Start in Kolkata (Calcutta) and end in Bagan! With the in-depth cultural tour Road to Mandalay, you have a 30 day tour package taking you through Kolkata (Calcutta), India and 10 other destinations in Asia. Road to Mandalay includes accommodation as well as an expert guide, meals, transport and more.
Welcome to Kolkata! Upon arrival, you will be greeted and assisted by our representative before being transferred to your hotel. The city of Kolkata & s name is derived from the Bengali term Kolkata, the name of one of three villages that predated the arrival of the British, in the area where the city eventually was to be established. Located on the east bank of River Hooghly, Kolkata is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. It is also the commercial, cultural, and educational centre of East India, while the Port of Kolkata is India & s oldest port as well as its sole major riverine port. The city & s documented history begins with the arrival of the English East India Company in 1690, when the Company was consolodating its trade business in Bengal. Under the East India Company and later under the British Raj, Kolkata served as the capital of India until 1911, when its perceived geographical disadvantages, combined with growing nationalism in Bengal, led to a shift of the capital to New Delhi. The people of Kolkata tend to have a special appreciation for art and literature; its tradition of welcoming new talent has made it a ?city of furious creative energy & . For these reasons, Kolkata has often been dubbed as the Cultural Capital of India or the Literary Capital of India. 2 nights at Peerless Inn or similar
After breakfast, enjoy exploring Kolkata where you will get to experience the following: Flower Market ??Discover one of Asia & s largest flower markets, located underneath Howrah Bridge. Join the thousands of people who gather here daily to buy and sell flowers and plants.? The vivid orange and yellow garlands make for a spectacular splash of colour! Howrah Bridge ? Howrah Bridge, over the Hooghly River, was constructed in 1939 and opened to traffic in 1943. It is the lifeline of the city, and is said to be the busiest bridge of the world. Using over 26,000 tons of steel, Howrah Bridge & s unique cantilever truss design uses no nuts or bolts in its construction. Standing on two 80 metre high pillars it acts as an important symbol of Kolkata. Popularly known as the Rabindra Setu, after Rabindranath Tagore ? a great poet and the first Indian Nobel laureate, the eight-lane cantilevered bridge carries a steady flow of more than 2 million commuters every day.? It is an engineering marvel. Belur Math ? The Math is the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission. The fascinating Ramakrishna Temple, which looks like a church, mosque or temple, depending from where it is viewed, is a building of unique architecture that symbolises the unique faith of its congregation. It is from here that Swami Vivekananda started his religious journey to take India to a new socio-cultural revolution and this is his tribute to his guru ? Sri RamaKrishna. Kumartuli ? Kumartuli is India & s only potter & s town. Every lane and by-lane of Kumartuli has houses which have been converted into platforms where artists work around the clock to develop clay idols of the deities of the Hindu pantheon like Durga, Kali, Saraswati and Ganesha. Victoria Memorial ? This splendid architectural structure blends the best of British and Mughal architecture, construted in the early 20th Century by Lord Curzon between 1906 and 1921 in memory of Queen Victoria. Although formally inaugurated by the Prince of Wales, it was built entirely without British government funds. Today it is a museum having an assortment of Victoria memorabilia, British Raj paintings and other displays. At present it has notable collections of weapons, sculptures, paintings, maps, coins, stamps, artifacts, textiles etc. It is closed on Mondays. Mother Teresa House ? Kolkata is the worldwide Head Quarters of Missionaries of Charity. Built in 1950, Nirmal Hriday is the first institution established by Mother Teresa under her own Organization Missionaries of Charity. She later went on to established many other homes and orphanages, providing care for the elderly and children of Kolkata. (B,D)
In and around KhulnaAfter an early breakfast, begin your drive to the Indian side of the border post called ?Petrapole & . After the completion of border formalities, you will cross over into Bangladesh. (01 to 1 ? hrs time, will be needed for the border crossing formalities). Our representative will meet you at the entry gates of the Bangladesh side, the ?Benapole & , before you continue on to Khulna. On arrival in Khulna, you will make your way to the cruiser. Once onboard, there will be plenty of time to stretch your legs and freshen up over a cup of tea. This evening you will overnight on the cruiser as you sail towards Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest on earth. (B,D) 2 nights on a Cruiser **Note: The cruiser is basic, but clean and air conditioned. Guests will use common washrooms. Bedding on board is bunk beds.
