Nick Novicki & Teale Sperling
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Reviewed 17 February 2015 – TripAdvisor
Had a beautiful two night stay at Hotel Rivatas by Ideal. We were received by the front desk staff with courtesy. The rooms were good size – not too small and not too big and it was clean. We asked the hotel for a tour guide and they put us in touch with the hotel travel desk who arranged for us a Uttar Pradesh qualified Tour Guide. The Tour Guide’s name was Ranjit Kumar Pandey. His Tel. No. is +919307802515. He had a thorough knowledge of the city and took us to some of the places we would not have visited otherwise. He knew his way around and explained the history in details which made our trip so much more enriched.
In the evening he took us for a boat ride on the Ganges and we experienced the Aarti on the Ghat by sitting in the boat. It was incredible. Later before the Aarti finished he took us right where the Sadhus were doing the Aarti and we had excellent opportunity to see it from close up. If you are visiting Varanasi, call him and he will definitely make your trip a lot more richer.
Our stay in Varanasi ws short but very impactful. Ranjit not only just showed us the things to see, but he was also a charismatic guide who transferred the visit to Varanasi to an experience we will never forget.
During the day we visited the town via ricksha. He is a gifted ambassador for the city but moreover an expert in describing the value that Varanasi and the river Ganges plays for Hindustan people. He made us witness the Aarti ceremonies in the evening from a great spot in the temple. He also showed me around giving me good opportunities to make pictures without disrupting the spiritual atmosphere of the place. In the early morning he took us in a small rowing bout alongside the various ghats at sunrise.
Ranjit Kumar Pandey was our best guide in India.
Together we went on a week-long tour of Northern India along the Buddha Trail. Our journey began with a personalized tour of his home city, Varanasi. We were impressed by his extensive knowledge of Varanasi’s history, and it was evident as he greeted many people during our walking tour, that he was well known and respected in his community. We really loved how he interacted with the children selling flower offerings for the boat-ride ritual. He made sure they all were treated equally and with respect while also making them laugh in a playful way. With his generous nature, we felt like an integral part of the journey, not just spectators.
Along the Buddha Trail, there were many experiences that felt so special, and only could have happened with Ranjit as our guide. After visiting the Mahabodhi Temple Complex in BodhGaya, he invited us to come to the Shiva Temple nearby. It was clearly not a tourist experience, but we were welcomed by the locals worshipping there who encouraged us to
participate as if we truly belonged.
Another amazing experience was visiting Nalanda, the ancient University ruins that Buddha studied at. While we were there, Ranjit was not only our guide, but also a curious
scholar asking deep philosophical questions about Nalanda from one of the University’s elderly expert guides. His additional explanations added depth to our understanding of that fascinating history.
In towns along the way, Ranjit pointed out Ayurvedic Hospitals and other things we were interested in. He even arranged for us to have a “family” experience where we were treated to Masala Chai, English conversation practice and many selfies! Welearned a lot about Indian culture and were treated like family. The women of the village even dressed us up in Saris – such fun!
Although Ranjit is not a Buddhist, he included many experiences that enriched our connection with the Buddha’s life, and shared his extensive knowledge of Indian spirituality. He made our tour better than expected every day.
Ranjit was amazing. He did everything in his power to create an environment for us of safety, ease and enjoyment. Our tour of Northern India was a profound soul-enriching journey that we will never forget.
Jenny Jo Allen and Karin Walsh,
Port Townsend, WA, U.S.A.