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India: Spiritual South India 17 days

Day 5: Tiruvannamalai

6.30 a.m. Yoga class
09:00 am After breakfast we will walk to the top of the mountain to see the two cages on the Arunachala named Skandashramam and Virupaksha. This is where Ramana Maharshi spent 23 years before moving down to the city at the foot of the mountain. It is known today as the Ramana Ashram. The peaceful surroundings of the overhead cages have a calming effect on visitors, especially after the strenuous hike. Far from the noise and bustle of the people in the city, this is an ideal place to meditate. The steps to the top are surrounded by beautiful greenery and a breathtaking view of the city and the surrounding area. The complete view of the large temples is spectacular and uniquely beautiful. The hike to Arunachala will give you an idea of ​​what the trail is like around Girivalam, the great hill of Tiruvannamalai. We will then walk back downstairs for a well-deserved lunch and a break until late in the afternoon.
3:30 pm After your break, we will visit the Ramana Ashram. In the Ashram you have the opportunity to see the Samadhi sculpture by Ramana Maharshi. It is the place where he reached Mahasamadhi (on the left his mortal shell) and the samadhi carving of his mother, which is known for her Matribhuteshwara temple.
4:30 p.m. Group reading (in English) in the Ashram. Reading of the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi or similar books.
5:00 p.m. Veda-Parayanam. A devoted Veda study is called Veda parayanam. The Vedas are considered to be the highest revelation and authority in Hinduism. Orthodox, philosophical systems and religious authorities in India recognize their absolute truth and validity for all time and revere them as the supreme authority in any controversy.
6.15 p.m. evening pooja (adoration / blessing). Pooja is a worship and blessing ritual that is performed to celebrate honor and worship to God, to a guru or to celebrate a spiritual event. After some time to yourself to meditate, enjoy or relax in this sacred place, you can buy books in the Ashram bookstore.

Day 6: Tiruvannamalai - Kumbakonam

In the morning you check out and drive to Kumbakonam to visit all nine planets temples (Navagraha). NAVAGRAHA JOURNEY: Kumbakonam is a holy place of the four great temples Sarangapani, Kumbeswarar, Brahma and Nageswarar. All Navagraha temples (planetary temples) are located around Kumbakonam. Meditation, pooja, singing the divine hymns, penance (fasting) or prayer gives us peace and balance of mind, patience and tolerance. The saints in the Vedic period found out the planetary positions, their movements and their influence on the earth, especially on humans. Planetary change brings change in the well-being, the destiny of people and their fate, for better or for worse. We get immense benefits from worshiping the planetary temples. The sun takes the first position around the planets. That is why the first day of the week is called Sunday. The seven planets including Saturn form the seven days of the week. The eighth planet is called Rahu. Rahu is allocated 10 1/2 hours seven days a week. One and a half hours are allotted for Rahu each day. This hour and a half is known as Rahu Kalam. The ninth planet is known as Ketu. The same time is allotted for ketu as well. This hour and a half is also known as Yama Handam. Both Rahu Time and Kato Time are considered an inconvenient or unhealthy time. On the way you visit Vaitheeswaran koil (CHEVVAI) Afterwards you drive to your hotel and check in there. After a refreshment, we start the Navagraha round trip in the afternoon. Visit: - Thingaloor (CHANDIRAN) - Alangudi (GURU) - Thirunageswaram (RAHU).

Day 7: Kumbakonam

Today starts in the early morning, you will visit the other temples as follows: - Thirunallar (SANI) - Thiruvenkadu (BUDHAN) - Keezhaperum pallam (KEDHU) - Sooriyanar Koil (SURIYAN) - Kanjanoor (SUKRAN).

