Giving to
Bryn Mawr

Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center

EAST INDIA: Temple Mythology & Mountain Peaks

January 23 – February 8, 2015

A trip through time and off the beaten path. This itinerary was recognized in the May 2013 National Geographic Traveler as one of the ‘50 Tours of a Lifetime.’ We invite you to join us as we experience the colorful cacophony of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) located in West Bengal state, through the eyes of locals. The former seat of the British Raj- Kolkata was home to two Nobel Laureates (Tagore and Mother Teresa). The world famous temples that typifies the state of Orissa offer a view of Indian mythology and architecture going back to the 13th century or even earlier. This is where modernity meets 21st century. Up to the highlands and tea estates of Darjeeling and Sikkim state gives you a glimpse of mountain culture which is a confluence of Nepali, Chinese and Tibetans who have lived together for centuries. These “hill stations” were once favored by the British aristocracy to escape the summer heat. The wide expanse of space, the towering mountain range of the Himalayas and Kanchenjunga and the spectacular sunrise provide a stark contrast to the controlled chaos that typically defines India

Back to the top »

Preliminary Itinerary
(please click on location to reveal details)


DAY 1: Depart USA

Depart US

DAY 2: Arrive Kolkata

Arrive into Kolkata and settle into your hotel. - the former capital of the British India. Kolkata was the former capital of the British ‘Raj’ before it move to Delhi. Grown from mangrove swamps, Kolkata is the largest metropolis in India and crucial to the national economy being the gateway to Eastern India. Ships were the beginning of Kolkata's history & the river Hooghly was the key to the city's fortunes.

Rest of the day is at leisure.
Oberoi Grand Hotel (B)

DAY 3: City Tour of Kolkata.

Morning welcome and briefing by Trip Leader and Immersion Journeys Country Manager.
Depart on a walking tour of Kolkata. Experience the influence of the Chinese, Armenian, Anglo Indians that makes this a melting pot of culture, an eclectic plate of culinary delights and a cacophony of sights, smells and color all around. Nothing beats a quick stop to try the local desserts that makes Kolkata so famous.
Evening welcome dinner.

Oberoi Grand Hotel (B, D)

DAY 4: Darjeeling (West Bengal State)

Darjeeling, a picture perfect hill station sits atop a ridge at approximately 7,000’. It is dotted with Buddhist monasteries, trekking trails and awesome mountain views. The British can be thanked for making it into getaway and is even today one of the most well known hill stations in the country. Mayfair Darjeeling (B, L, D)

DAY 5: Darjeeling

An early wake up call. Make a trip to Tiger Hill to view the famous Kanchenjunga to watch the awesome sunrise. Relax after breakfast. In the late morning, we will visit a tea estate that make this region so famous followed by a visit to the Tibetan Refugee Center. Mayfair Darjeeling (B, L, D)

DAY 6: Darjeeling

Bring out your inner-child with a short ride on the toy train to Ghoom- the pride and joy of the city. Later we will Visit a wonderful monastery there. (B, L, D).
Afternoon tea tasting and sampling of a variety of teas that are produced locally.
Mayfair Darjeeling (B, L, D)

DAY 7: Gangtok (State of Sikkim)

Depart for the State of Sikkim. Nestling in the lush greenery of the Himalayas is Gangtok, the small capital city of Sikkim State, where Buddhist prayer flags flutter in the mountain breeze, exotic orchids and chirping birds run riot in a colorful melee. Visiting Sikkim is like going into an entirely different country. There is a large influence of Nepalese and Bhutanese influences in their food, religion (Buddhism) where modernity and traditions co-exist. Norkhill Hotel (B,L,D)

DAY 8: Gangtok City Tour

Visit the Rumtek and Enchey Monasteries. This ancient structure was built in 1717 and then re-built in the 1900’s following the ancient designs of the Tibetan monasteries. One gets a stunning view of the Eastern Himalayas and on a clear day, the peak of Mt. Kanchenjunga is also visible.
Norkhill Hotel (B,L,D)

DAY 9: Gangtok- Kalimpong

Until the mid-19th century, the area around Kalimpong was ruled intermittently by the Sikkimese and Bhutanese kingdoms. Visit the Zang Dog Palri Fro-Brang and Thongsa Gompa, Tharpa Choling Monastery and local flower nurseries.
Silver Oaks Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 10 Kalimpong

After breakfast explore the Pedong Monastery. Visit Zang Dog Palri FroBrang and Thongsa Gompa, Tharpa Choling Monastery as well as flower nurseries.

