World Sacred Spirit Festival 2020

Bengaluru – Mysuru – JodhpurUdaipur
4 February – 20 February 2020
17 days / 16 nights

AUD7245 per person twin share
AUD9720 solo traveller with own room

  • maximum of twelve travellers
  • prices quoted are based on twelve travellers and subject to review based on final numbers
  • price does not include international airfares

Inclusions

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Accommodation

  • 12 nights – mix of luxury, heritage and boutique hotels
  • 4 nights – 17th-century haveli (mansion)
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Transport

  • Private air-conditioned vehicles
  • Auto rickshaws
  • Bicycle rickshaws
  • Open-top jeeps
  • Flight from Bengaluru to Jodhpur
  • Flight Udaipur to Delhi
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Meals

  • Breakfast daily
  • 8 lunches
  • 9 dinners
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Highlights

  • World Sacred Spirit Festival
  • Ancient temples and forts
  • Rajasthani folk dancing performance
  • Boat ride on Lake Pichola
  • Market and street food tours
  • Village walks
  • Textile block printing with natural dyes

Itinerary

Tuesday 4 February

Arrive Bengaluru

Namaste. Welcome to India!

This traditional greeting literally means “I bow to the divine in you”. It is a gesture of love and respect and is the way that you will be greeted throughout your time in India. When spoken, it is with our hands in the prayer position, held at the level of our heart chakra and can be accompanied with a slight bow.

Arrive at Bengaluru International Airport. Catherine and Varis will be there to meet you. After your long journey you’ll be needing some rest so we are staying at The Taj Hotel just minutes from the airport.

Bengaluru (also known as Bangalore) is the capital of the state of Karnataka in South India and is recognised as the IT capital.

Overnight: Taj Bengaluru (Deluxe room)

Wednesday 5 February (B) (L) (D)

Bengaluru to Mysuru

After a leisurely breakfast, we are off to Mysuru (also known as Mysore) in a private air-conditioned vehicle. On the 3 – 4 hour journey to what is regarded as the cultural capital of South India, there is ample opportunity to observe the incredible traffic as we travel through smaller towns, each known for a local speciality. 

Along the way, we’ll be stopping in Channapatna, known as Toy Town because of the traditional craft of making toys from wood and lacquering them with vegetable dyes. This craft is protected by the World Trade Organisation. Over 200 small manufacturing units are located in local homes.

We’ll arrive in Mysuru around 6pm and you can enjoy dinner and a drink in the grandeur of The Metropole Hotel’s courtyard while check-in is handled for you.

Overnight: Royal Orchid Metropole (Royal room)

Thursday 6 February (B) (L)

If you wish to start your day with yoga, free classes are held at 7am from Monday to Saturday at The Metropole. Mats are provided and everyone from beginners to advanced is welcome.

This morning we are going clothes shopping! India is the most colourful country in the world and this is reflected in the beautiful and practical clothing which forms literally the national dress. Saris are usually worn by older women and to special events. There is a real art to folding 6-8 metres of cloth around the body!

A practical combination is a kurta, a longer length straight tunic for women and men with or without sleeves, worn over long trousers such as palazzos or tights. A matching dupatta (long scarf) can be used as protection for your head and neck, and really compliments this outfit.

There are no rules as to colour combinations, however, there is a multitude of colours and patterns from which to choose – unleash your creativity and feel fabulous dressing like a local, a gesture which is sincerely appreciated by the Indian people.

We’ll grab lunch somewhere along the way, or go back to the hotel for a break. 

After lunch, we are visiting Odanadi, a local NGO which has been operating for 26 years in Mysuru. This institution has been rescuing children from human trafficking and gives them a new start in life providing a safe environment to learn and grow, receive education and some training for the older ones to give them skills to earn a living. After meeting the team and taking a guided tour, we’re off to the beauty parlour to be given a traditional Mehendi (henna) application by the girls. They enjoy the opportunity to practice their skills.

We’ll allow enough time for you to go back to your hotel to freshen up before heading out again. This evening we are going somewhere very special for dinner, so if you choose to, this is a great time to wear one of your favourite outfits.

