During the month of Shravan (July-August), tens of thousands of Hindus undertake an arduous 40km pilgrimage through the scenic Himalayas to worship a very special symbol of Lord Shiva: an ice stalagmite-lingam that forms each year in the cave of Amarnath at the end of the Lidder Valley in Kashmir. 

Buddhism has more than 300 million followers around the world, which makes it the 4th religion (or philosophy) after Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. The history of Buddhism begins around the 5th century BC, when Siddharta Gautama, prince of the Shakya kingdom, got enlightened under a ficus tree. Siddharta Gautama then became the ‘Buddha Samyaksam’ or ‘the …

Chennai (formerly Madras) lies on the Coromandel coast in southwest India. It is the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu and one of India’s major economic centres. Chennai also boasts a considerable cultural and artistic heritage, of which Carnatic classical music and the Bharata Natyam dance are prime examples. Chennai is there to be …

Bikaner is a place apart. It is not yet touristy but it holds some wonderful surprises. The magnificent fort should make the one in Jodhpur green with envy and the old town is like an oriental tale that envelops you in a whirlwind of colours and fragrances.

Gangaur is a colourful women’s festival that is mainly celebrated in Rajasthan. It starts in spring and lasts up to 16 days in some part of Rajasthan. It is the celebration of marital happiness. In Udaipur it coincides with the Merwar Festival.

Thiruvananthapuram is the capital of Kerala. Its name means ‘city of Lord Anantha’ referring to Anantha, the mythical snake on which the god Vishnu reclines.This city has great appeal, with luxuriant vegetation, colourful harbours, beaches of fine sand and the legendary cool of Kerala. You might never leave!

Baneshwar Fair is a huge folk fair held in Dungarpur district in Rajasthan. The 5-day event, which is sometimes called the “tribal Kumbh Mela”, takes place in January or February on a small delta where the Soma and Mahi rivers meet. It is primarily a religious festival, but it is also the annual get-together for …

Uttarayan, the time of year when the sun starts its northward journey, is celebrated in Gujarat state with a kite festival that’s totally poetic. All day long thousands of multi-coloured kites drift endlessly across the sky, and when night falls the sky is lit by a myriad paper lanterns…

Gwalior, the fourth largest town in the State of Madhya Pradesh, owes its fame to the fort, perched atop a 300ft hill, which the Mughal emperor Babur called “the pearl amongst the fortresses of Hind”. Gwalior is also known as a cultural centre and home of both the famous poet and musician Tansen and a …

This 20,000-hectare green forest paradise at the southern tip of the Deccan plateau, in Kerala, is home to one of the world’s densest concentrations of wild Asian elephants; it is not unusual to see one. The region is covered in coffee, teak and eucalyptus plantations and more than half its population belong to tribal communities. …

Chettinad must be the most surprising part of Tamil Nadu. In the 19th century, rich merchants, the “Chettiar“, built palatial houses here in a daring and harmonious blend of Eastern and Western styles. This is unique architecture with a charm of its own, inviting travellers to stop awhile for a taste of culture.

Thanjavur (Tanjore), once the capital of the Chola empire, is an important centre of South Indian culture ; The Tanjore style of painting originated here. The town boasts a Unesco-listed world heritage monument, a marvel of Dravidian architecture: Brihadeeswarar temple.

The town of Pondicherry, now renamed Puducherry, was formerly a French trading post. Its well-ordered streets lined with trees and bougainvilleas, painted colonial buildings and chic boutiques, together with its spiritual aura, make it one of the most relaxing places to stop on the Chennai-Madurai road.

If there is one imperishable memory to be brought back from a trip to Kerala it is the fascinating Aranmula regatta. The snake-boats glide gracefully and majestically along the River Pampa and the hypnotic chanting of the oarsmen will echo in your mind like a happy refrain long after the race is over.

Tucked between the Laccadive Sea and a network of interconnected rivers and lagoons, Alappuzha (Alleppey) offers a picturesque waterside spectacle of palm groves, luxuriant rice fields, kingfishers darting over the water and cormorants lazily stretching their wings, fishermen repairing nets outside their doors and laundry women busy at their task.

Assam state is one of the ‘seven sisters’ of Northeast India, located along the Brahmaputra valley. If its capital offers few attractions, the surroundings in contrast, with its tropical forests – the last habitat of the one horned rhinoceros – its tea plantations and Majuli island with its dancing monks, will seduce the traveler seeking …

Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, is not the most popular city of the state. Travelers usually prefer the mystic Varanasi or Agra and its famous Taj Mahal. Yet, what a wonderful surprise! Lucknow amazes us with the splendor and refinement of its historic buildings. From the 18th to the 19th century, it was the …

At the new moon in the month of Karthik (October-November) Hindus celebrate Diwali, one of their major festivals, also called the “festival of lights”. It symbolises the spiritual victory of light over darkness and of knowledge over ignorance.The name Diwali derives from the Sanskrit dipavali. Dipa means ‘lamp’ or ‘light’ and avali means ‘series’ or …

The colossal Gomateshwara stands tall on its hilltop, like a lighthouse protecting the town of Shravanabelagola and benevolently guiding the traveller. This Jain holy place of rocks and palm trees breathes tranquillity.

This is the second part of the travel experiences of Prosenjit Dasgupta, author of the book ‘Chasing a Dream – Journeys into the heartland of Tribal India’ where he shares his visit to the Bastar region, Chhattisgarh, from 70s to 90s.

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