I'm looking in guide books myself and yes Vijayanagar was one of them. In past trips, I've visited many hill stations which are restful and allow you to deeply enjoy nature. There are beautiful tiny shrines everywhere you go and yes, in Darjeeling, there is a large ornate Buddhist temple and a nice botanical garden. I think just practicing patience and letting go of your preferences is in itself a spiritual experience in India. Throughout India are festivals like Shivaratri. It is very special to celebrate Shivaratri in Varanasi. This upcoming year, in 2013, is the Maha Kumbha Mela. This is a 12 year festival that happens based on astrological configurations. I went to an adi-Kumbh or a 6 year festival twice, both in 1995 and 2007 and they were crowded. So this is even larger and more auspicious. Do know that because of the large number of pilgrims, people do get trampled. Be careful. I will possibly be there myself. The reason people go is to bathe in the place where two sacred rivers meet. It is held in Allahabad which is a dust bowl. The first time I went I stayed with a group of foreignors in an ashram and we found babas who spoke about spirituality with a translator, there were plays that are captivating to watch, and even the Rainbow family was there in a tent singing songs. The second time I went late to avoid the crowds for the last significant bathing day and didn't see any foreignors and couldn't find my friend. After asking around, I was told of a kriya yoga ashram and stayed there. They had a lot of programs, instructions in kriya yoga, which was interesting. The ashram was located near the highway, though, so it was noisy. And children begged, pulling on your clothes, near the ashram. I was able to do the best tai chi turns on the porch of that ashram. I do believe it a special place. If you're a bit worn and need a rest, go to Rishikesh, specifically the Tapovan area. In winter a Brazilian baba comes to Tapovan, Rishikesh and gives satsang. He is a psychotherapist and talks about love relationships as well. Look for tai chi by a Swedish man named Tony. He's great! about 7 years ago
We are 7 people who want to travel to India for a short visit - 10 days in July. What part of India will be the best for our first visit?
It is sooooo hot in July in Delhi! I would jump on a bus the next day for the hills. The southern destinations are 130 degree F, don't know Celcius, whereas the hills are somewhat cooler, probably mid 80's. I lived in a village near Almora which is in the hills and it was humid. There were leeches any lower than us so I only walked uphill. Perhaps Manali and the other hill stations don't have leeches in July?? If it isn't raining, there won't be leeches. I was in Manali in September one year around the time of Durga puja and it was very pleasant. Could you travel there at another time of year? about 7 years ago
The Tapovan area of Rishikesh has some nice places and more quiet I believe. I stayed in Swargashram, Rishikesh along the Ganga in a place called Ganga Niwas or Nivas, I believe. It fills up but people do come and go. It's to the left of the footbridge as you cross from the Rishikesh to the Swargashram side, if that makes sense. You take a rickshaw from Rishikesh to either Swargashram or Tapovan. about 7 years ago