Arrive Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International airport
Kolkata, on the Hooghly, retains the aura of days long gone, weaving the past and the present, the intense and the funloving into a charming fabric. The city became famous in 1756, when Siraj-Ud-Dawlah, the last independent nawab of Bengal, captured the city. But the British regained their power in 1757 and the city was recaptured under Robert Clive. Warren Hastings, the first Governor-General of India, made it the seat of the supreme courts of justice and the supreme revenue administration, and Kolkata became the capital of British India in 1772. By 1800 Kolkata had become a busy and flourishing town, the center of the cultural as well as the political and economic life of Bengal.
Overnight at hotel.
Day 2 - Kolkata
Village to First City of the British Empire in 300 years - A Historical Journey through her Streets, Markets and Heritage Buildings
7:15 am : Your guide will meet guests at the hotel lobby, the start time is flexible.
(Guests are encouraged to have a light breakfast before departure, although tea and a snack will be served during the walk at about 9am)
We start early in the morning simply to beat the heatand the traffic. There is no better time to walk through this vibrant and bustling city. As the city wakes up, we will witness the passage of humanity from the streets where her people live and work, to the great River Hooghly where they perform their early morning rituals to cleanse and purify themselves. Where better to witness this than in the colourful riverside flower market where all the city’s religious flowers originate.
In our mind, it is important to start our journey here, as this is really where it all began. On the banks of this grand river, the battles of Europe were fought in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Alongside Armenian and Portuguese churches, and Jewish synagogues, we embark upon a journey that started the British Raj in India, in and around Dalhousie Square, dating back to the time of the Black Hole, from where it transformed itself into a City of Palaces. The famous Writers’ Building - the former HQ of the infamous East India Company, the magnificent Governor’s House and the almost forgotten Charnock Mausoleum – Here lay the administrative, judicial and political heart of an Empire that stretched from Aden to Burma.
We break for a cup of tea and a snack during the walk.
10 am : "Metcalfe Hall, The Park Street Cemetery and Victoria Memorial" Three great institutions left behind by the British. The almost forgotten cemetery dates back a few centuries with poignant images of its early society; and the majestic Memorial that was embarked upon and completed just as the same conquerors abandoned their majestic capital to build another in Delhi. The Victoria Memorial houses a permanent collection of Art and a well laid out Calcutta Gallery telling the story of the city. Metcalfe Hall, the original site of the Imperial Library now houses a fabulous new exhibition on the city, showcasing some of her modern and current vibes as well as her prominent personalities, moods and eccentricities.
If on a single-day tour, another option is to visit The Marble Palace, Potters Market or The Indian Museum. Shopping could include local handicrafts, jewellery, textiles (including the famous Bengal Katha stitch work), antique furniture, food, spices and books.
1 pm : "Lunch at Bomti's" - offers a rare glimpse of the old Calcutta way of life, now sadly endangered. Mr Surojit 'Bomti' Iyenger, an art collector and socialite, is delighted to welcome visitors to his charming flat in perhaps the most interesting heritage building on historic Chowringhee. Authentic and home-cooked Bengali cuisine served up with hot cups of fresh Darjeeling tea and stimulating insights into Bengali Art (with some for sale) and Modern Kolkata make up Bomti’s salon.
4 pm : Boat cruise up the River Hoogly. In a private river boat, guests are able to discover a hitherto unseen side of Kolkata, with a ring-side view of the myriad happenings on the river’s ‘Ghats’. This was the view that greeted many a 19C adventurer as he stepped up to the Princep’s Ghat. You will sail past Belur Math, headquarters of The Ramakrishna Mission, as the city’s two huge and famous bridges, Howrah and Vidyasagar Setu pass overhead. It is a wonderfully relaxing end to the day with a sumptuous tea menu comprising popular Indian snacks and refreshing Darjeeling Tea.
6.30 pm : Drop back to your hotel.
Overnight at hotel.
Day 3 - Kolkata (Day excursion to Bansberia - Chinsurah - Bandel - Chandannagar)
After breakfast at the hotel we driveto Bansberia (60 kms/02 hrs. approx.)
