A Wanderer's Eye

North India: Culture and Photography Tour

Nov 12th – 25th  2018 (14 days)

    Highlights:

    • Delhi (Jama Masjid Mosque, Humayun’s Tomb, New Delhi)
    • Agra (Taj Mahal, “Ghost City” Fatehpur Sikri)
    • Bharatpur (Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary)
    • Jaipur (Buddist Temple, Archaeological Museum)
    • Rajasthan (City Palace, Hawa Mahal, Chittogarh Citadel, Village Jeep Safari, Amber Fort, Anokhi Museum of Block Printing, Bazaars)
    • Bundi & Aravali Range Mountain-railway Train
    • Jojawar (Cooking Class, Bird Watching or Horse Riding)
    • Udaipur (Ranakpur Jain Temple, Kumbhalgarh Fort, City Palace, Jagdish Temple, Bagore-ki-haveli)
    • Mumbai (End Point)

    Explore the sacred landscape of India with camera in hand, and let India enchant you with its commanding beauty, explosive energy and puzzling contradictions.

    India is a land of fascinating mythology and way of life that’s completely foreign to most Westerners. Perhaps that’s why it’s so damn enticing. We want to explore unfamiliar territory within our travels...and within ourselves.

    To the untrained eye, India is utter madness and a strange picture of stark duality.

    She is the 5-star luxury converted palace hotel, and the simple thatched mud hut. The shiny shopping mall with bearded hipsters sipping cold brew coffee and the dusty bazaar street and its local chaiwalla. She is the hip yoga studio in Rishikesh and the serene mountain hangout of Manali. She is the beaches, parties, restaurants, whitewashed churches and flashy casino boats of Goa, and Rajasthan’s toppled palace ruins.

    She is modern and ancient, serene and overwhelming, clean and dirty, wise and idiotic, tasteful and kitsch. 

    And she’s inviting you now to come on an unforgettable adventure... To see her, experience her, and capture her in your heart and on your camera!

    About the Tour

    A picture's worth a thousand words. And if you take it yourself, it's a priceless memory. 

    On this tour you will see the many sides of this beautiful country, her people, art, and culture, all whilst learning how capture the sites, moments and scenes that arouse and transfix you with skill.

    But, before you learn more about what this Cultural & Photography Tour of India is, know what it is not.

    It’s not about becoming an expert photographer or even carting a proper camera around on your journey (your iPhone or smartphone will do just fine if that’s all you have).

    It’s not about wide shots, shutter speeds, filters and exposures (although they’re all things you will learn about).

    Nope, what it’s really about it is looking deeper…

    It’s about re-training the eye to see beyond the chaos and the obvious to uncover your surroundings’ fascinating subtleties.

    The Photography Tour was just wonderful. Jay certainly enhanced our trip on every level. He generously imparted his knowledge and feedback on our slowly developing photographic skills. After a week or so, I could see my images incorporating some of Jay’s techniques.
    — Sue

    In the expert hands of international photographer and traveler Jay Weinstein, you will be guided on a cultural tour of India’s best, whilst learning how to wield a camera with thoughtfulness and technique, provoking you to notice the details you’d otherwise miss.

    Because, we’re all guilty of going on that sensory trip and snapping hundreds of photos that just don’t do the place any justice. They don’t tell a story.

    With Jay's help, you will begin to see the world through the eyes of a photographer and understand how to capture the moment with craft (a skill you can use again and again in trips to come!)

    You'll learn the full range of your camera and how to take professional-looking pictures you'll be proud to display (and will probably tease you to return).

    Because, let’s be honest, sharing your photos from a trip with family and friends as you regale them with stories and plot twists can be one of the most satisfying and enjoyable parts of traveling! 

    Formerly a click and shoot photographer but now have more knowledge about the composition of an image… I learned a lot from what Jay told me.
    — Valerie, [Teacher], Perth

    Your Itinerary

    Day One

    Your adventure begins in chaotic Delhi where you’ll be welcomed by your tour guide Jay Weinstein, a Mumbai-based, Hindi and English-speaking photographer of Australian-American heritage who’s been based in India for the last 14 years (hint: this means he knows his stuff and you’re in safe hands). Here you’ll meet up to 11 travel companions who’ll make up your intimate tour group, before being transferred to your comfortable hotel in South Delhi to rest overnight.

