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Varanasi Ganges Tour

Duration : 10 Nights / 11 Days
Destinations Covered : Delhi - Haridwar - Rishikesh - Varanasi - Kolkata

Day 01 Arrival / Delhi
Late night arrival. Meeting and assistance upon arrival as our representatives welcome you and escort you to your car. Whilst the room keys and check-in is organized, our representative would introduce the tour to you and hand over the documents to you. Welcome to India, or as we say ‘atithi devo bhava’ the guest is an incarnation of God). Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you!

Overnight at hotel in delhi.

Day 02 Delhi / Haridwar (Dehradun Shatabdi – 0655 / 1122 Hrs)
Early morning transfer to the train station to board your train to Haridwar
Meeting and assistance upon arrival check in to the Hotel Haveli Hari - a beautiful heritage “Haveli” (mansion) situated on the banks of the Holy Ganga, a mere 500 meters walk through the Bazaar from the sacred "Har ki Pauri" at Haridwar. It stands at the gateway to the Devbhumi – the abode of the Gods and the "Char Dham Yatra". The Haveli is an architectural marvel, where the ancient structure has been restored to recreate the old - world charm with modern day hospitality. The interiors of The Haveli are interestingly reminiscent of old Indian Mythological times where there are balanced tones of tranquility & comfort.

This evening we suggest you walk across over the bridge to witness the fascinating Ganga ‘Aarti’ (invocation). The golden reflection of floral diyas in the river Ganges is the most enchanting sight in the twilight during the Ganga aarti ceremony at the ghat. The synchronised chanting of prayers that takes place during the Aarti is a very uplifting experience.

Overnight at haridwar hotel.

Day 03 Haridwar
Today we explore the unending list of attractions in Haridwar is endless. Har-Ki-Pauri, the sacred ghat was constructed by King Vikramaditya in the memory of his brother Bhartrihari. Haridwar abounds with several Hindu temples and Ashrams (Hermitages). More than the architectural designs, it is the spiritual ambience of the place that is so striking. The Daksh Mahadev Temple is an ancient shrine situated to the south of Kankhal town. This temple was constructed by Queen Dhankaur in AD 1810. Kankhal has several other temples and ashrams too. The Sapt Rishi Ashram is situated along the Haridwar-Rishikesh road. The Ganges flows in seven streams in front of this Ashram, hence this place is also called Sapt Sarovar. The Kanva Rishi Ashram is situated around 42 km from Haridwar. The ashram is on the banks of the Malini River along the forest road to Kotdwar. Other important places to visit are the Bharat Mata Temple, Maya Devi Temple, Bhimgoda, and Shanti Kunj.

Overnight at haridwar hotel.

Day 04 Haridwar / Rishikesh / Haridwar
Following a leisurely breakfast we proceed on a day return trip to Rishikesh.
Most of the pilgrims who pass through Rishikesh on their way to the Himalayan shrines of the Char Dham pause for a holy dip and puja at Triveni Ghat, There are a number of ashrams in and around Rishikesh, where rishis (saints) stay. Some of the ashrams are situated on the eastern bank of the river Ganges and the entire cluster is known as Swargashram. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's Ashram is famous the world over for which the credit goes to the rock band Beatles. Several ashrams offer yoga courses and many pilgrims from in and around the country come here to learn yoga. Along with the ashrams, there are a few temples having some mythological importance.

Later we drive back to our hotel Haveli Hari Ganga in Haridwar for overnight stay.

Day 05 Haridwar / Delhi
Delhi / Varanasi (Shivganga Express – 1825 / 0730 Hours)
Following a leisurely breakfast drive to Delhi
Upon arrival transfer to the train station to board your train to Varanasi

Overnight at First Class Air-Conditioned Sleeper Accommodation.

