by Anita Rosenberg,
So, you are thinking about going to India? Having been to India twice in the last few years, I’ve found it to be one of the most fascinating and enlightening places (most likely because I work in the world of metaphysics and spirituality. My biggest travel secret is to step outside your comfort zone and see with your own eyes what’s really going on in this amazing place.
Warning! You will catch Ganesh Mania!
India is the Land of Om. It is also the Land of Ganesh, and everyone who visits catches Ganesh Mania! He is the elephant-headed Hindu god of prosperity who removes obstacles and blesses new beginnings. Embraced by everyone no matter their religious or spiritual preferences, Ganesh rules India. Make it a point to pick up an important piece carved in jade or quartz. He will bring good luck home with you.
In Delhi, hire a guide to take you to Old Delhi and Chandi Chowk market, which is an outrageous assault on all your senses but provides the ultimate India experience. You will be led down the winding roads where bridal parties shop for their supplies. There is a tiny turn off (you must ask around) called Naughari Lane, a historic alley with Heritage buildings where Jain families have lived for centuries. Ashish Nahar owns a small jewelry shop on the first floor of his family’s colorfully painted house. He will give you a good price on stone-carved Ganesh – tell him I sent you!
Varanasi, the holy of holy cities
Nothing can prepare you for the nightly Agni Pooja or worship of the fire ceremony at Dashaswarmedh Ghat that puts the sacred Ganges River to sleep. You will be swept into the jungle of hawkers and beggars and a carnival of characters all rushing to the water’s edge in anticipation. A group of priests prepare the forty-five minute ceremony that is hypnotic, cheesy and creepy all at the same time. Recorded music plays over tin-sounding speakers. It is complete incense overload and I could smell the smoke in my hair for days. Don’t point your camera at the Holy Men covered in burnt body ashes or you will get scolded (it was the best photo my friend took the entire trip).
Morning bathing in the Ganges cleans away sins and souls. The Hindu cremations take place at Manikarnika Ghat. When one dies in Varanasi, his ashes are scattered in the Ganges. It is called Mokchha (salvation) and it means that you break the cycle of reincarnation – birth and rebirth. There are 5,000 years of dead body burnings and garbage in the murky waters so let the water touch your skin at your own risk!
The Karmic Connection
Shopping is like collecting memories, moments and stories. When you walk away from a shop – undecided – only to return later when you realize you can’t live without something, you’ve broken the cosmic karmic connection. It’s never the same and you end up with buyer’s remorse.
You are going to have your own list of must-see sites in India. There is so much to do and see – here are my top picks for an enlightened trip:
- Glam lunch at the Imperial Hotel in Delhi to experience the old colonial days
- Chandi Chowk Market in Old Delhi is the ultimate chaotic India experience
- Agni Pooja Sunset Ceremony in Varanasi at Dasaswarmedh Ghat
- Sunrise Boat Ride waking up the Ganges River
- Old Town Varanasi – oils and incense at Shankar Bros
- Photograph at least one Holy Man and give him a donation
- at sunrise is magical and crowded, make sure you stand in the famous photo spot with the Taj behind you
- Agra Fort after the Taj Mahal will blow-your-mind
- Oberoi Agra Hotel is uber chic (the shrimp Kerla was heavenly)
- Have your fortune told by a Barbella (fortune teller, astrologer and palm reader all wrapped into one)
- Photograph at least one snake charmer even if they freak you out
- Ride an elephant to the Jaipur Palace
- Buy art from a local artist at The Palace School in Jaipur
- See at least one puppet show – puppets are handmade family businesses
- Gem Palace (jewelers to the royal family since 1852) is a must in Jaipur, the city of jewels. Say hi to owner Sanjay Kasliwal for me. He has a regular table at Rambagh Palace so you might see him there.
“If these don’t bring you nirvana, I have bigger ones.”
Rambagh Palace is ultra chic and romantic at any time of the day or night
- Niros in Jaipur has been there since 1949, a local place with excellent food
- Return home with a red string for your wrist blessed by a priest or Holy Man
- Walk along Marine Drive, aka Queen’s Necklace in Mumbai
- See the famous traditional laundry – Dobi Ghat
Secret Tips to make the most of your India adventure:
- When offered a restaurant or a private home for dinner, always pick someone’s home. It is an honor to be invited to an Indian home and you will have the best meal ever.
- You will not find nirvana and be terribly disappointed if you allow your driver to pick lunch, dinner or shopping spots. Have your own list from sources you trust.
- Never get sick in India by only drinking bottled water, no ice, no raw vegetables washed in water, no street food, no funky stuff and no strange meat. I eat plenty of yummy garlic naan bread and drink plenty of masala tea.
- Don’t let the overwhelming poverty and begging bother you by avoiding eye contact with all beggars, and never give them money. Don’t allow them to enter your energy space. Once you meet their gaze it’s all over – they have you emotionally.
- Namaste is the universal greeting. With your hands together in a prayer mudra at your heart with head slightly bowed, it means “the god inside my soul says hello to the god inside your soul.” Use it often.
Anita Rosenberg is the go-to expert for Feng Shui and BaZi Chinese Astrology who travels the globe “Shopping for Nirvana.” Her adventures have taken her to over 50 countries where she lectures and works with clients. Anita created “Shopping for Nirvana in India – 52 spirited adventures” as a travel deck to assist you to having a fabulous time on your journey.
Available only at the Good Karma Shop on her website: http://www.anitarosenberg.com/p_INDIA-CARDS-148.html