Pilgrimage for Compassion North India (16 days)

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special(Departure June & July)
This tour is your chance to join Indian tradition, pilgrimage, and learn about its ancient culture and deities which have formed the India that we know today. Explore the sacred Varanasi. Visit Buddhist sites such as Sarnath, Bodhgaya and Rajgir. Continue to the north to Garhwal. Trek the Himalayas to Kedarnath and Badrinath. Journey to Rishikesh, the place the Beatles found inner peace in the sixties. Pilgrimage for Compassion North India is to truly inspire yourself through your own experiences that most people only dream about.

Day 1 – Delhi
Arrive in Delhi where you will be met by our representative holding a sign with your name on it outside of ground transportation. You will be privately driven to your hotel. The rest of your day is at leisure. Enjoy a welcome dinner and orientation about your tour. Overnight in Delhi at Surya/Siddharth

Day 2 – Delhi
You are met at your hotel and driven to the starting point of the Salaam City Walk, which starts at 10AM.

The Salaam City Walk is a guided tour around the New Delhi Railway Station and Paharganj area in which former street children share their personal stories of survival with the participants and show them the contact points and shelter homes Salaam Baalak Trust provides. For the past three years it has been run by the Salaam Baalak Trust (SBT) – a non-profit organization, taking care of street and former street children living in Delhi. Through this program the young guides get an opportunity to improve their communication and marketing skills independently. The Walk aims to sensitize people to the lives of street children and helps to provide a deeper insight about street life from the people who have experienced it themselves.

After lunch embark on a half day tour of Delhi. You tour to Old Delhi includes visiting the Jama Masjid Mosque and the Red Fort.
Begin your exploration of this vibrant and historic city of over fifteen million people. This fascinating city has many faces, from the ancient alleyways and monuments of Old Delhi to regal New Delhi. Visit the great mosque of Delhi, Jama Masjid, which dates back to the mid seventeenth century and is the largest mosque in India.

The Red Fort was originally referred to as “Qila-i-Mubarak” or the blessed fort, because it was the residence of the royal family. The layout of the Red Fort was organized to retain and integrate this site with the Salimgarh Fort. The fortress palace was an important focal point of the medieval city of Shahjahanabad. The planning and aesthetics of the Red Fort represent the zenith of Mughal creativity which prevailed during the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan.
Your tour of New Delhi includes Qutub Minar and Humayun’s Tomb

The Qutub Minar is located in Mehrauli in South Delhi. It was built by Qutub-ud-din Aibak of the Slave Dynasty, who took possession of Delhi in 1206. It is a fluted red sandstone tower, which tapers up to a height of 72.5 meters and is covered with intricate carvings and verses from the Qur’an. Qutub-ud-din Aibak began constructing this victory tower as a sign of Muslim domination of Delhi and as a minaret for the muezzin to call the faithful to prayer.

Explore the 16th century tomb of the Mughal emperor Humayun, with its graceful architecture and recently restored ornamental gardens. This World Heritage-listed site provides an introduction to the Mughal architectural style which reached its peak in the magnificence of the Taj Mahal. Continue to Rajpath – home to India’s government buildings and the President’s residence, all featuring the graceful Lutyen’s architecture which characterizes New Delhi, and India Gate, a memorial to Indian soldiers who gave their lives during World War One .

Later in the afternoon you may wish to explore central Connaught Place with its shopping and restaurants. Overnight in Delhi at Surya/Siddharth

Day 3 – Delhi/Varanasi/Bodhgaya
Transfer to the airport to board your flight to Varanasi. You will be met at the airport and driven to Bodhgaya (approx.6-7 hours). Check into your hotel. Visit the Mahabodhi Temple and surrounding area.

The Mahabodhi Temple, also called the “Great Awakening Temple”, is where Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, meditated under the Bodhi tree and is said to have attained enlightenment. Around this temple are many other temples of other religious sects. Architecturally speaking, the Mahabodhi Temple is constructed of brick and is one of the oldest brick structures to have survived in eastern India. It is considered to be a fine example of Indian brickwork, and was highly influential in the development of later architectural traditions. Overnight in Bodhgaya at the Royal Residency

Day 4 – Bodhgaya/Rajgir/Bodhgaya
At sunrise visit the Mahabodhi Temple for prayer. After breakfast, drive to Rajgir.

Rajgir is sacred to the memory of the founders of both Buddhism and Jainism. Places of interest are Ajatshatru’s fort, Bimbisara’s Jail, Gridhakuta and the Vishwa Shanti Stupa. It is also the site of Vulture’s Peak where Buddha taught the Heart Sutra.

Return back to Bodhgaya. Rest of the day is free to explore as you wish. Overnight in Bodhgaya at the Royal Residency

Day 5 – Bodhgaya/Varanasi
After breakfast we drive to the eternal city of Varanasi. Check into your hotel.Take an evening rickshaw ride to the Ghat to witness Aarti ceremony (blessing by lighting candles) on the Ganges.

