India, Winter Sun

Groepsreis naar India met Abraham Hulzebos

Group Trip India: From Bollywood to Goa

December and January are great months to travel in Maharashtra, the state of which Mumbai is the capital. While it is cold, dark, rainy and, who knows, even snowy in Europe you will walk under a blue Indian sky enjoying the sun and the pleasantly warm temperatures. In these ideal climatic circumstances you can experience India in all her magnificent diversity and variety.
One day you will learn the dance steps of a Bollywood hit, another you will walk along the bathing ghats of Nashik among thousands of devoted Hindus. Or you will discover centuries old Portuguese churches, try to spot a Bengal tiger in Koyna Sanctuary, relax on the sandy beaches of Goa or look in awe at the beautiful temples of Ellora...
For two weeks your senses will work overtime due to the abundance of colours, smells and sounds of India.

When
From 27 December 2019 to 10 January 2020 (15 days)

Price
€ 1,575 per person (surcharge single room € 275)

This price includes:
✓ Domestic flight from Goa to Mumbai
✓ Accommodation in hotels on double sharing basis
✓ Breakfast
✓ Master class Bollywood Dance
✓ Slumdog Millionaire Tour in Mumbai
✓ All transportation by comfortable (mini) bus
✓ Professional guidance, before and during the trip
✓ Services of an English speaking guide
✓ Entrance fees in Ellora and Ajanta
✓ Jeep safari in Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary
✓ Jungle walk in Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary

This price does not include:
✓ Return flight from Europe to Mumbai (price is approximately € 700)
✓ Lunches / Dinners
✓ All personal expenses like phone bills, insurances, medical costs, extra luggage etcetera.
✓ Visa
✓ Tips to drivers and hotel staff
✓ Other entrances and all camera surcharges (see above)

Group size
Minimum 10, maximum 16 persons

Flight details
This trip will start in Mumbai on 28 December 2019. The ideal flights to book would be:
✓ 27 December 2019: Europe to Mumbai (arrival in Mumbai in the evening)
✓ 10 January 2019: Mumbai to Europe (departure from Mumbai in the very early morning of the 10th, arrival in Europe in the morning)

There are a lot of flights, direct and with a stop over between Europe and Mumbai. A good website to compare flights is Skyscanner.  

 

Day 01: Arrival in Mumbai Day 02: Mumbai, Slumdog Millionaire
Day 03: Mumbai, Bollywood Day 04: Mumbai to Nashik
Day 05: Nashik to Aurangabad, New Year Day 06: Aurangabad and Ajanta
Day 07: Ellora, continue to Pune Day 08: Pune
Day 09: Pune to Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary
Day 10: Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary
Day 11: Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary to Goa Day 12: Goa
Day 13: Goa Day 14: Goa to Mumbai, Back to Europe
Dag 15: Arrival in Europe  

 

 

Group Trip India: From Bollywood to Goa - In Detail

Day 01 – Arrival in Mumbai
After arrival in Mumbai you will be transferred from the airport to the hotel. As the plane will arrive rather late in the Mumbai evening, it might be advisable to start your India adventure with some sleep.

Day 02 – Mumbai
Step into Mumbai, the Indian version of New York. Mumbai is the economic powerhouse of India and works like a magnet for hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country. As a consequence it is crowded here, that is obvious. But the air is breathing activity, chances and opportunities. One of the best places to experience all this is the slum Dharavi, known from the movie Slumdog Millionaire, the area where the main character, Jamal, grew up. Whatever may be your thoughts and impressions regarding slums, Dharavi is without doubt much more than that. Together with your guide you will explore this part of the city and find out about the many small enterprises that exist here: Recycling, pottery-making, embroideries, bakeries, soap factories and leather tanning to name a few. Due to the lack of space here, these enterprises are organized in highly creative ways. When passing through the residential spaces, you will undoubtedly feel the sense of community and spirit that exists in the area. People from all over India live in Dharavi, and this diversity is apparent in the temples, mosques and churches that stand side by side. A tour through Dharavi’s narrow alleys is quite an adventure and you will leave with a completely different view regarding slums.
After lunch you will see many other faces of Mumbai: Colonial buildings as the Gateway of India and Victoria Terminus, the tomb of Haji Ali, the Dhobi Ghats, the peaceful environment around Banganga Tank and the spectacular views from Marine drive and Chowpatty Beach.

