INDIA

INDIA


Varanasi_Pray_Sadhu

 

 

THE HEART OF YOGA -

A 16 DAY IMMERSION THROUGH THE DHAMS

(HOLY PLACES) OF INDIA & HOLI FESTIVAL

 

February 21- March 8, 2019

 

WHATS TO COME…

Do you teach or practice yoga?

Have you wanted to learn more about its origins and the backbone of its teachings?

Have you ever wanted to explore Incredible India and just dont even know where to start?

Have you wanted to learn more about the spirituality, history, and culture of these epic lands and experience the great color frestival of Holi?

Created with love by life long travel experts and prominent and well versed yoga guides, this retreat is the utlimate in India is you are not looking to be a tourist but to really dive into the heart of things.

Pilgrimages to India is a lifetime must and being in the right company and under the right guidance on how to approach and experience fully these Holy Cities make the absolute difference in your experience, understanding, and appreciation.

Enjoy 1-2 daily yoga classes, guidance under life long practitioneres of the Vedic Sciences, Meditation, Bhakti Yoga, Philosphy and much more.

Your job is to book your spot, buy your plane ticket, and show up with an open mind and heart.

We do the rest so you can enjoy it the most.

Find out why this land calls all that seek more than ordinary.

 

 

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The Sapta Puri are places of birth of religious and spiritual masters, places where Gods have descended as avatars(incarnations) such as Ayodhya where Rama was born, and places considered as Nitya tirthas, naturally endowed, with spiritual powers since ages such as Varanasi and Haridwar.

We will travel to 5 out of the 7 Sapta Puri along with other historical and important spiritual sites.

Be prepared to leave behind who you thought you were and step into the heart of who you are.

 

 

Day 1 New Delhi:

Welcome to India!!

You will arrive today at Delhi International Airport. Following customs, immigration formalities and baggage
collection, our tour guide will meet you after which you
would be transferred to your hotel.

Unpack and unwind enjoying the night in Delhi.

Day 2 New Delhi – Rishikesh:

After our delicious breakfast we pack up and take a scenic 8 hour bus right to the Himalayas and holy city of Rishikesh.

One of the holiest cities in India, Rishikesh is not just known for its religious connection but also for its beautiful landscape. Surrounded by hills (the Lesser Himalayas) on three sides and holy Ganga River flowing through it, Rishikesh is an ethereal experience.

Rishikesh is the gateway to famous Chardham which are Kedarnath, Badrinath,
Gangotri and Yamunotri. In fact Rishikesh is a favourite of those coming to meditate and seek salvation. It is believed that meditation on the land of this holy place leads to salvation. Every year many people come here in the ashrams to meditate and gain peace of mind.

The place is also very famous with foreigners who come to India in search of
spiritual quest. Rishikesh is famous for its ashrams on the banks of Ganga, at many such ashrams yoga is practiced and taught regularly. Such is the feeling of Rishikesh that even Beatles could not escape from the magical experience. They had visited India in 1960 to pay visit to their Guru in Rishikesh.

What else works in Rishikesh’s favour is its
altitude (1360 metres). It is higher than other holy cities of Haridwar and Varanasi, the water in Ganga here is cooler and cleaner. The flow of the river is stronger here and the city is less populated than others. It is calmer and peaceful here. It is such a beauty, the water gushing from the Himalayas, the banks dotted with ashrams and temples (both ancient and recent) and a hilly landscape in the background of all this, Rishikesh is truly amazing

Day 03 Rishikesh:

After buffet breakfast at the hotel, leave for the sightseeing
Drive to Vashishtaguha or cave which was about 25 km away from Rishikesh. This is a place huddled in the middle of high range hills all around with mother Ganga flowing to the right of the cave.

 Mythology says the great sage Vashishta did penance here 3,000 years ago. The compound has a temple, small accommodation for the ashram occupants and the cave. The entrance of the cave does not give any hint of what is there inside.

