Oct 20 – Nov 4, 2023




16 Days




Kolkata (old Calcutta) was once the capital of India, and it is currently the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. It is an incredibly vibrant city on the East Bank of the Hooghly River, considered the birthplace of modern Indian literary and artistic thought. Kolkata has been called the “City of Furious, Creative Energy” as well as the “cultural capital of India”. It is here that we commence a journey of discovery with the colorful Durga Puja celebrations, Kolkata's most important and largest festival. It is an occasion for glamorous celebrations and artistic decorations erected on massive public stages (called pandals). The festival celebrates the victory of good over evil, though it is also in part a harvest festival celebrating the goddess Durga as the motherly power behind all of life and creation. Durga Puja in Kolkata has been inscribed on the Intangible Cultural Heritage list of UNESCO in December of 2021. It will truly be a wonder to behold!

From Kolkata we travel a few miles to the border with Bangladesh where a new horizon opens for us into a rarely-visited country that was at one time called the “Paradise of Nations” by its Mughal Emperors, so vast was its wealth as a trading center of the finest silks and muslins. We enter the UNESCO World Heritage wildlife area known as “The Sundarbans” for three days floating in a true paradise populated with an astonishing variety of flora and fauna, including Bengal tigers! From here we visit another World Heritage Site – the Mosque City of Bagerhat – to see the famous Sixty Dome Mosque. We also experience the backwaters of Banaripara, a network of interconnecting canals comparable to Kerala in South India and the American Bayou.

The capital city of Dhaka, considered one of the most densely populated cities in the world, is alive and bustling at all hours. Some of its most glorious years were during its time as the capital of Bengal during the Mughal reign, and we explore the remnants of that era as well as cultural, religious and architectural monuments of more recent days.

A flight to the southernmost part of Bangladesh takes us to Cox’s Bazar, which boasts the longest natural sea beach in the world running 75 miles! We luxuriate here for two nights enjoying colorful tribal markets, the endless beach, and life on a nearby island.

From the beach we head up into the hill country to experience magnificent vistas over mountains and lakes, and interact with several hill tribes in their villages. After three nights in the cooler mountain air we descend to the port city of Chattogram (formerly Chittagong) where we visit the largest seafood market in Bangladesh, the bustling riverfront, an ethnological museum and other notable landmarks.

Our tour concludes with a flight back to Dhaka for one final night and a farewell dinner celebrating the successful conclusion of our Bengali adventure. Those who have a keen interest in architecture have the option to extend for one night to tour the world-famous National Parliament of Bangladesh by the American architect Louis Kahn. It is one of the largest legislative complexes in the world, covering 200 acres, and is considered one of the 20th century’s most significant buildings. Entry requires a special permit and is subject to approval by the government.

Seize this opportunity to immerse yourself in a culture and country that has not yet been widely discovered by the outside world. You won’t find this experience offered anywhere else, and it is not likely to be repeated anytime soon.


All plans for this tour are made considering the COVID procedures in effect at the time of publication. Entry requirements and vaccination requirements are subject to change at any time without notice. Please be sure you comply with the latest India and Bangladesh entry requirements at the time of departure. For the safety of our groups, we only accept tour participants who are fully vaccinated, and current with their covid vaccines (including any recommended boosters) as of 4 weeks prior to departure. Proof of vaccination will be requested 4 weeks prior to departure.

Tour Highlights

  • Delights of Kolkata, Capital of West Bengal
  • Dazzling Durga Puja in Kolkata
  • World Heritage Sundarbans cruise
  • World Heritage Mosque City of Bagerhat
  • Floating markets in Barisal, the “Venice of Bengal”
  • Boating the backwaters of Banaripara
  • Highlights of Dhaka, Capital of Bangladesh
  • World’s longest beach at Cox’s Bazar
  • Explore Moheshkhali Island
  • Villages and culture of the hilltribes peoples
  • Natural splendors of the hill country
  • Highlights of Chittagong
  • Optional tour of the National Parliament Building in Dhaka

Useful Terms

Bengal is a historical, geographical, ethnolinguistic and cultural term referring to the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. The region of Bengal proper is divided between modern-day Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal.
Puja is a worship ritual performed to offer devotional homage and prayer to one or more deities, to host and honor a guest, or to spiritually celebrate an event.
Pandal is a temporary structure set up to usually venerate a god and goddess such as Durga.