On arrival visit the temples of Ananta Vasudeva and Hangseswari.
Bansberia was one of the main villages of ancient Saptagram, once the main port and commercial complex in the area. The temples of Ananta Vasudeva and Hangseswari are famous here. The Vasudeva temple is constructed in the traditional ekaratna style with curved cornices and an octagonal tower. Hangseswari temple has a unique architectural style. There are thirteen minars, each shaped like a lotus bud, and the inner layout follows the human anatomy.
Later drive to Hooghly Chinsurah (12kms/40mins) and visit many important places of historical importance like Bandel Church & Hooghly Imambara.
The town of Hooghly-Chinsurah was founded by the Portuguese in 1579, but the district has thousands of years of heritage in the form of the great kingdom of Bhurshut. The city flourished as a trading port and some religious structures were built. One such structure is a church dedicated to a charismatic statue of the Mother Mary brought by the Portuguese.
Bandel Church – It is one of the oldest Christian churches in West Bengal. It stands as a memorial to the Portuguese settlement in Bengal. Built around 1660, it is dedicated to Nossa Senhora do Rosario, Our Lady of the Rosary. It is one of the most prominent historical churches in West Bengal. The keystone of an older church with the year 1599 on it adorns the riverside gate of the monastery attached to it.
Hooghly Imambara - It is a mosque cum Imambara in Hooghly.The construction of the building was started by Muhammad Mohsin in 1841, which completed in 1861. The building is a two storied structure, which a tall clock tower over the entrance gate.The mosque within the complex has intricate designs and texts from Quran engraved on the wall. The interior of the mosque is decorated with marbles, candles and hanging lanterns.
Then proceed to Chandannagar (12 kms/40 mins approx) and proceed for lunch at Red Chillis Restaurant.
Chandannagar was established as a French colony in 1673, when the French obtained permission from Ibrahim Khan, the Nawab of Bengal, to establish a trading post on the right bank of the Hooghly River. Bengal was then a province of the Mughal Empire. It became a permanent French settlement in 1688, and in 1730 Joseph François Dupleix was appointed governor of the city, during whose administration more than two thousand brick houses were erected in the town and a considerable maritime trade was carried on. For a time, Chandannagar was the main center for European commerce in Bengal.
At Chandannagar visit the following places of tourist interest
Chandannagar Strand - A beautiful tourist spot along the banks of the river Ganga. It is a superbly decorated pavement studded with lights surrounded by lushy green trees. It is about 1 km in length and 7 meters in width, and many buildings of historical importance surround the spot. It is very popular visiting spot of the local people and the tourists would love to stroll along enjoying the mild breeze and watching the small boats sail by. Along the strand are present Vivekananda Mandir (a meditation centre) and a protruding structure into the river Ganga. This is supposed to be the best decorated bank of the river along its entire length of 2500 km.
Chandannagar Museum and Institute (Institut de Chandernagor) - One of the oldest and finest museums of the entire region. It boasts a beautiful collection of French antiques (like cannons used in Anglo-French war, wooden furniture of 18th century, etc.) which are difficult to find anywhere else in the world. The institute still teaches French through regular classes.
The Sacred Heart Church (l'Eglise du Sacré Cœur) - The church stands for over two centuries to mark the beauty of the architecture during the French period — a good place to visit for the historians and tourists alike. The remains of the Church of St. Louis is also an attractive tourist spot.
Nandadulal Temple - Built in 1740 by IndranarayanRoychoudhury presents an excellent example of ancient Indian sculptures. There are many fascinating temples devoted to Kali, Shiva and other deities which show marks of brilliant craftsmanship and artistic taste.
End of tour and drive back to hotel.
Day 4 - Kolkata - Rajbari Bawali
After breakfast drive from the Glenburn Penthouse to Rajbari Bawali (01 hour drive)
The Zamindars of Bengal had a life of wealth and privilege rarely imagined today; they are the Nawabs, Thakur or Landed gentry equivalent of this region and led rich lives, which were an amalgamation of intrigue, battles, love, the arts and business, set amidst riches and the finest luxury India offered at that time.
