PILGRIMAGE TO BADRINATH
8-16 October, 2019
With Optional Rishikesh Add-on 17-19 October
A powerful place of pilgrimage since Vedic times, the Badrinath area is also said to be the present home of Mahavatar Babaji. Spiritual power can be felt in the rarefied air, pristine natural beauty, and soaring mountains. On our drive up to Badrinath, we plan to stop at Devprayag, at the point where the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers join to become the Ganga. We’ll then spend four nights and three full days in Badrinath.
We will attend the early morning puja at Badrinath temple when the image of Lord Badrinarayan (in lotus posture looking strikingly like Babaji) is bathed. You may also bathe in the temple hot springs. Beyond the village of Mana we’ll meditate in the cave of Ved Vyasa, where he’s said to have written Mahabharata. A cave attributed to Ganesha is close by. We’ll cross the Saraswati River, in a rare appearance as it emerges from the mountain before going underground. We’ll cross “Bhima’s Bridge”, walk the “Stairway to Heaven” which the Pandhavas took at the end of their lives. Those who wish to may climb to Vasundhara Falls. We’ll also walk to the Neelkanth Valley above Badrinath, and we may visit sadhus there. A riverside walk boasts natural beauty, pilgrimage sites, and other sadhus.
On the return, we’ll stop in Joshimath, and meditate in the cave where Adi Shankaracharya found enlightenment. We’ll spend one night near Rudraprayag, then continue on to Rishikesh, to meditate in Sage Vashishta’s cave. In Rishikesh and Haridwar we plan to visit other ashrams, including Swami Sivananda’s Kutir, the Samadhi mandir of Anandamoyee Ma, and the ashes of Lahiri Mahasaya.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 8:
You would reach Vasundhara Palace Hotel in Rishikesh on your own. We can suggest flights to Dehradun (45 min from hotel). There is also a morning Shatabdi train from Delhi. In the afternoon we hope to take a walk by the river, and take part in a Ganga arati.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 9
After meditation and breakfast we start driving, slowly climbing above beautiful river canyons, following the Ganga toward one of its two sources. We plan a stop at Devprayag. After about 6 hours of driving, our dinner and overnight stop is Rudraprayag.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 10
After meditation and breakfast, we continue driving, as lofty mountain vistas unfold. After about 7 hours we reach Badrinath, at 10,000 feet, remote and beautiful. Afternoon, if time permits, we’ll visit the colorful temple of Badrinath, which enshrines the sacred statue discovered in the river by Adi Shankaracharya in the 9th century.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 11
We can meditate at the temple early morning. At Mana we’ll meditate in the cave where Ved Vyasa is said to have written Mahabharata. The “Stairway to Heaven” marks the path the Pandava brothers took; Bhima’s bridge is the boulder he placed so his brothers could cross the Saraswati where it flows from the mountain. We’ll have dinners together at our hotel every evening.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 12
We can walk to the temple for the EARLY moving morning Abhishek Puja, led by Badrinath’s head priest. Later we can walk in the Neelkanth Valley, where sadhus and yogis live very simply. Bramhapala Rock is a place on the river where departed souls are blessed and prayed for, and we can offer our own love and blessings at this spot. Free time can include bathing in the hot springs below the temple.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 13
Meditation at temple, breakfast at hotel. Today we can spend longer in the Mana area, and those who wish can walk the “Stairway to Heaven” as far as Vasundhara Falls—a 5 km hike. Free time can be spent exploring the town and hills at your own pace.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 14
After breakfast we’ll start our drive down the hill. At Joshimath we can meditate in Adi Shankaracharya’s cave, where he is said to have achieved enlightenment. Here also is one of the four monasteries he established at the four cardinal points of India. We expect to arrive late afternoon at Rudraprayag and stay the night.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 15
After meditation and breakfast we’ll drive from Rudraprayag to Rishikesh. Along the way, we’ll stop at a beautiful natural stretch of the Ganga; meditate in a large, very powerful cave, said to have been that of the ancient Sage Vashishta; and we’ll spend time beside the river. Late afternoon we expect to arrive in Rishikesh, and have dinner at our hotel.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 16
Swami Sivananda came to Rishikesh in the 1924, making the town the “capital of yoga.” We’ll walk along the river to meditate at Sivananda’s cottage on the river and at his Samadhi. We’ll have time to walk along the river, and explore the ashrams and neighborhoods of Lakshman Jhula and Ram Jhula. We’ll attend the Ganga Arati at Parmarth Ashram.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 17
You are free to depart Rishikesh this morning, or remain for the 2-day Rishikesh Add-on.
