Today is Diwali, the festival of lights. If there is one day best to experience North India, this is it. Diwali is the biggest celebrated festival in India. And we will experience it in Varanasi, the holiest city in India. Read about the significance of Diwali and how it is celebrated in India here.
After breakfast the morning is at leisure for you to explore the markets of Agra. Agra is famous for its marble artefacts, shoes, etc. Later we will be transferred to the airport for our flight to Varanasi at 2 pm which arrives at 4.20 pm.
Varanasi, once known as Banaras or Kashi, is one of the world's oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, with settlements dating back to the 11th century B.C. It is also the holiest city in Hinduism. Over 60,000 pilgrims come to the ghats by the Ganges daily to wash away sins in the sacred waters.
At the same time, many Hindus believe that dying in Varanasi brings salvation/ nirvana and so they make the trip to the city when they realize that they are close to death. Loved ones also bring their dead to the ghats for cremation. The sights of funeral pyres by the ghats can be intense and overwhelming. But this is what makes Varanasi truly fascinating.
Then there is the Evening Aarti, the prayers to the Holy Ganges at the Ghats. The chanting of the Mantras, devotional songs along with the crowds, noise, colour and smell is an unforgettable experience.
After the Aarti we will head to a local restaurant called Baati Chokha for a simple local vegetarian meal and later return to the hotel. It is an early morning tomorrow for yet another divine experience on the Holy Ganges.
Culinary experience for the day: Authentic dinner in Varanasi
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner