Appropriate trip season: Aug to March
Shabat in Chabad Hous pushkar
- special “Dabbawala Tour” and “Slum Tour”in Mumbai
- Bollywood Tour
- Boat cruise in Varanasi
- Rickshaw ride in the old city – Varanasi
- Yoga and meditation in Rishikesh
- Rafting / Neelkant Mountains trek in Rishikesh
- Special village visit in Amritsar
- Golden temple in Amritsar
- Ajanta & Ellora caves – UNESCO world heritage sites
- Entrance fees to all monuments
Day 1: (Monday) Arrive Mumbai fly Mumbai – Varanasi
Special “Meet and Greet” at the International Airport in Mumbai and transfer to city. We will do a fascinating tour of Mumbai called “Dabbawala Tour” -The word “Dabbawala” can be interpreted as “box-carrier” or “lunchpail-man”. In Marathi and Hindi, “Dabba” means a box (usually a cylindrical aluminium container. More specifically, the word Dabbawala implies a person in the Indian city of Mumbai who carries and delivers freshly made food from home in lunch boxes to office workers. The concept of the Dabbawala came into being when a person named Mahadeo Havaji Bachche started the lunch delivery service with about a hundred men. At the present time, Indian businessmen are the main customers for the Dabbawala, and the service often includes both cooking and delivery. Between 175,000 and 200,000 lunch boxes are moved each day by 4,500 to 5,000 dabbawalas
Your packed lunch will be delivered at the sightseeing point. Later we will be transferred to the domestic airport for the flight for Varanasi.
On arrival at Varanasi., meet & greet and transfer to hotel.
On arrival check into the hotel
Day 2: (Tuesday) : Varanasi
Varanasi, or Banaras, (also known as Kashi) is one of the oldest living cities in the world. Varanasi`s prominence in Hindu mythology is virtually unrivaled. Mark Twain, the author author, who was enthralled by the legend and sanctity of Banaras, once wrote: “Banaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together”
Today we start our day with an early morning boat ride on the holy river Ganges. Rise before dawn & step gingerly in the boat as the boatman starts rowing the boat. Witness the daily miracle unfold, as the sun appears triumphantly over the horizon. The sound of conches & temple bells add to the delicate pink fabric of dawn. The formerly hushed murmurings of ancient Sanskrit Shlokas (hymns) now rise, in one voice, to a crescendo of unparalleled piety & joy.
Walk in the Ghats and see the cremation ceremony. Return back to the hotel for Breakfast.
After breakfast visit the Banaras Hindu University, the Bharat Mata Temple. After that we will proceed to an excursion to Sarnath. Lord Buddha preached his first sermon at Sarnath. First we will visit the Sarnath Museum and later visit other sites in Sarnath. A major Buddhist center, Sarnath lies 10 kilometers northeast of Varanasi. It was here that Buddha preached his message of the ’middle way’ to nirvana after achieving enlightenment at Bodhgaya. In around 234 BCE, Emperor Ashoka, a great follower of Buddhism, erected a STUPA here. Between the 3rd century BCE and the 11th century CE, several Buddhist structures were built here in Sarnath. Most of the Sarnath’s monuments are set in large gardens making it quite pleasant for a visitor to spend some time here.
Later enjoy a rickshaw ride in the old city..
In the evening we will proceed to the Ghats to witness the evening Deepmala ceremony and prayer.
Day 3: (Wednesday): Varanasi – Delhi (By flight)
After breakfast, we will transfer to the airport for a flight to Delhi. Upon arrival we will be met by our representative followed by a visit to Qutab Minar, the tallest brick minaret in the world. Later we will visit Lotus Temple which is a Bahai Temple. The Lotus Temple, located in New Delhi, India, is a Bahá’í House of Worship completed in 1986. Notable for its flowerlike shape, it serves as the Mother Temple of the Indian subcontinent and has become a prominent attraction in the city. Later part we will visit Dilli Haat, which provides the ambience of a traditional rural haat or village market, but one suited for more contemporary needs. Here one sees a synthesis of crafts, food and cultural activity. This Food and Craft Bazar is a treasure house of Indian culture, handicrafts and ethnic cuisine. A unique bazaar, in the heart of the city, it displays the richness of Indian culture on a permanent basis.
Later drive to Chabad house for dinner. After dinner check-in at hotel.
