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India Yoga Tour    March 11 – 24, 2019

 

Day 1  3/11  Arrive Delhi
In the late afternoon we’ll have our get acquainted meeting and then go on to dinner together in a neighborhood restaurant.
Jaypee Siddarth (2N)

Day 2  3/12  Delhi
After breakfast we will visit Humayun’s Tomb before the tourist crowds arrive.  This tomb, built in 1570, is of particular cultural significance as it was the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent. It inspired several major architectural innovations, culminating in the construction of the Taj Mahal. Next we will travel to Old Delhi for a cycle rickshaw tour of the Chandni Chowk. It is the old city’s nerve center for commercial activity where traditional workmanship survives.  At midday we'll manage our lunch with a “food walk”, stopping to try Delhi street food specialties such as Kulfi Falooda, Chaat, and more.  We’ll conclude our day with a visit to the Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque.

 Humayan's Tomb

Humayan's Tomb

Day 3  3/13  Haridwar / Rishikesh
We depart Delhi early by train on the “Shatabdi Express” to Haridwar, arriving late morning.  After checking in to our hotel and settling in, we’ll engage in our first yoga practice in the afternoon.  In the evening we’ll attend the Ganga Aarti held at the riverside temple of the Parmarth Niketan Ashram. The ceremony commences with the singing of Bhajans, prayers, and a purifying and sacred ritual that takes place around a fire, with offerings made to Agni, the fire god. Then lamps are lit and the aarti takes place: the ceremonial bidding of good night to mother Ganga.
Elbee Rishikesh (4N)

 Aarti ceremony

Aarti ceremony

Day 4  3/14  Rishikesh
In the morning we’ll enjoy a walking tour of Rishikesh, visiting various temples and getting oriented to the city.  In the afternoon you’ll be free to explore on your own.

Day 5  3/15  Rishikesh
This day begins with an early hike to Kunjapuri Devi Temple.  This beautiful temple complex is situated on top of a hill with a lovely panoramic view of the area and the surrounding Himilayan peaks.  In the afternoon we will engage in a Satsang with Yogi Sidhartha.  Later we’ll visit the Mahrishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram.  Also known as the Beatles Ashram, it was abandoned in 1997 and is now under the control of the forest department. However, many buildings, meditation cells, and lecture halls can still be seen, including Maharishi’s own house and the guesthouse where the Beatles stayed and wrote much of the White Album.

 Rishikesh riverside

Rishikesh riverside

Day 6  3/16  Rishikesh
Our highlight activity today is a journey to Devprayag for a ceremonial dip in the River Ganges.  Devprayag is one of Hindu’s sacred places and a popular pilgrimage destination.  The name means “godly confluence” and indeed, it is the confluence of the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers here which give birth to the sacred Ganges.   Our lunch today will be at the nearby, famous Glass House.  Your afternoon is free for yoga practice, relaxation, or more Rishikesh explorations.

Day 7  3/17  Agra
Today is a travel day.  After a leisurely morning we’ll be transferred to the Dehradun airport for a midday flight to Delhi (included).  From Delhi’s airport we’ll drive south to Agra via coach (4 hours).  Dinner this evening is at Pind Balluchi restaurant which is an interesting amalgamation of rustic ambience and delicious food. The interior boasts a  “Punjab Village ” theme with Mud walls and Punjab artifacts, and the staff wear traditional attire.      
The Grand Imperial (2N)

Day 8  3/18  Agra
Today’s destination is the jewel in India’s crown, the Taj Mahal.  The ultimate monument to love and flawless architectural creation took 22 years and 20,000 men to build. Built in the mid-17th century by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as an expression of his love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal.  After our Taj visit we’ll continue to Agra Fort, built by Emperor Akbar on the west bank of the river Yamuna and beautified with palaces and gardens by Shaw Jehan’s son Jehangir.  Today the citadel dominates the center of the city with distant views of the Taj.  Your afternoon and evening are free to explore Agra further on your own.

Taj Mahal V.jpg

Day 9  3/19  Jaipur
Today is a travel day with two amazing sights along the way.  Fatehpur Sikri is the one-time capital of the Mughal Empire. The city was abandoned within a few years of being established and survives in almost perfect preservation – a ghost town of Mughal glory.  The Chand Beori step well is an impressive hydraulic and engineering marvel of the 9th century.
Alsisar Haveli (3N)

 Diwani-I-Khas at Fatipur Sikri

Diwani-I-Khas at Fatipur Sikri

Day 10  3/20  Jaipur
After breakfast we’ll proceed to the fabulous Amber Fort. Maharaja Mansingh, Mughal Emperor Akbar’s most successful General built the fort in the 17th century.  Its picturesque setting, golden walls, and sumptuous palace interior make it one of India’s premier sights.

