Join me on this unique pilgrimage to the Himalayan sacred places and holy people.
After living in the Himalayas for almost 22 years in a small community of Sadhus in a town called Uttarkashi, I have decided to bring a group of spiritually minded people to experience the grandeur and awesomeness of the Himalayas and its people. We will travel along the Himalayan region surrounding the holy river Ganga up to its source, visit historical places, go hiking, practice yoga and meditation, and meet some remarkable Sadhus. Please join me for this unforgettable experience.
India is a magical place that has fascinated the Western world for decades. Most of the people who come to India as tourists are impressed by the beauty of the landscape and by the rich culture. They can sense that there's some magical force underneath the surface of things that makes India the spiritual heart of our planet. However, in most cases, they can't really uncover this mystery. During my years in India I came face-to-face with that power and through the grace of my teacher, Swami Chaitanyananda, I was admitted to the community of Sadhus in Uttarkashi. Since then, I have been able to experience the spiritual wealth of this land from the inside.
Many people have asked me to take them with me to visit the "India" that I know. For many years, I was reluctant for different reasons. In 2014 I took the first group and the experience was unbelievable. It was a life transforming experience to all participants.
I want to take people with me on an external and internal spiritual journey. This is a unique journey that combines yoga, meditation, spiritual education, visits to special places, and meeting with remarkable people, who the average tourist will have very few chances to meet.
I've prepared a general plan for this pilgrimage to give you a good idea of what I want to do. My intention is to provide decent accommodations and comfortable transportation for those of you who want to have the experience without compromising on hygiene and safety .... We'll insist on cleanliness and hygiene wherever we go even where the conditions are basic and simple.
The size of the group is limited to allow a personal connection with each of you. There is plenty of information about this Yatra (tour) in the 'Getting Ready' page, but you're always welcome to ask more questions.
Lets talk about our Yatra (spiritual tour)When? April 1 to 14 2023 Notice that April 1st is our meeting in India. You'll probably have to leave home at least a day earlier.
Who can join the Yatra? Anyone. You don't have to be a reincarnated Yogi in order to join in. All you need is curiosity, an open-mind, and enthusiasm to explore the unknown on many levels.
How much does it costs? The cost of the Yatra is 3,300 $ usd for early birds who register by November 30 and 3,500 $ usd for registration from Dec 1st. People will be accommodated on a first-come basis so register early. We anticipate that the list will fill up quickly. To save your spot you have to make a 350 $ usd deposit
What is included in the payment? The cost includes all accommodations, transportation, and meals during the Yatra (tour). It does not include flight to/from Dehradun (our starting and ending point) and your flights to/ from New Delhi. It does not include any additional personal expenses you may incur such as gifts, additional foods, medicines, etc. There may be a few meals that you will pay for during your 'free' time, but the cost of food is minimal.
What should I bring? Generally speaking you can find almost everything in India. I've seen much more people regret for things they unnecessarily brought than people who regret for things they did not bring. It is a big advantage to travel light. Nevertheless you should bring mostly light cloths and just a few more warm cloths (particularly for the day we travel to Gangotri and Tihar). Please make sure to bring only modest cloths. In most of the places we're planning to visit you cannot wear shorts. It is considered an insult in many of these places to walk with low-cut, sleeveless or tight garments. The weather is not expected to be very hot so please be mindful of this issue. You do not need to bring bed-sheets but you may want to bring a towel. You'll need appropriate shoes for hiking and the rest of the time you may want to use sandals, as we are going to take off our shoes every time we enter an Ashram/temple/etc). Bring a lightweight rain jacket. You may want to bring with you some small snacks like granola bars if you know that you need to bite something between meals, but again, there are also many snack options available in India to taste the local fare. The mattresses in Sivananda Ashram in Uttarkashi may feel a bit hard for some of you. You may want to bring with you a sleeping bag.
What are the communication options during the Yatra? We will come across some Internet Cafes during the Yatra, but you may not have access to them for parts of the journey. WiFi may be available on occasions, but it is not guaranteed. The best option is to stay 'off the grid' for the whole Yatra but, if you have to stay connected, a good solution may be to bring your smartphone (make sure it is internationally unlocked and it uses the GSM system). Once you arrive, you can purchase a local SIM card for an affordable price. Communication can be a little annoying in India... Once you have the SIM card, you'll be able to call and receive calls and use the 2G mobile network for a slow Internet connection. Don't expect miracles. You'll probably be able to send and receive emails, not much more.
Is the food going to be very spicy and safe to eat? We will try our best to make sure the Indian food we get is mildly spiced and that there are plenty of options. We will ONLY be eating in restaurants with clean kitchens and high quality standards. We will provide recommendations for avoiding food-borne illness, such as only drinking bottled water, no ice, no raw vegetables, no street food, etc. before arrival.
Should I get vaccinations? Please consult your physician regarding appropriate vaccinations. The responsibility for your health during the Yatra and after is solely yours. We recommend that you follow strictly the advice of your physician and the US authorities, such as Travel Vaccination Clinics. Also please check what is needed in terms of Covid restrisctions depending your country.
Am I covered by any insurance? Heart Pilgrim does not provide any type of insurance. By choosing to join the tour you are agreeing to take full responsibility for your safety and well-being during and after the tour. We strongly recommend to buy a travel insurance coverage to help you in case of need.
Do I need a visa to India? Absolutely! Please make sure to start the application process as soon as you enroll for the trip. You can apply for a visa at Travisa.com or through other reputable visa services.
Do I need to exchange money into Indian Rupees before the Yatra? You should have some amount of Indian Rupees with you when you arrive in India (perhaps $100 dollars worth). However, the rates you'll get from a Money Exchange outside India or in the New-Delhi airport are very bad. You will always get the very best rate from ATM machines in India that are required to give you the current rate. There are ATMs in most places we visit, but sometimes they may be inconvenient (or out-of-order). In those instances, we can help find a reputable currency exchange.
How do I get to the meeting point at Rishikesh, India? It depends of course where are you coming from, as Rishikesh does not have an airport, you can fly to the nearest airport in Dehradun if you want to come here by flight. Dehradun's Jolly Grant Airport has daily flights from Delhi and other cities and airlines such as Air India, Spice Jet and IndiGo fly here regularly. We recommend to arrive at Rishikesh at least a day before our meeting. Please send us your itinerary so we know your plans and maybe hook you up with other friends of the group. If you need some specific advice please contact us.
Will I share my room with others? Yes. We're booking rooms for 2-3 people per room. The best way is to come with your partner/friend and share a room with them, but if you are coming single, we will pair you with a roommate.
Where can I find more information? If you have any more queries, please, don't hesitate and contact us by email. We'll be very happy to assist you.
Swami Kashi Muktananda has been living in the Himalayas of India and Sivananda ashrams for the past 20 years. He learned Sanskrit, Hindi, and Vedanta philosophy from his guru, Swami Chaitanyananda of Uttarkashi, a direct disciple of Swami Sivananda. His down-to-earth approach and loving nature make him an ideal bridge between the ancient yogic teachings and a Western audience.