Spring Tour 2022
India is amazing! When describing it, Mark Twain had this to say:
“India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great-grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only.”
And here’s Mr. Twain again, waxing eloquent about India’s glories:
“So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked.”
For many, India is a bucket list destination, a life-changing experience. Here’s Keith Bellows, Editor-in-Chief for National Geographic Traveler for over seventeen years:
“There are some parts of the world that, once visited, get into your heart and won’t go. For me, India is such a place. When I first visited, I was stunned by the richness of the land, by its lush beauty and exotic architecture, by its ability to overload the senses with the pure, concentrated intensity of its colors, smells, tastes, and sounds… I had been seeing the world in black & white and, when brought face-to-face with India, experienced everything re-rendered in brilliant technicolor.”
Now, if you’re reading this, you’re probably considering making a journey to India. As such, we’d like to tell you a bit about our Fall Tour. (Please also scroll down to check out photos of each place that we’ll be visiting).
We will meet up at Delhi International Airport early in the morning of February 15th, and travel north to Rishikesh and beyond. Usually, Rishikesh is as far north as a yogi might travel in their exploration of the Himalayas and the Ganges, but we will be venturing further north, as the town of Rishikesh has become a little congested and hectic. We, therefore, opt to stay further up in the mountains outside the city, at a beautiful resort, completely isolated on the bank of the Ganges.
We will acclimate ourselves here and spend a few days: doing yoga, white water rafting, learning philosophy, engaging in kirtan, and exploring nature. We will hopefully even getting a breathtaking view of the ever majestic, snow-capped Himalayas—an experience so inspirational that words don’t do it justice! After this portion of the trip, we will come down from the mountains and visit the sacred town of Vrindavan.
In the Himalayas, we will have had the opportunity to experience divine nature in all its glory, but Vrindavan, “The Land of Five Thousand Temples”, has its own charming and unique flavor. Here we will: visit ancient temples, shop in full-blown bazaars in search of buried treasures, engage in ecstatic kirtan, and try our best to enter into the timeless devotional temple culture and ritual, that is so integral to Indian spiritual expression.
After some days in Vrindavan, we will journey into the heartland of India, and visit the spectacular city of Jaipur—it’s almost like traveling to a different country! Jaipur has a unique aesthetic and architecture all it’s own, and we’ll experience it though its sacred temples, forts, museums, and bazaars. It will be an extraordinary experience for everyone. Lastly, we will travel back through Vrindavan once more.
In our second pass through Vrindavan, we will add to and consolidate the realizations that our pilgrimage has kindly bestowed on us. Our tour will end on March 2nd, in the afternoon. We will then provide transportation back to the Delhi airport. You can fly out on the night of March 2nd (or more probably in the early hours of March 3rd, as international flights often leave Delhi after midnight).
- Our tours are designed to give you a full experience of the spiritual landscape of India. The tour’s purpose is to facilitate deep introspection and self discovery. As such, everyone will be expected to follow a vegan/vegetarian diet and remain sober, for the duration of the trip. (Please note that these observances will facilitate you having the most authentic experience possible.)
- 2. We will offer at least one yoga class per day, and sometimes a second (depending on the day’s schedule).
- We want you to be as comfortable as possible (because traveling is itself austere). For this reason, we book the absolute nicest accommodation available wherever we go. The places we stay are very nice, but please understand that it’s India, and there’s always some inconvenience. Understanding this, please adopt a pilgrim’s attitude, realizing that being tolerant is part of our journey. This will allow you to have the best time possible
The Himalayan mountain range includes 10 of the 14 highest peaks in the world. We will travel deep into India’s Garhwal Himalayas and catch some amazing views of its perennially snow-capped mountain peaks.
The gateway city to the Himalayas, often considered to be the “Yoga Capital of the World,” because of its many yogis and ashrams.
This is where the Ganges river officially begins, at the sacred confluence where its main tributaries meet (the Alakananda and Bhagirathi rivers). The difference in color between the two rivers is striking. We will have the opportunity to take a ritual bath at the exact junction where the two rivers converge.
Dubbed “The Pink City,” Jaipur is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and built according to Vastu and Shilpa-shastra (ancient Indian rules of architecture, somewhat analogue to feng-shui). The city is a bastion of culture, filled with museums and palaces, and famous for its distinctive aesthetic, arts and crafts, and for being the gemstone capital of India.
Centuries ago, during the Moghul period, the city also served as a sanctuary for several sacred icons (vigrahas), that were transported here, where their worship continued, unabated, under the protection of the powerful Jaipur kings—thus avoiding the threat of destruction during a time of intense religious persecution in India. We will visit these temples—and the city’s epic forts—and immerse ourselves in the unique brand of devotion that permeates this sacred land.
