In the Footsteps of the Saints of "Autobiography of a Yogi"
Pilgrimage is an important part of all religious traditions. It is an act of dedication, which expresses our desire to be transformed in the purifying vibrations of places made holy by saints and devotees. It is also an act of faith, which expresses our trust that God will guide our footsteps surely and safely to our journey's end.
Highlights of the pilgrimage include meditating in Yogananda's boyhood home in Calcutta, visiting the ashrams of Sri Yukteswar in Serampore and Puri, days spent on and near the holy river Ganges in Varanasi and Rishikesh, and visiting the Ananda Sangha Ashram near New Delhi.
Because this pilgrimage is dedicated to the masters and the practices of the path of Self-realization, it involves daily group sessions of energization, chanting and meditation as well as periods of meditation and chanting at each shrine. For this reason, it is necessary to be familiar with and to be actively practicing the teachings and techniques of Self-realization.
With Ananda, you are much more than a tourist or a pilgrim: You are part of a spiritual family that includes members and friends from Ananda centers around the world, the loving friendship of Yogananda’s relatives and Indian disciples, and the living saints and sages of this holy land.
We look forward to sharing this joyful and transforming experience with you!
With love and blessings,
Your Ananda pilgrimage leaders
February 7: Departure for Delhi
February 8: Arrival in Delhi (Anande Regency Hotel), visit Ananda community
February 9: Train to Haridwar, visit Haridwar, satsang with Rani Ma (if possible), transfer to Rishikesh
Haridwar, the “Gateway to the Gods”
This holy city is the gateway for pilgrims to the higher Himalayas, and stands on the right bank of the Ganges at the foot of the Shivalik mountains. It was known as Mayapuri in ancient days, and has been a sacred place of pilgrimage from time immemorial. It is one of the four pilgrim centers in India where the Kumbha Mela is held every twelve years.
February 9 – 13: Rishikesh (Vasundara Palace Hotel)
At the feet of the Himalayas on the banks of the Ganges river, Rishikesh is blessed with the holy atmosphere of many ashrams, saints and sadhus. We will meditate along the Ganges and in various ashrams and caves, including the powerful Vashistha Guha, whose intense inner stillness has attracted saints and sages for more than 5,000 years. We will visit some living saints, including Vanamali Devi, a devotional woman sage, living at her picturesque ashram above the Ganges. We will meditate in Swami Sivananda’s kutir and on the ghat where he meditated for hours each morning and visit his tomb at the Divine Life Society.
There will be free time for walking, shopping and meditating on your own.
What pilgrims say they like most about Rishikesh:
- meditating at sunrise on the Ganges, listening to the voices of the Sadhus saying their prayers.
- chanting with Vanamali Devi and listening to her words of wisdom
- the swaying bridges across the river, lined with monkeys
- my consultation with an astrologer, a palm reader
- the cave of Vashista: I never believed I could experience such deep silence
- our visits to advanced Kriya yogis.
February 13 (afternoon): Return to Delhi
February 14 (morning): Flight to Varanasi
February 14 - 17: Varanasi (Hotel Temple on Ganges)
Varanasi is blessed by the holy river Ganges, along whose banks are over 80 bathing ghats, where residents and pilgrims come for their daily devotions. All of India’s great saints, including Sankaracharya, Buddha and Babaji have lived here. This is where Yoganandaji saw his guru, Sri Yukteswar, for the first time, and where Lahiri Mahasaya lived and taught Kriya Yoga to thousands of devotees. Our hotel is right on the Ganges, which permits us to easily meditate and walk along the ghats. We will visit the ashrams of Lahiri Mahasaya, Ananda Moyi Ma, Trailanga Swami, Dasashvamedh Ghat, where Babaji appeared, as well as Sarnath, the birthplace of Buddhism. Varanasi is also known for its elegant silk fabrics, and we will have time to visit the colorful markets.
