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Jhansi is an historic city in the state of Uttar Pradesh, on the banks of the Pahuj river. As well as being an interesting place to visit, by stopping here, we also will not have to travel so far by train all at once.
Here we will visit Jhansi Fort, and other sites connected with the warrior princess, Rani of Jhansi, who once rule Jhansi, and is famous for leading her army against the British, and for jumping from the top of the fort on horseback in order to escape capture.
From Jhansi, you will also have you first chance to see village life, in the nearby town of Chirgaon, where we can take lunch with us, and spend a day visiting the many temples and other places of interest.
During our visit, we will stay in one of the projects of Ananda Marga, which is school, as well as home for children and an ashram. The accomodation is simple but homely, and we will have food provided for us. You will also get to meet and make friends with some of the children!
From Jhansi, we will then continue of journey by train to Ananda Nagar in West Bengal.
Also known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, this national park is just between 2 of our stops, Jaipur and Jhansi. it is especially famous for the over 230 species of birds that live there. You can move around the park on foot, by bicycle, or by rickshaw. It is a great place for taking photos. If it has been raining and there is a high water level, we can also choose to take a boat.
There is also a Shiva Temple inside the park, where we can visit and do meditation. We can choose to either stay the night in a hostel inside the park, or take the train the same evening to Jhansi. This will be a relaxing day in nature, and a change from the last two days in the city.
We will start our journey by visiting Amber Fort, one of the most important and impressive historical sites of Jaipur. It is a huge palace complex built in the 16th century, and is filled with beautiful carvings, paintings and architecture. We will then take a guided tour around the other important sites and palaces of Jaipur including the Hawa Mahal, and ‘Jantar Mantar’, a giant astronomical observatory built in 1728.
The next day we will spend some time in the arts and crafts markets of Jaipur. The city is famous for is handicrafts, textiles and ceramic art. The market is not only a place for shopping, it is also the best place to meet the local traditions, culture and people.
Ananda Nagar is a rural development project and spiritual centre of Ananda Marga, located among among one of the poorest aread of India, in Purulia, West Bengal. This is an ancient land which has unfortunately been economically and socially exploited. The lands around Ananda Nagar are home to an ancient hostory of spirituality and culture.
Our visit to Ananda Nagar will offer you the chance to see a different side of India, missed by most tourists. It is also the chance to witness unique, grass-roots, social service work. The activities arouns Ananda Nagar, in the past and present, include running of primary and high schools for the local villagers, a teachers training college , music college, organic agriculture, reforestation, water management projects, and much more. For more information, see here: Ananda Nagar
During our stay, we will organize some activities with the local village schools, so that you can meet the children first hand.
Another reason to visit Ananda Nagar is because of its spiritual significance. Since ancient times, it has been home to many spiritual seekers and enlightened people. Scattered around around various ‘Tantra Piithas’, places known to be good for meditation and which have been used for meditation by elevated people in the past. Many visitors to Ananda Nagar have noted the deep, peaceful vibration thoughout the whole area, and had special experiences there.
The natural environment is also very beautiful and peaceful, with rolling hills, small rivers, and a bright red sunrise every morning. We will be using our time here as a spiritual retreat in nature, to meditate, and get to know both ourselves and the others in the group better.
Shantiniketan means the ‘place of peace’, and is a small town in West Bengal, 3 hours train ride from Kolkata. The town is famous as the location of ‘Vishva-Bharati’ University, created by the poet and social-visionary, Rabindranath Tagore. It is one of the most important cultural centres of Bengal. The university was created from Tagore’s vision of education connected to nature, with an importance placed on art, music and culture, and the all-round edvelopment of the students.
It really is a beautiful, peace place, and as you walk around, you will see classes happening in classrooms under trees, students practising theatre outdoors, and buildings painted in traditional styles. There are sculptures, murals, and artwork all around. There is also a museum showing the history of the university and Tagore’s life.
Many students of the university have gone on the become well-known musicians, artists, economists, etc.