Day 03 – Bollywood
Mumbai is not just the Indian answer to New York, it is also the Indian answer to Hollywood, and is proudly presenting you Bollywood. During a one-day workshop you will learn two different dances, a traditional one and the Mega-Hit-Of-The-Moment-Dance. The workshop is offered on the premises of the Bollywood Studios, the place where hundreds of thousands Indians would love to walk around in the hope to see one of their idols. It is sacred ground that you will dance on.
In the evening you could head for a cinema and watch the movie with the mega-hit. And yes, you are allowed to dance while watching this movie. It is no problem at all, here in India. Or explore the nightlife, walk on the beach in Juhu, go shopping, visit a temple or a mosque or simply wander around. There is so much to see in Mumbai, so much to do. It deserves a lifetime, not just a few days.

Day 04 – Mumbai to Nashik (4 hours, 180 km)
Standing on the Godavari, one of India's holiest rivers, Nashik is a major Hindu pilgrimage centre with a rich culture and tradition. The city is peppered with hundreds of temples and bathing ghats and is an absorbing, colourful town. Ramkund, a bathing tank in the heart of Nashik's old quarters, sees hundreds of Hindu pilgrims daily to bathe, pray and, because the waters provide moksha (liberation of the soul), to immerse the ashes of departed friends and family. For Western eyes, it is an intense cultural experience.
Once in twelve years Nashik hosts the grand Kumbh Mela, the largest religious gathering on earth that shuttles between four Indian religious hotspots every three years (the next one in Nashik will be in 2027).

Day 05 – Nashik to Aurangabad (4 hours, 180 km)
You 'd best have one more look at the bathing ghats, they are especially colourful in the early mornings. Around midday you will depart from holy Nashik to a former capital of the Moghul Empire, Aurangabad.
You might have forgotten it, due to the overload of impressions during the last few days, but it is the 31st of December! Can you imagine?
It is New Year’s Eve and almost midnight. Such pleasant weather it is, still over twenty degrees. You are sitting outside on a terrace, wearing a t-shirt, sipping a cocktail, enjoying a tasty Indian buffet. In one hour an Indian style party will start, waving goodbye to 2019 and welcoming 2020, where you surely will be able to show your newly acquired dance steps. 

Day 06 – Aurangabad with Ajanta
Approximately a hundred kilometres north of Aurangabad are the caves of Ajanta. The approximately thirty caves date back to the second century BC. The rock-cut Buddhist caves include paintings and sculptures described as among the finest surviving examples of ancient Indian art, particularly expressive paintings that show emotion through gesture, pose and form. According to UNESCO, these are masterpieces of Buddhist religious art that influenced the Indian art that followed. Due to the rise of Ellora these caves were abandoned and deserted, upon which they were reclaimed by the greens. Only in 1819 they were rediscovered when a British hunting party stumbled upon them purely by chance. The relative isolation from humanity contributed, too many, positively to the fine state of preservation in which some of the remarkable paintings remain to this day. 

Day 07 – Aurangabad & Ellora, drive to Pune (5 hours, 210 km)
As Ajanta, the Ellora caves are World-Heritage listed. For over five centuries, generations of monks carved monasteries, chapels and temples in Ellora, many of them decorated with a profusion of remarkably detailed sculptures. The artwork is simply amazing and can be compared with the best that Europe has to offer. Stroll around the impressive Kailasa Temple, the world's largest monolithic sculpture and an engineering marvel executed straight out of the head; modern draughtsmen can go hang their hands in shame, listen to the stories of the well-informed guide, and discover the other thirty plus caves to see more extraordinary artworks.
Afterwards you will depart for Pune, approximately five hours driving southwards.

Day 08 – Pune
Pune, a place where old and new India increasingly interweave, is a fascinating place. In the Osho Meditation Resort you can hunt for the spirit of the Bhagwan and, at the same time, try to put all your impressions, discoveries, thoughts and questions into place during a meditation session. Pune is also the place where Gandhi was imprisoned by the British; this place houses an interesting museum now. At the same time Pune has great restaurants, shopping malls and a good university; all contributing to her modern image.
In the afternoon you will have the option to participate in the, by far, most extraordinary excursion of this trip. Be warned beforehand, this is not for the weak hearted. Near Pune there are several stone quarries, where many Indian men and women work. Their working conditions are extremely difficult and poor, just like their housing and education. When Bastu, the president of the NGO Santulan, back in 1997 coincidentally ended up in these quarries, he spontaneously decided to spend all his time and energy to improve the conditions of the people living and working here. This afternoon, he will show you around the quarry. For sure, his motivation and enthusiasm are inspiring. It is a great pleasure to listen to him and to learn about the other side of India. 

Day 09 – Pune to Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary (3 hours, 150 km)
These Indian cities are so full of life and action, that it might be you feel it is about time to start the more relaxing part of your trip. A short drive away from hectic Pune is Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary, a dense, green forest reserve, home to the, among many others, Royal Bengal Tiger and King Cobra. The hotel / resort where you will stay is located in the middle of nowhere, for the next two days you will hear nothing but the sounds of nature.

