India, Pushkar Camel Fair & Taj Mahal: October 23 – November 6, 2014 (trip full, wait list available)

Overview

During the first full moon of November, India’s Pushkar Fair, Asia’s largest camel and livestock market springs to life in the sleepy, picturesque, lakeside town of Pushkar. An ancient religious town, in the Thar desert of Rajasthan, provides an almost surreal backdrop for this unique event. Photographing Pushkar Fair is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Few photo opportunities can match the volume or diversity of image possibilities, it’s almost impossible to bring enough film or memory cards to capture it all. You’ll feel as though you’ve stepped back in history as you walk among camel herders and their encampments among the rolling sand dunes.

The Pushkar Fair is, in itself, enough to justify an expedition, but on this trip we will also be visiting other fascinating destinations such as Delhi, Jaisalmer, Jaipur and Jodhpur. We’ll begin in Delhi, the heartbeat of Northern India, where we’ll have time to explore ancient forts, wander the markets, and experience the history surrounding both the old and new sections of the city.

Jaisalmer, rising out of the heart of the Great Indian Desert is the quintessential India of your dreams. With the oldest living fort in the world, the city is a mass of intricately carved buildings, facades and elaborate balconies. It’s temple , fort , and palaces are all built of beautiful yellow stone. Exploring this fascinating city could be a photo destination in and of itself. Jaipur is known as the Pink City because of the extensive use of the locally abundant pink stone, painted in honor of the visit of the royal consort of Queen Victoria. Jaipur thrills the soul with its massive forts, magnificent palaces, exquisite temples, and lush gardens.

Sitting at the edge of the Thar desert, Jodhpur is dominated by a massive fort, topping a sheer ridge right in the middle of town. Jodhpur is affectionately referred to as the “Blue City” because of the indigo-colored house lining the fascinating winding streets of the old town. These can be seen from the ramparts of the mighty Mehrangarh Fort, which looms high above the buzzing city.

Located far from the cities and paved roads, our luxury encampment at Manvar allows us to enjoy the peace and tranquility of the Indian desert, while being in close proximity to fabulous photo opportunities. In the evening, after a dusty hard day’s jeep safari we retreat to Manvar to enjoy delicious Indian cuisine and a wonderful culture and dance performances under the stars. Luni is a feudal town where centuries old traditions still permeate the local lifestyle. Like looking through a window into history, Luni and the surrounding Bishnoi villages provide yet more fascinating, photogenic locations.

India is a fascinating country with incredible photo opportunities and wonderfully warm people, but it can be emotionally and physical exhausting. India challenges you with extremes: one minute, India will cradle you in comfort, the next it will smack you in the face with poverty. During the day our group will be “out in the thick of it” not just shooting the action, but being part of the action. At night we’ll be able to relax and recover from the day’s excitement in clean comfortable hotels that remind us that we are in India rather than Phoenix or Orlando. Our hotels are rich in atmosphere, and many are photo-shoots in themselves, but mini-bars and broadband wireless internet may not always be available. We’ll dine at restaurants that provide delicious, healthy, flavorful meals and sometimes even sip tea from roadside kitchens. To top off this experience of a lifetime, we’ll explore and photograph the incredible Taj Mahal, the brilliant white marble jewel of India. Built by Shah Jahan, taking 22 years to complete, the Taj is a marble memorial to his beautiful wife Mumtaz Mahal. Apart from its stunning design balance and perfect symmetry, the Taj is also noted particularly for its elegant domes, intricately carved screens and some of the best inlay work ever seen.

Keep in mind that India is a fascinating destination that is best suited for truly adventurous, flexible and enthusiastic travelers; whose desire is to experience off-the-beaten-track places and come home with images and stories to ponder for decades.

