North India & Nepal
After a week of rejuvenation in South India, we go north for the Post Retreat Tour through the spiritual epicenters of sacred Varanasi and the Kathmandu Valley.
Varanasi: Bathing Ghats on Sacred Ganga
After a week of rejuvenation down south, we are ready to begin the Post Retreat Tour with a sunrise visit to the holy Ganges River in the ancient city of Varanasi, better known as Kashi (the Luminous One) or the City of Light. Varanasi is a spiritual epicenter where pilgrims travel long distances to bathe at the sacred bathing ghats, where it is believed that a dip in the Ganges will remove all sins/karmas for a life time. Devotees of Lord Shiva, both householder pilgrims and sadhus (holymen) gather to bathe and reflect on the transience of life, in plain view of the many cremation ghats nearby.
Offering prayers to the Divine Mother on the Ganges
The traditional means of touring the Ganges is via rowboat along the river’s banks. We will start in the early morning as the sun rises over the eastern river bed plains illuminating the Ganges and western shore temples. This is a sacred time for prayer and meditation. The group will offer sacred flower aartis to the Divine Mother as Ganga with silent prayer. We are allowed one request of the Divine Mother in this puja, and from past experiences, all requests are immediately granted on the spot. This is a powerful ceremony for all involved. Guests are advised to carefully plan their prayer and request in advance.
Manikarnika Cremation Temple and Ganga Aarti
In the evening, we will return to the Ganges to witness up to a dozen human cremations simultaneously taking place at the famous Manikarnika Temple cremation ghats on the river banks. Witnessing cremation ceremonies is a transformative experience that has the effect of pacifying the fears we have of our own mortality. It also awakens our hearts to a more intimate acceptance of our lives. These experiences of conscious passage rites are life affirming and life validating experiences that heal the spirit. After the cremations, we will witness one of India’s largest fire ceremonies, the Ganga Aarti, a massive celebration to the Divine Mother as Ma Ganga, the holiest of rivers and source of life.
After the tour of Varanasi, we’ll take a flight to Kathmandu, to take in the cultural beauty of Nepal and the majestic Himalayas.
Kathmandu: The City of Temples
We will explore the heritage site of Kathmandu including the famous Pashupatinath Temple, two huge Buddhist stupas (Boudhanath Stupa and Swayambhunath Stupa), two durbar squares (Patan Durbar Square and Hanumandhika Durbar Square). These sites are perfect examples of Nepali cultural and religious history. Nepal is a beautiful blend of Indian Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist cultures. We will note the same qualities in the foods as well.
Nagarkot: Closing the Cycle in the Himalayas
We close the 12-day tour cycle in the heart center of the Himalayas and within ourselves. On the third evening in Nepal, we celebrate our shared ecstatic experience with a private dinner and party: live music, Nepalese cuisine, spirits, and a henna artist to illustrate your hands and feet are on order. The following day we take our private luxury coach to Kathmandu for our last group meal. Then we head to Tribhuvan International Airport for our final departure home. Guests are optionally welcome to stay in Kathmandu to explore the city’s culture, historical sites, and shopping opportunities at their own expense.
Post Retreat Tour Includes:
- Offered to Kerala Sacred Sap Retreat participants only
- Guided tour of the sacred sites of Varanasi and Kathmandu; includes two guided tours of the Ganges in Varanasi (morning and evening), seeing temples and cremation ghats by traditional row boat, and a guided tour of the Kathmandu Valley.
- All India domestic flights from Kerala to Varanasi and Varanasi to Kathmandu
- Private luxury A/C bus transport from airports to hotels, and hotels to excursion sites
- 4.5-star hotel accommodations
- Daily breakfast buffet and wifi
- Tips for group-related activities: bus drivers, tour guides, etc
- Lunch and dinners at hotels
- Tip for Kuldeep and Ritu Singh ($100 recommended)
- Tips: Privately acquired drivers separate from the group activities
- Hotel and travel incidentals: minibar, non-buffet menu items, room service, etc
- Personal shopping
“You held the space while I cracked my heart over the spire of India, golden yolk, pure honey, forever changed, I feel the sway and surrender of the fisherman’s line, India is decisive yet not cut-throat, illuminating my inner peace by the way of love. There are no words, but here I try to find a meager few. Thank you! For a trip that takes one deeper down into their inner cave, where tangible life and heart merge, dance and celebrate.”Cole
“So much magic unravels throughout this journey! Thank you James for this incredible experience that we all will keep in our hearts and memories forever. The restorative week at Somatheeram Resort with Ayurvedic daily treatments and morning yoga led by Tawny Sterios. Waking up in Kerala, India and stepping outside to the incredible views of the Arabian Sea. Shopping with friends from the group in the local area. Traveling to North India and visiting the Taj Mahal, Varanasi - one of the oldest cities in the World, boat rides along the Ganges River and riding the Rickshaws with Tawny will be a moment I'll never forget! The food was incredible throughout the entire trip, the rooms were beautiful, the smiles and great hospitality were endless, and I always felt so safe. Thank you for this experience!”Tiffany P
“What an amazing adventure! My experience in India is one that I will remember for the rest of my life....morning yoga with Tawny, the Ayurveda treatments, the staff at Somatheeram, our guides throughout India, the Taj, the Ganges, beautiful new friends....it was deep and rich and full of unexpected and delightful surprises. I LOVE India! 🙂”Sonya K
“Thank you so very much James for taking us across the world to find magic, transformation, spirit and play. I enjoyed the journey so so much, laughed a ton, got rest, relaxed and felt more excited about life! I'm still processing it all and enjoying it. It's the trip that keeps giving! This journey was a life changer! Deep Ayurveda rejuvenation in the warm Kerala ocean waters, inspiring ancient temples, ceremonies, delicious south Indian cuisine, safety, play, adventure, shopping and downtime. The journey had the best of it all and it was all extraordinaire. Gratitude to all my sister travelers too for the ways you each blew open my heart, the belly with laughs, the true care, the deep sharing, inspiration offered, and instant friendship you all provided. The connections continue to unfold. You all have a room here in San Luis Obispo, CA to come play any time!”Tawney S
“Thank you James for hosting this adventure. For sharing your wisdom, compassion, leadership, support and love. Thank you fellow adventurers for showing me a glimpse of yourselves through your own journey, experience, and epiphanies while in India. Thank you India. To say India is magical is an understatement. It is incomprehensible the depth that India will touch a person. And it is unknowing how long it will continue to hold this power over me. I will be back. If I am lucky, I will be back with Sevanti Adventures and James. But when I go back, my family will be with me.”Christina G
“As the oldest and least Ayurveda knowledgeable member of the group, I was included and instructed as I asked and was ready. We couldn't have had a more diverse group on paper, but we quickly became friends. I was constantly impressed by the positive attitudes and energy of all. I hope to repeat the trip one day. Don't feel like you need to be a yoga expert to benefit from this experience. You will glow for weeks after you return!”Mary M