From the Starting Point of the Ganges at Gau Mukh in the Himalayas, West Bengal is little visited but Infact offers a wealth of unusual and rewarding sites unique to the state. This program uncovers the hidden treasures Bengal with an exhilarating combination of gorgeous landscape and cultural, historical and spiritual legacy. Program begins in Kolkata, celebrated city of humanity with a thriving arts scene; truly a global village.
We move for the countryside and tranquil Bishnupur, famous for its distinctive terracotta temples, the best example of classical Bengal architecture. At Shantiniketan, the “Abode of Peace”, explore the university and ashram based on the philosophy of poet Rabindranath Tagore. Travel through brilliant green fields to the quiet town of Murshidabad, 18th century capital of the Nawabs of Bengal, with imposing palaces, mosques and temples.
The atmospheric remains of the medieval capitals of Gaur and Pandua sprawl across the glittering paddy fields; these poignant ruins include the Adina mosque, one of the largest ever built. We finish our program in Darjeeling.
Pre-departure planning is important. Here are certain things you should watch for and plan for.
Check with the appropriate consulate or embassy in your country to find out if you will need a visa to visit the country of your destination, especially for an extended period of time. Some countries have extremely detailed and complicated entry/departure laws, and treat visits of a week or two very differently from longer stays.
If you’re traveling to one area, check the cost of living there. If it’s high you’ll probably want to budget more carefully and save some money before leaving. The lower the cost of living the less you’ll have to save, but be sure to have a back up reserve in emergency cases.
Talk to other people who have done a similar trip.
If you don’t know anyone personally, try any of the dozens of online travel web sites full of first-person travel stories covering every possible type of trip.
Plan big and loose. Read everything you can about the area.
There may be sights and attractions you didn’t know about. A rough outline of your trip might have three or four target points and a variety of ways to get between them.
Some trips will allow you more leeway than others. Travel plans in Asia can often be made day-by-day while summer travel in Europe should be organized at least a few weeks ahead, unless you’re prepared to hunt around for hotel rooms and train seats.
Set up a pre-trip time-line so you don’t end up with a full todo list your last week of work or school.
Things to consider are doctor’s visits for a check up, inoculations, and prescription refills; purchasing plane tickets; renewing passports and obtaining visas and other documents.
The longer the trip, the lighter you should pack. This might seem strange, but it’s true you can afford to lug a heavy bag around for a week or two, but do you want to have anything extra for a year?
Stick to the absolute basics and know what you can and cannot buy at your destination(s). There’s no point in bringing 6 months of toothpaste to Europe or buying a sarong at home to take to the tropics. If you are visiting several climates, try to arrange it so you visit the warmer places first and coldest last. That way you can purchase sweaters and long pants and not have to carry them any more than needed. Alternately, visit cold climates first and then ship unneeded layers home — or sell them off.
Make sure everything goes with everything else (if that’s important to you), and remember that layers are always best.
Be prepared for uncomfortable trips. You will often find yourself in a busy, cramped, economy class environment and it could be for many hours – especially long plane trips.
If you want to arrive at your destination refreshed and able to enjoy the sights, then try a good quality travel pillow to support your head, some ear plugs to block out the screaming babies, and an eye cover to block out the sun or cabin lights.
Make contact with the locals before you go.
Maybe you have a friend-of-a-friend or a foreign exchange student from high school you remember, or just found a friend through a travel web site; almost everyone is happy to welcome a foreign visitor to their home town. This might be as elaborate as a home-stay for a few weeks, or just coffee in their home town or dinner at a locals restaurant.
A perfect city for exploring on foot with a shop around every corner. Much of the inner city can be walked without trouble, however, in parts walking include crowds, uneven streets, heavy traffic, and skinny sidewalks. If that’s a problem, there are plenty of taxi’s to ride in and scooters to rent.
How to Travel
- Subway – The metro is the fastest transportation. Running 5am to 10pm every day.
- Bus & Train – Operated by an independent organization, busses and trains include wifi access for the public. You can take any bus or train marked with the (B Public) sign for free.
- Taxi – Available in all parts of the city. From a restaurant or hotel you can have them call the city taxi service.
- Car – Rental cars are easy to get and hotels have good parking prices. Once in the main city, you can often walk so we suggest returning the when you arrive.
- Bike – The best way to get around, other than walking, is by bike. If you don’t mind hills, you can bike anywhere. If that’s not for you, stick to the inner city with your bike.
Just a few miles away you can explore the history and legacy, drink wine and relax. You can wander the hills or be lulled by the fountains. If you have time, the attractions can fill 3 days. We’ve highlighted the best ones here.
Because of the number of sights to see, some first-time visitors should start with an organized tour. Some things can be covered in depth, other are just useful for getting your bearings.
The leading tour operators use local historians to lead their tours. Guides offer walking tours, including visits to monuments, museums, and historic locations, as well as eating tours. Tour prices can be high, but most participants consider them a trip highlight. In addition, there are many family related tours, sights and more appealing activites to children.
