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INDIA | VARANASI

Delhi, Varanasi (City of Light), River Ganges, Bengali Tola

Varanasi is the India you imagine. One of the most colorful places on earth.

Varanasi is the India you imagine. One of the most colorful and fascinating places on earth, with surprises around every corner. Pilgrims come to the ghats (steps) lining the River Ganges to wash away sins in the sacred waters or to cremate their loved ones. It’s a particularly auspicious place to die since expiring here offers moksha (liberation from the cycle of rebirth). Most visitors agree Varanasi is magical – but not for the faint-hearted. Intimate rituals of life and death take place in public, and the sights, sounds and smells on the ghats – not to mention almost constant attention from touts – can be intense. Still, the so-called “City of Light” may turn out to be your favorite stop on our adventure. Walking the ghats and alleyways or watching the sunrise from a boat will be unforgettable.

Varanasi, also known as Benares (Banāras or Kashi), is on the banks of the River Ganges in Uttar Pradesh, India, 790 km (490 mi) southeast of Delhi. It is the holiest of the seven sacred cities (Sapta Puri) in Hinduism, Ravidassia religion and Jainism, and played an important role in the development of Buddhism. Some Hindus believe that death at Varanasi brings salvation. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Varanasi is also known as the favorite city of the Hindu deity Lord Shiva as it has been mentioned in the Rigveda that this city in ancient times was known as Kashi or “Shiv ki Nagri”.

NOTE: Varanasi can be a stand-alone photo adventure, but it is meant to be combined with several of our India adventures including Rajasthan’s Golden Triangle, the Pushkar Camel Fair, Kolkata and more. In addition, a private or semi-private Varanasi experience can be added to any of our group photo adventures.

This adventure is designed not only to guide you to the most photogenic locations carefully planned for the best light but to aid you in mentally visualizing a scene before capturing the decisive moment. Our aim is to raise your awareness and spark your creativity so that you not only go home with images to be proud of but use your new found skills to improve and expand your photographic technique in general. Apart from the technical aspect of learning your camera settings and capabilities, you will learn how to turn an ordinary image into an extraordinary image by using your own creativity.

In addition, you will become knowledgeable about how to survey the landscape, utilize and approach your environment, photograph people indigenous to the region and the cultural considerations and challenges of photographing in a foreign country. Our time together will include individual and group discussions, inspiring ideas, and great fun. We cannot think of a better country to express your creativity than India.

Varanasi, also known as Benares (Banāras or Kashi), is on the banks of the River Ganges in Uttar Pradesh, India, 790 km (490 mi) southeast of Delhi. It is the holiest of the seven sacred cities (Sapta Puri) in Hinduism, Ravidassia religion and Jainism, and played an important role in the development of Buddhism. Some Hindus believe that death at Varanasi brings salvation. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Varanasi is also known as the favorite city of the Hindu deity Lord Shiva as it has been mentioned in the Rigveda that this city in ancient times was known as Kashi or “Shiv ki Nagri”.

NOTE: Varanasi can be a stand-alone photo adventure, but it is meant to be combined with several of our India adventures including Rajasthan’s Golden Triangle, the Pushkar Camel Fair, Kolkata and more. In addition, a private or semi-private Varanasi experience can be added to any of our group photo adventures.

This adventure is designed not only to guide you to the most photogenic locations carefully planned for the best light but to aid you in mentally visualizing a scene before capturing the decisive moment. Our aim is to raise your awareness and spark your creativity so that you not only go home with images to be proud of but use your new found skills to improve and expand your photographic technique in general. Apart from the technical aspect of learning your camera settings and capabilities, you will learn how to turn an ordinary image into an extraordinary image by using your own creativity.

In addition, you will become knowledgeable about how to survey the landscape, utilize and approach your environment, photograph people indigenous to the region and the cultural considerations and challenges of photographing in a foreign country. Our time together will include individual and group discussions, inspiring ideas, and great fun. We cannot think of a better country to express your creativity than India.

Group Size

4 – 8 Guests

Experience | Difficulty

  • Beginner, amateur, enthusiast and semi-pro photographers
  • DSLR, mirrorless, compact or iPhone cameras
  • Moderate schedule
  • Travel by private air-conditioned car, train, and mini-van
  • Minimal elevation changes and lots of walking
  • (non-photographers also welcome)

Weather | Sun

October/November – Temps 82/55 F  28/13 C  Sunrise 6:34 | Sunset 5:36 (17:36)
February – Temps 75/50 F  24/11 C  Sunrise 7:10 | Sunset 6:00 (18:00)

Includes

  • Travel, people, urban, landscape and architecture photography
  • Professional photographer | guide
  • Photo walks & discussions
  • Small group size (4 – 8 guests)
  • 5-star hotel
  • Breakfasts
  • 4 meals
  • Airport transfers
  • Domestic roundtrip flight, Delhi to Varanasi
  • All Entrance fees
  • Local transportation

Travel Information

Arrival & Departure Airport: Delhi, India (DEL) – Transfer time to hotel 50min
Our adventure begins at 11 AM on the first day and ends at noon on the last day.
NOTE: If you are registering for Varanasi as an extension to another India adventure, we will manage your domestic flights. Please speak with guest services to finalize your itinerary.
Travel Visa: A visa may be required depending on your nationality. Go to Visa Map to find out.

Accommodations

Delhi – Hotel Imperial or similar
Varanasi – Hotel Madan or similar

Helpful Links

> The Imperial Hotel New Delhi – by Michael Chinnici
> Indian Women and their Love Affair with the Saree – by Renu Choudhary
> Suryagarh Jaisalmer – by Michael Chinnici
> 6 Amazing India Photo Adventures – by Michael Chinnici
> Taj Mahal Photo Tips – by Ian Robert Knight


Photographer Leader

Photographer Leader

Laurie Cohen

November 13 – 17, 2019
December 1 – 5, 2020

Photographer Leader

Photographer Leader

Michael Chinnici

February 5 – 9, 2020
February 3 – 7, 2021

*All prices are per person and based on double occupancy. Please select single occupancy for a private room. For your convenience, we offer optional early arrival and late departure accommodations so you can extend your stay before or after the trip. We typically stay in boutique hotels in the 4-star category. Not all destinations offer these types of properties. We look for unique hotels which offer cultural, historic and/or authentic features. Depending on the size of the group, smaller boutique hotels may have limited room inventory. In some countries or in remote locations, we may be limited to lodges or branded chain hotels. Breakfast is included only if included in our room rates.

ITINERARY

VARANASI 5 DAYS

Day 1 | Delhi - Old Delhi

Arrival in Delhi. Whether you are arriving from India or elsewhere, or if Varanasi is an extension to one of our other India Photo Adventures, Day one is an arrival day in Delhi. Transfers will be arranged to take you to our hotel.

In the afternoon we will explore Old Delhi markets and streets followed by a “Welcome Dinner” at our favorite Indian restaurant. After we’ll rest up and prepare for a very busy schedule for the next 4 days in Varanasi. (D)

Day 2 | Delhi - Varanasi (Flight) - Sarnath Museum - Aarti Ceremony

After an early breakfast, we transfer to the airport to catch our flight for Varanasi. After checking into our hotel, we visit the Sarnath (the Deer Park) where the Buddha preached his first sermon and Sanath Museum. In the afternoon we’ll set out to explore the amazing alleys and streets of Varanasi. In the evening we will board a private boat to witness and photograph the thousand-year-old Aarti Ceremony during which worshippers pray near the water by the light of candles and lanterns. This is an experience you will never forget. (B)

Day 3 | Varanasi - River Ganges - Widows of Varanasi

Today we are up early to take a sunrise boat cruise on the River Ganges, and the opportunity to capture vivid photographs of devoted Hindus bathing in the river. These photos of Hindus offering their prayers against morning sunlight make the journey quite rewarding. After we return to our hotel for breakfast.

Next, we will experience an emotional visit with the Widows of Varanasi. Varanasi may be colorful and move at a frenetic pace, but the city harbors a darker secret – it is home to 38,000 widows, a marginalized and forgotten population, of which the majority live in poverty. Abandoned in the city and shunned by society, many seek refuge in the different ashrams for widows. When widows are thrown out of their households, they come to Varanasi because it is a holy city. It is the favorite city of the Hindu deity Lord Shiva, and they believe that if they die there they will go straight to heaven. Widows call it Moksha – when the final release from reincarnation is gained.

A significant portion of the widows in Varanasi are aged between 20 and 45, along with elders. Poverty and disease, including HIV infection, are some of the main reasons young women are being widowed at such a young age. But cultural practices, namely child marriage, are a major driving force behind this problem in India. Girls are often married at an early age, sometimes as teenagers to much older men. When the men die, the women are left as widows. India has the highest number of child brides in the world. Poverty, dowries, gender expectation, tradition and a lack of educational opportunities for girls are the reasons behind this problem.

Our afternoon and evening will be spent exploring and photographing more of Varanasi. In the evening we will witness one of the Aarti prayer ceremonies taking place along the banks of the Ganges. You’ll be able to get up very close to the high priests waving Yak-tail fans and performing rituals during the ceremonies. (B)

Day 4 | Varanasi - Bathing Ghats - Bengali Tola - Sadhus

Today we begin even earlier. Our guide meets us at our hotel before sunrise, so you can witness the amazing spectacle which takes place on Varanasi’s waterfront at the start of every day. The principal attraction of Varanasi is the long string of bathing ghats, which line the west bank of the River Ganges. Ghats are the steps which lead down to the river from which pilgrims make their sin-cleansing dip in the holy river and on which bodies are cremated. A boat ride on the Ganges at dawn, when it is full of pilgrims, is an amazing experience, and our guide can explain to you the various rituals taking place.

Leaving the boat after passing the most important Ghats, we will continue on foot for a fascinating exploration of the narrow lanes of the Bengali Tola area of Varanasi, one of the oldest continuously inhabited places on earth. Here we will pass countless small temples, shrines, and traditional shops. Our guide will provide a unique insight into this most fascinating of cities, which would otherwise be incomprehensible to the outsider. Along the way, we’ll set up several photo sessions with local Sadhus.

In the evening we enjoy a wonderful “Farewell Dinner” at a favorite Varanasi restaurant. (B) (D)

Day 5 | Varanasi - Delhi (Flight)

After breakfast, we transfer to the airport to board our return flight to Delhi for your connecting flight home or book a later departure hotel room and rest up. (B)

(B) Breakfast, (L) Lunch, (D) Dinner, (E) Excursion

May all who come as guests... leave as friends®

OPTIONS AND BENEFITS

Pricing

 

All prices are per person and based on double occupancy. Please select single occupancy for a private room. For your convenience, we offer optional early arrival and late departure accommodations so you can extend your stay before or after the trip. We typically stay in boutique hotels in the 4-star category. Not all destinations offer these types of properties. We look for unique hotels which offer cultural, historic and/or authentic features. Depending on the size of the group, smaller boutique hotels may have limited room inventory. In some countries or in remote locations, we may be limited to lodges or branded chain hotels. Breakfast is included only if included in our room rates.

Private Guided Adventures

 

We offer amazing private guided photo adventures, cultural tours and vacations for individuals, couples, families and groups. We can customize any of our published adventures, as well as others, to meet your individual needs, schedule, budget and interests. This may include the finest 5-star accommodations, business-class travel, and private guides and fixers who are able to make the impossible possible. If you are not interested in a photo-centric vacation, but you love our approach to private travel, we will be happy to design and deliver an amazing adventure focused on travel, culture and cuisine. Click here to request a quote. Feel free to call us at 1-888-834-0288 or contact us for more information.

 

Travel Insurance

We offer travel insurance through the internationally recognized Travelex Travel Insurance Company, as well as evacuation and medical transportation insurance through MedJet, one of the best in the industry.

