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India’s Holy Ganges River: Rituals, History and the Sacred City of Varanasi

Program Number: 21260RJ
Start and End Dates:
11/7/2015 - 11/23/2015; 1/30/2016 - 2/15/2016; 2/27/2016 - 3/14/2016; 9/16/2016 - 10/2/2016;
Duration: 16 nights
Location: India
Price starting at: $3,999.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; River Boats; History & Culture
Meals: 39; 13 Breakfasts, 14 Lunches, 12 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free; Low Fat; Low Salt    

Fed by the mighty Himalayas and emptying into the Bay of Bengal, the Ganges is one of the world’s great rivers. To Hindus, it is something yet greater: a goddess, the physical manifestation of the sacred. Delve into the spiritual meaning of this river on a voyage to the holiest places along the Ganges — not just for Hindus but for Buddhists, Sikhs and more — plus experience the river’s importance in day-to-day life.




Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles per day; uneven walkways and stairs.



Itinerary At-a-Glance

Varanasi, 3 nights; Bodh Gaya, 1 night; aboard Rajamahal, 6 nights; Kolkata, 3 nights.



Days 1-2:
Overnight flight from the U.S.A.


Days 3-5:
Arrival Varanasi (India)

Experience Varanasi, the oldest city in India and the holiest in Hinduism. During boat excursions on the Ganges, observe people carrying out rituals at the ghats — 84 stepped embankments, each with its own significance. Take a field trip to Sarnath, where the Buddha gave his first teachings. Visit Banaras Hindu University and interact with students. Lodging: Four-star hotel.



Days 6-7:
Coach to Bodh Gaya / coach to Patna to embark Rajmahal

Journey to Bodh Gaya, where the Buddha obtained Enlightenment after three days and nights of meditating under the Bodhi Tree. Step inside the spectacular Mahabodhi Temple at this pilgrimage site. Lodging: Comfortable hotel.



Day 8:
Patna

Explore this city including its magnificent Gurdwara, one of the holiest places of worship for Sikhs. As you set sail, pass the East India Company’s old opium warehouses.



Day 9:
Barh

Go ashore for an excursion to Nalanda. This great center of learning, active from the 5th through 12th centuries, attracted scholars from as far away as China and Greece.



Day 10:
Monghyr

Discover Monghyr Fort, a majestic riverside fortress occupied by several different empires. Sail to the village of Sultanganj, an ancient Hindu pilgrimage site.



Day 11:
Bhagalpur

In this town renowned for its fine silk, visit a weaving village and the mansion of an East India Company magistrate. See the idyllic riverside temples of Bateshwar.



Day 12:
Rajmahal

Venture into the emerald hills of Rajmahal to find the ruins of ancient palaces, fortresses and mosques partially hidden by vegetation.



Days 13-17:
Farakka / disembark / train to Kolkata / departure on overnight flight to the U.S.A.

Leave the Ganges behind as you board a train to Kolkata (or Calcutta), the metropolis of East India. Discover the Belur Math temple, which fuses Hindu, Christian and Islamic architectural styles. Visit Mother Teresa’s mission and learn about her work. Visit the city’s great museums and learn about India’s favorite sport, cricket. Lodging: Historic five-star hotel.



Sukapha

An intimate river boat, the Sukapha was built in Calcutta in 2006. This 131-foot long vessel was modeled after her sister-ship, the Charaidew, and boasts and atmosphere of friendly comfort and charm. The steel hulled, twin engine ship holds just 24 passengers in 12 cabins and is manned by an English-speaking expert crew of 11 members. The spacious cabins each have a window, and range from 185-227 square feet, including ensuite facilities.


India

As a consequence of its size, the history of India is an amalgamation of its individual territories. The natural wealth of India’s territories lured a succession of traders and foreign influences to it, each leaving their imprint on the nation, however faint or localized. Thus, Chinese fishing nets in Kerala are a throwback to that country's ancient maritime trade, while in the north, ancient terracotta figurines bear distinctly Grecian traces.



