Welcome to India! Upon arrival into Kolkata, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is yours at leisure.
The city of Kolkata’s name is derived from the Bengali term Kolkata, the name of one of three villages that predated the arrival of the British, in the area where the city eventually was to be established. Located on the east bank of River Hooghly, Kolkata is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. It is also the commercial, cultural, and educational centre of East India, while the Port of Kolkata is India’s oldest port as well as its sole major riverine port. The city’s documented history begins with the arrival of the English East India Company in 1690, when the Company was consolodating its trade business in Bengal. Under the East India Company and later under the British Raj, Kolkata served as the capital of India until 1911, when its perceived geographical disadvantages, combined with growing nationalism in Bengal, led to a shift of the capital to New Delhi. The people of Kolkata tend to have a special appreciation for art and literature; its tradition of welcoming new talent has made it a ‘city of furious creative energy’. For these reasons, Kolkata has often been dubbed as the Cultural Capital of India or the Literary Capital of India.
Early morning breakfast and leave for visit of Calcutta flower market:
India. This 125-year-old market opens at 4 am and sees brisk business as everyone - from flower merchants to people in search of a garland for their puja at home - comes here in droves. From roses to marigold to lotus, there is a huge variety available. The market extends from under the Howrah Bridge to the Mallick Ghat. It is lined with flower shops on either side and presents a surreal view.
Later during day excursion to Chandannagar, The city of Chandannagar was a French colony from 1673 to 1952. Even though the city was under the possession of the English in 1757 and in 1794, it was restored to the French. 18th century mansion of the French administrator now houses the institute de Chandannagar with a library, a French Language school, and a museum of documents, antiques, and art and sculpture.
Today half day you shall explore city by all local means of transport :
In this tour we will try and get you inside as many of the transport systems as possible thereby decoding for you the way the city moves. More than half of all journeys in the city are made on public transport which jostle with each other on the less than 6% road space that our city offers.
Trams were introduced in the 1860s. Horse-drawn at first, they were electrified early in the 20th century. Tram routes have been cut back at a time when our gasping city needs this means of cleaner transportation.
Taxis – A veritable tank that barrels through our streets, the Ambassador is based on an old Oxford Morris design not in production in England sadors serve as taxis and remain vehicles of choice for our much-since the 1950s. The best cars for the crater-pitted roads here.
Autos – Unlike in other cities the auto rickshaws ply only on fixed routes. A fun crazy ride if you can find one with music and disco lights.
Metro Rail – India’s first and Calcutta’s cleanest – the metro serves millions who traverse from north to south. An East-West Metro and several other routes are now being added.
Rickshaws – Officially banned, this archaic mode of transport still plies through old Calcutta’s streets. They become indispensable on days when it rains cats and dogs and the city is flooded with knee deep water. Fares need to be agreed to in advance.
Buses – The popular joke is buses don’t ply in Calcutta, they ‘fly’. You will come to realise this when you see them hankering after passengers and overtaking each other, often with less than pleasing results. There are various kinds, including air conditioned services.
Trains – Hundreds of trains bring in loads of passengers seeking their livelihood in this city. Then there’s the circular railway network that can be used to go to different localities within the city.
Ferries – Another super-cheap mode of transport, this one is great to bypass the traffic-clogged Howrah Bridge.
This evening you will cook dinner with a local family :
Bengal is a foodie’s paradise and more so Calcutta, where various adventurers have left their gastronomical imprints. We take you through an experience not easy to forget…especially because of the satiating burps afterwards. A walk through the market will familiarize you with the ingredients that go into the making of some of authentic Bengali food and we follow that up with cooking demonstration by either a regular housewife or by the owners of the finest restaurants of the city. Always followed by authentic Bengali sweets – a good enough reason to be on this tour.
After Breakfast leave for Pingla is located in Paschim Medinipur district. Patachitra and Pater Gaan are unique cultural traditions of Bengal. There are 250 painters from Patachitra or 'Patuas' living in the village of Naya in Pingla. The Patuas paint stories in a series of frames on long rolls of fabric with natural colors. They also manufacture clothing, stationery and home decor products with Patachitra designs.
You will take a tour of the village to see the beautifully painted walls, the colored track. Take part in workshops to learn how to make natural colors and paints. Visit the Folk Art Center to learn about the different types of scrolls.
Breakfast at the hotel departure for Bishnupur via Madur.
Madur is an umbrella term for Bengal floor mats. It is an integral part of the Bengali way of life. The craft is becoming more and more popular among tourists and national and international artists, especially due to the exquisite quality of Masland rugs which is highly appreciated.
The main centers of Madur are in the districts of Purba Medinipur and Paschim Medinipur, where around 6,000 artists, mostly women, weave wonders from Madurkathi, a factory based on the rhizome "a species of plantation". Their wide range of products includes table mats, wall decorations, coasters, bags, handbags, curtains, table runners.
Breakfast at the hotel departure for Shantiniketan via Bikna.
Before taking the road to Shantiniketan, you will visit the main monuments: the Shyama Raya temple with five towers, the Rass Mancha temple astonishing by its pyramidal shape, the double temple of Jorbangla, the Keshta Raya temple which mixes Bengali and Muslim influences and the Krishna Roy temple with its rich wall decoration. The temple of Sarbamangala is surrounded by four original templions dedicated to various aspects of Shiva, while the temple of Chinnamasta (the Beheaded) is dedicated to a very particular form of worship in Durga strongly imbued with tantrism.
Then drive to Bikna, Bikna is a village near the town of Bankura where 65 families of craftsmen practice the primitive form of Dokra art. Dokra is the art of casting figurines through the “Lost wax casting” process. The craft is characterized by primitive simplicity, rustic beauty, imaginative designs and patterns making it a coveted collector's item. Their art has been passed down through the generations.
Learn insight of the lives of artists and interact with them. Discover the artisanal manufacturing process. You can also visit a local museum to see the masterpieces.
After breakfast full day excursion to Nanoor to witness the Kantha tradition and the success of women led social enterprises.
Kantha is a traditional form of embroidery with illustrations. The embroidered quilt is also known as 'Dorukha', meaning turning old pieces of cloth into things of beauty.
The embroidery sessions become an opportunity for the rural women to socialise and a welcome break from the drudgery of monotonous chores. The entire cloth is covered with running stitches, employing beautiful motifs of flowers, animals, birds and themes of everyday activities.
More than 600 rural women are involved with Kantha making in Nanoor of Birbhum district. Government of West Bengal's Department of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises & Textiles, in association with UNESCO, has developed the Rural Craft Hub in Nanoor.
After breakfast drive to Tepantar which is a theatre village with a four-acre campus. In the last few years, it has evolved as a dynamic cultural hub. Lush greenery, chirping of birds, buzzing of bees make your stay really nice. Within 1/2 hour(s) driving distance, one can visit Joydeb Kenduli to interact with the Baul musicians.
In the evening private concert by Baul musicians
After breakfast drive to Charida which is located in Purulia region.
Purulia is a pied panorama of nature, people, culture and heritage. It is the land of the spectacular Chau dance inscribed in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2010. Chau is a colorful, martial mask dance of eastern India. Nearly 180 families of Chau mask makers live in Charida village. This has evolved as a major Tourism destination for art lovers, both for workshop/ demonstration and also to procure souvenirs/ gifts directly from the source.
Early morning breakfast at hotel drive to Calcutta international airport and onboard for return flight.