This trip will take you to the heart of the sacred wisdoms of northern India and will give you a taste of Indian diversity. We will dive into the heart of a colourful country where different traditions co-exist harmoniously. Discovering sacred places, this trip is for you if you want to be inspired by the spirituality of India. This trip is guided by Tashi who will deliver the nuances and secrets of the various traditions discussed while accompanying you on your personal journey.
- Discover three religions of India: Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism, while visiting the sacred cities of Varanasi, Amritsar, and Dharamshala
- Visit the Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world
- Visit a Tibetan school and spend an afternoon with the children
- Participate in the Hindu ritual of Ganga Aarti at sunset on the banks of the Ganges River in Varanasi, one of the oldest cities in the world
- Travel by train with the local people
- Participate in a shamanic session
- Meet a monk from the Dalai Lama’s monastery in retreat
- Discover Tibetan medicine during a holistic consultation
- Discuss Buddhist philosophy with the monks of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
- Participate in the prayers of nuns in their nunnery
- Be guided by the experience of Omalaya’s friendly and competent service
You will arrive in Delhi and transfer to the hotel for your first night in India’s capital.
Drive from Delhi to Agra. Tashi will take you to visit the largest fort in India, Agra Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within its red sandstone walls lives an extinct civilization of the Mughal rulers. It is said that the emperor who built the Taj Mahal, after being imprisoned by his son, died overlooking his beautiful architectural feat.
After this you may enjoy a time of rest at the hotel before enjoying the sunset over the beautiful Taj Mahal.
Today you will visit the Taj Mahal. This bright white marble mausoleum stands in a huge garden on the right bank of the Yamuna River. It was built at the request of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan to immortalize his love for his wife Mumtaz.
Renowned for its perfection, harmony, symmetry and aesthetics, you will discover one of the seven wonders of the world and one of the greatest architectural jewels of Indo-Muslim art.
In the late afternoon you will take the night train to Varanasi.
Varanasi, also known as Benares or “the City of Lights,” is the holy city of Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains. Varanasi claims the title of one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world and the oldest city in India.
From there you will visit the old city with its narrow streets and its kaleidoscopic scenes of women in colourful saris, shouting vendors, sacred cows, motorbikes and rickshaws. This stroll will take you through many of the incredible scenes of daily life in the holy, photogenic city of Varanasi.
At dusk, you will witness the Ganga Aarti daily ritual dedicated to Ganga, goddess of the Ganges and wife of Shiva. According to legend, Lord Shiva blessed the Ganges by putting his foot in the river. Today people purify themselves daily with the river’s sacred waters. On the banks facing the river, Hindu priests will wave their flaming lamps to the rhythm of traditional music and chanting allowing the lamps to absorb the power of Ganga. Following the ceremony, you can encircle the lamps to receive the blessings of the powerful river deity.
At night, the city will sparkle as lights reflect on the shimmering water. The effect is enhanced by thousands of small candles that will be set afloat in the river as an offering.
You will visit Sarnath, the birthplace of Buddhist teaching, where over 2500 years ago Buddha shared his first teaching known as the Four Noble Truths. The sermon included a progressive study of oneself beginning with the acknowledgement of suffering and concluding with the steps necessary to end suffering. Thus, one can achieve inner peace through abandoning his/her ego while focusing on compassion, in hopes of attaining enlightenment.
Head to beautiful Deer Park, where you will discover the massive Dharmek Stupa, a Buddhist shrine. Near the stupa, where Buddha gave his first sermon, Tashi will share with you in greater depth the philosophy of the Four Noble Truths, the foundation of all Buddhist teaching. Then, Tashi will offer time for meditation so you may focus on yourself and begin applying this knowledge.
Then, head to the Sarnath Museum which houses Emperor Ashoka’s famous lion capital, a stone statue atop a pillar. Here you will also find many other impressive stone carvings from the Gupta period and other significant stupas.
Next, visit Mulagandhakuti Vihāra Temple with its frescoes depicting the events of the Buddha’s life.
Sunrise and sunset on the Ganges are exquisite scenes intertwining spirituality, magic and reality that all come together to create a powerful experience.
In the morning, walk along the ghats, stone steps leading into the river and enjoy the mass of pilgrims from all parts of India performing devotional rituals.
By late morning you will head to the airport to return to Delhi.
Take the train from Delhi arriving in Amritsar in the evening.