RISHIKESH ADD-ON 17-19 OCTOBER:
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 17
We will meditate in Swami Chidananda’s kutir; and in the beautiful domed Kriya Yoga Ashram, built using the calculations of Swami Sri Yukteswar. And we hope to have satsang with the wise and devoted Vanamali Devi, at her idyllic ashram overlooking the Ganga.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 18
We will drive a short distance to Haridwar and visit the ashram and Samadhi of Anandamayi Ma, immortalized in Autobiography of a Yogi, as the “Joy-Permeated Mother.” After lunch overlooking the Ganga, we’ll meditate at Swami Keshabananda’s ashram, with the ashes of Lahiri Mahasaya.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 19
After meditation and breakfast, depart Rishikesh on your own. Transport to airport provided for those taking the suggested flight. There are also both morning and evening Shatabdi trains to Delhi from Dehradun or Haridwar.
PHYSICAL FITNESS FOR THIS TRIP
A medical check-up for high altitudes is advisable before joining this pilgrimage. Consult your doctor if you have health concerns such as blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, or heart or lung condition. At such an elevation it’s common to feel shortness of breath and your body may move more slowly than usual.
The activities are optional, but we will offer slow group walks of one to three hours, and you may take longer and steeper walks if you wish. There are a good number of stairs at most of our destinations, so you must be able to get around easily. If you look forward to walking, you can prepare yourself for pilgrimage by increasing your level of regular exercise, and by practicing pranayama.
If you are susceptible to car-sickness, the roads are mostly paved, but are long, have many curves, and are often not smooth. Delays can occur due to construction or rock slides. It is at least 14 hours driving each way between Rishikesh and Badrinath. This is not a trip for those in fragile health.
WEATHER, ACCOMMODATIONS, AND TRANSPORTATION
We have chosen these dates as being comfortably after monsoon, when weather is often sunny, usually cool but not freezing, and without sustained rain. Having said that, in the mountains, any weather is possible, sometimes all in the same day!
Transportation will be by 27-passenger bus or by smaller Tempo Traveler. We will be staying in 2 and 3-star hotels, the best hotels available in each destination.
During a pilgrimage in the mountains, one must expect the unexpected. Our schedule may change due to persistent rain or cold, or a closed road. Ananda Pilgrimages cannot be responsible for weather or road related delays beyond our control.
|Badrinath Pilgrimage (8-16 Oct)||85,000||60,000|
|Additional for Rishikesh Add-on (17-19 Oct)||20,000||15,000|
The programme fee includes
all group transportation Rishikesh-Badrinath-Rishikesh, lodging and 2 meals a day, the Abhishek Puja in Badrinath Temple, and hotel tips.
Not included in programme fee:
are your flight or train to Rishikesh, most lunches, snacks, beverages; donations at ashrams; tip for our guide; personal hotel expenses; medical insurance or medical care should you need it. We suggest considering medical or travel insurance for such a mountain trip. The pilgrimage begins at Vasundhara Palace Hotel in Rishikesh in the afternoon of 8 Oct, and ends at Vasundhara Palace after breakfast 17 Oct (Rishikesh Add-on ends after breakfast 19 Oct). If you wish double occupancy accommodation and you do not know another pilgrim, you will be assigned a roommate if possible.
PREPARATION FOR PILGRIMAGE
Details of weather? What to pack? What to wear? We’ll help you through all these questions and more by e-mail, with letters on preparation and answers to any individual questions.
This trip combines Indian and Western pilgrims, and will be led by Keshava & Daya of Ananda Delhi, and Krishna Das & Mantradevi from Ananda USA. They will be assisted by a guide from Discover Tours, the Indian tour operator that has guided Ananda pilgrimages for 30 years.
Ananda Sangha, N-100, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi 110017
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