In and around SundarbansThe next few days are set to be truly spectacular as you explore the Sundarbans. Lying at the mouth of the Ganges, the Sundarbans delta is the largest mangrove forest in the world and is? intersected by a complex network of tidal waterways, mudflats and small islands of salt-tolerant mangrove forests. This massive area is home to more than 400 Bengal tigers ? possibly the highest concentration on the planet. Accompanying the tigers are a plethora of other animals including a wealth of water birds, the fishing cat, spotted deer, crocodiles and snakes. Under the waters of the Sundarbans you could find the Ganges dolphin, Indo-Pacific hump-backed dolphin, Irrawaddy dolphin and finless porpoise. Inside the Sundarbans wildlife sanctuary, there is a variety of different activities available. Over the next two days exploring this spectacular region, you can experience creek surfing, hiking jungle trails with armed forest guards, beach walks, island hopping and bird watching. (B,L,D)
In and around BarisalBack from the wilderness, enjoy a leisurely sail back to Mongla. Disembark the cruiser after an early breakfast and drive to Bagerhat (45 mins / 30 Kms drive). Here you will explore the formerly lost Mosque City, including the 9-domed Mosque, the UNESCO World Heritage site known as Shait Gambuj, or the & 60-domed Mosque & , which is the largest Mosque from the Sultanate period. Also visit the Tomb of Khan Jahan, the builder of this spectacular Mosque. Continuing on, you drive to Barisal and check into your hotel. (B,D) Overnight Grand Park Hotel or similar
In and around DhakaAfter breakfast, explore the Swarupkathi ? Pirojpur area. Famous for the ?Barisal backwaters & , this fascinating region is crisscrossed with numerous rivulets and canals which are the lifelines of Barisal Spend a relaxing afternoon on board a Catamaran in air conditioned comfort as you transfer from Barisal to Dhaka. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel. (B,L,D) 2 nights at the Pan Pacific Hotel or similar
Today you will enjoy a full day of exploring Dhaka, one of the most vivacious (and chaotic) cities in the world. Begin with an excursion to the ?city of gold & ? Sonargaon & , previously the thriving medieval capital of Bangladesh. Lying within Sonargaon is the abandoned Panam City, or Panam Nagar. Explore the architectural splendors of this former Hindu settlement dating back to the early 13th century. Once a booming cotton and textiles city in the 1800 & s under British colonial rule, Panam City fell into disrepair in the mid 20th century. The grand old houses of this ghost town are now registered on the World Monuments Fund ?100 endangered sites & list. In the afternoon enjoy a tour of Dhaka city. Explore the historial old quarters of Puran Dhaka, including the Shankhari Bazaar. This fascinating city was once one of the most prosperous cities in Asia. Situated on the banks of the Buriganga River is Ahsan Manzil, the former official residential palace of the Nawab Family, it is now a national museum. Visit Dhaka University, the oldest university in modern Bangladesh. (B,D)
After an early breakfast, today we drive toward Sylhet, to Moulavi Bazaar. There will also be a short stopover to take in the beauty of the rolling hills of Srimangal. Blanketed in tea plantations and lush forest sanctuaries, with a sprinkling of tribal villages, this place is bound to rank highly in your Bangladesh experiences. Continue your drive to Moulavi Bazaar, upon arrival in the evening check-in to the Dusai Resort & Spa. (B,L,D)
Wake up in the surrounds of beautiful lush greenery. After breakfast, you will transfer to Beani Bazar. Crossing the Kusiara River here, which marks the Indian border, you will be met by our representative from the Indian side who will pick? you up and drive to Silchar.? Silchar?is situated by the banks of the Barak River in what is popularly known as Barak Valley. Why not try some of the local cuisines? Rice is the staple cereal. Fish is also widely consumed. Shuki (the local name for dried fish), shidal chutney and chunga-r peetha (sticky rice cakes prepared inside bamboo shoot) are some of the local specialties. In Silchar if time permits, enjoy sightseeing covering Kancha Kanti Kali Mandir and Dolu Lake. Kancha Kanti Kali Temple ? Only 11km from Silchar stands the historical and most celebrated temple of South Assam ? the temple of Mother Goddess ?Kachakanti & . She is said to be the amalgamation of two powerful Hindu deities: mother Durga and mother Kali. The original temple, now in ruins, was built in 1806 AD by the Kachari king. Human sacrifices were offered to the Goddess until 1818 AD. The old temple has since been replaced by another temple, built in 1978. (B,L,D) Overnight at the Orbit Hotel or similar
After breakfast, we drive to Imphal, one of the few places in India where nothing seems to have changed. Nestled in a valley, the tiny capital city is tucked away in the northeastern state of Manipur. Discover green-blue hills and lush fields scattered with relics of an old historical palace, temples and ceremonial houses among tall jackfruit and pine trees. Lying off the beaten track in the centre of the Manipur Valley, Imphal is one of the most ancient towns in the Indian subcontinent and has much to provide to a discerning traveller. (B,L,D) 3 nights at Classic Grand Hotel or similar
After an early breakfast, you take an excursion to Loktak Lake (48Km approx 1 ? hrs one way). Visit Keibulamjao National Park and enjoy a morning country canoe boat ride in search of Sangai. The sangai is an endemic, rare and endangered subspecies of brow-antlered deer that is found only in Manipur, it is also the state animal of Manipur. Enjoy lunch in a fishermen?s house or local restaurant at Loktak Lake before returning to Imphal. (B,L,D)
