The Great Pilgrimage Of sacred rivers and sun worship by the sea.
As the sun rises over a holy river or the sea, the air echoes to the pilgrims' chant of mantras. An eternal dawn ritual asking for the benediction of the Gods. Discover the ancient roots of Hinduism in these age-old cities. Where religion is more than an act of worship; it is a way of life. Celebrating one of the oldest living religions of the world.
At Prayag, take a dip at the holy confluence of the Ganga .Yamuna and Saraswati rivers; while Varanasi is a city that sings out its prayers to Lord Shiva. From the tumultuous sea of Puri and Konark, the pilgrims wend their way to the Jagannath Temple and the exquisite Sun Temple. On this pilgrimage, discover yourself and the peace deep within you.
Prayag (where three rivers meet)
Prayag is now known as Allahabad. Legends say this is the site of a famous sacrifice to Lord Brahma. It is the confluence (Sangam) of two of India's holiest rivers - the Ganga and Yamuna, and a mythical third called Saraswati. The site of the unforgettable Kumbh Mela, a dip at the Sangam frees a Hindu from the relentless cycle of births and deaths.
Air links to Delhi, Patna. Allahabad is best connected by rail to Delhi, Calcutta and Varanasi. Road links to all nearby cities - Varanasi (122 km), Patna (368 km), Lucknow (237 km).
What to see :
- SANGAM: Boats go to the confluence of the rivers Ganga, Yamuna and the legendary Saraswati.
- THE FORT: Built by Akbar in 1583, il has massive walls, lowering gateways and a panoramic view of the river. A 3rd century Ashokan Pillar stands inside.
- ANAND BHAWAN: The ancestral home of the Nehrus; the seat of Ihe Indian struggle for independence.
- KHUSRU BAGH: A peaceful garden containing the tomb of prince Khusru, son of jehangir who was executed by his father.
- ALLAHABAD MUSEUM: A fine collection of Rajasthani minialures and terracotta figures.
- FESTIVALS Magh Mela every winter. The Kumbh Mela every 12 years.
Varanasi (The city where Shiva dances)
It is the oldest inhabited city in the world! Where the reigning deity, Lord Shiva, is worshipped in innumerable temples and shrines, It has a fascination uniquely its own. A quality of sublime beauty. A timeless eternal appeal.
Air links to Delhi, Agra, Khajuraho, Calcutta, Kathmandu. Rail links to major cities. Bus links to all nearby cities and the Nepal border. Connected by road to major cities - Agra (565 km), Allahabad (122 km). Delhi (765 km).
What to see :
- THE GHATS: The best way to view the row of bathing ghats that line the banks of the Ganga is by boat. The most famous are Dasaswamedh, Kedar and Manikarnika.
- VISHWANATH TEMPLE: The main shrine to Lord Shiva, erected by Rani Ahalyabai Holkar of Indore in 1776, it is the devotional focus of the city. The domes are plated in gold.
- TEMPLES: Other temples worth visiting are the Tulsi Manas, Durga Kund, Bharat Mata and New Vishwanath temple.
- RAM NAGAR FORT: The 17th century home of the Raja of Benares. An interesting museum, it houses the royal possessions.
- GYANVAPI MOSQUE: Constructed by Emperor Aurangzeb in the 17th century over the ruins of the Vishveswara Temple, which he destroyed.
- BENARAS HINDU UNIVERSITY: Perhaps the largest residential university in Asia, housed in an' area of nearly 2000 acres.
Brocades, brassware, ivory-ware, carpets and gold jewellery. Main shopping areas are Chowk, Vishwanath Lane, Gyanvapi, Thatheri Bazaar and Lahurabir.
A mouth-watering spread of sweets. Try Kachauri and vegetarian breakfast. And the famous Pan (betel lea).
The important festivals are Buddha Purnima, Chetganj Nakkataiya and Ganga Dusshera.
Puri (Lord Jagannath 's kingdom)
By the crashing waves of the Bay of Bengal, this city has dedicated itself to Lord Vishnu, here called Jagannath. One of the four holy 'dhams' was established here by the Hindu sage Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century AD. At Puri, the highlight of the year is the chariot festival - the Rath Yatra.
Road links to Bhubaneswar. Nearest airport Bhubaneswar (56 km), Rail links to Calcutta, Madras, Delhi.
What to see :
- LORD JAGANNATH TEMPLE: A 12th century temple built in the Kalinga style. Shrines to other gods and goddesses within.
- ANANDA BAZAAR: The biggest food market in the world.
- GIJNDICHA GHAR: The Garden House, the smaller sanctum that houses the deities during Rath Yatra.
- PURI BEACH: Miles of golden sands and the blue waters of the Bay of Bengal - one more attraction of the city.
Miniature stone sculptures, wood carvings, patla paintings, sea shell items.
Chandan Yatra at the Hindu new year. Snana Yatra celebrating Lord Jagannath's ritual bath. Rath Yatra, the ceremonial chariot festival every summer