Trip Leader: Karl Grobl – The trip will be limited to 10 participants

Itinerary
Day 1:
(Oct 23)
Arrive from your flight to Delhi. You will be transported from the airport to our hotel in downtown Delhi. We'll have an orientation meeting and go to dinner.
We'll spend the night in Delhi.
Day 2:After breakfast we proceed on a guided tour of New Delhi, visiting such sights as the Qutab Minar - 237 feet high and one of the most perfect towers in the Persian world. In the afternoon we’ll cross over to Old Delhi to photograph interesting mosques, monuments and forts relating to its checkered history as the capital of Muslim India, between the 17th and 19th centuries. The tour includes a visit to the Jamma Mosque, built in 1650. During the tour you'll have the opportunity to ride on cycle rickshaws. This is a great way to explore and photograph the hustle and bustle as well as the color of the narrow winding streets bursting with people and pavement shops selling all description of goods.
We'll spend the night in Delhi.
Day 3:In the morning we’ll board our flight to the Blue City of Jodhpur. Upon arrival we'll check into the legendary Ajit Bhawan Hotel. Built exclusively for Majaraja ir Ajit Sing, it is vibrantly alive with the personalized hospitality provided by the late Maharaja's family who still lives there. In the afternoon we'll have a guided tour of the Blue City of Jodhpur. We'll visit the massive fort, royal palaces, the armory and Jaswant Thada - the Royal Crematorium.
We'll spend the night in Jodhpur.
Day 4: In the morning we'll have a sunrise shoot of the amazing Blue City. After some free time, in the afternoon we'll photograph and explore another part of the city.
We'll spend the night in Jodhpur.
Day 5:In the morning we'll drive through desert country to Jaisalmer, stopping along the way at roadside tea shops for impromptu photo sessions or at a school if class is in session. Depending on road conditions, we may arrive in Jaisalmer early enough in the afternoon to sneak a quick look at the Jaisalmer Fort, with its exquisite carving on yellow sandstone. The Golden City of Jaisalmer is a testimony of a by-gone era. At sunset we'll move from the fort to the outskirts of town to photograph a golden sunset at the nearby Cenatophs.
We'll spend the night in Jaisalmer.
Day 6:In the morning we'll have a sunrise shoot of the Jaisalmer Fort, and then tour the residential portions of the fort where one third of the population of the old city lives. The design of the houses and the lifestyles of the people occupying them remain as they were a couple of centuries back. We'll also witness the ornate havelis of this ancient citadel. Later in the day we go on an excursion to the fascinating desert village dunes of Khuri. The friendly locals will invite us into their simple mud homes with earthen floors and no electricity or running water. Here the women walk two kilometers to the well and carry the water home on their heads. It is here that we'll explore the desert on camel back. We'll photograph silhouettes of the camels in the desert with the backdrop of the setting sun. The stillness of the desert, the clear sky, local Rajasthan music and the general atmosphere make the place a very romantic experience.
We'll spend the night in Jaisalmer.
Day 7:Today we wake up early to photograph sunrise over Gadisar Lake then return to our hotel for breakfast. After breakfast we drive to Manvar . Upon arrival we check into our luxurious, permanent tents, located right in the heart of the Great Indian Thar Desert. Our accommodations offer a rare opportunity to enjoy Rajasthan's desert life, culture, wildlife and beauty. We'll be treated to a sunset jeep safari and then a fireside cultural performance.
We'll spend the night at Manvar Desert Resort (Tented Camp).
Day 8:A leisurely day is spent in the desert. We'll enjoy a camel or jeep safari to local villages in the middle of the desert. We'll also have some time for photography discussions and rest. In the evening we'll be treated to yet another memorable cultural performance of dance and music under the stars.
We'll spend the night at Manvar.
Day 9: After breakfast we'll drive to visit the Bishnoi Village, where centuries old traditions still permeate the feudal lifestyles. We'll witness an opium ceremony, a ritual by which guests are welcomed. Colorfully attired men and women carry on their chores and traditions in their mud-floored village huts. In the afternoon we'll continue on to Pali, where we'll spend the night at the Sardar Samand Palace.
We’ll spend the night in Pali.
