If most travellers coming to India head west out of Delhi to Rajasthan, most that don't head east down the Ganges to Varanasi.
Most of these travel by air or rail directly to Varanasi but if you are of an adventurous disposition there are many interesting places to stop off at along the route, such as Rishikesh -- where the Beatles stayed and wrote the famous White Album -- or Lucknow, a beautiful city packed with fabulous Moghul architecture. In fact if you're looking for a group tour you might like to try our Slow Down the Ganges trip, which, having spent some time in the Himalayas and at Corbett Tiger Park, takes a boat from Allahabad, spending two days and nights, on this spiritual aqua highway.
Whatever your preferred form of transport is to Varanasi, even the most seasons travellers among you are in for a shock when you get there.
Varanasi sits at the confluence of the Ganges, the Yamuna and the mythical Sara Swati Rivers and as such is one of the most important pilgrimage centres in the whole country. Over 60,000 devotees a day come here to cleanse themselves in the rivers holy waters. Others come here to die believing death in Varanasi removes you from the cycle of rebirth and delivers you to heaven and the burning ghats, and the religious festivals that go on here, day and night, are an ever present accompaniment.
From Varanasi you can continue east to Calcutta -- personally my favourite city in India. Largely off the beaten track, Calcutta -- or Kolkata, as its now known locally -- is a quintessential Indian city; a place of bustling bazaars and markets, of epic historical monuments, amazing decaying architecture, great cuisine and above all a buzzing humanity.
And from here head north. First and foremost to the famous tea plantations of Darjeeling -- where you'll find an interesting town, some great accommodation, and wonderful views, particularly of the 8,000m epic mountain Kanchenjunga. And from here, you can continue east, perhaps on one of the famous river boats up the Brahmaputra River, to Nagaland and a very different India.
We have a number of group tours to this region; the afore mentioned Slowly Down the Ganges. Land of the Kama Sutra -- which among other things takes in the amazing Sonepur Elephant Festival -- and perhaps one of our most remote trips called the Nagaland Festival Tour -- which takes you right up into the far northeast. And of course, back in our offices in London and Delhi, we have specialist travel planners that know all these places inside out waiting to help you create the most perfect tailor-made experience.
Calcutta and the Northeast is a region that will require greater effort on the part of the international traveller. It is a region that is less visited than others, where the infrastructure is less well developed. But it is also an region that is home to some of India's most iconic attractions.