on a journey to the spiritual culture of South India, and awaken your
spiritual senses touring the region's sacred temples and culture.
This tour is designed as a pilgrimage,
but will also enrich your life as you embrace sacred wisdom and ancient Vedic knowledge. You will learn to integrate awareness and breathing through
meditation, and yoga to guide you into the sacred place of your own,
innate spiritual wisdom. Tour highlights include: Chennai,
Mahabalipura, Chidambaram, Kumbakonam, Tanjore, Trichy, Chettinad
to Expect on this Journey
our Itinerary, in addition to a variety of meditative practices will
offer some beginning aspects of the Hindu
Tantra called "Shaiva Siddhanta." A deep and
rich tradition extending back thousands of years, this most
"conclusive knowledge of the god Shiva" will
fascinate and expand your understanding not only of this philosophy,
but more so, of your Self. Shiva goes through a metamorphosis
as he iconographically migrates South becoming Nataraja - the cosmic
Dancer. We will encounter many temples, and many depictions of
Nataraja, but none as sacred or overwhelmingly intense as he appears
in Chidambaram where he is originally said to have performed
the very first Ananda Tandava (the Dance of Bliss.)
More than a fabulous Temple tour of India, you will be brought into
the teachings of the Heart of the Tantra, one of the most
exquisite of all Hindu philosophies. We will culminate wtih
Shiva's Kami (his "Desire") in the form of the Goddess
Meenakshi, in Madurai, and a complete appreciation for what is
really going on behind the veil of Hindu spirituality from an
experiential point of view. These Temples and Gods are not
only mythologies, or Deities worshipped by stoic, religious routines
performed by Temple priests. Rather, we will approach the
Temples and the Beings worshipped there as veritably living and
breathing, each with a distinct and independent Existence. In
every good way possible, insights, teachings, and meditations shared
with you will be far from routine or ordinary fare for a led tour!
FULL ITINERARY HERE
18: Depart USA
which depart NYC will arrive shortly after midnight.
1: October 19: Arrive in Chennai.
Most flights arrive shortly after midnight. After clearing
customs, we are greeted upon arrival in Chennai and transferred to
Mahabalipuram. This evening a Welcome Dinner is organized at the hotel.
Overnight in Mahabalipuram. D
Day 2: October 20:
Start your day with a guided exploration of the ancient port of Mahabalipuram, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Late afternoon – You are at leisure to explore the ocean front resort and surroundings.
Early evening - we gather for our late
afternoon yoga/meditation practice near the famed 8th century Shore Temple, from which you are only a stone’s throw away.
Overnight in Mahabalipuram. (B, D)
October 21: Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry – Chidambaram.
(200 KM – 3 ˝ to 4 hours)
Morning drive south to Pondicherry for sightseeing.
After lunch, we proceed to Chidambaram.
In Akash Lingam hidden by a veil, lies the real secret of Chidambaram. The temple opens at 4:30pm, therefore the day will be planned to accommodate the appropriate arrival time in Chidambaram.
We will have a guided
meditation at Chidambaram temple. Overnight at Chidambaram.
Day 4: October 22: Chidambaram – Kumbakonam : (100 km / 2 hours approx)
and breakfast, then proceed to Kumbakona. We visit Darasuram, Airavateeshwarar temple,
which is a replica of
Tanjore Big temple but smaller in size. This temple is a protected under UNESCO World Heritage monuments.
After our visit, we will return to the hotel for yoga and
Overnight at Kumbakonam. (B, D)
October 23: Kubakanom / Swamimalai – Tanjore.
to a new you. By now, India will be "seeping in" and
your sense of spirituality will be expanding! This morning we
move on to Swamimalai. It is one of the six famous
"Padai Veedugal" dedicated to Lord Murugan. Swamimalai means God Mountain (Swami - God & Malai (in tamil) = Mountain). Another name for this place is "Thiruveragam."
This temple where Lord Karthikeya expounds the meaning of pranavam
(AUM) to His father, Lord Shiva. Hence, one can see the Lord Karthikeya depicted as Guru (teacher) and Lord Shiva listening as shishya (disciple) in the raja gopuram of the temple complex. Lord Murugan here is known as Swaminathan
(Swami - God; Nathan = Head...head of all God's). This
is an unparalleled place to meditate and we will have a guided
meditation on site.