 Apparently, sages from the remote and higher parts of the Himalaya come
down in their astral bodies to that part of the cave for meditation.

Later visit to Waterfall this is 2 kms trek(one side) and enjoy at water fall and back to the hotel.

Head back after a full day of exploring to have a wonderful group dinner at the hotel.

Day 04 Rishikesh:

Rise and shine for morning yoga over looking the Ganges followed by yummy breakfast at the hotel.

Today you have a full day to explore, shop and soak in all that Rishikesh has to offer.

You won’t be at a lack of things to do and take in so enjoy to the fullest.

 

Day 05 Rishikesh -Haridwar:

We start the day with some refreshing morning yoga overlooking the rushing waters of Mother Ganga, followed by breakfast and some free time to get those last little bits in.

Around midday we make the short trek over to the colorful city of Hardiwar and arrive at our favourite Havilla on the Ganga.

We will have time to settle in before heading out for evening aarti on the water and experience one of my personal favourite spots to offer praye and gratitude.

Dinner will be enjoyed back at the hotel and most likely a deep and restful sleep after a full day of exploring.

 

Day 06 Haridwar:

Morning yoga and optional bathing in the Ganga with our own private Ghat is how we start the day.

After breakfast, you have the option to get out and explore Hardiwar and its crazily filled alleys of treasure.

This city has stellar bronze deity statues if that is what you crave with so many to choose from.

We will join up again for another magical evening aarti followed by a rooftop dinner, weather permitting.

Day 07 Haridwar

Today is an exciting travel day so its an early rise with breakfast and then we head for the train station for a classic voyage through India’s countryside.

This scenic nice hour journey will give you much to see and memories to last a lifetime as we head to our next destination of Lucknow.

Day 08 Lucknow -Ayodhya:

After yoga and  breakfast at the hotel we visit Bada Immam Badha. It was built by Asaf-ud- Daula, Nawab of Awadh, in 1784.

It is also called the Asafi Imambara. Bara means big, and an imambara is a shrine built by Shia Muslims for the purpose of Azadari. The Bara Imambara is among the grandest buildings of Lucknow.

Later drive to Ayodhya the land of Lord Ram.

We will also head over to Hanuman garhi temple and hear great stories of this ideal devotee and his many adventures in service to the great Lord Ram.

Surely famished, we top of the evening with dinner at the hotel before a restful night of sleep.

Day 09 Ayodhya – Allahabad

Morning yoga and nourishing breakfast sets us up for our next destination of Allahabad.

This is another fun travel day and a great way to take in the sites of India.

Day 10 Allahabad:

After another refreshing morning yoga session to ward off any stiffness, we fuel up with  breakfast at the hotel.

From there we head out to visit Triveni Sangam.  In Hindu tradition Triveni Sangam is the  confluence of three rivers. Sangama is the Sanskrit word for confluence. The point of confluence is a sacred place for Hindus. A bath here is said to flush away all of one’s sins and free one from the cycle of rebirth.
Later come back to hotel.
Dinner and overnight stay at hotel.

Day 11 Allahabad – Varanasi:

A new day, a new city! After a refreshing morning practice and fulfilling breakfast, we jump on our bus and head towards Varanasi.

On our way we stop and visit Sarnath, a major Buddhist center.

Sarnath lies 10 kilometers north east of Varanasi. It was here that Buddha
preached his message of the ’middle way’ to nirvana after achieving enlightenment at Bodhgaya.

In around 234 BC, Emperor Ashoka, a great follower of Buddhism, erected a stupa here. Between the 3rd century BC and the 11th century AD, several Buddhist structures were built here in Sarnath.

Most of the Sarnath’s monuments are set in large
gardens making it quite pleasant for a visitor to spend some time here. The Buddha Purnima festival is held here in May to celebrate the birth of Lord Buddha.

 Walk barefoot on the holy land of Sarnath to get the real essence of spiritual life.

