Journey of the Sadhu and Bodhisattva: Delhi, Varanasi, Bodhgaya and Agra
Journey of the sadhu and bodhisattva
Delhi is fertile ground for experiencing the vast spectrum of our human condition, challenging our sensibilities one moment with extreme luxury, and the next with abject poverty....all revealing beauty in its own way.
Arrive in Delhi and settle in to hotel Evening group dinner and orientation
DAY 1 DELHI
Day 1 Early morning meditation and chanting at Bangla Sahib Gurdwara ~ This is the Gurdwara dedicated to the young Guru Harkrishan who gave his life in service to others. We'll have the opportunity to sit and meditate with Asa Di Var Kirtan, recited in the early morning hours in a melodious way and style as mentioned by Guru Arjan Dev Ji called "Tunde Asraje Ki Dhuni" We'll have the opportunity to listen to this sacred shabd sitting inside the Gurdwara. Afterwards we will go to the sarovar (the healing pool) to meditate in stillness and silence.
Following our visit to Bangla Sahib Gurdwara we will travel a short distance by tuk tuk, the motorized rickshaws to The Lakshmi Narayan Temple where we can experience the various dieties of Durga, Krishna, Lakshmi etc. and have time for quiet sitting and meditation. This is a unique opportunity for visioning and creating intention in the main meditation space.
Following our visit to Bangla Sahib and Lakshmi Narayan Temple we will return to the hotel for breakfast.
After breakfast we will travel to the Lotus Temple, a magnificent Bahai Temple dedicated to all the religions of the world. It's universality and presence inspires one to go deep within. We will have the opportunity to discover with greater understanding the religions of the world and to meditate inside the Lotus Temple in silence.
From here we will travel to Mahatma Gandhi's smriti. The place where Gandhi lived the last 144 days of his life. It is now also home to the Eternal Gandhi Multimedia Museum. This museum gives great insight into the life and teachings of one of the most revered non-violent activists in our modern history. While visiting the gardens and the place where he taught we will have time for meditation and a world peace prayer.
After this full journey we will return to the hotel for dinner
People are welcome to visit the Raj Ghat where Mahatma Gandhi's ashes are buried or rest for the evening.
DAY 2 AGRA
Day 2 After breakfast we will depart for Agra (approx. 3-4 hour drive in van) We'll arrive at the beautiful Jaypee Palace, check in and have lunch. We will then travel to see the sunset over the Taj Mahal from the Yamuna river side. A little known prime viewing spot of the Taj Mahal exists opposite the monument on the northern shore. It is Mehtab Bagh, a centuries old garden complex, open to the public but little advertised and not easily visited for short term Agra visitors.
From here we will visit the Agra Fort. Architects laid the foundation and it was built with bricks in the inner core with sandstone on external surfaces. Some 4,000 builders worked on it daily for eight years, completing it in 1573.The Agra fort gives another unique perspective of the Taj Mahal.
Following this outing we will return to the hotel for a delicious dinner.
The Taj Mahal is one of the most famous buildings in the world, the mausoleum of Shah Jahan's wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is one of the New Seven Wonders of the world, and one of three World Heritage Sites in Agra.
You'll have an opportunity to witness the Taj Mahal from numerous perspectives from inside, in the main courtyard, as well as from across the Yamuna River in the Mehtab Bagh garden. It is also noted that Emperor Shah Jahan had identified a site from the crescent-shaped, grass-covered floodplain across the Yamuna River as an ideal location for viewing the Taj Mahal. It was then created as "a moonlit pleasure garden called Mehtab Bagh. Finished in marble, The Taj Mahal is said to be India's most fascinating and beautiful monument.
We will also visit the Agra Fort (sometimes called the Red Fort), was commissioned by the great Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1565, and is another of Agra's World Heritage Sites. The red sandstone fort was converted into a palace during Shāh Jahān's time, and reworked extensively with marble and pietra dura inlay.
Discover through your own eyes the wide variety of shapes & beauty created by the artisans of this era. The Taj Mahal reveals exceptional design, elegant domes, intricate inlay and brilliant marble. As you discover this magnificent memorial site with your mind, you will also connect with some of the ancient beauty of India through your other senses.
