2015 – Heartland of Empire Tour – Bengal

22 November - 9 December 2015

This tour is now full, but a repeat tour is possibly planned for the first part of 2016.

An 18 day cultural tour of Bengal and the Ganges.

When?
22 November - 9 December 2015
Where?
India

An 18 day cultural tour of Bengal and the Ganges Basin in 2015.   International flights will be with Jet Airways to Delhi with connecting flights to Calcutta where we will be staying at the Oberoi Grand for 3 nights; this is Calcutta’s iconic hotel and one of the great hotels of the subcontinent. Calcutta is a phenomenally interesting city – multi-layered, historic, conservative and extraordinarily colourful.   The first two days we shall be doing walking tours with Calcutta Walks, with expert and hugely engaging young guides – always a highlight of the Calcutta experience.   The Group will split into two, each doing differing areas of the city.   Group 1 does White Town (Heritage Calcutta of the RAJ dominated by Writers Building and the High Court) in the morning + Black Town – the Indian quarter including the mansions – many dilapidated or converted to other purposes – belonging to the new tax-collecting gentry created by British revenue policy in the Bengal Presidency.    Group 2 does Grey Town in the morning – this is the quarter belonging to the Armenian Jews (many Middle-eastern), Chinese, Anglo-Indians and Portuguese and now Bihari Muslims.   The following day, the two groups swop routes but both visit the Victoria Memorial and Mother Theresa Ashram afterwards, to be followed by drinks and dinner probably at the Fairlawn Hotel, a wonderful relic of Anglo-India and still owned by the Smith family, inviting someone of note to talk on aspects of Calcutta’s creative scene or politics… these possibilities to be explored. We then embark on the Hugli upstream cruise full charter, and over six and a half days visiting Chandernagore and Kalna; Kalna and Matiari; Matiari, Plassey and Murshidabad; Baranagar to Farakka; and a day trip tip to Gaur.   The river cruiser (the largest in the flotilla) has only 12 rooms, so due to limited accommodation, single accommodation would not be possible and single travellers would need to share, i.e. 22 paying members. This will be followed by a train journey to Patna in order to visit the Sonepur Mela or cattle fair – still the largest livestock fair in Asia and supposedly established more than 2000 years ago for the Mauryan Army to purchase its war elephants, horses and other livestock.   This is the most fascinating of all the great fairs of India and the only one in which elephants are still traded. (NB. The commute between Patna and Sonepur isn’t really practicable and we will almost certainly be using a tented encampment for two nights. After Sonepur flight back to Delhi for two days visiting various sights in Old Delhi, staying at Maidens Hotel; and a day visiting Lutyens Delhi before returning to London after an 18 day trip. This is described as India off the beaten track, and includes some of the most historic areas of India. We will be taking a Guest Lecturer, Dr. Rosie Llewellyn-Jones, who some of you may have come across at the RSAA, as there will be a lot of history attached to this trip. Anyone interested in a similar tour in the first half of 2016 are advised to let the Secretary know of their interest on sec@rsaa.org.uk

5 JUL

UPCOMING EVENT

Sikunder Burnes: Master of the ‘Great Game’

Where: The Royal Asiatic Society, 14 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2HD [Nearest Underground Stations Euston Square or Warren Street]

Lecture starts at 1.15pm and ends around 2.30pm. A sandwich lunch is available from 12.30pm and must be booked via the office by 2.30pm the day before.

Tickets: Free: Members and their guests only.

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