Day 10:In the morning we'll drive to Pushkar where we'll check into our Swiss Tents (with hot water provided in buckets, flush toilets, and several hours of electricity each evening). We'll have two days here to witness the amazing spectacle called Pushkar. There will be plenty to photograph - the countless camels ambling their way across the golden sands of Rajasthan, horses marching towards the site of the fair with their masters and an assemblage of numerous cows and sheep, men with large colorful turbans, women wrapped in exquisite jewelry from head to toe and children dressed in their colorful traditional attire.
We'll spend the night in Pushkar.
Day 11:We'll have the whole day to wander and photograph Pushkar. The fair is initially devoted to the trade of camels, sheep, horses and cows. Their owners, dressed in colorful attire use all of their persuasive skills to sell them at the most competitive prices. The festival also offers the women an opportunity to purchase a huge variety of jewelry items. There are also stalls where colorful clothing is sold as well as tattoo shops, jugglers and fire dancers. As the fair nears its climax, various competitive events are held, such as camel races, musical chairs, and beauty contests. All in all it makes for a photographer's delight.
We'll spend the night in Pushkar.
Day 12:After a leisurely breakfast we'll make the three hour drive to the city of Jaipur. The people here are known to be dynamic and colorful, and a walk through the lanes here is a walk through history. Here pink turbans jostle with saffron odhinis (ladies' scarves), and camel buggies and elephants are as commonly found as cars and buses. In the afternoon we'll go for a walking tour of Jaipur and its colorful bazaars.
We'll spend the night in Jaipur.
Day 13:In the morning we'll visit and photograph Amber Fort, the hilltop fortress / palace 7 miles north of Jaipur, which was the former capital of the royal Jaipur. We'll also visit the Hwa Mahal or Palace of the Winds, a five-story structure of pink sandstone with delicately honeycombed windows overlooking the main street of the old city. In the afternoon we'll go on a tour of the Observatory and photograph the fascinating structures.
We'll spend the night in Jaipur.
Day 14: Today we drive to Agra. We’ll check in to our hotel then head out for an evening river shoot at the Taj Mahal .
We'll spend the night in Agra.
Day 15:
(Nov 6)
We’ll start the morning with a sunrise shoot at the Taj Mahal before heading back to Delhi to meet international departure flights.
Or.....Optional Extension, Hardiwar and Armritsar
Day 15:
(Nov 6)
We'll be transported to our hotel in Dehli where we'll have dinner together before embarking on day 1 of our optional extension to Haridwar and Armritsar.
Spend the night in Delhi.
Day 16:Early morning, transfer to the train station to board our train to Haridwar. Upon arrival in Haridwar we'll transfer to Haveli Hari Ganga, a beautiful heritage "Haveli" (mansion) situated on the banks of the Holy Ganga. This evening we walk across the bridge to witness the fascinating Ganga Aarti invocation. The golden reflection of floral diyas in the River Ganges is the most enchanting sight in the twilight during the Ganga Aarti ceremony at the ghat. The synchronized chanting of prayers that takes place during the Aarti is avery uplifting
experience. We'll spend the night in Haridwar.
Day 17:After breakfast we explore the un-ending list of attractions in Haridwar including Har-Ki-Pauri, and several Hindu temples and ashrams. More thatn the architectural designs, it is the spiritual ambience of the place that is so striking. The Daksh Mahadev Temple is an ancient shrine situated to the south of Kankhal town. Other important places to visit are the Sapt Rishi Ashram, the Kanva Rishi Ashram, the Bharat Mata Temple, Maya Devi Temple, Bhimgoda, and Shanti Kunj. We'll spend the night in Haridwar.
Day 18:This afternoon, we'll travel by train to Amritsar.
We’ll spend the night in Amritsar
Day 19:Amritsar is home to the Sikh religion and Sikhism's holiest shrine, the Golden Temple. The Golden Temple is an amazing gold-plated gurdwara which seems to float in the middle of its holy pool. The gold temple is a sight that rates alongside the Taj Mahal. We will visit the temple before sunrise to witness the ceremonious pilgrimage that takes place each and every day. In the evening we will drive the 35 km outside of Amritsar to Wagah for the fascinating and unusual Wagah Border Ceremony. We'll spend the night in Amritsar.
Day 20:
(Nov 11)
We'll take an afternoon flight to Delhi. Upon arrival, you'll be transferred to airport hotel to eat, then rest and relax in the lobby before you are transferred to the airport for your onward flight (or check in if you would like to stay for a night).

