Sacred Rajasthan 

An exclusive travel experience into the heart of Sacred Music and Dance in Rajasthan with Sajida Ben Tzur, India 2018

Sacred Rajasthan

Eleven glorious days in the Rajasthan desert 

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Take​ ​a​ ​journey​ ​full​ ​of​ ​rare​ ​musical​ ​encounters,​ ​exquisite​ ​dancing,​ ​sacred​ ​Sufi​ ​shrines, stunning​ ​landscapes,​ ​temples,​ ​desert​ ​tribal​ ​parties​ ​and​ ​the​ ​festive​ ​celebrations​ ​of​ ​Rajasthan. The​ ​sights​ ​of​ ​India’s​ ​impressive​ ​landscapes​ ​are​ ​the​ ​glorious​ ​backdrop​ ​for​ ​a​ ​special excursion​ ​that​ ​enables​ ​an​ ​intimate,​ ​unique​ ​introduction​ ​to​ ​India​ ​through​ ​its​ ​tribal​ ​musical culture​ ​and​ ​the​ ​special​ ​inhabitants​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Rajasthan​ ​desert. Rajasthan (Raj – royal, sthan – land/state) is one of the most colorful states in India. It is a desert region abounding in classical and ancient traditions, where palaces, temples, fortresses and royalty exist alongside villages and tribes.

Music in India, and especially in Rajasthan, is a principal part of religious rituals setting the tone for holidays and wedding ceremonies. This music, played for kings when they went off to battle, accompanies the Sufi festivities and provides entertainment for the high society. Bringing the various religions and classes together, the music of Rajasthan opens a door to the fascinating cultural worlds that are the focus and inspiration for this special journey.

 

Sajida​ ​Ben-Tzur​, our founder and tour leader, is a dancer of Kathak classical Indian and the Rajasthani folk dance traditions, an Indian Chef and the daughter of a Sufi Sheikh from Rajasthan. Sajida has met and worked with many of the most exceptional musicians in this region. This tour facilitates a personal connection with Rajasthan’s landscapes and people through the ears, the eyes and especially the heart!

Itinerary 

Day​ ​1​ ​–​ ​Classic​ ​Udaipur

In the morning, after a domestic flight to Udaipur,​ the city whose landscape and palaces have been compared to the legends of the Arabian Nights, we will meet at the airport. From the airport in Udaipur we ride our private tour bus to hotel. After lunch we will explore the romantic city. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.

Day​ ​2​ ​–​ ​Udaipur’s​ ​palace​ ​lake

Blessed with lakes Udaipur is known as the “Venice​ ​of​ ​the​ ​East.”​ Tour the picturesque city and take a pleasurable cruise​ ​boat​ ​ride​ ​on​ ​Lake​ ​Pichola​. After we shall visit one of the wonders of India: the impressively beautiful and rich Maharaja​ ​Palace​ and Museum – the City​ ​Palace. Rajasthan is also known for its unique puppet theatres. We’ll meet​ ​with​ ​the​ ​creators​ ​of​ ​traditional Rajasthani​ ​puppets​ ​and experience​ ​the​ ​ancient​ ​art​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Rajasthani​ ​puppet​ ​theatre accompanied by local musicians. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.

​Day 3- The​ ​‘Terah​ ​Taali’​ ​dance​ ​and​ ​Jain​ ​Temple​ ​of​ ​RanakpurAfter breakfast, travel to Ranakpur on our private tour bus. On the way, stop at a small village for a stimulating​ ​exclusive​ ​visit​ ​to​ ​the​ ​home​ ​of​ ​a​ ​Khamer​ ​tribal​ ​family.​ ​We will meet​ ​and​ ​have lunch​ ​with​ ​a​ ​group​ ​of​ ​traditional​ Terah​ ​Taali​ ​dancers,​ ​drummers​ ​and​ ​musicians​ ​where we will enjoy an informal presentation about their heritage​ ​and​ ​unique​ ​tribal​ ​culture

Followed by a visit to the local​ ​village​ ​temple​ where we will see the dancers perform an​ ​amazing​ ​sacred​ ​dance ritual​. Terah Taali dancers tie bells to their arms and legs when they perform this Rajasthan folk dance. This dance is unique to the Khamer tribe in Rajasthan and is danced to the accompaniment of drums and celebratory songs in honor of the god Baba​ ​Ramdevji.

 

In the afternoon we shall visit the Marble​ ​Temple​ ​of​ ​Ranakpur​ with its hand-carved sculptured columns. This amazing place is the pilgrimage​ ​center​ ​for​ ​the​ ​Jain​ ​religious​ ​group​known mainly for their devout, strictly vegetarian way of life. Continue the journey to Jodhpur. Check in into the hotel for a restful evening. Dinner and overnight at the hotel

​Day​ ​4 - Gypsy​ ​dance​ ​with​ ​the​ ​Sapera​ ​girls

After breakfast we will leave Jodhpur and travel through the desert roads to Ossian. We will visit the Sapera village. In the afternoon we will meet some nomads from the Sapera tribe in the desert area surrounding the city of Jodhpur. Traditionally the Sapera are expert snake catchers. They also have a unique folkloristic musical style and perform the nomadic Rajasthani dances called Kalbelia. We will spend exclusive time with these nomadic musicians in this rural folk atmosphere, and watch an acrobatic wild dance performance. We will stay the night in the heart of the desert in an organized tourists tent camp (with beds, (toilet and showers in the tent

Day​ ​5​ ​–​ ​Jaisalmer​ ​–​ ​The​ ​Manganiyer​ ​Desert​ ​Musicians

After breakfast and hotel check out, we drive to the wondrous desert city of Jaisalmer.​ The city surrounded by sand looks as if it sprang up from a fairytale. In the past, Jaisalmer was a central caravan stop on the Perfume​ ​Road​ connecting India

with the Middle East and Europe.