Day 11 Kalimpong - Bagdogra-Kolkata

Fly to Kolkat and overnight

Oberoi Grand (B)

Day 12 Kolkata - Bhubaneswar (Orissa) - Puri

Fly from Kolkata to Bhubaneswar (orisa). This is the Temple State of India on the Bay of Bengal. With over 2,000 temples, religious beliefs are deeply rooted in this state which also illustrates a lifestyle dominated by art and dance. The State of Orissa prides itself on being a rich realm of culture, including a sumptuous artistic legacy, deeply rooted religious beliefs, and where dance and art dominate the languid way of life. In the city of Bhubaneswar, hundreds of temples dot the landscape where you cn follow a time line of temple building activities of Orissan-style from inception to its culmination extending over a period of more than one thousand years. Transfer to the famous coastal town of Puri.

Mayfair Hotel (B,D)

Day 13 - Jagganath Temple and Konark Sun Temple Tour

Depart for Konark, a World Heritage Site, to see the Sun Temple and Jagganath Temple- please note that non-Hindus are not allowed inside the Jagganath Temple. Explore the medieval lanes and engage with the local people in Puri and Konark whilst watching the flurry of worshipers around the temples. Take a walk along the beach at Sunset in Puri.

Mayfair Hotel (B,D)

Day 14 Puri - Bhubaneswar

Transfer to Bhubaneswar. Explore animated medieval temples and broad tree lined avenues to unearth the spirit behind the city. The highlights of the tour are the famous and intricately carved Mukteshwar Temple and the Parasuramesvara Temple.

Trident Hotel (B)

Day 15 Bhubaneswar-Kolkata

Visit the Udaigiri and Khandagiri Caves, one of the earliest groups of Jain rock-cut shelters. Return to Kolkata in the afternoon for leisure time. Join us for a Farewell dinner celebration this eventing.

Oberoi Grand Hotel (B,D)

Day 16 Depart for USA

Depart for USA


Optional Rajasthan Extension
February 10 – 15, 2015

Day 14: Kolkata to Jaipur

Transferred to the airport for your flight to Jaipur.
After lunch (own account) visit the City Palace, the residence of the royal family, a part of which is converted into a museum. Built in the style of a fortified campus, the palace covers almost one-seventh in area of the old city. One of the major attractions in the museum is the Armory Museum housing an impressive array of weaponry. Later visit the Jantar Mantar, which is the largest stone and marble crafted observatory in the world. The observatory has 17 large instruments, many of them still in working condition.

Later explore the “pink city”. Jaipur’s traditional markets, streets and lanes are loaded with one noticeable feature: color! You will be amazed to see the fusion and variety of hues all around be it in clothing, houses, painted carts and vehicles, painted elephants, and tattooed camels. Royal Orchid Hotel (B)

Day 15: Jaipur

Sightseeing of Jaipur. Visit the Amber Fort which is a classic, romantic Rajasthani Fort Palace, with its rugged, time-ravaged walls and fascinating palaces inside. Visit the enchanting palaces and gardens inside the fort palace to complete your tour. On your way back, stop at Hawa Mahal - Palace of Winds for a brief stop for photographs and as it is in the heart of Jaipur’s shopping district, to buy souvenirs.

Late afternoon and evening you will be at your own leisure.
Royal Orchid Hotel (B)

Day 16: Jaipur to Agra

Agra is renowned the world-over due to the fabulous Taj Mahal and is situated on the right bank of the river Yamuna. Agra is a city with a glorious past and has the distinction of being the capital of various ruling dynasties.

