YOGA JOURNEY IN SOUTH INDIA
Meet the natural beauty, stunning architecture, and the intriguing culture of South India. This journey combines daily yoga and a fabulous tour including historical Mumbai, colorful culture, a cooking class, and wild elephants! Explore the 2,000 year-old caves at Ellora and Ajanta that feature monasteries and temples hewn out of rock. Marvel at the intricately carved temples of Madurai, covered in vividly painted figures of deities, mythical creatures and monsters. Cruise on a wooden rice boat through Kochi’s maze of backwaters to observe village life along the shore. Cross over the Western Ghats to Periyar National Park, India’s earliest wildlife sanctuary and one of the best places to see the Asian elephant. Walk in a spice plantation and learn about the many different uses of spices, both in medicine and food and then use them to cook a delicious meal.
March 19, 2016, Home City – Mumbai
Please arrive by 12:00 pm (noon). Meeting and assistance on arrival and transfer to the hotel (Hotel check in time would be 12 noon on this day so let us know if you require earlier check in). Dinner will be your own arrangements. Overnight at the hotel.
WELCOME TO INDIA!
March 20, Mumbai
Early morning enjoy yoga from 0700 / 0815 Hrs. Breakfast at the hotel from 0845 -0930 Hrs. later at 0945 Hrs proceed for the city sightseeing tour of Mumbai which includes a combination walking tour of the ‘real life’ of the city as well as a drive past many of its famous sights. We will visit Hanging Gardens which offers a splendid view of the city, Chowpatty, Kamala Nehru Park and also Mani Bhavan where Mahatma Gandhi stayed during his visits to Mumbai. Walk through the amazing 'Dhobi Ghat' where Mumbai's 'dirties' are scrubbed, bashed, dyed and hung out to dry. Watch the local train passing close by on which the city commuters 'hang out like laundry' - a nice photography stop. Continue to the colorful Crawford market and to the Flora fountain in the large bustling square, in the heart of the city. Drive past the Afghan Church, Secretariat of Maharashtra Government and along the Marine Drive which is fondly known as the 'Queen's Necklace’, and visit Gateway of India, Mumbai's principle landmark. This arch of yellow basalt was erected on the waterfront in 1924 to commemorate King George V's visit to this colony in 1911. Afternoon at leisure. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
March 21, Mumbai – Aurangabad
Early morning enjoy yoga from 0745 Hrs till 0900 Hrs. Breakfast at the hotel. In time transfer from hotel to the airport to connect flight for Aurangabad and on arrival check in at the hotel (depart for airport at 1200 Hrs for flight to Aurangabad. Meeting and assistance on arrival and transfer to the hotel. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
March 22, Aurangabad
Early morning enjoy yoga from 0700 Hrs till 0800 Hrs. Morning excursion to the UNESCO World Heritage site Ellora Caves (15 kms from Aurangabad). The famous rock cut cave temples of Ellora depict the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain faiths, and were constructed between the 5th and 8th centuries AD. Of particular interest is the architectural marvel of the monolithic Kailasa temple, the Buddhist Vishvakarma chaitya and vihara, the famous Jain cave number 32, famous for a magnificent Yakshi statue and ceiling paintings. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
March 23, Aurangabad
Morning yoga from 0700 Hrs till 08 Hrs, later proceed for the full day excursion to UNESCO World Heritage site, Ajanta Caves. Ajanta’s wondrous cave temples are cut into the rocky sides of a dramatic crescent-shaped gorge, at the head of which is a waterfall that drops over the mountain rim in a series of seven steps to a pool far below. Dating back to the 2nd century BC, deep inside the mountain are the Buddhist chaitya, vihara prayer and monastery caves. They cover a span of 800 years where, under the royal patronage of ruling dynasties, professional artists helped Buddhist monks to create magnificent murals narrating the story of Buddha in his cycle of incarnations, while simultaneously creating a painted record of the panorama of life in ancient India. Etched and painted in mineral dyes, the paintings have a languorous stylized beauty and magical eloquence. Later, drive back to Aurangabad and check in at the hotel. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
March 24, Aurangabad – Chennai – Mahabalipuram
In time transfer from hotel to the airport to connect flight for Chennai (We will request the hotel for a packed breakfast, depending on the operation of the restaurant / coffee shop). Meeting and assistance on arrival and transferred directly to your hotel in Mamallapuram, which is located on the coast on the Bay of Bengal. After you check in, you will have some free time on your own. Enjoy Yoga from 1600 Hrs till 1715 Hrs. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
March 25, Mahabalipuram
Early morning enjoy yoga from 0700 Hrs till 0815 Hrs, later proceed for breakfast from 0845 Hrs till 0930 Hrs, After breakfast start your day at Mamallapuram with a visit to the 7th-century Shore Temple which is surrounded by lush gardens, followed by an exploration of the celebrated bas-relief at Arjuna’s Penance and the Five Rathas. The afternoon is at leisure on the beach, shopping, walking around the town. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
March 26, Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry
Early morning enjoy yoga from 0700 Hrs till 0815 Hrs, later proceed for breakfast from 0845 Hrs till 0930 Hrs. Continue your journey down the coast to the former French colony of Pondicherry. In the afternoon take a walk through the French Quarter of Pondicherry to soak up the French flavors and feel the city’s leisurely approach to life when strolling past charming colonial architecture & street side cafes, you may also take a bicycle if you prefer. Later visit the Aurobindo Ashram that promotes a synthesis of yoga and modern science. Meditate at Auroville. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