Varanasi is a holy city in Hinduism and is one of the most sacred pilgrimage places for Hindus of all denominations. It is called the “city of temples” and one of seven most holy places for Hindus to make pilgrimage to in India.

The Ganges is the most sacred river to Hindus and is a lifeline to millions of Indians who live along its course and depend on it for their daily needs. It is worshiped as the goddess Ganga in Hinduism. Overnight Varanasi at the Ramada

Day 6 – Varanasi
Early morning, take a boat ride on the Ganges River. After breakfast enjoy a city tour visiting Bharat Mata Temple. Durga Temple, Vishwanath Temple and the marble Shiva temple at Benaras University, Visit the colorful markets. See the kaleidoscope of colors radiating from the silk shops. Varanasi is famous for its handspun silk.

After lunch, we take an excursion to Sarnath – the buried Buddhist city where Lord Buddha gave his first Sermon. Return to Varanasi and enjoy your evening at leisure.

Sarnath (Isipatana) or “deer park” is where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma, and where the Buddhist Sangha came into existence through the enlightenment of Kondanna. Sarnath is located 13 kilometres north-east of Varanasi near Singhpur, a village one km away from the site, which was the birth place of Shreyansanath, the eleventh Tirthankara of Jainism. There is a temple dedicated to him, so This area is an important Jain pilgrimage site as well. Isipatana is mentioned by the Buddha as one of the four places of pilgrimage which his devout followers should visit. Overnight in Varanasi at the Ramada

Day 7 – Varanasi/Delhi/Haridwar
Your early morning is free to explore as you wish. Transfer to the airport for your flight to Delhi where you will be met by our representative and driven onward to Haridwar. Explore this holy town. Join the Bajran and hear Dashan in the evening.

Haridwar introduces you to the essence of rich Indian culture and its ancient civilization. It is also an entry point to the four main centers of pilgrimage in Uttarakhand, Char Dam, for Shaivaites (followers of Lord Shiva) and Vaishnavites (followers of Lord Vishnu). Har means Shiv and Hari means Vishnu. Overnight in Haridwar at the Carlson Country Inn

Day 8 – Haridwar/Rudraprayag(Guptkashi)
After morning prayer ceremony, we drive onward to Rudraprayag and Guptkashi (7 hour day)

Rudraprayag is one of the five confluences of the Alaknanda River, that joins with the Bhagirathi river to form the river sacred river Ganges.

Guptkashi is famous for the ancient Vishwanath Temple which is dedicated to god Shiva. The other famous temple here is dedicated to Ardhanareshvara, a half man half woman form of Shiva and Parvati. The name Guptakashi has legendary been linked to the Pandavas, the heroes of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. Its religious importance is considered second to that of Varanasi as believed to being most pious of all Hindu pilgrimage places. Overnight in Guptkashi at the Leisure Chardham Camp

Day 9 – Guptkashi/Gaurikund/Kedarnath
We drive from Guptkashi to Gaurikund to start the trek to Kedarnath (30kms by road & 14kms Trek).

Gaurikund is located at an altitude of 6000 feet in the Garhwal Himalayas on the way to Kedarnath, one of the most sacred sites in Hinduism dedicated to Lord Shiva. Gauri Kund is connected with Shiva’s wife Parvati, also known as Gauri in various parts of India. In Hindu folklore, Gauri committed Herself to penance involving many ascetic and yogic practices to win over the affections of Shiva.

Kedarnath Mandir sits atop the Garhwal Himalayan range near the Mandakini River. In this region Lord Shiva is worshipped as Kedarnath or the “Lord of Kedar Khand”, the historical name of the region. Overnight in Kedarnath at the Punjab & Sindh Awas/Agra House

Day 10 – Kedarnath/Rudraprayag(Guptkashi)
Morning trek from Kedarnath back to Gaurikund then drive to Rudraprayag (14Kms Down Trek & 75kms/3hr by Road) Overnight in Guptkashi at the Leisure Chardham Camp

Day 11 – Rudraprayag/Badrinath
Today we drive from Rudraprayag to Badrinath (165kms/7hr).

Badrinath sits at 11,000 feet in the Garhwal hills and is one of the holiest towns in India. The Badrinath temple is the main attraction, According to legend, Shankara discovered a black stone image of Lord Badrinarayan made of Saligram stone in the Alaknanda River. He enshrined it in a cave near the Tapt Kund hot springs. In the sixteenth century, the King of Garhwal moved it to the present temple. Overnight in Badrinath at the Sarovar Portico

Day 12 – Badrinath/Srinagar
Early morning we visit the temple. Later drive onward to Srinagar.

