Tour dates: 2 – 13 February 2018 (Varanasi add-on runs from 13 – 17 February)
Tour length: 12 days (plus 4-day Varanasi add-on)
Minimum 6 guests. Maximum 10 guests. This tour is suitable for photographers of all levels.
Prepare to enter a grand and mesmerising world with The Colours of India Photography Tour. Embark on a magical journey into the heart and history of India, as we journey from Delhi into the colourful splendours of Rajasthan. And if you feel like extending your Indian photographic experience, join our extension to Varanasi, the holiest city in India, where we’ll be chasing street and documentary photographs of traditional life unfolding on the ghats along the sacred Ganges River.
This tour takes in all the colour, brilliance, energy and culture that India has to offer, from the must-see (and must-photograph) iconic monuments to more off-the-beaten-path experiences where we spend time in rural villages, holy towns and desert camps. We begin our journey in Delhi, where you will discover the laneways of Old Delhi and the majestic monuments built by the Mughal Empire. After Delhi, we head for Agra to explore one of the world’s most famous and iconic buildings, the Taj Mahal, and travel onto Jaipur home to fantastic forts and the bustling Pink City bazaars. Onwards then to Pushkar, Rajasthan’s most holy town, where we will find holy men mingling with locals in the old lakeside town, before completing our tour in enrapturing Jodhpur, where we amble through the famous Blue City, a magnificent jumble of alleyways, and photograph camels at sunset on the edge of the Thar Desert. You’ll experience a journey that will sate your photographic and travel appetites.
Whether you are a beginner or seasoned professional there are many highlights planned to inspire and involve you in a small group environment to enrich your journey. We will be traveling in a private air-conditioned bus, with our very own driver and English-speaking tour escort/director. We have selected accommodation for you that is modern, comfortable and full of character, including boutique and heritage hotels, havelis (mansions) and even a “fort” in Pushkar! Join us for a memorable and enriching photographic experience that encompasses the exotic colour of India!
Day 1: Delhi
Welcome to India as you arrive in New Delhi and are transferred to your hotel in Delhi. In the evening, meet the other guests as we join a local Delhi family for a fantastic cooking lesson, where we’ll view demonstrations of local culinary artistry (we can join in and cook some dishes) and then tuck into delicious local fare, all from a rooftop terrace kitchen with views of the surrounding city. It’s a great way to kick off the tour while getting a real and authentic taste of India!
Day 2: Sights, sounds and tastes of Delhi
We begin our cultural journey in India with a very special photography tour of Old Delhi. You’ll explore the laneways, alleys and streets of the old city on foot and by cycle rickshaw. Photographic opportunities abound, from faces of locals to street photography of the colours, textures and hubbub of Old Delhi! We stop for lunch at a regal old haveli (an old private mansion) where we’ll meet the local family and join them for a delicious lunch.
In the evening, we head out to Jama Masjid, an impressive mosque dating back to the era of the Mughals and Shahs in India. Jama Masjid has three gateways and four towers soaring into the sky, presenting an impressive photographic backdrop for us. Within, we’ll find a hive of activity as we mingle with worshippers and locals inside the walls of the mosque.
Day 3: Humayun’s Tomb and the Pehalwani of India (wrestlers)
Our morning begins bright and early with a visit to Humayun’s Tomb, one of the most stunning and impressive architectural achievements from the Mughal era. We will explore the grounds of Humayun’s tomb before entering the main building where we’ll see the interplay of sunlight coming in through the dome of the building. We will also visit Agrasen ke Baoli, a stunning structure consisting of ornate terraces and steps leading to a deep (and now dry) stepwell.
In the afternoon, we head to a very special location and photographic experience for all of us — an akhara (wrestling hall) in Delhi where we will meet the local strongmen who compete with each other on the clay or earthen wrestling ring called the kushti. These men live and breathe their sports and many of them take oaths of abstinence in order to be able to focus completely on their discipline. We will have the opportunity to view and photograph a wrestling match between two pehalwani (wrestlers) and also take their portraits as part of our visit. This opportunity offers you the chance to scope out environmental portraits and journalistic stories.