Accommodations: Jaypee Palace ~ www.jaypeehotels.com "The regal Jaypee Palace Hotel is a structural blend of red sandstone and marble is spread over an unbounded 25 acres of elegantly landscaped luxuriant greenery. Sprinkled with enormous water bodies and endless walkways." "We were very impressed with this hotel, it is very big ok but it is lovely . The rooms are big bright and spotless with all the usual facilities. The food was great , there was a good mix and not everything was spicy as some of the other hotels . The staff were really friendly and helpful . Mollie Kilkenny Ireland Tripadvisor
DAY 3 AGRA
Day 3 With an early morning start we will go to witness the Sunrise at The Taj Mahal. The grounds of this historic site are enjoyable to explore. We'll have the opportunity to go inside The Taj Mahal and experience it's intricate exquisite architecture. We will be able to discover the history and story of this magnificent work of art with our guide and our traveling companions.
After our morning visit we will return to the Jaypee Palace for breakfast. We'll then check out and visit one of Mother Theresa's orphanages. A meaningful and profound experience with the nuns and caretakers of this blessed facility. After this we will depart for Delhi arriving back at our hotel for dinner.
Day 4, 5 and 6 Varanasi
Day 4 After morning breakfast we will depart for the airport and catch a flight for Varanasi. We'll be transported by van to Hotel on the Ganges a heritage hotel of India....this hotel has some of the most delicious food.
The power, energy and intensity of Varanasi is impossible to describe....It calls on your deeper senses and absorbs your full awareness. It is holiest of the seven sacred cities (Sapta Puri) in Hinduism and Jainism. Hindus believe that death at Varanasi brings salvation. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and the oldest in India.
"It was in Varanasi, while stepping in and tracking monkey, cow, and human feces on the ghats, overwhelmed by pungent scents, that I felt most alive and in tune with the beauty of the Ganges. When I was in Varanasi, watching people cleanse in the Ganges, I was thinking about my parents and wondering why they died at an earlier age than most, and other familiar questions we all have asked.
In Varanasi, the dirtiest, most chaotic city, with funeral pyres burning all day and night, and where death was experienced as a sacred and natural part of the life cycle, I begin to let go of these thoughts and release some of the pain I carried from the loss of my stepmother and father. I can now imagine my healing dip in the Ganges; energy and healing in many of the places we traveled together in India. Like you, I’m still processing it all." ~ Jennifer Foreman 2015
Travel on the Ganga by Boat for Sunrise
In Varanasi you will have the opportunity to rise with the sun and experience the joy and power of devotion as thousands come to the river each day for their ablutions and cleansing rituals. It's vibrant and ancient culture provide a multitude of opportunities for unique images with both the people and architecture.
We'll see the sun rise and set from both the banks of the Ganga as well as by boat. In the evening we will witness the Aarti ceremony...where thousands come by foot and boat to chant on the Ganga with the fire ceremony honoring the dieties. We will enjoy classical Indian music, chant and meditate by the Ganga....
The opportunity for connection to the sadhus and people is exceptional in Varanasi. It is filled with color, vibrancy and energy.....where sadhus and Hindu devotees come together to worship and bath in the Ganga river.
The culture of Varanasi is closely associated with the Ganga. The city has been a cultural center of North India for several thousand years, and has a history that is older than most of the major world religions. The Benares Gharana form of Hindustani classical music developed in Varanasi, and many prominent Indian philosophers, poets, writers, and musicians live or have lived in Varanasi.
"Up and down the ghats, all day long, but especially in the early morning, stream the endless course of pilgrims, ragged tramps, aged crones, horrible beggars, hawkers, Brahmin priests, sacred bulls and cows, Hindu preachers wealthy rajas (kings) or bankers in gay palanquins. Fakirs, pariah dogs, and scoffing globetrotters from Europe and America".
- W.S. Caine
Accommodations: www.hotelonganges.com "This is my favorite hotel in Varanasi....it is right on the Ganga....has great food and very good service and rooms." " Varanasi is an amazing place and if you come here, you come to experience the ghats. Palace on Ganges have location in spades, being right on Assi Ghat. And for accommodation right
DAY 7, 8 and 9 BODHGAYA
Bodhgaya ~ Experience Diwali Celebration in Bodhgaya October 30, 2016
Also known as Buddha Gaya is one of the most hallowed places for Buddhist pilgrimage and practice....you will experience hundreds of Buddhists from various traditions from around the world converging at the Maha Bodhi Temple. It is a special space for practice and of monks deeply immersed in their tradition. You will be able to sit under the Bodhi tree with other devotees where the Buddha attained enlightenment and insight.
You will also have the opportunity to journey into the surrounding villages and experience the quiet and simple life of India in its natural environment and witness a beautiful sunset over the Maha Bodhi Temple. Bodhggaya provides us with the unique opportunity to travel into the countryside where you'll be able to visit with and experience families in their thatched homes and fields ......and see how the village people live from day to day in a deeply connected way.