Day 10 – Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary
Early morning is the best moment to make a jeep safari through the park. This is the moment when, if you are very lucky, you might spot one of the majestic tigers. Naturally, this cannot be guaranteed as you are not in a zoo. Rest assured, though, the guides and drivers of the jeeps are highly trained professionals, they know the habits and behaviour of the tigers as a jealous wife knows the moves of her husband. 

Day 11 – Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary to Goa (8 hours, 390 km)
A bit of a trip it might be today, but with an absolutely splendid reward: Green, glistening and gorgeous Goa! Haven of tranquility and relaxation. The ideal place to put aside your city or jungle boots for a while and change them for your swimming suit. 

Day 12 – Goa
Today you will have the chance to see that Goa is more than just sun, sea and beach. The cathedrals and churches of Old Goa tell a story that, some five hundred years ago, this city was considered the ‘Rome of the East’. Those days the population of Old Goa exceeded that of London or Lisbon. The nearby state capital Panaji (Panjim) is a clean, friendly and manageable city, with a pretty and peaceful Portuguese area.
After a late Goan lunch you could head for one of the beaches. Do not forget to take your swimming outfit, so you can take a refreshing jump into the ocean.

Day 13 – Goa
Do nothing day. Enjoy the beach, feel the warm water, consider a Goan or Ayurveda massage, practice yoga, try the local food or simply dream under the magnificent palm trees about a life as a god(dess) in this wonderful part of the world.

Day 14 – Goa / Mumbai / Back home
Yes, all good things come to an end. So do use the opportunity to start the day plunging into the salty waters.
In the afternoon, you will be transferred to the airport to board a flight to Mumbai and from there back home.
Arrival in Europe will be on Day 15.

 

At the end of an Indian day you will surely be pleased to be able to relax in a nice hotel and a comfortable room. Therefore, we are spending a lot of time and making serious efforts to find these places. From our point of view, it is of the utmost importance that the hotels do contribute to your overall India experience. Below you can find an overview of the hotels that we are using during this trip. Please, note that in case one or more of these hotels will not be available, we will offer a similar hotel.

Mumbai: Hotel Kings Int

Nashik: Hotel Ren

Aurangabad: The Lemon Tree

Winterzon India met Eastward Travels, Hotel Sukh in Mumbai Winterzon India met Eastward Travels, Hotel Sarovar in Nashik  

 Pune: Hotel Centro

Konya: Agreen Koyna Resort

Goa: Carina Beach Resort

Winterzon India met Eastward Travels, Hotel Studio Estique in Pune

 

VISA
Before starting your journey to India you are required to possess:
✓ An original passport  of your country (with a validity of minimum 6 months after leaving India)
✓ A valid Indian visa.

Generally the following documents are required for obtaining Indian Visa. However, the requirement may vary from country to country.

✓ Original passport valid for at least 6 months
✓ Visa fee
✓ Two passport size photographs
✓ Supporting documents, where necessary
✓ Duly completed visa application form

The procedure for obtaining visa depends on your nationality and your country of residence. In some countries you should apply for a visa in person or by post at the Indian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. In other countries the application has been outsourced and is dealt with by an external organization. Due to these differences it is highly advisable to contact the Indian Representation in your country.

For a complete overview of the Indian Representations in the world you can click here: Indian Embassies and Consulates worldwide.

HEALTH
Fortunately, most travellers’ illnesses can be prevented with some common-sense behavior or treated with a well-stocked traveller’s medical kit. However, environmental issues like heat, cold and altitude can cause health problems. Hygiene is poor in some regions so food and water-borne diseases are common. Insect-borne diseases are present, especially in the tropical parts. Therefore, it is essential to be well prepared before travelling to India.

Before you go:
✓ Compose your personal medical kit
✓ Check your health insurance
✓ Consult your government’s travel-health website
✓ Visit a specialized travel-clinic to be informed about recommended vaccinations

In India:
Medical care is hugely variable, especially beyond the big cities. Some cities now have clinics catering specifically to travellers and expatriates. These clinics are usually more expensive, but are worth utilizing, as they should offer a higher standard of care.

Self-treatment may be appropriate if your problem is minor (traveller’s diarrhea), you are carrying the relevant meditation and you cannot attend a recommended clinic. However, if you suspect you may potentially have a serious disease, especially malaria, do not waste time. Just travel to the nearest quality clinic.