Later board your vehicle to reach Ghats, the vehicle can go till a point and from there you will walk/ rickshaw ride
through the narrow lanes of the city to see the hustle bustle of daily lives to reach till Ghat (Dasashwamedh Ghat) and from there embark your boat to witness the famous Aarti of Ghats.

After Aarti disembark your boat and proceed for hotel.
Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 12 Varanasi:

Today early morning you will embark your boats again to visit to the ghats witnessing the Hindu pilgrims perform the rituals and following the centuries old tradition and belief that by dying in Varanasi or by immersing the mortal remains in the holy Ganges, it clears one from the birth circle and you are incarnated to human life in the next birth.

You would be taking a boat cruise on the river Ganges around all the ghats and stopping at the important ones. The riverfront, as seen from a boat, early in the morning, is a spiritually uplifting sight and incredibly peaceful yet powerful.

Later come back to hotel, enjoy leisurely breakfast before having the whole day to explore the wild alley of this famed city, making sure to sip lassi of exotic flavours at Blue Lassi.

Saffron Cardamon is an all time favourite!

Later in the evening, enjoy Aarti at ghats one last time making sure to light a prayer boat for well wishes for those we love.

Top it off with group dinner and story swapping of a day surely filled with wonder.

Day 13 Varanasi –Vrindavan:

Travel day! And we are off, saying goodbye to Varanasi and making the journey to the holy land of Vrindavan.
Its a full day with a flight and travel giving us loads more to seeing of the vast lands of India.

Welcome to the land of Krishna and its sweet Bhakti Lilas. If you listen closely, you might hear the sound of Krishna’s flute in the wind.

Lucky for you, we arrive just before the great spring celebration of Holi and in the heart of it all.

Truly a blessing worth being thankful for.

 

Day 14 Vrindavan:

Hold onto your sunglasses! The epic monkeys here will be waiting to snatch them or a sweet treat and we aren’t exaggerating.

The sanctuary of our residence will be our home for the next few days, central to the temples, and located in the heart of the the festivities.

Make sure to be properly equipped for this holiday because once you step outside, expect to be fully covered at any moment in coloured powder.

Step out in the glory of Holi Festival with your color and gear and celebrate this welcoming of spring!

With 24 hour kirtans near by, the Yamuna to visit, and several holy sites within the city, you won’t be at a lack to take in all of the places you’ve heard about in your yoga class.

We top off the night with group dinner and optional visit to the temple for kirtan bliss.

Day 15 Vrindavan:

Yoga and breakfast to start the day as Holi is celebrated nation wide today.
Rest of the day at leisure.
Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.

Or (Optional)
Drive to Agra (80 Kms / 01 – 02 Hrs)
Visit Taj Mahal (closed on Fridays). The Taj Mahal is everything that has been said about it and more. Taking 22 years and 20,000 men to build, the white marble was quarried 200 miles away and was transported to the site by a fleet of 1000 elephants. Built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as an expression of his love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, in mid 17th century, the Taj Mahal is truly one of the wonders of the world. Though the Taj appears to be amazingly perfect from almost any angle, it is the close-up marble inlay work, which is really astounding. You will have ample time to view and be mesmerized by this outstanding piece of architecture.
Later drive back to Vrindavan.

Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 16 Vrindavan – Delhi:

We are sad to say goodbye, but its been one incredible ride.

Today we wish each other well on our journeys back home, and plan to meet again soon.

We thank Mother India for her love and support and know that her red earth stained not only our feet, but our hearts forever.

Try keeping your eyes dry on the ride back to Delhi to board your International flight back home.

DOUBLE OCCUPANCY

STARTS AT: $3099

EARLY SIGN UP BEFORE Nov 30, 2017  $3099

REGULAR RATE  $3299

DEPOSIT ($500) To reserve your spot.

 The deposit is non-refundable.

