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Palaces & Forts of India’s Heartland
(Hyderabad, Warangal, Gwalior, Orchha, Datia & Agra)

Saturday, 15 – Sunday, 30 November 2003

Lyle Lawson
  • Photograph the delicate beauty of the Taj Mahal at sunrise and sunset
  • Walk where Mughal emperors once battled, conquered and built their towering monuments
  • Wander through Hyderabad’s colorful (and picture-rich) Laad Bazaar
  • Photograph the stunning tile-work decorating Gwalior’s massive fortress
  • Watch (and photograph) the silk weavers of Pochampalli
  • Delight in the eclectic (and very photogenic) charms of “funky” Orchha
  • Photography instruction by a professional photographer who has traveled through (and photographed) India for more than 25 years
  • Maximum of 12 tour members gives everyone an equal opportunity for great photo opportunities
  • Travel by comfortable transport with ample room for you and your equipment
  • Knowledgeable local guide throughout the tour
  • Great value for money! All-inclusive: meals, tips, entrance fees, etc

Often ignored by tourists who visit more publicized Indian destinations, the cities and citizens of India’s heartland offer a diversity of cultures and a fascinating blend of languages, religions, architectural styles, and customs that are sure to enchant any travel photographer. Two of Indian’s most formidable and ancient fortresses, Golconda and Gwalior are located here; walking through them brings an appreciation of the artistic and architectural skills of people who lived almost a thousand years ago. Hyderabad, an Islamic citadel in the orthodox-Hindu south, still retains much of a 19th-century atmosphere; in the markets that swirl and eddy around the city’s most recognizable landmark, the Charminar, a photographer can get lost in the intoxicating images that appear in every direction. Orchha offers another change of photographic pace; laid-back and with an attitude of “here I am, enjoy me”, the village, with its nooks, crannies and hidden courtyards, is a perfect place to wander around, and even more fun to photograph. And, after visiting less familiar places, what better way to end the tour, than with a visit to one of the world’s most familiar, the incomparable Taj Mahal. Whether it is be your first visit to it or your fiftieth, photographing the Taj is always a thrill.

15 & 16 November (Sat/Sun): INTO THE HEART OF INDIA

Arrive Chennai late on Saturday, and be transferred to our hotel; on Sunday, a mid-day flight takes us to Hyderabad. After checking into our hotel, we have a short tour of the city.(Taj Krishna, 3 nights)

17 November (Mon):

Shimmering silks and satins; bracelets of every kind and color; silver and gold sequins strewn on every piece of cloth or clothing; bidriware (an ancient artform for which Hyderabad is famous); redolent herbs and incense sticks; aromatic flowers in colors from the palest shades to vivid reds, purples and oranges; pearls hanging in strands or nestled in black velvet cases; loads of plastic kitsch! These are the sights and senses that will greet your eyes, ears and nose upon entering Laad Bazaar. At the center, stands the Charminar (four towers), Hyderabad’s most recognizable landmark, itself a perfect picture!

18 November (Tue):

Like a desert mirage, Golconda rises from the verdant plains of the Deccan Plateau. Built early in the 16th century by Sultan Quli Qutb Shah, the fortress was the epicenter of his kingdom and the inspiration for some of the tales in the Arabian Nights. The citadel is built atop a 400-foot high granite hill, and the entire complex is surrounded by crenellated ramparts made from massive stone blocks that form a perimeter of more than six miles. During our tour, the many palaces and temples contained within its walls (and populated by colorfully dressed local sightseers) will be the focus for a variety of photographs. In the afternoon, we visit the silk-weaving village of Pochampalli.

19-21 November (Wed/Frid):

Center of the great Kakatiya kingdom in the 12th and 13th centuries, Warangal is one of central India’s most historic cities. The drive to it also allows a glimpse into rural life, as we pass through a series of farming villages. Warangal’s fort, said to be the largest of its kind in India (although much is in ruins), still contains a number of temples and palaces (as well as a cricket pitch!). The11th-century 1,000-Pillared Temple is a vision of intricately carved marble. In Palampet, we will photograph the statue-adorned Ramappa Temple. Warangal’s many bazaars should also yield memorable photographs. Returning to Hyderabad on the 21st we witness a private performance of local folk dancers (with time to take individual portraits). (Ratna Hotel, 2 nights; Taj Krishna, 1)

22-24 November (Sat-Mon):

An early morning flight takes us to Deli; there, we board the Shatabdi Express, arriving in Gwalior in time for dinner. During the following two days, we explore Gwalior’s Fortress and Palaces, considered one of the most impregnable in India. Brute strength and elegant complexity are contrasting, but apt descriptions of the fortress and the various buildings within its walls, but it is the tile-work that first stuns the eye: Turquoise. Yellow. Lime green. These are the principal colors used to create colorful mosaics on the outer walls and main palaces. Other visions to delight: the Man Singh Palace, a whimsical structure is also known as the Chit Mandir (Painted Palace) due to the number of animals painted on it in various form; the Jai Vilas Palace, and the bazaars of the Old Town. (Usha Kiran Palace Hotel, 3 nights.)

25 & 26 November (Tue/Wed):

Leaving Gwalior by car, we first visit a small complex of royal chhatris (tombs) of the Scindia dynasty that are very reminiscent of Agra’s Taj Mahal. Orchha, a rambling village sited on the Betwa River more than lives up to the translation of its name, Hidden Place. Walking down its one central street, or wandering through the lanes that twist and turn among a variety of palaces, temples and unpretentious dwellings, “real” life seems far away. Once the capital of the Bundela dynasty, the clan’s 16th century castle, the Jehangir Mahal, will be one focal point of our sightseeing, as will the Laxminarayan Temple that contains beautifully preserved 17th-century murals. (Orchha Resort, 2 nights.)

27 November (Thu):
The seven-story palace of Raj Bir Singh Deo has many rooms with walls painted in floral designs or murals detailing mythical adventures, and ceiling decorated with carvings of dancing girls or Hindu fables. Returning to Gwalior, we take the Taj Express to Agra. (Taj View Hotel, 2 nights.)

28 & 29 November (Fri/Sat):

Long before the sun breaks over Agra, we will be in place along the Yamuna River at a spot that will ensure dramatic pictures of the Taj Mahal at sunrise. Later, we visit the Taj itself, taking the time to search out unusual picture angles. We also visit other notable sites, the tomb of Itimad ud-Daula among them. We end our sightseeing at Agra&Mac226; Äôs Red Fort, another Mughal masterpiece, but finish the day by again photographing the incomparable Taj, this time as the sun sets. On Saturday evening, be driven to Delhi&Mac226; Äôs international airport for your outbound flight; arrival home should be on Sunday, 30 November.

Palaces & Forts of India’s Heartland

Limited to 12 tour members
  • Land costs, per person, 14 nights: Chennai/Delhi, $3,985.00
  • Single supplement $730.00
  • F/C train, Delhi/Gwalior/Agra: Included in Land Costs.
  • Domestic Economy airfare, Chennai/Hyderabad/Delhi: Not included in the land costs.
  • Estimated international APEX airfare to India: $12000. (Subject to change, terms and conditions.
  • Prices are based on a cash/check payment.
  • For Visa, Mastercard, or American Express, please add a service charge of 4% to the land costs.
  • If the minimum number of tour members, six, is not reached, a small group surcharge may be added to the land costs of the tour.
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