March 27, Pondicherry – Thanjavur
Early morning enjoy yoga from 0700 Hrs till 0815 Hrs. later proceed for breakfast at 0845 Hrs till 0930 Hrs. Travel further through the fertile region known as the 'rice bowl' of Tamil Nadu to Thanjavur. On guided afternoon tour you will discover the monumental granite Temple of Brihadeeshwara (Bull Temple) which is capped by a monolithic cupola and a symbol of power and might of the Cholas who ruled between 9th and 13th centuries. Enjoy a wonderful collection of royal remnants of early 19th century at nearby Thanjavur Palace. Observe and learn about how the exquisite bronzes and handicrafts are produced by the hands of local craftsmen. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
March 28, Thanjavur – Madurai
Early morning enjoy yoga from 0700 Hrs till 0815 Hrs, later proceed for breakfast from 0845 Hrs till 0930 Hrs. Today you continue to Trichy, the old citadel of the Chola Dynasty in the medieval period, where you visit the Rock Fort. A climb of 434 steps leads to the ancient temple of Ganapati on top and a further climb to a Shiva temple. Afterwards you continue your journey to Madurai, South India’s greatest temple town and significant pilgrim site. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
March 29, Madurai
Early morning enjoy yoga from 0700 Hrs till 0815 Hrs, later proceed for breakfast from 0845 Hrs till 0930 Hrs. Madurai is the oldest city in Tamil Nadu. Today you will visit the thousand-year-old Meenakshi Temple, one of India’s largest pilgrim sites with 12 towering gopurams; it is an unforgettable experience to observe the rituals and celebration during the evening puja ceremony inside the Meenakshi Temple. Later, visit the Tirumala Nayak Palace-a gracious building revealing the power and wealth of the Nayakas who made Madurai their capital in the 16th and 17th centuries. Continue to the Alagar Hills and Tirupara Kundran Rock temple. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
March 30, Madurai – Periyar
Early morning enjoy yoga from 0700 Hrs till 0815 Hrs, later proceed for breakfast from 0845 Hrs till 0930 Hrs. After breakfast drive through the Western Ghats to Periyar National Park, India’s earliest sanctuary and one of the best places to see the Asian Elephant. After checking into your hotel, you have time to stroll through one of the spice plantations this area is famous for and learn about the many different uses of spices, both in medicine and food. Take a late afternoon cruise/boat ride on the picturesque Periyar Lake at the heart of the Periyar National Park. As the coolness comes in the evening many wild animals drink at the water edge. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
March 31, Periyar – Kumarakom -- Houseboat
Early breakfast. In the early morning (around 7 am), you'll enjoy a forest trek inside the National Park which takes 1-3 hours depending on the group’s interest. After the trekking, drive back to hotel for a quick shower, then head to Kumarakom, embark on your houseboat and start an enchanting cruise along the reputed backwater of Kerala; just relax and lay back while you navigate slowly through the tranquil waterways. It is a wonderful opportunity to discover Kerala’s rural lifestyle. You’ll see that Kerala is known for its cashew nuts, coir trade, rice, pepper crops & coconuts. Your chef on houseboat will prepare delicious Kerala specialties on board. Enjoy Yoga on board from 1600 Hrs till 1715 Hrs. Dinner and overnight on board.
April 1, Houseboat – Alleppey – Cochin - Houseboat
After a breakfast on the houseboat, disembark and say goodbye to the backwaters and head for Cochin, Kerala’s most cosmopolitan city and an important trading center for spices. The afternoon is yours. In the evening, enjoy Kerala’s signature performance of Kathakali, a classical form of dance, drama and music that is more than 400 years old. Enjoy Yoga from 1500-1615 Hrs. Learn how to cook, and enjoy eating a home-cooked South Indian dinner! Overnight at the hotel.
April 2, Cochin
Early morning enjoy yoga from 0700 Hrs till 0815 Hrs, later proceed for breakfast from 0845 Hrs till 0930 Hrs. After breakfast you start your exploration of Fort Cochin. Follow the footprint left centuries ago by Dutch, Portuguese, British, Arab and Chinese and soak up the cultural atmosphere as you stroll along the quaint narrow lanes of Fort Cochin to visit the Dutch Palace, St Francis Church and India’s oldest Jewish Synagogue in Jew Town. Later head to the harbor where local fishermen use the old Chinese fishing nets, introduced and erected centuries ago. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
April 3, Depart Cochin
Transfer from hotel to the airport to connect to flight for Mumbai where you will continue to your onward destination flight back home.
Cost: $4650, includes: yoga, guide fees, all flights and other transportation within India, 5 star hotels, breakfasts and dinners, hotel and driver tips, entrance fees, and guest experts on Indian culture. Cost does not include tip for guide, drinks, room service, non-group activities, personal expenses, or international airfare. Itinerary is subject to change as needed.
A deposit of $500 will reserve your spot (fully refundable before July 30, 2015). 50% of the total cost of the tour is due by July 30. If the retreat/tour is canceled due to lack of participants, you will be granted a full refund. A minimum of 10 people is required for the trip to occur. We do anticipate meeting our goal of 10 participants. We will contact you after July 30 to let you know if we have met our minimum so that you can go ahead and purchase your flight. Please send in your check with the registration form as soon as possible to guarantee your place and help us make all the train and hotel bookings in a timely way.
To Register: Please send in your deposit, payable to Spiritual India Journeys with the Registration and Release Forms.
* Please note that itinerary is subject to change
* Additional travel options in India are possible with prior arrangement