November 8th to 23rd, 2011
Orissa boasts of a long and rich cultural heritage and the finest pieces of Architecture. It has the third largest concentration of tribes, forming about one fourth of its total population, mostly inhabiting the jungles and hilly regions. Most of the tribal communities have a fairly high degree of performing and primitive arts, rich music and dance which punctuate their individual and community lives. The tribes here are named after the Cobra and the Tiger.
Their culture is characterized by worship of stone deities, rice cultivation on terraced and shifting fields, domestication of cattle for slaughter and sacrifice, the art of weaving and the erection of megaliths. Tribes here are endogamous, they treat everyone from their entire area as one big family.
They decorate their bodies with tattoo marks, they profusely use ornaments like bangles, anklets, earrings and huge necklaces. Lingaraj Temple of Bhubaneswar, the Jagannath Temple of Puri above all the world renowned world heritage Sun Temple at Konark is the epitome of temple architecture and sculpture.
Organized every year in an open air auditorium with Sun Temple, the World Heritage Monument, as the backdrop, the Konark Dance festival showcases India’s classical and traditional dance forms. The tour dates are planned so we arrive in villages on their local market day enhancing our experience of tribal lifestyles.
Nov 8, Tue: Arrival in Calcutta, meet & transfer to Hotel Peerless.
Nov 9, Wed: Calcutta Full day sightseeing (B, D)
The name Calcutta is said to have been derived from the word Kalighat. Kali is regarded as one of the principal deities of Bengal. Kolkatta was anglicized into Calcutta. Today the city has reverted to its original name. We start early morning to the banks of the Hoogly River to the flower market, then to Dakshineshwar Temple onward to Kumartuli (potters village) & one of Mother Theresa’s many homes for the underprivileged. Dakhineshwar Temple was built in 1855 by Rani Rashmoni (1793-1861).
This temple is associated with one of India’s greatest religious philosophers – Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa (Gadadhar Chattopadhyay – 1836- 1886). The main temple is dedicated to Goddess Kali. It has 12 smaller temples in the courtyard dedicated to Shiva, Radha and Krishna. It is 25 km out side the town.
The village Kumartuli is the home of the kumars or potters who year round make the life size deities that are worshipped throughout the year at festivals and pujas. Kali, the patron goddess of Calcutta, is usually seen in her bloodthirsty form, garlanded with skulls.
Afternoon, a visit to Victoria Memorial, a white marble monument to Queen Victoria. A combination of Italian Renaissance and Mughal architecture, it was the British attempt to replicate the Taj Mahal and is a museum dedicated to the Raj.
Evening we go to Kalighat temple, the main Kali temple (Durga) in Calcutta, to observe the nightly ceremony. Kali temple is located on the banks of the river Hooghly (Bhagirathi). The temple was built in 1809 on the site of a much older temple. It has been referred to in the Mansar Bhasan composed in the 15th century and in Kavi Kankan Chandi of the 17th century. The Kalighat temple is considered one of the 52 Shakti Peethams of India, where the various parts of Sati’s body are said to have fallen in the course of Shiva’s Rudra Tandava.
Kalighat represents the site where the toes of the right foot of Shakti or Sati fell. Kali is regarded as the destroyer or liberator and is depicted in a fearful form. Despite the terrifying form, she is considered to deliver bliss to worshippers.
Nov 10, Thu: Fly Calcutta- Bhubaneswar S2 6365 dep 0705/arr 0805 / Mayfair Beach Resort. (B)
Traveling through the state of Orissa is a blend of art, architecture and ancient cultures.
Bhubaneswar, the capital of the ancient kingdom of Orissa, has some stunning temples clustered around the Bindusagar Tank. Of the original 7000, only 500 remain dating from the 7th to the 11th centuries. Of these the most outstanding is the 11th century Lingaraja Temple – representing the peak of Orissa art – and the late 10th century beautifully decorated Muktesvara temple that belongs to the end of the phase of temple building.
Close to the Mukteswara Temple is the Parsurameswara Temple, a small but richly decorated shrine of Shiva that was built in the 7th century. It is one of the best preserved. It has sculptures featuring amorous couples, animals and floral motifs.
