The Pulse of Rishikesh

A Magical, Mystical Tour

 

with Janis Bowersox &

Karen Arp-Sandel

February 17-28, 2018

Discover the heart and soul of one of India’s holiest cities, Rishikesh, nestled into the foothills of the majestic Himalaya Mountains where the Ganga River begins. Come with us on a magical and mystical tour.

Trip at a Glance

  • February 17-28, 2018
  • Daily practice with Janis Bowersox & Karen Arp-Sandel
  • Discover the Yoga Capital of the World, the precious gem along the Ganges: Rishikesh
  • Limited to 12 guests
  • EXTENDED early bird price of $2799 per person until October 8 (based on double occupancy; int’l airfare not included)
    • When you register after October 9, 2017: $2999

Immerse yourself in Indian culture, while feeling the pulse of life in the birthplace of Yoga.

Visitors to Rishikesh are awestruck by the beauty of the clean, green, sparkly Ganga (Ganges) River, which flows through the center of town. Find your quiet center meditating silently here, alongside the river banks and beaches. Dip your toes or perform the traditional purification by submerging yourself in the healing, holy waters of the Ganga River. Janis and Karen are your guides in a land where spirituality is everywhere. 

On this trip, your days will include practicing yoga and meditation at local Ashrams and with Janis and Karen. You can explore nature on foot with daily walks, a group hike to a waterfall, at an Aarti ceremony or a historic site. You may even wish to go river rafting. Discovering Indian art and enjoying Indian culture will be jumping off points for making your own art during creative sessions with Karen. You may wish to volunteer, supported by our guided program. There are so many ways to find the magic and open to mystical energy on our trip to Rishikesh!

Journey Highlights

Nature

  • Sunrise at a temple, taking in the vistas of the snow capped Himalayan Mountains
  • Exploring the Ganga River (possibly going on a rafting trip)
  • Visiting caves where spiritual beings meditated for decades
  • Hike to a waterfall
  • Sunset chanting and fire ceremonies on the banks of the Ganga River

Yoga/Meditation

  • Daily hatha yoga classes with a world caliber yoga teacher
  • Options for Kundalini and Kripalu Yoga classes with Janis and Karen
  • Extend your stay and attend the International Yoga Festival (March 1-7)

Spiritual Inquiry

  • Satsangs with a choice of enlightened beings
  • Temple tours (Hanuman, Krishna, to name a few)
  • Ganga Aarti ceremonies

Culture

  • Sample Indian cuisine in our family style meals together
  • Take a cooking class and learn about north Indian cuisine
  • Study dance, learn a musical instrument
  • Immerse in art and architecture at the Beatles Ashram
  • Luxuriate on the grounds of Parmath Niketan, home of the International Yoga Festival

Art

  • Visit local art shops and discover street art
  • Join artist Karen Arp-Sandel for creative collage, and journaling
  • Decorate your hands in beautiful Mehndi designs with a local henna artist
  • Engage in the art of travel photography
  • Volunteer with local children in art activities

Downtime

  • Enjoy time to chat and sip chai.
  • Schedule an ayurvedic doctor consultation and/or bodywork appointment
  • Sit in one of the restaurants and sample teas, lassis, and sattvic food
  • Take a more challenging hike with a guide or a river rafting trip
  • Explore and shop
  • Return to any site you long to revisit, such as the sunset Aarti ceremony

Journey Highlights

Nature

  • Sunrise at a temple, taking in the vistas of the snow capped Himalayan Mountains
  • Exploring the Ganga River (possibly going on a rafting trip)
  • Visiting caves where spiritual beings meditated for decades
  • Hike to a waterfall
  • Sunset chanting and fire ceremonies on the banks of the Ganga River

Yoga/Meditation

  • Daily hatha yoga classes with a world caliber yoga teacher
  • Options for Kundalini and Kripalu Yoga classes with Janis and Karen
  • Extend your stay and attend the International Yoga Festival (March 1-7)

Spiritual Inquiry

  • Satsangs with a choice of enlightened beings
  • Temple tours (Hanuman, Krishna, to name a few)
  • Ganga Aarti ceremonies

