi

On your arrival at International airport in Delhi and after clearing customs & immigration, our representative will receive and escort you to your hotel.

Delhi, the capital of India, is a city that offers a glimpse of both ancient and modern day India.  It is the third largest city in India and one of the fastest growing in Asia. This city is rich in culture, always changing with time but never hiding its splendid past.  The various ancient ruins seen in the city are silent witnesses to its magnificent history.

This evening there will be a welcome dinner with Art Wolfe and Gavriel Jecan. (D)

Day 2 Delhi

After breakfast, proceed for a full day sightseeing tour of Old and New Delhi.

Enjoy sightseeing tour of the walled city called Old Delhi. As a city wakes up, we will pick you up from the hotel and transport you to the times of the grandeur and subsequent ruin of the Mughal Empire. Colourful, vibrant, noisy, and chaotic are words that best describe what many calls Old Delhi, the 7th city of Delhi, which was built by the mighty Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan.

After that, we will visit India’s second-largest and most aesthetically designed mosque, the Jama Masjid. Then we walk through the streets and markets of this 17th-century imperial capital city of the Mughal empire, where once royalty descended, where you savor the fragrances of the boisterous spice markets, one of Asia’s largest, be dazzled by the glitter of India’s largest jewellery markets, and get a glimpse of the once-glorious havelis (royal mansions) of Old Delhi. With a mix of walking and rickshaw rides, you discover hidden gems while exploring the narrow alleys and 350-year-old markets of the city built at the apex of the Mughal Empire, India’s most glorious monarchy.

The sight-seeing tour of New Delhi includes a visit to Humayun’s Tomb, and a drive along the ceremonial avenue – Rajpath, past the imposing India Gate, Parliament House and the President’s Residence and would end with a drive through the Diplomatic Enclave. The tomb was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.

Later return to your hotel.

Stay overnight in Delhi.

(B,L,D)

Day 3 Delhi-Jabalpur-Bandhavgarh

After breakfast transfer to Delhi airport to board flight to Jabalpur.

Upon arrival at Jabalpur, transfer to Bandhavgarh (Approx. 04 hrs drive).

Bandhavgarh National Park: Set amongst The Vindhya Hills in Madhya Pradesh, Bandhavgarh consists of 168 sq miles of Sal & a mixed forest of bamboo, grassland, and a complex of deciduous forests.

The Bandhavgarh National Park takes its name from the Bandhavgarh Fort which is located on top of the highest (800m) hill in this region. The origins of this fort are lost in the mists of time. However, it is thought to be at least 2000 years old. The fort is surrounded by 32 smaller flat-topped hills forming a maze of well forested valleys, spurs and flatlands. This area was the private game reserve of the Maharajas of Rewa, in fact Mohan, the ancestor of most captive white tigers, was captured from these forests by the Maharaja of Rewa. After independence, due to relaxed control, the forests of this region started deteriorating rapidly. To stop this process and preserve the forests, an area of 105 sq. km. was declared a National Park in 1965. The area of the park was increased to 448.84 sq. km. in 1982. In 1993 it was included in the Project Tiger Network.

Bandhavgarh is home to more than 25 species of mammals and more than 250 species of birds along with about 80 types of butterflies and a number of reptiles. Apart from the tiger, the mammals living in the Bandhavgarh include panthers, wolves, hyenas, wild dogs, gaur, cheetal, sambhar, barking deer, sloth bears and many more. Bandhavgarh has always been an excellent tiger habitat and is known for the highest density of tigers in the world. Among wildlife enthusiasts in India it is commonly said “In most parks you have to be lucky to see a tiger, in Bandhavgarh you have to be unlucky to not see a tiger.”

Upon arrival in Bandhavgarh, check in to Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge.

Since we have had a travel day, we will take it easy in the evening.

Stay overnight in Bandhavgarh. (B, L & D)

Days 4-6 Bandhavgarh

The next three days will essentially have the same proposed itinerary Starting with an early morning wake-up call with a knock on your room door and Tea/Coffee provided.

You will wake up to misty mornings and sounds of birds calling, which will make an exciting start to your day. As soon as dawn breaks, leave for your Jungle Safari, accompanied by a resident naturalist and forest park guides in 4x 4 Jeeps.

In the winter months morning safaris require warm clothes and woolen caps and gloves to keep you warm from the wind chill factor in your open jeep. We provide blankets and sometimes even a hot water bottle to keep you comfortable.

Lunch and afternoon safari by 4×4 jeep accompanied by resident naturalist and forest guide.

Return to lodge for evening tea and rest of time free to relax.

