ACTC SPECIAL FEATURES
ACTC’s spiritual tour of India is designed for people who want to experience India’s rich spiritual history. Experience the opulent splendor and sacred mystery of Mother India. Visit the dream in marble–the Taj Mahal, Meet holy men and women who live in caves and ashrams along the sacred Ganges River. The blessings of the holy saints, the grace of the deities of India in their holy temples and shrines, the majesty of the mighty Himalayas, the legendary abode of the Gods and source of the Ganges. Learn & practice yoga from experts, meditation and more.
• Sikhism is a monotheistic religion
• Sikhism stresses the importance of doing good actions rather than merely carrying out rituals
• Sikhs believe that the way to lead a good life is to:
• keep God in heart and mind at all times
• live honestly and work hard
• treat everyone equally
• be generous to the less fortunate
• serve others
• The Sikh place of worship is called a Gurudwara
• The Sikh scripture is the Guru Granth Sahib, a book that Sikhs consider a living Guru
The tenth Sikh Guru decreed that after his death the spiritual guide of the Sikhs would be the teachings contained in that book, so the Guru Granth Sahib now has the status of a Guru, and Sikhs show it the respect they would give to a human Guru.
A theoretical and practical introduction to Buddhist philosophy of the Tibetan Mahayana Tradition. Based on one of the principal teachings of this tradition called ‘The Graded Path to Enlightenment’ (Lam Rim). Introductions and meditation at the monastery
Day to Day Program:
DAY 1: ARRIVE DELHI
Arrive in Delhi, India’s bustling capital city. You will be greeted with a traditional Indian welcome and escorted to your hotel. New Delhi reflects the legacy left by the British. The division between New and Old Delhi is the segregation between the capitals of the British and Mughals respectively. Rest of the day is at leisure.
DAY 2: OLD & NEW DELHI TOUR
Morning tour of Old Delhi. Your first stop is Mahatma Gandhi Memorial at Raj Ghat; the famous Chandni Chowk bazaars, once the shopping arcade of Mughal royalty. Take a Rickshaw ride through the narrow and colorful lanes of old market offering an excellent opportunity to photograph the daily life in Old Delhi. Finally visit marble domes and slender minarets of the Jama Masjid. Climb up the stairs to photograph the old city and Red Fort. Your sightseeing tour of New Delhi this afternoon includes Gurdwara Bangla Sahib, a prominent shrine of the Sikhs open to people of all faiths, castes or creeds. Initially the residence of Raja Jai Singh Amber of Jaipur. In 1664, Guru Harkishan Singh (the 8th Sikh Guru) resided here during his visit to Delhi. It is believed that the Guru blessed the holy water (Amrit) of the pond (Sarovar). People take bath in the holy pond to wash off their misdeeds and attain peace of mind. Next drive along Rajpath to photograph the Parliament House, President’s Palace and India Gate, a memorial to India’s soldiers. Continue to Humayun’s tomb, forerunner to Taj Mahal. Your final stop is at the Qutab Minar and ruins of Hindu temples destroyed during the Qutabshahi period.
DAY 3 & 4: DELHI
The first phase of our spiritual journey begins as you visit Global Village – an emerging multi-cultural community of creative individuals celebrating life through Art and heart. This international residential arts center is unique because it combines Artist residencies with Indian traditions such as yoga, massage and meditation in a village community setting. In 3-acre village, one can walk amongst the tranquil gardens and ponds, see and listen to exotic birds
Visit Akshardham Temple- The 141 ft high, 275 ft wide and 315 ft long temple is visible from a long distance. The massive temple built of sandstone and marble is the blend of several architectural temple styles. The Akshardham temple complex houses an 11 ft high, image of Swaminarayan at the centre of main building. The palace like temple is built of around 12,000 tons of pink sandstone and white marble brought from Rajasthan. The temple consists of 234 delicately carved and ornate pillars. The temple has 20 Shikhars (towers) and a beautiful Gajendra parth (plinth of stone elephants). The temple houses 20,000 statues of Hindu deities and motifs. The temple is carved with the images of flora, fauna, dances, musicians and Gods, which cover its surfaces from top to bottom.