Culture

  • Sample Indian cuisine in our family style meals together
  • Take a cooking class and learn about north Indian cuisine
  • Study dance, learn a musical instrument
  • Immerse in art and architecture at the Beatles Ashram
  • Luxuriate on the grounds of Parmath Niketan, home of the International Yoga Festival

Art

  • Visit local art shops and discover street art
  • Join artist Karen Arp-Sandel for creative collage, and journaling
  • Decorate your hands in beautiful Mehndi designs with a local henna artist
  • Engage in the art of travel photography
  • Volunteer with local children in art activities

Downtime

  • Enjoy time to chat and sip chai.
  • Schedule an ayurvedic doctor consultation and/or bodywork appointment
  • Sit in one of the restaurants and sample teas, lassis, and sattvic food
  • Take a more challenging hike with a guide or a river rafting trip
  • Explore and shop
  • Return to any site you long to revisit, such as the sunset Aarti ceremony

Janis & Karen at the Beatles Ashram.

Sunrise yoga at Anand Prakash Ashram.

At Ramana’s Garden, Karen teaches “collage art club” outdoors with the young girls.

A decorative Tuk Tuk is a reliable form of transportation in India.

The Pulse of Rishikesh tour 2017 at The Beatles Ashram.

Ganga Aarti at Parmarth Niketan.

Janis greets the Sunrise at Kunjapuri Temple.

Shiva at Haridwar, at the entrance to this holy city on the Ganga.

Janis and Bonnie enjoy Parmarth Niketan Ashram gardens, Rishikesh 2017.

Daily Itinerary 

Days 1-2: February 17-18

Upon arrival in Delhi, each guest is greeted and escorted by a driver who has been hand selected because he knows his way around the airport and city.  You collect your luggage and are delivered to a 5-star hotel to enjoy your transition into India. The next morning, you and other trip participants travel in a private vehicle to Rishikesh (about a 7.5 to 8-hour drive), where you are met by Janis and Karen at the Dewa Hotel & Spa,  a 4-star hotel with all the services you will need to feel safe and comfortable on your journey. 

Days 3-11: February 19-27

For the next 9 full days, we will explore the spiritual center of Rishikesh and the surrounding Himalayan mountains and Ganga River. The temperature range of 45-75 degrees Fahrenheit is not too hot, not too cold. We’ll sample several styles of yoga. Janis and Karen highly recommend one of the local teachers, Yogrishi Vishveketu. He is the internationally known founder of Anand Prakash Ashram just around the corner from our hotel. He teaches class at 6 a.m.

We are only a few minutes by foot from Ramana’s Garden Children’s Home. We will eat many lunches at their organic café, overlooking the Ganga River, listening to children in school and at play, as well joining in the evening prayers chanted by the children before bed.  We’ll be involved as much as their, and our schedule permits, serving the children and teachers there. 

A short walk into the center of our part of town, at Laxman Jhula, there are master teachers who hold gatherings or satsang, at Sachcha Dham Ashram.  Quick rickshaw (tuk-tuk) ride brings you to Swami Swatantranand Ashram, where morning satsangs are also offered. These satsang sessions bring people together with an enlightened person who answers questions. There is usually kirtan chanting with lively music performed by devotional musicians, and a spiritually stimulating exchange among sincere people such as you!  These sessions are designed to enliven the potential within all of us.  There are opportunities to sit in on these satsangs with Shanti Mayi, and Prem Baba throughout our time together.

As you can see, our adventures are designed to introduce you to the many layers of culture in Rishikesh.

Taking a magical tour of the 14-acre Beatles Ashram, also known as the Maharishi Ashram, reminds us of the historical role Rishikesh plays in world culture. This is where the Beatles stayed in the 1960s to study TM (transcendental meditation) with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The ashram recently reopened in 2015, as a historic architectural site. Our guided walking tour is the perfect pace for admiring the colorful wall murals by Pan Trinity Das and other artists, that pay homage to the Fab Four and their Guru.

From sunrise to sunset in Rishikesh, we seek the beauty of nature in many pilgrimage sites. On all of our travels, have your senses open for discovering art, shrines, animals, and so much more.  Rishikesh is full of surprises. Many visitors enjoy capturing these moments with their cameras. One of Karen’s daily practices is walking. Janis and Karen share their love of the natural world with the hikes and destination walks planned for this unique tour. The journey of a lifetime begins with a single step. Allow yourself to enter the portal of discovery with every step in Rishikesh.

