19 day pilgrimage to Varanasi, Omkareshwar, Ellora & Ajanta Caves, Maheshwar, Mandu and Indore
20 November – 8 December 2018
It’s about time I bring a group of friends to see some of my favorite pilgrimage places in India: Varanasi, Shiva city, the spiritual centre of India famous for tantra and pilgrimage; Omkareshwar and Maheshwar on the Narmada river are major centres of the 3.5 year pilgrimage that sees a steady stream of devotion. Ellora and Ajanta are both ancient monuments of devotion and wonder. We will make a stop by Mandu for a day of cycling, frivolity and wandering thru villages and Mugul ruins scattered across the country side. The final stop will be in Indore to visit a couple important tantric temples and enjoy the comforts of the city before going our separate ways.
The trip will include:
- Land travel within India, most meals, room, guided tours, yoga & astrology
- Traditional Hatha Yoga practice including asana, pranayama, mantra, meditation. Bhakti, Raja, Hatha, Jnana, Tantra and Kundalini yogas will all find expression over the course of this trip.
- A detailed Vedic Astrology reading and remedy coaching.
- Six nights in a simple, traditional forest ashram over-looking the holy Narmada river
- Five nights in Varanasi over looking the Holy Ganges river
- A small group of six allows for deep integration of the practices and teachings.
- Excellent introduction to India for those who wish to continue traveling the country
- A unique yoga pilgrimage
- Deep introduction to yogic philosophy and Vedic way of life.
- Suitable for anyone who is a pilgrim at heart. No prior knowledge or experience is necessary. Sincerity towards the method is the most important attribute.
20 November – 8 December 2018
20 November 2018: Arrival in Varanasi, rest, short evening yoga and meditation next to the river.
While in Varanasi: Morning yoga, site-seeing tours, boat rides, lots of free time, meeting Shiva devotees, astrology charts will be completed for each person.
25 November: Train to Khandwa; jeep to Omkareshwar, take rest and get settled at the Gayatri Forest Ashram, easy evening yoga and meditation.
While in Omkareshwar: Two yoga classes per day. Learning traditional stories, parikrama (walk) around the island, visiting important pilgrimage sites, pilgrims and sadhus. Spending time in nature, swimming, enjoying.
02 December: Jeep to Ajanta. While in Ellora/Ajanta trip we will take our yoga where we can get it. There is often an opportunity to practice among the caves.
03 December: Jeep to Ellora and then to Maheshwar, take rest, get settled in the guest house.
While in Maheshwar: One to two yoga classes per day, visiting special holy sites, boating, swimming, meeting pilgrims, singing, & enjoying nature.
07 December: Jeep to Mandu, cycling/site-seeing, and then jeep to Indore.
08 December: Visit Mahakala and Bhairava temple before departure. The tour will end on this day and departures will go from Indore.
- Note: let us know if we can help to arrange transport and lodging before and after the trip.
By the end of this trip participants will have gained deep knowledge of Yogic, Vedic and Tantric practice and lifestyle. One will have gained an appreciation for simple, prayerful living and will have a good foundation to continue a personal sadhana (spiritual practice). You will also gain valuable travel experience and a deep humanistic education as we travel on and off the tourist trail thru the heart of India.
Anyone with a sincere desire for self knowledge thru yoga and traditional knowledge are welcome. Yoga classes are easily modified to be accessible to everyone as well as challenging for every level of fitness and concentration. Much of the philosophical content will be organic (arising from the circumstances and questions) so this too will be both accessible and challenging for most anyone.
India can be a challenging country and we will be living very simply as pilgrims ourselves for parts of trip. This simplicity of nature will hopefully counterbalance the sensory and emotional over-load that Delhi and Varanasi are known for in different ways. Travel can be slow and frustrating (most times) and there will a few arduous days of travel, lots of walking, and a group of eight people traveling and living together for 19 days (18 nights). We hope that lots of free time, optional tours and practices, and flexibility by everyone, will allow everyone to get the flavour they are seeking from life.
This package tour includes:
- 19 days/18 nights in various guest houses and ashrams may be shared occupancy (approx. $400)
- Many meals, lots of chai and snacks (approx. $200)
- One train ride, two or three jeep rides, four or five boat rides, several auto-rickshaw rides, a bicycle ride and possibly one state bus ride (approx. $300)
- Vedic Astrology consultation. (I typically offer 2 hour consultations for $250 and more extensive three part (6 hour) consultations for $500, but over 19 days we will have opportunity to explore the Vedic and Tantric sciences, cultures, philosophies and spiritual remedies quite deeply.)
- Classical Hatha Yoga classes at $10/class (approx. 23 (1.5 hour) classes $230)
- Guide fees $400
- Additional administrative fees, organization costs, booking fees, travel expenses, baksheesh & diksha donations to temples, pilgrims and ashrams in the name of the group (booking fees $350 – last minute booking fees $550)
Prices are quoted at approx. 50 rupees to the dollar. Currency fluctuations of more than 5 rupees could change the cost.
- Early bird, before August 15 – $1976 (special rate for making my job easy). A $600 deposit will hold this space for you.
- The hesitant bird, between August 15 – October 1 – $2380 (this is regular price if you add all of the above figures)
- The free bird, after October 1, $2580 (there is an extra fee for making my life difficult)
- Limited to six people. Must have at least 4 people signed up by October 1 for the trip to proceed. Full refunds will be given if it’s cancelled for this reason. I expect it will sell out fast.
- One place will have preference for someone with knowledge in Ayurveda and/or Jyotish and would like to do a mentorship in astrology over the 19 days of this pilgrimage.
- Unless your seat can be sold to someone else we may only be able to refund 50% of the fee in case of cancellation. There will be an administrative fee retained in any case, but we look vary favorably upon those who find someone to fill their place for them.
- Bring a friend and save $100 each (not available for early bird pricing). Bring two or more friends and save $200 while each of them save $100.
What is not included, and why?
- Many meals, snacks and chai throughout the day since you will be on your own.
- Baksheesh, diksha payments, tips to temples monks, sadhus and service people which are best given by your own heart & hand
- Flight to India, travel insurance, immunizations are all your responsibility.
- Souvenirs, personal items, personal travel or personal entertainment.
- No certificates will be available as this pilgrimage is meant to be a personal healing, learning & potentially transformational journey. If you want a certificate, go to Rishikesh.
- If you are unsure about what may or may not be included, please ask before departure.
Your host and guide:
Mike Holliday has had a deep spiritual and personal connection with Varanasi, Ganga & Narmada since 2007. He has been teaching yoga around the world for almost ten years and offering philosophical/spiritual coaching and counsel for over half that time. He has guided many people thru Varanasi and well as thru Indian culture and a few have even come to experience the magic of the Narmada river with him. He is an engaging teacher and story teller; a very knowledgeable guide thru the unknown; a sincere, grounded friend and adviser & he has a strong passion for sharing traditional knowledge. He is an off the beaten path teacher who mostly follows orthodoxy but does not not believe it is necessary.
For more information: