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Kumbh Melas in Haridwar and Ujjain:
2 Kumbh Melas in 1 Month
+ Tour to Agra (Taj Mahal): April, 2004

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Itinerary for Tour to Haridwar, Agra (Taj Mahal), and Ujjain: April, 2004


WHAT IS KUMBH MELA?

The Kumbh Mela derives its name from the immortalizing pot of nectar described in India's ancient scriptures. Kumbh in the Sanskrit language means "Pot", "Pitcher" or "Jar" and Mela means "Festival". The origin of the festival lie in the ancient belief in the conflict between the Gods and the Demons over the possession of the "Amrit Kumbh", a pitcher filled with nectar.

After the churning of the "Kshir Sagar - The Milky Ocean" jointly between the gods and the demons, there arose a dispute between the two sides. The legend says one of the fleeing gods whisked the pitcher from his pursuers, and on his way to heaven, rested at Allahabad, Haridwar, Nasik and Ujjain, where some drops of the liquid fell.

Kumbh Mela is the largest spiritual festival known to humanity. It happens every 12 years in each of four places, the next of which is at Ujjain, in central India, in 2004. From all parts of India sadhus, sages, saints, and seers come to share a collective consciousness in celebration of the divine. The festival is punctuated by the taking of holy baths in the Shipra River on April 15, 22, 24, and May 1 and 4. Over 10 million people will attend. Ujjain is located in the state of Madhya Pradesh, in central India. From times immemorial this area and the Shipra River have been considered as most sacred.

UJJAIN (City of Victory), is the modern name for Ujjayini. Legend has it that the hoary past, the Godlike king Shiva of Avanti commemorated his victory over the demon-ruler of Tripura or Tripuri on the banks of the Narmada by changing the name of his capital, Avantipura to Ujjayini (one who conquers with pride). Ujjain is one of the holiest cities in India. According to Indian astrology, zero degrees begins in Ujjain. According to the Mahabharata's Aranya-parva, Ujjain is one of the seven sacred moksa-puris or sapta-puris. The others are Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Kashi (Varanasi), Kanchipuram, and Dwarka. Ujjain is about 55km north of Indore. It is said that Siva killed the demon Tripura at Ujjain.

It is believed that the Shipra River had its origins in the ancient mythological tale of churning the Ocean by the Gods and the Demons, with the serpent Vasuki as the rope. The ocean bed first yielded fourteen gems, then yielded Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and finally the coveted vessel of spiritual nectar. Then, according to the mythology, there began a scramble for immortality, with the demons chasing the gods across the skies. In the process a few of drops of the spiritual nectar were spilled, and fell on Haridwar, Nasik, Prayag, and Ujjain.

The indomitable spirit of Ujjain is best exemplified by the legend of an ancient banyan tree named Siddhwat. The tree is believed to possess extraordinary spiritual vibrations and holy men meditate under it while others worship it. According to the legend, a ruler once had the tree cut down and covered the mutilated stump with seven iron plates, so as to show his authority. By the next morning, the tree had burst through the iron plates and come back to its original size. The tree is still alive and the object of redoubled veneration.

SIMHASTHA

Four Kumbh Melas are organised in Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Nasik and Ujjain. The Kumbh in Haridwar is held when the Sun is in the Aries and the Jupiter in the Aquarius. The Kumbh is held in Allahabad (Prayag) when the Sun is in the Capricorn and Jupiter in the Taurus. The special significance of the Simhastha at Ujjain is the rare configuration of planets that takes place once in 12 years when Sun is in the Aries and Jupiter is in the Leo.

Simhastha is the great bathing festival of Ujjain. It is celebrated in a cycle of twelve years when Jupiter enters the Leo sign of the zodiac, known in the Sanskrit language as Simha Rashi. Ceremonial bathing in the holy waters of Shipra begin with
the full moon day of Chaitra and continue in different intervals throughout the successive month of Vaishakha culminating on the full moon day.

