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Classical tour of West Bengal

Description

Bengal, known as the land of Zamindars and Nawabs was the first capital of India and is culturally and ethnically a diverse state. With innumerable heritage buildings, several religious sites, and spectacular landscape with the snow capped Himalayas, the river Ganges, the mangrove forests of Sunderbans and the revered temples of Ma Kali make this State a most sought after destination in India. This tour takes your through the hidden jewels of West Bengal like the serene picturesque town of Mukutmonipur with its lush green forests, clear blue waters with hills at the backdrop and the town of Bishnupur popularly known as the town of Terracotta temples, both in the Bankura district of West Bengal. You will also visit Santiniketan in the Birbhum district of West Bengal established by Mararshi Devendranath Tagore and expanded by his son, the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore whose vision became a reality in the form of a University – the Vishwa Bharati University that today has students from all across the globe. You will further visit Murshidabad City known to be the seat of power of the Nawabs of Bengal when Bengal was governed by this town situated on the left bank of the River Ganges and the former French town Chandannagar. A visit to Tarapith, famous for its tantric temple dedicated to Goddess Tara and Mayapur – the Headquarters of the ISKCON and the spiritual capital world will surely enlighten your souls.

Itinerary

Duration : 11 nights/12 days

Destinations : Kolkata – Mukutmonipur – Bishnupur – Durgapur – Santiniketan- Tarapith – Murshidabad – Mayapur – Chandannagar - Kolkata

Day 1

Arrive Kolkata

On arrival you will be met by our representative and transferred to your hotel. He will explain the itinerary to you and the plan to be followed to ensure you have a comfortable tour. Overnight the Hotel

Day 2

In Kolkata

Have your breakfast. Thereafter you will proceed on full day sight seeing tour of this City. Kolkata is a city of the colonial era which at one time was the capital of India. Kolkata is culturally a vibrant city with its blend of British and Indian architecture. You will Mother’s House headquarters of the International religious congregation of the Missionaries of Charity which has been a home to Mother Teresa and her sisters since 1955, Marble Palace – a nineteenth century palatial mansion built in the Neo classical architecture style which houses many western sculptures, Victorian furniture, paintings by European and Indian artists and many varied artefacts. Then on to Victoria Memorial a large white marble building built between 1906 and 1921 dedicated to Queen Victoria now converted to a museum. You will see the figure of Angel of Victory atop the central dome and surrounding the central dome are allegorical sculptures including Art, architecture, Justice and charity and above the North Porch are Motherhood, Prudence and learning. Visit Parasnath Jain Temple built by Ray Badridas Bahadur in 1867which is one of the most revered shrines of the Jains in Kolkata known for its enthralling beauty with a scenic beautiful garden decorated with glass msaics and silver European styled statues, and St. Paul’s Cathedral, Riverside (Princep Ghat), Jorashankho Thakur Bari (abode of the Nobel Laurate Rabindranath Tagore).
Drive Pass : General Post Office, Shaheed Minar, Eden Gardens, Akashvani Bhawan, Writers’ Building, Raj Bhawan, High Court, Maidan, Town Hall, Race Course, Lal Dighi Street, Andrews Church.
Drive over : Howrah Bridge or Vidyasagar Setu. Return to the Hotel. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel.

Day 3

Kolkata – Mukutmonipur ( 260 Kms 6 hrs approx)

Today after breakfast you will check out of your hotel and drive to Mukutmonipur, a town in the Bankura district of West Bengal situated at the confluence of the Kangsbati and Kumari rivers close to Jharkhand border. The second biggest earth dam of India is located in Mukutmonipur, and the place is famous for its superb natural beauty. Green forests surround the vast bluish tract of water and the hillocks are truly picturesque. The undulating terrain along the southern edge of the Kangsbati water Reservouir spreads as a three dimensional necklace in green and terracotta. There is a 10.8 km long man made mud banked fresh water barrage which canalizes the river water for irrigation purpose in the nearby areas. On arrival at Mukutmonipur, check into your hotel. Rest of the day is free for you to explore this peaceful surroundings. You can visit the dam area and listen to the rhythmic music of the water spilling and enjoy the great sunset view when the sky takes on shades or orange giving you hope that the sun will only set to rise again Overnight at the Hotel.

