Travellers are looking for more from their trips. No longer content with a traditional holiday, they’re seeking something more spiritual, prioritising their health and wellbeing over luxury.
Enter India. Spirituality is important part of daily life for the country’s population, and it reflects in their festivals, rituals and general culture. There’s also a lot of history to discover, so you can get a healthy amount of sightseeing done while you focus on your wellness. Here are five of the best destinations in India.
Auroville, Tamil Nadu
Auroville started as an experiment in 1968 and was created to be a peaceful community — one which united people no matter what their beliefs or background were. Today, it’s a popular spiritual destination.
Visitors can take tours around the city in order to get to know more about how it works, try the local food, and assist with volunteering efforts in sectors such as renewable energy, ecological practices, and primary and secondary education. You can also relax by taking a yoga class or getting a massage.
One of the oldest cities in the world, Haridwar is constantly busy, but still has a sense of peace and spirituality. It’s possible to spend days and days just wandering the streets and people-watching, but it’s worth making time to see some of the city’s most impressive sights.
Take a cable car to the hilltop temple of Mansa Devi (the Hindu wish-fulfilling goddess) to admire the impressive architecture and enjoy the views, then head down to the banks of the River Ganga to witness the Ganga Aarti, a spiritual ritual which uses fire as an offering.
This beautiful beach town has the perfect mix of opportunities to explore and opportunities for relaxation. You could browse at Ananda Bazar, the world’s biggest food market, or make your way to the medieval Atharnala Bridge, which was started in 1266 and completed later that century. Considered a Monument of National Importance in India, the bridge is 290 feet long and has 18 arches.
If your mind and your body are in need of a well-deserved break, take some time out at Chilika Lake, which is located on the outskirts of Puri — it’s a popular spot to relax. You could also settle down on the spotless, white sandy beach, where you can watch the fishermen navigate the choppy waters in their catamarans.
Yoga and meditation devotees will find peace in Rishikesh, where yoga was first created, and beginners will have no trouble finding a class in order to learn the basics. Yoga is a workout for the mind and the body, so it’s perfect if you’re looking to tap into your spiritual side and find some calm within your busy life.
If you like your city breaks to have a good dose of the outdoors, you can go camping nearby. It’s the best of both worlds. For those who’d prefer to sleep under a roof, you can still get your nature fix by trekking through the valleys of the Himalayas — there are routes for all levels of fitness.
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
It’s very easy to get lost in the spirituality of Varanasi. There’s lots of history and culture to explore — don’t miss the ghats (steps down to the water, each one with a spiritual significance) and the floating candles which light up the river every day. Ramnagar Fort is well worth a visit, too, since it’s home to a museum full of royal artifacts and art.
If all this sightseeing means you work up an appetite, why not stop for a delicious meal? A thali is an assortment of local, seasonal dishes, all served up on a big platter so you can pick and choose what you want to eat. 1Cover’s Secret Traveller even named it one of their foods worth travelling for.
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