Day 06 Arrival / Varanasi
Meeting and assistance upon arrival check in to Rashmi Guest House
Varanasi is quite possibly the world’s oldest living city. Religious artifacts link it to the sixth century B.C. Said to be founded by Shiva; Varanasi’s Vedic affiliation goes back to the beginning of time. It is also a city of many names. The present name, Varanasi (derived from the names of two nearby rivers) is mentioned in the Mahabharata. The ancient name is Kashi, the City of Light. To the devout it is also called Kashika, the shining one, referring to the light of Shiva. Many others prefer the anglicized Benares. Revered by Hindus, Buddhists and Jain alike, Varanasi is considered the holiest city in all of India. It is presided over by Shiva in his manifestation as Vishwanatha, Lord of the Universe. Buddha delivered a sermon in nearby Sarnath and Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, lived in Varanasi. As a result, more Indians will make a pilgrimage to Varanasi in their lifetime than any other place.
After rest & relaxation, we take a short trip to the Buddhist city of Sarnath .It is here that the Buddha preached his first sermons after attaining enlightenment.

Evening, we visit the ghats of Varanasi to witness the performance of Ganges Aarti. We enjoy a special evening cruise on the Ganges. See the Hindu devotees performing the "Puja" with lighted lamps. The view is very mesmerizing and the ambience is spectacular in the backdrop of the beating of cymbals and bells as well as the incessant chantings. Later return to the hotel

Overnight at Guest House.

Day 07 Varanasi
At dawn we visit the sacred Ganges for a boat ride. Every morning at dawn hundreds of worshippers can be seen bathing in the sacred waters. The great river banks are lined with an endless chain of stone steps— the ghats— that stretch from one end of the city to the other. The Ghats form an impressive part of the religious landscape of the city. Proceeding downstream at a leisurely pace, you would be pointed out the significant temples and buildings as well as the changing architectural style. Life and death go hand in hand in Varanasi. While young people seek prosperity and protection from harmful influences, the older generation comes to Varanasi to cleanse their souls in the forgiving waters in preparation for their ultimate dissolution. Believing that anyone who dies in the river of life in Varanasi gains freedom from the cycle of birth and death, the City of Light has become a haven for the sick and aged waiting out their final days. The smoke that billows from the crematoriums on the edge of the river gives testimony to their final release from life’s earthly confines. We would dock our boat at Manikarnika Cremation) Ghat. On any given day, anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred corpses are cremated here; the ghat is assiduous with activity as the cremated bodies threw up smoke and fire.

Following the boat ride we set off on foot to explore the inner city. Through a twisted maze of narrow alleys, home to numerous shrines and pilgrim shops, we walk back a few centuries. Life here has stood still for years. The homes, the shops and even the cattle have not changed over the centuries. It is a brilliant nostalgic experience of timelessness!

On your agenda this afternoon are several temples and the Hindu University at Benares. First stop would be the Bharat Mata (temple of Mother India). Inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi, it features a huge marble map of India on the ground floor. Next up, the Durga Temple. Known for its bright red color and the playful, if sometimes aggressive, monkeys that run amok there, the Durga Temple is one of the most imposing architectural monuments in Varanasi.

The university, which occupies a large piece of land at the southern end of town, is also home to the New Vishwanatha Temple. The New Temple is modern in design and open to Hindus and non-Hindus alike. Surrounded by palm trees, it is a splendid white marble structure that shines in the afternoon sun against a pale blue sky. Inside, the temple is spacious and airy. The interior walls are covered with Vedic art above inscriptions from the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads. In the center of the first floor is the Shiva linga.

Overnight at Guest House.

Day 08 Varanasi / Kolkata (Doon Express – 1625 / 0655* Hrs)
Today we visit the bustling Gadolia bazaar where we only have to walk. You would never have seen so many cycle rickshaws and heard the cacophony of so many cycle rickshaw bells! It is an amazing spectacle of colour and lifestyles as you need to watch out for the pavement shops – especially the pavement dentist with a laughing set of dentures!!
Late afternoon transfer to the train station to board

Overnight at Two Tier Air-Conditioned Sleeper Accommodation.

