The state of Odisha beckons through the magnetism and brilliance of ancient Kalinga age temples; the city of temples, Bhubaneshwar is an architectural marvel. The Jagannath Temple dominates the landscape around in Puri and is famous for its annual Rath Yatra; the beach here conjures beautiful views of the sunrise and the shallow water allows walking up to a very large distance. Konark is all about its Sun Temple, now a UNESCO heritage site and unique in its architecture and implementation. Head straight for the swamps of Sunderbans offering a serenity which is both beautiful and eerie, suspense filled and deceitful. From its yellow cabs to the many policemen clad in white, from the lanes of Chowringee to the bright and blinding lights of Park Street, from the glorious Howrah bridge, the imposing Victoria Memorial to the sheer essence of Durga Puja, Kolkata offers a surprise at every step you take. Later travel to the heart of the Bengali art and music at Shantiniketan breathing serenity through its offering of Baul music, folk art, gorgeous food and meadows of lush paddy fields. This itinerary is a medley of all of these and more.
Day 1 – Arrive in Bhubaneshwar – Puri (60kms / 5-6hrs)
On arrival in Orissa’s capital city of Bhubaneshwar, be met and transferred to the temple town of Puri with en route halts. Stop at the 180 feet tall Lingaraj Temple dedicated to Lord Harihara, a combination of Shiva & Vishnu and whose sprawling complex comprises of 64 smaller shrines. You will also be visiting the compact and small Temple of Mukteshwar Temple renowned for its imposing ceiling that is adorned with eight petal lotus in the porch and with sculptures & images of figures of ascetics & yogis in different meditation poses. Reach Puri by late afternoon, check in and visit the Jagannath Temple to attend the Sandhya Aarthi and Dhupa ceremony
Day 2 – Puri – Chilika Lake – Puri (48kms one way)
Head out this morning to Satapada for a boat ride on the Chilika Lake to watch dolphins including stops at the island of Kalijai housing a temple of Mother Kali and passing by the island of Nalabana declared a restricted bird sanctuary famous for migratory birds such as flamingos, herons and storks spotted from Oct-Feb. Return to Puri for the night. Subject to time you could revisit the Jagannath Temple
Day 3 – Puri – Konark – Dhauli – Pipli – Bhubaneshwar (115kms / 4-5hrs)
Checkout from Puri this morning and drive to the heritage site of Konark along the Puri-Konark marine drive featured amongst the top 50 roads to traverse in India. Once at Konark, visit the 13th century built Sun Temple admiring the intricate carvings on its walls. Later travel to Bhubaneshwar with stops at the village of Pipili famous for its appliqué artwork flaunted at its several shops selling appliquéd handbags, bed sheets, wall hangings, purses & canopies and Dhauli which was the battlefield of the Kalinga War and has a grand peace pagoda. Reach Bhubaneshwar by afternoon and visit the Khandagiri & Udayagiri caves dating back to 2nd century BC and once home to Jain ascetics
Day 4 – Bhubaneshwar – Kolkata – Sunderbans
Checkout this morning from Bhubaneshwar, be transferred to the airport for your hour long direct flight to Kolkata where on arrival be transferred by road to Sonakhali or Gothkali (around 100kms / 3hrs to embark on a two hours boat cruise brining you to your camp stay in Sunderbans. Check in and warm up to the rustic settings over lunch. Later be taken on a boat cruise to Sajnekhali; the watchtower here provides an opportunity to view wildlife from close quarters. There is also a crocodile pond where you can watch the feeding frenzy of crocodiles, a small turtle farm and a pond inhabited by sharks; also visit the Nature Interpretation Centre to discover more information about the Sunderbans and its inhabitants.
Day 5 – Sunderbans
Head out on a full day river cruise (lunch & evening snacks onboard) with visits to other watchtowers. The Sudhanyakhali watchtower offers a vista point to spot the Bengal tiger and other wildlife due to its strategic location next to a freshwater pond. The half a kilometre long canopy walk at Dobanki watchtower presents a unique experience of watching wildlife from a netted enclosure; the sweet water pond at Dobanki draws Chithal deers as well as Brahmini kites. The Netidhopani watchtower offers wildlife views including the ruins of a 400 year old Shiva temple. Return to the camp by sundown to be treated to a cultural program performed by local villages over dinner before lights out.
