If you are looking forward to an extended sojourn on the road, a car-rental from Delhi to Varanasi and Kolkata would be a good idea. Here are all the need-to-knows about the trip:
Varanasi, also known by the name of Kashi and Benaras, is considered the holy city of India or the spiritual capital of India. It is situated on the banks of River Ganges, and is one of the oldest living cities in the world, more than 3000 years old. The Ganga is believed to have flown from heaven to wash away the worldly sins of the human race.
Varanasi’s prominence in Hindu mythology is unrivaled. Considered as the abode of Lord Shiva, Varanasi is the most popular pilgrimage point for the Hindus. Besides being a pilgrimage centre, it is considered especially auspicious to die here, ensuring an instant route to heaven. In Varanasi, there are temples at every few paces. The thirty-three hundred million shrines fill one with awe and wonder with sheer numbers.
Kolkata, the second largest city in India, is the commercial capital of East India, located on the east bank of the Hooghly River. Kolkata is known for its literary, artistic, and revolutionary heritage; as the former capital of India, it was the birthplace of modern Indian literary and artistic thought. For these reasons, Kolkata has often been dubbed as the Cultural Capital of India or the Literary Capital of India.
Kolkata’s also the ideal place to experience the mild, fruity tang of Bengali cuisine.
Route to take: Delhi→ Agra→ Allahabad→ Varanasi → Kolkata
Distances to cover: Delhi → Agra: 210 kms [3.15 hrs]
Agra → Allahabad: 475 kms [7.20 hrs]
Allahabad→ Varanasi: 121 kms [2.10 hrs]
Varanasi → Kolkata: 681 kms [9.45 hrs]
Places to stay:
- Hotel Clarks, Varanasi: An island of tranquility in the ancient city of Varanasi, Hotel Clarks, the flagship property of the Clarks Group, makes for a memorable stay. The spacious 113 rooms are beautifully designed and tastefully furnished. Stay is comfortable and luxurious. Prices start at Rs.6000 per night.
- Pallavi International, Varanasi: Pallavi International Hotel is located in the heart of the town, surrounded by a beautiful view and is easily accessible by all means of transportation. The antique-filled former palace of the maharaja of Bahadur, now turned into a heritage hotel, the hotel offers a total of 44 rooms including 5 suites. Rooms are priced at Rs. 3100 a night.
- Hotel Pradeep, Varanasi: An affordable lodging, this hotel is located near all important places and spots of tourist interest.Decorated in tasteful browns and creams, 45 elegantly appointed air-conditioned rooms are smart and comfortable. It offers all the facilities of a three star hotel. Prices start at Rs. 2200 a night.
- Hotel Taj Ganges, Varanasi: A five start hotel, the hotel has 130 spacious, tastefully furnished and centrally air conditioned rooms. All modern amanities are also available.
- Hotel Aston: Strategically situated in the heart of Kolkata, this hotel is 20 km from the Dumdum Airport and 6 km from the Howrah Railway Station. Well within the boundaries of a moderate budget, Hotel Aston’s air-conditioned rooms are furnished with a television and telephone. Rooms are priced at around Rs.2000 a night.
- Taj Bengal: Taj Bengal is an international-standard hotel. Spacious rooms, 229 centrally air-conditioned rooms including 29 suites, feature inspiring modern décor interspersed with impressive traditional accents. Pries start at Rs. 12000 a night.
- Hotel Samilton: The Hotel Samilton is located on the Sarat Bose Road, the commercial hub of Kolkata. Rates start at Rs. 2595 and the hotel offers all facilities of a Modern Hotel with homely comfort.
- Hotel Kempton: Situated in the heart of Kolkata, Hotel Kempton is close to Indian Museum, Victoria Memorial, and Eden Gardens. The Kempton’s feast of white marbles and artificial orchids rise at a standard far above the prices actually charged. Rooms are priced at Rs. 3500 a night.
Places to see:
Varanasi: In many ways Varanasi epitomizes the very best and worst aspects of India, and it can be a little overwhelming. Here is a list of must-see places:
- Ghats: The Ganga Ghats (river front) are the most popular pilgrimage spot of Varanasi and are centers of music and learning.Each of the hundred ghats, big and small, is marked by a lingam, and occupies its own special place in the religious geography of the city.
- Vishwanath Temple: Also known as the Golden Temple due to the massive gold plating on its shikhara (spire), the Vishwanath Temple was built in 1777 by Queen Ahalya Bai Holkar of Indore, after been destroyed by Mughal invaders a couple of times. It is dedicated to Vishveswara – Shiva as lord of the universe and is closed to non-Hindus, who have to make do with glimpses from adjacent buildings.
- Kaal Bhairav Temple: Dedicated to Kaal Bhairav- a dreaded form of the Lord in Shiva avatar symbolizing death, the Kaal Bhairav Temple is the most ancient temple of Varanasi located near the Visheshar Ganj.
- Sarnath: It is believed that Buddha gave his first sermon to his disciples after getting enlightenment in Sarnath as such it holds great importance in Buddhism.Sarnath is 13 Km from Varanasi and has a museum as well.
- Other temples such as Nepali Hindu Temple, Tulsi Manas Temple, Durga Temple, Gauri Matha Temple, Sankat Mochan Temple, etc.
Kolkata: Kolkata is a huge city and it would be best visited if thought of in 4 parts- Norther, Southern, western and Eastern Kolkata. You could plan your visit according to the area that you’d like you cover. Here’s the list of common must-see places:
- Fort William: The massive and impregnable British Citadel built in 1773, Fort William was named after King William III of England and Ireland and II of Scotland. In front of the Fort is the Maidan, which used to be a part of the Fort and is the largest urban park in Calcutta.
- Victoria Memorial: A splendid white marble monument, on the southern fringe of the Maidan, is Kolkata’s most famous landmark, the Victoria Memorial.
- Chowringee: A market place of Kolkata, Chowringee has shops ranging from Computer Peripherals to cloth merchants. This place is a favourite pass time for local people.
- Marble Palace: A private mansion of Zamindar (Land owner) Raja Rajendro Mullick, the marble palace was built in 1835.Today this place has an incongruous collection of statues and paintings. There is also a private zoo housing a collection of birds from different corners of the world.
- The Howrah Bridge: Said to be the busiest bridge in the world, it spans the Hooghly River linking Howrah to Kolkata.
- Indian Museum: It is the largest and oldest museum of India. Located near Esplanade it is one of the most important landmark.
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