The cost for travel insurance can be as low as 4% of the total trip cost, depending upon age and other factors. Knowing you have trip cancellation coverage can make a big difference should you have to cancel for some unforeseen reason. Travelex Insurance Services is a BBB Accredited business with an A+ rating. Click here to learn more about why you should consider travel insurance.

Rewards Program

Start earning points today and SAVE $200 - $900 off future trips!
Simply register for one of our amazing photo adventures and begin earning points today!

How The Program Works
For every adventure reservation you make with Photo Workshop Adventures, you earn valuable points which you can redeem on your next trip. This is a great way to save up to 8% off future trips. Our Rewards Program is designed with three tiers: Orange, Gold and VIP Members. Points may be applied towards balance payments on your next trip, or you may choose to accumulate points for a free trip in the future.

ORANGE REWARDS
All guests begin with our Orange Rewards Program (Level 1), which earns 4 points for every dollar you spend. You begin earning points immediately after your first trip. A $5,900 spend earns 23,600 points with a value of $236 USD.

GOLD REWARDS
With our Gold Rewards Program (Level 2), you earn 6 points for every dollar you spend. Orange Members who reach 120,000 accumulated lifetime* points (approx. 4-6 trips), automatically move up to Gold Rewards. A $5,900 spend earns 35,400 points with a value of $354 USD.

Additional Gold Benefits:

  • Earn up to double points during promotional events
  • Advance notifications for upcoming adventures and special offers

VIP REWARDS
With our VIP Rewards Program (Level 3), you earn 8 points for every dollar you spend. Gold Members who reach 350,000 accumulated lifetime* points (approx. 8-12 trips) move up to VIP Rewards. A $5,900 spend earns 47,200 points with a value of $472 USD, (8+/-% discount).

Additional VIP Benefits:

  • Earn up to double points during promotional events
  • Advance notifications for upcoming adventures and special offers
  • Ability to Gift or Transfer points to others
  • Receive complimentary airport transfers at the destination location*


Redeeming Your Points

Redeeming your points couldn’t be easier. You can always log in to your account to check your points balance. When you are ready to book your next trip, register and pay your deposit. When you go to pay your balance you will be given the option to apply your points and receive a discount.

THINK ORANGE Magazine

Subscribe to our Think Orange Magazine and eNews. THINK ORANGE is a wonderful mix of stories and tips related to travel, photography, adventure, culture, art, technology, cuisine, lifestyle, people and more. Our objective is to immerse you in a world you may only fantasize about. Raise your awareness and inspire your creativity. Perhaps even help make you a better photographer. We deliver similar experiential experiences that our guests enjoy on our photo adventures. Like all of our adventures, our blog is “photo-centric”, while also allowing you to experience all the nuances and cultural aspects of travel and adventure. Welcome to our world. We hope you enjoy. Our eNews is a great way to receive information about upcoming photo adventures, exciting new destinations, photography tips, special offers and more. Subscribe today!

Gift Cards

Give someone you know a Gift Card, good toward any of our Photo  Adventures, Photo Tours, Private Guided Tours, Online Courses, Prints or Merchandize. Our beautifully personalized eGift Cards and Certificates are delivered to you electronically. They are fully transferable and have a 2 year expiration date. They are available in any amount from $100 to $5000. It makes a great gift for anyone who loves photography, travel or adventure. Order now, or email for more information.

Combine-N-Save

You can SAVE up to $1200 by combining two or more back-to-back 6-Day or longer Photo Adventures. Call us at 1-888-834-0288 or contact us for more information.

Private Online Lightroom & Photoshop Tutorials

We offer private online Lightroom and Photoshop photo editing tutorials for individuals who would like to improve their post-processing skills. Each is customized to meet your individual needs, schedule, budget and interests. We provide you with one-on-one discussions using online connectivity. Many of our Photo Adventure guests select our online post-processing as an extension to their trip. Click here for more information.