Early this evening, we will take a city tour in open-top jeeps driving past some of Mysuru’s most beautiful monuments and buildings and winding our way up Chamundi Hills to look out over the city. You will feel a part of the hustle and bustle of the early evening as people wave to you in the back of the open-top jeep. Great opportunities for some fun photos during this adventure.

Let’s decide on the day what to do for dinner.

Overnight: Royal Orchid Metropole 

Friday 7 February (B) (L) (D)

Today is devoted to creativity with many types of workshops to choose from including textile block-printing for those who wish to explore this wonderful craft further, silver jewellery making, wooden inlay work, stone carving, basket weaving and more. Before arriving, we will have discussed your preferences so your places at the workshops are already confirmed.

Today, lunch will be delivered in a tiffin, the ubiquitous container featured in the movie The Lunch Box. Having a tiffin delivered is like having a picnic Indian-style filled with delicious local foods.

For those who choose to do block printing, we’ll start the day with a visit to the textile alley where exquisite silks and cotton are available so you can choose your own fabric.

 This evening we will go to the Green Hotel, a lovely small palace with an outdoor garden restaurant. A perfect place to sit around and exchange notes on what you learned today.

Overnight: Royal Orchid Metropole

Saturday 8 February (B) (L) (D)

Today we head out of Mysuru for the day and we will get a  glimpse of rural life as we drive approximately 1.5 hours to the sacred temple town of Melkote. Driving through the countryside, we’ll pass through small villages and see farmers tending their fields, bullock carts and the villagers going about their day to day life.

Melkote is home to some ancient ruins, two prominent temples, and peaceful temple tank, so there is plenty to explore here. It is lovely just to wander around and chat to the locals as well. It is so small you can’t really get lost! There are some wonderful photo opportunities here.

We will also visit Janapada Seva Trust Gandhian weaving centre where we will see local artisans hand spinning cotton thread and handloom weaving khadi (local name for fabric that is both hand spun and woven) cloth which is naturally dyed and from locally grown plants. They have a small shop selling some of their fabrics which is definitely worth a look. We love their towels and face washers which become softer and softer with each wash and dry fast. Fabulous for travelling and they make lovely, inexpensive gifts.

We will head back to Mysuru in time to relax a while and freshen up before meeting for a drink followed by dinner.

Tonight we are going somewhere special for dinner and it is a wonderful chance to wear one of your favourite outfits. Dining in the grand ballroom, you’ll find yourself wondering about the guests and dignitaries who dined and danced here in the early 1900s when the palace was built by the then Maharajah of Mysuru.

Overnight: Royal Orchid Metropole

Sunday 9 February (B) (L)

This morning we head straight to Mysuru’s oldest market, Devaraja, to explore the narrow rows of fruit, vegetable and flower sellers. There are also stallholders selling kitchenware, incense and oils, essentials for performing pujas (rituals) at home, bags made from recycled rice sacks and so much more. The stallholders are even more interesting than the wares they grow, make and sell and Catherine has been known to be ‘lost’ for hours in the rows of flowers taking in the perfumes, the vendors calls and riot of colours. Varis can be found chatting to the men who make rustic and beautiful tools from recycled woods and metals; in India, everything is repurposed.

Later this morning we are invited to a local home where our host, Anu, will teach us how to combine spices to create the amazing flavours of India in this cooking class so we can eat what we prepared – a meal to remember! After lunch, there is time for a rest at the hotel before the evening activities begin.

Every evening from 5pm, the streets come to life as this is the most popular shopping time so we’ll take a walking tour through the old city, sampling some of the street foods. We know the best vendors from whom to buy their specialties. We’ll finish up at Mysuru Palace for the weekly illumination.

The visual of 97,000 incandescent light bulbs outlining these ornate buildings against the dark night sky is breathtaking and there is a collective and audible intake of breath expressing wonderment when the lights flash on.

Nearby is a rooftop restaurant where we can go for a drink, or return to Hotel Metropole to have a drink in the courtyard or an early night.

Overnight: Royal Orchid Metropole

Monday 10 February (B) (L) (D)

Mysuru to Bengaluru

Today we are travelling to Bengaluru but on the way, we will visit Srirangapatna, a town of deep religious, cultural and historical significance. The ghats (steps) on the river bank are the centre of many village practices including bathing, washing clothes, worshipping their deities and making offerings. Pilgrims from all over India travel to visit this holy place.