    Day Two

    Today starts with a rickshaw ride around Old Delhi’s narrow chaotic alleyways. We pay a visit to Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India, followed by Humayun’s tomb, the resting place of Mughal Emperor Humayun built in 1570, and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We then switch it up with a driving tour through New Delhi. Overnight Delhi.

    Day Three

    Today, we're up early for a drive to Agra where you'll see the exquisitely-jewelled Taj Mahal, described as the most extravagant monument ever built for love. Following this guided tour we stop for lunch before visiting the fascinating ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri, an enchanting ghost city built in 1571 by the Moguls. Overnight Bharatpur.

    Day Four

    After an early cycle rickshaw ride around the peaceful Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary, we drive to the chaotic pink capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur, stopping en route to visit an ancient step well and temple. We visit the Royal City Palace, one of Jaipur's most famous tourist attractions, and the Hawa Mahal palace constructed of red and pink sandstone in 1799.

    Day Five

    The hotels were excellent particularly the Heritage Havelis.
    — Valerie, [Teacher], Perth

    Enjoy a guided tour of the magnificent Amber Fort followed by a visit to the inspiring Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing, a small textile museum dedicated to the ancient craft of hand block printing.  In the afternoon, we have time to wander through the colourful bazaars, a sure treat for the eyes and your camera.

    Day Six

    After breakfast drive to Bundi, one of the most laid-back cities in India where you can relax with charming cup of traditional chai. In this captivating town we will explore atmospheric narrow lanes, ornate forts, blue houses, temples, bazaars and palaces.

    Day Seven

    Immerse yourself in the tranquil ambience of this beautiful town where the friendly locals love to strike up a chat. After our morning guided tour, you can enjoy some free time in the afternoon to practice your photography.

    Day Eight

    This morning we drive to Chittogarh, best known for its honey tinged fort constructed by the Mauyans in the seventh century, considered the greatest in Rajasthan. Being the citadel of many great Rajput warriors, its history is filled with chivalry and tragedy. After a guided tour and lunch, we drive to Jojawar, a small town in the foothills of the Aravali Range with a romantic past and a delightful heritage hotel.

    Day Nine

    Today begin with an exciting jeep safari to visit villages of the Rabari people who inhabit much of the western desert of Rajasthan. They are a semi-nomadic people with a strong ethos of protecting the fragile environment that supports them. After lunch, we drive through the hills and board the special mountain-railway train for a wonderful scenic journey through the Aravali Range. Overnight Jojawar.

    Day Ten

    Take some free time for fun activities like a cooking class, bird watching or horse riding ...and of course, photography!

    Day Eleven

    En route to Udaipur, we enjoy a stop at the Ranakpur Jain Temple with intricately carved marble interiors and the Kumbhalgarh Fort. From the extensive fortified walls the views extend for miles. Overnight Udaipur.

    Day Twelve

    While in Udaipur, we will have a guided tour of the majestic City Palace, Jagdish Temple and the stately Bagore-ki-haveli. We also have free time to explore the narrow crooked lanes of this charming town or the surrounding countryside and villages. Other options include – sampling teas in the quaint tea shops or enjoying a nourishing ayurvedic massage. In the evening, relax with a traditional folk dance performance.

    Day Thirteen

    We visit the Shilpgram handicrafts village - a living ethnographic museum depicting the lifestyles, architecture and art of the folk and tribal people of the Western states. Late afternoon flight to Mumbai.

    Day Fourteen

    Experience the chaotic madness of Mumbai with some great sightseeing and time for shopping. We have a final group dinner before departure to the airport.

    Jay was thoughtful, considerate and a Master of his craft. He could also cope seamlessly with any situation that confronted him ... He is also a very interesting person and enjoyed some of his discussions throughout the trip.
    — Valerie, [Teacher], Perth

    Meet Your Tour Guide – Jay Weinstein

    All through the journey, you have the Mumbai-based international photographer, Jay Weinstein by your side, most notorious for approaching random strangers on his travels for his photography project So I asked them to smile.

    Jay moved to India at age 3 with his parents, both teachers on a search for meaning. Jay spent the next 12 years living in the historic town Vrindavan, raised by his mother, an artist, and father, a philosopher.

