Where is Shanti Niketan located in India
DAY 1 || Flight Vienna - Kolkata
E.g. from Vienna with Air India via Delhi or the Emirates via Dubai
DAY 2 | Sunday, January 31, 2016 | Arrival Kolkata, first Heritage Walk
Arrival in the morning, in the afternoon we take a heritage walk in northern Kolkata to the Shova Bazaar of the 19th and 20th centuries, Here we see the lifestyle of the old Indian merchant elite in their Renaissance mansions. Dinner suggestion: “Mocambo” restaurant in Park Street, famous for its “Raj” -style cuisine and the elaborately decorated waiters. 3 nights in the centrally located and luxurious Hindustan International (*****), with breakfast.
There are many good reasons to visit Kolkata: the government buildings of the old capital of the British Raj, the Indian Renaissance mansions of the Bengali elite, as well as India's largest museums. Kolkata and Bengal is considered India's intellectual center and is the origin of many cosmopolitan Indian philosophies that emerged at the beginning of the 20th century. advocated social reform. Kolkata is worth seeing and cannot - as is so often the case - be reduced to poverty and the cult of the goddess Kali.
DAY 3 || British Raj in Kolkata, Tagores family house and Indian Museum
A day with leisure to culture: In the Viktoria Memorial we see old and new pictures, in the Raj Bhavan the former power of the British. The Indian Museum shows us India's magnificent art history. During our visit to the family house and museum of Rabindranath Tagore - Jorasanko Thakurbari - we approach the poet through his origins and childhood. In the evening we enjoy the sunset at Millenium Jetty. Then we take a carriage ride over the Maidan, a large green oasis in the middle of the old British city. Dinner suggestion: China Town in the east of the city, famous for its Chinese cuisine.
DAY 4|| Kolkata: Religious Philosophy of the 19th Century in Bengal
After breakfast we drive to Belur, the main center of the Ramakrishna Mission. From there we take a boat tour of the Dakineshvar Temple with readings from the works of Ramakrishna and Yogananda, who exerted a great influence on a cosmopolitan religious movement in India. In Kalighat we visit the famous Kali Temple and the adjoining Mother Teresa Hospice. Dinner suggestion: “Aheli” restaurant in Chowringhee, known for its authentic Bengali cuisine.
DAY 5||From Kolkata to Shantiniketan via Bishnupur
In the morning we leave Kolkata after breakfast and drive through green field landscapes to Shantiniketan (approx. 2.5 hours) where Rabindranath Tagore founded his university in 1901 near the Shantal indigenous people with his idea of a holistic education. Check-in at the Baul Munn Resort with beautiful gardens in Shantiniketan. Guided tour of the Shantiniketan campus and ashram with a reading from the works of Rabindranath Tagore, for which he received the 1913 Nobel Prize for Literature. In the afternoon we go on an excursion to the surrounding villages. In the evening, traditional traveling musicians from Bengal, the Bauls, give us a performance. 2 nights at the Baul Munn resort with full board.
DAY 6 || Excursion to Bakresvar
In the morning we start our excursion (58 km, approx. 1 hour drive), a well-known Hindu pilgrimage site for female energy, where the goddess Sati’s point of wisdom is said to have fallen. Its seven thermal springs are already described in the ancient sacred Hindu scriptures, the Puranas. An ascetic named Bakra-asta ("eight times crippled") is said to have found his healing here. An old temple complex with over a hundred small Shiva chapels extends under the aerial roots of a huge banyan tree. A renovated bathing establishment is available for pilgrims. Outside the temple complex, on the banks of the Bakresvar River, there is a cremation site. Then return to Shantiniketan. Before dinner we will visit a local handicraft market.
DAY 7 || From Shantiniketan to Itachuna Raj Bari
After breakfast we drive to Itachuna Raj Bari (2 hours) where we visit unique historical temples: the Mahanad Kalibari Temple (8 km), which is over 200 years old. Rani Rashmani is said to have been inspired there while performing her puja; to build the temple in Dakineshvar, the Jatesvara Shiva temple, located by a pond, where a number of miraculous healings are said to have taken place; the terracotta temple in Debipur, as well as the Pandua temple with its over 40m high minar from the 13th century. 1 night with dinner at the Heritage Palace Hotel Itachuna Raj Bari.
