i’ve not been able to, sadly. The school I had arranged to go to had been operating a bit of a dodgy volunteering scheme - for the last 5 years they had been signing people up who only had tourist visas. Doesn’t sound like much, but when Sikkimese government is pretty paranoid about foreigners, because China’s breathing down their neck on the north border than - there’s probably more to it than just that. It is an autonomous region also. The school got ‘busted’ a week before I was due to arrive, and they told me I couldn’t go. Still, it means I had an extra month in Darjeeling and Sikkim, which has definitely been a highlight of the whole trip so it’s not so bad for me, There were some volunteers who had flown to India for the sole purpose of teaching at this school, and had arranged to do it for four months. They had anticipated free accommodation and food, and so they have no money to fund these 2 months in the Himalayas. Peak - Himalayan mountain peak.
I stayed in Varanasi for a month, which, if you consider the heat (40 degrees and up), is testament to how fascinating a place it is. Mass tourism in Varanasi has its last hurrah during Holi, a festival so photogenic and accessible that even the most delicate tourists persevere the temperatures for its arrival - after though, the heat drives away the droves, and you have the city (almost) to yourself.