Find the mystical pulse as we tour a variety of ancient temple sites. Watch the sun rise over the Himalayan mountains from Kunjapuri Temple’s spectacular viewing deck, or join us in surya namaskaras (sun salutations). 

Participating in the Aarti ceremony at Parmarth Niketan Ashram (the host of the International Yoga Festival in March), we join a devotional ritual that takes place every day at sunset on the banks of the Ganga River with a spectacular fire ceremony.

A day trip to Vashista Cave, introduces us to the sacred tradition of the holy beings who meditated in silence far from the distractions of society, like the ancient sage Vashishta. About a five-minute walk down-river from this cave is another cave known as the “Jesus cave.” Set in the side of a sheer cliff on the banks of the Ganga, the cave has a spectacular view of the river and the surrounding peaks of the Himalayas. It is said that the cave derived its name because Jesus spent time there during His sojourn in India called the “Lost Years.”

A special day trip will be offered to the city of Haridwar, one of the holiest pilgrimage places in India. Situated on the Ganga River, Haridwar is an active center of Hindu religion and mysticism, with many historic temples, a sunset Ganga Aarti ceremony and more. Unlike Rishikesh, which is full of spiritual travelers from all around the world, Haridwar is overflowing with spiritual travelers from all over India, so it will have a different feel and flavor. This is a great city for visiting the small shops and street vendors. You might prefer to see the city while riding in a bicycle-pedaled rickshaw. 

In her three years of exploring Rishikesh, Janis uncovered many rich adventures as they presented themselves. 

A volunteer at Ramana’s Garden Children’s Home for the last three winters, Janis has spent many hours with the children after school and on the weekends. We will be introduced to this unique and wonderful home for at-risk children in a way most visitors can only glimpse. 

One of the features of this trip is inspirational creative time with travel artist, Karen Arp-Sandel.

Karen will share with you the way she transforms the ordinary into extraordinary when discovering new places, people, and culture. During our scheduled “Collage, Chat and Chai” sessions, we will gather to make collage or journal pages, often using new and found papers from your day in Rishikesh. Bring your travel art kit, or assemble one in India from the materials available locally. Take time for the fun of spontaneous creativity in colorful India.

You are sure to be delighted with our spacious schedule allowing time for discovering nature, culture, and (if you like) shopping. We will sample the local cuisine, often eating family-style.  If you like, book an Ayurvedic consultation or sign up for traditional Indian Ayurvedic treatments and massages. There are local residents (some of them grew up in Ramana’s) that we will call on to guide us on a hike or a tour, or teach us cooking. Perhaps you fancy a henna session, classical Indian dance class, private yoga session, or music lesson—we know the best places and people to provide these.

We are in the capable and loving hands of RetreaTours (BJ and Lauren) who can arrange for any sort of help that you might need. You are welcome to have as much downtime as you want on our retreat, and to explore on your own. Sleeping in or going to bed early are choices you can make as you like.  Rishikesh is a safe, vegetarian, alcohol-free town full of spiritual visitors (as well as sacred cows and sadhus).  Everyone goes out of his or her way to treat you well.

Day 10: February 28

On our last day in Rishikesh, some of you will be transitioning back to Delhi to catch your airplane back to your home.  You are also welcome to extend your trip. If you decide you would like to continue to travel outside of Rishikesh, RetreaTours experts BJ and Lauren can offer assistance, referring you to their contacts in India (Delhi, Agra, and Amritsar, for example) as well as other countries like Nepal, Bhutan, and beyond.  We suggest that you schedule any add-on trips for after our time together, so you feel grounded. 

Please note also that the traffic and pollution in and around Delhi is an unfortunate reality that can not be avoided.  This is a drawback if you want to see the Taj Mahal (one of the new 7 Wonders of the World), which is south of Delhi in the city of Agra. Also, if you want to tour Mumbai or Delhi, you will be breathing air that is likely smoky and polluted, so we advise bringing a mask for your own comfort and health. The traffic can be slow and congested, around the clock.

One exciting option is to register for the International Yoga Festival (held March 1-7 for the last several years), staying at Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh.  A second option is also to stay in Rishikesh to continue to enjoy the nature, culture and spirit.  The satsangs with Prem Baba and Shanti Mayi usually continue until the second or third week in March each year.

