Tour dates: 29 January - 9 February 2021 (12 days)
Tour led by: Seng Mah with Mick Porter
Minimum 5 guests. Maximum 8 guests. This tour is suitable for photographers of all levels.
Pace: Easy to moderate.
Enter an incredible and mesmerising world of life, humanity, colour, tradition and ceremonies with our photography tour into the heart and history of India. Your journey takes you from the vibrant centre of Old Delhi to the splendour of the iconic Taj Mahal, the majestic forts and thriving streets of Jaipur and Jodhpur, and to the shimmering lakeside palaces of Udaipur.
This is a tour that celebrates travel photography and immersive, intimate experiences, as you discover all the colour, brilliance and culture that India has to offer. You'll enjoy a bespoke itinerary designed by award-winning travel photographers, Seng Mah and Mick Porter, and benefit from their experienced photographic guidance and teaching.
Your experience of India begins in Delhi's bustling streets and temples, mosques, lanes and monuments. Your journey next takes you to Agra to mark off a bucket list item: a visit to the world's most famous and iconic building, the Taj Mahal, a landmark that has to be seen in its majestic vastness to be believed. The colourful desert realm of Rajasthan beckons next, where you'll spend time exploring magnificent Jaipur, with its grand forts, pink city and fantastic views from lofty temples. Your senses tingling, you then travel to Jodhpur, a city that will capture your photographer's eye. You'll amble through the jumble of cerulean blue streets of the Blue City and within the imposing walls of mighty Mehrangarh Fort. Finally, your sojourn in India concludes in the beautiful city of Udaipur, where marble palaces reflect in the waters of Lake Pichola.
This is a journey that will sustain your desire for unique travel experiences as well as your appetite for colourful, memorable and exclusive photographic opportunities!
This photography tour is suitable for amateur photographers as well as professionals, and we have designed this tour to run as a small group to make sure that you will enjoy an intimate, exclusive travel experience in India. All transfers are in a private air-conditioned bus, with our very own driver. We will also enjoy the expertise of an English speaking guide who will join us for the entire tour. We have selected accommodation for you that is modern, comfortable and full of character, including boutique and heritage hotels and havelis (mansions).
Day 1: Arrival in Delhi, Safdarjung's Tomb
Welcome to incredible India! You arrive in New Delhi and are transferred to your hotel in a quiet and leafy section of the city, so that you may enjoy some tranquility away from the bustle of Delhi life. In the afternoon, we ease you into your experience of India with a visit to one of the hidden gems of Delhi: Safdarjung's Tomb. This is your introduction to the architecture of the Mughal Empire and, as it's a little off the tourist circuit, we will have ample time to explore the grounds in peace and quiet, and to photograph the impressive minarets and dome and even enter the mausoleum, with its stunning interior architecture.
Day 2: Delhi Ghats, Forts and Jama Masjid
We begin our first full day in Delhi with a sunrise shoot at Yamuna Ghat on the banks of the Yamuna River. Here, people from the local community come to pray, bathe and wash in the sacred Yamuna river as the golden rays of the sun light the sky to the East. It's a very tranquil time with light that's perfect for photography. Small rowboats ply the waters of the Yamuna, surrounded by flocks of seagulls.
A short walk along the ghats will take us to Nigambodh Ghat, a cremation ghat in Delhi, where the remains of the deceased are cremated and their ashes scattered into the holy Yamuna River. While we may think such a thing morbid, it's anything but and presents a great opportunity to understand the cycles of life and death for Hindus.
From the river, our day in Delhi takes us to the Red Fort* with its soaring towers, shadowy halls and massive walls, where we will spend some time exploring this grand and historic structure and to find candid photographs within its walls.
In the late afternoon, we visit 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, Historic Stepwells and Old Delhi
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. This is where you can find opportunities to photograph figures as they step across archways and latticed windows, or views of the magnificent mausoleum from the surrounding gardens. Make sure you find time to also visit and photograph the tomb of Isa Khan, a stunning octagonal structure set within the same grounds as Humayun's Tomb.
