India Spiritual Adventure with Howard Caesar

January 23-Feb 3, 2021

Join your host, Howard Caesar, for an incredible 11 Days and 10 Nights as you explore the Wonders of Delhi, Bodhgaya – the most important Buddhist site in all India, Varanasi – India’s spiritual gateway, and the magnificent Taj Mahal, all centered around the teachings of Oneness. Forever deepen your spiritual experience on this planet on this tour that is part-pilgrimage, part-adventure, all-love!

Itinerary

Day 0 Departure – Jan 23, 2021

Fly from your home to India (usually an overnight flight)

Transformational Tours & Retreats can assist you in booking your international business class or coach travel, or you can opt to do it on your own. (Note that the international flight is a separate cost, but flights in India are included as part of the tour package.)

Day 1 Arrive Delhi – Jan 24, 2021

Welcome to incredible India! Upon your arrival at the airport in Delhi, a representative will greet you and escort you to the Hotel New Delhi. After checking in, spend the rest of your day at your leisure exploring the local area and relaxing in the hotel. Our friendly guide will be on hand should you need recommendations or general provisions. Prepare your spirit for the soulful journey that awaits.

Tonight after your Orientation, get to know the others in your group at a special 'Namaste' welcome dinner at Chor Bizarre restaurant, one of New Delhi's many fine Indian restaurants.

Overnight: The Lalit Hotel, Delhi (D)

Day 2 Delhi – Jan 25, 2021

After breakfast at the hotel, we begin our journey, taking in the many sights and sounds of Delhi, including a visit to the National Museum, which houses the Sacred Relics of Buddha (5th-4th century BC). The relics are outstanding specimens of Buddhist art and are illustrated through exhibits in a variety of materials and forms from the three principal Buddhist traditions – Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana.

This afternoon we will visit some of the most famous monuments of Delhi – including India Gate, Rajpath and the Secretariat Buildings. Then in the late afternoon we visit the Lotus temple, also known as the Bahá'í House of Worship. This lotus-flower temple has won numerous awards for its architecture and design and is one of only seven Bahá'í temples located around the world.

We have a wonderful dinner planned for you tonight - it will be a terrific surprise!

Overnight: The Lalit Hotel, Delhi. (B, D)

Day 3 Delhi – Bodhgaya – Jan 26, 2021

This morning we depart Delhi for Bodhgaya. Check into our hotel, then we will have an afternoon visit to the Mahabodhi Temple – the most important Buddhist site in the world. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the history of this place goes back over 2500 years. Enjoy spending a morning of our pilgrimage to meditate, journal or just quietly contemplate life.

The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure to explore the town. Dinner is at Om café, an authentic Tibetan restaurant run by a Tibetan refugee family.

Overnight: Royal Residency, Bodhgaya (B, D)

Day 4 Bodhgaya– Jan 27, 2021

After breakfast we visit the Mahakala Caves to spend some quiet time and absorb the powerful energy. To enter, you will need to walk a short distance up the mountain to the entrance of the small cave. This is where Buddha fasted and prayed for more than 6 years, an influential and sacred time in his life. It was these caves where Siddhartha, prior to his enlightenment, was taught by local ascetics to forego all of life's ease and to learn about the contrast provided by a path of suffering.

Stop for lunch in a local restaurant to enjoy Indian cuisine.

This afternoon, we will experience a true cultural exchange, as we visit a local family for tea and snacks in a nearby village. Meaningful conversation with the Indian people can be some of the most memorable moments of your journey.

This evening, we will enjoy dinner at the Hotel Maya Heritage.

Overnight: Royal Residency, Bodhgaya (B, L, D)

Day 5 Bodhgaya – Jan 28, 2021

After breakfast we will depart for a full day of sightseeing in Rajgir, an ancient town with archaeological relics dating back to 1000 BC. Take the chair lift to the top of Ratnagiri Hill to visit the Japanese Shanti Stupa, followed by a visit to Vultures Peak. In the afternoon, we will visit Nalanda University, an acclaimed Buddhist monastery and the most renowned University in ancient India. Established in the 5th century BC, it remained a center of learning until the 12th century AD.

