Best time to visit:
Winter (November to February) is generally the best time to visit northern India, although the night tends to get cold in Delhi and the northernmost regions. From April to June the heat is unbearable both in the northern plains and in the center of the country: it is advisable to head towards the Himalayan region. It is advisable to avoid the monsoon rains that begin in June and can last until September.
In a word:
Namaste (I bow down to you)
Recommended Antitifica, Antimalarial Prophylaxis (chloroquine-resistant). In many regions, especially in the north-eastern states, malaria is present all year below 2000 m.
- Hygiene is low and diseases caused by water or food are common.
- Avoid ice cubes and fruit juices diluted with water.
- Avoid raw fruits and vegetables.
- Use only bottled water.
- Sometimes the big cities are overwhelming: the traffic is heavy and it is dangerous even to cross the street.
- Watch out for monkeys who can be aggressive, especially in Varanasi.
At the table:
Indian cuisine can be super spicy! You will gladly eat rice, naan, paratha (flatbread-like bread), chapati and lassi (yogurt drink); young palates will appreciate pakora (battered and fried vegetables), dosa (savory crepes) and idli (rice cakes). Among the desserts: kheer (rice pudding) and kulfi (milk ice cream)
Abandon yourself to the songs and prayers of the puja in the evening; Meditate in one of the many Hindu temples of the holy cities along the way; Spend whole days on ghat evening; Meditate in one of the many Hindu temples of the holy cities along the way; Spend whole days on
Our suggested itinerary (13 days)
|Delhi, Haridwar (evening puja along the Ganges)|
Rishikesh (evening puja along the Ganges), Faizabad
|four days:||Varanasi (morning and evening puja along the river)|
It is quite tiring and long to reach our destination in Uttarakhand... after three flights: we finally set foot in Haridwar!
This small town situated in a very favorable position, the point where the legendary Ganges flows from the Himalayas, is a very sacred place for Hindus and a destination for crowds of pilgrims who come here to bathe in the rushing waters of the Mother Ganga.
The multitude of people gathered around the Har-ki-pairi gives Haridwar an atmosphere rich in sacredness and can easily be captured by its mysticism.
Har-ki-pairi (literally: " the footprint of God ") is the place where, according to Indian tradition, Vishnu would have poured the celestial nectar and imprinted a footprint on the ground.
That is why the faithful come here to purify themselves of their sins by bathing in the rapid current and leaving offerings to the priests.
The river veneration ceremony "Ganga Aarti" is impressive: the sound of bells, candles lit and placed on baskets of leaves full of flower petals, the litany sung by the local gurus ... the offers they are then abandoned to the current of the river ...
This trip has a particular flavor for us, it is not only an adventure in India but a real photo workshop with friends and a professional photographer: Riccardo Cornaglia, who during the whole expedition will give us advice on the shots and teach us to capture at best our memories through photography, all with the precious support of Namaste Tours, our trusty contact in Northern India!
Rishikesh, the city of yoga. Here tranquility and relaxed faces certainly are not lacking ... there are many ashrams where you can spend days in meditation and many are the Westerners we meet on its streets.
The atmosphere is serene and pleasant. We visit numerous temples accompanied by our guide Raj, we get lost among its alleys characterized by very picturesque photographic glimpses and we reach, with a small boat, the place of the evening puja ... the daily prayer!
Sixteen students, future Hindu priests, intone the mantra by rotating their candelabra, various candles pass from hand to hand before being placed in the water for the blessing.
Meanwhile, behind us, an orchestra of drums and sitar plays an increasingly urgent melody, suddenly we all found ourselves dancing free under the serene, pure and beautiful gaze of the many sadhus sitting along the steps of the temple ... I came to mind the words of Folco Terzani in " Barefoot on the earth " when he says about sadhus that: " they have less than beggars but they look like kings "... how true!
Tonight night train to Faizabad.