This morning, we will also visit a special stepwell deep in the heart of Delhi -- Agrasen ki baoli. Built in the 14th Century, this stepwell boast three levels with 108 steps connecting them. At its base is the well itself, where rainwater draining down the steps is collected. The streets around the stepwell district are also fantastic for photography - with their old facades, washing hanging on lines and the occasional face in the doorway or window.
In the afternoon, we venture into the busy streets of the Muslim Quarter in Delhi, where we'll take a slow walk down a couple of busy lanes for street photography before arriving at the shrine and tomb of one of Delhi's most beloved Sufi Saints, the Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah. Here, the Muslim faithful in Delhi gather to pray. It's a wonderful opportunity for more photography in a bustling environment of faces, activities and prayer within the site of the shrine.
Day 4: Wrestlers and on to Agra
We begin the morning with an early visit to a very unique destination -- a local akhara where traditional wrestlers tussle in an earthen wrestling ring called the kushti. These strongmen live and breathe their sport and practice a stringent asceticism in their devotion to wrestling. We will have the opportunity to view and photograph a wrestling match between two pehalwani (wrestlers) and spend time taking their portraits. This visit is a fantastic opportunity for environmental portraiture and photojournalistic storytelling.
Later in the morning, we take our flight from Delhi to Agra, the home of the splendid Taj Mahal. The Taj is not to be missed and you'll catch glimpses of its magnificent structure as we drive from the airport in Agra to our hotel. Our first proper view of the Taj Mahal will be from the Mehtab Bagh, the Moonlight Gardens, across the Yamuna River (yes, the same river that flows through Delhi). We will capture the monument lit with the light of the setting sun. The gardens of Mehtab Bagh and the riverbanks of the Yamuna will be busy with local families and workers, presenting another opportunity for journalistic photography of humanity with the Taj as its backdrop.
Day 5: Taj Mahal Sunrise and Journey to Jaipur
We start the day with a dawn visit to the Taj Mahal, arriving very early to beat the tourist crowds. There are very few words that can accurately describe the beauty and grandeur of the Taj Mahal -- suffice to say that when it comes to this magnificent monument, the sky is the canvas and the Taj is its painting.
Our sunrise visit is the perfect opportunity to marvel at the artistry and grandeur of the structure, and Mick 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 imposing fortresses. Our home in Jaipur is a beautiful heritage hotel, surrounded by traditional Rajasthani architecture and gardens.
After several days of intensive travel photography, we will have some time in Jaipur to decompress, relax and review our images. Our itinerary in Jaipur is designed to take advantage of the highlights of the Pink City while also giving you time to catch up on rest, or to just explore the streets outside our hotel (which is centrally located).
After arriving in Jaipur and checking into our hotel, the afternoon is at our leisure, with the opportunity to catch up with Seng and Mick for casual image review sessions.
Day 6: The Jewels of Jaipur
A very early start to the day takes us to the shores of Lake Maota overlooking iconic Amer Fort, one of the most imposing, yet beautiful forts in the region, where we can photograph the fort and its reflection in the still water of the lake. You'll also find opportunities to take street portraits of local vendors who sell bird seeds and fish food so that you can feed the pigeons and fish (as a way of gaining good karma). Buy a small packet of birdseed from the vendor and ask if you can take portrait or two. Strike up a conversation with them as they can be quite cheeky and mischievous.
After sunrise, we take a slow walk up to the fort, sharing laneways with local people and elephants. We pass through several gates before entering the fort, where you'll enjoy a tour of this imposing yet magnificent structure with our guide. Within the fort are gardens, halls and courtyards that make great settings for photography!
We take lunch in the city before returning to our hotel where you can have the afternoon at your leisure.
In the early evening, you'll enjoy a traditional Rajasthani dinner complete with a visually spectacular dance by twirling and swirling kalbeliya gypsy dancers at Surya Villa, a traditional mansion in the Pink City. You'll thrill to the high energy spinning of the dancers as they perform seemingly superhuman feats of dance and physical exertion. Set your shutter speed to slow and capture some vibrant movement of these amazing performers!
Day 7: The Pilgrims' Path
This morning is reserved for your leisure, with the option for guests who would like to purchase traditional Rajasthani textiles to visit a woodblock printing factory. It's your opportunity to get some shopping done and our guide and driver will be at your disposal to take you to a local bazaar. For those wishing to relax, the morning is an opportunity to sleep in and unwind before we begin the next leg of our tour (to Jodhpur and Udaipur).
