This tour takes you to some of the most spiritually important places in North India. Be introduced to Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism at Rishikesh, Dharamsala, and Amritsar, and learn about ancient yoga and Ayurvedic traditions. Visit the classic and popular “Golden Triangle” of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur but from a different perspective by meeting local artisans, staying in village homestays, and engaging in other socially responsible tourism and business ventures.

Highlights

  • Roll out your yoga mat on the banks of the sacred Ganges River in Rishikesh
  • Explore Buddhism among the snow-capped Himalayas in Dharamsala
  • Be amazed by the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the holiest shrine in Sikhism
  • Experience the classic Golden Triangle from a sustainable tourism perspective

Overview

India is a fascinating and spiritual country, where a mix of religions blend. On this tour, you will get to the heart of three of India's most important religious traditions: Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism.

Start by touring the incredible metropolis of Delhi, before heading to Jaipur and Agra, all stops on the classic Golden Triangle tour. As well as visiting the beautiful historic monuments, you'll get the chance to enjoy some socially responsible activities, such as stay in a local homestay and stop at an elephant sanctuary.

Head up to Amritsar, home to the Golden Temple, an important Sikh center of worship. From there, drive into the foothills of the Himalayas and spend a few immersive days in a center of Tibetan Buddhism. Take a short day trek in the mountains, for fabulous views.

Travel by overnight train to Rishikesh, to enjoy several days of yoga, Ayurvedic medicine and massage along the banks of the River Ganga, before returning to Delhi.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Tour Delhi

Delhi

Delhi is one of the most historical and vibrant cities on earth, a city of contrasts that is now divided into two zones: Old Delhi, which mostly consists of Mughal-era buildings, and New Delhi, constructed by the British.

Take a walk through Old Delhi to visit Gandhi’s graveyard, located near the lively district of Chandni Chowk, which is famous for its gold and silver merchants. Later, visit the narrow streets of Nizamuddin, the Sufi area in Delhi. Here, you will be guided by local youth to uncover the traditions, monuments, flavors, and history of this vibrant neighborhood that juxtaposes old and new, upscale residences and ancient tombs. Travellers and pilgrims flock to the Nizamuddin Dargah, the saint’s tomb, to hear qawwalis, or Sufi devotional songs, eat kebabs, and shop in the lively market.

Day 2: Delhi to Jaipur

Women artisans in Jaipur

Drive to Jaipur in the morning, then visit a rural community outside of Jaipur to experience the daily lives of rural Rajasthanis. Visit a community led by Jaimala and Hitesh, who for more than ten years have worked with youth from Rajasthan and artisan women to develop an ethical fashion project. Visit the school and small initiatives that play a part in making the community more self-sufficient, such as a biogas plant and an organic farm.

Tonight will be spent at a homestay in the local community (although accommodation in the city can be arranged if that is preferred.)

Day 3: Craft lesson in Jaipur

Amber Fort, Jaipur

With the help of local artisan women, try your hand at block printing, one of the oldest printing techniques in India, and chat with the women about their lives.

In the afternoon there will be time to visit one of the amazing palaces or forts in Jaipur city, such as Amber Fort on the outskirts of town, or the spectacular City Palace.

Overnight stay in the community.

Day 4: Jaipur to Agra

The Taj Mahal, Agra

Travel to Agra, the home of one of the world's greatest romantic icons, the Taj Mahal. The best times to visit are sunrise and sunset, as the sun turns the white marble beautiful hues. Visit in the evening.

Day 5: Agra to Delhi, via an elephant center

Elephant rescue center, near Agra

Get up early to see a rooftop sunrise over the Taj Mahal, and enjoy some pool time at the hotel.

On the way back to Delhi, stop at a café run by acid attack survivors, where you can read, relax, and interact with the women entrepreneurs. Further en route, visit an elephant rescue center and even have a chance to walk with them and bathe them.

Day 6: Fly to Amritsar

The Golden Temple, Amritsar

Fly to Amritsar in the morning, the city that's home to the holiest shrine in Sikhism, the spectacular Golden Temple. Enjoy some peaceful time at this deeply spiritual place, where all are welcome.

In the evening, head to Wagah, a town on the India-Pakistan border where a military spectacle occurs every day as the border closes. India and Pakistan are intense rivals, and this ceremony epitomises this historical tensions.

Day 7: Head to the hills in Dharamsala

Dharamsala is home to the Tibetan government in exile

Leave the plains of Punjab and head to MacLeod Ganj/Dharamsala, which is known as little Tibet because it's the seat of the Tibetan government in exile and home to the Dalai Lama. Stay in a Tibetan Monastery and have free time on the day of arrival to take a walk around the beautiful valley and visit local crafts shops and Buddhist sites.

Day 8: Learn about Tibetan Buddhism in Dharamsala

Studying Tibetan Buddhism

Visit the Dalai Lama Temple and have the opportunity to accompany the Buddhist Monks in their daily activities, such as practicing deep meditation and debating Buddhist scriptures.

Day 9: Trek around Dharamsala

Trek to Triund in the Himalayas

Take a trek in the Himalayas, starting in McLeod Ganj and ending at Triund, at 2900m/9214ft. It is a beautiful walk through mixed forests of deodar and oak trees, as well as rhododendron plants (which flower in the spring). Triund is situated on a ridge with a beautiful view of the whole Kangra Valley on one side, and the Dhauladhar mountain range on the other.

Day 10: Dharamsala to Haridwar, via Pathankot

Drive to Haridwar, at the foot of the Himalayas, then take an overnight train to Rishikesh, a spiritual town on the banks of the River Ganga.

Day 11: Spirituality in Rishikesh

Ganga Aarti in Rishikesh

Arrive by train in Rishikesh in the morning, and settle in for a few days. In the evening, witness the daily Ganga Aarti, or worship ceremony dedicated to the River Ganga.

Day 12: Ayurveda in Rishikesh

Rishikesh

Experience traditional Ayurveda today, by receiving a lecture from an Ayurvedic doctor. Later, enjoy an Ayurvedic massage.

Day 13: Yoga in Rishikesh

Rishikesh

Rishikesh is known as the international capital of yoga, and you'll get the chance to practice some on the banks of the sacred Ganges. Later, learn the principles of Ayurvedic nutrition in a home-based cooking class.

Day 14: Rishikesh to Delhi

Day transfer to Delhi by train.