Explore the Temples and Ashrams of Northern India on a 14-Day Spiritual Tour!
Spiritual Tour to India Introduction:
Experience the beauty that is India on a sacred spiritual tour to India that will take you to some of India’s most magnificent temples, ashrams, and holy sites. This one-of-a-kind spiritual tour to India is a mystical experience of sacredness that will take you to the holy sites of Delhi, Calcutta, Varanasi, Agra, Khajuraho, Jaipur, Ranakpur and much more.
India has been a place of sacred pilgrimage for thousands of years. It is the home of many religions and spiritual practices such as Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Yoga.
On this spiritual tour to India you will find yourself on a magical adventure that will take you throughout the country of northern India, on four plane rides, a plane and rickshaw ride. You will see a magnificent light show, and take a sunrise boat cruise on the sacred Ganges River. You will explore ancient and modern cities, ashrams, temples, fire temples, colorful bazaars, and much more!
In the Skanda Purana, a Hindu holy book, referring to India it says:
“Are there not many holy places on this earth?
Yet which of them would equal in the balance to one speck of the Kashi’s dust?
Are there not many rivers running to the sea?
Yet which of them is like the River of Heaven in the Kashi?
Are there not many fields of liberation on earth?
Yet not one equals the smallest part of the city never forsaken by Shiva.
The Ganges, Shiva and Kashi: Where the Trinity is watchful,
no wonder here is found the grace that leads one on to perfect bliss.”
India holds some of the most holy and sacred places on earth.
Tour of the Jain Temple of Ranakpur
Moving into the depths of the mountains of Ranakpur, we will visit its stunning Jain Temple, also considered to be the supreme example of its architecture. This temple is dedicated to Adinatha, whom the Jainists hold is the “Original Lord” and first Tirthankara, responsible for formulating and organizing humans to live in a society harmoniously and the dharma of compassion.
This spectacular temple is also constructed of light-colored marble, but is very different, architecturally, from the Persian and Mughal-influenced style of the Taj Mahal. Since Jainists believe that control of the cosmos comes from the Tirthankara’s conquest of the cardinal direction, the temple is symbolically designed with four faces.
It rises out of the side of the hill supported by over 1,444 pillars. Each one is completely unique and carved in exquisite detail – each statue faces one or another statue, creating the visual illusion of both endlessness and individuality. Sequential spacing and boundless variety are combined blissfully with the immaculacy of white all over. One statue, carved out of a single marble rock, has 108 heads of snakes and tails. One cannot find the end of the tails. People come away from this temple fascinated, purified, and uplifted by its beauty.
Tour of the Taj Mahal
Just to the south of the walled city of Agra lies the mausoleum of Mumtaz Mahal, the third wife of emperor Shah Jahan, so beloved by him that his grief inspired the construction of one of the wonders of the world. The very words “Taj Mahal” breathe of magic, devotion, and the force of love. It is literally one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.
We will greet it at sunrise, as the morning sun lights up the white marble and inlaid stones which make this “crown of palaces” the height of Mughal architecture. Calligraphy inscribes passages from the Qur’an throughout the complex, domes of marble reach up to the sky in perfect symmetry, inlays of jasper, black marble, and herringbone tile the floors with delicately and dizzyingly complex decorations.
Shah Jahan himself said of the Taj:
“Should guilty seek asylum here,
Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin.
Should a sinner make his way to this mansion,
All his past sins are to be washed away.
The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs;
And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.
In this world this edifice has been made;
To display thereby the creator’s glory.”
Mystic and Spiritual Guide Finbarr Ross will take you on a journey of ascension and awakening consciousness through this unique spiritual tour to India. Finbarr shares a deep connection to the holy sites of India and has been leading tours there since 2002. He is connected to the energy centers of the land and its holy temples and will lead the group in meditations designed to open you to the fullness of the experience and to your own awakened consciousness.
If you’ve felt called to visit India, this spiritual tour to India is for you!
Spiritual Tour to India 2017 Itinerary:
Day 1: Arrival in Delhi
Today you will arrive in Delhi, India's bustling capital city. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to Hotel the Royal Plaza.
Delhi is a bustling metropolis, which successfully combines both the ancient and the modern aspects of Indian culture. The city's many monuments, located amidst tall, modern skyscrapers, stand as silent reminders of the region's ancient legacy.
Delhi's strategic location was one of the main reasons why successive dynasties chose it as their seat of power. It is not surprising that today Delhi is actually a conglomerate of seven cities. The division between the old, walled city and what is known as New Delhi marks a division in lifestyles. The walled city retains its past traditions, and when visiting, one can get a glimpse of its many facets. In contrast, New Delhi strives to match the pace of the twenty-first century.