In the afternoon, we take a pilgrimate trail to two temples on the outskirts of Jaipur: the Galtaji Temple (commonly called the Monkey Temple) and the Sun Temple. We will begin at Galtaji, which consists of a number of temples built into a crevice. A natural spring feeds a number of sacred water tanks (called kunds) in which pilgrims bathe on their way up to the top of the hill.
The climbing trail takes us past bathing water tanks and temples where you may find sadhus (holy men) willing to give you a blessing in exchange for a handful of rupees. Monkeys abound here and they make great, comical subjects; some of them can be seen riding the back of local domestic pigs that roam the village streets.
Our climb culminates at the Sun Temple overlooking the Pink City of Jaipur. We'll spend the golden hour and sunset here, photographing the magnificent views on offer and, if we're lucky, we may come across some holy men meditating at the temple, surrounded by the local mob of monkeys. Our descent from the Sun Temple takes us through an old residential area, where you'll find locals outside enjoying the cool breeze.
Day 8: Sunrise at the Water Palace and the Journey to Jodhpur
Early morning sees us at the splendid Jal Mahal, a magnificent palace mostly submerged in the waters of Man Sagar Lake. This grand palace is a perfect example of the architecture of the Rajput dynasty of Rajasthan, and consists of four floors, of which only the top floor is visible above water. Sunrise is the perfect time to visit as the rising sun lights the sky beyond the mountains that form the backdrop to the lake and the palace.
Later in the morning, we begin our overland journey from Jaipur to Jodhpur, an ancient, rambling city on the edge of the Thar Desert, famous for its imposing Mehrangarh Fort and the blue washed rabbit warren lanes of Brahmpuri, the famous Blue City of Jodhpur. The journey from Jaipur to Jodhpur will take most of the day, so the late afternoon and evening will be at our leisure when we check into our hotel in the heart of the old city.
Day 9: The Blue City and Mehrangarh Fort
After an early breakfast, we catch local auto tuk-tuks to Navchokya, the gateway to Brahmpuri, the Blue City of Jodhpur. The Blue City is unique in that the buildings here are washed with blue indigo paint, creating a surreal, cerulean landscape within which to wander. The narrow lanes and stepways of Brahmpuri takes us on a journey in search of light, faces and street scenes to photograph in the morning. If we're lucky, we may find the famous wall of hand prints, immortalised in a street photograph by veteran travel photographer, Steve McCurry.
We exchange blue-washed streets in the afternoon for the grandiose heights of Mehrangarh Fort, a massive fortress perched on the top of a plateau overlooking Jodhpur. We'll spend a few hours exploring the majesty of the Rajput era, photographing the fort's impressive structures. See if you can find a small courtyard where an elderly man sits in a niche with a hookah for portraits with tourists. At sunset, we will begin ambling down the steps from the fort, which will take us past local homes and shops, where you'll have the opportunity to greet locals and capture them taking some time off at the end of their busy day.
Day 10: Sardar Market and the Journey to Udaipur
Our morning begins with a street photography walk around the Sardar Markets, where we'll photograph chai vendors and stall holders making a start to the day. We will explore meandering streets and laneways in and around the Clocktower Square in the old city. Our focus will be on capturing moments that tell a story or which invoke an emotion through interplay of subject, light and composition.
After breakfast, we board our bus for the final leg of our India adventure -- to the lakeside city of Udaipur. Udaipur is known as the City of Lakes for good reason; much of it is built along the shores of two lakes: Lake Pichola and Fateh Sagar Lake. With its stunning architecture and lake reflections, Udaipur is an absolute gem to photograph.
After arriving in Udaipur, we board our boats for a trip on Lake Pichola, timed so that we can photograph the City Palace and the ghats in the golden hour and into sunset. In the golden hues of sunset, you may come to understand why Udaipur is also known as "the most romantic spot in India"
Day 11: Udaipur Ghats, Streets, Palaces, Temples and Gardens
The morning sees us exploring the ghats and streets around Lal Ghat in Udaipur on foot, chasing light and street photography moments in a setting that seems as if it's emerged from a fantastical tale. We'll have a couple of hours to soak in the atmosphere and find those candid, creative moments that make for meaningful street photography.