Day 09 Arrival / Kolkata
Meeting and assistance upon arrival and transfer to hotel Peerless Inn
After rest and relaxation, we proceed on a guided tour of Calcutta, which will include the Indian museum built in 1875 and is probably the best museum in India and one of the best in Asia; St Paul’s cathedral, built between 1839 – 1847 is one of the most important churches in India; Victoria Memorial, which is one of the most solid reminder of the Raj is a white marble museum built in a blend of classical European style of architecture with some mughal influences; Kalighat temple, believed to be 500 years old and the actual temple from which kalighata (anglicized to Calcutta) takes its name; the botanical gardens founded in 1786 where the prime attraction is the 200 year old Banyan tree, believed to be the largest in the world covering an area off 400 mtrs; tagore’s House; Mother Teresa’s residence and institution; New Market and Hogg market – prime commercial areas of the city. Besides, we will also be viewing Calcutta racecourse, Hoogly River side, Eden Gardens, Governor’s House, Calcutta High court, writers building and Chowringee Commercial areas.

Belur Math, the headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission, is situated in the north of the city. The place was founded in 1899 and houses a structure that was designed to be a church, temple, and mosque all in one.
We will also visit Dakshineeswar temple built in 1847 by Rani Rasmoni the place where Ramakrishna attained spiritual vision while working as a priest of Kali temple, on the banks of Ganges, north of Belur Math, is Dakshineswar Temple. The presiding deity is Goddess Kali who is surrounded by 12 other temples dedicated to Lord Siva. It is one of the famous places of pilgrimage. The colossal kali temple at Calcutta was where Sri Ramakrishna Parahamsa lived and offered his prayers. The main temple is called the Navaratna Temple. Here there is a silver lotus with a thousand petals. On the flower is the idol of Goddess Kali, standing on the prostrate body of Lord Shiva. A temple dedicated to Rani Rasmoni has later been added near the entrance.

Overnight at Hotel.

Day 10 Kolkata
Fashioned by the colonial British in the manner of a grand European capital, yet now set in one of the poorest and most overpopulated regions of India – Calcutta has grown into a city of sharp contrasts and contradictions. Calcutta has had to assimilate strong European influences and overcome the limitations of its colonial legacy in order to find its own unique identity. In the process it created an amalgam of east and west that found its expression in the life and works of the 19th –century Bengali elite and its most noteworthy figure, the poet and mystic Rabindranath Tagore. This largest and most vibrant of India cities thrives amidst seemingly insurmountable economic, social, and political problems. Its citizens exhibit a great penchant for art and culture and a level of intellectual vitality and political awareness unsurpassed in the rest of the country. The city’s energy penetrates even to the meanest of slums, as a large number of Calcuttans sincerely support the efforts of Mother Teresa and her missionaries who minister to the poor and suffering. In short, Calcutta remains an enigma to many Indians as well as to foreigners. It continues to those who have there.

Meeting and assistance upon arrival on Calcutta train station and transfer to hotel Pearless Inn.
This afternoon, we explore the adventure called a walk through the bazaars of Calcutta! A highlight would be a visit to some of the most popular and colorful bazaars of Calcutta. Shops and stores of all variety almost burst into the lanes. It is incredible experience to witness the hoards of Shoppers arguing and buying in a very high state animation. We head up to Rabindra Sarani from Lal Bazaar Road and we will soon enter an Islamic world. Women walk by in burqas (long, black, tent-shape robes), their eyes barely visible behind spiderlike veils. Men sit on elevated platforms selling Bengali kurtas (shirts) and pants, and colorful lungis and white dhotis (both wraps) for men. Other vendors sell vials of perfume created from flowers. Rabindra Sarani is an interesting spectacle of colour and atmosphere all the way to Chitpur Road. We then reach Bowbazar, home to Calcutta's jewelers. Prices are reasonable, and each shop has an astrologer to help you find the most auspicious stone for your stars.

Overnight at Hotel.

Day 11 Kolkata / Departure
Transfer to the airport to board your flight back home.

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