SINGLE OCCUPANCY

STARTS AT: $3999

EARLY SIGN UP BEFORE Nov 30, 2017  $3999

REGULAR RATE  $4199

DEPOSIT ($500) To reserve your spot.

 The deposit is non-refundable.


New Dehli

New Delhi is all at once chaotic and calm, a complicated city where cows often wander the shanty-lined streets. The 17th century Red Fort is a mass of domes and turrets, while Chandni Chowk is an exercise in friendly haggling. Jantar Mantar features larger-than-life sundials and astronomical instruments that are still used to predict the weather. Travelers and locals flock to the India Gate, the national monument of India that honors the soldiers who died in World War I and the Third Afghan War.

Rishikesh

Ever since the Beatles rocked up at the ashram of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the late ’60s, Rishikesh has been a magnet for spiritual seekers.

It is known as the ‘Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas‘ and ‘Yoga Capital of the World’, with masses of ashrams and all kinds of yoga and meditation classes.

The exquisite setting on the fast-flowing Ganges, surrounded by forested hills, is conducive to meditation and mind expansion. In the evening, an almost supernatural breeze blows down the valley, setting temple bells ringing as sadhus (‘holy’ men), pilgrims and tourists prepare for the nightly ganga aarti (river worship ceremony).

You can learn to play the sitar or tabla; try Hasya yoga (laughter therapy), practise meditation or take a punt on crystal healing.

Due to the religious significance of the place, non-vegetarian food and alcohol are strictly prohibited in Rishikesh.

Rishikesh in India

 

Haridwar

Haridwar is one of the most important Hindu pilgrim places of India. Haridwar has very rich religious and cultural heritage. In the Hindu scriptures, Haridwar is known by the name of Mayapur.

“Haridwar”, also written as “Hardwar”, literally means “gateway to god Vishnu (Hari)” or “gateway to god Shiva (Har)”. It is the holiest city in the state of Uttarakhand. It is strategically located (29.96°N 78.16°E) on the western bank of the river Ganges as it emerges into the plains at the exact location where the Har-Ki-Pauri ghat has been built to facilitate pilgrims to take a holy bath.

It is thus also called the Gangadwara, the place where the Ganges descends to the plains. Every year, thousands of people flock to Haridwar, also called Hardwar, to bathe at the Har-Ki-Pauri ghat (ghat is an embankment structure built out of stone slabs leading to the river edge to facilitate bathing) since it is believed that the feet of Vishnu is imprinted on a rock preserved here. Every evening at sun set time at the ghat, thousands of pilgrims offer arti, a Hindu ritual of offering lights of earthen lamps on small floating leaf holders with flowers, as the temple bells reverberate amidst chanting of hymns.

Legend from Hindu scriptures state that Haridwar is one among the four sites where drops of Amrita, the elixir of immortality, accidentally spilled over from the pitcher, in which it was being carried away by the celestial bird Garuda, after the Samudra manthan (churning of the ocean); the other three places are said to be Ujjain, Nasik, and Allahabad.

haridwar

Ayodhya

Ayodhya is an ancient city of India, the old capital of Awadh, in the Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh.

Owing to the belief as the birthplace of Rama, Ayodhya (Awadh) has been regarded as one of the seven most important pilgrimage sites (Saptapuri) for Hindus. It is believed that the birth spot of Rama was marked by a temple, which was demolished by the orders of the Mughal emperor Babur and a mosque erected in its place.

It is on the right bank of the river Sarayu, 555 km east of New Delhi. The word ayodhya is Sanskrit for “not to be warred against”.

There is a surfeit of temples in this town, numbering over 100. Some of the important ones are: Temple of Rama and his consort Sita, called the Kanak Bhavan; Hanuman temple called the Hanuman Garhi on top of a hill where, apart from a Hanuman statue in a sitting posture, there is also a 6 inches (15 cm) tall image of Hanuman always bedecked by flowers; the Kshireshwaranath temple of Sita, established by Kausalya, Rama’s mother.