This is one of India’s most unique and unforgettable experiences. Here, you will have an opportunity to immerse yourself in Indian culture with its diverse and exciting landscapes, street vendors, and bustling activities.
Today you will explore the famous Golden Temple of Amritsar, an architectural delight. Located in the heart of the city, this is the most sacred Sikh temple in India. The beauty of the golden cupolas is reflected in the waters of the basin. It was the great and tolerant Mughal Emperor Akbar who had this majestic temple built from 1588 to 1601. Shortly after the completion of the temple, the Adi Granth, the holy book of Sikhism, was relocated and contained here. The priests take turns continuously chanting its sacred texts.
This visit will be an opportunity for Tashi to explain the history of Sikhism, one of the leading religions of India. Here, you will also be able to participate in listening to recitations of the Adi Granth while music brings vibrant life to the temple. Allow yourself to be enwrapped in the musical rhythms and the fervour of the faithful.
Today you will head to Dharamshala, commonly called “Dhassa” as a nod to the Tibetan capital, Lhasa. This is the place of exile for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as well as many other displaced Tibetans. In this city Tibetans, Indians, and world travellers all coexist in harmony.
This morning, Tashi will take you to the small town of McLeod Ganj where you will visit the Dalai Lama’s temple and residence. Along with the pilgrims you will participate in the kora, a circular walk around the temple. Tashi will present to you the mantra of compassion that will accompany you throughout your stay. This mantra is a sacred sound formula, based on repetition, and is beneficial for the body and mind. You will explore the Tsuglagkhang Monastery, the Dalai Lama’s temple, whose main structure is a recreation of the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, Tibet. Finally, you will visit the temple’s Tibetan Museum. This emotional experience will present you with a visual history of the Tibetan people who have been exiled from their home.
To conclude the morning, you will meet Geshe Lobsang Dakpa, a former political prisoner. He is now one of the most learned professors of philosophy of the Dalai Lama’s monastery and one of his closest monks. During this meeting you can discuss Buddhist philosophy and its applications in daily life. A meditation session will also be offered.
In the afternoon, you will visit the Tibetan Medical and Astro Institute: Men Tse Khang and its interesting museum, which includes a rich collection of plants and thangkas, Tibetan paintings. You will then meet with a doctor of traditional Tibetan medicine for a holistic consultation. Through this experience, you will discover the benefits of this ancient science of 2500 years, which restores the mental and physical balance through natural remedies.
You will have the honour of participating in a session with a shaman recognized by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This encounter will bee a very intense human experience. Consulted as an oracle and/or a healer, the Lhawa, or shaman, can help answer some of your questions. After conducting some purification practices, the shaman will enter a trance and create a sacred space for healing and divination. You will be invited to connect with him through simple and direct questions.
In the morning, you will follow a small path that offers a magnificent view of Dharamshala and the surrounding Kangra Valley in order to visit a yogi retreat. Yogis are people who have dedicated their lives to meditation and studying the nature of the mind. You will be invited to share a special time of meditation practice with a yogi instated by the Dalai Lama.
In the afternoon, you will visit the Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV). Opened in 1960 and placed under the supervision of the elder sister of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the aim was to house and educate 51 children of Tibetan refugees in India. Today, there are a number of institutions reaching from northern to southern India with over 17,000 students from all backgrounds. TCV works to preserve the values, beliefs and cultures of Tibet.
This will be a time of joy and sharing amid the laughter of children.
In the morning, you will visit the Norbulingka Institute with its Japanese-style gardens and waterfalls. Norbulingka was founded to teach and preserve the traditional Tibetan art in the fields of wood-carving, sculpture, thangkas (Tibetan paintings) and embroidery.
The design of the central temple was inspired by the summer residence of the former Dalai Lama. You will have the opportunity to explore these different workshops and see the artists at work. You will also experience the community of nuns at Dolma Ling and participate in the recitation of their prayers.
By late morning, you will fly to Delhi and arrive at the hotel. You will have time to visit the Indian bazaars and buy some souvenirs to bring home with you.
You will also visit the famous lotus temple, open to anyone whatever the religious belief.
For your final day in India the Omalaya team has put together a little surprise.
***During your stay, and based on the calendar of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, we can change your programme to offer you the opportunity to attend the teachings of His Holiness, surrounded by the Tibetan community. The lessons will be held at Tsuglagkhang Monastery in the Dalai Lama’s temple. This will offer you the opportunity to feel the charisma and wisdom of this master of compassion.