Welcome to the Indian Panorama Newsletter for September.
Our aim is to keep you up to date with news and places of interest and other information to help you when the time comes to plan your next trip to India.
This month we are covering Varanasi, the spiritual capital of India, and the western state of Gujarat, one of the most rewarding of all destinations in India, but one which is little visited by tourists.
We have continued to add images to our Photo Gallery where you will find some special photos, taken during our travels around India. These pages will be regularly uploaded from our extensive library of photographs, so keep checking back for updates.
Varanasi, also known as Kashi and Benaras, is the cultural capital of India and the ultimate pilgrimage destination. Varanasi is the oldest living city in the world (over 3000 years old), and famous for its spiritualism, Indian philosophy, Ayurveda, Yoga and mysticism. Hindus believe that one who is graced to die on the land of Varanasi would attain salvation and freedom from the cycle of birth and re-birth.It is at the Gange Ghats in Varanasi where we see life and death together.
India is a land of many faiths, a myriad of colours, smells & sounds, a cocktail of tastes and a melting pot of beautiful people... It is in Varanasi you will find all these aspects of India in abundance.
Varanasi, situated in Uttar Pradesh in central North India, can be easily included into any itinerary in the north. Varanasi can be reached by train by many centres or an easy hour's flight from Delhi.
The "old city" of Varanasi lies along the west bank of the holy Ganges River. There are more than 100 ghats (steps) which line the western bank of the Ganges. They are awash with people from the pre-dawn hours until well into the night and Varanasi is one of the most important centres of pilgrimage in all of Hinduism. It is believed that people are cleansed physically, mentally and spiritually at the Ghats. For thousands of years people have been offering their morning prayers to the rising sun.
During the nightly Aarti ceremony thousands of tiny oil lamps are set alight and then cast onto the waters of the Ganges to a soundtrack of myriad clanging bells and gongs, chants, poetry and general mayhem. This is one of India's most celebrated rituals and a truly unforgettable experience. Despite its reputation as one of the most chaotic cities in India, Varanasi is a friendly and welcoming place and you will be most welcome to sit and absorb the events going on around you.
A dawn boat ride on the Ganges is a "must do" in this holy city and cannot be adequately described in words. Having the opportunity to light a candle and float your offering on the Ganges will make you feel you are contributing to the dawn ceremonies.
A total overload for all the senses and a photographer's dream, the ancient dawn rituals of Varanasi are essentially unchanged in modern times and retain a primal quality which makes them truly compelling. Varanasi is a place which is very intense and immediate but it does reveal more and more of its charms over time.
We offer "Historic and Spiritual Journey to Central North India" as a example of an itinerary which includes Varanasi as well as Khajuraho, Orchha and Agra.
Click here for more details on the Indian Panorama itinerary
This, like all our independent itineraries is completely flexible and can be customised to your requirements.
Take a look at our "Varanasi Photo Gallery"
If you have any queries at all about these tours and destinations - you are welcome to contact us,
or you may wish to fill in the user friendly form on our Enquiry Page.
Gujarat is a diverse and vibrant place, it is slowly emerging from the shadow of its famous neighbouring state, Rajasthan, as a tourist destination. Discover its many hidden treasures, savour the history and exquisite architecture, enjoy the rich wildlife parks, colourful festivals and eclectic traditions - Gujarat has something for everyone!
Gujarat is bounded by the Arabian Sea to the west, and surrounded by the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. This diverse state will reveal many hidden treasures including incredibly ornate temples and palaces and stunning architecture amongst a vibrant multi-cultural society.
Gujarat, like most of India, is a place of contradictions. On the one hand, it is perhaps India's most modern and affluent state and yet its rural areas are known for the simple, semi-nomadic peoples of the pastoral groups who roam the desert and semi-desert region of Kutch in the northwest. There are also many tribal groups in the hills in the north of the state near the border with Rajasthan. In this itinerary you can also see examples of architectural styles and cultural influences from throughout the history of Gujarat.
Gujarat is blessed with an incredible diversity of wildlife, arguably the richest of any state of India. Gir Forest is the last habitat of the Asiatic Lion and home to one of the greatest concentrations of birdlife in Asia. On the vast salt marshes of the Rann of Kutch huge herds of wild ass and many other unusual desert species can be seen. Velavader National Park is home to Blackbuck, desert wolf and massive flocks of migratory waterbirds.
Click here for more details on our new and exciting itineraries of Gujarat
This, like all our independent itineraries are completely flexible and can be customised to your requirements.