In Part One of my India travel video guide, I begin my travels in India with Calcutta (Kolkata). India had long been on my bucket list of countries to travel to in the world, and in April, 2013, I finally made it there, starting with Calcutta, with no better reason than the fact was I knew so little about that part of the country.
Calcutta was once the capital of the British Empire in India, and today it’s home to over 14 million people, which means the city itself is a crowded, dense, loud, but endlessly fascinating place to explore. In this video I explore the alleyways and grand buildings that make up B.B.D. Bagh, the area where the city was founded.
After checking out a parade (a very common occurrence I was to later learn) and grabbing a roadside cup of chai, I stop at the home of famed poet and writer Rabindranath Tagore, the first Indian to win the Nobel Prize, and whose home is a great place to learn about Calcutta’s cultural history.
In Part Two of my India travel video guide, I travel to Bodhgaya, one of the most sacred places in all of the Buddhist religion. It was at this location 2,500 years ago that a young Prince Siddhartha sat under a fig tree, meditated and found enlightenment, thus becoming the Buddha.
I start off by visiting the many temples that have been built by various Buddhists from around the world, including temples dedicated to Buddhists living in China, Japan, Tibet and Nepal. I then visit the Tergar Monastery, one of the largest Buddhist complexes in the region, which is a short walk from the main road.
I then head to the sacred Mahabodhi Temple complex in the center of town. At sunset it is a scenic, peaceful time to explore the grounds, which include a large monument built at the Bodhi Tree itself, as well as a sprawling garden area where people come from around the world to meditate.
In Part Three of my India travel video guide, I travel to Varanasi, one of the holiest cities in the Hindu religion. In this video I visit the famous ghats, or steps, which lead into the Ganges River, the holy river where visitors and locals come every day to wash themselves and perform religious ceremonies.
It is on the banks of the Ganges where thousands of bodies are burned every year. Having your body burned and its ashes spread here is considered to be one of the holiest places in the world to do so in the Hindu religion.
After exploring the riverfront, I stop by a local music shop to play tabla with a local sitar player. Though I was a drummer in a past life, the tabla are a completely different style of playing than I was used to — you’ve been warned.
I finish up by taking a morning boat ride in the Ganges river. The colors you see on the river and on the buildings towering above are spectacular as the sun rises in the morning, and it was one of my most memorable experiences of the entire trip.
In part four of my video travel guide series to India, I travel to Darjeeling, the famed hill station known for its views and famous tea plantations. The city itself is nestled in the Himalaya mountains between Nepal and Northeast India, and is a popular place for people to stay before heading into the mountains for a trek.
In this video I visit Observatory Hill, home to the temple where it is thought Darjeeling got its name. Today there are several shrines there, thousands of prayer flags decorating the trees, and even a temple cave.
I then head to Happy Valley Tea Estate, one of the only tea plantations actually located in town, where I explore the grounds and sit down for afternoon tea with a local picker. Despite what I always assumed to be an acute sense of smell, I had difficulty picking out the better tea leaves amongst the options, but I gave it a try anyway.
In Part Five (my last) of my India travel video guide, I trek into the Himalayas along the famed Singalila Ridge, a picturesque trail that winds its way between Nepal and India, and through multiple small Himalayan villages. The highlight is the morning sunrise over the third highest mountain in the world, Mount Kanchenjunga, as well the views of Mount Everest in the far distance.
The host, Matt Stabile, of this video is the founder and editor-in-chief of the travel site http://www.TheExpeditioner.com. He also served as Director, Editor and Foley Artist for this production.