Meals and Lodgings
   Radisson Hotel Varanasi
  Varanasi, India 3 nights
   The Royal Residency, Bodh Gaya
  Bodhgaya, India 1 night
   ABN Sukhapa
  Aboard the ABN Sukapha, India
Patna, India
Nalanda, India
Aboard the ABN Sukapha, India
Bhagalpur, India
Farakka, India
6 nights
   The Oberoi Grand
  Kolkata, India 3 nights
 Radisson Hotel Varanasi
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Radisson has 116 hotel rooms in Varanasi, including 2 elegantly designed suites, 14 Business Class Rooms and 100 Superior Rooms. All of our guest rooms offer turndown service and a wide range of amenities.
  Contact info: The Mall Cantonment, Varanasi
U.P. 221002
221 002,   India
phone: +91 54 2250 1515
web: www.radisson.com/varanasi-u-p--hotel-in-221002/indvaran/rooms
  Room amenities: Newspaper delivered to the room - daily Digital safe in each room Broadband Internet access Mini-bar and tea/coffee maker Telephone with voicemail and direct dial Satellite television Hair dryer
  Facility amenities: Includes complimentary broadband Internet access, television with 48 channels and a bottle of mineral water provided daily. Relax in the oasis of comfort provided by our spacious rooms with the option of interconnecting, city view or pool view. Complimentary buffet breakfast and use of Health Club (gym, steam room, whirlpool).
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 The Royal Residency, Bodh Gaya
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Description: A symbolic project elegantly erected on 3 acres of land in the best environment with 62 centrally air-conditioned Twin bed rooms and 5 Suites, caters to the diversified needs of tourists. The hotel has all modern facilities. All rooms are with attached bath rooms in it with shower, bath tubs, running hot and cold water, individual room temperature control, direct dial telephone facilities both domestic and international.
  Ship Information: .
  Contact info: Domuhan Road, Bodh Gaya
Bihar,  824231 India
phone: +91 ) (0) 631-220-1156
web: www.theroyalresidency.net/bodhgaya/
  Room amenities: AC and attached bathroom
  Facility amenities: One Bar Money Exchange Shopping Arcade Room Service 24-hours room service Laundry, dry cleaning, Doctor -on-call, Meeting room facilities, Japanese community bath separately for ladies and gents, Multi-cuisine centrally air-conditioned restaurant 'Amara pali' & Bar, Travel assistance, Car hire service
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 ABN Sukhapa
Type: Riverboat
  Description: The ABN Sukapha was built in Assam in October 2006 with maximum group size of 24 with 12 cabins all on the upper deck. It has a small SPA. Her 12 cabins are equally roomy and we have retained the much appreciated comfortable chairs by the picture windows for relaxing in privacy. The spacious salon has French windows opening onto a front balcony deck and the dining room has glass doors down each side with specially commissioned furniture and locally-woven soft furnishings. The large sundeck offers the opportunity to relax on comfortable cane rattan chairs and sunloungers.
  Ship Information: 38m long twin-engine steel hulled passenger boat with 12 cabins total all on the upper deck. The ship has 3 decks total.
  Contact info: 3rd Floor, Dirang Arcade, GNB Road, Chandmari
Guwahati,  781003 India
phone: +xxx
web: www.assambengalnavigation.com/theship.php
  Room amenities: • Cabins with individual climate control • En suite shower/WC with Biotique toiletries • Generous cupboard space and under-bed storage • Hair dryer in each cabin • In-room electronic safe • Large sliding glass windows
  Facility amenities: Bar/salon, Dining Hall, Sundeck, Staircase
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 The Oberoi Grand
Type: Hotel
  Description: The Oberoi Grand, fondly referred as the 'Grande Dame of Chowringhee' offers the ultimate classical residence in the City of Joy. This heritage hotel’s neo-classical facade and grand pillared entrance mark a successful fusion of classical Victorian and traditional Indian style and reflect the city’s colonial history. Standing stately for over 125 years, The Oberoi Grand combines classic architecture and charm with state of the art amenities and facilities, offering guests an oasis of tranquility amidst the bustling city. The hotel is located in the main business and shopping district of Kolkata (Park Street, BBD Bag, and Chowringhee) and is in walking distance from most corporate and government offices. It is also conveniently located close to major convention centers, legislative offices, banks, Consulates, Deputy High Commissions, Chambers of Commerce and clubs. This ideal location makes the hotel a perfect base for the business and the leisure traveler.
  Contact info: 15, Jawaharlal Nehru Road
Kolkata,  700013 India
phone: +91 .33.2249.2323
web: www.oberoihotels.com/oberoi_kolkata/index.asp
  Room amenities: 32" LCD TV, DVD Player, Satellite television, Wired & wireless broadband internet access, Electronic safe, Dual line telephones with voice mail, Personal bar, A well appointed bathroom with a basket of Ayurvedic toiletries.
  Facility amenities: Wireless Internet access in all rooms and public areas, State of the art 24-hour Business Centre, Full service Oberoi Spa, Fitness Centre, 24 hours in room dining, 24 hours personal butler service, 24 hours Concierge, 24 hours doctor on call, Meetings and Conference facilities, Shopping options, Outdoor swimming pool, Beauty parlour, 24 Hours laundry service, Currency exchange, Electronic safe deposit box in all rooms
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: TBA Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services for additional price.