Outside the city limits are the Udayagiri and Khandgiri caves which date from the 2nd century, during the time of Jain and Buddhist occupation of this region. The Jain caves are among the earliest in India and all the caves were built during the 150 years before Christ. In contrast to the stark decor of the Jain caves, the Buddhist caves are decorated with excellent friezes and sculptures.
Visit the great temples of Lord Shiva: the Lingraj Temple and Parusurameshwara Temple during evening ceremony. Though non-Hindus are not allowed inside, the government has built a raised platform next to the temple for foreigners in order to view the ceremony and look inside the temple.
Nov 11, Fri: Bhubaneswar-Sadeibarini-Nuapatna-Bhubaneswar (170 kms/4 hrs) / Mayfair Beach Resort (B,L)
Full day tour to Nuapatana & Sadaibarini & silver filigree work at Cuttack then back to Bhubaneswar for overnight.
Nov 12, Sat: Drive Bhubaneswar-Puri-Konark-Puri / Mayfair Lagoon Resort. (B, L)
Enroute to Puri, visit Raghurajpur (artisan’s village), Pipli (the applique village) and Dhauli (the rock edicts of Ashok).
The artisan village Raghurajpur near Puri specializes in pattrachitrs – the art of painting vivid colors on palm leaves. You will also see the ancient art of palm leaf etching used to illustrate manuscripts in the 16th century. It was this technique that helped shape the Oriya script to its present rounded form. Continue to the colorful village of Pipili where we can see Orissan Handicrafts, the specialty here is applique work.
Next we visit Dhauli village where the Kalinga warlord Ashok renounced bloody warfare and embraced the teachings of Buddha. We visit the Peace Pagoda known as the Shanti Stupa built in early 1970 by Japanese Buddhas. We also stop at two ancient rock edicts, today eclipsed by the presence of the Pagoda. Dating from 260 BC they outline Ashoka’s detailed instructions to his administrators to rule with gentleness and fairness. The sculpted elephant atop the edict signifies the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism after his Kalinga victory.
Afternoon we visit the famous Jagannath temple in Puri. Puri is one of the four holy abodes in India. Pre-Dravidian and pre-Aryan history relates that a tooth of Buddha was temporarily enshrined in Puri before being moved to Sri Lanka. Supporting the theory that Buddhism prevailed in this area, the Jaganath Temple, to the Lord of the Universe, and the main attraction in Puri, was believed to have originally been a stupa.
The extraordinary form Jagannath takes in this temple is said to be the unfinished work of the craftsman god, Vishvakarna. Angry with Vishnu, he left his portrayal of the god incomplete. This 12th century temple is known for its annual Rath Yatra or Car Festival. The Jagannath Temple contributed the word ‘Juggernaut’ to the English language.
In Konark, visit to the Temple – Chariot of The Sun God, built by King Langula Narasimha Deva in the thirteenth century A.D. in the golden era of Orissan art. This crowning piece of Orissan architecture and sculpture is sheer poetry in stone.
Everyday the Sun God rises from the lap of the blue ocean close by and casts his first gentle rays on the sanctum sanctorum and then circles the temple during the course of the day, illuminating the three magnificent images of the morning Sun, the mid-day sun and the setting sun. As you approach the water, you will see rising from the golden sandy beach, one of the country’s most vivid archeological treasures – The Sun Temple.
For a millennium, this temple has been a beacon to sailors at sea. European soldiers referred to this edifice as the Black Pagoda to distinguish Konark’s temple from the whitewashed Jagannath Temple in Puri. Despite the fact that the building now lies in ruins, the structure retains much of its former magnificence.
Nov 13, Sun: Puri – Chilka Lake (150 km)-Gopalpur -On-Sea / Swosti Palm Resort. (B, L, D)
Morning visit the community at Belakati whose people specialize in work with bell metal. The drive to Chilka Lake takes us through scenic countryside and attractive villages. Chilka lies in the heart of coastal Orissa. The pear-shaped lake spreads over 1,100 sq km and is Asia’s largest inland salt-water lagoon.
It is dotted with small islands and has an impressive array of bird life, both native and migrant. White Bellied Sea Eagles, Greyleg Geese, Purple Moorhen, Jacana, herons and flamingos are among the many species that make the lake a bird watcher’s delight. Chilka, in fact, is home to one of the world’s largest breeding colonies of flamingos.