Day 4

In Mukutmonipur

Today after breakfast you will embark on a full day sight seeing tour of Mukutmonipur. First you will visit Ambika Nagar a village, which has temple dedicated to Goddess Durga (Ambika) who is being worshipped since the last 700 years. This village is situated at the meeting point of the Kanshai and Kumari rivers and the temple is located on the Banks and as you drive along you will see many tribal villages with paintd mud houses along the road. You will then pass through a forest and reach Talbagicha Dam – a natural dam surrounded by hills and lush green forest which will offer you a spectacular beauty. You will spend some time enjoying the beauty of the place and then further drive through the forest to reach Jhilimili Town surrounded by hills and jungle. You will see 3 view points – from where the vast hilly terrain with its lush green forest will be visible. Over 70 species of known and unknown migratory birds are there to effect the wildlife scenario of the forest. Then, You will visit the Musafirana View Point with a vast stretch of water on one side and lush green valley on the other and the blue sky overhead – you will get the best view of the Mukutmonipur town from this point, then onto Pareshnath Shiv Mandir of very ancient origin situated on a hillock near the view point dedicated to Lord Shiva. On the day of Makar Sakranti the tribals from the surrounding villages flock here to celebrate the festival. You will also visit the Bonpukuria Deer park situated in the centre of Mukutmonipur dam. You will take a boat ride to reach the other side of the dam and visit the Park which houses around 40 deer and many species of birds. Return to the Hotel and overnight.

Day 5

Mukutmonipur – Bishnupur – Durgapur ( 3.5 hours)

Today after breakfast you will drive to Durgapur, enroute visiting Bishnupur – The city was the capital of the Malla kings during the 18th and 19th century and was then known as Mallabhum, till their power was weakened by the Mughal dynastry took who took over the kingdom. The Mallas were Vaishnavites, that is followers of Lord Vishnu and the place was thus renamed as Vishnupur in 994 AD. The patronage of King Veer Hambhir and his successors Raghunath Singha Dev and Bir Singha Dev made Bishnupur one of the principal centres of culture in Bengal. Visit The temples that are made of terracotta tiles with the scenes from the epic Mahabharata. Some of the temples are Madan Mohan temple built in the Ekaratna style which is a square flat roofed building with carved cornices, Jor Bangla temple with ornate terracotta carvings in the Bengal classic chala style of architecture, then Poncho ratno temple with walls made of terracotta carvings depicting incidents from the life of Lord Krishna and Rasamancha – which is the oldest brick structure in the shape of pyramid in the heart of the city built in 1587, where the deities from other temples are brought in a procession during the Rasa festival. Also visit the Radhya Shyam Temple, Nandalal Temple, Radha Madhav Temple, etc. Other major places of interest which include Acharya Jogesh Chandra Museum which display tools from the Paleolithic era, metal ornaments, terracotta sculptures, coins and artefacts of the ancient days. Next visit the Pathar Darwaja (Main gateway of Bishnupur) and Garh Darwaja (Small gateway of Bishnupur) Lal Bandh which is an artificical lake in Bishnupur created by Vir Singh, a Malla ruler, to provide water to the Villagers, Stone Chariot, Nutan Mahal, a memorical of Srinibas Acharya. Spend some time shopping in Bishnupur : terracotta pottery, artifacts and jewellery are famous creations of Bishnupur. The trademark of Bishnupur is the Baluchari sarees made of Tussar silk. The borders and pallus are woven with episodes from Mahabharata. A special kind of metalware called “Dokra” and conchshells are available here. Thereafter you will continue your drive to Durgapur. On arrival at Durgapur, check into your hotel. Overnight at the Hotel

Day 6

Durgapur – Santiniketan ( 60 kms 1.5 hours)

