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Indian Festivals and Tours Only 6 Spots Left


South India, The Theyyam Festival and the Kumbh Mela

5,950 US$20 Feb 2021

A South India photo tour to Kerala for the night Fire Theyyam and Elephant Festivals with a fascinating exploration on our own deluxe house boats ending at the Kerala Backwaters. More than 20 years visiting india year after year. Good boutique hotels, great food.

With an incredible once in a life-time pre-tour extension: The Kumbh Melah in Haridwar

And a post-tour extension, to Varanasi

On the Kumbh Mela, every 12 years, millions of pilgrims come to Haridwar to bathe and purify in one of the most magnificent events in India

On the Varanasi 5 days Optional Extension you will get to know a different city to the one other tourists see. With time to enjoy our stay in contrast to the hustle and bustle of Shamans, boatmen, pilgrims, cows, tourists, barbers, and fake Sadhus. We will cross to the other side of the river where no one normally goes, to admire the city from another perspective and witness the daily coming and going of pilgrims.

 

Please visit my this link that should give you a good understanding of what makes my India so Special My India
Please visit my personal work on Varanasi as well as some posts on my Varanasi at dawn . This is where I took in 2012 the picture that won and later lost the National Geographic Photo World Contest. Here a few from Kathmandu.

VISIT THE IMAGES OF THE PHOTO TOUR

HIGHLIGHTS

- Our photographic coverage of the night fire Theyyam dance which may last the whole night.

 

- The Elephant festival, led by throngs of drummers and whirling dancers.

 

- Our journey on our deluxe private houseboat on a leisurely and photogenic cruise along the Backwaters, stopping at the small villages and capturing this singular landscape

 

- Photographic session at the Kalamandalam School of Dance

 

- Get the incredible luxury of Kerala´s viridian hills and plantations, and visit the villages in Cochin.

 

- Our private Kathakali performance in the theatre. From the makeup and the dressing rooms to the performance itself, we will have a chance to photograph the dancers at all stages of the event.

 

- The enjoyement of  photography with intensity accompanied by a professional travel photographer that understands the secrets of the Kumbh Mela (Optional Extension). The hidden locations.

 

-Your daily life in Varanasi (Optional Extension), staying beside the Ganges, in contact with the people of our Gaht: pilgrims, barbers, flower salesmen, boatmen, Holy Men and the occasional tourist.

 

This is a very special Photo Tour for photographers of all levels and it will be about offering the maximum photographic opportunities.  An extraordinary  Photo Tour where we will conduct a few photographic reviews and discussions, but it will be mostly about personal photographic contact with people.  A laptop and processing software (Photoshop, Lightroom, etc..) is recommended but you will enjoy the experience without them. 

With an optional extension to the  Kumbh Mela at Haridwar.  

On the Kumbh Mela every 12 years, millions of pilgrims come to Haridwar to bathe and purify in one of the most magnificent events in India. There will be a veritable cornucopia of photo opportunities at our fingertips, as we will camp in comfortable big  tents.  And of course you will be guided by an expert in travel photography and the region: Harry Fisch.

This is a once in a lifetime chance to not only improve your photo skills, but at the same time immerse yourself in the magic of this amazing human experience, with one of the best photographers and experts on the Indian World!

This is India at it's best, the beauty of the South with the excuse of one of the most incredible and singular photographic opportunities on the planet: the rite of Theyyam and the Kerala Elephant Festival.

Theyyam, the God’s Dance, where performers in folds of heavy red and white and gold fabric perform a rite that is several thousand years old, is a world of color and life. We will spend two days exploring the world of bhoota spirits and the rich history of the southern provinces as we document this unique and age old tradition with our cameras.

Then we are off to the Elephant festival, where many great beasts bedecked with beads and ribbons and intricate headpieces parade through the towns to the temples of worship, led by throngs of drummers and gaily whirling dancers.

Cochin has origins as far back as the Roman times, and is noted as the oldest European outpost in India. It still maintains a small but beautiful Jewish Quarter and a busy spice market, it has an interesting blend of varying architectural and religious influences.

We will end the first part our expedition visiting the green, tranquil province of Kerala to the south – one of our favorite destinations in India. It has a peaceful and relaxed ambiance compared to the rest of the country. From impressive network of waterways along the Malabar Coast to the expanse of lakes and lagoons that make up the Backwaters, you can find rolling viridian country dotted with spice and tea plantations.