Day 6 – Sunderbans – Kolkata (284kms / 5hrs)
In the morning, be taken on a tour of a local village featuring Mudflats which are an important physical feature of the Sunderbans. Meet the fishermen, the honey collectors as well as the wood cutters who share their experiences of the jungle. You may also be lucky to see small octopuses, star fishes and horse shoe crabs on the sand banks. Cruising through narrow creeks on manually oared boats, you will then return to the camp where after an early lunch you will set out on your return journey to Kolkata. Once in Kolkata, you will be transferred to the hotel for a leisurely evening.
Day 7 – Kolkata
Travel this morning to Belur Math (around 16kms from Kolkata); visit the Ramakrishna temple which looks like a church, mosque or temple depending on vantage point representing the universal faith of its congregation. Other notable sites on the grounds include the marble statue of Sri Ramakrishna, the Swami Vivekananda Temple where he was cremated, the temple of the Holy Mother and the Sri Ramakrishna Museum. Return to Kolkata for a traditional Bengali lunch experience. Later in the evening, be taken to Prinsep Ghat memorial by the Ganges for a leisure walk, then on a relaxed river cruise for views of the Howrah Bridge and Vivekananda Setu. Return to the shores by the evening to be transferred back to the hotel
Day 8 – Kolkata
Take a tour this morning of some of Kolkata’s imperial sites from the British Raj days – the iconic Victoria Memorial, the famed Eden Gardens, the Governor’s House, the General Post Office and the Writer’s Building. Discover Kumartulli Potter’s Lane, the centuries old studios of the Durga idol makers to experience a true artistic work of these Kumars winding up with a visit to Jorsanko Thakurbari (Tagore’s House). Later in the evening, indulge in a riot of Kolkata’s famed street food at Russell Street (or similar) comprising of the famous Jhaal muri, phuchkas, aloo puri, dahi papdi and the like
Day 9 – Kolkata – Shantiniketan (200kms / 4hrs)
Checkout this morning from Kolkata and be driven to Shantiniketan where on arrival by afternoon, check in and relax. Later, visit the Kankalitala temple decorated with terracotta carvings followed by a visit to a local village called Sriniketan where the Baul singers reside in beautifully constructed wooden houses and Amar Kutir, a cooperative society setup by Rabindranath Tagore to aid and develop local arts and crafts symbolized with a huge statue of Tagore outside it. Unwind for the day over a live performance of Baul music incorporating a number of instruments such as the ektara, dotara & dugi; the bauls are wandering minstrels who through song & dance reflect their joy and longing for communion with the divine
Day 10 – Shantiniketan – Kolkata (departure)
Be taken on a guided tour of Shantiniketan now a full-fledged university named Vishwa Bharti and a meeting ground of Indian traditions and best of other cultures. The university which attracts students from across the world has facilities in all major disciplines such as humanities, cottage industries, Indian music, drama, philosophy and the like. While in the beautiful campus, also take the time to admire some of the sculptures, paintings, murals and frescoes found in abundance. You will also be exploring some of the many Bhavans such as the Kala Bhavan and Sangeet Bhavan to witness first-hand the cultural heritage of the ashram. Later in the afternoon, head back for Kolkata for your return/onward flight
Mukteshwar Temple in Bhubaneswar
Konark Sun Temple
Boating on Chilka Lake
Crocodile spotting in Sunderbans
Boat Cruise in Sunderbans
Victoria Memorial in Kolkata
Baul Performance in Shantiniketan
Across the street from Puri Sea Beach and the Bay of Bengal, this casual hotel in an airy building is 1 km from the 12th-century Jagannath Temple and 2 km from Puri train station.
This five-star hotel is an oasis of luxury, set amidst landscaped gardens and fruit orchards. Savor serene views of the gardens, framed beautifully by the picture windows in your hotel room.
Crowned at various points in time as ‘Jewel of the East’ and ‘Best Hotel East of Suez’, the oldest luxury hotel in Asia has added a pinch of new with the old incorporating Victorian, Edwardian and Contemporary styles.
The resort has managed to finely retain the natural charm of Santiniketan and give all modern facilities be fitting a five star hotel and more.
The cost mentioned is for per person. The cost mentioned is only indicative and subject to actual cost at the time of booking. Standard check in time is 1400hrs and check out time is 1200 hrs; early check in and late checkout can be requested and is not guaranteed. Footprint holds the right of altering the trip schedule in event of unfavorable weather or unforeseen conditions beyond control such as road blocks, flight cancellations, etc. Any additional cost incurred due to the same would need to be borne by the individual. The cost is subject to additional charges if paid by debit card, credit card or online bank transfer.