Divinity at Maha Kumbh Mela!!
February 12: Varanasi
We start our spiritual journey in Varanasi, the of the oldest surviving cities in the world and the center of Hindu religious beliefs. While in Varanasi, you will see the importance Hindus attach to the river Ganges which will help you understand the Kumbh Mela better.
We explore the city for half the day visiting the Bharat Mata Temple, dedicated to the country, and the Kashi Vishwanath Temple among others. In the evening, we go to the banks of the Ganges to witness a spectacle. We attend the Ganga Aarti performed at Dasashwamedh Ghat where the Ganges river is worshiped with many flamed lamps, the chant of Sanskrit mantras and the clash of cymbals and drums. Against the falling light of dusk, the ceremony is a treat to the eyes.
February 13 – 17: Allahabad (Kumbh Mela)
After an early morning boat ride on the Ganges which gives you a sneak peek into people’s lives as the city wakes up, we head to Allahabad. A 3 hour road journey later, we arrive at the city bursting at its seams with millions of people.
Be prepared for the shock as you witness the frenzy of the Kumbh for the first time. Accompanied by our knowledgeable guide, head out towards the ghats (riverbank) and the festival area to witness first-hand the myriad activities taking place and the multitudes of people milling around. Our guide will explain the meaning and significance of sights around you. Feel free to ask questions so you fully understand how deeply this festival goes into the Hindu psyche.
Over the three days that you will be at the Kumbh, we will visit and witness various aspects of the Kumbh that make it special. We will visit an akhara (literally ‘wrestling arena’) which are essentially the different sects of saints and are central to how the Kumbh works. We repeatedly interact with a local scholar who will go back millenia to explain how the Kumbh came about as well as the symbolism of everything you see around you. We visit the shamsana ghat (cremation ground) for some of the most moving photographic opportunities.
February 15 is the day of holy bathing when millions will take dip into the Ganges. Led by the naked Naga sadhus, the sight of so many people taking a dip in the river to attain freedom from the cycle of birth and re-birth is something you will probably never see again.
February 18: Allahabad / Varanasi
Having experienced the Kumbh Mela from close quarters, we take a stroll through the city and explore some of its sights and sounds. We visit the underground temple and the immortal tree – Patalpuri Mandir and Akshaya Vat – at the edge of town. Indian mythology has it that people in the ancient days use to throw themselves from the tree to attain salvation. In its prime, the nearby Akbar Fort was unrivalled for its design, construction and craftsmanship.
Later we depart from Allahabad for a short journey to Varanasi from where you can board your onward flight / train the next day.
Duration: 6 Nights / 7 Days (February 12 – 18, 2013)
Destinations: Varanasi, Allahabad
Price: INR 120,000 onwards (Limited to only 6 participants)
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