As an optional  Post-Tour Extension you will head towards Varanasi where your days will be really busy reaching the Ghats to photograph, amongst remains of wreaths and cremation ashes, Brahmins offering ritual shaving, dressed bathing women. Bearded, hirsute Holy Men, bare feet, watching stunned families bathing dressed in bright Indian saris. Groups of pilgrims down the huge wooden barges. Then the calm of our hotel, close to the Ganges, attending dinner before the night ceremony. In the calm of "our" Ganges. Later the sacred river in our boat and visit an “akhara”, a gymnasium where Kursty fighters train and compete. 

 

This trip was my third with Harry, after two in India, and a true testament to his ability and to the opportunities he exposes us to is that I am planning trips number four and five only 10 days after my return from Ethiopia.

The trip to Ethiopia was a dream come true. It felt as though I had been dropped right into the pages of National Geographic Magazine, which I read as a child, and which instilled a thirst for travel to Africa.

Harry ‘s organization and guidance leave nothing to chance. He uses wonderful people on the ground to drive, guide, and make each experience seamless. The festivals and amazing opportunities, remote and wonderful locations are trademarks of his trips.

Harry is a genuine character, with a wonderful sense of humour, an eye for the magic in photographic situations, and a natural teacher’s ability to explain how to make use of light,
line and composition in our shots.

Thank you Harry for an unforgettable experience.

Ynda Greenberg (Toronto, Ontario)



ITINERARY

 

Day 1.- Feb 20. MUMBAI

Upon arrival in the international airport there will be a representative of Nomad Photo Expeditions and you will then be accompanied on a complimentary transfer to your hotel .

Enjoy your first acclimatization free day in Mumbai.

 

Overnight in the Hotel.

 

 

Day 2.-Feb 21. MUMBAI - CALICUT - KANNUR - THEYYAM FESTIVAL

Today we will fly from Mumbai to Calicut and then drive to Kannur, which is in the southern Kerala province.
On this night, depending on the schedule, we will attend and photograph a Theyyam dance – ornate red and white costumes covered in beads and cloth make the men with faces painted red and startling, look like crested, towering creatures of myth as they perform this ancient, several millennia old ritual that is integral to how their people view the world.

The dance may last the entire evening and well into the night.

Overnight in the Hotel.

 


Day 3.- Feb 22.THEYYAM FESTIVAL

We will get a late start in the morning, letting us relax after our late night, and then head out to see some of the Theyyam practices by daylight, as well as lay on the beach, or explore some of the nearby fishing villages.


Theyyam is a type of ritual worship that dates back at least 6 millennia in this area of India. It is more than simply a dance: some treat the entire rite of Theyyam as a personification of God in and of itself, and so, the so called God’s Dance is a living religious icon, with many facets and touches many different aspects for life and spiritual belief.
It centers around a person called Kolam, which means figure in make-up, and the Kolam is meant to represent the deity. In the northern part of the province, Theyyam is a way to worship spirits called Bhootas, and the dance is conducted in places where Bhootas are or used to be prevalent.

After a day of exploring the world of Theyyam and its practitioners, we will have a late evening visiting a local temple, where we will have time to capture another dance with our cameras.

Overnight in the Hotel.



Day 4.-Feb 23. KANNUR - CHERUTHURUTHY - ELEPHANT FESTIVAL

After an early but not too early breakfast, we will drive a few hours out to Cheruthuruthy, to see the Elephant Festival. We will check into the hotel upon arrival.

Ayyamkulangara Kanipayyur is the local word for the Elephant Festival, which is frankly speaking, a photographic dream come true. Colorfully decorated Elephants wear ribbons and tassels, brightly dyed cloth and beads, parade through the town to the temples, carrying effigies of deities on their backs while gaily dressed drummers and dancers swirl at their feet, leading them along the road to worship.

We will spend all day at the elephant festival, with some scheduled shoots, but mostly, as the festival is so lively and ever changing, this will be a day of more spontaneous photography. We will return to the hotel at night.

Overnight in the Hotel.



Day 5.-Feb 24. CHERUTHURUTHY - KALAMANADALAM DANCE SCHOOL - COCHIN

After breakfast we will head out to see the Kalamandalam School of Dance for a scheduled photo shoot.
The school was founded by the famous poet Padmabhooshan Vallathol Narayana Menon. It has become an important and universally known name in India, renowned for preserving cultural heritage. It is a residential school, and though the structure itself is not overly ornate, the performances inside the simple classrooms are astounding. We will have a guided tour of the classes and time to interact and photograph some of the dancer students and teachers.