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Day 2 in late afternoon in Varanasi at Radisson Hotel, Varanasi. You will be staying at Radisson Hotel Varanasi that night.
  End of Program:
Day 21 after lunch in Kolkata at the program hotel. You will be staying at The Oberoi Grand the night before. You will be staying at The Oberoi Grand the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. None.
  Parking availability:
Driving in India is not recommended.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Varanasi
  Transportation to site: If independent flights do not coincide with the designated group transfer, it will be the responsibility of the participants to make arrangements to get to the program site. Private arrival and departure transfers -at an additional cost- may be arranged in advance by calling Road Scholar Travel Services 1-800-241-1404.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Kolkata
  Transportation from site: You may also want to inquire with the concierge at The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata about alternative transportation services from the hotel to the airport. Private arrival and departure transfers -at an additional cost- may be arranged in advance by calling Road Scholar Travel Services 1-800-241-1404.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: In Transit to Program
(Saturday, November 7)
   
 Depart From: Depart for overnight flight to India.

Day 2: En route / Forced Overnight in Delhi
(Sunday, November 8)

Note: This is a forced overnight for those who booked their international flight from the US with Road Scholar. If Program only Participants have international flights with a layover in Delhi, they must book their own overnight at a hotel and a transfer to the airport to board their flight to Varanasi.



   
 In Transit: For those who booked their international air through Road Scholar, you will be provided with a hotel overnight in Delhi (if it is required). This is required if your flight does not allow you to make your connecting flight to Varanasi on the day that your international flight arrives in Delhi. There is no programming on this day and no meals are not included on this day. Your program does not officially start until you reach Varanasi.

Day 3: Arrival Varanasi / Program Orientation
(Monday, November 9)

Note: Varanasi is a very intense place. Please be prepared for lots of crowds, smokes from cremations along the Ganges River and narrow winding streets in the old part of town.



   
 Arrive To: Arrival to Varanasi. Transfer to the program hotel.
 Lunch: Lunch at hotel.
 Afternoon: Then convene with your Group Leader and other participants from program 21644 for orientation. The Group Leader will greet you with a warm welcome and introduce everyone. We will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. Then join your Group Leader for a walking discovery of the cantonment area and learn a little about Colonial times in Varanasi.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Radisson Hotel Varanasi
Meals Included: Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: University Varanasi / Morning Boat ride / Heritage Walk / Aarti Ceremony
(Tuesday, November 10)

Note: This day requires getting in and out of small boats, walking along cobblestones on narrow streets, and walking about .5 miles (one way) to get to the ghats for the Aarti Ceremony in busy crowded streets. You will be taking a Rickshaw ride part of the way. It will be about a 30 minute ride.



