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Poush Mela - Shantiniketan

Description

Poush Mela is an annual fair and festival that takes place in Santiniketan, West Bengal, popularly known as the land of the Nobel Laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore. Commencing on the 7th day of the month of Poush, the fair lasts for 3 days marking the onset of the harvest season. The key characteristic of this fair includes live performances of Bengal Folk music, notably (baul), dances, songs and tribal sports, which offers a perfect insight into the true heritage of the state of West Bengal. Also the students of Santiniketan (Vishwa Bharti University) present their magnificent performances and make this festival more enjoyable and glamorous. Each day of the festival is filled with different activities. More than 1,500 stalls take part in the fair displaying their handicrafts, fabrics, artefacts, and many other items, which are sure to attract the visitors. The inauguration of the fair commences with great pomp and show – at the dawn of 7th Poush, 23rd December, Santiniketan wakes up to the soft music of the shehnai ( a musical instrument made of wood), and the first to enter the scenario is the Vaitalik Group, who go around the Ashrama (hermitage) singing songs. This is followed by a prayer meeting at Chaatimala, after which the entire congregation moves on to Uttarayan singing songs. We are sure, participation in this fair, will inspire you to learn about the tradition and the rich culture and heritage of the state of West Bengal, India, offering you an experience of a life time.

This tour makes you experience the beauty of Bengal, with its beaches, monuments, temples, wildlife adventure and rich cultural heritage including the major Carnival of Poush Mela, held in Santiniketan, the land of Rabindra Nath Tagore. Arrive at Kolkata, the cultural capital of India, and known as “ The City of Joy”. You will begin your activities with dinner cruise on the River Ganges, where you will see the beauty of the city including the Howrah bridges that will bring in the magic of the evening while you are enjoying the on board entertainment and food. You will proceed to Mandarmani – a 13 km drive in beach and one of the most beautiful coastal towns, in the country, where you will stay for 2 nights unwinding yourself or participating in the many activities around the beach. Continue to Bishnupur, the land of the Malla Kings, known worldwide for its terracotta temples, before you arrive Santiniketan to participate in the biggest Carnival of Bengal, the Poush Mela, to get an insight into the culture of Bengal, and get immersed in the many activities of Baul songs, dance, and music, stage shows, tribal sports, and admire the unique craftstmanship of the artists, painters, sculptors while you stroll around the hundreds of stalls. You will then return to Kolkata and continue your tour visiting the Sunderbans, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the largest mangrove forest in the world and home to the Royal Bengal Tiger, where you will experience a unique way of viewing wild life while cruising on your boat passing through creeks, canals, and rivers, in the dense forest areas.

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Itinerary

Duration : 12 night/13 days

Dates of the Fair : 24th December to 26th December 2018

Destinations : Kolkata – Santiniketan – Bishnupur – Mandarmani – Digha – Kolkata – Sunderbans – Kolkata

Day 1

Arrive Kolkata

On arrival you will be met by our representative and transferred to your hotel. Rest of the day at leisure
Located on the east bank of the Hooghly River, Kolkata popularly known as “The City of Joy” is considered as “Paris of the East” as there is a happy amalgamation of different cultures, styles, moods, commerce and politics. During the British Raj, it was the capital of India till 1912, and was also the centre of the Indian Independence movement. Kolkata with its kaleidoscope of ideas, life, creativity, intellectualism and culture, found no where else in the world, is regarded as the “Cultural capital of India” .
In the evening you will be taken to enjoy dinner and entertainment in the luxury cruise liner sailing in the River Ganges. It is said that Calcutta or Kolkata as it is called now, grew along this great river Ganges. There are 54 ghats (quay side) and all have great history and heritage. Some are bathing ghats, some ceremonial ghats where rituals are performed and then Ferry ghat which connects the two banks at various places. Many memorials, markets and monuments are located by the river side, to be explored and experienced. At dinner time you will see the lighted Howrah bridges that will bring in the magic of the evening. You will be welcome aboard with a warm smile and a drink, While sipping your drinks you will be swept away as you cruise through the nocturnal enchantment of the city’s riverside heritage with soothing music. Overnight at the Hotel.