After our photo session we will head to Cochin, and arrive in the early evening.


After check in at our hotel we will go out just before sunset for a boat cruise to see the chinese fishing nets being hauled in just as the sun sinks below the horizon. We have hand selected the spot so they we will have the best possible shots of the fishermen and the atmosphere.

Overnight in the Hotel.



Day 6.-Feb 25. COCHIN

Early in the morning we will head out to photograph fishermen in the harbor, again taking in the Chinese fishing nets at sunrise, then on to the fish market, the colorful and photogenic local laundry, and a few other surprises on the streets along the way.

We will also take time out today to visit a Jewish synagogue, a Dutch Palace, and the Vasco D’ Gama Church, with ample time to photograph the architecture and learn about the region´s culture.

Later in the afternoon we will go to see, and photograph a Kathakali performance in the theatre. From the makeup and the dressing rooms to the performance itself, we will have a chance to photograph the dancers at all stages of the event.

Overnight in the Hotel



Days 7.-Feb 26. BACKWATERS

After breakfast, we will drive to Alleppey, the boarding point for the houseboat that will take us through the backwaters of Kerala.

We will have private houseboat with your own cook and staff. Once we reach Muhamma we will visit the village market and see some coir making. Then, the cruise will proceed to Pathiramanel and anchor for overnight stay. Alleppey is a small town situated in the Backwaters of Kerala, and it is the ideal place to start a cruise along the winding waterways, lakes and canals of this peaceful area. There is a long stretch of beach to wander along and several interesting small churches to visit.

The romantic and unique Backwaters of Kerala are made up of a labyrinth of canals and lakes that stretch between the capital Cochin and the town of Quilon to the south.

From the vastness of Lake Vembanad to the quiet streams just large enough for a canoe, the Backwaters form the arteries through which rural daily life calmly flows – you will get the chance to capture with your camera the tranquility of life here; children splashing in the water, women washing clothes at the water's edge, fishermen up to their necks in water digging out fish with their feet, rice barges transporting coconuts and rice and of course the stunning backdrop of lush forest reflecting green off the river as our boat sails calmly by.

Overnight in the Houseboat

 

Day 8.-Feb 27. COCHIN – DEPARTURES

We will slowly return on our boats to Allepey and from there to Cochin.

International Flight departures.  Local Flights for Delhi for those taking the optional extension.

 

 



EXTENSIONS

Kumbh Melah Extension (16 Feb 2021)


 

THE KUMBH MELA EXTENSION STARTS BEFORE THE MAIN ITINERARY.  

 

REQUIRED MINIMUM NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS : 4 PEOPLE. 

 

IMPORTANT WARNING KUMBH MELA OPTIONAL EXTENSION:

(Please ask for a detailed Q&A document if you are interested in this extension)

 

This is one of the biggest massive pilgrinage in the world. Our camp will be aproximately 1 mile away from the first pilgrims tents. Be prepared for HUGE CROWDS and NO LOCAL TRANSPORT available from the camp to the festival ground. Travelers should be ready to walk from 5 to 10 miles walk per day . On the Kumbh Melah the program and/or schedule con change any time.

 

We will make our best efforts to see and enjoy everything in your program and mantain all the services as planed but there will be times when we may adjust timing, change the order of activities or face unexpected situations. 

 

On a Kumbha Mela every day will be an adventure, and that is part of the charm and beauty of such an exceptional event. Be prepared to enjoy the unexpected, and in the case of delays or supply shortage, remember you are visiting a unique place in a very special moment.

 

DAY 1, 16 FEB.- DELHI - ARRIVALS

DAY 2, 17 FEB.- DELHI - HARIDWAR BY TRAIN (Mid morning arrival)

DAY 3, 18 FEB.- HARIDWAR

DAY 4, 19 FEB.- HARIDWAR

DAY 5, 20 FEB.- HARIDWAR- DERHADUN (car,2 hours)- MUMBAI (flight)

 

The Kumbh mela is held only once every 12 years in Haridwar. Millions of pilgrims come to bathe and purify in one of the most magnificent events in India.

 

There will be a veritable cornucopia of photo opportunities at our fingertips, as we will camp in comfortable big tents. And of course you will be guided by an expert in travel photography and the region: Harry Fisch.

