Tag Archives: cultural tourism

Narmada Pilgrimage 2020

Yoga, Ayurveda, Vedic Astrology have been called the three sisters of self knowledge.

Join us February 1 – 23, 2020 for a rustic “old India” pilgrimage thru the sacred Narmada river valley while learning Ayurveda, Vedic Astrology, Yoga, philosophy and much more. This trip is designed for those who have already established a path in yoga or a love for India and what to go deeper into the country and the culture.

We will begin this pilgrimage at the Mahakaleshwar & Kal Bhairava temples in Ujjain, about half way between New Delhi and Mumbai. These are two of the most significant tantric temples in India. From here we will go to Maheshwar to rendezvous with our pilgrimage guides from the ashram and begin the four day walk to the ashram in Omkareshwar.

We will spend a week in a simple ashtam practicing yoga while learning Ayurveda, Jyotisha, Indian cuisine and enjoying the nature, and the ancient pilgrimage traditions that take place on this small river island. This ashram is owned and beautifully maintained by 26 year old Mangala and her mother who took in three orphan girls after Mangala’s own Guruji father passed away. One will find that the women of Narmada are given a somewhat special place in society compared to much of India.

Maheshwar, where we will begin walking to Omkareshwar is famous all over India for Queen Ahilyabhai, who has left a legacy of special services for widows, and community weaving trusts that have strengthened communities thru the empowerment of women. And this area seems to attract many female pilgrims.

From Omkareshwar we will make our way by jeep through numerous significant sights along the river until we get to Amarkantak, the source of Narmada and two other rivers; a village within a forest reserve famous for numerous rare ayurvedic forest herbs and herbalists. We will again spend a week learning about the forest and natural medicine, vedic astrology and yoga.

After a short stop in Jabalpur see Narmada channeled thru marble canyons and visit a special nakshatra garden we will make our way to Varanasi for 3 nights of classical music concert, Drupad Mela; the spectacular Shiva Rathri Festival, and the Kal Bharava temple where we will complete our pilgrimage. The first Bhairava temple in Ujjan is related to Shiva chopping the head off Ganesha and this second one in Varanasi represents the time Shiva chopped off one of Brahma’s heads. These two stories will weave their way thru many parts of our spiritual journey.


The focus of this pilgrimage will be both to offer participants the traditional tools of self discovery: by the end of this three weeks we will develop a great appreciation for traditional Indian culture and the threads which run thru the food, the humans, the forests, the stars and the movement of the planets. The great threads which weave together this tapestry of life.

By the end of the pilgrimage will have a solid base of understanding of Ayurvedic life style and cuisine as well as an introduction to Ayurvedic medicine and the forest medicines of India. We will have acquired a basic understanding of Vedic Astrology, especially as it relates to Ayurveda. We will have also learned an outline of the Shivananda Hatha yoga sequence including meditation, pranayama, sun salutations & 12 basic postures; a sequence which can be easily adapted for all abilities.

This Pilgrimage will not be for everyone, it will be rustic living in old India where they are not accustomed to accommodating western demands for comfort. The ayurvedic classes, the astrology classes will take us deep into a new way of looking at the world and ourselves. Although much of the teaching will be foundational levels, taken together this pilgrimage will open the doors to advanced study as well as a special opportunity for those who have already studied yoga and the traditional Indian sciences to connect with the source of that knowledge thru Shaivism, the purity of Narmada and the meditative intensity of Ganga.


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Mike Holliday will be your guide and contact for this pilgrimage as well as teaching Vedic Astrology & Hatha Yoga. In 2007 Mike traveled to India and dedicated himself to yoga and self realization. His life since then has been pilgrimage and dedication to knowledge and the service of humanity by offering his unique knowledge and experience of India, her culture and her traditions. Mike has traveled extensively off the tourist trails both as solo traveler and as guide. He is travels almost continually throughout India & Canada teaching yoga, philosophy and Vedic astrology.

Brigitte Baur. Ayurveda is “the hands of mother”

Brigitte Bauer will be teaching Ayurveda lifestyle, cooking and medicine. Brigitte has been practicing and teaching Ayurveda lifestyle and medicine in Italy and Germany for over 20 years. She is Certified Ayurveda Therapist and has taken extensive studies in Ayurvedic Medicine from the Italian Ayurvedic Institute and did her mentorship under Vaidya Baghwan Dash & Lalita Kashap at the Ayurvedic Hospital in New Delhi. She has continued her studies in Rishikesh and Orissa in order to support her full time practice in this ancient art. As a mother of three she is deeply dedicated to the concept of Ayurveda as “the hand of mother.”


The cost of this trip including food, lodging, transportation, guidance and guides, trip organization, translation, training and course material is $2890 inclusive of tax.

$1000 deposit will hold your place with the full amount due by January 1, one month before travel.

Not included: flight ticket, travel visa for India, travel to Ujjain and from Varanasi, personal expenses.


This trip begins in Ujjain and ends in Varanasi. We will also visit, Maheshwar, Mandu, Omkareshwar, Jabalpur and Amarkantak in between. Most of the travel will be by Jeep, but we will board one train to take us to Varanasi.

If you have any questions you can contact Mike Holliday by email or WhatsApp.

holliday.michael@gmail.com

+12502666896

http://www.mikessleepingdog.com

Tribal Culture

Ten years ago I came to North East India and visited the northern Naga tribes. They had only recently opened the land to outsiders. We needed four people and a guide to get a permit. Other than a couple groups of anthropologists we were the first tourists they had ever met. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

But the Naga’s are a warrior tribe, unaccustomed and unfriendly to foreigners who they considered a threat. The children often threw sticks and stones while yelling and waving machetes at us to scare us away.

I now find myself on the other side of the Brahmaputra river valley walking thru Apani villages of Ziro district of Arunachal Pradesh, greeted with smiles, invited into the family homes and offered drinks (rice beer, millet wine and wild kiwi wine).

I’m told that they defend themselves and their culture thru kindness and their helpful nature is respected by anyone who travels thru their valley. UNESCO has recognized their unique culture and they are famed for their sustainable agriculture practices: rice paddies double as fish farms (the fish fertilize the rice and keep the soil loose while feeding on the rice); they also plant pine and bamboo forests for building.

Both of these indigenous cultures hold the mithun (semi-wild jungle buffalo) is high esteem. Apani burial sites are marked with a mithun skull which is believed to help guide the souls of the departed to heaven.

Those who have not been converted to Christianity worship the god Danyi-Piilo who is described as the Sun and the Moon. I’m told the Catholics have some respect for these traditional beliefs and many people are following both religions without contradiction. But there are also revisionist Christians who have split families and clans by introducing this idea that those who are not following Christianity are evil. Of course this has caused some push-back against the revisionist; or rather against the idea that if you are not doing like I am doing then you’re doing it wrong.

We visited a traditional temple for Danyi-Piilo and like many traditional cultures and beliefs, the only people there were over 50 years old. In this area all the women had their chins and foreheads tattooed and large nose piercings while the men had a ‘T’ tattooed on their chins. Nobody I talked to knew the reason for these tattoos: some said to beautify, others said to make ugly so they would not be stolen by other tribes. In any case, it seems clear that this religion, the tattoos, the language and ultimately the culture will mostly disappear as the elders follow the mithun into the after life.

For this it feels like a great honour to be up here staying with these people, hearing their songs, greeting them in their own language, drinking with them, and watching them laugh at us for whatever reason. The joy and kindness of the people will hopefully be passed down to their children and grandchildren.