Make Your World Bigger
For thousands of years India has been a powerful spiritual magnet that has attracted some of the most influential minds that have shaped human consciousness. India’s spiritual depth and power had a profound influence on spiritual luminaries such as Ramana Maharshi, Sri Aurobindo, Swami Vivekananda, Fr. Bede Griffiths, Swami Abhishiktananda, Fr. Anthony DeMello and many others who helped bridge the eastern and western spiritual traditions. You too can enhance your vision of life by going on a pilgrimage to south India. It is an opportunity to make your world bigger!
- A pilgrimage is significantly different from a tour. Our focus is not primarily on tourist attractions, but on experiencing the spiritual vitality and daily life of India from within. We will live in an urban Hindu ashram and a rural Christian ashram, meet resident spiritual teachers, explore exotic temples, connect with Passionist ministries in remote villages, visit local families, and dine on regional foods.
- This journey is an opportunity to experience and participate in the rich and diverse cultures and traditions of south India. It is for people who want to get off the beaten track and breathe the spiritual air of an amazing and unique country.
- The pilgrimage will be led by Fr. Joe Mitchell and Fr. Nelson Alphonse (a native of Tamil Nadu), along with support from the Passionist communities of south India.
- Participants must be able to climb at least two-flights of stairs and walk up to one mile.
- Accommodations will be simple, clean, and safe. This is not for those envisioning 4-star hotels.
- Most travel within India will be in vans with Indian Passionists serving as local guides. There will be one over-night train ride.
- Registration is limited to 17 people.
Total Cost: $1950
- Each participant will arrange and pay separately for their international air travel.
- A tourist visa is required for entering India. A six-month multiple-entry visa costs $73.00.
- Some immunization vaccinations are suggested. Consult your local travel clinic for advice.
Jan 7: Day 1 – Depart U.S.
• Jan 8: Day 2 – En route
• Jan 9: Day 3 – Arrive Bangalore
Upon arriving at Bangalore’s modern international airport, you will be met by the staff and escorted to Fireflies Ashram. It is a day to get acclimated to India and recuperate from your travels in the tropical beauty of Fireflies.
•Jan 10: Day 4 – Fireflies Ashram
Fireflies Ashram is an intercultural center located on the outskirts of Bangalore in a beautiful grove of tropical trees and flowers. It is a unique venue where spirituality embraces the environment. The ashram is host to many international events addressing social transformation. Siddhartha, founder and director, will present a series of lectures on interfaith dialogue and cooperation.
•Jan 11: Day 5 – Bangalore
Bangalore, known as the Garden City, is one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the world. It is the Silicon Valley of India, with a high concentration of IT industry. We will tour parts of the city and experience the work being done to end exploitation and trafficking of domestic workers. Sr. Nisha and Bro. Jerson will guide us through a world where orphans and street children seek to survive.
•Jan 12: Day 6 – Randam, Tamil Nadu
Our journey south begins, driving to Randam, a tiny remote village, where you will have an experience of rural life in India. We will walk through the village with Fr. Nelson (who was once pastor there), visit the school children and meet local families.
•Jan 13: Day 7 – Drive to Thiruvannamalai and Sri Ramana Ashram
Thiruvannamalai is one of the ancient spiritual centers of South India. Over the last thousands of years, a multitude of pilgrims have come seeking enlightenment. Many yogis and siddhars continue to live in the caves and huts around the sacred mountain, Arunachala.
•Jan 14: Day 8 – Sri Ramana Maharishi Ashram
We will spend three nights at the bustling ashram of Sri Ramana Maharshi, one of the great spiritual gurus of the 20th century who died in 1950. Though his physical presence no longer graces the ashram, his spiritual presence is as alive as ever. We will abide by the schedule of this traditional ashram steeped in the tradition of Advaita Vedanta. There will be an opportunity to meditate inside Sri Ramana cave, where he spent six years in meditation.
Jan 15: Day 9 – Sri Ramana Maharishi Ashram
This second day at the venerable ashram will allow you to continue your spiritual practice as well as visit the great Annamalaiyar Temple. This vast place of worship is one of the greatest Shiva Temples of India. It occupies a special place in the Saivite realm and is regarded as one of the Pancha Bhoota Sthalams, one of the five great temples of south India.
•Jan 16: Day 10 – Drive to Trichy and Shantivanam Ashram
•Jan 17: Day 11 – Shantivanam Ashram
Shantivanam is a rural ashram located on the bank of sacred river Kaveri. It was founded in 1950 by two Catholic priests, Jules Monchanin and Henry Le Saux (who assumed the name Swami Abishiktananda). In 1968, Fr. Bede Griffiths took over direction of the ashram until his death in 1993. The ashram continues to be a center of contemplative life and dialogue between Christianity and Hinduism. The ashram is unassuming; however, there is an unmistakable spiritual energy about the place.
•Jan 18: Day 12 – Shantivanam Ashram
You will have an opportunity to go deeper into the experience of simple ashram life and receive instructions on Indian-Christian spiritual practices.
• Jan 19: Day 13 – Visit Trichy and onto Cochin via Train
Tiruchirapalli, fondly called Trichy, is located on the banks of the Kaveri River and has an ancient history. We will visit the mammoth sized Rock Fort Temple (once the citadel of the Chola kings) and the massive seven-walled Ranganathaswamy Temple complex. Before boarding the overnight train to Cochin, we will enjoy a meal with Fr. Nelson’s family.
• Jan 20: Day 14 – Explore Cochin
Cochin is a vibrant city situated on the south-west coast of the Indian peninsula in the scenic state of Kerala, renowned for its Indian spices. While staying in a retreat center, we will visit the Passionist Ashram JXP, plus enjoy a tour of the historic city, including the Dutch Palace.
•Jan 21: Day 15 – Palliport and the Arabian Sea
A short drive north of Cochin is Palliport, a lovely seaside fishing village on the Arabian Sea, where the Passionists have a parish. There will be an opportunity to enjoy time at the beach, with a possible excursion on a fishing boat into the Arabian Sea. You will be able to meet and visit local families and enjoy a traditional Indian meal in their homes.
•Jan 22: Day 16 – Boat Ride in Tropical Backwaters of Kerala
A short drive south to Alleppey, from where you will board a traditionally decorated houseboat for a delightful day of sailing through the scenic tropical backwaters of Kerala. Lunch will be served on the boat.
•Jan 23: Day 17– Rest Day and Evening Departure from Cochin
This will be a carefree day to prepare for your evening departure from the Cochin International Airport. Opportunities for leisurely wandering the city, shopping, or time at the beach will be available. A festive evening meal will celebrate the conclusion of our pilgrimage in India.
•Jan 24: Day 18 – Arrive home in U.S.
* Unanticipated itinerary changes may be necessary due to local circumstances