We invite you to journey to this spiritual heart of our planet, to enjoy a sublime and sacred meditation/nature retreat.
Majestic beyond compare, this region of Himalayas is considered by many world travelers to be the most physically beautiful area in the world. The very birthplace of meditation and yoga, it is also as rich with spiritual history as with natural beauty. Here, for countless millennia, saints and sages have taken refuge to perform intense spiritual practices. The Gods and Goddesses are said to dwell here, and for centuries, Hindu devotees have journeyed to Gangotri to visit the source of that holiest of holy rivers: the Ganga.
The retreat will include an abundance of sacred sights, intimate encounters with sadhus, swamis, and saints, delicious local North Indian cuisine, comfortable and clean accommodations (single and double available—see below), and optional river rafting on the Ganga. You will also receive instruction in the profound meditation and yogic practices indigenous to this region of the Himalayas.
“The journey with the group to the Source of the Ganges was so enlightening for me…. a great experience, the best experience for personal growth I’ve ever had.” —Caroline Sophonow, Aesthetician and Yoga Teacher, British Columbia, Canada
“Ajayan, I cannot believe how much my meditation practice is now influencing my life (you were talking to us about some after-retreat effects)—it is truly sensational! I am happy and content and my days go by in sheer admiration of all the wonderful things I have in life.”—Dr. A. Cornelius, Switzerland
Day 1—October 3, 2015
Arrive in Delhi and transfer to hotel. Rest.
Day 2— October 4
Ride to Rishikesh situated on the banks of the Ganga in the Himalayan foothills. Dinner and rest. We’ll stay in a modern and comfortable ashram/hotel on the banks of the holy Ganga. Rishikesh is well-known for its many ashrams, temples, and yoga centers. For centuries yogis have retired to the banks of the holy Ganga here to do their sadhana in quest of direct realization of the eternal, infinite Self of all. The atmosphere is tangibly vibrant with spiritual energy, yet today it also bustles as a quaint commercial center.
Day 3—October 5
Enjoy a morning of rest and relaxation, bathing in the Ganga (it’s quite clean here, upstream of Rishikesh proper, where we will go to a secluded sandy beach surrounded by jungle), and in the late morning preliminary instruction in yogic practices especially conducive to meditation (pranayama and bandhas). In the afternoon, we’ll have our first meditation instruction, and in the evening, we’ll enjoy an early dinner and observe a traditional puja performed on the Ganga’s banks.
Days 4—October 6
Morning optional hatha yoga instruction, plus group meditation instruction in the morning. Over the course of this retreat/tour, you will have the opportunity to learn several exceptionally effective forms of meditation readily accessible to beginners. (Advanced practitioners will learn advanced techniques.) These styles of meditation, indigenous to this area of the Himalaya, and are collectively referred to as effortless mind meditation.
During our time in Rishikesh, you’ll also have plenty of free time to sight-see and shop for gifts and souvenirs. An extensive bazaar offers a wide variety of fine hand-made clothing, crafts, fine arts, jewelry, and other goods—at amazing prices. There are also many temples and spiritual sites in the area to see.
Day 5—October 7
After individual practice of yoga, meditation, and breakfast, we’ll drive to Uttarkashi (6 hours of travel). You’ll get a first taste of the gorgeous foothills of the Himalayas and the life of India’s mountain farmers, which has remained much the same for hundreds of years—unforgettable scenery and equally unforgettable glimpses of a charming and ancient culture.
On the way, we’ll stop and climb the several hundred steps to the mountaintop Kunjapuri temple, said to be the place where a part of Sati’s body (Shiva’s wife) fell to earth (Her breasts; you’ll hear the full story on the drive).
Arriving in Uttarkashi (at 3,500 feet), a quaint Himalayan village on the banks of the Ganga, we’ll be staying in a newer comfortable hotel: meditation, dinner, and rest. Here, we’ll visit the famous Vishvanath temple (one of India’s 12 major temples for the worship of Shiva) and observe a powerful Arati (worship with the waving of oil or camphor lamps).