After lunch we will tour the Kalakar​ ​colony’s​ ​(artist​ ​neighborhood)​ alleyways located outside the city’s walls and enjoy an​ ​exclusive​ ​and​ ​fascinating​ ​intimate​ ​musical​ ​meeting​ ​with​ a​ ​master musician​ ​from​ ​the​ ​Manganiyer​ ​tribe​. Members of the Manganiyer tribe are the court musicians of the Kingdom of Rajasthan. They are known for their exceptional musical style, instruments and culture. 

Some claim that Rajasthan is the source of Flamenco music. When listening to the Manganiyer songs and instruments one can clearly discern the similarities and themes that connect the two worlds. Enjoy an​ ​exclusive​ ​dueling​ ​jam​ ​session​ ​with​ ​the​ ​local​ ​musician​. While at this important artist’s colony of Jaisamer, we will meet many Manganiyer​ ​musicians and their children. We will have​ ​the​ ​privilege​ ​of​ ​observing​ ​how​ ​these​ ​children​ ​are​ ​learning​ ​the​ ​secrets​ ​of​ ​the tribe’s​ ​unique​ ​music​ ​and​ ​dance​ ​styles​, and how the ancient tradition is passed on by word of mouth from generation to generation within the family framework of the Manganiyer community. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.

Day​ ​6​ ​–Tribal​ ​Feast​ ​on​ ​the​ ​Dunes

In the morning, we'll explore Jaisalmer‘s old neighbourhoods and enjoy a delightful musical performance of the Manganiyer tribe children, age 5 to 15 years old, who carry forth the fascinating virtuosic music that is the foundation for the various gypsy musical styles worldwide. Followed by lunch at the hotel and a restful early afternoon. In the late afternoon travel one hour to the Thar Desert​ for an unforgettable​ ​magical​ ​evening​ ​on​ ​the​ ​dunes​,​ including an optional​ ​camel​ ​ride and a​ ​tribal​ ​dinner​ ​party​ ​feast,​ ​to​ ​the​ ​sounds​ ​of​ ​the​ ​desert​ ​Manganiyer​ ​tribe​ ​musicians.

Day​ ​7​ ​-​ ​Jodhpur​ ​Fort

After breakfast, we leave Jaisalmer in our private tour bus to go to Jodhpur,​ ​the​ ​Blue​ ​City. Our journey will take us next to the architectural wonder of Jodhpur​ ​Fort,​ ​overlooking a spectacular view of the city. Although India nationalized many properties of the Rajasthan Royalty after Independence, the Jodhpur Fort still belongs to the Maharaja of Jodhpur and is a living testimony to the culture of the Rajputs military and aristocracy. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.

Day​ ​8​ ​–​ ​The​ ​Sufi​ ​sacred​ ​city​ ​of​ ​Ajmer

After breakfast we will visit the Temple​ ​of​ ​the​ ​God​ ​Brahma​. Hindu gods have many temples, but Brahma has only one and that is in the city of Pushkar. There will be free time around the colorful Bazaar​ ​open​ ​market​ to discover and shop for traditional​ ​Indian​ ​goods​. After lunch we will drive to the nearby city of Ajmer, the most sacred city to the Sufis (Muslim mystics) in Southeast Asia. We will visit the Dargah​ ​(the grave) of the righteous Sufi, Khwaja Moinuddin​ ​Hasan Chishty​, who brought Sufism to Southeast Asia.  Sufi graves are both a center for ritual and pilgrimage. We shall go through the alleyways of the old city until we reach the Sufi “khanqah”​ for the Gudri​ ​Shahi​ ​order​. The “khanqah” is a center in which the Sufi brotherhood performs their spiritual work and is also the house​ ​our​ ​tour​ ​guide​ ​Sajida​ ​was​ ​raised​ ​in. We will meet a group of Qawwali​ ​musicians​ in the khanqah for an intimate​ ​exclusive conversation​ ​about​ ​their​ ​lives,​ ​their​ ​spiritual​ ​path,​ ​and​ ​their​ ​culture​. Then, they will perform a private​ ​recital​ ​of​ ​traditional​ ​Qawwali​ ​Sufi​ ​devotional​ ​music. The sacred musical tradition called Qawwali came into existence during the last 800 years and has an important function in rituals and practices of the dominant Sufi order in India, the Chishty. The rhythmic, energetic music leads to a trance state and is sung to the poems of righteous Sufi poets like Rumi, Hafiz, Hazrat Amir Khusro and others.