Leader

Karl Grobl


Traveling to the far corners of the world to tell compelling stories, award-winning photojournalist Karl Grobl reveals the human side of issues faced by people across the globe. His images offer viewers intimate glimpses into the lives of ordinary people all over the world and provide an opportunity for us to reflect upon, and understand their personal struggles and triumphs.

With a keen awareness and reverence for human dignity, Karl creates photographs that not only educate and motivate but also stir a viewer’s deep emotion. Grobl specializes in humanitarian photojournalism, documenting the work of non-government organizations in the developing world. His most recent project was a year-long documentary of Health Volunteers Overseas, a Washington, DC based healthcare provider with facilities in over 25 countries, a photo documentary on the AIDS crisis in Cambodia and Vietnam, and a story on micro-finance and healthcare programs in Haiti, West Africa and South America. Karl’s work has been published world-wide and is exhibited publicly and in private collections across the United States and abroad.

“My goal is always to create high-impact, evocative images which not only inform, but also spark the desire to become involved… images that cause reflection upon and empathy with another human being’s struggle, all the while, respecting the dignity of those who appear in the photos. When successful, my imagery reveals a common humanity, allowing viewers to see a bit of themselves in other human beings, half a world away. Beyond just providing information… the images should motivate viewers to take action”

Dates & Prices

Dates: October 23 – November 6, 2014

Cost: $7875

Price based on double occupancy. A single supplement of $1575 applies.

Price Includes: All 14 nights hotels, airport transfers, all ground transportation, in-country flight, all breakfasts, all dinners, four lunches, entrances to tourist sites, jeep/elephant rides in Jaipur, English-speaking guides, drinking water, and all tips to guides, drivers & porters.

Trip Leader: Karl Grobl – Trip limited to 10 participants

Optional Extension 6-Day / 5-Night Optional Extension:  Haridwar & Amritsar (November 6-11)

Cost:
8 – 10 persons $1775
6 – 7 persons $1975
4 – 5 persons $2350
Single supplement: $495

Price Includes: All 5 nights hotels, all ground transportation, trains from Delhi – Haridwar -Hardiwar – Amritsar – flight from Amritsar to Delhi, all breakfasts, all dinners, entrances to tourist sites, English-speaking guides, drinking water, and all tips to guides, drivers & porters.

*All prices subject to change without notice, owing to the variable nature of international currency exchange rates and sudden changes in local costs.

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Terms

Jim Cline Photo Tours LLC

Deposit and Final Payment

A deposit of $600 per person is required at time of booking. Full payment is due 90 days prior to departure.

Cancellation

  • On cancellations more than 120 days prior to departure, all monies are refunded less a $275 administrative fee and less any monies spent on participant’s behalf such as airline or other tickets.
  • Less than 120 but at least 90 days prior, total deposit amount is forfeited.
  • Less than 90 but at least 75 days prior, 50% of trip price is forfeited.
  • Less than 75 days prior to departure, 100% is forfeited.

Notification by phone or email is acceptable, but please follow with written notice. In the unlikely event we have to cancel a tour, a full refund will be given.

Responsibility

Jim Cline Photo Tours LLC, and their agents act only in the capacity as agents in all matters pertaining to hotel accommodations, sightseeing tours, and transportation, and are not responsible for any loss, damage, theft, or injury to person or property resulting from a defect in any vehicle, or the actions of any persons who provide services for this tour or for the action or inaction of any third party. Baggage is at the owner’s risk entirely. The tour operator reserves the right to withdraw the tour at any time, to decline any person as a member of the tour for any cause at any time. All prices are based on current rates of exchange and, while every effort will be made to hold them firm, they are subject to change.

Health

It is the responsibility of each tour member to inform the tour operator of any possible health problems or handicaps upon registration. By forwarding a signed reservation form and trip deposit, you certify that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions of disability that would create a risk for you or other trip participants. Once a trip has been confirmed, medical circumstances will not be considered as exceptions to our cancellation policy. We assume no responsibility for medical care or for special dietary requirements.

Trip Insurance

To allow for any unexpected contingencies, all participants are strongly urged to purchase trip cancellation and interruption insurance.

Itinerary

While Jim Cline Photo Tours LLC endeavors to make the itinerary as accurate as possible, it should be considered as an approximate schedule of activities rather than a rigid schedule of events. Trip itineraries are subject to revision due to weather, ocean or trail conditions, government restrictions, and other reasons beyond our control. The tour leader has the right to make changes in the published itinerary whenever in his sole judgment conditions warrant, or if he deems it necessary for the comfort or safety of the tour.

Country Info

Health Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

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Equipment

Suggested equipment: Digital SLR with lenses offering a focal length from wide (24mm or wider) to telephoto (100mm or longer), laptop or netbook computer running image viewing software such as Breeze Browser or Photo Mechanic and an image editing program such as Adobe Photoshop, or a combintation softward program similar to like Lightroom. Additionally we strongly recommend a back-up device such as external hard drive.