Overnight in New Delhi at Hotel the Royal Plaza. Group welcome dinner.
Day 2: Sightseeing in Delhi
This morning your visit will focus on Old Delhi, the seventeenth-century walled city of Shah Jahan. We will visit mosque. Next, we'll visit the Raj Ghat, a memorial erected on the site where Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the Indian nation, was cremated.
After lunch at a local restaurant, we will embark on a tour of New Delhi, driving along Rajpath, the capital's broadest avenue. Along the way, you will see Parliament House, now known as Sansad Bhavan, a low, circular structure that covers more than five acres of land.
We will also pass by Rashtrapati Bhavan, the President's Palace; the official residence of the president of India. Constructed on Raisina Hill, this imposing structure was initially built as the official residence of the British Viceroy of India.
We will also see India Gate, a 138-foot-high arch that stands at the eastern end of Rajpath. It is inscribed with the names of 85,000 Indian Army soldiers who lost their lives in World War I, the North-West Frontier operations that occurred at the same time and the 1919 Afghan fiasco. Below burns the Amar Jawan Jyoti, the Eternal Flame, in tribute to all martyred soldiers of India. The Amar Jawan Jyoti was lit after the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War.
Next we will stop at Humayun's Tomb. The tomb, an elegant example of early Mughal architecture, was commissioned by Humayun's widowed queen, Haji Begum, in the sixteenth century. Architecturally it is the forerunner of the world-famous Taj Mahal.
We move on to Birla Temple, which is one of the major landmarks of New Delhi. Also known as the Laxmi Narayan Temple, the temple was built in 1939 as a dedication to Vishnu, and it enshrines almost all the deities of the Hindu pantheon. The entire temple is decorated with relief carvings of mythological scenes. The temple reaches an impressive 165 feet at its highest point.
Overnight at Hotel the Royal Plaza. (B, L & D)
Day 3-5: Delhi/Calcutta
This morning on our spiritual tour of India, we leave for Calcutta after breakfast. Here we will spend 3 days exploring and experiencing the mystical energies of some of the most amazing Ashrams in India.
Sri Ramakrishna: represents the very core of the spiritual realizations of the seers and sages of India. His whole life was literally an uninterrupted contemplation of God. He reached a depth of God-consciousness. Drawn by the magnetism of Sri Ramakrishna's divine personality, people flocked to him from far and near -- young and old, philosophers and theologians, philanthropists and humanists, atheists and agnostics, Hindus and Brahmos, Christians and Muslims, seekers of truth of all races, creeds and castes. To Sri Ramakrishna all religions are the revelation of God in His diverse aspects to satisfy the manifold demands of human minds. Thus he declared, "As many faiths, so many paths." The paths vary, but the goal remains the same. Harmony of religions is not uniformity; it is unity in diversity. This harmony is to be realized by deepening our individual God-consciousness.
In his own motherland Vivekananda is regarded as the patriot saint of modern India and an inspirer of her dormant national consciousness, To the Hindus he preached the ideal of a strength-giving and man-making religion. Service to man as the visible manifestation of the Godhead was the special form of worship he advocated for the Indians, devoted as they were to the rituals and myths of their ancient faith.
Vivekananda: his mission was both national and international. A lover of mankind, he strove to promote peace and human brotherhood on the spiritual foundation of the Vedantic Oneness of existence. A mystic of the highest order, Vivekananda had a direct and intuitive experience of Reality. He derived his ideas from that unfailing source of wisdom and often presented them in the soul-stirring language of poetry.
The natural tendency of Vivekananda's mind, like that of his Master, Ramakrishna, was to soar above the world and forget itself in contemplation of the Absolute. But another part of his personality bled at the sight of human suffering in East and West alike.
Yogananda: Autobiography of a Yogi (We are waiting for our request to visit to be answered as we need permission to visit.) In the hundred plus years since the birth of Paramahansa Yogananda, this beloved world teacher has come to be recognised as one of the greatest emissaries to the West of India's ancient wisdom. His life and teachings continue to be a source of light and inspiration to people of all races, cultures, and creeds.
Other sites Calcutta we plan to visit include; Kalighat Kali Temple, St. Paul’s Cathedral Church, Mother House, Jain Temple, an Indian Coffee House and much more depending on time. Our hotel is the Peerless Inn. (B, L & D)
Day 6: Calcutta/Varanasi
This morning on our journey through the sacred sites of India, we depart for Calcutta, connecting us to our flight to Varanasi. India's holiest city is located on the banks of the sacred Ganges River. Upon your arrival you will be met and transferred to the hotel.
