Spirituality and Religion Across North India

At each step of this journey, discussions and interaction with eminent teachers will help you explore and expand your own personal connection to the unfolding essence of India. Through the eyes of our experienced guide, your spirits will respond to the sights, sounds and beliefs of a civilization that renounced materialism, and found a way to infuse spirituality into daily life. Spirituality is not just about seeing and experiencing different places of worship. Eminent teachers and speakers will inter-space the tour with six short one-hour long talks given in the comfort of your hotel. These are:

    • History of Different Religions in India,
    • Origins and History of Buddhism,
    • History of Islam in India,
    • Hinduism - the Emergence of a Religion from a Philosophy,
    • History of Christianity in India, and,
    • The Essence of Sikhism.

ITINERARY

Day 1. Leave the Americas

Day 2. Leave Europe or travel. Arrive Delhi late at night. Spiritual Journeys, Inc. representative will welcome you at the airport when you arrive late night at Delhi Airport, and escort you to your hotel.

Day 3. Delhi. Delhi is the third largest city of India and been the capital city of a succession of powerful kingdoms with numerous fascinating ruins through the ages. We will see: Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, the house where the eight Sikh Guru went to Delhi at the invitation of Raja Jai Singh, the Bahai Temple, often called as the Taj Mahal of the 21st century, the Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India, designed as Emperor Shahjahan’s principal mosque, an austere yet beautiful building in red sandstone with white marble, and pulpit being carved out of a single block of marble. About 20,000 people can pray at a time in this mosque. In the afternoon, we will have an opportunity to shop.  Discussion: History of Religions in India

Day 4. Delhi. Continue sightseeing. Shopping. Discussion: The Essence of Sikhism.

Day 5. Jaipur. Experience the country-side as we drive to Jaipur. Jaipur was founded in 1727, being the only planned city of its time. There's an amazing appeal to Jaipur's colorful bazaars, beautifully laid out gardens, parks & the monuments. We will see: The City Palace, which houses a museum collection of costumes and armoury and an art gallery of miniature paintings, carpets and rare astronomical works. Hawa Mahal with fine trellis work, balconies and 953 semioctagonal and honey combed sandstoned windows. Amber Fort Complex , a classic romantic Rajasthan fort-palace which took 200 years to build, starting in 1592, climbing to its top on elephant back. Jantar Mantar, a huge stone observatory with structures to gauge altitude, and celestial clocks accurate to less than half a minute.

Day 6. Jaipur. Continue sightseeing and shopping in Jaipur.

Day 7. Agra. We will drive first to Fatehpur Sikri and then onto Agra. Described as an epic poem in red sandstone, Fatehpur Sikri owes its foundation to Emperor Akbar. The architecture of Fatehpur Sikri is a combination of both the Hindu and Muslim styles. Later we will see the Taj Mahal. In the late afternoon, we will drive to the Chambal Safari Lodge, a driving time of one hour. Upon arrival sit with your fellow travelers around a bonfire and have dinner.

Day 8. After breakfast you will visit the River Chambal - said to have originated from the blood of cows sacrificed by King Rantidev in his quest for supremacy - and embark on your river safari through picturesque countryside accompanied by trained local guides & naturalists. The river safari provides many an opportunity to spot the rare and endangered Gangetic Dolphins & Gharials, Marsh Crocodiles & Turtles, as well as numerous birds. After a leisurely lunch visit the Bateshwar temples. Come back to the Chambal Safari Lodge, and have your dinner around a bonfire.

DAY 9. Go on a Camel Safari through the ancient Chambal ravines that nestle many a forgotten habitations within their undulating folds, up to the ruins of the magnificent Fort Ater. The Fort affords excellent views of the Chambal ravines and is also currently undergoing repair & restoration using traditional methods of building. After lunch go for a naturewalk through the fields and local villages exploring and interacting with the locals. Return to the Chambal Safari Lodge, for drinks around the bonfire and a spot of star gazing on your last evening here.

DAY 10. After breakfast, depart by car for Etawah to catch your train to Varanasi and drive to Sarnath. There are four geographically important places in the life of Buddha: birthplace (Lumbini, Nepal), place of enlightenment (Bodh Gaya, India), where he gave his first sermon (at the Deer Park in Sarnath, India) and where he left his mortal body (Kushinager, India). We will see a number of Stupas and visit the Sarnath Museum. Walk around (clock-wise) the great Stupa. See the bodhi tree whose sapling was brought from a tree in Sri Lanka, whose sapling was from the original tree under which Buddha sat in Bodh Gaya and gained enlightenment 2,500 years ago. Discussion on Buddhism in India including an authentic Indian sit-down meal as you witness and participate in a variety of devotional activities. Opportunity to shop, part on foot and part on rickshaws.