   
 Breakfast: Before breakfast, begin with an early morning boat ride on the Ganges River to see the early morning rituals on the ghats along the Ganges. Return to the hotel for breakfast.
 Morning: After breakfast, continue to Bharat Mata Temple, the Mother Temple, and take a heritage walk through Varanasi to visit the Ashrams, visit a local home and enjoy a cup of tea. Then participate in a presentation on Varanasi a Cradle of Culture.
 Lunch: Lunch at the hotel or at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Time in the afternoon for you to relax. Then in the late afternoon, witness an "Aarti" ceremony while enjoying a boat ride on the Ganges. Aarti is a Hindu religious ritual of worship, a part of puja, in which light from wicks soaked in ghee (purified butter) or camphor is offered to one or more deities. Aartis also refer to the songs sung in praise of the deity, when lamps are being offered.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Radisson Hotel Varanasi
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Varanasi, University and Sarnath
(Wednesday, November 11)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Depart for Banaras Hindu University, the largest Hindu University in India. Engage with the university students there and learn about their goals and aspirations. Learn about Varanasi – The city of Education.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Then continue to Sarnath, where the Buddha gave his first Sermon after he obtained enlightenment. Discover the Sarnath Museum and Deer Park, the location where he gave his sermon.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
 Evening: Reminder: Pack for tomorrow's trip.
   
Accommodations: Radisson Hotel Varanasi
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Coach to Bodh Gaya
(Thursday, November 12)

Note: Drive time is approximately hours 6-7 hours with stops along the way.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Check-out of your hotel and begin your journey to another holy site in India: Bodh Gaya. Bodh Gaya is where Siddhartha Gautama obtained enlightenment. Presentation by your Group Leader on the Life of the Buddha.
 Lunch: Lunch en route.
 Afternoon: In the late afternoon, arrive in Bodh Gaya and check into your hotel with some time to relax. Explore the Mahabodhi Temple, constructed with the main intention of making it a monument and not a receptacle for the relics of Buddha. Inside the Temple there is a colossal image of the Buddha in the "touching the ground pose", bhumisparsha mudra. This image is said to be 1700 years old and is facing east exactly at the place where the Buddha in meditation with his back to the Bodhi Tree was enlightened. Continue to the Bodhi Tree, the place where Gautama obtained enlightenment. Since 1953, Bodh Gaya has been developed as an international place of pilgrimage. Buddhists from Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Tibet, Bhutan and Japan have established monasteries and temples within easy walking distance of the Mahabodhi compound. The site of the enlightenment now attracts Buddhists and visitors from all over the world.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: The Royal Residency, Bodh Gaya
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Bodh Gaya Discovery/ Transfer to Patna/ Board ship
(Friday, November 13)

Note: Drive from Bodh Gaya to Patna is about 6 hours.



   
 Breakfast: Wake up early and experience the spiritual nature of Bodh Gaya during the silence of the morning. Then return to the hotel to have breakfast.
 Morning: Check out of hotel and transfer to Patna.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Transfer to Patna to board the vessel between 4-5pm.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
   
Accommodations: ABN Sukhapa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Patna City Discovery / Cruise to Barh
(Saturday, November 14)

Note: Please take a scarf to cover your head at the Sikh Temple.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: This morning explore the town of Patna, visiting the extraordinary 18th century Gola Ghar granary, the great Sikh temple with an opportunity to visit the soup kitchen.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: This afternoon the ship cruises pass the Old East India Company Opium warehouses and moor for the evening at Barh. Presentation by Group Leader on the Opium Trade in India.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
   
Accommodations: ABN Sukhapa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Nalanda / Pawapuri Jain Temple
(Sunday, November 15)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Today, explore the excavated great Buddhist monastery and stupa at Nalanda and the adjoining Archeological museum, which house the Nalanda University seal, sculptures and other remains found on the site. Nalanda was an ancient center of higher learning in Bihar, India from the fifth century CE to 1197 CE.
 Lunch: Picnic Lunch in Nalanda.
 Afternoon: Then continue to the picturesque Pawapuri Jain Temple in the middle of a lake. Return to the ship in the evening and cruise down to the great bridge at Mokameh, where earlier the naturalist Jim Corbett spent his working life overseeing the ferry crossing. Presentation by Group Leader on the Holy Ganges River.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
   