In the afternoon we’ll have some free time to explore Jaipur.  Our guide can organize some shopping or handicraft demonstrations for those who are interested.  But it is our evening that will mark this day as memorable.  Holi Celebrations start with Holika Dahan on the night before Holi.  The ritual symbolizes the Victory of Good over Evil. People gather around the holi fire for singing and dancing. We have made sure we are part of this vital Hindu ritual, spending the evening at your tour leader’s family home.  There will be lots of excited relatives to meet and engage and they will help get you ready for the Holi celebrations.  We will conclude the day by sharing dinner with the family.

 Amber Fort

Amber Fort

Day 11  3/21  Jaipur
Today is a day you will remember for the rest of your life.  Holi is one of India’s most spectacular festivals. We will start with a toned down version of Holi with our new family.  This is a courteous affair where we put colors on each other’s cheeks and on those our host family and blow colored powder into the air.  Then we’ll share traditional sweets.  After this peaceful observance, it will be time to engage in the true spirit of Holi.  This is war- but a playful war fought with harmless colors. We’ll be armed with packets of powdered dye plus water balloons and squirt guns filled with colored water.  Then it is time to engage in the “fury of the colors”!  Once we are all painted in multiple colors we can enjoy a delicious home cooked lunch prepared by our hosts, sitting with the family and enjoying the debate over who won the battle of colors.

Our afternoon and evening are free for relaxed recovery or free-time sightseeing.

Day 12  3/22  Varanasi
A morning flight (included) takes us to India’s most sacred city.  An afternoon at leisure precedes a visit to the local ghats to witness Varanasi’s famous Aarti ceremony. Taking its name from the Sanskrit word for homage and devotion, Aarti takes place every evening on the banks of the River Ganges. During the ceremony, small diya (candle-lit lamps decorated with flowers) are floated down the river as an offering to the Goddess Ganga, accompanied by a chorus of chanting hymns, drums and temple bells.
Temple on Ganges (2N)

Day 13  3/23  Varanasi
Today starts early with a sunrise boat ride on the Ganges, where we can watch the light gradually illuminate the many ghats and temples along the river and observe the morning ablutions and worship of the many pilgrims.  After breakfast we’ll take a walking tour of the old city, through narrow lanes packed with stalls and shops, past dhobi wallahs, burning ghats, and the endless temples that echo with bells and the pungent aroma of incense.  We’ll have a free afternoon and our final dinner together this evening.

 Varanasi Ghats

Varanasi Ghats

Day 14  3/24  Delhi
On our final morning together we’ll take a trip to nearby Sarnath, one of the world’s most important Buddhist pilgrimage destinations. The site is where Buddha preached his first public sermon about the path to enlightenment. The site features a huge stupa and many Buddhist temples to explore.

In the afternoon we’ll board a final flight, returning to Delhi.

We’ll have shared day-rooms at an airport hotel.  Most international flights departing from Delhi do so between 10:00PM and 2:00AM (and you should not make departure plans before late evening on this day).  For anyone wishing to extend their time in India, Imprint will assist with transportation into the city.

[Hotels and itinerary specifics subject to change.]

What's included:  13 nights accommodation.  Meals: all breakfasts, 6 lunches and 8 dinners.  All tips: hotel staff, group meals, entertainment, drivers, local guides, escorts, and tour director.  All transportation: by coach; vans; domestic flight; train.
All entrances: Humayun’s Tomb; Sarnath temples; Taj Mahal; Fatehpur Sikri; Chand Baori; Amber Palace; Jama Masjid; Kunjapuri Devi Temple; Mahrishi Mahesh  Excursions: Ganga boat cruise; Devprayag   Activities: Yoga practices; Rickshaw and food tours of Chandni Chowk; Satsang with Yogi Sidhartha; Aarti ceremonies (2); and more.

Important exceptions: Tour participants are responsible for the cost of drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Terms and Conditions for important details regarding everything listed above.

 Temple at Sarnath

Temple at Sarnath