Day 11 . Khajurao. During a pre-dawn boat ride on the River Ganga we see riverside ghats and temples. We then experience the city of Varanasi, one of the oldest living cities in the world, by rickshaw and foot. The banks of the Ganges exhibit the ultimate expression of giving up ones ego, and thus stepping closer to attainment. It is a spectacular sight to see thousands set aside their inhibitions and be just one with their Almighty. Fly to Khajurao. King Yasovarman began the era of temple construction around 930-1050 AD. The patient hands of the craftsmen have transformed even the mundane to excellence unparalleled anywhere else in the world for you to see amongst the finest examples of temple architecture. The depiction of uninhibited sex hints towards a liberated society in yesteryear. It is also suggested that prior to entering the place of worship, if one was attracted to sex as depicted, then perhaps one was not ready to take the next step towards enlightenment. Such depiction of sex forms only a small fraction of all the carvings at Khajurao.

Day 12. Orcha. Continue sightseeing in Khajuraho. Drive to Orcha.

Day 13. Orcha. Orcha’s grandeur has been captured in stone; a rich legacy and unique murals and paintings bring to life Hindu & Islamic palaces and temples built by its Bundela rulers in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Jehangir Mahal to commemorate the visit of Emperor Jehangir, Raj Mahal, Rai Praveen Mahal, Chaturbhuj Temple specially constructed to enshrine the image of Ram and the palace-turned-temple Ram Raja Mandir, the only temple in India where Ram is worshipped as a king, and participate in an Aarti at dusk at this temple. Photo opportunity and Aarti at sunset.

Day 14. Departure. Depart by road for Jhansi, and then take a train for Delhi. Arrive in the evening, and transfer directly to the international airport for your onward flight.

Day 15. Home. Travel Arrive Europe (morning) or the Americas (evening).

 

Optional Extra Tour:

Day 14. Bhopal. Depart for Bhopal by train, and after we arrive, we will take a short drive to Sanchi. Sanchi is known for Stupas, monasteries, temples, and pillars built by Mauryan Emperor Ashoka (c.304 BC - 232 BC) to train monks for them to go overseas and promote Buddhism. The Four Gateways that surround the Great Stupa are considered the finest Buddhist art, and thus counter balance the massive solidity of the Stupa they encircle. If time permits, we will go to the Udaygiri caves, which were produced in the 4th century AD.

Day 15. Indore. In Bhopal we will see: Taj-ul-Masjid the largest mosque in the country, (and the second largest in Asia) and the Jain Temple up on a hill, overlooking the city. Discussion on the History of Islam in India. Fly to Indore.

Day 16. Indore. We will drive to the temple palace of Maheshwar. Maheshwar is perhaps one of the most beautiful temples that I have ever seen. It’s exquisite carvings, grandeur and magnificence of the palace twinned with the serenity of the setting of its setting on the River Narmada make this an extraordinary palace-temple-city. Lining the banks are poignant stone memorials to the satis who perished on the funeral pyres of their husbands.

Day 17. Indore. We will spend the day in Mandu. We will drive through Delhi Darwaza, the main entrance to the fortress city with a 45 km parapet of walls that encircle Mandu. Mandu has been called the city of joy, is a celebration in stone of life and joy, of the love of the poet-prince Baz Bahadur for his beautiful wife, Rani Roopmati, We will see exquisite palaces like the Jahaz and Hindola Mahals, ornamental canals, baths and pavilions and architectural gems like the Jami Masjid, Hoshang Shah's Tomb, Ashrafi Mahal (palace of gold coins) and Roopmati's Pavilion, the retreat of the lovely queen. Discussion on "Hinduism". Enjoy Indian folk dances as you dine.

Day 18. Delhi. We will spend most of the day for shopping, allowing you an opportunity to shop in the most diverse assortment of shops in India. Experience an evening song and light show at the Red Fort. Discussion: "The History of Christianity in India".

Day 17. Shopping. Then fly home at night.

Day 19. Home. Travel Arrive Europe (morning) or the Americas (evening).

Registration:  Please use our registration form to register.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: E-mail or contact Deepak Singh, Spiritual Journeys, Inc., 262 Upland Road, Cambridge, MA 02140. USA. Ph: 508-358-4267.