Other than the birds, Chilka’s shores are home to blackbuck, spotted deer, golden jackals and hyenas, and the lake is rich in aquatic life – its waters harbor approximately 160 species of fish, crustaceans and other marine creatures including the famous Chilka dolphin. Prawn, crab and mackerel fishing are an important source of livelihood for the local people, and hundreds of small fishing boats set sail each morning to bring in the day’s catch from the lake.
The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is home to India’s second largest pachyderm population, so the chances of seeing herds of elephants are quite good, especially during the dry season. Sunset and sunrise are memorable experiences here.
A private boat ride on the lake to view the avian life and Kalijai Temple, abode of the presiding deity of the lake, located on the tiny island. After lunch, drive to Gopalpur on Sea, an ancient seaport not often visited by tourists. Sand dunes, groves of coconut palm and casuarinas separate the small town from the beach. Tonight marks our last night of comfort before embarking on the rugged journey through the tribal areas.
Nov 14, Mon: Gopalpur on Sea -Rayagada (180 km) / Hotel Kanha Shyam or Sai International. (B,L,D)
Early morning visit of fishermen’s village & Weavers’ village at Berhampur (Berhampur tassar sari , towel, dupatta, dhoti ) Then drive to Rayagda. Rayagda has the facilities to serve as a base for visiting the nearby places of interest. Hatipathar, only 3 km from here, is a place of great scenic beauty with two waterfalls on the course of the Nagavali River.
Nov 15, Tue: Rayagada – Kothgarh – Rayagada (180 km) (Market Day – Tuesday ) Hotel Sai International (B,L,D)
The excursion today takes us to the Kothgarh tribal area. The most numerous, they speak Kuvi, a language derived from the Dravidian strain of Southern India. Human sacrifice has now been replaced with animal sacrifice, offering the blood to their supreme goddess represented by a piece of wood or stone to ensure fertility of the soil. The members of this tribe still use bows and arrows to protect themselves from wild animals. Return to Rayagada for overnight.
Nov 16, Wed: Rayagada-Jeypore (240km) (Dongariya Kondh Market Day – Wednesday) / Hotel Hello Jeypore (B,L,D)
The drive today takes us through Chatikona to visit a few Dongariya Kondh villages. Visit Dongariya Kondh market. Jeypore is the commercial nerve center of Koraput District. Endowed with waterfalls and forests thronged with colorful wildlife, has all the facilities to serve as a base for visiting places of interest in this area. Bagra (15 km) has a charming waterfall on the Kolab River and is an ideal picnic spot.
Nov 17, Thu: Jeypore – Onukudelli – Jeypore (180 km) (Weekly Market Day – Thursday) / Hotel Hello Jeypore (B,L,D)
The area we visit today is the home of the estimated 6,000 members of the fierce Bondas (naked people) of Tibetan-Burmese origin. They live in the remote hills and keep themselves isolated. They grow rice by shifting cultivation and keep domesticated cows and goats.
The Bondas may only be seen when they come to trade at the local market, and we have timed our visit to coincide with the weekly market. The Bonda women are identifiable by their bead necklaces, striking brass and silver necklets and their shaved heads decorated with plaits of palmyra leaves. We will also visit the colorful Godabas, a Munda tribe who speak in the Austro-Asiatic dialect.
Afterwards drive to Gupteswar (60km) to visit the caves believed to have been the refuge for Ram during his days of exile and the place he worshiped Shiva. On the way we will visit a few Dhuruba villages. Overnight in Jeypore.
Nov 18, Fri: Jeypore – Jagdalpur /Naman Bastar or Royal Bastar Farm (B,L,D) (Market Day – Fri at Kunduli)
Enroute to Jagdalpur, we visit Kunduli Market and Kotapada. Maharaja Kumar Harihar Bhanj Deo of the former ruling family of Bastar is not only an excellent artist and a practicing lawyer in the capital Jagdalpur, he is also an authority on the turbulent history of Bastar State with a keen regard for the natural wonders of his region. He offers a personal guide to Royal Jagdalpur, the Palace grounds, the Anthropological Museum, and a variety of local wildlife and tribal tours in South Bastar, from the base of the Bastar Royal Farm Guest House.