This afternoon, stop in a local restaurant for lunch, before heading back to our hotel.

This evening, dinner will be on your own, to spend time with others in the group or to enjoy a night off to yourself to recapitulate your trip so far.

Overnight: Royal Residency, Bodhgaya (B, L)

Day 6 Bodhgaya to Varanasi – Jan 29, 2021

After breakfast, our coach will drive us to Varanasi. It is considered to be the spiritual gateway of India and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

On the way, we will stop for lunch in one of the countryside villages.

Upon arrival late afternoon, we will check into our hotel before taking a sightseeing trip to the Main Ghat area and the Vishwanath Temple. Varanasi is the holiest of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism and Jainism, and played an important role in the development of Buddhism.

This sacred and special evening, we will have the opportunity to participate in the breathtaking evening puja (prayer ceremony) which accompanies sunset on the Ganges.

Then our group dinner will be at Kesar Haveli.

Overnight: The Gateway Hotel, Varanasi (B, L, D)

Day 7 Varanasi – Jan 30, 2021

After breakfast our hotel, we will board our coach for Sarnath, one of the four main Buddhist pilgrimage sites in North India. On arrival in Sarnath, visit the Deer Park where the Buddha taught The Four Noble Truths (his first teachings) after attaining enlightenment. Afterwards, visit Dhamekh Stupa and other important Buddhist ruins, including Chaukhandi Stupa and MulgandaKutiVihar. The Dhamekh Stupa is said to mark the exact spot of the Buddha’s first teaching of the Four Noble Truths.

The evening is free to explore or rest at your leisure, as dinner is on your own.

Overnight: The Gateway Hotel, Varanasi. (B, L)

Day 8 Varanasi – Jan 31, 2021

We wake early this morning for an iconic sunrise boat ride on the Ganges. Afterwards, we will visit the Hindu Hanuman Temple. Then spend the day wandering along the Ghat area and visiting the old city with its meandering streets, all filled with the sights, sounds and smells of daily life. The day is yours to create your own adventure.

This evening we will gather for a special dinner at Heritage Brij Rama Palace hotel at the bank of Ganges.

Overnight: The Gateway Hotel, Varanasi (B, D)

Day 9 Varanasi – Agra – Feb 1, 2021

This morning, we will board our flight back to Delhi, then drive to Agra. Today is a long journey, so you will have the opportunity to see the Indian countryside and villages, and relive the wonderful trip you have had so far. This is a chance to really enjoy the pilgrimage part of the tour.

On the way, we stop in a local village for our group lunch.

Late this afternoon, we will check into our hotel or visit Agra’s Red Fort, one of the most beautiful forts in Northern India. Agra’s Red Fort was the main residence for the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty until 1638, when the Mughal capital was shifted from Agra to the Red Fort in Delhi. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and is a walled city located 2 kms from the TajMahal.

Evening dinner on your own.

Overnight: ITC Mughal, Agra (B, L)

Day 10 Taj Mahal – Feb 2, 2021

Rise and shine early to witness a once in a lifetime event, a spectacular sunrise visit to the magnificent Taj Mahal! We will be picked up from our hotel by our local guide. The Taj Mahal is India’s most-photographed monument, and today you’ll see why. Built between 1632 and 1653 in memory of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s third wife, the Taj Mahal is world-renowned and widely admired as a wonderful photo opportunity, and a bucket list must.

After visiting the Taj, return to the hotel for breakfast, then after a short rest and lunch on your own, return to Delhi early afternoon.

This evening we will enjoy our farewell dinner at Lodhi Garden restaurant, one of the finest restaurants in Delhi. Together we can recapitulate and share if we like our special moments of this deeply spiritual journey.

Overnight: The Lalit Hotel, Delhi (B, D)

Day 11 – Feb 3, 2021

Your Pilgrimage has come to an end, like everything must eventually. Leave for your international flight home personally transformed, and carry within your soul the amazing memories of your vibrant India tour! (B)