17 February: Flight to Calcutta
17 - 22 February: Calcutta
This is the highlight of our pilgrimage, where we will go many times to Yogananda’s family home, where he spent his early years of spiritual seeking. In his small attic meditation room he had visions of the Divine Mother and Lord Krishna. We will be permitted to meditate on this very spot. Yogananda’s father and Sri Yukteswar were brother disciples, and Sri Yukteswar regularly came to this house to meditate with the family. Before Yogananda’s departure for the United States, Babaji came to bless him, at the doorway to his room, which is now reserved as a shrine for silent meditation.
We will visit Serampore, 40 km. outside of Calcutta, where Yogananda went nearly every day for ten years to be with his guru, Sri Yukteswar. We will chant and meditate under the banyan tree where Babaji appeared to bless Sri Yukteswar upon the completion of his book, The Holy Science; meditate in the very room where these two great souls met and where Yogananda often slept; visit Sri Yukteswar’s first ashram, founded in Serampore in 1900 by his disciple Sri Motilala Thakur; and visit the Serampore branch of Yogananda’s family- the descendants of his brother, Ananta Lal Ghosh.
Calcutta is also the home of Mother Teresa’s charitable work, and we will visit her tomb and orphanage.
We will go to the famous Kali temple in Dakshineshwar, where Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa, the great Bengali saint of the 19th century, lived and worshiped the Goddess, who came alive for Yogananda and enabled him to convert his skeptical brother-in-law.
There will be time to shop for Indian clothes and gifts.
What pilgrims say they like most about Calcutta:
- my heart’s desire fulfilled: meditating in Yogananda’s “attic temple;”
- being in Yogananda’s home where Sri Yukteswar, Vivekananda, Anandamoyi Ma and other saints have been;
- the Kali Temple, where the statue came alive for Yogananda
- Ramakrishna’s bedroom, where he transferred his power to Vivekananda
- Mother Teresa’s tomb and meeting the Sisters
21 February: Overnight train to Puri (Puri extension, to be confirmed) - or
22 February: Departure flight
22 - 25 February: Puri (to be confirmed)
Puri is one the four principal pilgrimage sites of Hinduism, home to the Jaganath Temple, dedicated to Lord Krishna. It is also the place where Sri Yukteswar established his seaside ashram, facing the Indian Ocean, where Yogananda spent his school holidays. The humorous “cauliflower robbery” incident in the Autobiography of a Yogi took place in this ashram. In later years, when Yogananda returned to India in 1935, he visited Sri Yukteswar here, where the “tiger of Bengal” left his body in 1936.
Yogananda buried his beloved guru on the ashram grounds, and constructed his mahasamadhi mandir on that spot, where we will meditate each day.
There will be optional excursions to see the art and architecture of Orissa, and some charitable works supported by Ananda.
This final part of our pilgrimage will serve as a more quiet time to relax on the beach, recharge, and integrate the experiences of our journey.
What pilgrims say they like most about Puri:
- meditating on the spot where Sri Yukteswar is buried beneath the sands
- swimming in the Indian Ocean
- surprisingly I had my best meditation in the bedroom shrine of Bhupendranath Sanyal, Lahiri’s disciple
- buying colourful Indian clothes and gifts
25 February: Return flight to Delhi (Anande Regency Hotel)
26 February: Departure flight from Delhi
INFORMATION, FEES, AND RESERVATIONS
Accommodations, Meals, and Transportation
All of the hotels, restaurants, and menus have been personally inspected and approved by Ananda. We will be staying in very fine hotels with Indian charm. In New Delhi we will be staying at a simpler guest-house near the Ananda Ashram. Buffet-style breakfasts and dinners include a wide variety of Indian, Western, and Asian dishes.
Fees are given for double occupancy, with single rooms available for an additional price. If you do not have a roommate, we will try to connect you with another single pilgrim. However, we cannot guarantee a double occupancy fee. If a roommate cannot be found, or if you choose not to stay with the roommate available, your fee will be for single occupancy.
