Streets of Kolkata and the Bay of Bengal - Nov 29 - December 10, 2018
India’s second-biggest city is a daily festival of human existence, simultaneously noble and squalid, cultured and desperate, while splendid in decay. By its old spelling, Calcutta readily conjures images of human suffering to most Westerners – although that's not a complete picture of this 350-year-old metropolis. Locally, Kolkata is regarded as India’s intellectual, artistic and cultural capital.
Over the course of 5 full days in Kolkata we will capture images of the teeming Koley wholesale vegetable market, kushti wrestlers on the bank of the Hoogley River at 7am, the Howrah flower market, decaying Anglo-English buildings, the last of the rickshaw pullers, ambassador taxi's and pottery makers in the clay makers village of Kumartuli. This will surely be an intensive photography experience and we will be embedded in a centrally located hotel for ease of maneuvering in the tumultuous City of Joy.
The Bay of Bengal in Orissa is one of the holiest sites in Hindu India. We will photograph pilgrims as they worship, fisherman in small villages along the coast and the massive Jagannath Temple. In Bhubaneswar we will have the opportunity to photograph Buddhist pilgrims doing yoga and the UNESCO Konark Sun Temple. We will also spend a few hours in a village that has 100 homes and 100 artisans.
Day 1: Kolkata
Upon arrival in Kolkata you will be greeted at the airport and driven to our centrally located hotel. Check in time is at 2:00 pm. The afternoon is free and the group will meet in the hotel lobby for a trip orientation and then dinner. (D)
Day 2: Kolkata
After breakfast we will start our photo tour by taking a tram ride around the city. Kolkata still has a street car line that transverses the city from which we can shoot the wide boulevards, yellow Ambassador taxi's, colonial architecture as well as the crumbling buildings that make up this mosaic which is called the "City of Joy". The group will then photograph the vibrant Baghbazar and Sorabazar neighborhoods where the walls are painted blue, laundry is hanging from windows, people are praying in small Hindu temples where incense wafts from the windows. and Bloodshot laborers trudged past carrying sacks of grain, rice, bricks—even a washing machine—on their backs, looking close to collapse.
Late afternoon we will be driven the 4kms to Kumortuli in north Kolkata. It is here where we will find the potters who fashion clay from the river beds besides their homes. This traditional potters villages will be a bed of activity as they sculpt and prepare the massive images of gods and godesses.The 400 potters work their craft and many are 4th generation artisans. (B,L,D)
Day 3: Kolkata
Early morning we will go to the Malik Ghat flower market which is adjacent to the Hoogli River. Near the southeast end of Howrah Bridge we will shoot the wholesellers as they arrive with huge consignments of flowers that are then auctioned to retailers. Many workers live in makeshift shacks, bathing in the river. At around 7am, local wrestlers practice their art on a small caged area of sand set slightly back from the river. Hopefully they will be there the day we shoot. Returning to the hotel for breakfast the group will be free until we go out in the later in the day.
Late afternoon we will walk the colonial heritage trail of Kolkata and shoot the Writers Building, Victoria Memorial, Belvedere Estate and Kolkata High Court. In the evening we will visit Pandals, or temporary temples where these multi hued colorful clay effigies are placed and people come to worship for the evening Aarti ceremony. (B,L,D)
Day 4: Kolkata
Immersing ourselves in Kolkata todays photographic activities will include documenting the last remaining rickshaw pullers in India, and the crumbling glories of this 350 year old city. These once glorious mansions have slipped into decay as the families could no longer take care of them. We will find a maze of beautiful and derelict 18th- and 19th-century mansions, built by former rajas and merchants, with blackened, weather-stained walls; intricate brickwork in Muslim, Hindu, and neoclassical styles; and colonnaded courtyards strangled by vines and other greenery. The most impressive of these is the Marble Palace, These relics will soon be gone as Kolkata modernizes.
Day 5: Kolkata
We will spend the morning photographing the immense Koley market which is a city onto its self. It is open 24/7/365 and is one of the largest wholesale markets in India. Workers with hooks drop bags, people live in the market and is both chaotic and teeming with activity and colors.
In the late afternoon Kolkata will be further explored and we will shoot the Muslim Quarter, the iconic Howrah railway station, the Jewish synagogue built in1854 as well as communal neighborhoods.
Sunset photo shoot from the Howrah Bridge. (B,L,D)
Day 6: Kolkata
This being our last day in Kolkata we will have the opportunity to further explore this city of 15 million. We will take a short boat ride up the Hoogly River as well as visit Mother Teresa’s Mission and Mother House where Mother Teresa’s large tomb is located. After lunch the group will be free to wander independently or we will him a group image review. (B,L,D)
Day 7: Kolkata - Bhubaneswar
After breakfast the group will drive to Kolkata airport and catch the 1 1/2 flight to Bhubaneswar. Bhubaneshwar, Odisha's capital is renowned for being a city of temples, there are more than 700 of them! The majority of these temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva and history reveals why. The name Bhubaneshwar comes from Shiva's Sanskrit name, Tribhubaneswar, meaning "Lord of Three Worlds". Old Hindu scriptures say that Bhubaneshwar was one of Lord Shiva's favorite places, where he liked to spend time under a huge mango tree. In addition, many of the temples in Bhubaneshwar were built from the 8th-12th centuries AD, during the time that Saivism (worship of Lord Shiva) dominated the religious scene.
In the afternoon we will photograph the Mukteshwar temple famous for its exquisite stone archway, and ceiling with eight petal lotus inside its porch. Mukteshwar, means "Lord who gives freedom through yoga". You'll find ascetics in various mediation poses in this small but beautiful temple. (B,L,D)
Day 8: Bhubaneswar- Puri
In the morning after check out we will photograph the old section of Bubaneswar and the Divine Bindu Sagar -Ocean Drop Lake It's believed to have been formed by Lord Shiva, who collected water from holy places all over India, for his wife Goddess Parvati. Pilgrims take a dip in the lake to cleanse themselves of sins and we can easily photograph the pilgrims.
The afternoon we will drive two hours to the UNESCO world heritage site of the sun temple- Konark. Designed to be a huge chariot for the Sun God Surya, the intricately carved Sun Temple was constructed in the 13th century. It stands 90 feet high on 12 massive wheels. Erotic carvings are a renowned feature. Read more about the (B,L,D)
Day 9-10 Puri
We will spend the next two days immersing oursleves in Hindu culture as the Bay of Bengal where Puri is situated is a holy site for Hindu's and pilgrims from all over India come here to bathe. We will also be photographing neighboring small fishing villages, the winding streets of this holy city and the immense Jagannath Temple. We will witness the Dwaja ceremony andevening Aarti ceremony. (B,L,D)
Day 11 Puri- Kolkata
With an early start we will drive to Raghurajpur, the artists village. In this small village of only 100 homes local village artisans produce, rice paintings, paper mache, ceramics, toys and wood carvings for export. Each home is decorated and painted and the handicraft artisans of Orissa are known as some of the best in India.
We will proceed to Bhubaneswar and and take the flight back to Kolkata ending the trip. (B,L)
Photo Leader: Abhi Hajela
National Geographic India
Group Size : 6
Includes all meals, 2 internal flights
All photo fees/admission tickets
International flight ticket
Gratuities to driver/fixers