Our Accommodation in Rishikesh

Our hotel in Rishikesh is perfectly located near to Lakshman Jhula, close to the the Ganges River, Ramana’s Children’s Home, local markets, and sites of interest. All rooms have ensuite bathrooms, air conditioners, hot water, and wifi access. There is a spa on site that offers numerous Ayurvedic and western treatments and massages. There are two restaurants on site and a swimming pool for those interested.

Going to the International Yoga Festival for the first time?

This journey is a wonderful way to acquaint yourself with Rishikesh and explore the area before the International Yoga Festival (IYF) taking place from March 1 to 7, 2018. We designed and scheduled this trip specifically as a perfect companion to the festival. Relaxing into the flow of Rishikesh early will allow you to go even deeper into your practice at the International Yoga Festival.

IYF has been taking place in Rishikesh since 1989, organized first by the Government of Uttar Pradesh, and then by the Government of Uttarakhand since 2001. Since 1999, Parmarth Niketan has been hosting this world renowned event which has grown to international acclaim and which grows in size year after year.

Registration for the 2018 IYF is now open at internationalyogafestival.org.

Extend your stay–let us help!

If you’d like to extend your journey before or after this retreat, we would be more than happy to help you plan your journey! We can advise you on hotels, flights, and itineraries, whether you want to arrive in India early or stay on afterward (or both!) We can also set you up for a tour of beautiful Bhutan, Nepal, or anywhere else in South or Southeast Asia.  For more intensive travel planning, we offer our retreat guests 50% off of our travel consulting services (normally a $300 value).

  • Side-trip to beautiful Bhutan: all-inclusive & fully guided (free consult service!)
  • Nepal (Kathmandu, Pokhara, and beyond)! (free consult service!)
  • Explore more of India–perhaps the Taj Mahal, Varanasi, or Amritsar
  • Anywhere else in South or Southeast Asia that your heart desires!

Please enjoy these video snippets taken by Janis in Rishikesh!

Please click the title of the desired tab to open it.

Price & Inclusions

We have extended the $2799 early bird price until October 8–save $400 when you sign up before September 30th! After October 9, the retreat fee is $2999.

If you prefer to have your own room, the single supplement is $499 and will be added to your last payment. (Click here to understand why this single supplement is necessary).

A $500 deposit holds your space, with the balance split between two more payments, 120 days and 60 days from the start of the trip. Please refer to the payment section for more specifics and your convenient payment options.

Price Includes:

  • All meals
  • All accommodation
  • Transportation between Delhi and Rishikesh and within Rishikesh.
  • Daily classes with Janis & Karen.
  • Site entrance fees

 

Price does not include:

  • International airfare (although we can and will be more than happy to help you decide on arrangements)
  • Indian visa fee ($~60; please refer to the FAQ on this page for more information about how to obtain an Indian visa)
  • Travel insurance (required; please see the “Travel Insurance” tab on this page for recommendations)

 

NOTE: 

  • There is a minimum of 6 guests that must sign up in order for this trip to take place. We will hold your deposit & payments until the minimum number of guests have signed up.  Please do not purchase any airfare until you get the go-ahead from us that we’ve reached our minimum number of participants.  
  • If the minimum number of guests have not signed up 3 months prior to the departure date, we’ll give you the option to transfer your reservation to another tour or fully refund your money.
About your Daily Practice

While we have a rough outline of what we’ll be doing, there’s room to tailor the agenda to meet your needs and desires as well as be in the moment, as opportunities arise. We will be hiking, chanting, practicing physical yoga, listening to spiritual gurus, dancing, enjoying delicious food and drinks. In addition to daily yoga every morning, we can enjoy guided yoga nidra sessions and restorative yoga.

We will spend time almost every day (and sometimes twice a day) at the Ramana’s Garden Children’s Home and Organic Cafe, as we enjoy their organic lunches and also the evening chanting with the children.

Suggested Packing List and Weather

First things first, we know what your burning question is: yes, you will be able to have laundry done and/or wash small things or undergarments by hand in your room!  

It’s important to understand the weather to really pack wisely! Rishikesh will be between 50° to 80°F, so layers are going to be your best friend.