Vrindavan is the “Land of 5000 Temples.” Visited by tens of millions of pilgrims annually, this city is the heart of devotional Hinduism in North India. We’ll visit temples here that are steeped in ancient tradition. We’ll have a chance to sit at the tombs of saints that lived and worshipped in this place so many centuries ago, and hear about their lives and teachings.
Mayapur is the fountainhead of a Bhakti renaissance that swept through India 500 years ago. This movement sought to give anyone and everyone the opportunity to experience personal transformation and intense love of the Divine through kirtan. In Mayapur, we will dive deep into that ocean of Bhakti and kirtan, while acquainting ourselves with the life and times of Shri Chaitanya, the golden avatar.
Glorified in ancient scriptures, Badrinath is the most important place of pilgrimage in all the Himalayas. Despite it’s remote location and only being accessible for six months a year when the snow sufficiently melts, it’s visited by over a million pilgrims annually. We will have a chance to attend the special private worship that occurs at the temple, in the early morning hours before the throngs of pious pilgrims begin arriving. We will also trek from here to a 400ft waterfall that eventually becomes the Ganges river.
Valley of the Flowers
A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the valley is home to some of the most stunning alpine scenery in the world, and is only in bloom for 2-3 months each year. Fortunately, it’s located very close to Badrinath; we are hopeful that in mid-September the valley will still be brimming with life and that the weather permits. If everything goes well, we will offer a small side trip to everyone, where we helicopter into the valley in the morning (it’s normally a couple day’s trek), then spend a few hours enjoying the scenery, and return by helicopter before day’s end!
Upcoming Fall Tour Trailer
Meet our team
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Tukaram began seeking the truth at an early age. By the time he was eighteen, his journey had led him to far off India, where he lived for many years as a monastic. While there, he received a traditional education in Vaisnava Hindu philosophy, ritual, and language. As part of his study, he traveled extensively, to numerous holy places throughout the Indian subcontinent. Notably, one of the places where he spent considerable time was the Himalayas. In fact, 29 years ago, Tukaram traveled the exact path we will be traversing this fall (from Rishikesh to Badrinath), a distance of several hundred kilometers, but back then he did it entirely by foot!
Back home, Tukaram serves as the Director of two Hindu temples (in Laguna Beach and Long Beach), and also runs a vegan restaurant, an organic farm and animal sanctuary, and an urban ashram.
Madhuri is a founding director of Yoga108 and an advanced registered yoga teacher (E-RYT 500), dancer, meditator, and writer. Inspired by yoga’s profound effects, Madhuri has spent the past 12 years sharing the practice wherever needed- studios, gyms, corporations, high schools, shelters, and also one-on-one. Over the years, she’s mentored many new yoga teachers through teacher trainings and apprenticeships. Molly received a degree in Dance Performance from the University of California, Irvine, where she studied the body and movement extensively, mentored by visionary choreographers Donald McKayle and Loretta Livingston. Subsequently, she completed 500 hours of training at NYC’s Laughing Lotus Yoga Center under the mentorship of studio owner Dana Flynn.
Lila is 500-hour E-RYT based in Los Angeles. Since completing her first yoga teacher training in 2012, she has immersed herself in a diverse scope of study, ranging from doula training to Reiki I + II certification. She has led multiple yoga teacher trainings, opened several yoga studios with the largest yoga corporation in the world, and simultaneously managed 6 of them. Lila currently manages a vegan restaurant in Long Beach, and she has also ventured to India half a dozen times over the years, traveling to extremely remote parts of the subcontinent. She’s also managed tours to India and taught yoga every step of the way. Lila is excited to be a part of the India 2020 tour, helping to ground and anchor all of us everyday with strong yoga classes and personal instruction in asana and pranayama.
Anandini has over 10 years of leadership experience and currently oversees several multi-million dollar establishments for a fortune 50 company. In 2014, she became a Registered Yoga Instructor. Alongside her busy career, she currently teaches yoga and meditation classes throughout Southern California, and also manages an urban ashram in Long Beach. Having been to India more than a half of a dozen times, and being extensively trained in leadership, management, and yoga, she brings her extensive knowledge and experience to bear while serving as our tour’s organizer. It’s Anandini’s goal to make our adventurous tour seamless, taking care of everyone and everything. Anandini ensures that we can all having the most amazing time ever on our upcoming trip.
Our tour guides, Anandini, Lila, and Sri have over 25 years of collective leadership experience, have developed multiple successful businesses from the ground up, have managed several multi-million dollar establishments, and deep most inspired when traveling in India. Even with their busy professional lives, these ladies have each been to India more than a handful of times, organized tours on numerous occasions, and have immersed themselves in the Vedic culture while traveling, and when home in California. They are extensively trained in leadership, management, yoga, meditation, and counseling.