After breakfast, visit the war cemetery. Commemorating the memories of the British and Indian soldiers who died during World War II with stone markers and bronze plaques recording the sacrifices of those gallant soldiers. Managed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, they are serene and well maintained, a peaceful place to pay respects. From here, you visit the famous Women?s Market or Mother?s (Ima & s) market, a unique women?s only market. With 3,000 or more ?Imas & who run the stalls, the market is split into two sections on either side of a road. Vegetables, fruits, fish and household groceries are sold on one side and exquisite heirlooms and household items on the other. Visit RKCS Art Gallery (time permitting), one of the finest art galleries in the North East and the only one in the state. Here you can learn more about Manipur?s history, its social and political situation and the way of living for the people and much more through the art of paintings. Visit the Kangla Fort ? The centre of Manipur & s power until 1891, the historical embodiment of Manipur Rulers and the people of Manipur. Its outer and inner moat and other relics are perfect reflections of the rich art and culture of Manipur and her civilization. Kangla holds a significant place in the heart and mind of the people of Manipur. In the evening, visit Shree Shree Govindajee Temple, an historic Vaishnavite centre. Adjoining Manipur & s former Maharajas & Royal Palace, the Govindajee temple is a amazing sight for travellers. With twin domes, large paved courtyard and a raised congregation hall, it offered the perfect backdrop for priests to descend the steps to accept offerings from devotees. The shrines of Lord Krishna and Balaram and Jagannath flank the two sides of the presiding deity. Enjoy taking part in the Aarti Puja, a traditional blessing ceremony. (B,L,D)
After breakfast, drive to Ukhrul. En route visit the market area at Litan & Lambui. Visit the WWII memorial at Shangshak before exploring the Lungsang village by foot. Ukhrul is the highest hill station of the state and is located to the east of Imphal. Ukhrul is a well developed centre and home to a colourful warrior tribe, the Tangkhul Nagas. The Tangkhuls-Naga is one of the major tribes in the Naga community and one of the most advanced tribes among the Naga nation. The origin of the tribe traces back to the history of nomadic ages, rich in culture and traditions in the form of songs, legends, myths, folklores, religious beliefs and superstitions. They are deeply religious and observe taboos strictly. Their beautiful arts and crafts speak volumes of their cultural heritage which stands the test of time and reflects the cultures and lives of the people. (B,L,D) Overnight local hotel or similar
After breakfast, enjoy an excursion to Andro village ? the ancient Meitti village. Here you will witness the inhabitants still practising age ? old traditions, customs and lifestyle of the original tribes. Later continue your drive to Imphal. (B,L,D) Overnight at the Classic Grand Hotel or similar
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the border town of Moreh. Here you will cross into Myanmar. Upon arrival at the Tamu border, the Myanmar side of the Moreh border, your local guide will be waiting to assist with the final border formalities. After the border crossing, visit the small bazaar at Tamu before continuing on to Kalay. Kalay is a remote town which lies in a rustic part of the Sagaing Division and very close to the border with the Chin State. A majority of the population belongs to the ethnic Chin group. Most Chin are devout Christians (as opposed to the Buddhist majority in Myanmar), and this makes Kalay an interesting cultural stop. There are said to be over 600 churches in the city, some only frequented by two or three families. The Chin state is home to many minority groups who see very few foreign travellers.?(B,L,D) Overnight at the Majesty Hotel or similar
After breakfast, drive to Falam, located west of the mountains. The adventure starts here as you roll along the mountainous road toward Hakha, the capital of Chin State, approx 200km from Kalaymyo. After approx three hours, you will reach Taingen village, located at the road junction between Kalay ? Hakha and Kalay ? Tedim. This junction will be your lunch stop (cost not included) before continuing your journey passing through many Chin villages. Houses here are built on stilts clinging to the edge of the roadside with the mountains on one side and a gorge on the other. It is likely in this area you will witness groups of children with their wooden trolleys, which are an important instrument for their daily life. Used not only to? fetch fire wood and products from their fields, they are also used for play. You will cross the Barr Bridge that spans across Manipur River, the one and only river passing through the northern Chin State. As you approach Falam you will see inscribed stone slabs. These slabs tell information of the individuals place in the village, listing their good deeds, wealth, marrital status, children and achievements. Some slabs show not only words, but images of humans, animals and houses are also carved on the surface of the stone. (B,L,D) Overnight at the Holy Guesthouse or similar (shared facilities). **Note: In the Chin area please note that accommodation will be very basic. Towels, soap and shampoo etc are not provided in these guest houses. Laundry service is not available. Toilets are clean but most of them are not western toilets. Air conditioning and heaters are not available in any guest houses.? For Falam & Hakha we recommend that you carry your own bed sheets and towels. If you would prefer not to carry this, we can purchase these items on your behalf at an additional cost.
