Ardh Kumbh Mela, 2019

The Indian festival calendar is a busy one and most festivals are based on mythology and folktales which instils a sense of belief and spiritual enrichment. The myth behind this festival dates back to ancient times when the earth was being taken over by demons and the gods were cursed. In order to restore their powers, the gods had to drink nectar which they procured by churning the oceans. Lord Shiva (the destroyer in the trilogy) was given the task of delivering the nectar to the gods, and in the process was chased by the demons.  Four drops fell in different parts of India, every three years one of these four places (Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nasik) hosts the Kumbh Mela which is attended by an estimated 10 million people. The main rite performed at the Kumbh Mela is the ritual bath. Hindus believe that a dip in the sacred waters will cleanse them and their ancestors off all evil and sin, thus freeing them from the cycle of death and rebirth.

To watch the Kumbh Mela procession is to witness the march of the ages. You will feel overwhelmed by the palpable spiritual vibrations and powerful shakti (energy) that pervade the entire atmosphere as the holy saints pass by on elephants, horses, palanquins, chariots, cars, and camels. This is an once-in-a-lifetime experience!

* This is an experience not be missed! The Ardh Kumbh Mela is scheduled to take place in Allahabad from 15th January to the 4th of March, 2019. Will you be there?

**Please note: Accommodation at the Kumbh Mela camp is limited and selling out FAST. Please ask your travel agent to book your tour soon. 

Arrive in Delhi. You will be met and escorted by our Peirce & Leslie colleague to your hotel.

After an early breakfast, you will start your day with an interesting inner city walk conducted in partnership with a local NGO. Your guide for the walk will be a young person who has been rescued and knows the area intimately. While introducing you to the heritage and the life of the backstreets of Delhi, little seen by visitors, he will also share stories of his life with you.


Next, you will visit the Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, the temple of the followers of the Sikh religion. We will time your visit to coincide with the lunchtime service. You may like to serve the food yourself or help in the community kitchen making Rotis. Your next stop is, Old Delhi where you will take a rickshaw ride in the 300-year-old wholesale market Chandni Chowk. You will disembark at Jama Masjid, believed to be the largest mosque in India and Shah Jahan’s last architectural venture. Your last stop for the day is with visit to Rajghat, the memorial for Mahatma Gandhi.

You will return to your hotel driving through the wide tree-lined avenues of the city turning into Rajpath or “Kings Way”, and drive past many of modern India’s iconic buildings including the Secretariat buildings, Parliament House, Presidential Palace (Rashtrapati Bhavan) and India Gate, a memorial to 82,000 soldiers of the undivided Indian Army who died in the period 1914–21. (B)

After an early breakfast, you will be escorted to the airport in time to board your flight to Jaipur. On arrival, you will be met by our Peirce & Leslie colleague and driven directly to the imposing City Palace, which is a superb marriage of the Rajput and Mughal styles of architecture.

From the City Palace you will enter the extraordinary “Jantar Mantar”, the astronomical observatory built by Raja Sawai Jai Singh II in 1827. Once you leave the Jantar Mantar, you can stop to take photographs of the iconic Hawa Mahal, or ‘Palace of the Winds’ with its ornate pink façade.

This will be followed by a visit to Albert Hall museum which has the finest collection of sculptures, paintings, ivory carvings, decorative art objects and natural history specimens as well as an Egyptian mummy and miniature paintings of various sub-schools of Rajasthan.

Later you will drive to your hotel and check-in. The evening will be at your leisure. (B)

After breakfast, you will start the tour by visiting the Fort-Palace at Amber (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Hill forts were always important to the Rajput rulers. After visiting Amber, you will visit the excellent Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing. The museum chronicles the regeneration of hand block printing techniques in Rajasthan using traditional methods.

Next, you will drive out of the city – about 15 minutes to the forested hills and valleys to a private farm. Here you will meet your ride for the next 30 minutes – Elephants! You will ride these gentle giants with a mahout (elephant’s keeper) through the countryside and arrive at a private venue where you will be served a traditional Rajasthani lunch.



After lunch, you will end the tour with a specially designed walk through the bazaars of the Old City. The bazaars of the old city are colorful, aromatic, happily chaotic and offer everything from the famous Jaipur “minakari” jewelry to ordinary and mundane household goods.

The rest of the day will be at your leisure. Alternatively, your vehicle and tour guide will be at your disposal to go shopping. (B)

After an early breakfast, you will drive to Agra (approximately 5 hours, excluding stops). About an hour’s drive outside Agra, you will stop to see one of the Mughal Empire’s most inspired creations, Fatehpur Sikri (a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You will arrive in Agra by the afternoon, and check-in to your hotel.

At about 16:00 hours, you will be picked up from your hotel to watch the sunset over the Taj Mahal (UNESCO World Heritage Site) from the quiet Mehtab Bagh garden, a beautifully restored Mughal garden. You will stay at the Mehtab Bagh through sunset before returning to your hotel. (B, L)

This morning, you will have the option of visiting the Taj Mahal at sunrise. Alternatively, you could choose to lie-in.

After breakfast, you will visit Agra Fort (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). You will then visit Itmad-ud-Daulah (Baby Taj), the third great monument of Agra.

Later in the afternoon, you will take a specially designed “walking tour of the Old City.” You will also have the option of seeing the famous and complex “Zardozi” work, an art of embroidery which originated in Persia. In Persian “Zar” means gold and “Dozi” means embroidery, and the craft is regarded as “Imperial” as it flourished under the patronage of the Mughal Emperor, Akbar. This intricate work is still continued in the narrow alleys of the old city, and you can visit some of the workshops.


