Read below about the destinations we will immerse ourselves in on our 12-day Vedic Adventure as we traverse southern India in November 2017.
Kerala has long been a home to aromatic spices such as black pepper and cardamom, Ayurvedic medicine and ancient Hindu spiritual practices. This sliver of a state on the southwest coast of India is sandwiched between the sparkling cerulean waters of the Arabian Sea with its endless sandy beaches to the west, and the Sahyadri Mountains to the east. Tropical rains have made this land fertile with lush evergreen forests, lakes, canals, tea plantations and jungles.
Hundreds of miles of canals, called backwaters, meander through the heart of Kerala forming the lifeline of its inhabitants – irrigating iridescent green rice fields, transporting people, livestock and supplies, and creating an ecosystem parallel to none other. The network includes five large lakes linked by canals, both manmade and natural, fed by 38 rivers, and extending out to virtually half the length of the state of Kerala.
At lower elevations to the west, Kerala’s native habitat consists of evergreen rainforests. In the highlands to the east, deciduous and semi-evergreen forests are prominent. The highlands are perfect for tea, coffee, rubber and spice plantations and wildlife reserves. The midland is made up of undulating hills and valleys. This area is rich with cashew, coconut, arecanut, tapioca, banana, rice, ginger, pepper, sugarcane and vegetable plantations.
Take in the beauty of one of Kerala’s most charming beach destinations, Kovalam, during this rejuvenating getaway. Watch the local fisherman cast their nets into the ocean waves, soak up the sunshine and breathtaking views of the Arabian Sea from the hilltop pool of your lovely hotel, and indulge in the freshest and most delicious local cuisine. Kovalam’s palm tree lined beaches and private coconut groves are a wonderful place to relax and reflect on your learnings during the retreat.
This spectacular temple is a sacred place of pilgrimage for Hindus the world over and one of the most famous temples in India. In Madurai, the Goddess Meenakshi is considered to be queen and the temple her home. The hallways and chambers are crowded from dawn to dusk, filled with pilgrims eager for darshan (sight) of the Goddess Meenakshi in the sanctum sanctorum. Pilgrims come offering prayers, to have wishes fulfilled, to atone for misdeeds or simply to offer their love to the Goddess for Her presence in their life. As you walk the hallways, meditate in a quiet corner or worship at one of the many shrines, you will experience as a felt-sense the devotion that has been poured into this hallowed sanctuary over millennia by the countless millions of pilgrims. The Hindu religion is alive in this temple and the emanation of Shakti (feminine energetic power) from the sacred sanctum sanctorum is a life-transforming experience in this divine citadel.
Tamil Nadu, the land of the Tamils, was dominated by the Dravidian culture for 2500 years. The cuisine is distinctly different from that of the north, and is based primarily on rice rather than wheat and an abundant use of coconut. With a largely vegetarian population like much of India, Tamil Nadu has a particularly elaborate vegetarian cuisine. The classic foods of Tamil Nadu center around rice and lentils. Famous throughout India, and, increasingly, in the rest of the world, idli and dosa are both made from a fermented batter of ground rice and lentils. For idli, the batter is steamed into small puffy disks while dosa batter is spread thinly on a griddle and cooked into a crispy pancake. Both dishes are traditionally eaten with coconut chutney and sambar, a thick soup of lentils, tamarind and vegetables.
A Tamil meal is traditionally served on a banana leaf, with each dish placed in a particular spot on the leaf and designed to be eaten in a certain order, with specific combinations of the dishes mixed together with the fingers. Before eating, a small portion of each food is set in the upper corner as an offering to God. Meals are taken seated on the floor and, traditionally, the host continuously replenishes any food that is finished until the diner folds his or her leaf in half. We will have many opportunities to explore this unique style of eating.
Our journey ends in Tamil Nadu’s capital, Chennai. Formerly known as Madras, this city is the fourth largest in India and the home to the massive Tamil film industry that churns out movies with machine gun speed. The city is vibrant and alive in every way. We check into the gorgeous ITC Grand Chola and celebrate our experiences and learnings before heading home.
This retreat is not for the faint-hearted, nor is it only for the fearless. It is for those seeking to discover themselves on a journey of personal transformation through a myriad of inner and outer experiences that last a lifetime. Isn’t it time you explored one of the world’s most gorgeous and ancient lands, and discovered yourself in a soul-stirring spiritual adventure? Your journey to self-discovery begins not when the universe says so but when you decide to start it. It is no accident that you have come across this. Join us on our Vedic Adventure for an experience of a lifetime.
If you are looking for a life-changing experience and to begin, establish and/or dive deeper into an Ayurvedic and yoga practice then this is the retreat for you!