In addition, there are several kunds or ponds and ghats (bathing steps to approach river or tank water level) with linkage to mythological characters; such as the Brahma kund built in honour of Brahma’s visit here, Sita kund, Bharat kund, Lakshman ghat where Lakshman, Rama’s brother took bath, Rama ghat (also called Swargadwar meaning gateway to heaven).

Ram_Paidi

 

Varanasi

Varanasi is the oldest and the most sacred place for the Hindus. Varanasi, also known as the holy city, combines in itself the cultural essence and mysticism of India. Varanasi stands on the banks of river Ganga in the Uttar Pradesh state of North India.

A major religious hub in India, it is the holiest of the seven sacred cities (Sapta Puri) in Hinduism and Jainism, and played an important role in the development of Buddhism.

According to legend, Varanasi was founded by the god Shiva.[8] There happened a fight between the two supreme gods, Brahma and Shiva, and the succeeding combat resulted in one of the four heads of Brahma being torn off by Shiva. It was a custom of the time that the victor carried the slain adversary’s head in his hand and let it hang down from his hand as an act of ignominy and a sign of his own bravery. A bridle was also put into the mouth. Shiva thus dishonored Brahma’s head, and kept it with him at all times. When he came to the city of Varanasi in this state, the hanging head of Brahma dropped from Shiva’s hand and disappeared in the ground. The land of Varanasi is therefore considered an extremely holy religious site.

 varanasi

 

Allahabad

Allahabad is among the largest cities in Uttar Pradesh. Hindu mythology has it that for the Prakrishta Yajna, Lord Brahma, the creator God of the Trinity, chose a land on earth, on which the three rivers would flow in to a quiet confluence.

Brahma also referred to it as Tirth Raj or the King of all pilgrimage centres. Recorded evidence also exists in the revered scriptures (the Vedas and the grand epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, as also in the Puranas) of this holy place formerly called Prayag.

Allahabad stands at the confluence of two of India’s holiest rivers, the Ganga and the Yamuna.

Sangam, as the confluence is called, is the venue of many sacred fairs and rituals, and attracts thousands of pilgrims throughout the year. This number swells to millions during the world-famous Kumbh Mela.

An annual Magh Mela is also held in Allahabad around the Sangam areas in the month of January (Magh is the name of month in Hindu calendar). A third mythical Saraswati river, believed to flow underground towards the Sangam, gives the confluence its other name, Triveni.

  

Prayag

Prayag, where river Ganga and Yamuna meet, is one of the ancient pilgrimage centers of India.Prayag is situated in Allahabad.

Prayag is venerated in the hymns of the Rig Veda. Tradition regards the region between the Ganga and the Yamuna as the most fertile region on earth.

Prayag is also associated with the legend of the celestial nectar of immortality –  Amritam. A variation of the legend has it that Jupiter, the guru of the Devas, picked up the pot of the celestial nectar as it emerged from the milky ocean and made off with it, to prevent the demons from having access to it. The enraged demons chased him. In the course of the chase, the pot Kumbha overflowed, and the nectar fell into four different places on earth, corresponding to Prayag, Nasik, Ujjain and Haridwar. Legend has it that at the time of the great deluge which submerges the earth at the end of each aeon, Prayag remains intact and that Vishnu resides here as a Yoga Murthy, on a banyan leaf in the form of a child. Vishnu is referred to as Veni Mahadeva, and Shiva is believed to be personified here as the immortal banyan tree or the Akshaya Vata Vriksham. (Alongside this tree is a shrine to Shi

Offerings are made to the souls of the departed by visiting pilgrims here, as in Benares and in Gaya.