Day 2

In Kolkata

Today morning after breakfast you will proceed for full day sight seeing.
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. Must see sights include 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. Overnight at the Hotel

Day 3

Kolkata – Mandarmoni

Today morning, you will have an early breakfast, and then get ready to proceed to Mandarmani – which is a seaside resort village located at the northern end of the Bay of Bengal. It is one of the large and fast developing seaside resort villages of West Bengal, arguably said to be the longest motorable (drive in) beach in India. See the Red crabs crawling around the 13 Km long beach, which is a unique characteristics of the beach of Mandarmani. Being literally a virgin beach, one will undoubtedly get the chance to feel the divinity and tranquility. If that's not enough to please your senses, then roll on the sand and listen to the waves crashing upon the shore, which will surely refresh your body and mind. Relax, swim and enjoy every moment of your stay at the beach. The moment you get tired you can cool down with green coconut water. Just spend the days gazing around swooping birds and singing waves. Don't forget to rejuvenate yourself by sunbathing here.
On arrival, check into your resort, and spend the rest of the day unwinding yourself in the beach or soak in the beauty of this landscape. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.

Day 4

Mandarmoni

Enjoy your morning breakfast. The day is free at leisure, for you to either relax or indulge in the many activities available on the beach. You can be a little adventurous and take thrill in the bumpy bike rides or enjoy the boat rides with your guide. Enjoy Jet skiing ride with a guide or Bungee Trampoline, which is a kind of jump on trampoline with ropes made of bay rubber. Or you can take in the thrill banana boat ride or can simply feel the overwhelming magic of the beauty of the beach and the sound of the sea waves, or explore this paradise walking on the sands for miles and miles.
Dinner overnight at the hotel.

Day 5

Mandarmoni – Digha - Bishnupur

Have your breakfast at the Hotel. You will then proceed to Bishnupur, en- route visit another beach town Digha – which is West Bengal's most popular sea resort and tourist spot located south west of Kolkata . It is often referred to as the 'Brighton of the East best for a holiday” , as stated by Warren Hastings in one of his letters to his wife in 1780AD. Digha has a low gradient shallow sand beach with gentle waves extending 7 kms in length and the sea starts about a mile away from the beach and is a haven for swimming. The beach is girdled with casuarina plantations making it one of the most charming and luring beaches. These trees apart from beautifying the sands also aid in reducing the erosion on the dunes. The sunsets and sunrises reflecting off the salty waters of the Bay of Bengal are something straight off an artist's easel. Digha originally known as Beerkul during Warren Hastings time was discovered in the late 18th century by the British. Spend some time at the beach, before you depart for Bishnupur. 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.
On your arrival, check into your hotel. Rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight at the Hotel.

Day 6

Bishnupur - Santiniketan

Today morning after your breakfast, you will embark on a city tour - 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 continue your journey to Santiniketan.
On arrival at Santiniketan, check into your hotel. 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.
Later, proceed to the famous Carnival of West Bengal “Poush Mela “ and see it unfurl with great pomp and show. Take part in the many musical events taking place like the Baul music and get a first hand insight into the culture of rural Bengal. Enjoy the dance performances and stage shows that depict the rich culture of rural Bengal. Stroll around the stalls where the artists, sculptors, painters display their works. The artists include the students and Teachers of the Santiniketan School of Art as well as many emerging artists from all regions of Bengal. Savour the sumptuous Indian delicacies, particularly the sweet specialities of Bengal , in the many food stalls in the mela ground.
Later in the evening return to the Hotel. Overnight at the Hotel.

Day 7

Santiniketan

After Breakfast this morning, You will once again proceed to the “Poush Mela” to witness the Mega Fair of this Cultural capital of India. Immerse yourselves in the melody of the songs, be enthralled by the dance performances and walk around the many stalls that display handicrafts, handmade embroidered products, leather goods, musical instruments, and many other items. As you snake around the stalls the sheer beauty of craftsmanship will grip and you may be enticed to buy some of these items as souvenirs. Participate in the many activities that take place including tribal sports and dances. The sound of the drum beats will surely grab your attention, and you will see dhoti clad young men, women dancing to the rhythmic drum beats, and certainly you cannot take your eyes away.
After your lunch, You will see many important buildings within the Vishwa Bharati University premises - Beginning with the Prayer Hall – made of Belgium glasses with marble steps on all four sides. Then onto 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.
The most important complex, 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. Continue to Chatimala – The father of Rabindranath Tagore used to meditate in this building Which is now transformed into the convocation hall and then Central Library - It is a paradise for book lovers.
In the evening return to your hotel. Overnight at the Hotel.

