Journey to South India - Festival of Color, Flavor and Spirit
If you are passionate about living life deeply and authentically, if your soul is craving to be lit up and you desire an experience that will leave you deliciously connected, inspired and ready to experience the present like never before, join us and an amazing group of travelers for a 2 week yoga-inspired journey in South India. A journey for yogis and non-yogis seeking to reconnect to the beauty of life.
Do you desire a truly replenishing vacation where you sit back and soak in each experience to the fullest all because everything has been delightfully planned for you?
Imagine the sound of sweet bells chiming, oil lamp torches lighting the darkness, the lingering smell of incense in the air. As the melodic chanting continues, you can viscerally feel the vibration of your cells responding. You are at the nightly ritual at one of the most spectacular temples in southern India. Your inner vibration rises and your heart fills with gratitude to be a part of this soul-awakening experience. As you take a moment to sit with your positive flood of emotions, you realize that this ceremony takes place every evening!
In this devotion-filled land, rich in cultural heritage, you are graciously invited into a local home. You leave your shoes at the door and offer a namaste to your hosts. On this first day of Pongal festival, a thanksgiving and celebration of the harvest, you join the family for a special blessing ceremony.
Your time on this journey will be filled with authentic, intimate, local experiences that captivate you in the present moment. Time and distance seem to fade. You can’t quite describe the amount of joy and gratitude that you feel.
Each day will bring a new opportunity to brighten your spirit. Wake up to an early morning yoga practice and breakfast at an ashram. Wander through the fruit and vegetable market to soak in the feast of colors and beautiful faces. Experience the pulse of daily life in the cities, towns and the peaceful shoreline villages along the Arabian Sea.
"I really can’t express accurately what the trip meant for me and how it impacted me. Every time I try to sit down to write about it I end up getting teary and emotional. It felt like a long needed spiritual stretch and awakening..." Rachel Hernandez
- Practice yoga and meditation in the birthplace of yoga itself, at the Sivananda Ashram and Deepak Chopra's Dune EcoVillage & Spa.
- See first hand how the yogic lifestyle & philosophy is integrated into daily living in the country where yoga itself emerged.
- Hosted in the home of a local family so we can get up close and personal, experience one of the most significant festivals of South India - Pongal, the harvest thanksgiving festival. You’ll find cows adorned with bells walking the streets as a part of this celebration when crops such as sugarcane and turmeric are harvested.
- Witness the extraordinary night ceremony at the Meenakshi Amman temple. Bells chiming, oil torches lit, melodic chanting & the smell of incense filling the air will raise your inner vibration & fill your heart.
- Hike in the beautiful Munnar region, the tea hills, then sit back with an organic cup of tea and enjoy a private tour of tea plantations & organic tea farming.
- Cruise down the canals in the backwaters of Kerala — on a houseboat! Take in the slow pace of peaceful village life in a culture that is so deeply infused with color, flavor and spirit.
- Taste the flavors of specialty Indian cuisine in hands-on, informal culinary sessions in the homes of locals (2 separate experiences).
- Along the coast of the Arabian Sea, adventure on a motorbike tour of enchanting Kochi. Experience this port-city where Arab, Chinese and European have all left their mark. We will see local fishermen at work, visit the Jewish community near the center of the spice market and spend several evenings at a beautiful, tranquil beach property where you can take advantage of Ayurvedic eating and massages.
- Inspire your light from within by experiencing first hand holy rituals that will exhilarate, ground and connect you
- Develop close friendships within a community of marvelous travelers with common interests
- Unwind and experience travel simply as you leave the logistics to your knowledgeable guides and experienced leaders
Venue HighlightsWe will be staying at several different stops along the way. Luxury accommodations will include Deepak Chopra's Dune Ecovillage Resort in Pondicherry as well as the Heritage Madurai in Madurai, the SpiceTree in the tea region of Munnar, and finally Marari Beach Resort in Kerala, along the Arabian Sea.