Have your breakfast in the hotel. You will then drive to Santiniketan after enjoying the sight seeing tour. Durgapur is the 3rd largest conglomeration in West Bengal and happens to be the 2nd planned city of India after Chandigarh, planned by 2 American architects. It is often referred to as the “Steel capital of East India and is situated on the Banks of the Damodar river. It has the only operational Inland port in Eastern India and is the malgamation of a metro’s energy and a small town’s charm. The place has many temples, parks and a barrage. You will visit the Bhabani Pathak’s Tilla which is a maze of tunnels which opens up in the city centre region and goes right upto the Damodar River. Visit the Deul Park which is bordered by the Ajoy River and is frequented by elephants. Then continue your drive to Santiniketan. Santiniketan a town near Bolpur was founded by the Nobel Laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore, whose vision transformed it into a University Town. Popularly known as Vishwa Bharati University ... the meaning as defined by Tagore “ where the world makes a home in the nest”..... this place emerged as the best place for higher learnings and students from across the globe study here even till this day. Tagore wrote many literary classics here and thus Tagore’s house is a place of immense historic importance. You will see many important buildings within the University premises -
Prayer Hall – made of Belgium glasses with marble steps on all four sides.
China Bhawan – Centre for Chinese studies , Natir Puja a famous dance drama of Tagore is painted on the wall.
Then see the Black House – a mud building known for its relief works done by stalwarts like Ram Kinkar and Prabhas Sen. Then on to Patha Bhawan which is Now a secondary school.
Walk upto Sangeet Bhawan – School of Dance and music.
Then Santiniketan Griha - The oldest building of Santiniketan built by Rabindranath Tagore’s father, where young Rabindranath stayed as a boy. Then visit Dehali and Uttarayan Complex – Where Rabindranath used to live with his wife Mrinalini Devi and worked.
Bichitra :comprising a research centre and a Museum displaying the personal belongings, paintings, and several editions of his literary works. A replica of the treasured Nobel Prize is exhibited here.
Chatimala – The father of Rabindranath Tagore used to meditate in this building Which is now transformed into the convocation hall.
Central Library - It is a paradise for book lovers. Then you will have lunch and continue your sight seeing. Later on visit Shilpa Gram which showcases traditional handicrafts of eastern region (Bihar, Assam, Orissa, Manipur, Andaman and Jharkhand) Each state is depicted by a traditional house with collection of paintings, artifacts, etc.
If you are arriving on a Saturday you will have the unique privilege to experience the Khoai haat (market) displaying the traditional handicrafts of Shantiniketan and you will also enjoy the village folks performing dance shows. This market is open from 3 pm to 6pm only In the evening check into your hotel. No visit to Santiniketan is complete without experiencing the Local Baul (rural Bengal culture) songs and dance by the local musicians. Enjoy your evening with them. Dinner and overnight at the hotel

Day 7

Shantiniketan – Tarapith - Murshidabad (150 kms 3.5 hours)

After Breakfast check out of the hotel and proceed to Murshidabad. Enroute you will complete the sight tour in Santiniketan and stop at Tarapith, the temple town. First Visit Kopai River, Kankanlitala ...temple on the banks of the river Kopai, Aamar Kutir (handicrafts of cloth, leather, batik and many artifacts of Santiniketan are available here), Basundhara – that offer quality Kantha stitch work in the form of Sarees, dupattas and dress material throughout the year. Then continue your drive to Tarapith. This town is known for its famous Tantric temple and the cremation ground where Tantric rituals are performed. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Tara (Kali) a fearsome Tantric aspect of the Devi, chief temple of shaktism. Tarapith is also famous for Sadhu Bamakhapa or mad saint who worshipped in the temple and resided in the cremation grounds practicing Yoga. Tarapith is a famous hindu pilgrimage site and visited by millions of devotees throughout the year. It is believed that if you are an honest and upright person the Godess will relieve you from all your pains, if any in your heart and mind. Visit the temple and seek blessings from Ma Tara. Continue your drive to Murshidabad. On arrival at Murshidabad check into your hotel. Overnight at the Hotel.

Day 8

Murshidabad

Have your breakfast in the morning , therafter embark on a sight seeing tour of this City of Nawabs. One of the oldest cities in West Bengal, Murshidabad stands as a testimony to the rich heritage of the Nawabs of Bengal. Visit the Katra Mosque and and the Katgola Gardens – the erstwhile palace garden of Raja Dhanpur Singh Dugar and Lakshmipat Singh Dugar built originally to entertain Muslim and foreign guests. Then visit the famous Adinath Temple built by Harreck Chand in 1873. Then onto Khushbach cemetery which houses the mortal remains of Nawab Siraj Ud Daulah ( who fought the Battle of Plassey) and Ali Vardi Khan. Then visit Hazaarduari Palace ( meaning palace of 1000 doors) on the banks of the River Bhagirathi River and the most conspicuous building in Murshidabad embellished with a thousand ornamental gateways, out of which 900 are real and rest are false to confuse intruders. Formerly the Old fort of Murshidabad built by Mawab Nazim Humayun Jah of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, was re-constructed as a palace by William Cavendish (the Then Governon General) in 1829. It is now converted into a Museum which preserves the priceless relics of the Nawabs. Visit the Nizamat Imambara, a stunning mosque built by Nawab nazim Mansoor Ali Khan, then the Wasif Manzil located at the south of the Hazaarduari Palace. Another sacred place for the Muslims in Bengal is the Madina Mosque which was made to replicate Hazrat Mohmammad’s tomb at Madina, you can visit this mosque. See the Jahan Kosha Cannon, built by a craftsman from Dacca – this 7 ton cannon literally means “ Destroyer of the World”. In the evening visit the market to do some local shopping of Murshidabad silk fabrics and saris which are famous for their intricate designs and patterns. Murshidabad is also popular for its handicrafts made of ivory and wood. Overnight a the hotel.