​Day​ ​9​ ​–​ ​Visit​ ​to​ ​Sajida’s​ ​home

After breakfast we shall visit a Sufi school on a hill overlooking the largest lake in Ajmer, ‘Aana Sagar’. There we will have an​ ​exclusive​ ​meeting​ ​with​ ​the​ Sufi​ ​Sheikh​ ​Hazrat​ ​Inam​ ​Hasan Gudri​ ​Shah​ ​Baba​ ​the​ ​fifth​, the older brother of our tour guide Sajida. The Sheikh founded the school with the objective of providing education for human brotherhood, to create bonds between various communities such as the Hindi, Muslims, and Sikhs, and to enable free education for children from lower income families. We will have the great privilege and honor of having an exclusive private lunch at the home of Sajida’s parents with an authentic traditional Indian meal cooked by Sajida’s mother, who is known for her cooking. At dusk we return to Pushkar.

Day​ ​10​ ​–​ ​Pushkar​ ​to​ ​the​ ​rhythm​ ​of​ ​the​ ​drum

In the morning we continue our journey to Pushkar​. A small city with a sacred lake at its center, Pushkar is one of the most important focal points for Hindu pilgrimages. Surrounding the lake are hundreds of temples with the most colorful markets in Rajasthan between them. We will become acquainted with the area and by sunset, on the edge of the lake, we will meet Nathu Lal,​ ​a​ ​local​ ​musician​ ​that​ ​plays​ ​a​ ​drum​ ​called​ ​a​ ​“nagara​”. Nathu will tell us about the nagara culture and the folk​ ​rhythms​ ​in​ ​Rajasthan​. We will have our own hands-on experience in a rhythm​ ​workshop,​ and will listen to the Nathu’s glorious drum performance. Dinner and overnight at the hotel

Day​ ​10​ ​–​ ​Pushkar​ ​to​ ​the​ ​rhythm​ ​of​ ​the​ ​drum

In the morning we continue our journey to Pushkar​. A small city with a sacred lake at its center, Pushkar is one of the most important focal points for Hindu pilgrimages. Surrounding the lake are hundreds of temples with the most colorful markets in Rajasthan between them. We will become acquainted with the area and by sunset, on the edge of the lake, we will meet Nathu Lal,​ ​a​ ​local​ ​musician​ ​that​ ​plays​ ​a​ ​drum​ ​called​ ​a​ ​“nagara​”. Nathu will tell us about the nagara culture and the folk​ ​rhythms​ ​in​ ​Rajasthan​. We will have our own hands-on experience in a rhythm​ ​workshop,​ and will listen to the Nathu’s glorious drum performance. Dinner and overnight at the hotel

Day​ ​11​ ​–​ ​The​ ​tradition​ ​of​ ​North​ ​Indian​ ​classical​ ​music​ ​in Jaipur

After breakfast we will drive to Jaipur,​ the Pink​ ​City​ and Capital of Rajasthan. We will visit the Hawa​ ​Mahal​, the Palace​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Wind​, and then the Old​ ​City​. Towards evening we shall attend a​ ​special​ ‘Arti’​ ​ceremony​ that has been practiced for hundreds of years in the Temple honoring the God​ ​Krishna​, in the heart of the old city. At the end of the day we will enjoy our last festive farewell party with a​ ​concert​ ​of​ ​Indian​ ​classical music​ ​by​ ​the​ ​local​ ​musicians,​ ​Sajida​ ​Ben​ ​Tzur,​ ​participants​ ​of​ ​the​ ​tour,​ ​plus​ a​ ​luscious dinner​ at the hotel.

Day​ ​12​ ​–​ ​Amer​ ​Fort and​ ​goodbyes

The next day we will climb to the Amar​ ​Fortress​ for a visit to this historic and powerful site. After lunch we will say goodbyes and end our tour program.

 

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Cost Includes:      

-          Accommodation as per the hotels mentioned above on room with all applicable taxes, breakfast and Dinner basis 

-          Air conditioned  AC Mini Coach/ AC Large Coach as per no of pax from arrival till departure

-          Local English Speaking guide for sightseeing in Udaipur, Jodhpur and Jaipur, Jaisalmer as per program 

-          Entry fee to the monuments as per program

-          Boat ride at Lake Pichola in Udaipur  

-          All sightseeing’s and excursions as per the itinerary 

-          All currently applicable taxes

-          Mineral water 1 bottle per day person

 

Cost Does not Include:

-         The tour does not cover any personal injuries, health related matters and theft. 

          Personal travel insurance must be obtained independently by every participant. 

-          Meals other than specified 

-          Personal expenses such as drinks, telephone call, etc.

-          Laundry

-          Visa fee if any

-          Any domestic flights 

-          Extras at the hotels

-          Tips and gratuities for guides/divers

Cancellation policy

Up to 45 days no cancellation charges only administration charge of USD 100 per person.
44 to 30 days, 25% of total Tour cost.
29 to 21 days, 50% of total tour cost
Under 21 days, no refund.

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