This morning you will visit the local market where you can have breakfast at one of the tea shops before departing for Hakha. The drive is 75km of winding roads through beautiful landscapes and will take approx three hours. Hakha is the capital of Chin State, at an elevation of 6120 feet above sea level. Visit the Chin State museum where you will observe the customs and culture of Chin ethnic living in the Chin Hills. They are commonly known as Chin but this big group consists of several sub-tribes with different dialects. From here, you visit a nearby golf club which offers fantastic views over Hakha as you view the city through pine trees. (B,L,D) Overnight at the Grace Guesthouse or similar. (Not all rooms have private bathroom facilities).
In and around MindatToday is a long drive day of approx 10 hours. Mindat is a special place. In this village, an elder man is specialised in reading the future in a particular way. He heats up bamboo sticks and holds them on emptied eggs and through the appearing cracks he reads the future. Visit the photogenic village, Ng?Nam Thai. Mindat is located at elevation of 4860 feet/1600m above sea level. (B) 2 nights local guest house
After breakfast at your hotel, visit the Mindat market prior to visiting some smaller Chin villages in the surrounding countryside. This region is truly untouched and today you will have the opportunity to encounter some of the ?tattooed & women. The Chin tribes of remote north-western Burma consider tattoos a sign of beauty. Their faces covered in elaborate black patterns and, in some cases, totally dark with ink, these smiling villagers are some of Burma & s last surviving tattooed women. The tattoo & s were a custom, that according to legend, began when an ancient king tried to kidnap them for slavery. The women inking their faces to repel the incomers.? The tattoos are now a symbol of beauty. But with younger people increasingly reluctant to be inked for fear of ridicule and for fear of the heavy fines imposed by the ruling military junta, Burma & s tattooing tradition is on borrowed time and could disappear within a generation. The practice is now discontinued and only a few women now have the markings, with the majority of those who do living hidden away in the mountainous Chin region which was closed off to visitors until recently. The Chins are mostly Christians with a variety of all beliefs from Methodists to Catholics. You will see houses decorated with large sets of horns. These are from animals called Mithun, a cross between a domestic cow and a wild gaur. Each time such an animal is slaughtered a kind of wooden pillar decorated with all sort of ornaments is erected in front of the house. In addition, a stone table, which is also used as a cover for urns is placed nearby. Some of the houses have up to 10 such pillars and in some villages the stone tables are all gathered together (like a cemetery) whereas in others they are near each home. (B)
Breakfast is at your guesthouse this morning before an early 7am departure. Today is approx 5 hours of driving. Monywa is a major centre for trade and commerce for agricultural produce from the surrounding Chindwin valley. On the way, take in the spectacular landscapes and the local village life. (B,L,D) Overnight at the Win Unity Resort or similar
After breakfast, depart for Pho Win Taung, approx 45 mins drive, to observe the Buddha images in the caves carved out of the rocky hills. This extraordinary complex consists of 947 sandstone caves and contains what is considered by archaeologists to be the richest collection of mural paintings and Buddhist statues in South East Asia. Po Win Taung, with its unique Buddha images and precious frescoes (some dating from the early 17th century), is a must to see for anyone with an interest in Buddhist arts. From here, you visit the nearby Shweba Taung cave, and Moe Nyin Thanboddhay, Boditatung, known for its thousands of Pagodas, before driving onto Mandalay. (B,D) 3 nights at the Sedona Hotel (4*) or Rupar Mandalar Resort (5*)
In and around SagaingAfter breakfast, you will visit Payagyi to pay homage to the most revered golden ? seated Mahamuni image, covered with a very thick layer of pure gold leaves weighing between 3-5 tons covering the whole body, except the face. You can also observe the traditional stone carving and bronze casting techniques. Proceed to Sagaing, covered with 600 white-painted pagodas and monasteries. Sagaing Hill is widely regarded as the religious centre of Myanmar and is home to 3,000 monks and 100 meditation centres. Return to Mandalay and continue with a visit of the royal palace grounds. At the foot of Mandalay Hill, observe ?the largest book & at Kuthodaw Pagoda, Shwe Nan Daw, the ?golden Palace Monastery & (the former home of former Myanmar kings), where you will observe the finest Myanmar wooden architecture. Next is the Kyauktawgyi Pagoda, a large Buddha image carved from a single block of marble. Enjoy the fantastic view and sunset from the Mandalay Hill. (B,D)