Day 8: Kumbakonam - Madurai

8:00 am Are you ready to continue your journey to Madurai? It is the oldest city in South India. Madurai is a place of great historical and cultural importance. The city was built around the Meenakshi Temple, which is treated as the geographical and ritual center of the ancient city. The streets are divided and arranged in a square around the temple.
10:00 am Visit the Srirangam Temple, the largest temple complex in Asia with 21 towers and 7 concentric walls. (Non-Hindus are not allowed to go inside, saints). Then we will see Amma Mandapam, where one can witness Tarpanam. Tarpanam is a serious ritual for someone who has recently passed away in the family. It is carried out for the loving soul in order to release it and to prepare the transition, the life after death, and to strengthen it for the next birth.

Day 9: Madurai

09:00 am We take a trip to visit the Meenakshi Amman Temple. It is one of the largest temples in India. Watch the locals flock to this temple in abundance and enjoy the wonderful atmosphere. There is always something going on here - ceremonies, local musicians, weddings, parties, pilgrims bowing and performing their rituals. It is an ideal place to pass time and enjoy temple life. The temple is the geographical and ritual center of the ancient city of Madurai and is divided into a series of tall masonry in square enclosures. It is one of the few temples in Tamil Nadu that has four entrances facing all four directions. This temple has four towers, each artfully decorated with thousands of colored figures. You could spend hours examining each tower to discover peculiarities. The north tower is built to keep the demons away. There are eight other towers and a hall with a thousand ornate columns.
11:30 am Our next stop is the Thirumalai Nayak Palace. The Thirumalai Nayak Palace in India is an example of architectural splendor and was built by King Thirumalai Nayak in 1636 AD. built. The palace was designed by an Italian architect and served as the residence of the king with his family. Today the palace courtyard is often used as a dance hall. The paintings and sculptures in the sanctuary are incredibly fascinating.
3:00 p.m. Bicycle Rikshaw Tour The drivers will show you the colorful Madurai. It is currently the most spectacular city in all of Tamil Nadu. During the tour you will visit the banana market, the cotton-making weaving mill, the vegetable market and the Gandhi Museum.
8:30 p.m. One of the highlights at Meenakshi Temple is the night ceremony. An image, a carved figure of Lord Shiva is carried in a chariot by temple priests. You see a procession where he and his wife Meenakshi spent the night. His gold feet are brought out of the sanctuary while his chariot is fanned out to keep it cool. A pooja (blessing, adoration) is performed in the midst of a lot of singers, drummers, blowing horns and spiritual smoke.

Day 10: Madurai - Coimbatore (Isha Yoga Center)

6.30 a.m. Yoga class
09:00 am After breakfast you check out and drive to the yoga temple in the foothills of Velliangiri. About Isha Center: It is a non-religious and non-profit service organization that deals with all aspects of human wellbeing. With its intensive programs for inner transformation and inspiring projects for society and the environment, Isha activities have been developed to create an inclusive culture and the foundation for global harmony and progress. This approach has gained worldwide recognition and reflects in particular the Isha Foundation's consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations. In the afternoon, an introductory course awaits you at the Isha Yoga Center.

DAY 11-12: Isha Yoga Center

The 2 days at the Isha Yoga Center include the following activities:

  • Hata Yoga Class - unique practices such as Surya Kriya and Upa Yoga.
  • Guided visit to Dhyanlinga Yoga Temple and Linga Bhairavi Temple
  • Take a refreshing swim in Theerthakund, an energizing pool with water
  • Nada Aradhana (a wonderful range of sounds in Dhyanalinga Temple)
  • Introduction to Aumkar Meditation