Yoga and meditation practice will be at a local ashram, in a yoga pagoda at our spa hotel and/or other out on the lawn at a luxury hotel, depending on the day. This retreat is all about soaking in local culture and the spirit of the South Indian people. To do that, we need to be out exploring! For this reason, it is not based at one retreat center location, but rather we have selected unique and varied accommodations with access to different local gurus in addition to the experienced yoga teachers hosting the trip!
- Air Conditioning in Rooms
- Yoga Studio
ScheduleAn example from Day 3 on our itinerary:
When you wake up this morning, you will realize that last night, in your post-exploration-bliss, we checked in to the Dune Eco Village. Today you will be treated to an early morning yoga class in this Deepak Chopra healing beachside spa. Then we will enjoy breakfast at this eco-friendly beach resort, surrounded by 35 acres of rich gardens and nature.
Following a sumptuous breakfast, we visit Auroville, “the city of dawn,” and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, a vibrant center of spiritual living and study. Auroville is a living experiment in human unity founded in 1968, where 2,400 people from more than 56 countries live together (approximately 50% of the population is Indian). We will walk through the town, experience this living ashram and possibly even join in for a group meditation.
Later in the day, a rickshaw ride will lead us through the French Quarter of Pondicherry (also called “Pondy”) to enjoy the French Colonial architecture of this charming seaside town, once the capital of French India. Our guide will fill us in on the interesting mix of Tamil and French culture and history and we’ll experience firsthand the laid-back lifestyle in Pondy.
This evening will be at your leisure. Schedule an authentic Ayurvedic treatment at the Dune spa or savor a quiet night under the stars as you enjoy your air-conditioned bungalow!
- Includes Meat
- Gluten Free
- Dairy Free
- Nut Free
Menu/CuisineSumptuous breakfasts each day are included. Other meals will depend on our itinerary, and we will most often be eating together as a group. As you read in the inclusions, several lunches are also included, on the houseboat, after a cooking demonstration in the home of a local, and so much more!
AccommodationsOur luxury accommodations will all have AC and beautiful private bathrooms. Rooms are based on double occupancy, however you can request a single for a supplemented cost.
DirectionsTransportation from the airport to the hotel and back to the airport at the end of our journey will be provided. Here is a list of what is included and what is not included:
Accommodations double or single occupancy for 11 nights in four and five star hotels
Group transport from airport to hotel, if arriving within stated time frame
Delicious breakfasts each day (except for arrival day)
Four lunches, including the following
Cooking lesson and lunch in a local mansion in Chettinad
Packed lunch for half-day hike
Houseboat cruise with lunch and masala chai
Cooking lesson and lunch in home of a local family in Kochi
Guided cycle rickshaw ride in Pondicherry
Night ceremony at Meenakshi Amman Temple
Pongal festival hosted by a local family in Madurai
Half-day hike in Munnar
Jeep “safari” into the organic tea estates of the Kolukkumalai Hills
Motorbike guided tour in Kochi
2 local yoga sessions and 2 different ashram experiences
Yoga sessions in addition, as set by trip leaders
Your own bottled water daily
All in-country train travel (air conditioned class), and air-conditioned car transportation with our own private driver between towns and cities listed, and all listed excursions
Our personal, locally appointed English speaking guide in each town
Entrance fees to all monuments, temples, etc. that are listed on itinerary
Currently applicable government taxes, which are subject to change
International airfare to and from home (arriving in Chennai, departing from Kochi)
Meals not specified on the itinerary
Other non-included items such as souvenir shopping, personal phone calls, laundry and tips for bell-boys/porters, guides and driver
Personal, medical or trip cancellation insurance
Camera fees (Many sites/monuments will charge a small extra fee to use your camera – generally less than a dollar – not a big deal, just want to give you an explanation of what this is!)
Entry to museums or other excursions and that are NOT listed on the itinerary (ie: anything you travel to on your own)