Close by on the Indravati River are the Chitrakot Falls, Bastar’s own ‘mini-Niagara.’ This area is home to the bison-horn Maria Gonds, named for their fine dancing headdresses as well as famed for their spectacular dance.
Nov 19, Sat: Jagdalpur / Naman Bastar or Royal Bastar Farm (B,L,D)
An early breakfast allows time for a visit to the rich forests of the Kanker Valley National Park, the enchanting Tirathgarh waterfall and the extraordinary stalactite and stalagmite caves. Kanger retains the original feel of the mighty forests that once covered this entire region.
You will picnic in the natural habitat of Leopard, Tiger, Sambhar, Bison and the Bastar Hill Myna. Here too are forest tribal people in their natural habitat. There will be time also to explore some of Jagdalpur’s unique handicrafts before dinner at the hotel with your royal guides.
Nov 20, Sun: Jagdalpur – Kankar (Weekly Market Day – Sunday ) / Kankar Palace Hotel (160 km, 4 hrs drive) (B,L,D)
Drive to Kanker visiting Maria & Muria tribes & weekly market in Narayanpur. Conditions permitting, a barbecue is served under the stars in authentic Bastar style. You will be entertained by a performance of the tribal people,before returning to your hotel.
Nov 21, Mon: Kanker – Kondagaon – Narayanpur – Kanker / Kankar Palace Hotel (B,L,D)
After breakfast at the Palace, the Bastar tribal experience begins. South of Kanker you and your royal guide climb the forested Keshkal Ghat that marks the border of Bastar 500m above the plain. You will encounter the special nature of North Bastar with a visit to a colorful weekly market.
This is a great opportunity to meet the local people. At Kondagaon and Narayanpur discover some of Bastar’s finest handicrafts, and the people who make them. Lunch will be a picnic in the deep green Sal forests.
Nov 22, Tue: Kanker – Raipur (140 km, 4 hrs) / Hotel Celebrations (B,L)
Drive to Raipur, enroute we pass several handicraft centers for those last-minute souvenirs of your Bastar experience. Evening at leisure.
Nov 23, Wed: Raipur-Calcutta or Delhi – departure (B)
Transfer to airport to connect flight to Delhi or Calcutta. On arrival transfer to airport hotel for wash and change. Late night transfer to International airport to connect flight to home.
(Flight Raipur – Delhi 9W2214 dep.0800 / arr. 0950 and flight Raipur – Calcutta IT2803 dep. 1015 / arr. 1230)
Cost Per Person in CA$:
6-15 Pax: CA$2903 (Traveling in A/C Tempo Traveler with Escort)
Single Supplement Per Person: CA$1155
Accommodation on twin sharing basis
Two nights Calcutta at Peerless Inn (B + 1 welcome dinner)
Two nights Bhuvneshwar at Mayfair Laogoon (B + 2 days packed lunch)
One night Puri at Mayfair Beach Resort (B, 1 lunch enroute)
One night Gopalpur at Hotel Swosti Palm Beach Resort (B,D)
Two nights Rayagda at Hotel Sai International (B,L,D)
Two nights Jeypore at Hellow Jeypore (B,L,D)
Two nights Jagdalpur at Naman Bastar (B,L,D)
Two nights Kankar at Kankar Palace (B,L,D)
One Night Raipur at Hotel Celebrations (B)
Some rooms for Wash/Change in Calcutta or Delhi on the last day till 2100hrs.
Arrival, dep. transfer and land transport in A/C Toyota Innova / A/C Tempo Traveller.
English Speaking Guide during sightseeing in Calcutta.
Escort from Bhubaneshwar till Raipur.
Monument Entrances, One Tribal dance and Boat Ride at Chilka. Still Camera Fees, Porterage, Mineral water /soft drinks while driving, Service Tax 2.58%.
Plus Airafre Extra: (Exact price TBD when booked)
Calcutta – Bhubneshwar min $90 max $190
Raipur – Calcutta min $140 max $235
Raipur – Delhi min $130 max $360
Does not include: Tips, Any expenditure of personal nature such as drinks, telephone charges, laundry etc.