Day 4: Agra and the Taj Mahal
We bid goodbye to Delhi as we board our coach for Agra, the home of the the Taj Mahal. Described as “the tear drop on the edge of eternity”, this splendid, ivory-white monument is the mausoleum to Mumtaz Mahal, the beloved of the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan.
We arrive in Agra and check into our hotel. In the late afternoon, we visit Mehtab Bagh, the Moonlight Gardens, to photograph the Taj Mahal from across the Yamuna River, capturing the monument lit by the golden rays of the setting sun.
Day 5: Taj Mahal Sunrise and Man Sagar Lake
We begin the day very early, with a sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal, where we will spend some time exploring the grounds and visiting the monument up close. This is the perfect opportunity to marvel at the artistry and grandeur of the structure, and Lynn and Seng will be at hand to show you some terrific spots from which to photograph the Taj. We return to the hotel for a late breakfast before boarding our bus for Jaipur, the capital of the state of Rajasthan and home of the Pink City, where soft pink walls of sandstone dominate the town. Rajasthan is quintessential india, with its people sporting turbans and brightly coloured saris and its ancient cities surmounted by monolithic fortresses.
In the late afternoon, we will visit the shores of Man Sagar Lake to photograph the dreamy Jal Mahal, a partly submerged palace that appears to float across the shimmering surface of the lake. Jal Mahal consists of five storeys, four of which are underwater. The promenade around the lake is full of life and we’ll spend time here until the sun sets on the palace walls bringing them to vibrant life across the silky water.
Day 6: Amber Fort and a tour of the bazaars of Jaipur
An early morning start to catch the early light at Amber Fort gives us the opportunity to photograph its stunning walls and towers in the soft light of dawn and sunrise. Rising on a hill above Moata Lake, we will be able to photograph the fort and its reflections in the water, before we visit Panna Meena Kund, an ancient stepwell, where we have a special private portrait session planned with locals in traditional dress.
We then return to Amber Fort in for a closer look at the walls and gates of the fort. There will be opportunities to photograph the fort in detail as we head into the interior of Amber Fort.
The afternoon is devoted to an exploration of the bazaars of the Pink City, where almost anything is available for purchase, from Rajasthani crafts to clothing to spices and precious stones. We’ll explore the bazaars and cap of the evening with dinner at a local restaurant, where we will savour Rajasthani cuisine in a simple, authentic environment.
Day 7: Pushkar
Today, we journey from Jaipur to Pushkar, the holiest city in Rajasthan and dedicated to the Hindu God, Brahma. Hindus believe that Brahma dropped a lotus flower to the earth to create his city, and Pushkar floated to the surface. The city of Pushkar clusters around the lake, its milky blue buildings hiding a warren of laneways and winding streets to explore. After checking into our hotel in Pushkar, we explore the old markets and enter the Brahma Temple. We’ll have the opportunity to sample local masala chai whilst spending time photographing the local colour and street characters. At sunset we’ll photograph the pearly hued buildings surrounding Pushkar Lake from a rooftop terrace.
Day 8: Pushkar, Holy Men and Villages
Our full day in Pushkar starts off with a visit to the old town, where we’ll look for holy men (sadhus), many of whom will be more than happy to be photographed. We’ll visit the bazaars of Pushkar and chase photographic opportunities as we find them.
In the afternoon, we visit a nearby village to cultivate an understanding of rural life in Rajasthan, where we’ll mingle with a local family and children returning from their day at school. It’s a great opportunity for some authentic portraits, as well as a cross-cultural exchange between us and the local villages.
Our afternoon finishes off with a very special treat — a drumming lesson by local musicians, where we will have the opportunity to join in the creation of some energising Rajasthani rhythms and beats!