Some golden prevention rules:
✓ Never drink tap water
✓ Check the seal when buying bottled water
✓ Avoid ice unless you know it has been made safely
✓ Be careful with fresh juices, especially in street stalls
✓ Eat freshly cooked food
✓ Peel all fruits and cook vegetables
✓ Follow the crowd, go there where the locals eat
✓ Give yourself a few days to get used to the local cuisine

CLIMATE
India is so vast that climatic conditions in the far north have little relation to those of the extreme south. Generally speaking, the country has a three-season year – the hot, the wet (monsoon) and the cool. The most pleasant time to visit most of the country is during the cooler period of November to March. Though visiting the Himalayas during this period is normally too cold. This is more pleasant during the wet and the hot season (from April till October).

CHILDREN
India is a wonderful place for children, however extra caution is needed in hot and crowded conditions. Pay particular attention to hygiene and be very cautious in traffic.

COSTS & MONEY
On the financial front, India pleases all pockets. Accommodation ranges from simple backpacker lodgings to luxurious palaces. Eating out in India is in any case great value for money. In some budget restaurants you can eat for less than a euro. While at the urban restaurants prices might start from around 4 euros.

ATMs are found in most urban centres across the country. Major currencies such as US dollars, British pounds and euros are easy to change throughout India. Credit cards are accepted at a growing number of shops, restaurants and hotels.

INTERNET
Internet cafes are widespread in India and connections are usually reasonably fast. It is advisable to save your messages regularly as power cuts can be common. In an ever-increasing number of hotels, restaurants and coffee shops Wi-fi access is available.

PHONES
To avoid expensive roaming costs get hooked up to a local mobile-phone network. It is inexpensive and relatively straightforward. In most Indian towns you simply buy a prepaid mobile-phone kit (SIM card and phone number) from a phone shop or a grocery store. Thereafter, you must purchase new credits on that network, sold as scratch cards in shops and call centres. Note that SIM cards are state specific. They can be used in other states, but you pay for calls at roaming rates and you will be charged for incoming calls as well.

FOOD & DRINK
Indian food is different. Not only in taste but also in cooking methods. It reflects a perfect blend of various cultures and ages. Just like Indian culture, food in India has also been influenced by various civilizations.

Foods of India are well known for being spicy. And it is true, throughout India, spices are used generously. This is not only done to make the food tasty. But also because spices carry, in one or the other way, nutritional and medicinal properties.

North Indian Food
Kashmiri cuisine is strongly influenced by the Central Asian cuisine. In Kashmir, mostly all the dishes are accompanied with rice.  In other northern states like Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh dishes are accompanied with chapattis and other types of bread. In this part of India you will come across meat-dominated Mughlai cuisine, which includes curries, kebabs and koftas. Tandoori meat dishes are another North Indian favourite. The name is derived from the clay oven, or tandoor, in which the marinated meat is cooked.

West Indian Food
Rajasthan and Gujarat are the states that represent the dessert flavor of Indian food. Here an immense variety of dals and achars (pickles/preserves) is used. Simply to substitute the relative lack of fresh vegetables in these areas. In Maharashtra, the food is usually a mix between north and south. Here people use both rice and wheat. Along the coastline of Mumbai a wide variety of fish is available. Some of the delicious preparations include dishes like Bombay Prawn and Pomfret. In Goa you can notice the Portuguese influence in the cooking style as well as in the dishes. One of the most well known dishes of this region is the extremely spicy Vindaloo.

East Indian Food
In eastern India, the Bengali and Assamese styles of cooking are noticeable. The staple food of Bengalis is the combination of rice and fish. Bengalis really love eating varieties of fish. A special way of preparing is by wrapping it in a pumpkin leaf and then to cook it (this is known as ‘Hilsa’). Another unusual ingredient that is commonly used in the Bengali cooking is the ‘Bamboo Shoot’.

South Indian Food
In the south of India, people use a lot of spices and coconuts. As most of them have coastal kitchens fish is also widely available. To impart sourness to the dishes tamarind is frequently used in Tamil Nadu. In Andhra Pradesh cuisine chilies are excessively used.  In Kerala, some of the delicious dishes are lamb stew, Malabar fried prawns, Idlis and Dosas. Another famous item of this region is the sweetened coconut milk.

Drinks
Tea is a staple beverage throughout India; the finest varieties are grown in Darjeeling and Assam. It is generally prepared as masala chai, wherein the tea leaves are boiled in a mix of water, spices such as cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger, and large quantities of milk to create a thick, sweet, milky concoction. Different varieties and flavors of tea are prepared to suit different tastes all over the country.

Another popular beverage, coffee, is largely served in South India. One of the finest varieties of is grown around Mysore, Karnataka, and is marketed under the trade name ‘Mysore Nuggets’. Indian filter coffee, or kafee, is also especially popular in South India.

Lassi is a popular and traditional Punjabi yogurt-based drink. It is made by blending yogurt with water or milk and Indian spices.