Allahabad is among the largest cities in Uttar Pradesh. Hindu mythology has it that for the Prakrishta Yajna, Lord Brahma, the creator God of the Trinity, chose a land on earth, on which the three rivers would flow in to a quiet confluence. Allahabad stands at the confluence of two of India’s holiest rivers, the Ganga and the Yamuna. Sangam, as the confluence is called, is the venue of many sacred fairs and rituals, and attracts thousands of pilgrims throughout the year. This number swells to millions during the world-famous Kumbh Mela.
Ayodhya is one of the major holy cities of Hinduism – the world’s 3rd largest religion. It has a central role in the ancient Indian epic, the Ramayana, whose protagonist Lord Rama is God incarnated on Earth as the prince of Ayodhya. The epic describes Lord Rama’s 14 year exile, his victory over evil and his grand return with his wife Sita to Ayodhya to become king. This return to Ayodhya is celebrated as Diwali, the leading festival of hundreds of millions of Hindus world-wide. Consequently Lord Rama’s reign over Ayodhya and its surroundings, called Ram Rajya, is the epitome of good governance and moral society in the Hindu tradition.
Once thought to be the fabled and inaccessible Shangri-La, Kathmandu is now a hub for independent travellers as well as a growing vacation spot catering to all budgets. As a result of considerable urban growth in recent decades, it is now part of one continuous urban area together with Patan to the south.
Pokhara is a city on Phewa Lake, in central Nepal. It’s known as a gateway to the Annapurna Circuit, a popular trail in the Himalayas. Tal Barahi Temple, a 2-story pagoda, sits on an island in the lake. On the eastern shore, the Lakeside district has yoga centers and restaurants. In the city’s south, the International Mountain Museum has exhibits on the history of mountaineering and the people of the Himalayas.
At the foot of the Himalayas, Chitwan is one of the few remaining undisturbed vestiges of the ‘Terai’ region, which formerly extended over the foothills of India and Nepal. It has a particularly rich flora and fauna. One of the last populations of single-horned Asiatic rhinoceros lives in the park, which is also one of the last refuges of the Bengal tiger.
Varanasi, also known as Benaras is a city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh dating to the 11th century B.C. Regarded as the spiritual capital of India, the city draws Hindu pilgrims who bathe in the Ganges River’s sacred waters and perform funeral rites. Along the city’s winding streets are some 2,000 temples, including Kashi Vishwanath, the “Golden Temple,” dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.