Songs Of Ganges



Most ancient civilizations trace its origins to river valleys. The fertile plains and perennial water supply lured the nomadic herdsmen to settle down, cultivate the land, and the surplus produce led to the establishment of cities, societies, priestly sects and empires. The Gangetic valley has the rare claim of having seen the rise of three major faiths: Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism! As you trail along the plains of the majestic Ganges, trace the legacy of those almost-forgotten empires and the tenets of three faiths, echoed by mute monuments, and re-enacted through timeless traditions.

What to Expect

  • Watch Varanasi’s riverside come to life at sunrise or witness the twilight ceremony known to locals as Ganga Aarti

  • Explore the narrow lanes of Varanasi on a walk and discover its religious wealth of temples and shrines erected to different faiths
  • Trace the legacy of classical music with members of a traditional home of musicians known as a ‘gharana’ in Varanasi
  • Take in unusual experiences in the holy city; seek blessings from a priest, witness a wrestling practice or explore the old markets of Varanasi
  • Learn about Buddha’s preachings at Sarnath’s temple and explore the archeological site
  • Visit Khajuraho’s beautiful stone temples and understand its esoteric architecture
  • Discover the ruin-strewn forests of Panna and glimpse its wildlife on a jeep safari
  • Capture Orchha’s domed temples and medieval cenotaphs
  • Learn the craftsmanship behind the Chanderi sarees, woven with gold and silver threads
  • Trace centuries of history of Gwalior rulers at the Fort and visit the Jai Vilas Museum known for its silver dining train


Day 1 - 2 : Varanasi

Start your journey in Varanasi, one of India’s oldest cities. Located at the confluence of two tributaries of the Ganges river, Varanasi, is a city of many names, bearing a history of over 3000 years, and had reached its zenith as a centre of religion and learning in the 7th century BC. A city steeped in spiritual sanctity and knowledge, which three great world religions – Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism, acknowledge as a place of homage. ‘Kashi’ – one of Varanasi’s older names meaning the ‘city of eternal light’ – and it is often associated with Lord Shiva, in part because of the Kashi Vishvanath Temple, dedicated to Shiva’s ‘ruler of the Universe’ avatar. Legend has it that Varanasi is a holy place to die in and the cremation banks on the sacred river Ganga host ever-lit pyres.

Day 3 : Khajuraho

The following day set off for Khajuraho. Set amidst a patchwork of forests and farms, the scattered temples of Khajuraho may have been lost to history after decades of vandalism and defacing by subsequent rulers, yet a legacy of stone is not so easily effaced. Of the 85 temples built in the 10th and 11th Century, only 20 survive – and the intricacy and detail of every sculpture is sharp and well-defined, making them some of the most well-preserved monuments from that era. While the temples are largely known for their erotic art, there is an arcane symbolism within every structure. The records of the Chandela dynasty that commissioned these temples indicates that the temples were laid out with a deep understanding of the Hindu scriptures, and represent the goals of an ideal life and the path to salvation.

Day 4 : Panna

The next day, discover Panna – a city of tribes and sages, of rajahs and colonial loyalties, of meadows and evergreen forests, of tigers and diamonds, and your doorway to Central India. The lesser-known Panna National Park, has seen a success of the tiger reintroduction programme, a lesson that other national parks would do well to emulate. With a good mammal population and a rich raptor activity indicating a healthy ecosystem, the park offers an offbeat experience for wildlife looking to avoid the hassle and formalities of more popular destinations.

Day 5 : Orchha

While driving from northwestwards from Panna alongside the Betwa river in the state of Madhya Pradesh, if one happens to remark upon a town with an extraordinary skyline of domed temples adorned with a thin spire at the top, you’ve probably come across Orchha. Often a stopover, between busier towns, Orchha deserves a place of its own in the list of tourist destinations, for its medieval history and architecture, its beautiful temples and unusual cenotaphs.

Day 6 : Gwalior

Gwalior, an ancient city that dates back to the 6th century has been a work in progress over time: its foundations were laid by the Naad dynasty, and were enhanced by several royal Hindu clans. During the British colonial period in India, it saw the unrest between Central India’s princely states, and emerged as a significant economic hub today. Today, the city nestles in the shadow of the Gwalior Fort – a majestic stone structure set upon a hillside carved with rock carving of Mahavira, the founder of Jainism dating to the 15th Century. With one of the oldest learning centers of Indian classical music, it bears a profound musical heritage as also celebrates an annual Tansen Music Festival in honour of Mian Tansen, the musician – poet, one of the jewels in the courts of the Mughal emperor, Akbar.

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