Bathing at the confluence of the three rivers – Triveni Sangam is considered special in the Hindu month of Magha

allahabadcity

Mathura

Mathura is an important place of Hindu pilgrimage. Mathura is also known as the Brajbhoomi – the land where Lord Krishna was born and spent his youth. Mathura is located on the right bank of the Yamuna River in the district headquarters of Mathura district, also called Mathura Mandala or Braj Bhoomi, is considered the heart of Indian culture. Krishna was born here and hence it is also popularly known as ‘Krishnajanmabhoomi’ (“Krishna’s birth place”).

Mathura is replete with several historic events.

Based on archeological findings of ancient pottery, tools and tackles, Mathura’s ancient history has been traced to about 1200 BC.

There are many other temples of importance to pilgrims within Mathura.

  

Vrindavan

Vrindavan, just 15 km from Mathura, is another major place of pilgrimage. It is noted for its numerous temples – both old and modern. The name Vrindavan evokes the playfulness and lovable characteristics of Shri Krishna. This is the wood where he frolicked with the gopis and tenderly wooed Radha.

Vrindavan, the land of Krishna’s ‘raas-leela’ with the gopis, is where Holi celebrations start at least a week before the actual festival.

Vrindavan has an ancient past, associated with Hindu history, and is an important Hindu pilgrimage site. One of its oldest surviving temples is the Govinda Deva temple, built in 1590, with the town founded earlier in the same century.

The essence of Vrindavan was lost over time until the 16th century, when it was rediscovered by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. In the year 1515, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited Vrindavana, with the purpose of locating the lost holy places associated with Lord Sri Krishna’s transcendent pastimes. Chaitanya wandered through the different sacred forests of Vrindavana in a spiritual trance of divine love. It was believed that by His divine spiritual power, He was able to locate all the important places of Krishna’s pastimes in and around Vrindavana.

Vrindavan is considered to be a holy place for Vaisnavism tradition of Hinduism. It is a center of Krishna worship and the area includes places like Govardhana and Gokul that are associated with Krishna.

Monuments-in-Vrindavan-5643

  

Barsana

Barsana is a village that is located 45 kilometers from the downtown Mathura. Typical of villages in Braj, Barsana too is connected to Lord Krishna and his times. Barsana that is surrounded by hills from four sides is actually the birthplace of Radha, the consort of Krishna whom he never married. The place was earlier named Brahmsarin. The myth goes that Brahma asked Krishna to spend time on the earth. Krishna asked Brahma to take the form of hill. The four hills are said to represent the four heads of Brahma.

Barsana is also famous for its Holi celebrations. A very special type of Holi called Lathmaar Holi is played here between the residents of Nandgaon and Barsana. It this Holi, womenfolk of Barsana beat men of Nandgaon with wooden sticks and the later have to defend themselves. Do catch this event as nowhere in India will you find Holi so colorful.

Barsana Nandgaon Holi 2015 8

  

Why celebrate Holi in Vrindavan and Mathura and origin of Holi

While Holi is celebrated in almost every part of India, Holi in Braj is especially famous. Braj is a historical region which covers the area of Mathura, Vrindavan and some nearby areas. Holi here attacts tourists and pilgrims from all over the world because of it’s special customs and traditions. Mathura is the birth-place of Lord Krishna and Vrindavan is the place where he grew up in his childhood.

When Krishna was young, he cribbed to his mother about Radha (his friend) being fair while Krishna himself was dark complexioned. His mother (Yashoda) suggested him to colour Radha with colors in a playful manner. Over the years, Krishna from his village Nandgaon used to go to Barsana (Radha’s village) to color Radha and other Gopis. They also used to playfully beat him with sticks. And hence the tradition evolved.

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OTHER OPTIONAL VISITS

 

TAJ MAHAL

Meaning Crown of the Palace, it is an ivory-white marble mausoleumon the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan (reigned 1628–1658), to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

The tomb is the centrepiece of a 17-hectare (42-acre) complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenellated wall.

The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage”.

Asia-India-Taj-Mahal-and-the-Treasures-of-India-(1024x460)

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