Art & Spirituality

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Beyond the Taj - Art and Spirituality Itineraries, Art & Spirituality

Art & Spirituality

It is impossible to sum up even the essence of the wealth of religions and spirituality that is embroiled into the very fabric of what defines India. It’s thousands of Hindu gods are worshipped by millions, daily rituals, weekly and annual events celebrate each of these in turn. From Islam to Christianity, Jainism and Sikhism, each religion is part of the melting pot that make up the baffling and diverse country that is India. Destinations depict certain rituals and beliefs, Rishikesh and Varanasi, Amritsar and beyond. And when it comes to art, well India’s art is as varied as its religions, with ancient carvings in extraordinary, ancient monolithic temples to the greats of the classical era to the contemporary street art now taking certain cities by storm.

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Art & Spirituality Itineraries-

Beyond the Taj - Art and Spirituality Itineraries, Art & Spirituality
Beyond the Taj - Art and Spirituality Itineraries, Art & Spirituality

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Rishikesh and its many ashrams – some clearly humbly ascetic, with others verge on the opulent – continue to draw devotees and followers from around the world. It is also considered the Yoga Capital of the World. The whole place is considered to be sacred, as it is believed that meditation here leads to the attainment of salvation. The beautiful Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is one of great importance to pilgrims, and is set in an area of astounding beauty. However, Rishikesh was also made famous by The Beatles who spent time here in the 1960’s, for its Ganga Arti, or prayer ceremony which takes place on the banks of the river every evening, as a yoga destination.
It is the duty of all Hindus to visit Varanasi at least once in their lifetime. As the sun rises over the River Ganges in the early morning, you may witness many of the faithful as they come to the ghats to pray and bathe. Colorful temples line the banks and a network of narrow alleys lead down to the water’s edge. All sense of modern life is lost as you absorb the ancient daily rituals, of river bathing, prayer and Aarti ceremonies. Varanasi can be overwhelming. It is teeming with people taking part in hundreds of daily ceremonies that celebrate every aspect of life from birth until death (there are ghats where the recently deceased are burnt in wooden pyres). However, this city will undoubtedly leave you with lasting memories of this most holy and quintessentially Indian city.
Amritsar is most famous for being the home of the Golden Temple, the most important holy pilgrimage site in the world for Sikhs. Made out of pure marble with an imposing dome of pure gold the temple is surrounded by a sacred pool and all these factors combine to ensure that it is an extraordinarily beautiful sight. Tens of thousands of people visit the temple every day which leads to the next extraordinary fact, each person who visits can enjoy a free meal.