A journey through India's cultural treasures.

Backpacking India… It’s a hell of an experience

As a kid, I couldn't get enough of the Discovery Channel and its captivating shows. One day, I stumbled upon a mesmerizing music video called "Boom De Yada," which became my anthem for adventure and discovery. But it was a TV documentary on the ancient city of Benaras (Varanasi), situated along the mystical Ganges River, that truly captured my imagination. That memory stayed with me until October 13th 2022, the day I finally set foot in Delhi and began my journey to experience the wonders of India. And I knew exactly when to go - the fall season from September to December - for the perfect blend of pleasant weather and cultural festivities that would make my trip unforgettable.

Dehli - Chaotic & Mesmerising

I took an Uber to my hostel in Haus Khas, located in South Delhi, I was struck by the unique blend of Islamic architecture and modern urban culture, with vibrant colors and ornate designs. My hostel owner, Mr. Gupta, had a name that evoked images of the Gupta Empire and its royal history. To explore the city, I opted for the Delhi Metro, the fastest and most cost-effective mode of transport. I took one to the historic Red Ford, where I stumbled upon a lively celebration that reminded me of the bustling chaos of Vietnam. The sights, sounds, and smells of Delhi were overwhelming - and I loved every moment of it.

In the morning next day, I was torn between my responsibilities at work and my desire to explore the city. But after a productive stand-up meeting with my team, I managed to carve out some time to visit the awe-inspiring India Gate. This magnificent memorial stands as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by the British Indian Army soldiers who lost their lives in WWI and the Second Anglo-Afghan War. With over 13,000 names inscribed on the gate and a perpetual flame burning in honor of the unknown soldiers who perished, the India Gate is a moving tribute to the bravery and resilience of those who fought in some of the darkest moments of human history. Even in the midst of my busy schedule, I couldn't help but feel a sense of respect and reverence for this beautiful memorial.

Varanasi - Enchanting city of Spirituality.

I clutched my Vistara onboarding pass and gazed out the window at the clouds below, my heart raced with excitement at the thought of finally arriving in Varanasi. After 1.5 hours in the sky, I could hardly contain my anticipation as the plane began its descent, and I caught my first glimpse of the mystical city that had captured my imagination since I first saw it on TV. And when I finally arrived at my accommodations at the Varanasi Heritage, I knew that I was in for an unforgettable adventure in one of the most enchanting cities in the world.

"Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together" - Mark Twain

I arrived at the Dashashwamedh Ghat, one of the main ghats in Varanasi, early in the morning to find a boatman who could take me on the tour. After negotiating a price, I hopped on a small wooden boat and we set off down the Ganges River.We floated down the river, I was struck by the peacefulness of the water and the beauty of the surrounding architecture. The boatman pointed out various landmarks and temples, and shared stories about the history and significance of each one.

Approached the Burning Ghats, one of the most unique and surreal experiences I had in Varanasi. These are the ghats where bodies are cremated in public view, as part of the Hindu belief in moksha or liberation from the cycle of birth and death. The atmosphere became more solemn and serious. The boatman explained that we were not allowed to get too close to the ghats, out of respect for the grieving families and the religious significance of the ceremony.

We made our way back to the Dashashwamedh Ghat, I felt a deep sense of respect and reverence for the people of Varanasi and their unique way of honoring their loved ones and their faith. The boat tour to the Burning Ghats was a humbling and unforgettable experience that gave me a new perspective on life and death

One of the highlights of my trip was the evening Ganga Aarti ceremony at the Dashashwamedh Ghat. The ceremony, which involves chanting, music, and the lighting of lamps, is a beautiful and moving spectacle. As the sun set over the river, the ghat was packed with people, all gathered to witness the ceremony and offer their prayers.

Taj Mahal (Agra) - Breathtaking monument of love.

Vistara onboarding pass in my hand, 1.5hrs in the sky and my heart just told I was almost in Varanasi and could see what I saw in the TV in real-life. And I stayed in Varanasi Heritage.

Visiting the Taj Mahal before sunrise is an absolutely breathtaking experience. I woke up in the early hours of the morning and made my way to the entrance of the Taj Mahal.

I entered through the main gate, the air was chilly and quiet, and the darkness still enveloped the gardens surrounding the Taj Mahal. I could see the outline of its grand silhouette against the dark sky. The sun began to rise, the sky slowly changed from dark to light, and the colors of the Taj Mahal began to change with it. The white marble structure slowly emerged from the darkness, and the intricate details of the carvings and decorations began to come to life.

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