 

This is a once in a lifetime chance to not only improve your photo skills, but at the same time immerse yourself in the magic of this amazing human experience, with one of the best photographers and experts on the Indian World!

 

The activities include religious discussions, devotional singing, mass feeding of holy men and women and the poor, and religious assemblies where doctrines are debated and standardised.

 

Thousands of holy men and women attend, and the auspiciousness of the festival is in part attributable to this. The sadhus are seen clad in saffron sheets with Vibhuti ashes dabbed on their skin as per the requirements of ancient traditions. Some, called naga sanyasis, may not wear any clothes even in severe winter. The right to be naga, or naked, is considered a sign of separation from the material world.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumbh_Mela)

 

 

 



Varanasi Extension (27 Feb 2021)

 

 

POST -TOUR VARANASI.-  Please visit my work on Varanasi here:  Varanasi

 

IMPORTANT:

Harry Fisch will not be attending the Varanasi post -tour extension but/and you will be following a daily itinerary specially designed for the occasion. 

 

You will get to know a different city to the one other tourists see.

 

With time to enjoy our stay in contrast to the hustle and bustle of Shamans, boatmen, pilgrims, cows, tourists, barbers, and fake Sadhus. We will cross to the other side of the river where no one normally goes, to admire the city from another perspective and witness the daily coming and going of pilgrims. We will stroll though the back streets of the ghats, the alleys, and discover temples outside the normal tourist route. We will meet people there, and wait for the certainty of the unexpected to happen.

 

During your  incredible stay in Varanasi, our days will be really busy reaching the Ghats to photograph, amongst remains of wreaths and cremation ashes, Brahmins offering ritual shaving, dressed bathing women. Bearded, hirsute Holy Men, bare feet, watching stunned families bathing dressed in bright Indian saris.

 

Groups of pilgrims down the huge wooden barges. Then the calm of our hotel, close to the Ganges, attending dinner before the night ceremony.

 

In the calm of "our" Ganges. We will go down the sacred river in our boat and visit an “akhara”, a gymnasium where Kursty fighters train and compete. If we are lucky we will be able to make a photo coverage of their workouts.

 

Day 1, Delhi

Day 2, Delhi-Varanasi

Day 3, Varanasi

Day 4, Varanasi

Day 5, Varanasi-delhi

Day 6, Varanasi , Internationla Flights

 

In Varanasi I always choose to stay in one of the few excelent boutique hotels next to where the action is: the Ganges. Tourists are usually sent to the Cantonement area where international hotel chains are based,  a good 40 minutes away from the Ganges on peak hours. In Varanasi, my choice is staying in a Hotel 5 minutes away from the photographic locations. When we have an early start - at 5:30 AM- it's great to save 35 minutes of sleep!

 

 

 



Prices per person
9-10 Participants 5950 US$


Supplements
SIngle Room Supplement 900 US$
Single Room Kumbh Mela Optional Extension 850 US$
Single Room Varanasi Optional Extension 700 US$


Extensions
Kumbh Melah Extension 2950 US$
Varanasi Extension 2100 US$


WHAT'S INCLUDED

Prices are per person, based on double occupancy.  A limited quantity of single-occupancy rooms are available for an additional charge.

 

The maximum number of participants are listed under "Maximum Group" in the Price section of each individual workshop. However, we reserve the right to add by up to two , the maximum number of participants per workshop at any time.

 

INCLUDED

 

-Workshop with Harry Fisch on the main tour and on the Kumbh Melah extension

-All Meals, excepted the first and the last day.

-Gratuities:  baggage porterage, driver and assistant,  housekeeping and meals served as part of the tour. The fees do not include the customary gratuity for your guide on the main itinerary and the optional extension. 

-Transfers  on arrival and departure.

-Transport as specified.

-Lodging 1st class hotel in Mumbai and Excellent local and boutique hotels elsewhere, double room, double occupancy. Private bath and air conditioned. 

-De luxe houseboats on the Kerala Backwaters.  Air conditioned. Private cook.

-Visit and activities as specified in the itinerary.

 

NON INCLUDED

 

-International flights

-Local Flights are not included on the Varanasi Extension (aprox 320$). We will book them on your behalf. 

-Harry Fisch will not be leading  the post tour, Varanasi extension

-Gratuity for the guides on the main itinerary and the optional extensions. 

-Alcohol of any kind on the meals

-Personal extras, drinks, laundry, phone, etc..

-Camera insurance

-Visa.

-Airline taxes

-Any item or service not expressly defined as included.