5 Feb SAT Arrive Delhi
Arrive Delhi and after customs & immigration formalities you will be met by our representative and escorted to the hotel. Rest and recuperate from your long flight. In the late afternoon leave for a visit of the spectacular Akshardham temple. 'Akshardham' means the divine abode of God. It is hailed as an eternal place of devotion, purity and peace. Swaminarayan Akshardham at New Delhi is a Mandir – an abode of God, a Hindu house of worship, and a spiritual and cultural campus dedicated to devotion, learning and harmony. Timeless Hindu spiritual messages, vibrant devotional traditions and ancient architecture all are echoed in its art and architecture. After sunset return to your hotel.
Overnight in Delhi
6 Feb SUN Delhi
Breakfast and then set out for a day of visiting various places of interest in Delhi. Today there is a combination of places of historical significance and the unity of diverse religions practiced by residents of this mega polis. Start by visiting the Old Delhi area and take a drive by tour of the majestic Red Fort and the Chandni Chowk (silver street). Visit central Delhi and first visit the bustling Connaught place and the Gurudwara Bangla sahib. This is one of the most prominent Sikh gurudwaras, or Sikh house of worship in Delhi and known for its association with the eighth Sikh Guru, Guru Har Krishan, as well as the holy water tank. Drive past the President palace, the government buildings and the India gate. This will give you an idea of the grandeur of the British rule over India. Finally visit the Humayun’s tomb and soak in the architecture of the Mughals. Before returning to the hotel visit the very pious Nizammuddin “Dargah” (shrine) a very well know Sufi centre of worship. The doctrine of Sufism was based on union with God which can be achieved through love of God, prayers, fasts and rituals without reference to Hindu or Muslims. It stressed that cultivation of religious experience should be based on the direct perception of God.
Return to your hotel
7 Feb MON Delhi – Dharamsala by flight and drive to McLeod Ganj
In the morning take a flight to Dharamsala on the Shiwalik foothills. Arrive and after a scenic drive arrive at the upper reaches of Dharamsala – McLeod Ganj. This is now the seat of the Tibetan Government in Exile and home to the 14th Dalai Lama. The walk in the lively bazaar in the evening is very interesting as you can see red robed Lamas mingling with fashionable young Tibetan youth.
Overnight at your hotel
8 Feb TUE McLeodganj - Dharamsala
Breakfast and leave first to visit the Tsuglagkhang otherwise popularly known as the Dalai Lama's temple. The huge statutes of Lord Buddha, Guru Rimpoche and Avlokiteswara in the main hall are omnipresent. Later visit the Nechung monastery a short distance away - Nechung Dorje Drayang Ling Monastery has an important role in Tibetan culture and history, dating back centuries, as the seat of Nechung, the Chief State Oracle of Tibet. Nechung Monastery was reestablished after China’s annexation in Dharamsala. Like many ancient civilizations of the world, the phenomenon of oracles remains an important part of Tibetan culture. Tibetans rely on oracles for various reasons. The purpose of the oracles is not just to foretell the future. They are called upon as protectors and sometimes used as healers. However, their primary function is to protect the Buddha Dharma and its practitioners.
In the afternoon visit the Norbulinka institute and get an in-depth glimpse of the Tibetan culture.
Overnight at hotel
9 Feb WED McLeodganj
After breakfast walk to the Tushita Medition center in upper McLeodganj and attend an 1 hour meditation course. The course starts at 9 am and is followed by a Q&A. Later ponder around the center and get to familiarize with the various meditation techniques.
Afternoon & evening free for any individual activities.
10 Feb THU McLeodganj – Amritsar (5 hrs drive)
Leave for Amritsar – the holiest of all places for the Sikhs. Arrive by lunch time and proceed directly to your hotel to rest & relax. Amritsar is home to The Golden Temple & the Akal Thakt and are considered the most sacred. Akal Takht (Throne of the Timeless one) is the chief centre of religious authority of Sikhism. This is located in the Golden temple complex itself. Guru Arjan Sahib, the Fifth Guru, conceived the idea of creating a central place of worship for the Sikhs and he himself designed the architecture of Sri Harmandir Sahib (also known as the Golden Temple). The ceiling of Harmandir Sahib is made with gold and precious stones. The authority here organizes the largest langar sewa (free food service) in the world. It serves around a 100,000 devotees daily. Visit the temple in the evening.