En route visit Fatehpur Sikri. Situated about 24 Miles from Agra, this was the capital of the great Mughal ruler - Emperor Akbar. This magnificent fort palace had to be abandoned after just 15 years of occupation due to lack of potable water.

After your visit to Fatehpur Sikri, continue to Agra. You are met upon arrival and assisted with checking in to your hotel. The evening is free at your leisure.
Radisson Hotel (B)

Day 17: Tour of Taj Mahal and drive to New Delhi

This early morning visit the Taj Mahal at sunrise. One of the Seven Wonders of the World the Taj Mahal was built by Emperor Shah Jehan in memory to his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal. This monument is the ultimate tribute to love ever transcribed in architecture. This great monument, completed in 1653, took almost 22 years and 20,000 workers to build.

You will also visit the Agra Fort. This palace is a notable for its smooth blending of Hindu and central Asian architectural styles. Also visit the Itmad-ud-daulah also known as the Baby Taj.

After a brief stop for lunch (paid directly by the guest) we drive to Delhi – the legislative capital of India.

Delhi, India’s capital and political hub is an ancient city that has something for everyone. Settled seven times over the centuries, this city has grown in a way that reflects its past, while retaining its cosmopolitan flavor. Delhi is India’s showcase, be it architecture, religion, shopping, culture – everything is available here – waiting to be discovered.

Check in and evening at your own leisure.
The Grand (B)

Day 18: Tour of Delhi

Proceed to Old Delhi. Here you are met by a Dilliwalla, an expert on Old Delhi, who will take you for a tour through the enchanting gallis (narrow by-lanes), recounting tales and anecdotes of the days when this was the bustling hub of the Mughal dynasty. The walk takes you to the age-old Silver market, through quaint streets selling incredible ware, to the tranquility of a Jain temple and to the flower market that is a riot of color.

Take a pedicab from a pre-designated point and enjoy a ride through the bustling market back to ‘Jama Masjid’ - the largest mosque in Asia. Drive past the magnificent Red Fort, - a marvel in red sandstone, built on the banks of River Yamuna by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan.

We will stop for a light lunch (paid directly by the guest).

In the afternoon, drive past the India Gate (World War I Memorial), the President's Residence, Parliament House and the Secretariat buildings - an interesting blend of the Victorian and 20th century architecture. Proceed for sightseeing of New Delhi. Visit the 12th century Qutab Minar, gracefully hand-carved for its entire height of 234ft. Also visit the mausoleum of emperor Humayun - a forerunner of the Mughal style of architecture.

Return in the late afternoon to your hotel. Evening at your on leisure.
The Grand (B)

Day 19: Depart

Breakfast at the hotel and check out by noon. Store your luggage with the hotel concierge. You will be able to use the public facilities of the hotel until your departure.

Back to the top »

Cost and program Inclusions

Land package only: $6,495 per person (sharing basis)
Single Room Supplement: $1,850
*Tour price is based on double occupancy. Single occupancy
Optional Extension #1
5 nights Royal Rajasthan & Taj Mahal Tour
$2,119 per person(double occupancy)
$500single room supplement
Optional Extension #2
4 nights Southern India Sojourn
$1,995 per person(double occupancy)
$950single room supplement
Back to the top »

Faculty Study Leader

Kristin Kelly '74

Kristin Kelly will be the Bryn Mawr study leader on our trip to East India. Kris left the J. Paul Getty Trust in 2008 after eighteen years—nine at the J. Paul Getty Museum as the Manager of Administration, and nine at the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) in various positions responsible for public education about the conservation of cultural heritage. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1974, and earned a Ph.D. in art history and archaeology from Columbia University. From 2009 - 2011 she was the chief consultant to a heritage center devoted to the history and culture of the Sikhs which opened in late 2010 in Punjab State, India. She is the author of The Extraordinary Museums of Southeast Asia (Harry N. Abrams, 2001) and travels to Southeast Asia to research its art, archaeology, and culture as often as she can.

Back to the top »