Spirituality Across North India

A tour being offered by PBS to its viewers

A tour of 14-nights in India departing Europe February 2, 2007 or the Americas February 1, 2007

At each step of this journey, discussions and interaction with eminent teachers will help you explore and expand your own personal connection to the unfolding essence of India. Through the eyes of our experienced guide, your spirits will respond to the sights, sounds and beliefs of a civilization that renounced materialism, and found a way to infuse spirituality into daily life. Spirituality is not just about seeing and experiencing different places of worship. Eminent teachers and speakers will inter-space the tour with five one-hour long talks given in the comfort of your hotel. These are:

    • History of Different Religions in India,
    • Origins and History of Buddhism,
    • History of Islam in India,
    • Hinduism - the Emergence of a Religion from a Philosophy, and,
    • The Essence of Sikhism.

ITINERARY

February 1. Leave the Americas

February 2. Leave Europe or travel. Arrive Delhi late at night. Spiritual Journeys, Inc. representative will welcome you at the airport when you arrive late night at Delhi Airport, and escort you to your hotel. Overnight: Delhi.

February 3. Delhi. Delhi is the third largest city of India and been the capital city of a succession of powerful kingdoms with numerous fascinating ruins through the ages. We will see: Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, the house where the eight Sikh Guru went to Delhi at the invitation of Raja Jai Singh, the Bahai Temple, often called as the Taj Mahal of the 21st century, the Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India, designed as Emperor Shahjahan’s principal mosque, an austere yet beautiful building in red sandstone with white marble, and pulpit being carved out of a single block of marble. About 20,000 people can pray at a time in this mosque. In the afternoon, we will have an opportunity to shop.  Discussion: History of Religions in India. Overnight: Delhi.

February 4. Jaipur. Experience the country-side as we drive to Jaipur. Jaipur was founded in 1727, being the only planned city of its time. There's an amazing appeal to Jaipur's colorful bazaars, beautifully laid out gardens, parks & the monuments. We will see: The City Palace, which houses a museum collection of costumes and armoury and an art gallery of miniature paintings, carpets and rare astronomical works. Hawa Mahal with fine trellis work, balconies and 953 semioctagonal and honey combed sandstoned windows. Amber Fort Complex, a classic romantic Rajasthan fort-palace which took 200 years to build, starting in 1592, climbing to its top on elephant back. Jantar Mantar, a huge stone observatory with structures to gauge altitude, and celestial clocks accurate to less than half a minute. Overnight: Jaipur.

February 5. Jaipur. Continue sightseeing and shopping in Jaipur. Discussion: "Hinduism" - the Emergence of a Religion from a Philosophy . Overnight: Jaipur.

February 6. Agra. We will drive first to Fathepur Sikri and then onto Agra, a total journey of 5 1/2 hours. Described as an epic poem in red sandstone, Fathepur Sikri owes its foundation to Emperor Akbar, one of the Great Moghul Emperors. The architecture of Fathepur Sikri is a combination of both the Hindu and Muslim styles. Later we will see the Agra Fort designed and built by Emperor Akbar in 1565 AD, Akbar's mausoleum, Sikandra and other epic sites of this great architectural era. Overnight: Agra.

February 7. Agra. Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, a sublime experience of the greatest love story ever told. Emperor Shahjahan built the Taj Mahal - the seventh wonder of the world! - in memory of his beloved wife, Begum Mumtaz Mahal. Take an overnight train to Varanasi. This travel will show you what India truly is. Overnight: On board the train.

February 8. Varanasi. Arrive Varanasi this morning and drive to Sarnath. There are four geographically important places in the life of Buddha: birthplace (Lumbini, Nepal), place of enlightenment (Bodh Gaya, India), where he gave his first sermon (at the Deer Park in Sarnath, India) and where he left his mortal body (Kushinager, India). We will see a number of Stupas and visit the Sarnath Museum. Walk around (clock-wise) the great Stupa. See the bodhi tree whose sapling was brought from a tree in Sri Lanka, whose sapling was from the original tree under which Buddha sat in Bodh Gaya and gained enlightenment 2,500 years ago. Discussion: Buddhism in India including an authentic Indian sit-down meal as you witness and participate in a variety of devotional activities. Opportunity to shop, part on foot and part on rickshaws. Overnight: Varanasi.

February 9. Khajurao. During a pre-dawn boat ride on the River Ganga we see riverside ghats and temples. We then experience the city of Varanasi, one of the oldest living cities in the world, by rickshaw and foot. The banks of the Ganges exhibit the ultimate expression of giving up ones ego, and thus stepping closer to attainment. It is a spectacular sight to see thousands set aside their inhibitions and be just one with their Almighty. Overnight: Varanasi.

