Upon arriving in the north, we immediately began traveling and visiting some of India’s most famous attractions. Our first stop: Agra and the legendary Taj Mahal. Our first view of the massive white marble ‘temple of love’ was nothing less than postcard-worthy! As we toured the Taj and the historic Agra Fort, we learned all about the Mughal empire responsible for erecting these landmarks. Following our first long day of sightseeing, we boarded an overnight train to our next destination: Varanasi. Here we explored some of the religious traditions of India, first visiting the temples, ruins, and museums of Sarnath, which is said to be the place where Buddha delivered his first sermon.
What the ancient city of Varanasi is most famous for is the river Ganges – one of three holy rivers in Hinduism. All along the river’s bank are temples and steps (called ghats) that lead to the water and that attract countless pilgrims every day. Everywhere and at every hour, there were rituals and prayer ceremonies carried out along the Ganges. It was truly a place like no other! On our last day in the region, we took an early morning boat ride on the river, watching the hundreds of people doing morning laundry, conducting yoga classes, meditating or praying, or holding traditional cremation funerals along the shore.
Another overnight train took us to the nation’s capital for the final leg of our stay in India. Amar Jyoti in New Delhi is our third and final NGO placement and we are all looking forward to learning about this amazing organization and sharing our experiences with you all!