ANCIENT TRADITION

According to the Puranas, the legendary churning of the ocean by the gods (Devas) and demons (Danavas) yielded, amongest other things, a jar (Kumbha) full of nectar (Amrita). Gods did not like to share it with demons. At the instance of Indra, the master of gods, his son Jayanta tried to run away with the jar and was naturally followed by some of the demons. During the struggle for its possession  lasting over twelve days in heaven, a few drops of the nectar dropped at the four places, Haridwar, Prayag, Ujjain and Nasik on the earth. The Drops of nectar were well received by the holy rivers at these places. It is to commemorate the sprinkling of ambrosia into the sacred waters of Shipra that the Simhastha festival is celebrated at Ujjain. Festival at the other three places are known by the more popular name Kumbh.

The cycle of twelve years is common to all the four places. As the struggle for the possession of the nectar-jar (Amrita-Kumbh) lasted for twelve days in heaven, the corresponding period turned out to be twelve years on the earth, for the human beings. Different planetary positions, like the crossing of Jupitar into Leo sign and certain other conjunctions for the fair at Ujjain, are noted for the Kumbh-fair at these other places also. Besides being a city of remarkable cultural traditions, Ujjain is cited among the seven cities of sacred merit in India. Mahakaleshwar temple and the holy shipra have always attracted countless people to visit Ujjain through out the ages. The crowd of pilgrims and saints of various sects running into millions during the Simhastha presents a picture of mini India at Ujjain and one can well visualise here what invisible forces bind this great Nation together.

HISTORY OF SIMHASTHA
It is just natural that on the occasion of this pious parva, Sadhus of various sects and pilgrims assemble in large number to take dips in the celestial Shipra river. Thus, the gathering takes the form of a very large-sized fair. Needless to say, such fairs at Kumbh-places are among the largest religious gatherings of the world. During the Muslim and Mughal periods, there has been no state arrangements for Simhastha. The process of such arrangements started during the Maratha Period. In 1740 A.D., when the founder of the Shinde dynasty, Ranoji shinde was ruling in Malwa with his headquarters at Ujjain, it was decided that it was the state- responsibility to provide facilities to the pilgrims. Simultaneously, the sadhus of the Dashanami, Udasina, Natha, Vaisnavite and Saivite faiths were invited from Nasik to take part in the holy  dips and to grace the occasion. Luckily some archaeological evidence of such arrangements has been located at Ujjain during exploration.

Ujjain is in April and May (Summer in India), and thus the 'hot' Kumbh. Dry as well. Good locations, though the farthest ends of the encampments are still at least 25 kms apart. But plenty of space. The Shipra is rather shallow, but extra water will be pumped in. Apart from Mahakala Mandir (which is built around a very 'powerful' jyotir linga) there are the Bartrihari caves (important especially for Nath baba's), the Datt Akhara (one of the most important Juna Naga establishments) and a popular Hanuman Mandir: Mangalnath. Ujjain is also associated with Bhairom (or Bhairava), the Aghori manifestation of Shiva.

SPECIAL BATHING DATES in the holy waters of River Shipra at Ujjain:

Monday, 05th April '04 : PURNIMA
Monday, 19th April '04 : KRISHNA AMAVASYA
Thursday, 22nd April '04 : SHUKLA TRITIYA
Saturday, 24th April '04 : SHUKLA PANCHMI
Tuesday, 04th May '04 : SHAHI SNAN - PURNIMA



TOUR ITINERARY FOR HARIDWAR AND UJJAIN KUMBH MELAS
April 10 to April 21, 2004: Delhi/Haridwar/Delhi/Agra/Delhi/Ujjain/Delhi

 



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 10th April        Welcome to Delhi
 
Arrive late night in Delhi and transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel.
Hotel: The Park or Similar
 
11th April        Explore Old Delhi & New Delhi
 
After breakfast, full day combined sightseeing of Old Delhi & New Delhi including Rickshaw Ride in the narrow crowded lanes of Old Delhi, Jama Mosque, Red Fort, Government Buildings & Qutab Minar. Transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel.
Hotel: The Park or Similar (Meals ­ Breakfast)
 
Delhi is no fairytale city but a city where dreams come to reality. Its strategic location was one of the prime reasons why successive dynasties chose it as their seat of power. Delhi is truly a symbol of the old and the new; a blend of ancient well preserved monuments and temples along with jam-packed burger joints and up market shopping malls.