Srinagar was recognized after becoming the capital of Garhwal Kinghdom. King Ajay Pal unified the chiefdoms and garhis (small counties) of this region during 1506-1512 CE and founded the Garhwal kingdom. He made the capital Srinagar. Today the town is an important cultural center and an important Valley Bazar in the hills. It has numerous temples and monuments. Overnight in Srinagar at the GMVN Rest House/Tourist Home

Day 13 – Srinagar/Rishikesh
This morning explore the temples and town of Srinagar . In the afternoon we drive onward to Rishikesh (107kms/5 hrs)

Rishikesh is located in the foothills of the Himalayas and is referred to as The Gateway to the Himalayas. The sacred Ganges flows through Rishikesh and it is here that the river leaves the Shivalik mountains flows out into the plains of northern India. Several ancient as well as new templescan be found along the banks of the Ganges in Rishikesh.

It is believed that meditation in Rishikesh brings one closer to attainment of moksha. There are several yoga centers to study at which has led Rishikesh to be also nicknamed the “Yoga Center of the World”. Prominent personalities such as Swami Vivekananda, Swami Rama Tirtha and Swami Shivananda have studied here. In February 1968, The Beatles visited Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in Rishikesh as did Mike Love and Donovan. Overnight in Rishikesh at the Ganga Kinare

Day 14 – Rishikesh/Haridwar/Delhi
Today we drive from Rishikesh back to Haridwar and onto Delhi. (250kms/7-8hr) The rest of your evening is free to explore as you wish. Overnight in Delhi at the Surya/Siddharth

Day 15 – Delhi/Agra/Delhi
After breakfast we drive to Agra to visit the magnificent Taj Mahal and Amber Fort. We see the Taj Mahal and explore this amazing monument with its artistic paintings and inlay work in geometric and floral designs. Early evening drive back to Delhi.

The Taj Mahal was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is widely recognized as “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.” The Taj Mahal is the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Turkish and Indian architectural styles.

Agra Fort is a monument which is actually a walled city and has been declared an UNESCO World Heritsge Site. Originally a brick fort, held by the Hindu Sikarwar Rajputs, but the Mughals eventually captured the fort and a vast treasure – which included a diamond later known as the Koh-i-Noor – was seized. The fort was also the site of the battle during the Indian rebellion of 1857, which caused the end of the British East India Company’s rule in India, and led to a century of direct rule of India by Britain. Overnight Delhi at the Surya/Siddharth

Day 16 – Depart Delhi
Transfer to the airport for your flight for homebound or a 4 Day Extension to visit Dharamsala, home to Dalai Lama.destination.

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Cost includes:
- 15 nights accommodation as per hotels double sharing room.
- Daily breakfast.
- Half board in Guptakashi, Kedarnath, Rudraprayag, Badrinath, etc
- Adequate mineral water during the sightseeing/long drives.
- English speaking local guide during sightseeing
- All transfers, sightseeing, excursion (non a/c transport hills)– Entrance fee to the monuments during sightseeing as per program.
- Boat ride in Varanasi.
- Ropeway in Rajgir.

Does not include:
- Any airfare, airport tax, visa fee.
- Any meals except mentioned in cost includes.
- Any items of personal nature like liquor, laundry, telephone —- Any other services/items not mentioned in program/quote include.
- Expenses arising such as flight delays/ cancellations, natural — Increase in costs such as fuel and airfare

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Dharamsala Extension (4 days/3 nights)

Day 17 – Delhi/Pathankot/Dharamsala
Transfer to the airport for your departure flight to Pathankot where you will be met and driven to your hotel in Dharamsala.

Day 18 –.Dharamsala
Explore McLeod Gang, a suburb of Dharamsala often referred to as “Little Lhasa” because it is the home to Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso a modern day “Siddhartha”, and the Tibetan Government in Exile. The Tibetan settlement of Dharamsala began in 1959, when His Holiness the Dalai Lama had to flee Tibet and the India Prime Minister allowed him and his followers to settle in McLeod Ganj (in Upper Dharmsala), a former colonial British summer picnic spot. Today there are many temples, monasteries and schools here. McLeod Ganj has also attracted many foreigners who wish to study Tibetan Buddhism encouraging tourism and commerce in the Tibetan Community. See Namgyal Monastery, the main monastery for monks training and the Tibetan Village School, which teaches lay children.

Day 19 – Dharamsala
Visit the Tibetan Library. In 1970, The Dalai Lama opened the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives which houses over 80,000 manuscripts and other important resources related to Tibetan history, politics and culture. It is considered one of the most important institutions for Tibetology in the world and is under a new director, Geshe Lahkdor, the old translator of the Dalai Lama.

Drive to Tilokpur and see Tilopa’s Cave, the Kagyupa Tibetan nunnery and rural village.

Tilopa was a tantric practitioner and mahasiddha. He developed the mahamudra (Tibetan) method, a set of spiritual practices that greatly accelerates the process of attaining bodhi (enlightenment). Tilopa is regarded as the human founder of the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.

Day 20 – Depart Dharamsala/Pathankot/Delhi
Drive to Pathankot for your departure flight to Delhi and onward

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