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An Act of Faith: Ardh Kumbh Mela, Allahabad

15 days from £3,650 per person

On this two-week-long itinerary, you will visit two of India's oldest living cities at the most auspicious time to do so. Varanasi is known as the "crossing place", where gods and goddesses can descend to earth. Here you will visit the ghats – hundreds of stone steps flanking the Ganges riverbank – which are an incredible sight at sunrise when thousands of pilgrims bathe in the spiritually cleansing waters and funeral pyres smoke on the riverbank, lined with colourful temples. 

Moving on to Allahabad, you will get intimate access to a truly incredible event... the Ardh Kumbh falls between 15 January to 4 March, 2019 and it is one of the largest ever gatherings of humanity in a single place in all of history. It is a spiritual event of epic proportions which takes place every six years in the city of Allahabad in Northern India. The Ardh Kumbh, which literally means 'Half Kumbh', falls between the main Kumbh Mela which occurs once every 12 years.

As a launchpad to access this incredible event, you will stay at The Ultimate Travelling Camp’s newest camp, Sangam Nivas, a luxury tented camp which will allow you to connect with the spiritual and holistic aspects of the Ardh Kumbh.

At the camp there is a specialist and knowledgeable Acharya on hand and the Ayurveda spa provides guests with therapies, massages, yoga and treatments of ancient Indian methods. There will be exclusive excursions into the very heart and soul of the Ardh Kumbh, providing guests with opportunities for photography, one-on-one interactions with sadhus and seers to immerse themselves in a sea of fervent devotees and soak up the mystical and marvellous energy and power of faith. 

All tents feature luxury amenities and a team of English speaking staff will be on hand at all times. There is a unique dining tent which features a live kitchen serving exquisite vegetarian meals prepared keeping in accordance with the ancient Indian philosophy of Satvik food.

Unique highlights of Sangam Nivas camp:

  • Interactive engagements with knowledgeable Acharyas at the camp
  • Rejuvenating wellness and holistic spa experiences at the camp
  • Learned and experienced guides, whose years of experiencing the Kumbh will allow the guests to enjoy special moments, interactions and humbling experiences
  • Unique Satvik meal experiences created by carefully prepared wellness and holistic menus, fresh breads and vegetables
  • Exclusive excursions into the soul of the Kumbh Mela creating unique and experiential opportunities for photography, one to one interaction with the sadhus and soaking in the mystical energy of the Kumbh

Auspicious Bathing Dates:
14-15 Jan: Makar Sankranti Phalam (1st Shahi Snan)
03-05 Feb: Mauni Amavasya (2nd Shahi Snan)
09-10 Feb: Saraswati Pujaon Vasant Panchami Muhurta (3rd Shahi Snan)
13 Feb: Kumbha Sankranti Punya Kaal Muhurta
19 Feb: Magha Purnima
04 Mar: Maha Shivratri


Itinerary details

15 days from £3,650 per person

  • Day 1 - In transit.
    Overnight flight from London Heathrow to Delhi.
  • Day 2 - The Imperial Hotel - Delhi
    Arrive in Delhi. You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel.
  • Day 3 - The Imperial Hotel - Delhi
    Morning visit to Old Delhi, including a visit to Birla Temple and Agarsen Ki Baoli. Afternoon drive past the government buildings, followed by a visit to Humayun's Tomb.
  • Day 4 - Nadesar Palace - Varanasi
    Morning flight to Varanasi. Arrive and transfer to your hotel. In the late afternoon, take a rickshaw ride from Sanskriti University, driving to Godowila Chowk (the busiest market in town) and walk to the Ghats to attend the Ganga Aarti. This evening, witness the Aarti ceremony on the Ghats or the River Ganges.
  • Day 5 - Nadesar Palace - Varanasi
    Sunrise boat ride on the River Ganges, followed by a visit to Akhara and see the traditional form of martial arts practised there. Morning city tour of Varanasi, this includes a walk through the Ghats, Kashi Viswanath and Bharat Mata Temple, followed by a drive through the Banaras Hindu University campus. Later you will proceed to Sarnath.
  • Day 6 - The Ultimate Travelling Camp, Sangam Nivas - Allahabad
    Morning drive to Allahabad (3 1/2 hours). Arrive and check into the camps. The main highlight of the Kumbh Mela is the observance of a sacred bath at the sangam. During the main bathing day, millions of pilgrims and devotees bath on the dates of Shahi Snan.
  • Day 7 - The Ultimate Travelling Camp, Sangam Nivas - Allahabad
    Explore the festival with the world's largest religious gathering. Camp activities include walking excursions and a boat ride to the bathing areas.
  • Day 8 - The Ultimate Travelling Camp, Sangam Nivas - Allahabad
    Spend the day exploring the festival with activities such as interactions with spiritual speakers and witnessing the Mela from the viewing point withe a telescope. There will also be a morning and evening Aarti at the camp.
  • Day 9 - Vivanta by Taj, Gomti Nagar - Lucknow
    Morning visit to Ananda Bhawan, the ancestral home of India's first Prime Minister, now turned into a splendid museum. Afterwards you will drive to Lucknow (5 hours).
  • Day 10 - The Ultimate Travelling Camp, Jaagir Lodge - Dudhwa Tiger Reserve
    Morning drive to Dudhwa (5 hours), visiting the Frog Temple at Oyal Village en-route. Arrive and check into the lodge. Later, the lodge naturalist will discuss various activities as part of your programme.
  • Day 11 - The Ultimate Travelling Camp, Jaagir Lodge - Dudhwa Tiger Reserve
    Early morning elephant safari in the national park. After lunch visit Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • Day 12 - The Ultimate Travelling Camp, Jaagir Lodge - Dudhwa Tiger Reserve
    Today explore the Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary on a full day excursion. This includes a boat safari on River Girva and a 4x4 jeep safari in the sanctuary.
  • Day 13 - Vivanta by Taj, Gomti Nagar - Lucknow
    Morning drive to Lucknow (5 hours). Arrive and check into the hotel, and then head out for an afternoon heritage walking tour of the city.
  • Day 14 - Pullman New Delhi Aerocity - Delhi
    Morning visit to British Lucknow and Bada and Chota Imambara. This afternoon fly to Delhi and have the evening at leisure.
  • Day 15 - In transit.
    Fly from Delhi to London Heathrow.
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“It is wonderful, the power of a faith like that, that can make multitudes upon multitudes of the old and weak and the young and frail enter without hesitation or complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resultant miseries without repining. It is done in love, or it is done in fear; I do not know which it is. No matter what the impulse is, the act born of it is beyond imagination, marvellous to our kind of people, the cold whites”.
Mark Twain after visiting the Kumbh Mela in 1895

I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
Ampersand’s details preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet/direct booking age. Shalmali was a delight to work with – before and during our trip.
- Mr David Wallace, North India
So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India
Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
- Leslie Siben, India
Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka

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