Day 4: (Thursday) : Delhi – Haridwar - Rishikesh
Morning transfer to Railway station for train to Haridwar. (Your luggage will be transferred previous night by BUS to Rishikesh) On arrival in Hardwar visit Mansadevi temple (enjoy Cable Car), evening witness the evening Aarti at Har Ki Pauri.Later drive to Rishikesh.
Rishikesh is a city in India’s northern state of Uttarakhand, in the Himalayan foothills beside the Ganges River. The river is considered holy, and the city is renowned as a center for studying yoga and meditation. Temples and ashrams (centers for spiritual studies) line the eastern bank around Swarg Ashram, a traffic-free, alcohol-free and vegetarian enclave upstream from Rishikesh town. On arrival check into the hotel.
Day 5: (Friday) : RishikeshMorning Yoga Meditation at the resort. After breakfast proceed to the Neelkant Mountains for a soft trek/walk up to the waterfall point. Enjoy the nature and beauty of the lower Himalayas and return to Rishikesh for further activities.
We will have a walking exploration of the Rishikesh area. We will reach the hotel well before Shabbat.
Evening Shabbat Prayer and Shabbat Dinner.
Day 6: (Saturday) :RishikeshIn the morning we will have our Shabbat prayers and meal. In the afternoon we will enjoy a walking tour of Ram Jhula, Laxman Jhula and TriveniGhat. Later we will visit the Parmarth Ashram followed by witnessing the live evening Ganga Aarti Ceremony.
Day 7: (Sunday) : Rishikesh – Chandigarh
After breakfast we will drive to Chandigarh. On arrival check-in at hotel.
In the afternoon we will visit the unique Rock garden, a sculpture garden in Chandigarh. It is also known as Nek Chand’s Rock Garden after its founder Nek Chand, a government official who started the garden secretly in his spare time in 1957. Today it is spread over an area of forty-acres. It is completely built of industrial & home waste and throw-away items. Also we will enjoy a boat ride at Chandigarh Lake (Sukna Lake) and the Sector 18 market.
Chandigarh, the dream city of India’s first Prime Minister, Sh. JawaharLal Nehru, was planned by the famous French architect Le Corbusier. Picturesquely located at the foothills of Shivaliks, it is known as one of the best experiments in urban planning and modern architecture in the twentieth century in India. Chandigarh derives its name from the temple of “ChandiMandir” located in the vicinity of the site selected for the city. The deity ‘Chandi’, the goddess of power and a fort of ‘Garh’ laying beyond the temple gave the city its name “Chandigarh-The City Beautiful”.
Day8: (Monday) : Chandigarh – Dharamshala
After breakfast we will drive to Dharamshala. On arrival we will check in to our hotel.
Later we will go out for a walking tour with our guide up to Dharamkot and thereafter visit Bagsunath Waterfall. It starts at the base of Dhauladhar valley, which is also considered a holy spot. Before cascading down at the famous spot, the stream makes its way through the sacred Bagsunath temple.
Dharamshala which occupies a stunning setting along a spur of the Dhauladhar Range and is the home of the Dalai Lama. The principle town of the region, Dharamshala is surrounded by forests of chir pine, rhododendron and Himalayan Oak, is spectacularly located against a backdrop of high peaks on three sides and offers superb views over the Kangra Valley that wind below. Established by the British in 1815, Dharamshala remained a minor town in the region until the Dalai Lama settled here after the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959. Unsurprisingly the town now has a decided Tibetan influence and this is strongly felt in the upper part of Dharamshala known as McLeodganj or popularly as ‘Little Lhasa’ where the Dalai Lama resides.
Day 9: (Tuesday): DharamshalaAfter breakfast proceed to visit McLeodganj (Upper Dharamshala). Also visit the Namgyal Monastery at McLeodganj which is opposite the residence of the Dalai Lama. This ‘Tsuglagkhang’, or cathedral, resembles the original in Lhasa and houses large gilded bronzes of the Buddha, Avalokitesvara and Padmasambhava. Also visit Tibetan Children’s Villages, an integrated charitable organization to ensure that all Tibetan children under its care receive a sound education, a firm cultural identity and become self-reliant and contributing members of the Tibetan community and the world at large. Afterwards drive out to the Norbulingka Institute a major centre for Buddhist teaching and practical work. Named after the original summer residence of the Seventh Dalai Lama the Norbulingka Institute was set up to safeguard the survival of Tibetan Buddhism’s cultural heritage. About 100 students and 300 Tibetan employees continue this heritage and produce a variety of crafts in silk, metal, wood and thangka painting that are of exceptional quality. Late afternoon enjoy stroll in the famous Macleodjung Market
Day 10: (Wednesday): Dharamshala – Amritsar
Morning drive to Amritsar, on arrival check-in at hotel.
