India has an unrivalled heritage influenced by a history that is several millennia old; the palaces are part of this cultural wealth. The palaces of Rajasthan (North West India), with their idyllic romantic setting, are the most famous; there are, however, several other ‘palatial treasures’ scattered here and there throughout the Indian continent … Here is my personal selection, Read More
Kartighai or Kartikai Deepam is a Hindu festival of lights that is mainly celebrated in Tamil Nadu, South India. It falls at the full moon (purnami) between mid-November and mid-December –the month of Kartikai in the Tamil calendar, when the moon is in conjunction with the constellation Kritika, the Pleiades.
Originally from the state of Bihar, in north-east India, the festival Chhath Puja celebrates and thanks Surya and Usha, the sun-god and the goddess of dawn, sources of life and primordial energy. This tribute to the sun comes just after the festival of lights (Diwali) in October-November and is the occasion of elaborate rituals, Read More
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’, Read More
Navaratri, along with Mahashivaratri, is one of the leading Hindu festivals, celebrated with great fervour throughout India. In Sanskrit, Nava means ‘nine’ and ratri means ‘nights’; the Navaratri festival lasts for nine nights and ten days. Its purpose is to celebrate the Universal Mother, or Shakti: the primordial and creative force.
Shakti means ‘power’ or ‘energy’. It is a fundamental concept in Hinduism, which is often associated with the feminine principal and personified by Devi, Hinduism’s primordial goddess. The Shakti is venerated all over India and devotion culminates during the 9-day festival of Navaratri.
Jainism derives from the Sanskrit verb ‘ji’, meaning ‘to conquer’. This refers to the battle that Jain ascetics must fight against material temptations. It is a religion that probably appeared around the 5th century BC. Its origins remain unclear, Jainism has no known founder but it was taught by enlighted teachers called ‘Tirthankaras’ (bridge-builders)., Read More
India’s culture, thousands of years old and one of the world’s earliest, has had time to develop a unique degree of cultural diversity. The best proof of this is to be found in India’s folk arts and its classical music and dance.
Ganesha Chaturthi is one of the main Hindu festivals. It celebrates the birth of Ganesh, the famous elephant-headed god, son of Lord Shiva and the goddess Parvati. Ganesh is supposed to have been born on Shukla Chaturthi (the fourth day of the waxing moon) of the Hindu month of Bhadrapada (mid-August to mid-September). Ganesh symbolises, Read More
India is a pious country and religion plays an important part in the lives of most Indians. Ritual and worship are part of daily life and the vast majority of the population consider themselves members of a religion. This spiritual fervour has given rise to many festivals that punctuate the year, week by week, Read More
Radhakrishna represents the unique union of the Goddess-gopi Radha and her beloved Krishna, two highly revered deities in the Hindu Vaishnavite tradition. Radhakrishna is not any romantic relationship or simply the combination of the feminine and the masculine: it symbolizes the soul seeking the Divine Love.
The Hindu festival of Krishna Jayanti or Krishna Janamashtami marks the birth of the dark-faced, flute-playing god Krishna. He is one of the most popular gods in the Hindu pantheon and the story of his life has influenced in many ways the culture of India. Krishna has many faces: he is the symbol of, Read More
Chandigarh is the first new city of independent India, both an Indian territory and the common capital of Haryana and Punjab. Its history is closely linked to the partition of India of 1947 when the Punjab split in two between India and Pakistan needed a new capital. Chandigarh has been made world famous for, Read More
Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi is a Hindu festival that takes place every year in August, mainly in the North of India, and celebrates the unique bond of love, protection and respect between brothers and sisters. This celebration delivers a strong message of fraternity so that this ceremony extends often to the other members of, Read More
The story of Chittorgarh (or Chittor) fort is steeped in heroism and the pride of the Rajputs. It stands as a symbol of courage and sacrifice. This “city of strength and devotion” as it is sometimes called fits that description well : Chittor has known many battles but the echo of the poetess Meerabai’s songs, Read More
Khajuraho, a small village in Madhya Pradesh, is reputed for its sumptuous temples, built under the Chandela dynasty and listed as Unesco World Heritage. They are famous all over the world for their relief sculptures of the “art of love”.
The lingam is the symbol of the Hindu god Shiva. There are numerous lingams throughout India, but the twelve Jyotir lingams or ‘lingams of light’ are the holiest and most worshipped of all. Jyoti means ‘light’ and lingam means ‘mark’ or ‘sign’. According to Hindu tradition, the Jyotir lingams pilgrimage washed off bad karma and, Read More
Perched on a rocky spur 1200m above sea level and 20km from the capital Kohima, the village of Khonoma with its discreet inhabitants and its unspoilt environment will charm the traveler in quest of peace and authenticity.
During the month of Shravan (July-August), tens of thousands of Hindus undertake an arduous 50km 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. The sacred Amarnath cave is regarded, Read More
Saputara ‘the abode of snakes’ in the local language is a charming hill resort of Gujarat perched at 1000m altitude on the Sahyadri hills bordering the state of Maharashtra. It is surrounded by lush forests dotted with typical villages inhabited by the Dangs, a tribal community known for its impressive acrobatic dances. The best, Read More