    At 15, Jay’s family moved back to Australia for his secondary education. We’ll skim over the part where he moved to LA to be an actor at age 21, began a career in advertising and eventually fell into photography at age 28. Though Jay thought he was done with India, he returned year after year, moving back to Mumbai in 2004 where he’s been based since. His love of sharing India was reignited through his photography, which forced him to explore the country with fresh awareness.

    “My camera began playing a bigger role in my travels. It forced me to look deeper. It gave me a reason to walk further.”

    Today Jay is full time photographer, traveller and tour guide. Being neither Western or Indian gives Jay a unique perspective into Indian culture and talent for translating her quirks for a western audience in a way that’s nuanced, insightful, and meaningful. In other words, he “make sense of the chaos”, and brings a sense of wonder and joy to the experience through facilitating authentic connections with locals and other likeminded travellers.

    About Touch of Spirit Tours

    Touch of Spirit Tours was birthed in 2006 by an Australian (?) tax accountant, who travelled India off the beaten track and along the way discovered a calling of her own... to share India’s breath-taking beauty and spiritual prowess with other seekers in a safe and authentic way.

    Touch of Spirit Tours has now grown to include over 12 tours, spanning north and south of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Tibet. We’ve thrived because of our glowing reputation from past travellers who’ve journeyed with us through cultural experiences, self-discovery, health and spiritual fulfillment.

    Experts across different fields (Nutritionists, Yoga Instructors, Spiritual Healers, Tourism Guides) are employed to make our tours truly unique and *hand-to-heart unforgettable.

    You can rest-assured that when you tour with us, you will experience the “real” country - meet local people, taste authentic food, and visit out-of-the-way unknown places as well as the eye-dazzling famous sights.

    Limiting our tour group to up to 12 explorers allows us to keep things more personal, tailor the experience, and accommodate to individual requests (like taking you to the perfect spice market or bazaar for that trinket you’ve been looking for).

    It also enables us to practice “safe spontaneity” - i.e. Participate in random unplanned activities like festivals, parades and weddings without displacing the itinerary or risking cultural offence. Being in an unfamiliar environment, especially one as unpredictable and foreign as India, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and be concerned about safety and offending anyone.

    How should I deal with a tuk tuk driver and a broken meeter?
    Which traditional foods should I embrace, and which should I avoid?
    What's the proper etiquette for a shrine or temple?

    Our expert guides arm you with the cultural knowhow, so you can navigate this new territory with cultural sensitively (and feel comfortable to come back again on your own).

    Is This Tour Right for Me?

    We think everyone has something to take away from this majestic land, but there are many ways to see India and this is just one of them. But, is it right for you?

    If you find yourself nodding along to at least 5 of the below points, then chances are this tour was made for you!

    • You’ve always dreamed of visiting India, but feel a tad intimidated by the idea of actually going.
    • You want to travel with sensitivity and an eye to how to avoid potential problems caused by western nativity...
    • You love connecting with likeminded, positive, interesting people from all walks of life.
    • You’re more about intimate connections, giving things time, and being completely present to an experience, rather than large-scale commercial touristy tours (aka hop-on-hop off bus tours).
    • While you’re ready to escape the familiar and experience authentic India, you still want to be comfortable and feel safe under the guidance of an expert who knows India like the back of their hand.
    • On the whole you’re healthy and fit enough to manage on foot with walking tours, hikes, steps, and uneven ground.

    Sound good? Let’s move on.

    What’s Included & Pricing

    • 14-day tour of India with expert local guide and facilitator
    • Ongoing step-by-step photography guidance & instruction with international photographer Jay Weinstein: group photography walks, short focused sessions, and one on one coaching
    • India travel tips and resources
    • All land transportation & internal flights
    • All entrance fees and guides through attractions & sites
    • Some meals
    • Comfortable accommodation
    • Memories of a lifetime!

    Pricing Options:

    • Twin share: $3,970 US per person
    • Singles (personal room in ashram): $4,960 US per person

    Upon booking, a ___% deposit is required.

    Book or Enquire

    Need some help, or want to speak to someone?

    For bookings and enquiries call 1300 722 932 or email info@touchofspirittours.com.au