India Photo Safari - Holi Festival  सलाम करना

The festival of Holi has always been a boisterous one, in which Indians wait the entire year for the one day when they can welcome in spring – and put on the largest party of the year. Our tour steers clear of the tourist buses, swapping city for village, as the only guests of the Rabari tribe – the equivalent of India’s gypsies – and famous for their Holi festivities, opulent costumery and wildly photogenic characters.

Across ten days, we’ll adventure to the jaw-dropping desert city of Jaisalmer, shoot street fashion in the hipster streets of old Delhi, lunch with India’s highest caste in the indigo-hued streets of Jodphur, before witnessing the spectacle of Holi in a place completely untouched by tourism – chance to photograph a disappearing tribe on the fringes of society.

Along the way, we’ll snooze in castles, opulent mansions, even a sleeper train, meet the Maharajah’s personal palmist and shop some of the finest materials, leather and jewellery in all India, before a party of our own in India’s most romantic city.

There are few photo assignments more invigorating than Holi – days of wild celebrations in cinematic form – the party designed for your camera. And what better place than with the Rabari, arguably India’s most photogenic people, and a Holi celebration that is the most ornate in the land. And importantly, a shoot without another tourist in sight for miles.

Our exclusive tour starts in the myriad backstreets of ancient Chandni Chowk, before capturing a slice of society shooting reportage aboard a train – even a private photoshoot in the desert, far from the masses.

At every step, we’ve weaved a route to give you a unique look at both modern and traditional India. From leopard safaris, to portraits of Brahmin families, to hipster Delhi – this is a photography holiday quite unlike anything else.

 

On your Creative Escape to the Holi Festival, you’ll

  • Shoot scenes few on the planet have witnessed, in a Holi celebration with the nomadic Rabari tribe, famous for their colourful parties, ornate costumes and rituals
  • Brush up on your food photography, with a live tour of Chandni Chowk
  • Capture fashion portraits of New Delhi’s hipsters, with two of India’s most famous Instagrammers
  • Learn the art of black and white reportage, on board an overnight sleeper train to the edge of India
  • Try out movement photography, on our sunset desert photo shoot of Sufi dancers
  • Capture incredible architecture of Jaisalmer Fort, a massive sandcastle rising from the desert like a mirage from a bygone era
  • See the streets that made Steve McCurry famous, a sea of indigo-hued houses in the heart of Jodphur, India’s blue city
  • Shoot Leopards in the wild, from the back of a 4×4 Jeep
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India Photo Safari Highlights.

Holi Photo Safari Itinerary.

We start in the ancient city of Delhi; our base one of the cities’ grandest luxe mansions – Haveli Dharampura – with traditional scalloped arches, pattern tiled floors and to-die-for king beds. We’re already in the heart of the action, so it’s just a few steps to the park for a spot of invigorating Laughter Yoga, before touring the backstreets by rickshaw in nearby Chandni Chowk. Our street food photography tour will give you chance to learn the art of food photography (and dive into some delights Gordon Ramsay raved about). Later, we’ll meet up with two of India’s most famous Instagrammers to shoot street fashion of some of Delhi’s hippest districts, before heading to the train station to board our overnight sleeper train to Jaisalmer.

A perfect start to our 10-day Holi Festival Photography Holiday!

 

Mid-morning, your sleeper glides you into the ancient city of Jaisalmer, a fairy-tale fortified city – impossibly cinematic – filled with old merchants’ houses, exquisitely carved out of golden sandstone. After a refreshing ayurvedic spa at our boutique hotel, The Gulaal, we take a guided tour through the myriad backstreets to Patwa Ki Haveli, observing the intricate stonework like honey-coloured lace, before sipping sundowners over the ramparts at sunset.

Next morning, we venture by 4×4 Jeep to a rural village of the Khapa tribe, chance to learn the art of portraiture in some of the most remote areas of India. We’ll swing by the ghost village of Kuldhara, check out the Kalpataru – a mythical tree of wish fulfillment.