In the late afternoon we will experience Chats and witness the evening Aarti ceremony.
Dinner following the ceremony.
Overnight at Hotel Rivatas by Ideal. (B, L & D)
Day 7: Sunrise Boat Cruise on the Ganges/Old Varanasi
Early this morning, our spiritual tour of India takes us on a sunrise boat cruise on the Ganges River during which you will be presented with the incredible tableau of multitudes of devotees paying homage to the Sun God.
The cruise will be followed by breakfast, and then a walking tour of the old city. Afterwards, we will tour Sarnath, the site of Buddha's first sermon. While there, you will visit the museum, one of the most important in India. You will also see the many stupas, or shrines, and Mulagandha Kuti Vihar, a Tibetan Buddhist shrine built by the Mahabodhi Society containing a life-size golden image of the Buddha and colorful murals and frescoes painted by a Japanese artist. Free time for shopping and Lunch. (B, L & D)
Overnight at Varanasi.
Day 8: Varanasi/Khajuraho
After breakfast we'll fly to Khajuraho, the religious and political capital of the Chandela Dynasty. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to the hotel. The rest of the afternoon is free to relax and enjoy the beautiful hotel grounds, restful atmosphere, and spa services.
After an early dinner (the famous Taj spread is more deserving of the word banquet than buffet) we will enjoy a fabulous Sound & Light Show on the grounds of the western complex, introducing us to the history and culture of the temples.
Overnight at Hotel Clarkes Khajuraho. (B, L, & D)
Day 9: Khajuraho/Eastern & Western Temples
This morning visit the Western group of temples. The Western group contains the largest and loveliest temples of the area. Of this group, the Kandariya Mahadev temple, dedicated to Shiva, is the most perfect. With its elaborate 100-foot-high spire and bands of beautiful carving, it represents Chandela art at its best. Kandariya Mahadev shares a high terrace with the older and simpler Devi Jagadamba temple. Shopping and personal time with lunch in town.
In the afternoon, we will visit the main temples in the Eastern group. These temples are more modest and less ornate than the Western temples, their architectural style reflecting the simplicity inherent in Jainism. Afternoon break for traditional Indian tea with Chai Marsala, herbal and light snack/desert options. Followed by some personal time for walking, contemplation and meditation back at the Eastern Complex.
Overnight at Hotel Clarkes Khajuraaho. (B, L, & D)
Day 10: Orchha/Jhansi/Agra
This morning on our spiritual tour to India takes us to Jhansi, stopping en route in Orchha to visit the medieval city founded by Bundela rulers. Orchha contains palaces and temples built in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that have withstood the onslaught of time remarkably well. Continue on to Jhansi to board the train to Agra, the last capital of the Mughal Empire and home of the one and only Taj Mahal. Upon arrival in Agra, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Arrive in Agra and overnight at Hotel Crystal Sarovar. (B, L & D)
Day 11: Agra/Jaipur
Feb 8th - Day 11, Wed: Agra
Today on our spiritual tour to India, an early-morning visit to the Taj Mahal, or "crown of buildings", presents an opportunity to admire this dream in marble as it welcomes the rising sun. The Taj Mahal is widely recognized as "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage." After lunch we will visit Agra Fort, a huge red-sandstone structure built by the famous Mughal emperor Akbar in the sixteenth century. It houses the beautiful Pearl Mosque and many other noteworthy structures. Afternoon is free to relax, shop or explore. Overnight at Hotel Crystal Sarovar. (B, L & D)
Day 12-13: Jaipur/Ranakpur
After breakfast drive to Jaipur, the Pink Capital City of Rajasthan. We experience this amazing city with all its beauty and mysticism. We overnight at the Holiday Inn with some free time free to relax or explore. (B, L & D)
Tomorrow we drive to Ranakpur, arrive, check in and relax in this most beautiful place as one absorbs the energy of this special place overnight at Hotel Fateh Bagh. (B, L & D)
Day 14: Ranakpur
Today our spiritual tour to India takes us to historic Ranakpur. Set in a remote and peaceful valley, Ranakpur is the site of the largest and most beautifully preserved Jain Temple in India. The main temple dates back to 1439 and is called the "four-faced temple". It is dedicated to Adinath, one of the founders of the Jain religion, and has 29 halls supported by 1,444 carved pillars, no two of which are alike. The play of light and shadow on the minutely carved figures offers an effect that tantalizes the senses. Overnight at Hotel Fateh Bagh. (B, L & D)
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