Pilgrimage to Varanasi

With Asha Nayaswami
26-29 January 2023

Varanasi, the oldest surviving city in the world, radiates timeless wisdom. Many of India’s greatest saints, like Adi Shankaracharya, Gautama Buddha, and Mahavatar Babaji lived here. Here Paramhansa Yogananda first met Swami Sri Yukteswar.

Here lived the now famous, but ever-humble, Lahiri Mahasaya, who, with the blessing of Mahavatar Babaji, resurrected Kriya Yoga and began a quiet revolution that has spread around the world.

This pilgrimage will have a wonderful addition—it will be co-led by Asha Nayaswami. A founding member of Ananda Sangha, an author, and a most eloquent and wise speaker, Asha will be visiting India as part of a world tour. She has also led pilgrimages in India for 20 years. Asha will share the deeper spiritual lessons of Varanasi through informal discourses throughout the pilgrimage. This trip will be led also by Shurjo and Narayani, spiritual directors of Ananda Mumbai; and Keshava and Daya, spiritual directors of Ananda Delhi.

Our pilgrimage destinations include Satyalok, an ashram which has been passed down in Lahiri Mahasaya’s family. We’ll meditate there, near Lahiri’s samadhi, containing a portion of his ashes.

We’ll visit Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Manikarnika Ghat, and Dashashwamedh Ghat where Babaji and his sister, Mataji, appeared. Early morning, we’ll go by boat to the temple of Trailanga Swami, Lahiri Mahasaya’s 300-year-old friend, with whom he’d meditate.

We’ll meditate at the calm ashram of Ananda Moyi Ma, overlooking the river. We’ll take boats on the Ganga, chanting, meditating, and watching the sun rise; and at sunset we’ll witness the Ganga arati.

We can also visit Tulsi Ghat where Sant Tulsidas lived, wrote his Ramayana, and where he left his body. From there we’d walk to Durga Kund Temple (monkey temple); Tulsi Manas Mandir; and Sankat Mochan Temple, where Tulsidas had the darshan of Lord Rama.

On our last day, before arriving at the airport, we’ll visit peaceful Sarnath, the place of Buddha’s first discourse after achieving enlightenment.

Ananda Pilgrimages are not so much about sightseeing and doing, as about being—being in a place of high spiritual vibration and learning to relax and open your heart to receive the blessings. Meditating as a group in these holy spots reinforces their power. On pilgrimage, we meditate together in the mornings, and at each place, we visit. The flavour of the pilgrimage is inward—one of communion and meditation.

Watch our slideshow


Proposed Schedule

Thursday, 26 January

Flights from Mumbai arrive at 10:00 and 10:55

Flights from Delhi arrive at 11:45 and 12:00 or arrive at the hotel earlier on your own

Check-in, lunch on your own

3:00 pm Opening gathering

Walk to ghat for a sunset boat ride, including meditation

6:00 pm Ganga Arati at Dashashwamedh Ghat
7:30 pm Dinner at the hotel

Friday, 27 January

Energization, meditation and inspiration at the hotel

Breakfast

10:00 am Meet to walk to Lahiri Mahasaya’s home, darshan outside his door

Meditate at Satyalok, near Lahiri’s ashes

Walk to Dashashwamedh Ghat, reading and sharing.

Free time, lunch on your own, at your own expense

Late afternoon boat to the ashram of Anandamayee Ma for meditation and inspiration

7:30 pm Dinner at the hotel

Saturday, 28 January

6:30 am Sunrise boat ride, chanting, meditation; visit Trailanga Swami temple

Breakfast at hotel

Walk to Kashi Vishwanath Temple and Manikarnika Ghat

Free time, lunch on your own, at your own expense

Mid-afternoon boat for optional Tulsidas itinerary: Tulsi Ghat, Durga Temple, Tulsi Manas Mandir, and Sankat Mochan Temple

7:30 pm Dinner at the hotel

Sunday, 29 January

Meditation and closing satsang at the hotel

Check out after breakfast, drive to Sarnath

Tour and meditate at Sarnath

Drive to the airport, in time for a 15:20 flight to Delhi or Mumbai, or a 16:10 flight to Mumbai

 

Arrival and Departure

You’d arrange your own travel to and from Varanasi. You’d fly into Varanasi on 26th arriving before noon, and fly out on the 29th after 15:20. For those flying from Mumbai or Delhi, we’ll try to fly together both ways, everyone who can. Since flight availability and costs fluctuate, once we accept your application, we’ll share current flight availability. For those arriving at times other than the above groups, the hotel is about an hour’s drive from the airport, a taxi can cost about Rs. 2000 one way. Overnight trains from Delhi also service Varanasi, the station is not far from the hotel. You can also choose to arrive a day early or stay a day later in Varanasi on your own. The pilgrimage officially begins at the hotel after lunch on the 26th, and ends at Sarnath or the airport, before lunch on the 29th.

 

Accomodations, Meals & Transportation

Our hotel is located in the main market, 500 meters before Dashashwamedh Ghat. It is less than a 10-minute walk to Lahiri Mahasaya’s house and samadhi, Kashi Vishwanath Temple, and Manikarnika burning ghat. Rooms have simple furnishings, a/c, and attached bath. Breakfast and dinner included.

Our itinerary in Varanasi means lots of walking. The pavement can be uneven, with many steep steps. Many narrow lanes can be crossed only on foot. All our destinations except Sarnath can be reached by boat and short walks (with many stairs). We’ll drive to Sarnath directly from the hotel.

 

Programme Fees

Double occupancy: Rs. 25,000 per person.
Single occupancy (private room): Rs. 32,000 per person

If you don’t have a roommate, we’ll try to connect you with another single pilgrim of the same sex. If a roommate can’t be found, you’ll pay for single occupancy. If you snore, we ask you to room with someone you know well or pay for single occupancy.

The programme fee includes all group transportation; lodging; breakfasts and dinners; and group tips. Not included in the fee are lunches, snacks, and beverages; travel to and from Varanasi; transfer from airport or train station to the hotel at times other than indicated above; medical care should you need it; donations at ashrams; and personal hotel expenses such as room service or laundry.

 

Payments

A completed application form and payment are both needed to confirm your space. We ask for full payment at the time of application.