A short ride by camel into the dunes, and our own pop-up restaurant with 360 views, and a sunset photo-shoot to remember – swirling local Sufi dancers elegant rhythms, surrounded by a gorgeous orange-to-violet desert vista.

 

Up early, we’ll head to Jodphur, the stunning Blue City, home to the Brahmin – the highest caste in Hinduism. We’ll lunch at a Brahmin family house, then tour the indigo-hued backstreets shooting reportage, capturing stories in one of India’s most beautiful cities. An ancient stepwell provides a perfect location for capturing acrobatic divers, plus some shopping time for the best fabric, jewellery and skincare products in India. (There might even be time to squeeze in an exclusive Ila Spa at Raas, before a well-deserved Raspberry Martini, sipped whilst gawking at the light fading over the majestic Mehrangarh Fort).

Next day is yours to leisure, the relaxing waters at Fort Chanwa, on the outskirts of Jodphur, is the perfect place to unwind; for the more adventurous, chance to visit the Bishnoi tribe, ancient ecologists, shepherds and farmers, a slice of real rural India. We’ve even got the current Maharajah’s own palmist on hand, to give you a private reading, with surprising accuracy.

 

This morning, it’s a short hop to Bera, where we’ll celebrate two days of the famous Holi festival. After checking into our rooms at Bera Castle, we’ll get to the heart of the city preparing for a party, and shoot in a location completely untouched by tourism. Before sunset, we head out to Kothar, for an exclusive leopard safari, the only place in India where leopard sighting chances are more than ninety percent, then return to witness the Holika Dahan ceremony, the start of Holi.

Next morning, we’re up early to celebrate with the Rabari, an indigenous tribal caste famous for their ornate costumes, ancestral tattoos and intricate jewellery. Here, we’ll set up a pop-up studio, take portraits of nomads – rarely-if-ever photographed – and follow the festivities, games and celebrations around the village – documenting every step. This is a once in a lifetime chance to shoot a near extinct authentic tribe far from tourist eyes – an experience few on the planet have witnessed.

Our final destination of Udaipur, India’s most romantic city, is the perfect end to our adventures. Fronting a glistening lake, palaces, temples, havelis, and countless timeless, narrow, crooked streets lend a tranquil feel in comparison to the energy of the last few days celebrations. The pool at Udai Kothi, our final hotel, is the best in the city, and come nightfall the location of a final celebration dinner – and exhibition of our images – to reveal the treasures we have found on this remarkable odyssey through ancient India.

With one final 1-on-1 session to give detailed feedback on your progress, style and next steps, we bid farewell to new found friends and head homewards.

 

Safari Details.

23 February – 4 March, 2018
Fully Booked. Reserve List only.

14 March – 23 March, 2019
Fully Booked. Reserve List only.

10 days. 9 nights. Starts in Delhi, ends in Udaipur, India.

£2245 sharing / £2725 single

Price includes 
10 days, 9 nights accommodation at the listed hotels
10 full days tuition from our UK-based professional photographer
Street food tour of Delhi, with guide
Fashion shoot with two of India’s most well known photographers
Overnight sleeper from Delhi to Jaisalmer
All transfers to and from the airport
Sunset desert shoot of Sufi dancers
Jeep safari at Jaisalmer
All transportation between shooting locations
Lunch at a local Brahmin home
Palmist reading from the Maharajah’s astrologer
Exclusive access to a Rabari village for Holi celebrations, with guide
Multiple 1-on-1 tuition sessions

Price excludes international flights, lunch (unless stated) and dinner.

 

There are direct flights from the UK into Delhi from British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Air India. Prices start at around £400. You will also need a one way ticket from Udaipur back to Delhi at the end of the trip, prices start at £50.

"An absolutely fabulous trip ... the tutors enthusiasm is infectious and attention to detail is second to none. It's very evident how much time and thought has gone into planning the tour. Everything from the excellent locations to the hotels and restaurants is clearly carefully planned. The photographic guidance, tuition and suggestions were always welcomed and with his help my photography has greatly improved. Thank you Creative Escapes for a wonderful holiday of photography, food and fun."


Phil & Deb Knott, India 2016