Testimonials

“ [The trip was] fantastic. I liked the pace of the trip. It was nice to have some occasional non-scheduled time to explore on our own. I really like having the option to periodically order what I want from a menu. The buffets are quick but  sometimes limited in their offerings. Having a mix of the two works well. My favorite [photo opportunities] were: Jodhpur, Khejerla, Jaipur, Hariwar and Varanasi. The street shooting in these places was FANTASTIC! Also really liked going to the small villages. [Karl is] outgoing, able to interact with many different personalities, VERY helpful to me, good instructor. I  would not hesitate to take another trip with him – in fact, I already signed up for Vietnam. One of the best Street Shooters with whom I have worked! [Indian guide] DV was excellent – good choice! Good value for the money. I got some great pics! I liked the format of having “tutorials” while on the way to a shoot. Also, Karl generally let us know what lenses and equipment to take prior to striking out for a location.

I would, without questions, recommend this trip to a friend. Great variety and many, many photo ops.”

~Bob Newman
Gainesville, FL

“[The hotel was] much more fun and interesting than a standard style hotel. Very impressed. I liked them all [photo ops]. Different times of day, plenty of variety, great subjects and locations. Karl was excellent as usual. He knows the turf and knows the people. Very helpful with any photography questions. Dee Vee is a terrific guide-taking care of us travelers and has a great knowledge of India and its history and culture. Yes, I am very pleased with the results [of my photography].India was much more colorful than I had imagined.

Excellent adventure, Karl. Thanks for the photo tips.”

~Bob Mandich
Carlsbad, CA

“In general, hotels were very good – charming and quite nice. The Manvar tents were really awesome (before and after we got upgraded to the Deluxe tents). Great photo opportunities – too numerous to mention. I really liked Delhi, Jodhpur and the Fair. But the brief time in Fort Khejarla had to be my favorite. It was so small and intimate that we could get around easily – and the locals were so much fun and so welcoming. Haridwar was also amazing. DV [Indian guide] is awesome! He really seemed to go out of his way to help all of us and make our trip as easy as possible.

Yes [I would] recommend this trip to a friend – it was a great intro to India and a very fun trip with great company.”

~Lisa Brockman
San Diego, CA

“Overall I enjoyed the experience because it was different. I don’t travel so far away to see and do what I can do at home. Some would have liked to have seen more of India’s richness and less poverty and I did get tired of seeing so much poverty, but this was a photo tour with great opportunities for interesting photos which I suspect wouldn’t have happened if we saw only the beauty of their museums and hotels. Photojournalism is a style of photography I would love to develop better because its storytelling ability emits emotion if done well and therefore your travel photos aren’t dull. I love the way Karl uses his talents to show a part of the world many do not know, telling a true story that affects many hearts in a small way that may lead to big changes. I’ve traveled enough that I need something different and I think this trip met that goal.

If some places where we stayed were considered a little too primitive, that was fine with me as I like different. I thought it was a nice combo of nice and just all right. My favorite place was Manvar…that was different and yet comfortable, serene…just lovely. The little village we visited was full of storytelling photo ops…left you with a better feeling about the poor in India. The camel ride, sunset on the desert…just the best.

Karl was so helpful. [I] can’t believe the patience he exhibited time and time again with both me and others. His assistance wasn’t just in photography, but computers as well. If he couldn’t assist, he’d find someone who could. He and DV were the dream team. That worked well.

I would like more “workshop” in the photo tours. As much as we got (I got), I soaked up every morsel of photographic info that was offered and want more. I’m still not where I’d like to be (maybe I’m a bit slow) and I use these trips to gain info for improvement. Every impromptu session in the back of the bus was not attended by all due to lack of space and I was wishing I could have attended. And Karl moves so fast, you can’t be around him all the time. I’m sure he feels drained by the end of the day as he does “put himself out there” at all times and offers his services often. He’s there for you.

This trip will stay with me for a long time and evoke many philosophical thoughts, I’m sure. And that’s what I hoped for as India has that reputation.”

Diane Spottswood
Marlborough, MA

Trip Evaluation Form
We would love to hear your comments and suggestions from the recent tour. Please, if you have a few moments, fill out this form. Karl and I will personally review and discuss it. Your valuable input helps us to continuously improve our tours.
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