Combining the highlights of spiritually significant temples, with a visit to local school children, to meandering through side streets and bazaars, we will see a side of Kathmandu beyond the backpacking, tourist centers. Through all of these experiences, in India and Nepal, you will be guided by an English-speaking, knowledgeable and professional guide. Watch as three giant effigies depicting demons get lit up into burning flames as we celebrate the Hindu Dussehra festival.
Making Your Life a Soul-Stirring Journey of Personal Growth
You have not truly experienced India until you have participated in one of her festivals! Combined with a transformative inspired exploration, this journey will lead you to develop new friendships and life-long connections with your fellow travelers. Feed your child-like curiosity, stoke your sense of adventure and fill your spirit until it is brimming over. Make a connection to the people and soul of India and Nepal. When you come home, you might feel a little tired from travel, but you will also feel renewed. In addition to these incredible experiences in two captivating countries, we will be staying in well appointed four and five star hotels.
Prepare to experience Indian and Nepali hospitality, combined with distinct character and elegance where you will want to kick your feet up and relax. Several of our hotels will have spa services available. You can choose if your free time is spent exploring or indulging! Meet a local artisan and make your own block prints to take home with you.
Block printing is an ancient art of dying and decorating fabrics; we will visit a village that is famous for it. Step off of the plane into the Delhi airport… and your enchanted journey begins!! We are met there by a very special crew and a delightful traditional Indian welcome. You will meet our in-country host and guide and then we are brought back to our hotel for check in.
The sweet scent of Frangipani called Champa in Hindi will fill your senses and you will comfortably settle in to our elegant hotel to get some rest. Think maharajas, camels, palaces, forts and the desert. Rajputs, the people who live in this region, are from warrior clans who have controlled this part of India for more than 1, years. Sense of honor and chivalry are held to a high standard and you will see this reflected in nearly every greeting you receive. Our first true exploration of this journey will begin in the small charming village of Bagru, a short drive from Jaipur. Bagru is known for their natural vegetable dyes and hand block printing.
We will meet an artisan of this trade and he will show us the process and guide us through to make one of our own block prints. Listening to the rich and proud history, you may begin to understand the feeling of enchantment that surrounds the the region. Maharaja Jai Singh loved astronomy. The pink sandstone of the Hawa Mahal, five stories high, is carved into an ornate screen where the women of the royal court could observe city life without being seen. This evening, we will partake in the Hindu festivities and celebrate Dussehra.
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Dussehra honors the victory of Lord Ram over the demon king Ravan, and the victory of good over evil. Giant effigies of the Ravan and his two brothers are lit into blazing flames as the very good-natured, friendly crowd at the festival passionately cheers! Today gives you the chance to absorb all of your spectacular experiences to date. Each day on this itinerary will fill you up and send you to bed brimming over with wonder.
You will appreciate taking what you need for yourself today. Whether it is rest, relaxation and contemplation, or a walk overlooking the city at another unforgettable fort, your trip leader and in-country guide will help you facilitate what you need. We will check out a stunning palace property that is still run by the noble family, wander through the courtyards, and imagine life from an earlier time. In the village, we will meet with some locals, take a camel cart ride through town, and then enjoy a delicious group lunch in the garden. We fly this morning to Kathmandu, Nepal and continue to illuminate our souls.
Our stay in Nepal will combine heartfelt spirit with adventure and delight. The Kathmandu Valley lies to the east of the northern Indian plains, below the towering snow covered peaks of the high Himalaya. Our inspired journey in Nepal — walking Koras around shrines, witnessing cremation sites on the river, and watching abundant wildlife on safari — begins today! It has been said that there are nearly as many temples as there are houses in the Kathmandu valley, and as many idols as inhabitants; there is not a river or a hill within its limits that is not consecrated to Hindu or Buddhist deities.
From the amazing architectural monuments, to dozens of spiritually significant temples and shrines, to hidden courtyards, cobblestone streets, tasty momos, Kathmandu is intoxicating. While you may also feel the sensory overload of the city, you will be stirred and inspired as we take it all in, in this land of culture, tradition, religion and sweet Nepali people. This evening, we will experience a rickshaw ride through Thamel market, a lively backpacker hub. This is a good area to do some souvenir shopping as well, after the ride.
We will also visit Pashupati Nath Temple, considered one of the holiest Hindu shrines, and a sacred site along the Bagmati River. While only Hindu people may go inside the temple itself, we will be able to have a peak in; plus there is much to see within the huge temple complex. Similar to Varanasi in India, ritual bathing, cremation ghats, shrines to Shiva all can be found in this holy area.