After breakfast, we visit the City Palace, with its pearl-hued walls and minarets rising from the shores of Lake Pichola. This palace was built across a period of 400 years and is perhaps one of the most extravagant palaces to grace India.
After lunch, our itinerary takes us to two more gems of Udaipur -- the gardens of Sahelion-ki-bari, with its amazing water features, and the Jagdish Temple where, if we're at the right place and the right time, we'll find groups of Hindu devotees in prayer.
Our dinner is timed for sunset from the terrace of a restaurant overlooking the lake, so that we can take our final "romantic" images of Udaipur even as we dine on sumptuous Rajasthani cuisine. It will be an evening of fond reminiscences of our time in India as we contemplate our onward journeys the next day.
Day 12: Leaving Udaipur and Farewells
After a number of epic days in Jodhpur and Udaipur, you may wish to lie back and enjoy a sleep in the morning, before enjoying breakfast at our lakeside hotel and then preparing to check out and fly out. Or, if you're hardcore like Seng and Mick, you'll be up with us before daybreak for a final street photography exploration of the ghats and streets around Lake Pichola. Take your pick!
After a late breakfast, we will be transferred to Udaipur airport for our flight to Delhi and onwards. We'll be taking amazing memories (and even more amazing photographs) of India home with us.
Mick Porter joins Seng as your photographic guide on this tour. Mick has a long history in travel photography and has been rewarded for his passion and dedication by being awarded the Australian Travel Photographer of the Year in 2017 and Documentary Photographer of the Year 2019 at the Australian Professional Photography Awards. He has visited India a number of times and has documented some of the most amazing festivals there, including Dev Diwali in Varanasi, Holi in Vrindavan and the Pushkar Camel Fair. Mick is also a connoisseur of Indian cuisine, which comes in very handy on this tour.
Mick is based in Brisbane, where he is a professional wedding photographer. He is an Associate of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography, having gained his merit points in one fell swoop at the 2017 Awards. He is also a dedicated photography teacher and mentor, having assisted a number of Brisbane-based photographers find their mark in the industry. But, best of all, he is a truly all round nice guy who enjoys sharing what he knows and showing others how to become better photographers.
We are absolutely excited about having Mick join our Venture Photography Tours team, and you should be too!
I’m a journo and scepticism is in my DNA. So when people told me their trip to India changed their lives, I was cynical. It turns out I shouldn’t have been. I went with Seng Mah in 2019 and can tell you there is something about India that makes you feel you’ve made a wonderful, warm new friend who reaches out and embraces you and makes you feel loved and honoured. Seng and Mick ‘The Mickster’ Porter are the perfect duo to take you there photographically, with their superb photography skills, understanding of India and their humour. The tour is thoroughly researched. Seng taps into the intimate knowledge of the locals, through them finding the best spots for the best pictures, well away from the tourist haunts. I couldn’t have wished for a better crew than my 2019 tour-mates to explore India with and I loved her from day one.
I attended last year's Lens on India Tour and I can tell you this was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. The photography opportunities were fantastic. Everything was organised perfectly, the food, the culture and the friendships made are still very vivid in my mind. I will never forget this trip and it has given me such a longing to go back to India. So if you're thinking of taking a photo trip to India or any where else then Venture Photography is the company to book with.
(* Please note: price may be subject to change in the event of substantial shifts in the AUD to USD exchange rate and to changes to the cost of the internal flights outlined in the Tour Inclusions.)
Our Agent, Globetrotter, would be happy to assist in booking your international flights, travel insurance offering a 20% discount off policy cost (subject to terms and conditions of policy provider) and other travel requirements. If you would like assistance from Globetrotter, please let us know in the Comments section of the booking form below and we can put you directly in contact with Lori Burns at Globetrotter.
A deposit of AUD$2000 will secure your place on this tour. Deposits are due by 31 March 2020, with the balance paid by 25 October 2020. Note that deposits are fully refunded if the tour is cancelled due to not attaining minimum numbers.
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.