Return to your hotel
11 Feb FRI Amritsar
After breakfast, return to the Golden Temple. The Langar Sewa is a sight to see the selfless duty which thousands give in praise of the Lord. Continue on to visit Jallianwala Bagh, Khalsa College and the Hindu Durgiana Temple. Spread across 300 acres of land, the historical Khalsa College was founded in 1892 by the leaders of the Singh Sabha Movement. Khalsa College is not only known for its history and scholars but also for the architectural grandeur that the building boasts of. Later this afternoon, drive to the Wagah border to witness the changing of the guards, an elaborate ceremony filled with pomp, circumstance and national pride.
Overnight at hotel.
12 Feb SAT Amritsar – Delhi – Dehradun (Haridwar)
Early morning transfer to airport for a flight to Dehradun (via Delhi). On arrival drive for an hour to Rishidwar. Arrive at your ashram by mid-afternoon and settle in. In the evening meet up with all ashram inmates for Satsang (“group devotional singing”) before a frugal dinner.
13 Feb SUN Ashram life
An early morning start will introduce you to yoga and the basic breathing techniques. After breakfast meet with the Swamiji for a discourse of life principles or on spiritualism. After lunch you can rest till the evening satsang. Before dinner the Swamiji encourages cultural activities. Being a very open ashram, the ashram inmates are from all over the world.
14 Feb MON Ashram – Haridwar (Har Ki Pauri visit)
Morning at the ashram. In the mid-afternoon, leave in time for a visit to one of the holy spot in Haridwar – the Har Ki Pauri for a visit. The evening aarti and hym singing on the banks of the Ganges can be a very uplifting and spiritual experience. Return to the ashram for the night.
15 Feb TUE Ashram – Dehradun – Varanasi
This day leave the ashram and head to the Dehradun airport for a flight to Varanasi via Delhi. Arrive Varanasi (Benaras) in the mid afternoon and transfer to your hotel overlooking the Ganges.
16 Feb WED Varanasi
Early morning get onto a country craft for a private sunrise cruise on the Ganges River to observe life along the ghats (steps leading down to the river), as locals and pilgrims come to cleanse themselves, literally and spiritually, in waters they consider sacred. Return to your hotel to rest. Later visit Sarnath, where Siddhartha Gautama, who became known as the Buddha, delivered his first sermon after having achieved enlightenment, more than 3,000 years ago. Late in the evening go back to the steps of the river bank for a Sam Samriddhi prayer ceremony for the general well-being of the group members and their families. After this you can witness the deeply spiritual aarti ceremony, when chanted prayers and rhythmic drumming fill the air as lantern-bearing priests bid the gods and goddesses a “Good night”.
17 Feb THU Varanasi
Day in Varanasi. Visit two important temples The Kashi Vishwanath - this ancient Varanasi Shiva temple finds mention in the Puranas. The main deity of the shrine is a linga that is placed upon a silver altar. What is truly fascinating about this temple is that it has been subjected to destruction and re-construction a number of times over the course of history. Sankat Mochan temple – also known as the Monkey God temple, standing on the banks of the River Assi, this temple holds a special place among those with a faithful bent of mind. It is believed that anyone who visits the temple and prays with dedication will be relieved of his/her worries by Lord Hanuman, the great reliever of worries.
The rest of the day is free for shopping. Varanasi is very famous for it’s beautiful silk garments including sarees.
Overnight at hotel
18 Feb FRI Varanasi – Delhi – Agra
Board a flight to Delhi and upon arrival in Delhi. Leave from the airport for a 2.5 hrs drive for Agra. Arrive Agra and proceed to the hotel. Time permitting, visit the Taj by sunset. It is said that this is one of the best times to visit the monument.
19 Feb SAT Agra – Delhi airport
After breakfast leave for the Taj Mahal, this time with a guide. Visit the Fort before driving to Delhi airport in time for your flight back home.