Next to the bigger travel-destinations there are also the touristic enclaves, which are a bit offside, but are a very rewarding destination – just by itself or in combination with journeys to other places. Here we are introducing some of these classics. They are all cities with special meaning – not only for the residents. Even if we want to promote the village-tourism, one cannot avoid these cities, if one wants to get closer to the “phenomena India”.
Some of these places are included in package-tours, some not. But it is easy for us to extend a tour up to there or integrate them in a specially for you designed journey.
Varanasi counts as the essence of India. Here everything is increased by 3 times higher then everywhere else. Countless devotees populate day and night the ghats and bath in the dirty Ganges. They listen every evening to the Aarti at Dashashwamedi-Ghat, the death are burned continously at the Burning Ghats, small rowing boats float along the Ghats while the passengers sacrifice small light-flower-pieces on the Ganges – a nearly non-describable fascinating atmosphere so that one never gets tired strolling again and again along the 84 Ghats. Except you start for a discovery-tour: 5.000 temples are distributed all over the city, the old town lures with its small alleys, the Ramnagarh Fort at the other side of the river is worth a trip, the biggest university of Asia (Banares Hindu University) can be visited and it is just a short drive to nearby Sarnath, the place where Buddha did his first sermon.
Also we are offering the following: Sailboattrip on the Ganges, visiting the famous silk-weavers, village-visit in the surrounding (Chiraigaon), music concert in the evening (Varanasi is said to be the cultural centre of India especially in regard of music and poetry), meeting with NGOs and/or experts. Easily a full week can be filled with different activities – and for a shorter stay you can choose something from the rich programme!
The holy city of the Sikhs in the state of Punjab is quite far away from all touristic routes. With Delhi well connected by train, flight and car, the next interesting places would be Jammu, Chandigarh or Dharamsala.
But one can stay anyhow a longer time in Amritsar to get closer to the Sikhs and their history. The atmosphere in the golden temple is incredible beautiful, one has to experience it in real. Together with many devotees one can enjoy the peaceful atmosphere at every time day and night. The storage of the Holy Book is quite an experience same as a visit in the huge kitchen, where volonteers prepare huge amounts of meals and hand out for free. Also the dishes are done in community effort.
The old town is inviting you for a stroll, the Jallianwala-Bagh-Massacre is a park dedicated – an opportunity to get aquainted with a poor story from the colonial times – one can visit hindu-temples and don’t miss the Waggah-border-ceremony, where India and Pakistan getting emotional with national-pride in an impressive ceremony.
Srinagar in the state of Jammu + Kashmir has a past as paradise for hippietravellers same as centre for the kashmiri seperate-movement and civilwar. Today it is a more quiet and surprisingly clean and mostly peaceful city, which was victim of heavy floods in 2013. Tourism started again and many travellers are enjoying the beautiful location at Dal- and Nagin-lake. Critical incidents can never be excluded, but tourists are usually not involved in it – at least in the last 10 years we had guests staying there feeling safe and secure.
The houseboats at the lakes with their gorgeous furniture offer a most beautiful accommodation-experience. A trip with the Shikara is the best way of exploring the lakes. The old town invites for a stroll, several mosques can be visited and the mughal gardens promise gardening-art and silence. You can also do trips to the surroundings like Sonamarg or Gulmarg.
Delhi is home for 16 Mio. inhabitants. The gap between rich and poor is huge. For people not used to “Asia” the first impression is usually a shock. Besides the masses of people and the obvious poverty the humid heat (except in the winter) is most exhausting (between April and October are the hot months). By first impression most people think of Delhi neither beautiful nor interesting. But unfortunatly Delhi is mostly the starting and/or finishing point of a journey to India.
To spot behind the curtain is enthralling and advisable. Beside the classical sightseeings like the Red Fort, Jama Masjid, India Gate, Qutb Minar, Humayuns Tomb and the gouvernment district we recommend visiting the Lotus Temple, Gandhi-Memorial-Museum, Lakshmi Narayan Temple, Toilet-Museum of Sulabh Organisation, the tibetan quarter Majnu-ka-Tilla or the Lodi Gardens. On top of that there are some special tours offered: Heritage Walks to the historical-archeological not-well-known places, Street-Food-Walks, Slum-Tours (by foot guided by inhabitants of the slum/Streetkids), bicycle-tours…
It is also nice to start on ones own. The metro has big network, is very modern and totally cheap. The first compartement is always for ladies only. For example one can go to Connaught-Place and stroll around.
Of course Delhi is shopping-paradise, too. Next to the public shops, where one has to bargain hard, there are also the gouvernment emporiums with fixed rates. Soemthing special is the Dilli Haat. After the example of the village-markets they have built a little village, where you can watch manufacturers doing their handicraft. Everywhere there are stalls with food and goods from all over India. Cultural performances make the programme round. Who wants can also get a special shopping-guide from us.
For accommodation we recommend the medium-budget hotels in the relatively quiet central quarter Karol Bagh, Homestays with few rooms at friendly families or special luxury hotels. There are new accommodations in the Aerocity next to the airport. From here it is just a stone’s throw to the city centre with the airport-metro. But anyhow we arrange you every accommodation you wish for in Delhi.
Imagine: all photos taken on a day from the Taj Mahal printed out in 9×13 and laid out in a long line – how long would that be? But even if everybody knows these pictures, it is a totally different experience, to see the Taj Mahal in real, step through the gare and have the harmonious site in front of the eyes. Despite the masses of people it is a calm and peaceful atmosphere. A real nice experience!
More sightseeings are the huge Agra Fort, Itimat-ud-Daula and the nearby deserted town Fatehpur Sikri. For lunch or tea we recommend Sheroes, a cafe run by acid-victims and for more realities a visit at the laundry-people at Jamuna river.
A trip to Agra cannot only be combined with Jaipur and Delhi to the Golden Triangle but also connected with other places close by like Deeg, Vindravhan, Mathura or Keoladeo-birdpark at Bharatpur.
Only 4 hours by train from Delhi is the small city of Haridwar located on the banks of the Ganges. Many devotees come, bathing in the Ganges and celebrating in the evening Aarti in Har-Ki-Doon. There are just few western faces, these are 20 km further in Rishikesh. The landscape there is a little more beautiful, many Ashrams settled at the shores and latest with the Beatles it became a “destination of pilgrimage” for western travellers attracted to Yoga and hinduism. Next to the natural beauty there are touristic comforts, possibilities for Yoga and meditation and wonderful evening ceremonies of Aarti- at the Ganges. Rishikesh is totally free of meat and alcohol. One can stay in the guesthouse of an ashram, but also in ordinary hotels. We recommend in any case the visit of both places.