Surya Kriya: Surya Kriya is a potent yogic practice from ancient times, which is designed as a holistic process for health, wellness and complete inner well-being. "Surya" means "sun" and "Kriya" means "internal energy process." Surya Kriya activates the solar plexus to increase the samat prana or solar heat in your energy system. It also balances the left and right energy channels in humans, which leads to the stability of the body and the stillness of the mind. This strong base will be the basis for exploring higher dimensions of life.
Upa Yoga: Upa Yoga is a simple but strengthening system of exercises that activate the joints, muscles and the energy system. Based on a differentiated understanding of body mechanics, Upa Yoga releases the moment of inertia and brings energy into the whole body system. Within the human system, the energy flows together over 72,000 ways. We call it nadis or meridians. At the joints, the nadis form energy nodes, so that the joints represent a kind of storehouse of energy. Upa Yoga activates this energy and lubricates the joints, creating an immediate feeling of alertness and aliveness. Upa yoga essentially means "sub-yoga" or "pre-yoga". Because of its many, immediately noticeable benefits, the word Upa Yoga is often used in the Indian language to say: this is "useful". Note: The yoga center strictly adheres to the exact timing of the activities.

Day 13: Isha Yoga Center - Alleppey (train departure: 12:40 p.m.-Arrival: 6:40 p.m.) - Marari

10:00 am Breakfast at the Isha Yoga Center.
10:45 am Check out and drive to the train station to catch the train to Alleppey. The train ride will offer you an unforgettable experience, because Indian families mostly travel by train too. Sellers who keep shouting chai… chai… .chai (Indian tea) with lots of small Indian snacks for them to enjoy. You don't have to go hungry on the train.
7:00 p.m. We drive you to Marari and there you can check-in at your new resort.

Day 14: Marari

In the morning you can visit the fishing village of Marari. Every morning dozens of fishing boats come back to the shores of the south Indian coast of Kerala, the Arabian Sea. The fishermen's catch is auctioned right on the beach and then sold in factories and local markets. Fishing is still very traditional with nets that are pulled by hand. No highly technical equipment is used here to find schools of mackerel and other fish. Today you have yoga and meditation session with the coordination of the tour guide. You can plan the rest of the time for yourself. You may like an Ayurvedic massage.

Day 15: Marari - Alleppey - Marari

10:30 am departure to Alleppey for a wonderful boat trip on the backwaters.
11:30 am Hop on the boat for a few lazy hours on the shimmering waterways. You drive along coconut trees, a bright green patch of lush rice fields and local villages where daily life is dominated by the rhythm of the water. Passing boats loaded with cargo and fishermen throw their nets from small row boats. Watch small ferries busily criss-crossing the rivers. On land you will see boats of different types, criss-crossing the paths with passengers from all areas of rural life in Kerala - from the milkman to the newspaper boy, local politicians, priests and wedding celebrations - you can discover all the diversity on the relaxed boat trip. It is a unique experience as you are very close to the pulsating life of India and can feel the nature of the country around you.
4:00 p.m. Now it's time to go back to the hotel.
5:00 p.m. yoga class.

Day 16: Marari - Cochin

08:00 am After breakfast you check out and drive to Cochin, the main port in the south of India. Cochin has gained enormous importance over the centuries and is called "Queen of the Arabian Sea" and is also known as the gateway to Kerala.
10:00 am Tour of Fort Kochi: We will walk through the old quarters of Mattancherry and Fort Kochi, where the various European influences can be seen most clearly with merchant houses and old warehouses. Visit the Pardesi Synagogue in the Jewish district (closed on Friday and Saturday), St. Francis Church, the oldest European church in India and the highly decorated Santa Cruz Basilica. Take time to admire the colorful murals, including depictions of the Ramayana that date from the 16th century in the Dutch Palace. Linger in the colorful spice markets before heading to the much-photographed Chinese nets that line the entire shore of Fort Kochi. The afternoon is free to explore historic Fort Kochi with its majestic buildings and plenty of shopping opportunities.
5:45 pm In the evening we visit the auditorium to see the famous dance drama of Kerala, the Kathakali. The dance is characteristic of a great story that is told, with incredible costumes and elaborate make-up.
In the evening we celebrate 15 unbelievably beautiful days together and enjoy a farewell dinner together.

Day 17: Cochin - journey home

Transfer to Cochin International Airport. Journey home or subsequent stay.