Here is a suggested packing list, clothing first and accessories second.

Note: BJ and Lauren live out of their suitcases year round and they swear by packing cubes!  Rolling your clothes (instead of folding) and using packing cubes make packing a dream!

Clothing

Although more and more Indians are adopting Western wear, traditional clothing is very prevalent and modesty is the name of the game. In that spirit, please do not wear clothes that are tight, transparent or show too much skin, such tank tops or halter tops. We also discourage wearing form-fitting “skinny” jeans and shorts/skirts above the knee. Instead, we recommend wearing loose fitting clothing such as long skirts, pants, capri-length pants, and blouses or Indian kurtas.

  • 8+ pairs undergarments; you can always have them washed or wash them in your bathroom
  • 2-3 pair light cotton pants or long skirts.  You may want to bring leggings (2 or 3 pair) to wear under your long kurtas, tunics, skirts or pants on chilly mornings or evenings (again—it’s all about the layers!) BJ is a fan of nylon pants, as they are lightweight and easy to clean.
  • 4-5 cotton t-shirts, blouses, or long sleeve shirts.  You can always have laundry done at the hotels, but bring as many as will make you feel comfortable.
  • A jacket for chilly morning or evenings.
  • A hat to keep your head warm during chilly mornings and evenings
  • Bring a few pairs of socks. Light wool (like SmartWool) or tech socks work very well.
  • Sleeping clothes
  • Comfortable walking shoes, sneakers and/or hiking shoes. You can also bring comfortable slip-ons for use around the hotel and airplane, of course.
  • A pair of sandals or flip-flops, if you wish.  They’ll be convenient for around the hotels and local excursions (when you have to check your footwear at the door). Walking sandals (such as Teva’s or Chaco’s) would also work.
  • Sarongs are super handy for so many reasons (men and women). Makes for a good cover-up, eyeshade, pillow, scarf, napkin, tissue, etc. These will be readily available early in our travels.
  • A hat with a brim is a great idea for our daytime adventures.

Accessories

  • Ear plugs and eye shades to help you sleep better and recover from jet lag more quickly. BJ swears by this! Click here for more of our tips on preventing and dealing with jet lag. 
  • Good sunscreen. Lauren prefers mineral-based ones like Devita: good for you, good for the environment. How do you know if it’s mineral based? If the active ingredient is either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide—that’s it. They might be a little pricier initially, but a little goes a long way.
  • Daypack or camera bag. (If you need a recommendation on a camera, BJ would be happy to help, just email him. We can discuss what type of photography you like, how much you want to spend, and how much you want to lug around.)
  • If you do bring your camera, don’t forget extra batteries and/or your charging cord! You may want to think about an extra memory card, too.
  • Headlamp or flashlight for ease of movement after dark.
  • Toiletries. The hotel provides soap, shampoo, and conditioner, but bring your own if you prefer. Please note that you can buy products in Rishikesh at the Organic Store.
  • People tend to think they need to bring toilet paper to India—not true!  However, bringing a few packs of travel tissues isn’t a bad idea, to keep on you for public restrooms.
  • Wet wipes and/or hand sanitizer. Nothing replaces good ol’ hand-washing, but this will work in a pinch.
  • Ladies will want to bring any necessary feminine hygiene products with them.
  • Plug adaptor for electronics: Here’s a nice example of a great universal adapter and here’s one with USB ports, as well.
  • VERY IMPORTANT!  A print out of your RETURN airline ticket itinerary; you’ll need this to enter the airport to get home. You can also have it readily accessible on your phone (you may want to save it as a photo).
  • Photocopy of your passport and your visa, just in case you need them.
  • A small travel umbrella, if you wish; can work for rain (which we’re not expecting) OR as a parasol
  • Light rain shell. A raincoat can be an extra layer on top of a sweater or sweatshirt for cold early mornings, like our sunrise trip to the mountains.
  • Small notebook and pen for journaling purposes, if you desire!
  • Enough of any prescription drugs you need, as well as over-the-counter needs.  We recommend Imodium (anti-diarrheal), a probiotic (Lauren is a BIG fan of Jarrodophilus EPS), as well as melatonin and Benadryl for jet lag purposes.
  • We will have wifi at all of our hotels if you want to stay in touch via your smart phone or tablet. Don’t forget your chargers!
  • We encourage you to bring your smartphone or tablet, and please don’t forget your chargers! We recommend setting up Skype and, FaceTime can be handy for communicating with home. Janis and Karen will be using WhatsApp to communicate with each other and the group in India so please familiarize yourself with it before you leave home.
Contact RetreaTours

Please email [email protected] if you have any questions about this journey–we’d love to hear from you!