Day 9

Murshidabad – Mayapur (100 kms. 3 hours)

Today after breakfast you will drive to Mayapur Situated at the confluence of the River Ganga and Jalangi, Mayapur is the spiritual capital of the world with the Headquarters of the ISCKON temples being located here. It is believed that Lord Krishna’s incarnate Sri Chaitanya Mahabrabhu was born here in 1486 AD. Mayapur is one of the nine dhams of the 9 holy islands. The 9 islands together look like an eight petalled lotus flower and are called Navadwipa which was the earlier capital of West Bengal. On your arrival you will be checked into your room in the Mayapur Complex and refreshen yourselves up. Begin your spiritual retreat by visiting the Chandradoya temple which has 3 main altars – Sri Sri Radha Madhava, Pancha Tattava and Lord Narsimha Deva. Take part in the afternoon aarti amidst chanting of mantras and hymns. Then have a look at Yoga Peeth where Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was born. You will then be offered delicious Bhog (the holy food offered to God) for lunch in the traditional style. Return to your room and relax for sometime. Then visit the Chand Kazi Samadhi. Chand Kazi a person with Islamic faith was the magistrate of Navadwipa and opposed the Harinam Sankirtana movement in Mayapur, but later became an ardent disciple of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the Samadhi commemorates his transformation. Then visit the beautiful temple of Sri Chaitanya Math which is 8 kms away from Mayapur. The Math is dedicated to Radha Govinda and has four altars dedicated to the Vaishnava Acharayas. Return to the Temple complex. You spend the rest of the day at leisure, strolling around the huge temple complex and indulge in some souvenirs shopping. Dinner and overnight.

Day 10

Mayapur – Krishnagar - Mayapur

Today after breakfast you will proceed for a sight seeing tour of Krishnagar, named after Lord Krishna who was worshipped by Raja Krishnachandra Roy who ruled this region. Enroute Visit the sacred temple of Sri Devananda Gaudiya Math, which is 11 kms away from Mayapur located in the centre of the place known as Koladvipa. This temple is a famous religious spot attracting tourists from across the world every year. Understand the spirituality of Mayapur and why its considered sacred. Continue your drive to Krishnagar. Visit the Roman Catholic Church, one of the oldest missionary church in India which is adorned with the display of scenes from Jesus Christ’s life in canvas and many other frescoes made by Italian artists, then the Rajbari – the palace built by Zamindaar Krishna Chandra Ray, though the remnants of the past glory have been eroded, you can still see the beautiful carvings on the inner walls of the structure and see the other buildings including the Protestant Church, and the Central Library. Then visit Ghurni, an important centre for the production of clay dolls by talented local artisans popularly known as the Krishnagar clay dolls. You will be amazed to see these artisans at work shaping the clay dolls and other artefacts. You can buy some as souvenirs. In the afternoon visit Bethuadari Wildlife sanctuary, established in 1980 to preserve a portion of the Central Gangetic alluvial ecozone situated on the national highway 34. This is a man made forest covering around 167 acres with two waterbodies. The sanctuary has a large population of Cheetal, Jackal, Bengal fox, porcupine and langur and several bird species including Parakeets, Indian cuckoos, barbets, etc. The trees in the forest comprise of Saal, teak, arjun, Indian rosewood and bamboo. You can walk through the trails and reach the Turtle Pond where rare turtles are preserved alongwith saltwater alligators. You can also walk through another path which offers a plethora of flowers. Return to the hotel. Evening you can take part in the aarti. Dinner and overnight at the temple complex.

Day 11

Mayapur – Chandannagar – Kolkata (150 kms 3.5 hour)

Today after breakfast you will proceed to Chandannagar by road. A former French colony Chandannagar is located on the Hooghly River and has been able to maintain its unique identity even today. Visit the Chandannagar Museum which houses numerous French and British artefacts from the colonial rule, Patal Bari built by the zamindars, the underground house with its lowest floor submerged in the Ganges, the Chandannagar strand built along the river Ganges lined with trees and lights with a stunning riverside view. Visit the Sacred Heart Church which is 200 years old built in French style in white stone that looks stunning both from inside and outside, The Nandadulal temple built in 1740 with walls covered with idols and carvings. Continue your journey till you arrive Koilkata. On arrival you will check into your hotel. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 12

Depart Kolkata

This morning after breakfast you will check out of the hotel and will be transferred to the airport to connect flight to your onward destination or back home with memories to cherish.

The above is only a suggestive itinerary. The duration of the tour can be modified to suit your specific requirements.

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