In and around Mingun, AvaFollowing breakfast this morning, it is time to explore the Jade market in Mandalay. It opens at 05:00AM every day except on full moon days and Sundays. The best time to visit is between 7am and 8am. From here, transfer to the Kyawzun jetty where you can observe locals working their water buffaloes and the busy riverside activity. Board a local fishermans boat for Mingun, located across the Ayeyarwady River. Spend some time with the locals and see the world & s largest ringing bell, weighing 90 tons. Other tour highlights of the day are Settawya Pagoda with a marble foot print of Buddha and the Shinbume Pagoda built in the 19th century by King Bodawpaya & s grandson in memory of one of his wives. Proceed to the 14th century capital Ava and observe the unique monasteries and monuments including the Bargaya teak monastery which is famous for its 267 teak pillars and the remains of the royal palace and fort. Enjoy a fantastic view of the sunset from the 200 year old U Bein teak bridge which is located in Amarapura. (B,D)
After breakfast you will have some free time in Mandalay before driving to Bagan in the late afternoon. The drive will take around 4 hours, 180km. Bagan, the 10th century archaeological site, is considered one of the richest and most amazing sites in Asia. Among Bagan & s more than 13,000 temples which once stood, there are some 2,200 which remain today. Some were destroyed by invaders, others by earthquakes and decay, but internationally funded restoration is under way and the major temples are in excellent condition. (B,D)
Prepare to be astounded by Bagan, a grassy plain scattered with pagodas. A half day of cycling will take you to the city & s most fascinating sites, including the teeming Nyaung Oo Market and the glittering Shwezigon Pagoda, before visiting the atmospheric cave temple of Wetkyi-In Gubyaukgyi. In the afternoon, enjoy a cruise on the Ayarwaddy River for sunset. (B,D)
Following breakfast this morning, depart for Mt. Popa, approx 45km, 1? hours, within the core of an extinct volcano considered the abode of the most powerful nats (spirits) and important nat worship centre. This is one of the major pilgrimage destinations for locals. Mt. Popa is the highest landmark in the central dry zone and rises 1518m above sea level. Established as a national park, the Popa Mountain Park is now verdant and green with a rich flora, especially medicinal plants. The centre for Nat worshiping is here in the shrine of the Mahagiri Nats. For the energetic, there is time to climb the 777 steps to the shrine at the top of the hill. Those not quite so energetic, may blend in with the local pilgrimage and their festivities at the bottom. Return to Bagan, and on your journey stop at a local farm to observe local daily life activities such as toddy palm juice extracting, the sweet ball (brown sugar) making process and learn their hand drilled edible oil production processes. (B,D)
Today is a long drive day of approx 8 hours, 430km, towards Yangon. Upon your arrival in Yangon, you will be transferred to your hotel. Yangon has been the capital of Myanmar since the British transformed it into their administrative centre of future India. Its impressive colonial and spiritual heritage makes Yangon one of the most fascinating capitals of South East Asia. (B,D) 2 nights at the Sedona Hotel (4*) or The Savoy Hotel (5*)
Today you will explore Yangon city. Visit the Karaweik royal barge, Chaukhtatgyi colossal reclining Buddha and Botataung Pagoda said to have an enshrinement of Buddha & s hair. Continue your visit to the historic Strand Hotel and down town Yangon with its faded colonial atmosphere. In the aternoon, visit Shwedagon Pagoda, claimed to be the world & s richest golden stupa over 2500 years old. The golden dome rises 98m above its base and is covered with 60 tons of pure gold along with precious stones such as jade, ruby, sapphire and diamonds including a 76 carat solid diamond on its top. (B,D)
Your once-in-a-life-time journey has come to an end. Today you will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight. (B) Visa Requirements for this itinerary:? Please note: The program and hotels maybe changed at anytime in Kalay, Falam, Hakha & Mindat regions without prior notice due to the remote nature of these regions and lack of infrastructure.