Payment Details

Please refer to the Price tab for specific information about price & what is included on your journey.

We accept payments via check (which we prefer) and credit card (via PayPal). For our international guests, we can accept wires, which we find is the most economical solution for everyone; please contact us for wire details.

  • Paying by Check: Checks can be made out to Insight Travels, LLC and sent to 8821 NW 14 Street, Pembroke Pines, FL 33024.
  • Paying by Credit Card or PayPal balance: You can pay with credit card or PayPal balance through the following the red buttons below.  Please click the appropriate amount to be taken to PayPal’s homepage to complete your transaction. All PayPal transactions must be in USD.  Note that you do not have to pay with your PayPal balance, but can pay with any debit or credit card.

Final installment due on December 19, 2017. We’ll provide you the amount and invoice via PayPal before the due date.

Click here to pay the $500 deposit by credit card (via PayPal)

Click here to pay the $1000 installment by credit card (via PayPal) [due October 20, 2017] 

Registration Questions and Contract

Please click here or the green button below to complete the registration questions and contract. Your spot is considered reserved when you have submitted your deposit and completed these questions.

Please click here to download to view and download PDF of the contract for your records.

Click here to access the registration questions

FAQ: information about your visa, vaccines, money, food & more

PASSPORT/VISA

  • What do I need to know about the visa?    

First and foremost, your passport MUST be valid at least 6 months beyond the end date of the trip (that is, August 27, 2018), and you’ll need two empty pages in the Visas section of your passport (make sure they are in the Visa section, not the Amendment or Endorsement section).  You will need to arrange an Indian visa before you arrive.

Please read this section carefully! On this itinerary, you will only be entering India once, making you eligible for a Visa on Arrival. (Please click here to make sure your country is eligible for a Visa on Arrival).  You can apply for a Visa on Arrival 4 to 120 days in advance of your arrival on this website. Please click here to read our blog about how to apply for this visa. 

If you plan on staying in India longer than 30 days, you can apply through Cox & Kings Global Services, but you must allow more time for this process (start at least 3 to 4 months before the start of the trip).

FOOD

  • I have special dietary needs—can I be accommodated?

Vegetarians should have no problem anywhere on our travels (in fact, Rishikesh is a meat-free city!)  The only thing that might prove difficult is veganism in India. Although meat is entirely avoidable, India is the world’s largest consumer of butter, and it is almost unavoidable in most of their curries, stews, and even breads. Many vegans that we have known to travel through India adopt what is locally referred to as a “pure veg” diet: no meat, no eggs, but it allows for dairy consumption.  (It is worth nothing that some of the reasons for avoiding dairy consumption in the west is slightly mitigated here, as there is less factory farming and antibiotic use in livestock.) Milk can be avoided by not consuming creamy dishes or milk tea.

Gluten is also avoidable in India by choosing rice over chapatis and other local breads. Celiactravel.com has GREAT printable cards in local languages to present to restaurants and hotels about your intolerance of gluten. Click here for the Hindi version.  If you have multiple dietary needs, it may be worth your while to check out these specialty cards, available in 60 different languages.

When you register for a trip, you will answer a set of questions, including a question about food allergies. We’ll take a look at your answers and let you know if we have any suggestions or concerns.

Note: Due to its holy nature, Rishikesh is a vegetarian town, although it is possible to get eggs. No alcohol can be consumed in Rishikesh.

Click here for our very own Indian Food Primer!

  • Can I drink the water?

In a word, No. Although many cities around the world are getting more advanced public water systems, we don’t recommend it.  Not only from a pathogen standpoint, but it’s a different set of bacteria than your body is used to. Why risk an upset stomach if you don’t have to? We recommend drinking only bottled water, and you will want to rinse your toothbrush off in bottled water.

HEALTH

  • What vaccines do I need?