12th April        Delhi/Haridwar/Rishikesh
 
After breakfast, drive to Rishikesh by surface en route visiting Haridwar. Explore Evening Ganga Aarti at Har Ki Pauri, Haridwar and continue to Rishikesh. Reach Rishikesh and transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel.
Hotel: Natraj or Similar (Meals ­ Breakfast)
 
Rishikesh situated on the Right Bank of river Ganga and surrounded on three sides by Himalayan ranges is known from medieval time as a celestial abode. It is a great pilgrimage centre of India, attracting a large number of pilgrims. It is believed that Bharat, brother of Lord Rama, subjected himself to severe penance here. A temple known as Bharat Temple was later constructed at the site and the town of Rishikesh sprang up around the temple. It has since been the abode of saints and sages from where they sojourn before undertaking the arduous pilgrimage that lay ahead on the distant Himalayan peaks.  This is the gateway to the kingdom of Gods and pilgrimage to Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.  The other tourist places of interest are Rishikund & Raghunath Temple, Triveni Ghat, Bharat Temple and Laxman Jhoola.
 
13th April        Main Bathing Date (Baisakhi) - Haridwar
 
After breakfast, Take a Dip in Holy River Ganges and full day explore Haridwar. In the evening, return back to Rishikesh. Transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel.
Hotel: Natraj or Similar (Meals ­ Breakfast)
 
Haridwar
: This sacred town, 230 km from Delhi, marks the emergence of the Ganga into the plains, piercing through the Shiwalik Range. The devout believe that this is one of the four places in India upon which the nectar or Immortality, amrit, fell. It has been churned out of the formless ocean and was being carried in a Kumbh - pot - when it split. On the zodiacal anniversary of this event, a huge religious fair, the Kumbh Mela, is held here every 12 years when hundreds of thousands of devotees bathe in the Ganga. Every six years the Ardh (half) Kumbh is held.
 
14th April        Main Bathing Date (Ardh Kumbh Parva) - Haridwar
 
After breakfast, Take a Dip in Holy River Ganges and full day explore Haridwar. In the evening, return back to Rishikesh. Transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel.
Hotel: Natraj or Similar (Meals ­ Breakfast)
 
15th April        Rishikesh/Delhi
 
After breakfast, drive back to Delhi by surface. Reach Delhi and transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel.
Hotel: The Park or Similar (Meals ­ Breakfast)


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16th April        Delhi/Agra
 
After breakfast, drive to Agra by surface. Reach Agra and transfer to hotel. In the evening, visit Agra Fort. Overnight at hotel.
Hotel: The Trident or Similar (Meals ­ Breakfast)


 Agra, the city of Taj was established in 1475 by Badal Singh. Agra finds mention in the Mahabharata as Agraban. Agra came into its own when the Lodhi Kings chose this place beside the Yamuna to be their capital city. Sikander Lodhi made Agrahis capital but Babar defeated the Lodhis to capture not only Agra but also laid the foundation of the Mughal Empire.

The coming of Babar heralded a new era which was to see Agra at its zenith during the reign of Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jahan. It was during Akbar's period that Agra became the center of art, culture and commerce and learning. This trend reached its height when Shah Jahan became the ruler.