Stay overnight in Bandhavgarh.

(B, L & D).

Day 7 Bandhavgarh-Prayagraj

After breakfast drive to Prayagraj (Approx. 07 hrs drive).

Prayagraj is a beautiful city situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. The city draws attention of pilgrims and heritage lovers from all over the world as it opens the traveler to a world of mythological and spiritual wonders. Prayagraj is a fusion of sanctity, religion, traditions, history and architecture which offers varied experiences from historical to religious. For the Mughals, the city had a great strategic importance to control their empire, and it also became a prominent administrative hub for the British era. The city was the nerve centre of activities during the India’s Freedom Movement. Several eminent national leaders were born on this land. Prayagraj has also played a leading role in development of Hindi and Urdu literature. The city has been described in ancient scriptures as ‘Teerthraj’, the holiest pilgrimage centre and is indeed a perfect place to have a soulful escape.

Prayagraj is one of the destinations which holds the Kumbh Mela, world’s largest congregation of devotees. Kumbh Mela is the major religious gathering in the world which is celebrated for forty days.

The biggest religious ceremony in the world, known as “Kumbh Mela” (Festival of Urn), The Purna Kumbh Mela, the biggest and the most auspicious fair, occurs four times every twelve years and is organized in rotation among four places where drops of the sacred nectar spilled over: Allahabad (Prayagraj), Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik. A mass pilgrimage for the Hindu community of India, the Kumbh Mela or Kumbh fair is rumoured to be one of the largest congre gation of sages, yogis, ascetics, mendicants, men, women and children on the planet.

Kumbh Mela derives its name from the immortal – Pot of Nectar – described in ancient Vedic scriptures known as the Puranas. Kumbh Mela literally means festival of the pot or a festival celebrating the appearance of the pot of nectar. During the festival, Hindus consider Allahabad as India’s religious capital and more than ten million people dip into the holy Ganga, in order to purify body, mind and soul and wash off their sins. On the eve of such a bathing day, the town vibrates in hectic religious fever and the centre stage of the Maha Kumbh Mela is occupied by the sadhus who belong to dozens of Hindu sects.

Significance of Kumbh Mela

Kumbh Mela is not just a mere festivity like Diwali or Holi but holds lot of importance for people in India. People look up to Kumbh Mela with highest regard, as this event gives them a golden opportunity to liberate themselves from the miseries and sufferings of life. It enables them to take a holy dip in the sacred water and wash away all the sins they have committed in the past. People come from different parts of the country to be a part of this sacred ceremony. It is believed that taking a holy dip in water paves way for attainment of Moksha.

On arrival, settle into your private camp with time at leisure before an informative briefing on the days ahead.

Stay overnight at luxury camp. (B, L & D).

Days 8-10 Prayagraj

Three full days and three nights are spent experiencing the Kumbh Mela, its meaning and relevance, rituals and understanding why millions of people who journey here from all walks of life in what is the ultimate spiritual quest.

You will experience one on one time with Sadhus, witness holy spiritual leaders with their disciples taking a dip in the Ganges. The festival is organised very well as the military takes control, and you are hand held through all experiences.

Even if you have never been to India, and are eager for an extraordinary experience, then this festival is right for you. It has been described as ‘The Burning Man of India’.

Who will guide you through this amazing experience?

Lakshmi Singh – Your host at our camp at the Purna Kumbh Mela is a spiritual disciple of two great Advait philosophy masters. Over the last 22 years she has devoted herself to her gurus and her personal spiritual journey.

Lakshmi’s own journey began as princess from the royal family of Tikari in Bihar, her father who was the last Maharaja brought up Lakshmi with an exposure to the adventurous Royal lifestyles of ballroom dancing, hunting and the finest education and from there Lakshmi went on to work with in the world of exploration tourism that was just beginning in India and Nepal. She spent many years establishing and operating high-end luxury camps and tours.

During this period, she happened to visit the Maha Kumbh Mela in 1989, one dip in the holy Ganges and from there her life changed. Something moved inside her and she left her ‘regular life’ and devoted herself to learning and studying Indian Philosophy. She lived with her Guru and travelled to parts of the Himalayas seeking.

Her best years with her guru were spent in Haridwar and she travelled to Allahabad with him to be a part of the Kumbh Mela, it is here that you will meet her as your host.

Stay overnight at luxury camp. (B, L & D)

Day 11 Prayagraj-Varanasi

After breakfast, drive to Varanasi (Approx. 03 hrs drive).