Anandini manages an urban ashram in Long Beach, is a yoga instructor, and is a lead manager at a fortune 50 company. Lila is a 500-hour E-RYT yoga instructor, has training as a doula, has Reiki I + II certifications, and manages a vegan restaurant in Long Beach. Sri is a program director at a world-renowned treatment center, is a therapist at her own private practice in Newport Beach where she specializes in treating severe eating disorders, substance abuse, and trauma, and is an accountant for multiple non-profits. Each of these ladies has a unique skillset that helps to ensure that we have a seamless and unforgettable experience. Anandini, Lila, and Sri all have a deep love for India, spiritual growth, and look forward to sharing this by helping to guide us all on pilgrimage.
Kirtan / Music Teacher
At the age of eighteen Rakta has already travelled to India more than half a dozen times. He’s a skilled drummer, an excellent harmonium player, and a gifted singer. More than that though, he’s an expert teacher, and he will be leading us in kirtan throughout the tour.
Radhika is part Indian, grew up going to India regularly, and has traveled there over a dozen times, often staying for months at a clip. She’s traveled the length and breadth of the country and has a deep love and feeling for the place and the people. When not busy parenting her six children, Radhika designs fashion-foreword, ethnically-inspired apparel, and she loves doing photo shoots in exotic ports of call. If you are so inclined, she will be happy to work with you on your wardrobe and do a shoot with you while we travel.
Akincana has been studying and doing Kirtan (devotional chanting with musical accompaniment), for twenty years, and he has been blessed to have spent time being trained by some of the best kirtaniyas (performers of Kirtan), in the world. Akincana has also spent over a decade living in India studying classical Indian music. Currently, he travels half of the year, to exotic ports-of-call, doing Kirtan at large festivals and gatherings, and when he’s not busy with that, he lives and serves, with his wonderful wife Rati, in the holy town of Vrindavan, India. We are greatly fortunate to have him with us on our upcoming trip as our music guru, where he will be teaching and leading Kirtan daily. His goal for this trip is to have all interested parties leading Kirtan by the trip’s end, regardless of their current experience level.
Here’s a short clip of Akincana leading Kirtan (he’s the one singing and playing harmonium), at a massive Hare Krishna gathering in India earlier this year
Braja went to india for the first time at the tender age of 21, only intending to stay for some weeks. She ended up falling in love with the land, people, and culture though, and stayed for the better part of a year. Her love of india has continued to grow over the years since, and she’s now visited there more than half a dozen times, traveling the entire country by plane, train, and automobile.
Over the last few years she’s also received a degree in psychology, taken several of RYT200s, studied Hindi, and been foundationally involved in starting and managing: a vegan restaurant, a temple, and an ashram. All these skill sets come in quite handy, as she’s our tour’s trusted organizer.
Kumi Yogini (a former freelance graphic designer), now a yoga instructor, teacher trainer, and studio owner, opened Veda Yoga in September of 2014. After a decade of teaching and managing for CorePower Yoga, she was inspired to open her own studio. The powerful nature of the practice compelled her not only to change her life, but also share the gift with others in a fun, spiritual and accessible way. Kumi has visited India several times and wishes to share her experiences with you through a deep and rejuvenating yoga practice.
Theresa Devi is a founding director of Yoga108 and an experienced registered yoga teacher (ERYT 200). For her, yoga isn’t something she does as a profession but a lifestyle she lives and breathes, weaving the teachings of the great masters into everything she does. Her journey began in 2010, after a stressful divorce, and she turned to yoga for help. Within a short time she completely transformed her life, as unhealthy habits gave way to vegetarianism, strength, clarity of mind and inner peace. Inspired by her own positive change, she took a teacher training so she could give the touchstone effect of yoga to others.
Sanak was born and raised in Germany, but has lived in India for his entire adult life (for over thirty years!). He spent eleven of those years traveling india on pilgrimage by foot (padayatra), and during that period he visited thousands of villages, circling the entire subcontinent twice. In the modern era, such austerities have only been performed by an extremely small group of devoted souls, but Sanak has the further distinction of being one of only two non-natives to have ever accomplished this! Sanak also spent years trekking in the Himalayas, and for the last decade he’s been managing (and residing at), an animal sanctuary in the holy town of Vrindavan. We are fortunate to have him serving as our trek guide on our upcoming fall tour.
• Airport pick up & drop off (at predetermined shuttle times)
• 3 meals a day
• Hotel / Lodging
• Daily excursions (hiking, trekking, entrance fees, etc)
• White water rafting in the Ganges (weather permitting)
• All yoga sessions & classes
Does NOT Include
• Spending money
• Your passport and visa