Spend the days wandering through the Himalayan foothills by foot, bike and white water raft before spending the night telling tales under the starlit skies.. Rishikesh has been a hub for spirituality since the Beatles rocked up in the ’60s – discover why after enjoying the Ganga aarti along with yoga and meditation sessions.. .
The Uttarakhand province of Northern India is stunningly beautiful in both spirit and essence. It is here you see the harmonious balance between nature, humanity and religion, flowing in the water of the Ganges as the Ganga aarti cleanses body and soul indiscriminately. Chandrashila continues this tradition, speaking volumes about the Hindu dedication to worship as pilgrims hike 3,680 metres (12,073 feet) high to Tungnath. On this excursion, you’ll ride white water rapids down the Ganges, hike through Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary and cycle through to the temple studded town of Gopeshwar – expanding your mind and body into new territory.
Breakfast Included: 4 Lunches Included: 4 Dinner Included: 4
Namaste. Welcome to India. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. Perhaps visit the World Heritage-listed Humayun's Tomb, Qutub Minar or Red Fort of Delhi if you have any spare time.
Depart from Delhi and continue on by train to Haridwar, where the River Ganges exits the Himalayan foothills. On arrival at the station, drive on to Rishikesh. Rishikesh has has become a magnet for people on spiritual journeys, mainly because of the impressive Ganga Aarti celebrations that the locals host here. During your stay, you’ll get the chance to engage in this deeply touching religious ritual held at the Parmarth Niketan ghat. Choose to either sit quietly or join the crowd during their ritual prayer as the chant of bhajans, beating drums and ringing bells create their own evocative orchestra. Tiny oil lamps sail on flower-filled leaf boats down the river’s holy waters, and you can purchase one of these lamps to become involved with this religious custom. After an evening of hypnotic hymns and uplifting rituals in praise of the Ganges, your mind and soul will be washed clean.
With a morning of free time on your hands, consider hiring a bike for a pedal around Rishikesh. Head to the Lakshman and Ram Jhula suspension bridges for views over the Ganges and the temple of Trayambakeshwar or make your own discoveries, stopping at one of the many nearby eateries and cafes. This afternoon, get out on the water with our first taste of rafting. As the evening rolls in, reunite with the group and get ready to sleep under the sky. Camping near the banks of the holy Ganges, take in the sounds, smells and the starry night sky in these beautiful surrounds. The tents may be basic, but the memories are spectacular.
Sari - Deoria Tal Lake (Hike)
Sitting remotely in the countryside of Uttrakhand province, Sari is a quaint village that serves as the perfect place to for you to get an insight into the rural Indian lifestyle. After an 8-hour drive you’ll arrive at the village before joining up with your pack horses and beginning your evening trek to the tiny, but scenic lake of Deoria Tal. Continue walking for an hour before arriving at the lake where you’ll set up your tent for the night.
Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary - Chopta (Hike)
Begin the day with a morning hike through the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary towards Chopta. Lined with picturesque evergreen forests and unspoiled natural landscapes, this small region is full of old pines and rare species of birds and animals – keep an eye out for the legendary fanged musk deer as you push through the woods and over the hills. Take a break along the way to enjoy a packed lunch. Once you arrive in Chopta, set up your tents again and enjoy the evening while the sun sets over the mountains that clasp the valley below.
Chandershila - Chopta (Hike)
After breakfast this morning, continue the hike onwards to the summit of Chandrashila, literally meaning 'Moon Rock' (approximately 6 hours). The peak offers breathtaking views of the nearby Himalayas, especially the peaks of Nandadevi, Trisul, Kedar Peak, Bandarpunch and Chaukhamba. Various legends associate the Chandrashila with figures such as Lord Rama who meditated here after defeating the demon-king Ravana, or the moon-god Chandra who spent time on the peak in penance. After enjoying a packed lunch and some fantastic views from the peak, head back to the campsite at Chopta.
This leg of the adventure sees you climbing aboard your bicycle and pedalling onwards through a series of small villages, passing scenic mountains en route to Gopeshwar. The town itself is particularly breathtaking – the terraced landscapes, rustic temples and painted buildings create a harmonious balance between the natural and man-made features of the area, not to mention the region plays home to four famous temples: Tungnath, Anasuya Devi, Rudranath and Badrinath. You may want to take a quick visit to the the Gopinath Temple, a famous site where Lord Shiva is claimed to have hurled a trident at Lord Kama to kill him – the unweathered trident sits in the courtyard to this day.
Sailkot - Nandprayag - Rudraprayag (Bike)
Put the pressure up a notch on a more intense day of cycling as you travel up and down slopes en route to Nandprayag (approximately 5 hours). Stop off in Sailkot along the way and take in views of the quaint rural township, perhaps spotting some of the beautiful temples in the area, then continue on to Nandprayag where the bike ride comes to a stop. From here, catch a transport towards Rudraprayag where a free afternoon of exploration awaits. Named after the Lord Shiva (Rudra), this town sits at the scenic confluence between the Alaknanda and Mandakini rivers. Depending on the water levels, you might want to descend the stairs to see the river rage on, or step onto the sand bank and watch the water gently flow by.
A 6-hour drive today brings you back to Rishikesh. Once you arrive, you’ll be able to do as you please. After pushing yourself hard on the hike and bike trails, there’s plenty of temples, ghats and cafes to explore – perhaps even find the Chaurasi Kutia, the famous ashram where the Beatles wrote nearly 50 songs and learned to meditate. In the evening you can take part in a meditation session yourself.
Rishikesh - Delhi (Yoga)
It’s been a long trip of exercise on the hike and bike trails – today offers the chance to unwind and relax with a morning yoga class in the hotel. After stretching out all that built up tension, the rest of the day is free for you to continue exploring Rishikesh until our evening train departure for Delhi, where we will arrive at around 11pm.
Join your leader on an excursion through Old Delhi. Ride the city’s metro system, and then hop in a rickshaw to the once water-filled square of Chandni Chowk. Discover the Jama Masjid, Delhi’s oldest mosque, before learning about the history of the Sikh religion at the Sheeshganj Gurudwara. Perhaps head out for one final optional group dinner together.
This active adventure comes to an end today, however there's plenty to see and do in the city. Consider getting on board with an Urban Adventure to discover the culture of India's metropolitan capital.