Lands so Ancient

All of the sights, sounds and flavours of India cast a spell on me that eventually lured me to her shores. And I was not disappointed, it was everything I thought it would be, and so much more. The size of the ountry, the antiquity of the culture, the magnificence of the architecture, the diversity of

the landscape, the exuberance of the festivals, the piety of the people: Everything about India must be described with superlatives, including the experience of travel.

Every traveller will have their own reasons for visiting India. Some seek adventure, others culture and history. Foodies go to taste the culinary riches, luxury lovers enjoy some of the world’s finest hotels and shoppers find a paradise. I was enticed by all of these attractions and more: I went to explore the spiritual dimensions and perhaps, above all, to experience myself in India.

For the spiritually oriented, India is the ultimate destination. Seekers have been drawn to India since time immemorial to pray, meditate, learn and celebrate life. In centres such as Rishikesh and Varanasi, travellers and pilgrims congregate to seek guidance, redemption, enlightenment. Meditating by the Ganges River in uplifting Rishikesh and taking a sunrise boat cruise along the same river in mysteryshrouded Varanasi were some of the most precious moments.

For the pure experience of travel, there is no better place to simply BE than India. Just to wander the narrow lanes of ancient bazaars, breathe in air filled with spices and marvel at the dazzling displays of merchandise. To imbibe the heady atmosphere of evening aartis on the mighty Ganges River and the sight of the sun rising over the Himalayas. To take time to soak up the ambiance and notice the lights and the colours. The world flows around you in a swirl of exuberance and there is nothing to do but flow with it, and enjoy the pusle of life, the eternal cycles, the cosmic rhythms underlying daily life in India.

“India always changes people, and I am no exception,” author and screenwriter Ruth Prawer-Jhabvala wrote. And maybe, in the end, that is what fascinates people the most about India: India’s power to transform.

There is nowhere like India, and few travel destinations as life changing. It’s the phrase you hear again and again from those adventurous spirits who make the journey, and who open themselves up to the magic and mystery of the subcontinetnt and allow themselves to be changed.

In the end, this is the secret to travel in India. If you let India ebb and flow around you, without judgement or preconceived ideas; if you open your eyes and your heart; and if you allow yourself to fully feel and experience the journey … you may find yourself forever changed. And, like me, wanting to return again and again

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