A Heritage Travel Itinerary for India
Immerse yourself in traditional Indian culture with a visit to the ancient city of Haridwar.
Number of Bostonians with Indian Heritage: 10,447
For centuries, Hindu ancestors have made pilgrimages to the ancient city of Haridwar, where a loved one’s ashes are traditionally scattered into the Ganges River. To craft a five-day itinerary to this holy place, Boston-based heritage-travel expert Kristin Chambers, of D.A. Luxury Travel, collaborated with Greaves Tours, a company that’s been planning one-of-a-kind excursions to India since 1979.
You made it! After touching down at Delhi Airport, let your personal concierge whisk you off to Matsya, a famous Indian haute-couture design studio where you can create your own custom sari to be shipped home to Boston. Then check into Oberoi hotel in nearby Gurgaon for some R & R.
Hop on IndiGo airlines’ morning flight to Dehradun; from there, it’s just an hour by car to Haridwar. Once you’ve made yourself at home in a plush Ganges-view suite at the Haveli Hari Ganga Hotel, it’s time to experience a traditional Ganga Aarti ceremony, the 90-minute Hindu ritual held at dusk at Har Ki Pauri, a series of steps leading to the riverbanks.
Today is all about connecting with Haridwar’s spiritual past. The morning begins with a tour of the Haridwar temples, which are mainly dedicated to the gods Shiva and Vishnu. Then ride a chairlift to Mansa Devi Temple, located atop the Himalayas’ southernmost mountain, to check out its breathtaking mirrored interior.
Ready to learn more about your own past? If you’ve been able to locate your family’s pandit, a scholar or priest who keeps handwritten records documenting marriages, births, and deaths, now’s a good time to meet up and trace your genealogy. Spend the rest of the day in Rishikesh, where you can witness another Ganga Aarti ceremony.
It’s almost time to head home from Delhi, but not before stopping by one of India’s most treasured landmarks: the Taj Mahal. Navin Piplani, an architecture conservationist, takes Chambers’s clients on private tours of the ivory palace. —A.B.