The Rajbari itself, an extraordinary architectural masterpiece, was built around 250 years ago. It saw over 170 years of grand living, parties and eminent guests, but unfortunately post-independence, the Zamindars lost much of their wealth and the house started to fall into disrepair. Many others disappeared altogether as the families started to disperse to rebuild their own lives. A few members stayed on, caught up in the memories of their former glory.
On arrival at Rajbari you will receive a Royal Welcome.
Late afternoon proceed for a Country boat ride on Hooghly
Sail away down the holy waters of the River Hooghly. Enjoy a nice drink while witnessing a panoramic view of the mesmerizing sunset amidst a reddish purple skyline.
Evening proceed for Sandhya Aarti.
The spectacle of our evening prayers is bound to leave an everlasting impression. An everyday ritual that brings out the charm of the region’s ethnic culture. The fusion of Sanskrit chants, smoke from incense and drumbeats provides a surrealistic experience.
After the aarti witness a performance of Baul Singers followed by dinner.
Overnight at the Rajbari.
Day 5 - Rajbari Bawali
Today we begin our day with a Rustic Rural Walk.
A group of ladies gather to wash pots in one of the village ponds, a monitor lizard swims lazily by, children on aged bikes far too big for them, competently cycle past, smiling on their way to school. Men loiter at the village shop chatting and smoking a bidi; the priest, having performed the morning puja, ambles down to take up his seat for the rest of the day, at his shack, selling paan and other essential items to the passing villagers.
An old, traditionally clad woman cooks up puffed rice over a kadhai filled with black sand and invites you to try some. Every day is similar, though seldom exactly the same.
The gentle, slow pace of life in the village surrounding the Rajbari, where the villagers welcome you with warm hearts and brilliant smiles, will lure you with its charm.
After breakfast proceed for a Culinary Demonstration
There is so much more to Indian cuisine than just ‘curry.’ Wherever you travel in the country, it is impossible to miss the variety of organic fresh fruits, vegetables and spice markets, immaculately presented. But there are so many different influences on the food of a particular region, from the invaders who ruled to the geography of the land, and West Bengal is no exception. Fresh water fish, prawns, mustard and poppy seeds and rice were always prevalent in the area and form the staple of Bengali cuisine.
Learn how these have been influenced by the Mughals, British, Portuguese, Armenians, Jews and Bangladeshis and alongside one of our chefs, discover how to make masalas tempered to perfection and the secrets to mishtidoi, a classic Bengali desert.
Today we will enjoy a Satvik Lunch on a Banana Leaf.
After breakfast you will drive from Rajbari to Murshidabad.
Murshidabad originally called Makhsudabad in the 16th century lies on the eastern side of Bhagirathi River and was founded by the Mughal emperor Akbar. Later in the 17th century when Murshid Quli Khan became the diwan, he renamed the town after his name, as Murshidabad.
Soon, the economic growth of the city attracted the British, French, Dutch and Danish companies to come and set up factories and head offices around the city. Consequently, Murshidabad mint became the largest in Bengal and important administrative buildings, palaces, mosques and temples were built.
Check in at Bari Kothi.
The Bari Kothi was built in the late 1700s. The name of the house, Bari Kothi (literally meaning the Palace of the Elder), was coined in the late 1800s since it was the house of the elder (bari) brother, Rai Bahadur Budh Sing Dudhoria. Bari Kothi is known across Murshidabad as one of the most architecturally significant houses in the region showcasing Greek, Roman and French architecture. The Bari Kothi is spread across three-fourth acres of Land and houses a Sheesh Mahal, Library, Music Room, Durbar Hall, Janana Chowk, Gaddi Ghar, Halwai Khana, Gulabi Chawara amongst other parts of the house.
Evening free at Bari Kothi.
Dinner at overnight at Bari Kothi.