To complete this full morning, Boudhnath stupa is one of the oldest and the biggest Buddhist monuments ever built in the Himalayan Kingdom, in 5th century AD. Along with the other pilgrims, we will make a kora around the stupa, beneath the eyes of the Buddha. Later in the afternoon we will visit a local school to see up close and personal some of the children who live in this remarkable city. Early breakfast this morning at our hotel, and then we are off to Chitwan National Park, a World Heritage reserve.
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Three meals a day are included with our accommodations at the lodge where fully organic vegetables and dairy products produced by local farmers are used. This afternoon we will visit the Tharu villages Tharus are one of the earliest inhabitants of this region, the Terai. We will stroll through the mustard fields, see the locals at work, and learn more about their culture.
We have a full day to experience Chitwan, one of the best wildlife-viewing national parks in Asia. A jeep safari will give us another perspective and more opportunities to spot deer, birds, monkeys and other wildlife. Plus, we will have the incredible opportunity of seeing elephants during their daily bath in the river, and mama-baby interactions too! You can also opt for a canoe ride on the Rapti River not included but very affordable or any of the other activities the lodge offers. Saving us travel time, this morning we will hop a short flight back to Kathmandu and from there head to Dhulikhel, about a two hour drive.
A well-preserved Newari town, Dhulikhel also has spectacular Himalayan views. The Newars, while an ethnic minority in Nepal, comprise the majority culture through the Kathmandu Valley. Shiva temple, Ganesha shrine, Kali temple, Garuda King of the Birds worshiping in front of a three-tiered, Newari-style temple — these are just a few of the sites that will flame the magical light in our hearts.
Yoga and meditation class at the hotel will start our day. If you are interested in making this a full day of hiking, we can hike to Namobuddha stupa, one of the three most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Nepal. After a lovely breakfast at the hotel, we will leave for Bakhtapur approximately an hour drive.
The everyday culture of the Kathmandu Valley will come to life as we experience this medieval, temple-studded, quiet town. Our private guide will take us around Durbar Square, the Golden Gate, and through the narrow winding streets. Artisans weaving cloth, clay pots drying in pottery square, locals visiting on street corners and in communal courtyards are some of the scenes we will take in. When we are done in Bakhtapur, we will head to Kathmandu where we will experience the love that goes into a delicious Nepali meal.
We will be invited into a home for a cooking demonstration and share a meal with our gracious hosts. Our final day in Nepal. You may desire to relax at the hotel as you get packed up, or you can choose to wander through more of the amazing markets, shop for souvenirs or go back to one of your favorite stupas.
We will be transferred to the airport midday to fly back to Delhi.
From Delhi, we all catch our flights home. If you have never experienced the splendor of the Taj Mahal — perhaps this is your first trip to India — then you will want to consider this add-on. Arrive with me a few days early for a morning at the Sivananda Ashram with a vegetarian cooking demonstration then a crazy rickshaw ride through the streets of Old Delhi.
Healing Meditations For The Soul — Leanne Babcock
The following day, witness the spectacular reflections of light as they shimmer off of the white marble of the Taj and visit Agra Fort to learn more about the era in which this world wonder was built. Continuing our exploration of Old Delhi, we visit the Sheeshganj Gurudwara a Sikh temple , the Jain temple in Old Delhi and Chandni Chowk as we weave our way through the narrow streets on a cycle rickshaw.
The capital of India is rich and complex, where modern day developments sit side by side with ancient temples and tombs. You will find bullock powered carts side by side with cars, cows, mopeds, trucks, cycle rickshaws, electric rickshaws and even a camel or two on the road!
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The past co-exists with the present and adds to the charm of the city. Many dynasties ruled from here and Delhi is rich in culture, history and monumental architecture. Before heading there, we will visit Agra Fort, a fine Mughal fort. Actually, fort turned palace, turned prison, and the place where Shah Jahan was eventually imprisoned by his son. We will end this incredible day as we check into our hotel in Agra for a quiet evening at your leisure. The travel bug became imbedded in me from a young age.
Healing Meditations For The Soul
My family never stayed at home for long periods of time. I was very lucky — my parents were skiers. So, each winter, nearly every week, my parents picked my sister and me up from school on Fridays and we drove up to Vermont. We would ski Saturday and half day Sunday, then make the 4. My entire junior year of college I lived in Paris and went to school there, living with a young couple who helped me to become fluent in French.
I used all of my vacations and some weekends to travel through out western Europe. The train system made it easy! My love affair with India started in when a friend and I decided to use our frequent flyer miles to go as far away as we could with our FF credits.
BY James Van Praagh
I was at a place in my life where I needed a shift. I was 38, single, a fundraiser at a small nonprofit organization, and a lot of my time was taken up playing Ultimate Frisbee. Life was busy, I was fit, having fun, and my job had meaning in the community. Yet I was beginning to feel down, dull and disconnected.