  

In the mid 16th century and earlier 17th century, Agra witnessed a frenzied building activity and it was during this time when the symbol of love Taj Mahal was built. The buildings made during this era were purely in the contemporary Mughal style and of very high quality which is still reflected in what ever monuments remain in Agra. The narrow lanes of Agra filled with aroma of Mughlai cuisine, the craftsman who were busy in creating master pieces with their skill all remind of the Mughal royalty which this city had once experienced. Today whatever remains, has become a major tourist attraction which has taken Agra again to the heights of glory but this time as a major tourist destination of India.

   
 
Agra is also famous for the leather items. Agra is the hub of hand made leather items. Particularly the Agra jail inmates are made these items which are sold to give them a decent earning. The local artisans are also good at making leather chappals (sandals), purses, bags, decorative items and many more such leather product which instantaneously attracts your attention. In the handicraft craft emporiums and shops there are sandal and rose wood items even though there are no rose or sandal wood forest nearby. The shops also have brass decorative pieces and stone carved images. Agra is also famous for the Zari and embroidery work, Stone inlay work and durries.


 
17th April        Agra/Delhi
 
Early morning, visit Taj Mahal at sunrise. Afterwards, transfer to hotel for breakfast. After breakfast, drive back to Delhi. Reach Delhi and transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel.
Hotel: The Park or Similar (Meals ­ Breakfast)


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18th April        Delhi/Indore
 
After late breakfast, transfer to domestic airport for flight to Indore, IC #  7134 at 13.20 Hrs. Arrive Indore at 15.30 Hrs. and transfer to hotel. Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight at hotel.
Hotel: Sayaji or Similar (Meals ­ Breakfast)
 
19th April        Main Bathing Date - (Krishna Amavasya) Ujjain
 
After breakfast, drive to Ujjain for Main Bathing Date. In the evening, return back to Indore. Reach Indore and transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel.
Hotel: Sayaji or Similar (Meals ­ Breakfast)
 
UJJAIN (City of Victory), is the modern name for Ujjayini, is located on the banks of river Shipra- in central India. Legend has it that the hoary past, the God like king Shiva of Avanti commemorated his victory over the demon-ruler of Tripura or Tripuri on the banks of the Narmada by changing the name of his capital, Avantipura to Ujjayini (one who conquers with pride).

Ujjain is one of the best known cities of ancient India and one of Hinduism's seven holy cities and one of the four centres of the Kumbh Mela, attracting about three million pilgrims every 12 years, for sacred bathing. At other times, a constant stream come to bathe in the river Shipra and worship at the temples. In its heyday, Ujjain was on a flourishing trade route to Mesopotamia and Egypt.

20th April        Indore/Omkareshwar - Maheshwar/Indore
 
After breakfast, full day excursion to Omkareshwar & Maheshwar. Visit to various temples. In the evening, return back to Indore. Reach Indore and transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel.
Hotel: Sayaji or Similar (Meals ­ Breakfast)
 
Omkareshwar has a gorgeous idyllic setting. The sacred island, shaped like the holiest of all Hindu symbols, 'Om', has drawn hundreds of generations of pilgrims. Here, at the confluence of the rivers Narmada and Kaveri, the devout have gathered to kneel before the Jyotirlingham (one of the twelve throughout India) at the temple of Shri Omkar Mandhata. The work of Nature complements those of man to provide a setting awe-inspiring in its magnificence. The temple is a huge imposing stone structure with the inner sanctum deep inside. The construction itself is without any cement with beautiful carvings on the support structure.
 
Maheshwar was a glorious city at the dawn of Indian civilization when it was Mahishmati, capital of King Kartivarjun. This temple town on the banks of the river Narmada finds mention in the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Revived to its ancient position of importance by the Holkar queen Rani Ahilyabai of Indore. Maheshwar's temples and mighty fort-complex stand in quiet beauty, mirrored in the river below.
 
