Varanasi is another sacred Hindu city with a very old history. Known as the city of Lord Shiva, the god of creation and destruction, it’s believed that anyone who dies here will be liberated from the cycle of reincarnation. Even a wash in the Ganges River is said to cleanse away all sins. A visit to Varanasi, formerly known as Benaras or Benares, or as Kashi (meaning “resplendent with light”), is an experience unlike any other. This is the epitome of a holy city, inundated with religious pilgrims and sacred cows, yet it is also a city firmly grounded in the commerce and reality of day-to-day existence.
The fascinating thing about this mystical city is that its rituals are revealed openly to along the many riverside ghats, which are used for everything from bathing to burning the bodies of the dead. Yoga, blessings, massages, shaves, and games of cricket are among the other activities you’ll find performed along the river edge. Here are top 8 things to do while in Varanasi:
1. A Boat Ride along the Ganges
A dawn rowing boat ride along the Ganges is a quintessential Varanasi experience. The early-morning light is particularly inspiring, and all the color and clamor of pilgrims bathing and performing puja unfolds before you. An hour-long trip south from Dashashwamedh Ghat to Harishchandra Ghat and back is popular, but be prepared to see a burning corpse at Harishchandra. Early evening is also a good time to be on the river, when you can light a lotus flower candle and set it adrift on the water before watching the nightly ganga aarti ceremony at Dashashwamedh Ghat directly from the boat. Read More
A secluded Shangri-La mired in myths and legends, the small state of Sikkim genuinely welcomes travelers and pilgrims from all over. Blessed by the great Guru Padmasambhava himself, embellished with natural pearls, lush tea gardens, ancient monasteries and people who seem as close as our kin, a visit to Sikkim will leave you with a nostalgic affection. Mountains, rocky terrains, waterfalls and adventure in harmony with religious faith and generous people, get around and be enthralled in Sikkim.
At a swooping height of 5,550 feet, the capital of Sikkim, crowned by a spectacular view of Mount Khangchendzonga (Mt. Kanchanjunga in Nepal), Gangtok is a buzzing cosmopolitan with a vibrant mix of people and their cultures, traditional and modern. The town is definitely your hotspot to chill before going around traveling through the state. MG Marg, the country’s first litter and spit free zone, allows no vehicles into the marg. Relax, reconnect, hop and shop around the chain of malls, parlors, cafes, and clubs! Read More
Soak up the untainted culture, unravel the hidden secrets and experience the allure of North India from the beating heart of Delhi to the jewel of Mewar, Udaipur. North India is characterized by a great diversity in culture, geography, weather, food, languages and lifestyle. The fascinating north brings your rich history, gorgeous architecture, and breathtaking imagery. It is often said that to explore north India is like exploring different cultures with far too many places to see and explore. Read More
Possibly the best way to discover the vibrant and colorful enigma that surrounds India, Golden Triangle circuit takes you through the historical and cultural brilliance of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. A prominent route that hosts many of India’s great cultural gems, Golden Triangle tour is the classic introduction to India offering a good spectrum of the country’s diverse people, culture and landscapes. On the map, these form a roughly equilateral triangle, some 200-250km along each side. This triangle has been dubbed “golden” for the extraordinary wealth of cultural and historical splendor on offer in each of the three cities. Read More
An oasis of tranquility and natural beauty, Ladakh is an ideal retreat for those living in cosmopolitan cities. Set deep in the Indian Himalayas on the western edge of the Tibetan plateau, Ladakh, or “Little Tibet”, is one of the highest and driest inhabited places on earth. Yet for centuries it was home to a rich and self-sustaining culture. Stark mountains dotted with colorful monasteries, fluttering prayer flags, rocky ridges, dry plains and tiny settlements, this is Ladakh for you. Read More
India takes you through a timeless land that is both exotic and intriguing. Home to more than a billion people and visited by countless travelers, India is many things. It is bustling and serene, heart-breaking and inspirational, state-of-the-art and timelessly traditional offering travelers an unrivalled diversity of experiences, sights and sensations. The subcontinent of India lies in South Asia, between Pakistan, China and Nepal. To the north it is bordered by the world’s highest mountain chain, where foothill valleys cover the northernmost of the country’s 28 states. Further south, plateaus, tropical rain forests and sandy deserts are bordered by palm fringed beaches. Side by side with the country’s staggering topographical variations is its cultural diversity, the result of the coexistence of a number of religions as well as local tradition.
A fusion of modernity and tradition, the vibrant colors of India are truly captivating. From the bustling cities to the sheer simplicity of villages, be touched by the spirituality of this land. Travelling through India is enriching, inspiring and unforgettable. The magic of India comes to life with its immensity, diverse people, culture, landscape, wildlife, cuisine, temples, religion, festivals, architecture, history and more. Read More
A secluded Shangri-La mired in myths and legends, the small state of Sikkim genuinely welcomes travelers and pilgrims from all over. Perched between Nepal in the west, Bhutan in the east, and Tibet (China) in the north, Darjeeling (West Bengal) in the south – Sikkim is home to Mt. Khangchendzonga, third highest peak in the world. Shrouded in heavy mist, it is believed that the guardian deity Khangchendzonga protects the inhabitants of Sikkim. Various ethnic group have their own nomenclature for this enchanting land – the Nepalese call it Sukhim or new home, while Tibetans refer to it as Denzong or the valley of rice and to the Lepchas, the original inhabitants of Sikkim, it is Nye-al-Ale or heaven.
For a tryst with the Himalayas, Darjeeling is a retreat of scenic and natural beauty with its magnificent snow capped mountain peaks, dense forest cover, serene lakes and a wide assortment of flowers. The huge magnolia, pines, spruce forests and green tea estates offer the most panoramic and breathtaking views. Darjeeling, formerly known as ‘Darjiling’ is also known as the place of thunderbolt or Dorja the mystical. The Himalayan city is a popular tourist destination situated at an altitude of 6,710 ft in the Mahabharat range. The town overlooking the snow capped high hills, bedded with an evergreen forest and vibrant market arraying with traditional item shops, have been one of the ideal hill stations in India and has hence earned the status ‘Queen of Hill Stations’.
For centuries the hill station at Darjeeling has provided respite from Kolkata’s fierce summer heat and also the ideal climate for tea planters to cultivate the ‘Champagne of the East’. The wonderfully cool climate, clear brisk air and the breathtaking views of the Himalayas drew the British here to escape the stifling heat of Kolkata. It is a perfect getaway for honeymooners, trekkers and travelers alike seeking to be in harmony with nature and the people. This is the land of flavored ‘Darjeeling-Tea’ revered by connoisseurs across the globe. There are over seventy tea gardens in the region with the nearest being Happy Valley Tea Estate about 1km away which is open to tourists. Read More