Walking tours, like the 3 hour ghost tour, is an exclusive in the early evening. A bus excursion ruins special tours like you’ve never seen. Also worth consideration, a group of art historians and architects do a theatrical retelling from dramatic scripts. Go on a tour, expect guides to break out into a rendition of “Singing in the Rain”, it’s a lot of fun.
- Visit the Terracotta Temple.See Silk weaving, and conch shell works.Boat-ride on the Hooghli RiverBaul Dance performance.Toy Train Ride
Jeep Ride to Monastrey
- Banks – Open Monday to Friday 9am to 2pm. Some banks are closed for lunch.
- Emergencies – For police, dial a local phone number; for ambulance call a hospital.
- Internet Access – Wifi is standard in most hotels and free in many coffee shops.
- Mail – Buy stamps at the Post Office. Convenient post offices are located all cities. Most are open Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.
- Safety – Pickpocketing can be a common problem. It is suggested for men to keep wallets in their front pocket. Purse snatching also occurs at times.
This site contains information with a very personal and friendly structure. It also has great links to other related sites online.
Information, internet access, maps, and train passes are available at local Tourist Information terminals. These are located at various sites around the city. Expect a wait if you arrive late in the afternoon or during lunch time. Local travel agencies are also helpful for quick information and finding hotels. There is no service charge for these services. Hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, and Saturday 10am to 2pm.
Getting in from the airport and other arrival locations. Travel planning is about more than just knowing where you’re going. Prepares to navigate, take control and be ready for anything. This section helps you steer clear of disaster and stay open enjoy the unexpected.
- Plane – Flights arrive at the main airport near city center. If flying from European cities, you might land at a connecting airport. There is a tourist information office at the Terminal E, international arrivals, open 8am to 6pm.
- Train – A train station is on the lower level of the airport. To get into the city, follow the marked signs.
- Taxi – From the airport there is a flat-rate for the 1-hour trip, depending on traffic. Hotels charge up to $80 for shuttle service.
- Train & Bus – Trains and buses arrive a city center. This is the transportation hub for the city and is surrounded hotels.
A perfect place for exploring on foot, with local shops around every corner. You will eventually walk somewhere, it’s just going to happen. If you don’t like crowds, uneven cobblestones, heavy traffic or narrow sidewalks, take a taxi or rent a scooter.
Day 1 : Kolkata
On reaching Kolkata you will be received and transfer to your Hotel. The remainder of the day is free to relax.
Day 2 : Kolkata
Visit the city sights including the imposing Victoria Memorial, St Paul’s, the Indian Museum and Mother Teresa’s Mission. An optional boat-ride on the Hooghli River can be arranged.
Day 3 : Kolkata / Bishnupur
Driving out today from Kolkata and you’re immediately off the beaten track. Stop at Bishnupur and stay for one night at the Tourist Lodge; visit the Terracotta Temple, silk weaving, and conch shell works.
Day 4 : Bishnupur, Shantiniketan
Proceed to Shantiniketan via Panchmura and Bankura; stay at the Tourist Lodge for two nights; In the afternoon visit the local Ashram to see the prayers and open air classes.
Day 5 : Shantiniketan
It was in Shantiniketan that the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore wrote many of his literary classics and remoulded the cultural background of Bengal. The day is spent visiting the local sights including Vishwa Bharati, the university that Tagore founded, Kala Bhawan and the local museums. Later on in the day enjoy a Baul Dance performance.
Day 6 : Shantiniketan / Tarapith
Drive through wonderfully rural countryside, stopping at sites of interest, to Tarapith today and stay at Sonar Bangla for the night.
Day 7 : Tarapith/ Baharampur
Drive to Murshidabad to see the Hazardwari (1000 Doors Palace), the Jain Temple, Katra Masjid, Palace of Devi Singh and a raw silk manufacturing site. Drive on to Baharampur for the night at Hotel Sunshine.
Day 8 : Maldah
Drive to Maldah, stay at Hotel, visit the nearby sites of Gour and Pandua, known for their unique brick enamel work.
Day 9 : Siliguri
Take an exciting afternoon train to New Jalpaiguri station. From here it’s a short transfer to the Hotel where you stay for the night.
Day 10 : Siliguri / Darjeeling
Drive to Darjeeling (or, if operational, take the famous heritage Toy Train). Stay at the delightfully characterful hotel for a relaxing three nights .
Day 11 : Darjeeling
Early morning take a jeep to Tiger Hill to see the sunrise over the Himalayan peaks including Everest. You will also visit the Buddhist monastery at Ghoom and the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute.
Day 12 : Darjeeling
There is plenty of time to simply relax and take in the scenic surrounds.
Day 13 : Darjeeling / Kolkata
Fly back to Kolkata from Bagdogra and stay at overnight .
Day 14 : Kolkata / Departure
Morning transfer to Board Flight Back Home.
- Shirdi Bombay Tour
- Jewish Heritage Tour of India
- Churches of South India
- Christian Pilgrims Tour
- Jyotirlinga Darshan
- Ardh Kumbh Special at Allahabad
- Kathmandu and Chitwan
- Buddhist Tour in Nepal