21st April        Indore/Delhi
 
After late breakfast, transfer to airport for flight to Delhi, IC # 7133 at 18.05 Hrs. Arrive Delhi at 20.15 Hrs. and transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel.
Hotel: The Park or Similar (Meals ­ Breakfast)


FEES:

FROM April 10 to April 21, 2004:
Delhi/Haridwar/Delhi/Agra/Delhi/Ujjain/Delhi

SPECIAL NOTE: Discount available if you have more people in your party.

For 1 to 2 people in your party:
Per Person on Twin Sharing Basis - US $2096
Single Supplement - US $440
PLUS Airfare Extra:
Delhi to Indore to Delhi (Per Person) - US $350

For 4 or more people in your party:
Per Person on Twin Sharing Basis - US $1790
Single Supplement - US $440
PLUS Airfare Extra:
Delhi to Indore to Delhi (Per Person) - US $350

     


OPTIONAL EXTENSION: April 21-25, 2004
 
21st April        Indore

Full day at leisure at Indore.
Hotel: The Park or Similar or Sayaji or Similar (Meals ­ Breakfast)

   
 

22nd April       Main Bathing Date (Shukla Tritya) - Ujjain
 
After breakfast, drive to Ujjain for Main Bathing Date. In the evening, return back to Indore. Reach Indore and transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel.
Hotel: Sayaji or Similar (Meals ­ Breakfast)
 
23rd April        Indore

After breakfast, full day at leisure. Overnight at hotel.
Hotel: Sayaji or Similar (Meals ­ Breakfast)
 
 
24th April        Main Bathing Date - Ujjain
 
After breakfast, drive to Ujjain for Main Bathing Date. In the evening, return back to Indore. Reach Indore and transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel.
Hotel: Sayaji or Similar (Meals ­ Breakfast)
 
25th April        Indore/Delhi
 
After late breakfast, transfer to airport for flight to Delhi, IC # 7133 at 18.05 Hrs. Arrive Delhi at 20.15 Hrs. and transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel.
Hotel: The Park or Similar (Meals ­ Breakfast)


FEES:
UJJAIN EXTENSION TOUR FROM APRIL 21 TO 25, 2004:
(Special price only for those attending tour April 10-21, 2004)

SPECIAL NOTE:
Discount available if you have more people in your party.

For 1 to 2 people in your party:
Per Person on Twin Sharing Basis - US $998
Single Supplement - US $197

For 4 or more people in your party:
Per Person on Twin Sharing Basis - US $791
Single Supplement - US $197

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TOUR INCLUDES

* Accommodation in Single/Double Rooms at hotels mentioned in the itinerary or hotels of similar category.
* Meals as listed in the itinerary (Breakfast Only).
* Transfers and Sightseeing by Air-Conditioned Coaches/Cars/Jeeps (depending on group size).
* The services of our Representative at all Transfers.
* Services of a Local English-Speaking Guides.
* Entrance fees to all monuments and museums visited on the tour.
* 8% Service fee tax as imposed by the Government of India.
* Services of a very special English Speaking Accompanying Escort for the entire tour.

TOUR EXCLUDES

* Tips and gratuities to drivers, guides, and bellboys at hotels.
* Any beverages, alcohol or items of personal nature, such as laundry, telephone calls, insurance.
* Any increases in entrance fees and Government imposed taxes.
* Still camera or video camera fees at the various monuments and museums.
* Anything not specially mentioned in the itinerary.
* Domestic Airfares (Delhi/Indore/Delhi).

    

"My experience with Susan Shumsky and Divine Travels (to the Maha Kumbh Mela festival in India January 2001) was truly excellent. Everything was well organized, accommodation and meals were very good, and it was possible to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience that would have been extremely difficult to arrange through any other company. Guiding a diverse group of Westerners through a festival attended by close to 100 million people was a difficult challenge but the Divine Travels staff managed it with great efficiency, patience and kindness. Above all, I was impressed by their constant dedication and concern for the welfare of those on the trip."--Paul Lowe, author, England

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