Day 7 - Murshidabad
Post breakfast begin your day with a tour of The Bari Kothi. You will be taken around the Palace compound which will give you anopportunity to bask in Royalty.
Post your introduction tour proceed for a Sheherwali Cuisine lunch at Bari Kothi.
"The love for food, especially all things sweet, is an accurate label for any Sheherwali." Food features prominently in this community, evolving passionately through their 300-year history in Bengal. Sheherwali cuisine is the finest vegetarian spread one can find, even in modern times, and is a wonderful melange of the cuisines of the west and the east of India. Noteworthy is its unique cuisine that is a melting pot of various cultures.
Mention food and out tumbles preparations like chhaatakatarkari (vegetable prepared using lotus pod), mocha katarkari (banana flower preparation), kathbel chutney (wood apple paste), murikaladdoo (puffed rice and jiggery sweet), pitha (steamed rice dumplings stuffed with khoya), kacheaamkakheer (ram mango pudding) and boreykaboondiya (a sweet made of white bean powder) distinct to the Bengal region where such vegetables and fruits grow in plenty.
After lunch proceed for a heritage walk followed by boat ride on the Ganges (tea will be served on board).
After the boat ride visit Chaar Bangla, 200-year-old Terracotta temple popularly known as Rani Bhabani, this is a famous terracotta temple wherein you can find outstanding work of burnt clay. Also visit the Panch Mukhi Shiv Temple.
Return to Bari Kothi and view a short film on Murshidabad followed by Dinner at the Darbar Hall.
Dinner and overnight at Bari Kothi.
Day 8 - Murshidabad
After breakfast proceed for a sightseeing tour of Murshidabad.
Hazarduari Palace or the Palace of a Thousand Doors
It was built during the reign of Nawab Nazim Humayun Jah (1824-1838 AD) by the famous architect McLeod Duncan. He followed the classic Greek (Doric) style. It is believed that the palace owes its name to the presence of more than thousand real and false doors and vast corridors in it.
This mosque houses the tomb of Murshid Kuli Khan, the founder of Murshidabad. The mosque was constructed between 1723-1724 and the Nawab had expressed his desire to be buried here. The Nawab died in 1725. It was also his wish that a market be established in the vicinity of this mosque. The word ˜Katra" means market and hence the name.
The palace was constructed by King Kirtichand Bahadur in the late 19th century. Within the palace compound two temples that of Ramachandra and Lakshmi-Narayana were built and they are worth a watch. There are two cannons here which people say were gifted by Robert Clive to Mir Jafar.
Lachmi Prasad is credited to be the founder of this garden that houses a beautiful palace. One can see valuable paintings, furniture and mirrors inside the palace. There is a beautiful temple here which is dedicated to Paresh Nath.
This faces the Hazarduari Palace. It is believed that it is one of the biggest Imambaras in India. Before the present structure, there existed a wooden Imambara constructed by Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah. The white building with its architectural splendour inspires awe.
This small mosque is situated between the Hazarduari Palace and the Imambara. It is said that Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah had brought mud from Karbala on his own head and placed them at Medina. It is stated that it houses a replica of Hazrat Muhammad's tomb at Madina. The colourful tiled verandah look beautiful.
Overnight at Bari Kothi.
Day 9 - Murshidabad - Kolkata
After breakfast drive from Murshidabad to Kolkata
Evening free in Kolkata to explore the markets and night life.
Overnight at Glenburn Penthouse.
Day 10 - Kolkata - Departure
Departure transfer from hotel to airport in time for onward connection.
Policy Regarding Cancellation / No Show / Early Departure
In case of cancellation of tour/travel services due to any avoidable/unavoidable reason/s we must be informed in writing. Cancellation charges would be effective from the date we receive letter in writing and cancellation charges would be as follows:
16 days to prior to arrival - 50% of the tour/service cost.
15 days to 01 days prior to arrival or no show - 100% of the tour/service cost.
Please note - Irrespective of above mentioned cancellations slabs - in case of cancellation of tour services after the booking is made with us - a minimum 10% service charges would be applicable.