Uttarakhand (India) is region of soaring peaks bordering Nepal and China. It’s life-changing reality traces itself to the head-waters of the Ganges. Vibrant, with ancient temples, blossoming forests and traditional, sustainable practices of the generations.
Arrive to a warm welcome at the New Delhi International Airport. Our representative will meet you upon clearing customs. Enjoy a short drive to your hotel before settling in for a good night’s rest. Optional: Sightseeing can be arranged should you be interested in visiting some of Delhi’s historical sights.
Early train departure to Rishikesh allows us the afternoon to explore this Hindu Holy land. Found on the Banks of the Sacred Ganges River in the foothills of the Himalayas, Rishikesh is a sacred site for Hindus. The area is renewed for yoga masters and ashrams. Activity options include a guided yoga session in one of India’s richest variety of spiritual ashrams.
Witness a collective gathering of Hindu prayers on the bank of India’s most sacred river, take amazing photography of the region’s most infamous suspension bridge, Laxman Jhula, or tour the Beatles Ashram, now located within a local National Park. *Note: options must be selected in advance.
Journey to the Heart of the Himalayas and join an award winning, women’s initiative in sustainable, community based eco-tourism in the Himalayan foothills of Garhwal, Uttarakhand, India. Early morning, we head to Gopeshwar closer to the Tibetan border. We will drive next to river Ganga, considered the holiest river of India. Recommended time to start 5.30 am.
We will stop on the way next to river Ganga for refreshment and sightseeing (note this a beautiful drive but may cause motion sickness – it is recommended to have a remedy on hand); we will reach Peaches and Pears an award-winning eco-friendly Homestay, 3 km out of Gopeshwar for lunch and enjoy the rest of the day in our new stunning location. This is going to be our home for the next week.
We stay with a Himalayan family and enjoy organic homemade food- vegetables, grains, rice, milk, eggs and fruits from the family’s garden/animal shed. Enjoy a traditional welcome to the Himalayas. After our lunch we will relax. Late afternoon visit to Gopeshwar to discover Gopinath temple made in 9-11 century AD and village market. Enjoy your dinner under the stars.
Post morning breakfast travelers head off for an engagement with a local village school and participate in a Play for Peace initiative that will build deeper connections with the local community. Post preparation, students drive for 15 minutes and walk for another 10 minutes to reach the school, where local children welcome them with a traditional dance performance. This will be followed by an initiative led by your host to engage the local children in a series of interactive games that they participate collectively.
After bidding farewell to the children, students have local Garhwali lunch of home grown food in a local home. Post this they trek to another village that has houses made in traditional style of architecture. Guests participate in a structured wonder walk, engaging in small groups with the community and exploring this village of 50 odd houses, where men have migrated in search of work, leaving behind the women and the children: a tragic reality of most Himalayan villages. Listening to their stories and delving deep in an authentic cultural immersion experience, travelers critically examine the socio – economic narratives of the villagers, and develop an empathetic understanding of the Himalayan people.
They also learn the wisdom of traditional house making to keep these naturally warm during long and often harsh winters. After this, walk back to the homestay, followed by snacks, reflection and dinner. Overnight at the home stay.
Post breakfast, drive for 20 minutes and then trek for 1 1⁄2 hours through a beautiful landscape of villages, manicured fields, curious villagers, till they reach village Naini, inhabited by “untouchables”, carrying the legacy of traditional Himalayan craftsmanship of basket weaving with bamboo.
After an introduction to the history of craftsmanship and its social positioning in traditional hierarchy, engage in learning the skills of basket-weaving. Post lunch, resume the making of basket and eventually carry back one small souvenir made by them. After this, they trek back to the homestay for evening snacks etc, followed by reflection and dinner. Overnight at homestay.
Post breakfast, travelers board cars and drive for some 1 1⁄2 hours through stunningly beautiful landscape of dense forests and towering peaks, towards Chopta. At 8,800 feet Chopta is a vast meadow, part of the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary, and surrounded by dense evergreen forests and offers majestic views of Himalayan peaks.
After checking in beautifully made log cabins, travelers go for acclimatization walks in to the forests and learn skills of wilderness backpacking, including high altitude trekking, hydration and appropriate clothing. Travelers return with the approaching dusk, followed by evening snacks and reflection. Dinner is around a glowing fire, under a million stars. Overnight in the log cabins.
After an early breakfast at dawn break, travelers embark on a trek to the ancient temple of Tunganath. Gradually leaving behind the tree line and entering vast alpine meadows with peaks all around, students push their way to Tungnath through a well beaten trail. At 12,000 feet, Tungnath is the highest Shiva temple in the world and is part of an ancient pilgrimage route to Kedarnath. After resting here for a while and munching of trail snacks, students start their climb of Chandrashila peak.
Towering over the Tunganath temple and at over 12,000 feet, the summit of Chandrashila peak is one of the rare windows to view the snowy vista of high Himalaya that has beckoned men for ages for different reasons. After a quick celebration at the top and offering silent gratitude to the spirit of the Himalaya, travelers descend down to Tungnath for a quick lunch break, before walking back to the comforts of Chopta log cabins for a much deserved rest, rejuvenation and rejoice. Evening bon fire sees travelers exchanging stories of personal struggle and achievements, and finding parallels with the challenges in life. Overnight in the log cabins.
Enjoy a leisurely start after breakfast, travelers participate in reflection activity, including consolidation of learning and appreciation ceremony, followed by an early lunch and driving down to the Peaches and Pear homestay in Gopeshwar for a reunion with the host families. In the evening travelers collectively prepare the dinner with the host family with traditional meals.
Spend the morning at leisure before saying goodbye to your hosts at Peaches and Pears Homestay. Journey to the ideally set Glass House on the Ganges and enjoy an evening at leisure and reflection on the banks of the Ganges river.
After breakfast prepare for another perspective of the Himalayas, as we gear up to float down the sacred Ganges river to Rishikesh negotiating a series of class 2 & 3 rapids. Float into the ghats of Rishikesh before ending you river adventure and driving to board your train to New Delhi later this afternoon. Arrive in Delhi by train escorted by your guide by 9 pm. You will be chauffeured to your hotel that is close to the New Delhi International airport.
Be chauffeured to the New Delhi International Airport (IGI) after a heart breakfast. Check-out from your hotel is at 11 am.