At around 15:00 hrs we will drive about 30kms to the India-Pakistan border at Wagah to view the ceremonial changing of the guard at dusk. The contrived nightly parade of closing the border and lowering of the flags is witnessed by crowds of up to 10,000 strong! We will return to the hotel for dinner. After dinner we will visit to the Golden Temple to witness their spectacular Closing ceremony when they take their holy book to its night time resting place.
Overnight stay in Holiday Inn
Amritsar (also called Ambarsar) is a city in the northwestern Indian state of Punjab, not far from the border with Pakistan. At the center of its walled old town is the gilded Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib), considered the holiest Gurdwara, or religious complex, of the Sikh religion. It’s at the end of a causeway, surrounded by the sacred AmritSarovar Lake, where pilgrims bathe.
Day 11: (Thursday): Amritsar – Delhi – AurangabadAfter breakfast visit Golden Temple amidst the serene magnificence as well as the Jalliawala Bagh, a garden and monument commemorating the site of the 1919 massacre of 300 unarmed Indians by the British under the command of General Dyer. Later we will be taken to the Amritsar airport in time to connect to the flight to Aurangabad via Delhi. On arrival at Aurangabad we will be met by our representative followed by transfer to our hotel.
Day 12: (Friday) : Aurangabad
After breakfast we will depart for a full day excursion to Ajanta Caves which were discovered in 1819 by a British hunting party. The isolation had contributed to the fine state of preservation in which some of the paintings of over 2000 years old remain to this day. Aurangabad is known for the caves at Ajanta which are a superb example of India’s finest artistic treasures. They depict scenes from the life of Buddha and Buddhist fables with skills and devotion. The best known caves (1,12,16,17,19) contain magnificent depictions of the bodhisattavas, avlokitesvara, and padmapani. Also we will visit nearby villages. After the visit we will drive back to hotel before Shabbat.
Evening Shabbat Prayer and Shabbat Dinner.
Day 13: (Saturday) : AurangabadShabbat prayer and lunch. Evening drive around Aurangabad city.
Day 14: (Sunday) : Aurangabad – Mumbai
After breakfast we will proceed for excursion to Ellora Caves- 34 cave temples were carved out of the hillside with hand tools. Only 12 of these 34 caves are Buddhist. The 17 Hindu caves in the center are the most impressive. The massive Kailash temple (cave 16) is nearly one and half times taller than the Parthenon and occupies almost twice its area. It is believed that it was constructed by excavating approx 200,000 tons of rock and is possibly the world’s largest monolithic structure. Each cave is pulsing with drama and passion. The depiction of the demon Ravana shaking Mount Kailash is a masterpiece. After the visit we will drive back to Aurangabad and transfer to the airport to board the flight to Mumbai. Arrive Mumbai and transfer to hotel. Later enjoy dinner at Chabad House.
Day 15: (Monday): Depart Mumbai
After breakfast proceed for Bollywood Tour. Around 1000 hrs arrive at film location. We will meet the Bollywood Guide. He will then provide an introduction informing us about the origin and evolution of the Indian Film Industry (Bollywood) ranging from the silent era to talkies to the current state of the art. He will talk about the history and the mechanics of shooting followed by a dance number by the Bollywood Dancers. You are free to join and experience the Bollywood beats.. We will then be escorted to various shoots and will be allowed to watch shootings of Feature Films, T.V. Serials or Ad-Films. We will be given an exciting insight into the mechanics and conduct of a shooting. Later we will also experience the feel of a recording studio
In the afternoon we will embark on the Dharavi Slum Tour- it is easy to forget that a big part of the urban population in India lives in slums and has to fight for a livelihood every day. Around 60% of the citizens of Mumbai live in slums and Dharavi, with a population of at least half a million, probably has become the most famous one of them, especially after the success of the movie “Slumdog Millionaire”. The Dharavi tour leaves from a central location in Mumbai and will take us through the heart of the slum, teaching us its history, bringing us in contact with its people and introducing us to its way of life & standard of living. Later we will visit Chabad house for an early dinner and evening transfer to International airport for flight back home.