Late afternoon arrival at Tanjore and you are assisted with check-in to the hotel.
Overnight at Tanjore. (B,
Day 6: October 24: Tanjore.
Great Living Chola Temples are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and your day will start with a guided visit to the most amazing example of these, the
Brihadishwara. This awe-inspiring Temple Complex is constructed solely of granite, a material so hard that no architect today, with all our current technology, would even dream of building a structure with the incredible detail and mammoth scale of the Brihadishwara.
This afternoon, we return to the hotel for an optional Vinyasa yoga practice
or afternoon of leisure.
Overnight at Tanjore. (B,
October 25: Tanjore – Trichy – Chettinad.
(185 kms – 3 to 3 ˝ hrs)
Today we visit the ancient
Tiruchirappalli Rock Fort & Temple Complex. The complex is perched on an immense boulder that is 256 feet high. This boulder is one of the largest such formations on our planet and is also one of the oldest at 3.8 million years of age. The
Vinayak temple, dedicated to Lord Ganesh and built in 580 AD, is located at the very summit. We
will meditate in this place where the elephant god Ganesh appears in
the form of Vinayakar.
At the base of the boulder is the
Manikka Vinayakar temple, a large and impressive Hindu house of worship and you a brief exploration of this is included. After visiting
Trichy, we head to Chettinad. Overnight at Chettinad. (B, D)
Day 8: October 26: Chettinad.
an early morning yoga and meditation, proceed for sightseeing in the Chettinad area around mid-morning. Included in this experience is a visit to one of the famous Mansions of
Chettinad. Also enjoy a brief visit a
local temple, which also has differences when compared to most Tamil temples.
The late afternoon is at leisure to enjoy your Chettinad heritage hotel.
Overnight at Chettinad.
(B, L, D)
October 27: Chettinad –
(100 kms – 1 ˝ to 2 hrs)
we arrive in Madurai. IThe city is planned in the shape of a lotus, and
our yoga practice will focus on Lotus poses & hip openers that
day in preparation to sit for Evening Arati that we will attend at
Afternoon: The main attraction of Madurai is the great
Sree Meenakshi Temple. This awe-imposing monument is the finest example of Dravidian temple architecture on this planet.
The temple is always a beehive of activity as pilgrims from all over India come to seek the blessings of
Meenakshi (Goddess Parvati) & Sundareswarar (Lord Shiva) and is filled with worshippers at all hours of the day. You will witness
Hindu priests performing various ceremonies in different parts of the temple complex as you explore this huge structure, including religious aspects of traditional weddings. According to Tamil belief the temple has existed for about 2000 years, but this current structure is a mere four centuries old (the previous majestic temple was destroyed by Muslim invaders in the 14th century). The massive complex includes
14 magnificent Gopurams that jut into the sky from different parts of the temple. After you leave the temple you are driven to nearby
Thirumalai Nayak Palace. Constructed in 1636 AD by an Italian architect, the palace is an interesting confluence of Dravidian, Islamic & European architectural styles.
attend the ancient & impressive evening “Palli Arai” ceremony at the mammoth
Sree Meenakshi Temple Complex with your guide. This elaborate and ritualistic ceremony has been written up in many international publications.
Overnight at Madurai.
(B, L, D)
Day 10: October 28: Madurai – Chennai – International Flight.
will begin our day with a leisurely yoga practice in the morning.
You are assisted with check-out from the hotel by noon and then you will a couple of hours to do some last minute sightseeing or shopping in Madurai before proceeding to the airport.
Board the late afternoon flight to Chennai.
The domestic and International terminal is the same- so no transfer is
required, however we may wish to spend the evening out for dinner or
last minute shopping. Most returning international flights depart in
the early morning hours of October 29th.
Board the flight to Delhi or Mumbai to connect with your International flight or board your International flight directly from Chennai.
11: October 29: Return to USA
flights will return to a NYC airport in the late evening. Home
at last, yet completely transformed from this amazing journey!
(B = Breakfast; L = Lunch; D = Dinner)
Note: This itinerary is subject to change due to conditions beyond our control.