DAY 5: FATEHPUR SIKRI & AGRA excursion
You will travel by express train to Agra. To the lover of art and the traveler seeking the wonders of India, Agra is a sublime destination. Emperor Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jahan lavished on this fabled city their love and riches immeasurable, transforming this land into one of the greatest centers of art, culture, learning and commerce. Visit the Taj Mahal by sunrise, photograph the monument built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan between 1631-52, as a tomb and memorial to his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal (Jewel of the Palace). Later tour Agra Fort built by three of the greatest Mughal emperors. You will have opportunity to photograph Taj Mahal and the river from the For. After lunch, visit Fateh-pur-Sikri, a deserted capital city, built by Emperor Akbar in 1569 and abandoned 15 years later due to severe water shortage. Within the city, you will tour the Diwan-I-Aam or Hall of Public Audiences. Diwan-I-Khaas or the Hall of Private Audience is a two storied building. Panch Mahal or Five Storey Palace is a five storied building and the architecture is Persian in style like a Buddhist monastery. Palace of Jodha Bai is named after Jehangir’s wife Jodha Bai. This palace is a fine blend of Hindu columns and Muslim Cupolas. Palace of the Winds where the walls are entirely made of stone lattice work. Birbal Palace, Miriam’s House. Ankh Michauli is where the emperor played hide and seek with the ladies of the harem and was probably used for storing records. Sheikh Salim Chisti Dargah is the tomb of Sheikh Salim Chisti, originally built of red sandstone but was later rebuilt in white marble by Jehangir. Return back to Agra and board express train back to Delhi.
Day 6: DELHI / RISHIKESH
After Breakfast fly to Dehradoon and continue overland to Rishikesh. Rishikesh has been a magnet for spiritual seekers. Today it styles itself as the ‘Yoga Capital of the World’, with masses of ashrams and all kinds of yoga and meditation classes. The exquisite setting on the fast-flowing Ganges, surrounded by forested hills, is conducive to meditation and mind expansion. In the evening witness the colorful prayer ceremony `Aarti’ of the Holy River Ganges. Beautiful ceremonies in which deeya’s (oil lamps) are offered to God. The essence of the Aarti ceremony is to say “thank you,” and to offer the light of our love – light of our devotion etc. Yoga and Meditation in the evening.
Day 7 to 8: RISHIKESH & HARIDWAR
It is believed that meditation in Rishikesh brings one closer to attainment of salvation, or moksha, as does a dip in the holy river that flows through it. Morning and evening Meditation /Yoga sessions at the Ashram or on the banks of the river Ganges.
During stay in Rishikesh- Experience and learn-
The Anatomy of Yoga: What is Kundalini or the serpent energy- the positioning of the astral chakras, the astral channels or nadis- ida and pingala, and the subtle spine, or sushumna; the path to enlightenment.
The Yogic Scheme of Life: Vedanta, Yoga and Sankhya are the three legs of the tripod. While Vedanta describes the Ultimate Reality, and yoga presents the science by which that Reality may be realized. Sankhya examines man’s present state and its need to seek a higher one.
The Eightfold Path– Patanjali’s Ashthanga Yoga:
You will also visit Har-ki-Pauri (the footstep of God), one of the most sacred ghats in India. Also visit important temples including Pareshwar Mahadev Temple, Daksha Mahadev Temple and Mansa Devi Temple. Later drive to Rishikesh – also known as the ‘place of sages’, at the confluence of the Chandrabhaga and Ganga rivers. In Rishikesh visit Laxman Jhula- a hanging bridge on the river Ganga, the bridge offers a scenic view of the river Ganga as it tumbles down to Haridwar. Also visit Bharat Mandir – the oldest temple near the Triveni Ghat.
Ayurvedic Massage (optional): Let yourself glow with body treatments- Ayurvedic Rejuvenating Massage or Relaxation Massage. It is a traditional method that uses special Therapeutic oils and herbs to provide a dose of Indian Pampering to help relieve physical and mental tension. Relaxation massage is a subtle, gentle and deeply effective.