DAY 8 || Return to Kolkata via Chandannagar
After breakfast on the cozy terrace, our journey continues to Chandannagar, a former French trading colony on the banks of the Hoogly River. On the way we visit the Hangeshvari and Basudev temples in Bansberia (20 km from Rajbari). In Chandannagar we take a stroll along the magnificent promenade on the Hoogly River. In the evening we drive to Kolkata. 2 nights in the luxurious Hindustan International (*****) with breakfast.
DAY 9 || Kumartali Goddesses and Botanical Garden
In the morning we experience the creation of the goddess statues in Kolkata's Kumartali district. The clay statues for the great Hindu festivals in Kolkata have been made here for 300 years. Afterwards we drive on a luxury ship on the Hoogly river to the botanical garden. In the evening, if time permits, we visit the atmospheric Son et Lumiere Show at the Victoria Memorial.
DAY 10 || Drive to the Sundarbans and cruise through the Sundarbans canals
We drive through Kolkata's suburbs, then through rice landscapes and villages (approx. 2 1/2 hours) to the ferry in Gotkali. On the boat, a local naturalist greets us with a soft drink before we take the cruise through the Hogol, Gomor, Durgaduani and Gumdi rivers. A stop at the Sudhanyakhali lookout tower. Then we drive into the Sundarbans canals to the island of Bali, where our Tora Eco Resort is located. 2 nights in the resort with full board.
The Sundarbans are the largest mangrove forests on earth and the only ones inhabited by Bengal tigers. The name comes from Bengali and means something like "beautiful forest". The Sundarbans extend over a total of 10,000 square kilometers in the delta of the largest rivers in South Asia, Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna. This ecosystem is home to an extremely diverse flora and fauna, as well as numerous species that are exclusively found in the Sundarbans. About 6,000 square kilometers of the Sundarbans are located in the southwest of Bangladesh, the other 4,000 square kilometers are in the Indian state of West Bengal. On the Indian side, the Sundarbans National Park covers 1330 square kilometers and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.
DAY 11 || Boat trip on the Sundarbans / theater performance of the Bonbibi myth
In the morning after breakfast we walk through the neighboring village. Their settlement history reflects the proximity to Bangladesh. Afterwards we take an extensive boat trip through Naubanki, Deulbharani and Panchamukhani with readings and lunch on board; we visit the Dobanki lookout tower with its canopy entrance. Maybe we don't just see the tigers' tracks. In the evening we see a theater performance of the myth of the protective goddess Bonbibi
Amitav Ghosh: “In between the sea and the plains of Bengal, on the easternmost coast of India, lies an immense archipelago of islands. Some of these islands are vast and some no larger than sandbars; some have lasted through recorded history while others have just washed into being. These are the Sundarbans - the beautiful lands. Here there are no borders to divide fresh water from salt, river from sea, even land from water. The tides reach more than two hundred miles inland, and every day thousands of acres of mangrove forest disappear only to re-emerge hours later. For hundreds of years, only the truly dispossessed and the hopeless dreamers of the world have braved the man eaters and the crocodiles who rule there, to eke a precarious existence from the unyielding mud.
The settlers of the Sundarbans believe that anyone who dares venture into the vast watery labyrinth without a pure heart, will never return. "
DAY 12 || Sundarbans and return to Kolkata
After breakfast, walk through the village and take a short rowing boat ride. Then return to Gotkali and overland to Kolkata. Check in at Hindustan International. Then we discover the modern Kolkata, maybe there is an interesting film screening or reading? Kolkata is known for its intellectual scene - let's be surprised what the city has to offer on the last evening.
DAY 13 || Flight to Delhi and on to Europe
DAY 14 || Arrival home
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