None are required to enter India, but we suggest you work with your physician or your area’s travel health expert to decide what options are best for you.  You can read the CDC’s recommendations here and the Scottish NHS recommendations here.

  • What about malaria? 

Malaria is not a risk in Rishikesh, but again, we request that you work with your physician or travel doctor when making these choices. Please see our blog about this topic for more information.

  • What are the physical requirements for this trip?

Participants should be able to walk at least 1/2 mile at a time, unassisted.

There are 200 steps to climb to get to the Kunjapuri Temple at sunrise.  If this not possible for your body, or you’d like to skip the early hour departure, you are welcome to opt out of this or any other activity.

If you want more physical activity than we are scheduling, we can help you arrange that as well, such as a half day hike in the mountains.

  • Do I need travel insurance?

We require that our guests carry travel insurance because it just makes sense.  It’s a relatively small expense but affords huge peace of mind!  When choosing a travel insurance policy we require that you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We also recommend you take out trip cancellation insurance, as this may cover cancellation penalties in certain circumstances if you have to cancel your trip unexpectedly due to illness, injury or unforeseen circumstances. We like

We like World Nomads, but ultimately you have to choose the one that is right for you. If you’re 70 years old or older, you’ll need to use a different company. We’ll be asking for confirmation of your travel insurance 60 days before your departure. Please click here to get a quote. We love the services of these companies so much that we became affiliates, so we would ask that if you do choose to purchase these policies, you do it through our links.

MONEY

  • How much money should I bring?

That is entirely up to you and how much shopping you want to do in Rishikesh.  All of your meals and transportation is covered, so you just have to gauge how much you want to spend on extras, like shopping, massages, etc.

  • How do I get the local currency?

You can either exchange cash in India or use a local ATM (which we prefer). Just make sure you call your bank and credit card company to let them know you’ll be traveling in India, so they don’t put a hold on your card when they see it being used halfway across the world.

HOTELS

  • What kind of hotels will we be staying at?

In Rishikesh, we’ll be staying at a hotel on the east bank of the river, near to Lakshman Jhula. It is simple, comfortable, and clean, and has hot water, an attached bathroom with a western toilet, air conditioning, ceiling fan, and wifi.

  • Will I be able to charge my electronics (phone, iPad, etc)?

Yes, just be sure to bring along a 2-pin European style converter. Better yet, grab a Universal Travel Adaptor that can go with you anywhere in the world!

COMMUNICATION

  • How can my family get ahold of me in an emergency?

Before the trip begins we will give you a contact for our hotels, as well as Janis’s local India phone number. If you choose to bring your cellphone or tablet, you can use VoIP services such as Skype, WhatsApp, and FaceTime to connect with your loved ones at home, as well.

Janis and Karen will be using WhatsApp to communicate with each other and the group in India so please familiarize yourself with it before you leave home.

Travel Insurance

We require that our guests carry travel insurance because it just makes sense.  It’s a relatively small expense but affords huge peace of mind for very little cost. When choosing a travel insurance policy we require that you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We also recommend you take out trip cancellation insurance, as this may cover cancellation penalties in certain circumstances if you have to cancel your trip unexpectedly due to illness, injury or unforeseen circumstances.

We like World Nomads, but ultimately you have to choose the one that is right for you. If you’re 70 years old or older, you’ll need to use a different company (we can advise you if you like). We’ll be asking for confirmation of your travel insurance before your departure.

Travel Insurance. Simple & Flexible.

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    About Janis

    Janis Bowersox (Fatehjeet Kaur) has been practicing yoga on and off the mat for the last 22 years. Combining an MBA from Yale with her love of yoga, she opened a thriving yoga studio in her hometown in Connecticut. Janis founded Yoga for Everybody, in Fairfield, CT from 2004-2010. After selling her studio to one of her teachers, she became a life coach and co-authored the book, So You Want to Open a Yoga Studio (available on Amazon). Janis worked at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health for two years before retiring to teach yoga, travel, and volunteer. The mother of two grown and thriving children, she resides in the Berkshire mountains in Western Massachusetts.