Day 8

Santiniketan

Post your breakfast this morning, you will enjoy the last day of the Fair, partaking in the many activities. Interact with the artists, whom you will find and Try singing Baul with the Or engage yourself in the tribal sports and other activities and walk around the hundreds of stalls, admiring the hand made variety of products, and you may choose to buy some as souvenirs. Post your lunch, you will 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. End your tour of Santiniketan with a visit to 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.
In the evening return to the Hotel. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 9

Santiniketan - Kolkata

Have your breakfast this morning. Thereafter you will leave for Kolkata. On arrival at Kolkata, check into your hotel. Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight at the Hotel.

Day 10

Kolkata – Sunderbans (4 hours, Road + Ferry)

This morning after breakfast check out of your hotel and proceed to Sunderbans , a UNESCO World Heritage site, boasts of being the world’s largest mangrove forest, largest Estuarine National Park in the coastal region of the Bay of Bengal that is a part of the world’s largest delta formed by the rivers Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna in Bangladesh which covers an area of 4262 sq. Kms. The Sunderbans is the Home of the Royal Bengal Tiger.
These evergreen mangrove forests pulsate with myriad forms of life. Above the waters the King Fisher and White Bellied sea Eagle add a brilliant burst of colour. The sea creeps in at high tide and the forests float. Watch the sea gulls, reptiles, colourful birds, wild animals, and also the spectacular sunset through the swaying forest. The ebbing waters reveal nature so alive on the glistening mud flats. The land and the forests are split by numerous rivers and water channels that empty into the Bay of Bengal. It is believed that “Bonobibi” ... the Goddess of the forest protect the wood cutters, the honey collectors, and fishermen on their hazardous missions. For as the saying goes “ Here the Tiger is always watching you”. Out of the 102 islands in Sunderbans, 54 are inhabitated and people make a living here from agriculture, fishing and Honey collection.
Arrive at Godhkhali (Here the road journey ends) You will be provided breakfast enroute. Once you arrive Godhkhali at 11.00 am you will be ferried by Boat to reach Sunderban Resort at Dayapur by 1.00 pm. The resort is located right opposite the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve Forest separated just by a river Pitchkali. On arrival at the resort check in and have lunch.
After Lunch depart by boat to Sajnekhali Tiger Project Area for viewing Wild life , Museum Mangrove Interpretation centre and Watch Tower. Return to the resort by 5.00 pm and have tea and snacks followed by folk dance by local artists/ Wildlife movie and Bonfire (during winters)
Have Dinner and overnight at hotel..

Day 11

In Sunderbans

Have your early morning tea and get ready to leave by 7.30 am
Experience the Boat cruise inside creeks and dense forest (breakfast on boat during cruise) through numerous rivers to visit Dobanke- the caged canopy walk way inside the forest (experience the life in which caged animals live in while getting an all round view of the forest). Also visit the Spotted deer Rehabilitation centre....after which you will cruise through Matla Sea face (the point from where Bay of Bengal can be seen) – back thru the 5 river junction - to Pitchkali and return to resort. Thereafter you will be served Lunch at resort. After relaxing for a while you ill get the opportunity to Walk around the neighbouring villiage to interact with the local community at a typical Sunderbans settlement to understand their local art, culture and way of life - Rendezvous with the Rural Bengal. Return to the hotel
Enjoy your Evening tea and snacks followed by cultural program by local artists and wildlife movie. Dinner and overnight at resort.

Day 12

Sunderbans - Kolkata

Have your early morning tea and get ready to leave by 7.00 am
Visit to Sudhanyakhali Towers and cruise through narrow Rivers and narrow creeks of Pitchkali-Sarrakhalli-Sudhanokhali-Bonobibi Dharani (Narrow creek) and visit the Watch Tower followed by cruise around the Islands of Sunderbans Tiger Project area (Breakfast will be served during the cruise). Return to resort …thereafter have your lunch and get ready to check out and depart by boat to arrive Godhkhali. On Arrival at Godhkhali board your vehicle to proceed to Kolkata
On arrival at your hotel in Kolkata check in and overnight at the Hotel.

Day 12

Depart Kolkata

This morning after your breakfast, you will have time at leisure till the time you are transferred to the airport to connect your flight for your onward destination or back home with fond memories of this Grand Poush Mela Tour.
This is a suggestive itinerary and modifications in the duration of the tour, or customisation can be done to suit your specific needs and requirements.

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