The large natural lingam here is a natural wonder. It is said to have emerged from the earth spontaneously. Before the temple was constructed around it, locals tried to dig to find it’s root, but all efforts have failed, so deep into the earth does this lingam descend. There is also a temple in the same complex dedicated to Shakti-Devi.
Day 6—October 8
After morning meditation, we’ll drive to Gangotri (4 to 5 hours) at just over 9,000 feet—a breathtaking trip as we continue to follow the Ganga upstream, whose waters here explode with power, cutting through the vast maze of mountains. Colossal peaks lushly forested with jungle and pine, towering cliffs, and cascading waterfalls all make for otherworldly dramatic beauty. In Gangotri: meditation, dinner, and rest.
Day 7, 8—October 9, 10
The remote Himalayan hamlet of Gangotri is considered to be among India’s most sacred pilgrimage sites. Natural beauty provides spiritual haven for resident and visiting yogis and holy men. The Gangotri temple serves as focus for devout Hindu pilgrims. Dramatic canyons, surrounding mountains and forest, a cascading waterfall, the virginal holy waters of India’s most sacred river, an atmosphere soaked in centuries of devotion and meditation, and typically sunny weather, make an ideal setting for enjoying the bliss of meditation and yoga. Our days here will include:
- Final instruction in meditation, pranayama, and other yogic practices.
- Participate in puja and bhajans in the evenings at the Gangotri temple.
- Group meditations and discussions about the spiritual culture and philosophy of India.
- Leisurely nature hikes along and within picturesque canyons.
- Visits to the Gangotri temple, and to the caves and huts of local holy men.
- Free time to relax and enjoy the exquisite sights of the area.
- Optional bathing in the Ganga flowing in its pristine purity.
Day 9—October 11
After individual yoga/meditation practice and breakfast, we’ll drive 4 hours back to Uttarkashi. Individual meditation, dinner. Rest or optional shopping in town or visiting the temples.
Day 10—October 12
After yoga instruction and individual meditation, we’ll drive 6 hours from Uttarkashi to Rishikesh. Individual meditation, dinner, and free time.
Day 11, 12, 13—October 13, 14, 15
At our ashram/hotel in Rishikesh, yoga classes will be offered in the morning, as well as group meditations both morning and early evening. Activities we will do here include:
- A trip to nearby Vashishtha Guha, said to be the cave of the great ancient rishi, Vashishtha, who was a mind-born son of Brahma the Creator—a most powerful spiritual spot. The deep spiritual silence in this natural cave is utterly profound, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We’ll also see another adjacent cave, said to be the cave where Vashishtha’s wife, Arundhati, lived.
- You will have the option of taking an 8-km river rafting trip on the Ganga from Brahmpuri to Rishikesh.
- We will drive through a natural reserve (home to wild elephants and tigers) and see a local hilltop temple in a beautiful, sylvan setting.
- Free time to relax, take scenic walks, and shop for gifts, souvenirs, and fine arts and crafts–some of the finest you will find in all of India.
Day 14—October 16
Ride to Delhi, lunch, dinner, and relaxing in hotel. To Delhi international airport to fly back home (late night of 10/16 or early AM of 10/17).
Retreat/Tour Cost (in US dollars): Doubles $2950/person; Singles $3400/person. Includes accommodations, all meals, ground transportation, and meditation and yoga instruction; does not include bottled water (we discourage the use of disposable plastic bottles and encourage the use of filters, which nowadays are quite effective), airfare, or travel insurance.
Early Registration Discounts: If your $1000 deposit is received on or before May 1, 2015, you will receive a $200 discount (so $2750.00 for a double room or $3200.00 for a single room).
Refer-a-Friend Discount: You’ll receive a discount of $150 for each friend you refer who attends the retreat, spouses included.