    In 2015, she followed a calling to assist with the refugee crisis in Lesbos, Greece. She is returning to Greece to volunteer in June 2017. As a Kundalini yoga instructor, Janis finds her yoga practice helps her “keep up” with the challenges of these times. For the past three winters, Janis has traveled to India yearly to volunteer at Ramana’s Garden Children’s Home in Rishikesh. There she saw that the children who had not a toy had everything.

    People from around the world travel to Rishikesh to explore the nature, the culture, and to dive into yoga and other spiritual practices. Deeply moved by this amazing town on the Ganga River at the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains, Janis is uniquely qualified to guide you in and around Rishikesh. Her heartfelt desire is to share this transformational experience with those who are called to take the journey.

    About Karen

    Karen Arp-Sandel, BA, KYT, artist, educator, and spiritual activist, is the founder of the international Vibrant Visionary Collage Community. Karen awakens the transformational power of creativity by teaching art as a spiritual practice. Certified in Kripalu Yoga, with specialties in YogaEd, and Kripalu Yoga in Schools, Karen is passionate about the benefits of yoga on and off the mat. She embodies her dharma by envisioning art and yoga as an evolutionary path for finding joy.

    Coming back to India for a second experience, I look forward to the visuals and vitality of Rishikesh. It serves as a source of creative imagery that continues to ignite my imagination. For the past 9 years, I’ve been leading Vibrant Visionary Collage retreats at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. My participants, from all stages and walks of life, join me from Northeastern Canada, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and across the United States. Taking my leadership with Yoga and art retreats, on the road in Rishikesh, I invite our travelers to explore India with awakened eyes. I am delighted to be the guide for connecting the dots between what we see and creative self-expression on our journey.

    My outreach programs target at-risk populations (USA and international), by using the community collaboration model (Learning through Arts, Yoga in Schools, and Boys and Girls Club enrichment). I implement unique programs incorporating Yoga and Art. For example: In 2014, as Earth Symposium Faculty at The Darrow School in New Lebanon, NY, I presented mindfulness practices, Yoga and the art of making Peace Flags to HS students. Following this model, in 2015, at Sankofa Academy in Jamaica, BWI, I served as artist in residence for the whole elementary school. On our 2017 trip to Rishikesh, Janis facilitated my volunteer teaching at Ramana’s Garden Children’s Home. During our collaboration there I made a whole new circle of friends. I look forward to my return as a teaching volunteer in 2018.

    Learn more about me and visit my galleries at my website: KarenArpSandel.com.

    About BJ and Lauren of RetreaTours

    BJ & Lauren created RetreaTours in 2010 with one goal in mind: to make world travel accessible, authentic, and astounding.  In order to focus fully on this passion, they moved out of the U.S. in January 2013 to reside full-time overseas. Each day is spent exploring new destinations, strengthening local ties & relationships, and creating memorable and transformative retreats and tours (aka, RetreaTours!)

    BJ & Lauren at Georgetown, Penang muralBJ & Lauren take great pride in the itineraries they plan, as they can personally vouch for every hotel, every restaurant, and every activity that you will experience. They craft each element of the trip with intention, and they understand that it is this careful attention to detail that sets them apart.  Fueled by their passion, armed with know-how, and supported by knowledgeable local professionals in all of their destinations, BJ & Lauren set the scene for the vacation of a lifetime.

    The dynamic duo are available to answer any and all questions before the trip begins. From giving advice on the best flights and travel insurance to providing a packing list, FAQ, information about local food, and even a tiny “phrasebook,” BJ & Lauren pride themselves on these ‘nuts & bolts’ of personalized service.

    In addition, as a guest, you receive a 50% discount on travel consulting services (normally a $300 value) should you choose to extend your travels. As one of their most ‘frequent fliers’ put it recently, BJ & Lauren make everything easy for you. Once you arrive in your destination city, your trip is all-inclusive—your meals, transportation, lodging, site fees, donations, and tips are all taken care of.  The research has been done, the itinerary carefully laid out, the reservations made, the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted. All you have to do is show up and take in all your destination has to show you!  So….let’s get going!

    (Pictured above: BJ & Lauren play on an interactive street mural in Georgetown, Malaysia.)

    Photo Album

    Please click a photo to see an enlarged version; you can use your arrow keys or mouse to navigate within the album. All photos have been taken by BJ, Lauren, Janis & Karen during their Rishikesh travels.