Srirangapatna is a town built on an island in the middle of the Cauvery River and once the fort and summer home of Tipu Sultan, who fought four battles against the British forces here. If you’re interested in the history of the British Raj you’ll be fascinated by the stories you will hear. Nearby is the ancient Vishnu Temple, consecrated in 984CE. The scale and vastness of this structure are humbling and it is fascinating to ponder how many millions of bare feet have trodden the large, smooth flagstones through the temple. Lunch is at a secluded riverside restaurant before we continue onto Bengaluru.

We have been on the road all day, so we have arranged dinner for us at our hotel.

Overnight: Taj Bengaluru (Deluxe room)

Tuesday 11 February (B) (L)

Today we are doing a textile block-printing workshop at Tharangini Studios, a wonderful hub of creativity set in beautiful grounds by a lake. Surrounded by trees, birds and squirrels, you would never know you are in a city of ten million people. Padmini and her expert printers will teach us how to use natural dyes and the basics of printing, enabling you to unleash your imagination on exquisite silks and hand-woven cotton.

Ravitej will join us today. He has a wonderful eye for colour and is very experienced with design so if you need a little help to get your creativity flowing he will be more than happy to assist.

A delicious vegetarian lunch and as much chai you can drink will be provided throughout the day. If you are feeling up for it we know a great place to stop for dinner on the way back to the hotel. Alternatively, we can head straight back to the hotel and dine as you please.

 Overnight: Taj Bangalore Airport

Wednesday 12 February (B) (D)

Bengaluru to Jodhpur

This morning we’ll stroll across to the airport for our flight to Jodhpur. Today your adventure in Rajasthan begins. There are no direct flights so we’ll be going via Delhi. We’ll be at our hotel in Jodhpur by around 5pm. 

We’ll handle the check-in formalities while you relax and have a chai or a drink. After a bit of time to unpack and freshen up, we’ll meet for a pre-dinner drink in the courtyard.

This evening to give you a feel of the city we are going to Pal Havel for dinner. They have a wonderful rooftop restaurant that has a breath-taking view of the fort.

Overnight: House of Rohet

Thursday 13 February (B) (D)

Jodhpur like all the cities of Rajasthan is steeped in history. It is a former princely state, the Kingdom of Marwar. The buzz on the streets, the colour, the noise, the smells and the tastes that make Jodhpur yet another jewel in the incredible state of Rajasthan.

This morning we will delight in a tour of some of Jodhpur’s historical highlights. We visit the Mehrangarh Fort that we saw splendidly lit up last night, but this time we go inside to learn the history, marvel at the architecture and be amazed by the displays in the museum.

“Mehrangarh Fort stands a hundred feet in splendour on a perpendicular cliff, four hundred feet above the skyline of Jodhpur. Burnished red sand stone, imposing, invincible and yet with a strange haunting beauty that beckons. Much has been written about the Citadel of the Sun, for truly, it is one of the most impressive in all Rajasthan. So colossal are its proportions that Rudyard Kipling called it “ the work of giants”.

“Today, it is acknowledged as one of the best-preserved in India. The current head of the Rathore clan and custodian of the fort, Maharaja Gaj Singh II, has preserved the buildings and developed the museum as a record and tribute to the lives of his predecessors. His ancestors ruled the state of Marwar and over many generations built this architectural treasure, and it falls to him to ensure that their legacy is maintained and understood.”

Just nearby is the Jaswant Thada, the Royal Cenotaphs. We will take a wander through the garden surrounding them, also high on the hill above the city. Before leaving, we will visit the temple near the fort. The idol of the Goddess Devi Chamunda Mataji was placed here in 1460. Imagine the number of feet that have passed over the smooth flagstone floor of this temple in the past five centuries.

After a morning being swept away by the stories of maharajas, kingdoms and struggles for sovereignty we have the perfect place for lunch. Let’s eat at the Stepwell Cafe. You guessed it, it looks over a stepwell, such an amazing location to rest, relax and refuel.

Around 4pm we will meet our local guide and take a walk through the Brahmapuri neighbourhood where all the houses are painted blue. Meet and connect with local people sitting out the front of their colourful homes. The photographer in you will have a deep appreciation for the photo opportunities everywhere you turn.