Accommodations: ABN Sukhapa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Cruise to Monghyr / Pirpahar Hill / Cruise to Sultanganj
(Monday, November 16)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Today cruise down to Monghyr. Monghyr possesses a fine Mughal fort, as well as an East India Company Cemetery, now with villagers living amongst the tombs. Explore the Pirpahar Hill, crowned by a fine old mansion, Mughal Fort which house a number of religious and historic monuments and the Sitakund hot springs. Then reboard the ship.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: This afternoon, cruise downstream to anchor near Jahangira Island at Sultanganj, a place of great antiquity. Explore Sultanjanj, a place of pilgrimage with early Hindu carvings in the rock.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
   
Accommodations: ABN Sukhapa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Bhagalpur, Silk Weaving Village, Bateshwar, Kosi
(Tuesday, November 17)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: This morning cruise to Bhagalpur, along a stretch of the river where Gangetic Dolphin may be seen. Bhagalpur is a center of silk production. Here, discover the elegant 18th century mansion built by Augustus Cleveland as well as a silk-weaving village.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: Continue cruising past the island shrine at Colganj, where both Buddhist and Hindu cave temples are situated, and once a center of the murderous Thug sect. Close to here, visit idyllic Bateshwar with 6th century Hindu carvings and the nearby ruins of an 8th century Buddhist stupa and monastery at Vikramshila. Anchor for the night near the confluence of the Kosi River, coming down from Nepal. Then participate in a presentation by your Group Leader on the Thug Sect.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
   
Accommodations: ABN Sukhapa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Rajmahal Palaces, Forts & Mosques, Farakka Barrage
(Wednesday, November 18)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: This morning, explore Rajmahal. Rajmahal is one of those places, so common in India, which is not featured in any guidebook and yet offers both interesting and atmospheric. Once known as Akbarnagar, the town was founded by the Mughal Emperor Akbar as his eastern capital. Shah Jehan, builder of the Taj Mahal, spent much of his youth here. There are remains of palaces, forts and mosques submerged in vegetation which you shall explore before continuing on down to the great Farakka Barrage.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: Cruise downstream this afternoon towards Farakka.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
   
Accommodations: ABN Sukhapa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Disembark, Transfer to Kolkata
(Thursday, November 19)

Note: Train ride is approximately 6 hours.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Early train transfer to the train station at Farakka. Train ride is approximately 6 hours.
 Lunch: Late lunch at the hotel.
 Afternoon: Upon arrival in Kolkata, transfer to your hotel for check in. Then take a guided walk through one of the markets, located near the hotel.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: The Oberoi Grand
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14: Victoria Monument/ Indian Museum/ Eden Garden// Mother Teresa's Project
(Friday, November 20)

Note: There will be a lot of walking at Eden's Gardens



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: This morning, explore the Victoria Memorial. Then continue to the Indian Museum, the earliest and the largest multipurpose Museum not only in the Indian subcontinent but also in the Asia-Pacific region of the world. Continue your discovery of Kolkata with a visit to St. Paul's Cathedral.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Spend the Afternoon learning about Mother Teresa and her mission in India. Visit the Mission of Charity Foundation and gain a deeper understanding of this unique woman and her cause. Later visit Eden Gardens, the famous cricket ground (subject to permit).
 Dinner: Dinner is on your own.
   
Accommodations: The Oberoi Grand
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 15: Bengali Kolkata
(Saturday, November 21)

Note: Today’s visit is by metro, tram and coach.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Experience Bengali Kolkata with a visit to the Jain Temple (NOTE: Shoes need to be removed in the Temple). Continue to explore Kumortuli, a Potters colony where large Hindu Gods are created by the community there. Then explore the Shobhabazar (also spelled Sovabazar) and Tagore’s House and Museum.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: The Oberoi Grand
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 16: Belur Math, Departure
(Sunday, November 22)

Note: Program Ends after lunch. Group flight is in the early evening with a 4-5 hour layover in Delhi.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: This morning, discover Belur Math, a temple notable for its architecture that fuses Hindu, Christian and Islamic motifs as a symbol of unity of all religions. NOTE: You will need to remove your shoes at this temple.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Program ends after lunch. This afternoon is free until your departure flight from Kolkata which is usually in the early evening. For those taking the group flight, you will have a 4-5 hour layover in Delhi. (subject to change).
   