Varanasi or Benaras, (also known as Kashi) is one of the oldest living cities in the world. Varanasi`s Prominence in Hindu mythology is virtually unrevealed. Mark Twain, the English author and literature, who was enthralled by the legend and sanctity of Benaras, once wrote: “Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together.”The land of Varanasi (Kashi) has been the ultimate pilgrimage spot for Hindus for ages. Hindus believe that one who is graced to die on the land of Varanasi would attain salvation and freedom from the cycle of birth and re-birth. Abode of Lord Shiva and Parvati, the origins of Varanasi are yet unknown. Ganges in Varanasi is believed to have the power to wash away the sins of mortals. Ganges is said to have its origins in the tresses of Lord Shiva and in Varanasi, it expands to the mighty river that we know of. The city is a center of learning and civilization for over 3000 years. Varanasi is associated with promotion of spiritualism, mysticism, Sanskrit, yoga and Hindi language and honored authors such as the ever-famous novelist Prem Chand and Tulsi Das, the famous saint-poet who wrote Ram Charit Manas.

On arrival, check-in at hotel.

As sun goes down, evening visit to the Ganges for glittering Aarti (prayer) ceremony. The Ganga aarti of Varanasi is a shining beacon of devotion and bliss that makes us experience the divinity in and around us. Since ages, no day has gone by when the holy Ganga River has not been adored. Here you will witness striking religious rituals being performed—a truly unique experience. The magical quality of the evening begins with a slow upriver float from Assi Ghat as the sun cascades across the city skyline. The priests in-charge of performing the aarti sport dhoti and kurta well-tied with a long gamcha (or towel). They prepare the set-up by gathering five elevated planks, a layered brass lamp, idol of Ganga Devi, flowers, incense sticks, conch shell and other ritual paraphernalia. Only the learned pandits (Priests) of Vedas and Upanishads are involved in performing the aarti. Aarti ceremony begins by lighting up the multi-tiered ceremonial brass lamps and a well-synchronised and rhythmic chanting of the holy mantras. While, some of the priests blow the conch shells to sanctify the atmosphere, other priests begin waving the incense sticks to worship Mother Ganga.

Stay overnight in Varanasi.

(B, L & D)

Day 12 Varanasi

The Subah or morning Banaras! Get up early at the crack of dawn with us for this amazing boat journey. Spiritually enlightening and fantastically photogenic, Varanasi is at its brilliant best by the ghats, the long stretch of steps leading down to the water on the western bank of the Ganges. You will observe the living traditions of one of the oldest religions. Boat ride from Assi Ghat to Manikarnika ghat will be conducted to enjoy beautiful & colorful view of River Ganga in mellow light and watch pilgrims to perform morning -prayer to rising sun. You will be amazed by the color palette that surrounds you like the red and golden color of the water of the Ganges, temples, ‘ashrams’ and pavilions.

With the Sunrise, we venture again down the Ghats (banks of the river). Much less crowded than the evening before, we make it back to Assi Ghat to witness the morning Aarti (prayer). A fraction of the people compared to the night before, and hence, we can get up close to these priests. At times, you will also hear students of music chanting hymns, while the priests are performing the morning rituals.

We get back on our boat and cruise down to Kedar Mandir. As Varanasi wakes up, you will see many priests coming to the banks for their rituals and many children taking their morning bath. Yoga, is a common practice early in the morning and we will see many priests practicing the same. We will arrive at Kedar Ghat from where we will visit Kedar Mandir. The temple can be identified from its red and yellow steps and it is more popular amongst the locals than tourists. Although, there are thousands of temples in Varanasi, this would be a great introduction to temple structures.

From here, we start walking to explore various other activities happening in Varanasi, and example would be Kushti Akharas. Faith and fitness have always found common ground in Varanasi. In its traditional ‘gymnasiums’ or kushti akharas along the ghats, wrestlers continue to practise millennia-old moves with single-minded devotion. The day starts with a prayer at the small Hanuman shrine, before warm-up begins in earnest with a range of kushti equipment. Young boys wear gar nals or stone rings that act as weights around their necks.

Some finish a lap of cartwheels along the periphery. Yet others lift a mace (Hanuman’s gada), their eyebrows furrowed and temples glistening with beads of sweat. Before long everything dissolves into an impossible tangle of limbs on the soft mud, which reduces the impact of throws and manoeuvres perfected over the years. Hours later, the wrestlers disband, disappearing into the crowds and returning to the daily grind of life.

If you are comfortable with eating some safe street food in India, then Varanasi has some amazing treats for you.

After the boat ride, we will back to hotel for breakfast.