I recommend everyone the experience of a night train journey in India! You really come into contact with this incredible new world.
The night is hard enough because you travel with the doors open ... a bitter cold, the noises, the people who stop in front of the beds to watch us staring at each other almost as if they were watching a program on TV, the discomfort of backpacks between us ... in short, not we missed nothing but it was nice all the same!
At the first light of dawn we get up and it's wonderful because, with us, India woke up ... who brushes their teeth along the corridor, who combs their long black hair, who drinks chai, who runs after babies crying ...
We arrive in Faizabad 4-5 hours late, but here it is normal, nobody worries or gets angry ...
The city welcomes us with its authenticity, it is an archaic India, everything tastes of ancient, there is an almost fragile decadent beauty ...
We immediately go to Ayodhya, 7 km from here, one of the most sacred cities in India. We walk through its narrow streets and we are struck by its ancient charm ... there are countless stalls selling honey-colored balls ... they are very good shortbread treats that Hindus bring as a gift to the Temple of Hanuman (Monkey god).
A long staircase, full of flowers and framed by beggars, leads to the entrance.
The faithful sing an invocation by raising their hands to heaven and offering the biscuits to the priests who promptly deposit them at the foot of the statue ...
Walking we reach the Shri Rama Jamina Bhomi Temple where we are literally kidnapped by the atmosphere.
Today we leave Faizabad to travel about 200 km towards Allahabad. The journey takes 6 and a half hours but to me they seem a lot less.
All the way there are people, stalls, cows, little houses and shacks, women who wrap their little ones in their colorful sarhi or carry bricks on their heads heavy reds or wooden poles, men washing and soaping crouching under the well fountain, barefoot children walking along the roadside, tuk tuk overflowing with people. There are looks, there are incredulous eyes, surprised that they observe us ... there are children ... and there are schools ...
We decide to stop right in front of one of them ... we enter inside ... wooden benches under a sort of veranda and children with big, deep eyes, those eyes that know how to get inside and get down in the belly and stay there.
We are welcomed by the teachers, all dressed in candy pink, the children absolutely do not expect our arrival also because, in these parts, it is rare to see white people ... they look at us perplexed ... slowly they begin to smile and immediately afterwards we are surrounded by the heat that only they know how to infuse ...
Their little voices, the girls with the tika on the forehead and the earring on the nose, their precise notebooks with the dictates in Hindi amidst the dust, the light that filtered through the windows and illuminated their coffee-colored skin made me think that the world and diversity are the greatest gift a person can reach ... only by opening the eyes of the heart we will understand that we are all equal, all animated by the same energy ... once you understand this you have the doors open to life ... the real one ...
Allahabad. His original name was "Prayag" or " the place of offerings " and is considered one of the most important pilgrimage destinations for Hindus. The city lies at the confluence (" Triveni ") of the three sacred rivers: Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati.
At sunset we sail right where the river Yamuna meets the mighty Ganges...
Anand Bhavan. A shrine dedicated to the Nehru family which has given the country as many as 5 generations of leading politicians ... in this colonial building, a veritable oasis of peace with devastating chaos of Allahabad, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and others planned the overthrow of the English domain.
The palace displays books, personal effects and photos from that turbulent period and right here, in 1942, Indira Gandhi wed.
At Allahabad, the Kumbh Mela, the largest Hindu festival in the world, is held every 12 years; take part in this immense event from 70 to 90 million faithful ...
Every year, however, the Magh Mela is held, of lower proportions and ... coincidentally ... there is precisely in this period ...
We see expanses of tents, camps organized as best we can, thousands of people, chaos, dirt, misery, resignation everywhere ... we meet sadhus, tenebrous aghori, families from all over India, beggars, cows , monkeys ...
Today we leave for Chitrakoot. We leave Uttar Pradesh for the region of Madhya Pradesh.
The 172 km we walk in just five hours ... along the way there are no uninhabited meters, only an infinite mass of humanity that leaves no empty spaces ...