Day 9: Jodhpur and the Blue City of Brahmapuri.
Today sees us travelling to Jodhpur, an ancient, rambling city perched on the edge of the Thar Desert, and home to the Blue City and the remarkable Bishnoi people. After settling into our heritage hotel, we’ll wander the cool narrow lane-ways of the Blue City where we’ll visit the home of a Brahmin family and photograph from the rooftop terrace which overlooks a vast expanse of the city below as it sprawls towards the remarkable Mehrangarh Fort, high on a plateau.
Day 10: Bishnoi villages and Mehrangarh Fort
Today we travel to Bishnoi country – one of the most interesting cultures of Rajasthan. The Bishnoi are caretakers of the environment and they lead traditional rural lives of herding and farming. We’ll spend time visiting a local family and children at a local school with more great portraiture opportunities.
The late afternoon takes in a visit to Mehrangarh Fort – one of the largest and most mesmerising forts in India; the photographic opportunities here are endless as we wander the walls of this massive fort and then head within to explore its network of palaces and courtyards.
Day 11: Jodhpur Spice Markets, the Thar Desert and a Sunset Camel Desert Safari
We have a relaxed morning in Jodhpur, with the opportunity to visit the local spice markets and we’ll breathe in the aromas of hundreds of spices. In the early afternoon, we transfer to Osian, a town on the edge of the Thar Desert, to spend a night at a camp safari – where we’ll witness the whirling Kalbeliya Gypsy Dancers of the desert and take a journey out on camel carts to the dunes for a sunset shoot of the camels and their riders on the dunes. We wrap up with a special evening in the desert, as we share our experiences of India that will surely remain with us for a long time.
Day 12: Return to Delhi
We leave Osian for our transfer to Jodhpur airport for our connecting flight home.
Varanasi, the city of Shiva, is the holiest and most spiritual city in India. Built on the banks of the sacred Ganges River, Varanasi is a travel and documentary photographer’s dream come true. The ghats of Varanasi are world famous for spiritual activity, whether it be prayers, meditation or cremations. In the morning and at night, ceremonies abound, with the Ganga Aarti, a resplendent display of light, fire and sound, as the faithful utter their devotions to Mother Ganges.
The add-on sees us connecting with and photographing life on the banks of this holy river — from locals praying and bathing on the ghats, holy men (sadhus) meditating on platforms along the river, cremations on the burning ghats, Ganga aarti celebrations and prayers, local akharas, faces, portraits, people, life, colour, textures… You’ll be drawn into the intricacies of spiritual life in this ancient city, even embarking on a boat ride on the Ganges, where we will explore the numerous ghats of the city and take portraits of the boatmen who make a living ferrying passengers from ghat to ghat or across the river to the far shore.
The Varanasi Extension is for experienced photographers who want to participate in a more documentary approach to photography and who would like to access one of the world’s richest spiritual culture and its practices. You’ll have the opportunity to shoot independently while taking advantage of the highlights planned by Seng and Lynn. These include:
Varanasi add-on includes:
Varanasi Extension exclusions: Meals – as the Extension has a more flexible/free-form itinerary, guests will need to cover the cost of their own meals and beverages.
(* Please note: price may be subject to change in the event of substantial shifts in the AUD to USD exchange rate)
A deposit of AUD$1900 (AUD$2100 with the Varanasi Extension) will secure your place on this tour with the balance paid by 2 December 2017. Note that deposits are fully refunded if the tour is cancelled due to not attaining minimum numbers.
* Please note that a credit card service fee of 2.6% will be charged if you’re paying via credit card (Visa or Mastercard only)
For details of the Terms and Conditions of our tours, including cancellation charges, please read our Photography Tours Terms and Conditions.
To join this tour or contact us with your questions, please use the form below or email seng [at] venturephotography.com.au or telephone 0417 604 614.