Rest of day free to relax

Optional: Visit to Sarnath Ruins (Museum remains closed on Friday)

Late evening around 19:30 – Death & Rebirth in Banaras (Night walk from 1930-2230).

Death & Rebirth is the Night Walk where we move from various sites throughout the city related to death & life. Beginning with a fertility temple and ending with the cremation grounds, this tour takes many of the sites of other tours and strings them together in a garland of fantastic sites and experiences. Walk with us through the city and see Banaras as Mahashamstana, the great cremation ground.  We visit an ashram of a path of tantric non-dualism, well known for their black-clothed renunciants who meditate in the cremation grounds. You will get a taste of death & rebirth while discussing philosophy as you wander through Kali temple to chai shop, eventually reaching one of the cremation grounds.

Stay overnight in Varanasi. (B, L & D)

Day 13 Varanasi-Delhi

After breakfast, in time transfer to airport for flight to reach Delhi.

Upon arrival at Delhi, transfer to hotel.

Evening enjoy farewell dinner at hotel.

Day 14 Jan 19 Delhi-Departure

We will provide a transfer to airport to board the flight for your onward journey home. You can select flights out at any time on this day. (B)

Reserve Your Spot Today

Services Included
  • Accommodation on twin/double sharing basis at hotels in their base category (unless otherwise specified) mentioned or in similar category with meals as indicated (B, L, D stand for breakfast, lunch and dinner respectively).
  • Services of Air-Conditioned Mini Coach (up to 12 paying pax) and Large Coach for over 12 pax for all transfers, drives and sightseeing except for transfers between Jabalpur to Bandhavgarh, Bandhavgarh- Prayagraj-Varanasi, where we will provide Air-Conditioned Toyota Innova Crysta (max 3 paying pax per vehicle) for smoother and faster driving experience on narrow country side road.
  • Entrance fee to places of visit / monuments.
  • Services of English-speaking expert guides with walking experiences at Delhi & Varanasi during city sightseeing tour.
  • 06 exclusive jeep safaris in Bandhavgarh National Parks by 4X4 Open jeep inclusive of entry fee to park, resident naturalist services and local onsite naturalist (maximum 04 pax per jeep).
  • Rickshaw ride at Old Delhi & Varanasi.
  • Exclusive bajra boat ride at river Ganges in Varanasi.
  • Services of accompanying English-speaking escort cum guide from arrival in India till departure.
  • During the stay at Naga Kutir (luxury camp at Kumbh) below activities are included:
    • Special Experience at Dhuna with Sadhus at Camp
    • Experience the meaning of Kumbh with Lakshmi Singh
    • Personal Interactions with Sadhus from the Juna Akhara
    • Sandhya (evening) Aarti camp at Camp Dhuna
    • Morning Yoga with Sadhu
    • Guided Walks into the Kumbh Mela (2 to 3 hours) from 13-15 Jan’25.
    • Boat Ride at Kumbh Mela (1 to 2 hours) from 13-15 Jan’25.
    • Night walk to experience the Evening rituals at the Mela (1 hour) from 13-15 Jan’25.
    • Time spent in different Akharas with Sadhus at their Dhuna from 13-15 Jan’25.
  • General tipping to porters, local guides, restaurants & driver except for the accompanying tour leader.
  • Packaged drinking water during all transfers, drives and sightseeing (available in vehicle).
  • Assistance at airports/railway station and at the hotels at the time of check in/out in all the major cities.
  • Mandatory Government service tax.
Services Not Included
  • Any Airfare, any insurance fee.
  • Any Visa fee (India Visa is must for all the visitors before boarding on their flight except nationals of 11 countries who enjoy visa on arrival. For more details visit Indian Visa https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/
  • Any meals other than what is specified above in the itinerary or in inclusion or anything else not mentioned in inclusion above.
  • Anything not mentioned in inclusion above.
  • Tipping to accompanying escort is not included in our cost.
  • Any optional tours.
  • Any expenditure of personal nature like tabled drinks, laundry, telephone calls, soft/ hard drinks, still/video camera fee (if any) etc.
  • Anything ordered from room service at any hotel including mineral water (other than what being offered by the hotels on their compliment).
  • Any sudden increase in price due to steep hike in fuel cost, change in government tax policy or for any reason beyond our control like acts of god, natural calamity, law and order situation, riots etc and any forced change in itinerary for any unforeseen situation or reason beyond our control.

Reserve Your Spot Today

Details

Start:
January 6, 2025
End:
January 19, 2025
Cost:
$15,995
Event Categories:
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Organizer

Art Wolfe Inc
Phone:
1-888-973-0011
Email:
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