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 17: Program Concludes
(Monday, November 23)
   
 Arrive To: Arrival home.
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


Along the Ganges


Author: Ilija Trojanow


Description: In this colorful travelogue, Trojanow follows the Ganges from its source in the Himalayas to the cities that it feeds, using the holy river as a means to ponder Hinduism, culture, ecology and the tension between ancient and modern India.



An Introduction to Hinduism


Author: Gavin D. Flood


Description: A comprehensive overview of the Hinduism, from the basic principles and tenets of the religion to modern variations and controversies.



Banaras


Author: Diana L. Eck


Description: This history of the holiest and oldest of Indian cities (now known as Varanasi), the home of Shiva, encompasses many millennia of Buddhist and especially Hindu practices along the Ganges.



Buddha


Author: Karen Armstrong


Description: A concise, thought-provoking biography of the Buddha in the Penguin Lives series, written by one of the foremost experts on world religions.



Darsan, Seeing the Divine Image in India


Author: Diana L. Eck


Description: Tremendously useful for the traveler, this rigorous guide explains the significance and meaning of Hindu temples, festivals and ritual. Darsan, which translates as "seeing," reveals religious expression in India.



India


Author: Stanley Wolpert


Description: Wolpert's reflections on India -- its religion and philosophy, its art, culture and politics -- make for a wonderfully literate, succinct primer.



India Adventure Map


Author: National Geographic Society


Description: The most detailed shaded relief map (at a scale of 1:2,100,000) of India available.



India, A Sacred Geography


Author: Diana L. Eck


Description: Professor of comparative religion and Indian studies at Harvard, Diana Eck turns her interest in temples and places of pilgrimage into a celebration of the diversity of popular religious traditions in India in this richly rewarding travelogue.



India, A Short History


Author: Andrew Robinson


Description: Robinson’s inviting introduction to India chronicles the rise and fall of the India’s kingdoms and its eventual economic decline, which led to the British subjugation of the Mughal Empire in the mid-19th century.



India, A Traveler's Literary Companion


Author: Chandrahas Choudhury (Editor)


Description: Each of these 14 stories evokes place and landscape, providing an excellent introduction both to contemporary writers and to India's diverse cultures and history.



Insight Guide India


Author: Insight Guides


Description: An illustrated overview of India, with essays on its attractions, history, nature and culture. Includes introductions to the major temples, forts and wildlife sites and plenty of color photos and maps.



Land of the Seven Rivers, A Brief History of India's Geography


Author: Sanjeev Sanyal


Description: A witty and surprising exploration of India’s geography. Sanyal explores the veracity of the Great Flood, Buddha’s first sermon at Sarnath and the lineages of the country’s inhabitants.



Meeting God, Elements of Hindu Devotion


Author: Thomas Moore (Introduction), Stephen Huyler


Description: A stunningly photographed introduction to the rituals and daily devotion of contemporary Hinduism in India. A companion to the traveling exhibition "Puja, Expressions of Hindu Devotion."



Midnight's Children


Author: Salman Rushdie


Description: Crowned Best of the Booker in 2008, Rushdie's greatest novel is a madcap, comic take on the birth of modern India in all its splendid and unexpected manifestations.



Nine Lives, In Search of the Sacred in Modern India


Author: William Dalrymple


Description: From Sufi dervish and Buddhist monk to outcast and temple worshiper: nine people, nine lives, all captured by Dalrymple as he journeys throughout India in search of remarkable individuals transformed by religion. At turns bemusing, dazzling and heart-wrenching, this is his first travel book in 15 years.





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