You will then return to your hotel and rest of the day will be at leisure. (B)

This morning, you will have the option of a sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal – early in the morning the Taj is less crowded and the light dancing off the marble façade is magical.

You will then return to your hotel for breakfast. The rest of the morning is at your leisure.

Later, you will be met by our Peirce & Leslie colleague and escorted to the airport to board your flight to Varanasi.


On arrival, you will be met by our Peirce & Leslie colleague and escorted to your hotel. He will assist you to check-in.

In the evening, you will head to the banks of the Holy Ganges to board your boat for a sail on the river. You will sail upstream, arriving at Dashashwamedh Ghat in time for the evening “aarti” (worship) ceremony, when priests perform the rituals to put the river gods to sleep and to ward off evil. This will be followed by a private aarti ceremony in a local temple, which will be specially organized for you. A special blessing ceremony will be accorded to you by the priest – as he hands you the lamp to ward off evil; it will be you that puts the river to bed.

You will then return to your hotel. (B)

At sunrise you will once again take a private boat down the river. People flock to the river to greet the rising sun and you will see a panorama of life in a pilgrim town. As you float downstream, you will see a panorama of life in a temple town as it comes to life. There is certain timelessness to this experience that is extraordinary.

After the boat ride, a private yoga class with a Master will be arranged on the banks of the Ganges. After the yoga class, you will visit the Old City where you will get a fascinating insight into the rituals of Hinduism.

You will then return to your hotel for breakfast.

After breakfast, you will drive to Sarnath (approximately 30 minutes, excluding stops), the place where Buddha gave his first sermon after enlightenment.


After your visit to Sarnath, you will have the option of meeting an “ustaad” or master designer whose lineage in silk weaving goes back centuries. His forefathers created works of art for the royal family of Benaras and a few of their creations are exhibited at international museums. You will meet him by prior appointment.

You will then return to your hotel and the remainder of the day will be at leisure. (B)

After a leisurely breakfast, you will drive to the Ardh Kumbh Mela camp site (approximately 3.5 hours, excluding stops). On arrival, our Peirce & Leslie colleague will assist you with the check-in formalities.

In the evening, participate in the auspicious 'aarti' at the ancient temple dedicated to Lord Krishna at Sangam Nivas ashram. (B, D)

Early this morning, you will attend a yoga class at the camp. After a personalized consultation, your teacher will take you through a series of body and mind postures.

After breakfast, enjoy a guided walk through the world's largest, temporary tented city where the Akharas have their presence. An Akhara is a place of practice with facilities for boarding, lodging and training on the path of spiritual enlightenment. 

You will return to the camp for lunch. After lunch, you may choose to enjoy the amenities at the camp or relax with a wellness treatment on site or indulge in making special offerings (pujas) to the gods as per the astrological semblance in the cosmos.

In the evening, you will attend an interactive discourse of spiritualism by experts. (B, L, D)

This morning you will arise at dawn and attend a yoga class at the camp after which, you will return to the camp for breakfast.

After breakfast, you will take an exclusive boat ride to the holy Sangam (confluence) to observe the Kumbh Mela from a unique vantage point. View the banks flanked by devotees performing different rites and rituals, or taking the holy dip unaffected by the freezing cold waters of the river.


You will return to the camp for lunch. The rest of the day is at your leisure.

Alternatively, you may choose to explore the fascinating sights of Allahabad. Visit renowned sites such as Mankameshwar Temple - dedicated to Lord Shiva and the belief goes that what's wished for does come true. Take a stroll to Saraswati Ghat - a very famous bathing ghat followed by a visit to the Alopi Temple which is unique as there is no statue of a deity in the temple; however a wooden carriage is worshipped.

OR

You may also choose to spend the afternoon at the camp interacting with spiritual experts.

This evening, enjoy another interactive discourse of spiritualism by experts. (B, L, D)

Bid adieu to the divine and sacred spirit of the Kumbh Mela as you depart the camp today. After breakfast, you will be escorted to the airport in Varanasi (approximately 3.5 hours, excluding stops) in time to board your flight to Delhi.

On arrival in Delhi, you will be met by our Peirce & Leslie colleague and transferred to your hotel where room(s) will be reserved for ‘wash-and-change’. Later in the night, you will be escorted to the airport to board your international flight to your Onward Destination. (B)
EXTENSION

Bid adieu to the divine and sacred spirit of the Kumbh Mela as you depart the camp today. After breakfast, you will be escorted to the airport in Varanasi (approximately 3.5 hours, excluding stops) in time to board your flight to Khajuraho. On arrival, you will be met by our Peirce & Leslie colleague and escorted to your hotel.

In the evening you will explore the Eastern Group of Temples (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). The most remarkable among this temple group is the Parsvanatha Temple built in AD 975 and is known for its three exquisite sculptures of ‘apsaras’ or celestial nymphs.
(B)

After breakfast, you will visit the Western Group of Temples (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), which has many significant and outstanding temples. The jewel of this collection is the Kandariya Mahadev Temple, which represents the pinnacle of North Indian temple art and architecture and is known for its exquisite sculptural embellishments.
The rest of the day will be at leisure for independent activities.
(B)

After a leisurely breakfast, you will be escorted to the airport in time to board your flight to Delhi. You will be met by our Peirce & Leslie colleague and transferred to your hotel where room(s) will be reserved for ‘wash-and-change’. Later at night, you will be escorted to the airport to board your international flight to your Onward Destination. (B)