February 10. Khajurao. Fly to Khajurao. King Yasovarman began the era of temple construction around 930-1050 AD. The patient hands of the craftsmen have transformed even the mundane to excellence unparalleled anywhere else in the world for you to see amongst the finest examples of temple architecture. The depiction of uninhibited sex hints towards a liberated society in yesteryear. It is also suggested that prior to entering the place of worship, if one was attracted to sex as depicted, then perhaps one was not ready to take the next step towards enlightenment. Such depiction of sex forms only a small fraction of all the carvings at Khajurao. Overnight: Khajuraho.

February 11. Orcha. Continue sightseeing in Khajuraho. Drive to Orcha, a journey of 3 1/2 hours. Overnight: Orcha.

February 12. Orcha. Orcha’s grandeur has been captured in stone; a rich legacy and unique murals and paintings bring to life Hindu & Islamic palaces and temples built by its Bundela rulers in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Jehangir Mahal to commemorate the visit of Emperor Jehangir, Raj Mahal, Rai Praveen Mahal, Chaturbhuj Temple specially constructed to enshrine the image of Ram and the palace-turned-temple Ram Raja Mandir, the only temple in India where Ram is worshipped as a king, and participate in an Aarti at dusk at this temple. Photo opportunity and Aarti at sunset. Overnight: Orcha.

February 13. Bhopal. Depart for Bhopal by train, and after we arrive, we will take a short drive to Sanchi. Sanchi is known for Stupas, monasteries, temples, and pillars built by Mauryan Emperor Ashoka (c.304 BC - 232 BC) to train monks for them to go overseas and promote Buddhism. The Four Gateways that surround the Great Stupa are considered the finest Buddhist art, and thus counter balance the massive solidity of the Stupa they encircle. If time permits, we will go to the Udaygiri caves, which were produced in the 4th century AD. Discussion: The History of Islam in India. Overnight: Bhopal.

February 14. Bhopal. In Bhopal we will see: Taj-ul-Masjid the largest mosque in the country, (and the second largest in Asia) and the Jain Temple up on a hill, overlooking the city. Take an overnight train to Delhi. Overnight: On board the train.

February 15. Delhi. Arrive early this morning. In Old Delhi see the magnificent Red Fort built of red sandstone. Within its walls are marble palaces and a grand audience chamber, the Diwan-i-Khas, where Moghul emperors held court and the Peacock Throne once stood. Opposite the fort are the black and white onion dome and minarets of the Jama Masjid, the most elegant mosque in India. Drive past Kotla Firoze Shah, ruins of an old fort of the 14th century, see the Ashokan Pillar of 3rd BC. Then visit Raj Ghat, where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated in 1948. New Delhi - the New Capital designed by Sir Edward Lutyens. Drive down the main avenue, the impressive Rajpath to the World War I memorial arch, the India Gate, and pass the Presidential Palace, the Rashtrapati Bhavan and the secretariat buildings - the center of all government activity. Visit Humayun’s Tomb built in 1565 AD by his grieving widow Haji Begum, Safdarjung’s Tomb, the Qutub Minar, 72 meters high and the ruins of Quwat-ul-Eslam (Light of Islam) Mosque and Delhi’s most curious antique, the uncorroded Iron Pillar, which dates back to the 4th century AD. Visit the Birla (Laxmi Narayan) Temple, with its many idols. Experience an evening song and light show at the Red Fort. Discussion: "The Essence of Sikhism". Enjoy Indian folk dances as you dine. Overnight: Delhi.

February 16. Delhi. We will spend most of the day for shopping, allowing you an opportunity to shop in the most diverse assortment of shops in India. Then fly home at night. Overnight: On board the flight.

February 17. Home. Travel Arrive Europe (morning) or the Americas (evening).

Cost: US$ 3,560.00 per person, in a twin sharing hotel room, with a minimum of twenty people traveling in a group. Includes breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, all five star (or best in town) hotels, all transfers (in air conditioned vehicles), all taxes and all transportation (as stated in itinerary) within India. Excludes International air, and items of personal usage such as laundry and beverages. Single supplement: US$ 1,270.00. Note all guides and discussions will be in English.

Registration:  Please use our registration form to register.

Additional Information: Deepak@Spiritualjourneys.net, or mail: Deepak Singh, Spiritual Journeys, Inc., 25 Hazelbrook Lane, Wayland, MA 01778, USA. Ph: 508-358-4267, or fax: 508-358-8148.