On the road only bikes, scooters, buses full of people, cars “ Tata ”that trumpet like madmen, even when there is no need, perhaps because behind each truck stands the exhortation to“ horn please ”or even“ blow horn "! ... There are no rules on the road! There is only one direction of travel but it is not obligatory, you can overtake on the right or on the left, as long as there is space, everyone and no one takes precedence, there are no traffic lights, seat belts, city police, helmets, maximum number of passengers, nor a code of the road to respect ... indeed there is one with only one stentorian rule: " horn please ".
We arrive at Chitrakoot, the so-called " Varanasi in miniature "; for the many temples and ghats, this town on the banks of the river Mandakini, tells many Hindu legends.
We climb the hill along the 506 steps to reach the temple of Hanuman Dhara, we admire the many landscape views that this sacred place offers us while enjoying the many interesting encounters with the locals who seem to have fun with our shots.
The Ram Ghat is very suggestive, some devotees make sacred ablutions in a very picturesque background. There are no tourists around, we stop by a barber, a seller of samosa , a sarhi merchant, an old sadhu ...
Varanasi. After seeing the cremations from very close, we sit down to observe the bamboo stretchers with the dead laid over ... They come one after the other ... rest the body on the pile, sprinkle all the wood with a kind of fuel and yes it ignites ... to burn completely it takes about three hours, after which the ash is collected with colored cloths and throws in the Ganges... the soul is free and purified!
We skirt the ghats and our eyes are captured by the colors of the sarhi, by the laughter of children, by the delicate movements of men who wash their clothes, dives, prayer, the cows that rummage through the garbage ...
Sadhus dressed in white or orange with a long beard, a peaceful gaze ... elegantly dressed newlywed couples who get wet to receive the blessing of Mother Ganga...
After much research we meet Baba Vijiani, he has aged a lot since that first meeting seven years ago… he has just returned from Allahabad (130 km), he is 88 years old… we are very excited, we really wanted to meet him again ... sometimes life is incredible!
He asks us to follow him and takes us out to a small temple in front of the Ganges. Next to him there is a aghori which shows us the skull of a woman wearing a rag wrapped around her; they say that the aghori live in crematoria, that they urinate in the skulls and then drink their own pee, they have no rules and they are not well seen by the people ...
I spent many hours in silence simply observing this humanity so varied that it is expressed in the most disparate ways.
Sit on one of the many bleachers of the ghats, you will see processions of believers who sing religious songs as they walk along the banks of the sacred river for ablutions; majestic sadhus who walk wrapped in their own aura of peace; charlatans disguised as old gurus looking for "enlightened" tourists to get them some rupiah reading their hand or telling some compelling story; boatmen-barbers-masseurs-handymen-dealers who offer you everything and which often coincide in the same person; Western tourists in Indian clothes or old clothes as children of flowers so anachronistic even here; grim aghori that wander wary; dirty and barefoot children asking you for alms, cows walking in relaxation while agile monkeys jump from roof to roof to steal some bananas ...
Mother Ganga always flows there, indifferent, occasionally welcomes a bit of ashes from those who have had the "luck" to go out here ...
Today we leave this magical city.
We get into the taxi and already feel the nostalgia of this place.
The city is a unique chaos; horn, dust, tuk tuks, rickshaws, bicycles, cows, trucks and so much dust ...
In this absurd delirium we move at a crawl ... I turn to my left and between the crowd and the traffic I see a look ... I can't believe it ... they are the eyes of Baba Vijiani... I open the window , I call with a loud voice with my arm raised, he sees me ... the traffic starts to flow faster ... we look at each other, he stands up ... we leave again, it looks like a movie, I smile at him and he raises his arm smiling ... get up, traffic swallows us ... Baba Vijiani thanks for this great gift.
Error: No feed found.
Please go to the Instagram Feed settings page to create a feed.