After an all-too-brief stay in India in 2007, we are heading back to explore more of this fascinating country. Our dear friend Mukul put together a comprehensive itinerary for us. We will be flying into Delhi, meeting Mukul there on Ghandi Jayanti, the national holiday commemorating Mahatma Gandhi's birthday (this year marks his 140th birthday). The next morning, we continue on to Varanasi, a bustling sacred city on the Ganges River generally believed to be 3000 years old. More than a million Hindus make the pilgrimage to this holy city each year. Bathing in the Ganges is believed to absolve them of their sins, and actually dying in this sacred city is believed to release the soul from the cycle of reincarnation. The city has over 100 ghats - series of steps that lead down to the river. Some are designated for bathing, and others are used for cremation. The uniqueness of this city made it a must-see for us. We just learned that our friend Richa is originally from Varanasi, and she has given us a lot of tips on things to do and see.
Then we will go to Agra, where Mukul and his wife Sunita have kindly offered to let us visit their home. We are looking forward to finally getting to meet Sunita. We will be spending several days in Agra, which may allow us to return to the Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri, as well as see a bit of how the locals live. We look forward to visiting a school that Mukul is involved with as well.
Then we head west to the state of Rajasthan. We will spend the remainder of the trip exploring its forts, palaces, and temples. We will be in Udaipur during Diwali, the Festival of Lights, which is bound to be interesting. In Jaipur, we will be staying in the home of Mukul's friends. We are very excited at the opportunity to experience Indian culture firsthand.
Although we will see a lot more than we were able to in 2007, we will still only be scratching the surface of this huge and diverse country. Our tourist visa is valid for 10 years, so this will certainly not be our last visit!
If possible, we will try to post updates (even if just from my cell phone) while traveling.
Mukul in 2007