Delhi, the Capital of the Republic of India, is a fascinating city with complexities and contradictions, where the past co-exists with the present. Many dynasties ruled from here, and the city is rich in the architecture of its monuments. Delhi is not only the present metropolis of India but also a necropolis. Located on the banks of the river Yamuna, Delhi has witnessed the rise and fall of many cities over the last five millennia.Upon Arrival, we will travel to the Banyan Tree Hotel.
After breakfast, we will visit the Ashram of Maa Anandamayi.
Anandamayi Maa was born in East Bengal (now Bangladesh) in 1896. Her father, Bipin Behari Bhattacarya, sang Vaisnava songs. He would rise at 3 AM and sing songs, and was given to wandering for long periods. His wife would go searching for him and bring him back home. On one occasion, during a storm, the roof blew off the house and he continued singing in the rain.
Anandamayi's mother, Moksada Sundari Devi, was also known for her states of bhava or religious emotion. She was visited by avatars and deities who shined with light as she performed her household duties. While pregnant with Nirmala (Anandamayi's given name), she would see visions of sages and statues of deities. She later took vows and renounced worldly things.
After Breakfast, leave for Agra.
In Agra we will visit the Taj Mahal for the sunset.
The city Agra in north India is world famous for the Taj Mahal. Agra was the seat of the great Mughal rulers for 130 years from 1526 to 1656 AD, and hence has a number of Mughal monuments of historical value. To name a few, the Agra Fort and the Tomb of Akbar at Sikandra, the Jumma Masjid, and the Tomb of Itmad-ud-daulah. 30 km from Agra is the imperial city of the Mughals, built between 1571 and 1584 by the Mughal Emperor Akbar. Akbar ruled from here for 7 years and abandoned it for political reasons. The architectural grandeur of this deserted city is exquisite. The Taj Mahal of India is acknowledged as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
After dinner, leave for the railway station to take the Marudhar express to Varanasi at 11:30 PM and arrive at 12:00 noon in Varanasi.
After lunch, we will go to famous ghats of Varanasi by rickshaw. We will take boat ride, and in the evening attend the Ganga Aarti, a Hindu religious ritual of worship involving the swinging of lamps and chanting.
Varanasi is among the oldest living cities in the world, situated on the banks of the River Ganges. Over 1 million Hindu pilgrims visit the city each year, and it is home to one of the most renowned shrines in northern India, the holy shrine of Kashi Vishawanath, a manifestation of Lord Shiva. Thousands come daily to Varanasi to bathe in the river Ganga, cleansing their souls of misdeeds, and worshipping at its many temples. This city is known by many names - Kashi, the city of light and Banaras as called by the British. The ghats of Varanasi are steps that descend to the banks of the river for nearly 5 km along the west bank. At any point of the day, these steps are a kaleidoscope of color, a way to and from the river. On the banks of this river, people consult the priests seated under their palm leaf umbrellas. Rising as a backdrop to all of this activity is the magnificent superstructures of temples, havelis, domes and the minarets of mosques. A labyrinth of narrow lanes behind these buildings links the ghats to the rest of the city. Shops sell rich brocaded silks, brassware and articles essential for worship at the numerous shrines.
Evening Yoga and Meditation
After breakfast, we will leave for Sarnath.
Sarnath is rich in Buddhist antiquities from the time of the Maura Emperor Ashoka of 3rd century BC down to the 12th century A.D. Ashoka built the Dharmarajika Stupa and the Dhamek Stupa. After we visit Sarnath, we will travel back to Varanasi.
Evening Yoga and Meditation
Free to explore
After lunch, transfer to domestic airport for flight to New Delhi
Upon arrival in New Delhi, we transfer to the train station to board our train for Haridwar.
After breakfast, we will visit Kankhal.
The Ganges, India's holiest river, descends from the Himalayas and begins its journey through the plains at Haridwar. This gives the town a unique status, making a pilgrimage to Haridwar every devout Hindu's dream. Surprisingly bare of ancient monuments, Haridwar's most famous sight is the Ganges itself, with its numerous ghats, tanks and temples. The main ghat, Har-Ki-Pouri, is named after a supposed imprint of Vishnu's feet at the site. Hundreds attend the daily evening Aarti at this ghat, where leaf boats are filled with flowers, lit with lamps and set adrift on the Ganges. Further south, a ropeway connects the town to the Mansa Devi Temple on a hill across the river, which offers panoramic views of Haridwar. A good way to experience Haridwar's ambience, which has changed little since ancient times, is to stroll along the riverside bazaar, lined with small eateries and full of ritual paraphernalia, mounds of vermilion powder, coconuts wrapped in red and gold cloth, and brass idols.
Morning Yoga and Meditation
After breakfast, we leave for Vasishta Guha, visiting a Jain temple on the way. On the bus route from Badrinath, from the main road, one has to walk down about 100 yards to reach Vasishta Guha. As legend has it, Vasishta, one of the 7 holy sages created by Lord Brahma (the creator), camped here for hundreds of years during a pilgrimage he took after the loss of his 100 sons to the back magic of his nemesis, Sage Viswamitra. The asana, Vasishtasana (side plank), was named for this holy sage. The cave is located in calm natural surroundings on the bank of the river Ganga. About 100 feet into the cave, we find a Lingam (used in worship to represent Lord Shiva) to which a daily Puja is performed. Religious chanting and Puja are performed with intense devotion here. It is a daily ritual lasting for nearly 4 hours, whereupon there is a community feeding in which the Ashram chief also participates. Swami Purushottamananda, a Keralite of great learning, founded the Ashram in this holy city. He has since attained Samadhi. His disciple, Swami Chaitanyananada, takes care of the Ashram, fostering the ideals of his Guru with great devotion. In the evening, we return return back to Rishikesh.
After breakfast, we will visit the city of Rishikesh. This twin city of Haridwar, situated at the confluence of the Chandrabhaga and the Ganges, marks the starting point of the holy Char Dham (Four Abodes of God) pilgrim route. Muni Ki Reti (Literally "Sand of the Sages"), lies upstream from the Triveni Ghat, and is said to be a blessed site since ancient sages meditated there. It has several famous Ashrams, including the Shivanand, Purnanand and Shantikunj Ashrams which offer courses in India's ancient knowledge system. North of Muni Ki Reti is two suspension bridges across the Ganges, Rama or Shivananda Jhula and Lakshman Jhula.
In the afternoon we will have the opportunity to donate time to the Mother Miracle School.
After breakfast we are free to explore Rishikesh until lunch. After lunch we will leave for Dehradun to visit Swiss Swami Gyananda and possibly attend the satsang with him as he sings spiritual bajans.
After dinner, transfer to railroad station to board train for Delhi. Train departs at 10:00pm and arrives next morning in Delhi at 06:30am.
After breakfast, we will visit Jamaa Masjid, a Rickshaw safari in Old Delhi as well as the India gate, Gandhi memorial.
Lunch and free time for shopping
In the Evening, we will visit a Sikh Temple at Lake Gurdwara Bangla Sahib