When we have soaked up this beautiful part of the city we will jump in autorickshaws and head to Ghanta Ghar, the city’s clock tower which is surrounded by a bustling marketplace. You’ll find grains, spices, fruit and vegetables, grocery shops, bamboo items, jewellery, textiles, shoes and more as you amble around this lively market. People from the surrounding rural areas also come here to shop so you will see colourfully dressed women and men from different communities making up the Marwar region.

When we get back to House of Rohet our hosts will have a table waiting for us. No rush, as we will all want to relax for a little before meeting for dinner and drinks.

Overnight: House of Rohet

Friday 14 February (B)

World Sacred Spirit Festival

The festival program has not yet been released. The plan for today will be updated once this information has been received.

http://worldsacredspiritfestival.org/

Overnight: House of Rohet

Saturday 15 February (B)

World Sacred Spirit Festival

The festival program has not yet been released. The plan for today will be updated once this information has been received.

http://worldsacredspiritfestival.org/

Overnight: House of Rohet

Sunday 16 February (B) (L)

Jodhpur to Udaipur

We leave Jodhpur this morning after breakfast and make our way to Udaipur, the last city on our itinerary and some would say the most beautiful of them all.

It is about four hours drive but we will break it up on the way. There are a group of 500-year-old Jain Temples in Ranakpur situated in a deep, secluded value of the Aravalli Hills.

We are working on a special experience nearby. We are keeping this one to ourselves until it is definite. Plan B is lunch at beautiful Maharani Bagh Orchid Retreat in a lovely courtyard filled with thatched roof huts.

After lunch, we will visit the temples. You will be awe-inspired when you enter Chaumukha temple. There are 1444 pillars spread throughout 29 halls. No two are exactly alike.

Filled with wonder we will continue on the road to Udaipur, often referred to as the “Venice of the East”. By far the most romantic city in Rajasthan, it is nestled in a valley surrounded by green hills and perched around beautiful Lake Pichola. The city is a labyrinth of narrow lanes flanked by stalls and shops selling all kinds of locally made goods. You will find jewellery, pashminas, clothing, leather goods, shoes, beautiful homewares and antiques. This beautiful lakeside city has gardens, palaces, old haveli temples and markets all just waiting to be explored.

When we arrive, we will take care of your check-in while you enjoy a wander around the courtyard. Before long you will be in your room unpacking for the final chapter in this adventure we have shared together.

Let’s meet upstairs for a sunset drink and then we will go for a walk to the other side of the lake to enjoy dinner at a wonderful restaurant that we love almost directly opposite our hotel. Rather than being on a rooftop, Harigarh is almost level with the water, so that you have this feeling of being right on the lake. You can often hear priests from the temple across the lake chanting well into the night.

 Overnight: Jagat Niwas Palace

Monday 17 February (B)

This morning, enjoy a leisurely breakfast with a view over Lake Pichola before we set off to visit the City Palace. Its construction started in 1553 and was built for 400 years, meaning numerous generations of the Mewar rulers contributed to this architectural marvel. Most of the palace is now converted into a museum and part of it is now a luxury hotel. A walk through this beautiful palace reveals stunning mosaics, frescoes and traditional art. It is a look into the way the rulers lived in the days when they ruled the kingdom.

We will wander through the markets and bazaars located just behind the palace and get a feel for the city. We have the rest of the day free to wander the narrow streets of Udaipur. There are some wonderful emporiums to explore, whether you wish to buy anything or not. One, in particular, is known for not only the quality of their goods but for the fact that many famous people have shopped there including Roger Moore during the filming of Octopussy and Dame Judy Dench during the filming of the Best Marigold Hotel. The list goes on and they proudly display photos of their famous customers as you enter. There are also countless small shops selling locally made items. If you wish to get away from the hustle and bustle of the narrow city streets, our hotel is nearby, so it is very easy to return to Jagat Niwas for lunch and a break and then venture out again.

This evening we are attending a folk performance at the Bagore Ki Haveli, built-in 1751. Having been left empty for 40 years it had fallen into a state of disrepair. You will be stunned to see the wonderful craftsmanship that has restored it to its former glory. It is like a window into the past. There are a puppet and turban display that will give you insight into these quintessential aspects of the Rajasthani culture.