Internal transportation will be by plane, train, and private bus.
Guides and Languages
Jayadev Jaerschky and Sahaja Ellero from Ananda Assisi will (very probably) be your guides.They have long experience traveling in India and working with the pilgrimages. They will be joined at times by our Indian guides from Discovery Tours, with whom we have worked closely for years.
The Indians whom we meet in India speak English. There will be translation from English into Italian. Our own satsangs and meditations will be in both English and Italian. German translation will not be available.
If you wish to travel with the Ananda group there will be a flight available from Rome and Milan to Delhi with return from Calcutta (or with return from Delhi with the Puri option). If you wish to participate in the group flight, please let us know.
Or you can book a flight from many other cities: contact your travel agent for information and reservations. If you live outside of Europe, you could come first to Rome or Milan and join the group flight, in which case we will book your flight. If you are flying from the United States, we suggest you arrive in Delhi on the morning of February 9 or better yet a day earlier, so that you can recuperate from your long flight. We can make reservations for you at our hotel, and we can also arrange for you to be met at the airport and taken to our hotel. These extra costs will be added to the pilgrimage fee. On the return flight you might want to visit Ananda Assisi for a few days in order to rest and break up the long flight back.
The following fees are a close approximation, based on the information we have at hand. Due to possible fluctuations in the exchange rate and in the cost of oil, which affect costs of flights and other transportation, as well as hotel accommodations, these fees might change slightly.
Double occupancy without flight: for those meeting the group in Delhi (Feb 8 - 22, the pilgrimage ends in Calcutta): to be confirmed
Single room supplement: to be confirmed
Puri Option (February 22 - 26): to be confirmed
Double occupancy: to be confirmed
Single room supplement: to be confirmed
If you do not have a roommate, we will try to connect you with another single pilgrim. However, we cannot guarantee a double occupancy fee. If a roommate cannot be found, or if you choose not to stay with the roommate available, your fee will be for single occupancy.
50% of the total amount is due on or before November 30. The other 50% is due by January 15, 2014. Please contact us for banking information.
Included in the program fee:
- food and lodging with half pension (2 meals per day)
- transportation inside India in train, plane, private bus
- medical and accident insurance
- bottled drinking water
- tips for the porters
- Ananda and Indian guides
- spiritual and cultural programs.
Not included in the program fee:
- Indian visa costs
- extra meals and beverages
- donations at ashrams, temples, shrines, charitable organizations
- extra trips in taxi or rickshaw
- personal expenses such as laundry, telephone, internet, etc.
- additional medical insurance
- tips for exceptional service (Indian guides, bus drivers, etc.)
How to Make Your Reservation
To make a reservation for the pilgrimage, please contact us to complete and return the Reservation Questionnaire, answering all of the questions. You will receive a written acceptance from us, together with a Travel Contract with the Ananda Association, which you need to sign and return to us by mail. At that time you need to send the first payment of the tour cost, as described above. When the contract and these fees have been received, your reservation will then be confirmed.
For travel contract conditions and bank transfers: please contact us.
Passport: Make sure that your passport is valid until the beginning of September 2014. If it expires before then, you should have it renewed before you request your visa.
Visa: The easiest way to obtain a visa is to find a travel agency which offers this service. Otherwise, you need to go to the Indian Embassy or Consulate closest to your home.
You can also start your pilgrimage with our beautiful …
26 January – 7 February 2014
Ananda’s yoga vacation is this year again in Kerala for the two weeks prior to the pilgrimage. The program includes Ayurvedic treatments and massages as well as yoga and meditation, an ideal way to prepare for the pilgrimage experience. Kerala guides include Triveni Luchetti, Bhajana Macdow and others. All of the pilgrims who have gone first to the Kerala program have been extremely happy to have had the time to unplug from the normal pace of daily life, slow down, rest, purify and rejuvenate.
Please contact us for detailed information
Arjuna (+39) 393.9650534
Bhaktan: (+39) 0742.813620