When UNESCO brands a cultural tradition as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”, it usually makes you stop and look; the Baul will captivate you with their stirring renditions. The group brings meaning to secularism in a surprising combination of Vaishnava Hindus and Sufi Muslims singing compositions by Rabrindranath Tagore! This celebration of love through tunes that transcend religion, ring clear through the air in earthy tones – they’ll leave you stunned at the images they conjure up.
In a ten-day explosion of prayer and festival, you can trace the deep culture that has persisted through Kolkata’s turbulent past. In vivid depictions made of clay and stone, you can see the Goddess Durga defeating evil. Over the ten days, you will visit ground zero for the idols, hop across the hundreds of pandals, partake in community pujas and even zone out for a couple days while discovering the rich textile heritage lurking in the outskirts.
Mountains clad with lush green vegetation, cool breezy air, sparkling waterfalls and sloping tea gardens…sounds like paradise, doesn’t it? That’s exactly what Kalimpong feels like, and now you can spread your wings and soar over the peaks that lie in the shadows of the Himalayas! Paragliding from Dello Hills, you can catch a glimpse of Kanchenjunga – a sight that is more majestic in the quiet of the altitude.
No other place in India offers such a variety of cuisines to visitors. If you close your eyes and sniff, you will encounter aromas ranging from Armenian dishes to local ones. The influence of outsiders was especially prevalent in Kolkata during the time of the British Raj; there was a surge in the quality of the cuisine and each distinct style. As you set off on a culinary tour, be sure to grab a traditional Bengali lunch at famed Kewpies or 6 Ballygunge Place.
When life doesn’t give you lemons, build terracotta temples? This is exactly what happened in the thriving town of Bishnupur, just a few hours from Kolkata. In the days of the Malla Kings, shortage of stones resulted in glorious terracotta temples dedicated to Hindu Gods. This creativity and reverence for the arts is evident in the pottery and the famous Baluchi Saris that are handwoven here today, which you can pick up as souvenirs.
Like Casey Junior coming down the tracks, the Toy Train of Darjeeling huffs and puffs till it makes it into Ghum. The spunky little steam engine snakes past mountains and lakes, through tunnels and across bridges making for awesome views, while all along pristine air gently caresses your face. It’s quite the adventure with the danger of slipping constantly looming over the locomotive, but the seasoned drivers are well prepared!
If a lion’s roar sends shivers down your spine, then the gait of a tiger stalking you will leave every hair standing on end. At Sunderbans, it’s best to let sleeping tigers lie. When you glide down the river that flows through the jungle, you might be tempted to ask the oarsman to take you closer to a lounging tiger, but rest assured that this is just the ploy of the tiger trying to get you close enough to grab a bite!
Many consider the Ganges to be a Goddess; the lifeline of the city should hold no lower pedestal. Capture breath-taking views of the sun setting beyond the horizon on a luxury cruise. The nocturnal sounds of Kolkata are also especially captivating, and you might just find yourself spellbound by the mechanical prowess heralded by the bridges that cross the mighty river. If you have been dying to take a cruise, drink in hand and surrounded by cultural heritage like no other, look no further!
Set off on foot through the narrow lanes of Kolkata to understand the adrenaline that would have coursed through men on their journey to obtain freedom. The walking tour continues on to Old College Road, an incredibly large book market and culminates in Indian Coffee House – a place where some of the greatest minds of the past century have met. Also nearby Kumartoli is famed for its near infinite supply of clay idols!
Click for a quick taste of the region!
An exciting collection of terracotta temples await in this cozy, little town that thrives on the arts.
The original hill station getaway for the weary, sun-worn lowlanders, Darjeeling hasn’t shed its status quo one bit. Rolling hills covered in tea bushes and a UNESCO World Heritage Toy Train ride are more than one can ask for.
What used to be a small plantation, has completely transformed into a centre for meditation and spirituality. Also, home to one of India’s first universities, there is a sense of the intellectual in the very air.
The jungle stretches far and wide, inhabited by tigers and a wide range of flora and fauna – any naturalist’s dream!
Once the home ground of the British East India company, the heritage and history of this place in unimaginable creations of churches, government buildings and the street food are exciting all at once.
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