Our hotel is walking distance and if you would like to take your time exploring the haveli before tonight’s performance, one of us will be happy to accompany you.

We didn’t make a plan for dinner, let’s decide on the day.

Overnight: Jagat Niwas Palace

Tuesday 18 February (B)

Today we have a free day for you to do as you please. That could mean relaxing and enjoying the views from our gorgeous hotel, wandering the streets and exploring or doing a little bit of shopping which Udaipur is renowned for. We will be on hand to help you plan your day if you are looking for something different to do with your free time.

Late this afternoon when we will jump in autorickshaws and take a ride through the city to the boat ramp. A cruise on this picturesque lake is really one of the best things to do in Udaipur. It is a lovely sight to look back at the city from the lake, and admire the many beautiful palaces and havelis along the banks. We will go past the Lake Palace where many of the scenes in Octopussy were filmed, and that is now a luxury hotel. We stop at the Jag Mandir Palace located on an island with a stunning view looking back at the city. It is a lovely place to sit with a drink in hand and watch the sunset and as the light fades the lights of the city begin to twinkle across the water. 

This evening we will visit the Jagdish Temple during the evening aarti (worship).

You witnessed this act of devotion on the ghats in Pushkar, and now we take you inside a temple to see a different type of aarti. The local people lift up their voices together in praise of Lord Shiva. You can both hear and feel the devotion as they come together singing kirtan (Sanskrit for narrating, describing). We have no doubt you leave with a sense of appreciation for this beautiful ceremony. Worship has been practised at this temple continuously since 1651.

This evening we didn’t make a definite plan for dinner, but we suggest returning to our hotel to enjoy the ambience of the rooftop restaurant which has a beautiful view out over the lake.

Overnight: Jagat Niwas Palace

Wednesday 19 February (B) (L) (D)

Udaipur is known for its charming location, its royal heritage, rich history, palaces and old havelis. There is another side of Udaipur to be found in the villages on the edge of the city amongst the artisan communities. Families are working with bamboo, pottery, making leaf plates, metalsmiths working with gold and silver, miniature painting and traditional puppet making. Some of these crafts date from the age of the maharajas and all of them showcase the skills of these remarkable artisans, many who are descendants of the craftsmen from the royal age. We will take our time walking amongst these communities, stopping to try our hand at the potters’ wheel and greeted by smiles along the way. After a few hours, we will head back to the city and have lunch in an old haveli, which is now a family home. They invite us into their home to enjoy true Rajasthani hospitality and food.

Now that we have rested and had a delightful lunch, we will start the next part of our walking tour that will explore the “gullies” (back lanes) of the central part of the city. We will visit markets selling delicate handmade traditional clothing, colourful accessories, traditional puppets, jewellery, leatherwork, miniature paintings and more.

This evening we take another stroll around the lake to reach Ambrai Ghat. The view from this point, looking back at the City and Lake Palaces and toward Hanuman and Gangaur Ghats near our hotel is nothing short of magical.

It is time for our last meal together and we think it will be a memorable one. We are dining at another of our favourite restaurants, Ambrai on the grounds of Hotel Amet Haveli, situated right on the lake.

Arrive at Ambrai Ghat to watch the spectacular sunset followed by dinner at Ambrai, located on the grounds of the Hotel Amet Haveli. Good food, drinks and a sensational view. We’ve experienced so much together this past couple of weeks and enjoyed your company so much.

Happily, we don’t have an early start tomorrow, so we can sit and relax here as long as we like, or walk along to Harigahr for a nightcap on our way home.

Overnight: Jagat Niwas Palace

Thursday 20 February (B)

Today we part ways as you make your way to Delhi for your onward journey or your flight home. We can have a leisurely morning before we check out.

For those returning home today, we have arranged 3 hours access for you at the Plaza Premium Lounge at Indira Gandhi International Airport where you can relax before your flight.

It has been our pleasure and privilege to share this wonderful journey with you and we thank you for choosing us for your Indian adventure. We hope it has been all you dreamed of and more and that you take home a heart full of memories.

Namaste.

Do you have a question?  Drop us a quick line.

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