A Pilgrimage to Outstanding Natural and Spiritual Places of South India
5 - 18 December 2016
Join us on a guided spiritual journey to South India's most sacred places. Some of the highlights include:
- Kanyakumari - The southernmost tip of India, where three bodies of water intersect, Vivekananda memorial rock, and Thiruvalluvar monument
- The historical Padmanabha Palace, featuring amazing wood work
- Suchindram Temple's musical pillars & a 22 foot high Hanuman statue
- A leisurely house boat ride on the serene Kerala backwaters
- The famous Meenaskhi Temple in Madurai, where Siva and Meenaskhi (young Parvati) were married
- Bathe in the water from 22 sacred wells in Ramanathaswamy Temple
- Rock Fort Temple in Trichy
- The impressive Brihadeeswarar Temple in Tanjore
- Ramanamaharishi ashram in Thiruvanamalai
- Take the sacred pilgrimage around Arunachalam hill at sunrise
- The magnificent Golden Temple in Vellore, made completely of gold
- Mahabalipuram Beach and sea shore temple
- Kapaleeswarar Temple and shopping in Chennai
- Auroville, Sri Aurobindo's ashram and the charming sites of Pondicherry, a former French colony
- Kanchipuram’s Kailasanantha Temple and hand loom sari making demonstration.
Included in the yatra fee:
- Vegetarian meals
- Travel within South India
- Entrance fees
- Yoga asana classes
- Satsang (meditation & chanting)
- Poojas (prayer ceremonies)
What Is a Yatra?
Yatra, a Sanskrit word meaning journey, refers to a pilgrimage to spiritual places, such as temples, monuments and other sacred or historical sites. Please be aware that the yatra is not a vacation, but a spiritual pilgrimage. It is our intention to visit South India's most holy and sacred places of worship while still practicing sadhana. For this reason it is recommended that you have visited one of our ashrams and are accustomed to our routines. Quite frequently our days will begin at 5:30 or 6:00 AM for meditation, yoga asana or other spiritual practices. There will be some time allotted for shopping, sightseeing and swimming, but the main focus of the yatra is spiritual.
The yatra fee is $1500 USD. To reserve your spot the full payment is required at least one month before the start of the pilgrimage. Payment is made online using PayPal. Please email us for details. In case of cancellation an administration fee of $500 USD will apply.
Transportation & Accommodations
The mode of transportation will be a comfortable air-conditioned bus. Accommodations will be modest, simple rooms with air-conditioning. We will be staying in dormitory accommodations when we visit our ashrams and twin sharing rooms when we stay in hotels.
Food & Water
Traditional South Indian nutritious vegetarian food will be provided. You can expect mildly spiced food such as rice dishes, sambar (or curry), rava dosa, wheat chapati (also known as roti or naan), idly (steamed rice cakes), coconut chutneys and Indian sweets. Fresh fruit, tea, soda and fruit juice will also be available. We will provide bottled drinking water.
Yatra Guides & Yoga Teachers
Your guides are experienced Sivananda trained yoga teachers. Both Indian and Western teachers will be your guides across South India, yoga asana classes, meditation and chanting. Local guides will be hired in several temples to provide us with specific historical information.
Foreign nationals require a visa to visit India. Please apply for a tourist visa for the pilgrimage. Contact your local Indian consulate for more information.
Please contact your local health authority for vaccination advice.
The tour begins in Neyyar Dam, Kerala. The closest airport is Trivandrum (TRV), which is about 1 hour from the ashram (35 km).
By Western standards Indian culture can seem very conservative and we ask you to honour this tradition while on the yatra. Participants are asked to dress modestly while in South India, especially women. In temples your shoulders, knees and chest must be covered. A shawl is recommended. Traditional Indian dress for women in temples is either a saree or chudihar (2 piece pant suit with a long top and shawl). The first day of the tour includes a shopping trip in the city where there is a wide selection of inexpensive and comfortable Indian clothes to choose from. We also request that modest clothing be worn during yoga asana practice and swimming as well. The left hand is regarded as unclean in India. While in temples always use your right hand to make an offering or accept prasad (blessed food). Photography is not allowed in most South Indian temples. Please follow instructions from the guides as to when photography is appropriate.
We recommend arriving two days before the start of the yatra (included in the fee). However you are welcome to arrive in the ashram anytime. Some guests prefer to arrive a few days early to adjust to the time difference before the pilgrimage begins. During this time you can also visit our onsite Ayurvedic clinic for consultations, massages and other traditional Ayurvedic treatments.
There is a program everyday for 14 days, including the evening of the 14th day. On the 15th day you can either depart the yatra from Chennai or travel with the bus back to Neyyar Dam (the start of the yatra). If you are travelling back to Neyyar Dam, plan to travel again on the 16th day.