During your stay at Rishikesh, you will be taken one early morning to Kunjapuri temple (an hour’s drive), crested atop green forested hills, at a height of 1645 meters above Rishikesh. Steeped in the echoing silence, the temple is one of the many seats of Shakti, the Mother Goddess. Watch the beautiful sun-rise over the valley from the hill top. Later participate an hour of Yoga at the temple premises and under the open sky and refreshing cool air. The session is conducted by a Yoga Expert who will explain the basics of Yoga and related topics as well as show yoga activities meticulously. Enjoy box Breakfast with hot tea before taking a trek downhill (approx 3 hours) crossing various tiny mountain villages. Meet up with the villagers, photograph and learn about their daily life. Relax by the Gaddu Water fall before returning back to Hotel by afternoon. Rest of the afternoon is at leisure.
During your free time, you may want to
Day 9: RISHIKESH/AMRITSAR
Travel today to Amritsar by air. This 400 year old city, founded by the 4th guru of the Sikhs, Guru Ramdas, has been the seat of the Sikh religion and culture from its very inception. The meaning of Amritsar is ‘Pool of Nectar’, derives its name from the holy pond around the temple. HOTEL.
Day 10: JALIANWALA BAGH, GOLDEN TEMPLE & CHANGING OF GUARDS- Wagah
After breakfast, your guide will introduce you to the city life of Amritsar, visiting the historical site of Jallianwala Bagh, an historic site where hundreds of innocent Indian men, women and children were massacred by the then British General Michael Dyer on April 13, 1919. Proceed to the Golden Temple built in the middle of the holy pool by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1803. It is also known as Durbar Sahib or Har Mandir Sahib. The dome of the temple is covered with an estimated 400 kilograms of gold leaf, also known as the ‘Golden Temple’. A temple representative will brief you on Sikhism, its evolutions and important practices.
Afternoon is free to explore town on own.
This evening travel to Wagah, the only open border between India and Pakistan. Mostly known for the ‘Beating the Retreat’ ceremony that takes place every evening at sundown. The perfectly choreographed and matched show of parade on either side of the border is a sight to watch. The display is sure to well up emotions among Indians and Pakistanis who understand and appreciate the chaos, massacre and upsetting of homes that followed the announcement of the partition of India in 1947 by the British rulers. The retreat includes the changing of guards and the retreat of the Indian and the Pakistani flag. It’s one of the most ecstatic displays of nationalism you’ll ever see. On the Indian side, after an MC warms up the crowd with patriotic chants, a squad of India’s Border Security Force marches to the border gate and lowers the flag. The march is more like a charge – four giants in tight formation doing a full-throttle goose
step, legs pumping, arms swinging like pendulums gone mad, with a scowl of pure, unblinking hatred fixed on their faces. The Pakistani Rangers meanwhile, are doing the same thing on their side and at the gate they meet. There’s a great deal of theatrical stamping, shouting, grimacing and virtual head-butting as the two sides face off at close quarters. HOTEL.
Day 11:- AMRITSAR / DHARAMSHALA
Travel by road to Dharamshala. Overlooking the plains and surrounded by dense pine trees, deodar forests, numerous streams and a cool healthy atmosphere is Dharamshala, truly a piece of heaven on earth. The original inhabitant of this place was the Gaddis, a tribal community. In the early 18th century the area was invaded by the Gurkhas who established their army base at Kangra (later moved to Dharamshala). The British in the mid-18th century confiscated this area. The Gurkha Regiment fought bravely against the British but was defeated. After victory, Dharamshala became a popular hill station for the British during summer. Dharamshala became a major Tibetan area since 1959 when the 14th Dalai Lama had to leave Tibet and settle here. In May 1960, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) was moved to Dharamshala. Many Tibetan refugees took shelter here and later settled down in the area. In the last three decades, the Tibetans have built many religious, educational and cultural institutions in and around McLeodganj, for the preservation of their culture. After settling in at the Hotel visit Upper Dharamshala with British history, churches and also the home of Dalai Lama including Tibetan monasteries & settlements. HOTEL
Day 12: DHARAMSHALA
Possibility of meeting HH Dalai Lama (subject to his schedule). Meditation at a Buddhist monastery and teachings on Buddhism, its practices and discussion of relevant topics in a more informal way. HOTEL
Day 13: DHARAMSHALA/ DELHI
Time free until transfer and board a short flight to Delhi. Stay at Hotel near airport tonight. HOTEL
Day 14: DELHI/ HOME
Board your international flight and arrive home the same day.