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Updated: 14 Dec 2011
Didi Ananda Ragamaya, a yogic nun, heralding from the UK and currently running service projects in Kingston, Jamaica. She has been a yoga practitioner for about 26 years and nun for the last 19.
She is a budding outdoor enthusiast, song lover, teambuilder and occasional cook (!), will be bringing some of her positive vibes to help make the tour a memorable experience for all. She has written an article from her first India Tour adventure, if you like to check it out.... Here.
POKARA (The main trek here is spoild due to a new road, we may do alternative trek here or in completely different area)
For most this last part of the tour is really the icing on the cake.
Trekking in Annapurna region. The 10(-14) day trek goes from village to village, sleeping at inns primitive, cheap and fascinating. See the wonders of the Himalayan peaks and do Meditation in the stillness. Full day walks (four to five hours). At night relax around the fire (not in all the inns). We'll walk all the way up to Muktinath (+3800meter) and than back track one day to Jomson and fly back to Pokara. An incredible flight if the weather co-operates… Did I mention the hot springs?? Great to relax tired muscles!
Now as I mentioned there are some more options for the trek:
(Actually as the Anapurna treck is spoiled (a new road was build) we'll be going to Lantang this time (2009-2010 tour) It's a first time so we don' t know much more than you do...)
1) There is the beautiful Lantang area nearer to Katmandu, which is in many ways similar to the Annapurna trek, but from what I heard it's less touristy. (Not that there are too many tourists in January but the mentality of the Inn owners along the way is sometimes getting a bit too commercial.) This will also be a great trek and for us (your guides) something new to experience:-) [The trek is wonderful but a bit harder than we expected. We'd need to see the fitness level of the group and ourself before we decide on this one.]
2) Three years ago the Maoists who are fighting the government in Nepal were making too much trouble (rightly or wrongly I don't know). Not to take unnessesary risk we decided to go to Sikkim which is a restricted part of India. The trekking situation there was a bit different and not as good as Nepal but the place was wonderful. Pure air, pure and simple people, wide views of the Himalayas, caves and the beautiful colored buddhist temples. So in case Nepal is not possible this is back up plan 1. This plan also allows us to visit Kolkata on the way and visit the house were Baba lived His last 15 years.
Several years ago the Maoist were still fighting but all parties have agreed to spare the tourist, a major source of income. The system was that if you meet the Maoist (or they meet us) a donation of $12 has to be paid and a receipt is issued so at next meeting one doens't have to pay again. Fortunate we didn't meet them. Last year the state of emergency was declared and we couldn't go, we went to Himachal Pradesh which was again quite different but also very beautiful. This is our second back up plan.
Where we will go we'll decide closer to the start of the tour. though we are aiming at going, I would prepare your mind for the event that Nepal is not possible. Even if it is safe but your friends and family would be overly worried we'll have to take that into account as well especially if some of you are under 21years of age.
VARANASI (Not planned this year, but I leave it here as a back-up in case we need to change something, or something to visit after the tour is over.)
Varanasi, the "Eternal City", is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in India and also a major tourist attraction. Situated on the banks of the sacred Ganges, Varanasi has been a centre of learning and civilisation for over 2000 years. It was at Sarnath, only 10 km away, that the Buddha first preached his message of enlightenment, 25 centuries ago. Later, the city became a great Hindu centre, but was looted a number of times by Muslim invaders from the 11th Century on. These destructive visits climaxed with that of the Moghul emperor, Aurangzeb, who destroyed almost all the temples and converted the most famous one into a mosque.
Varanasi has also been known as Kashi and Benares, but its present name is a restoration of an ancient name meaning the city between two rivers - the Varauana and Asi. For the pious Hindu the city has always had a special place. Besides being a pilgrimage centre, it is considered an auspicious place to die, ensuring an instant route to heaven. To this day Varanasi is a centre of learning, especially for Sanskrit scholars, and students flock there from all over India.
We can spend about 2-3 days here. Visit the Ganges by taking a boat ride to see the different ghats in the morning. At dawn, the pilgrims take their early morning dip and people bath in the "Holy River". The water from the Ganges is believed to have special purifying qualities. Nowadays, however, due to pollution, these qualities appear to be rather elusive. Still in 2000 we saw a fresh water dolphin!
Further there are the markets to visit and Baba's Quarters (where we may stay) and visit the Brothers' Wholetimer Training Centre where we stay for evening meditation and meal.
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