Group Trip: To the Source of the Ganga
During this trip you will hike through the impressive Himalayas for several days. To finally reach the source of the holy river Ganga. For million of hindus this is one of the most important pilgrimages in their lives, and every year hundreds of thousand people actually make this effort. But by the end of October the pilgrimage season has come to an end, and peace has returned to this holy land. Actually, this is the ultimate moment to make this trip yourself. Especially, because the days will be sunny and the sky will be blue, allowing you to see the majestic mountains around you.
From 26 October to 7 November 2014 (13 days)
€ 2,200 per person
This price includes:
✓ Return flight to Delhi
✓ Professional travel assistance by Eastward Travels
✓ Accommodation (double or twin rooms) + Breakfast
✓ English speaking guide during the hike along the Ganga
✓ Rent of tents, sleeping bags, cooking utensils etc. during the trekking
✓ All meals during the trekking
✓ All transport by comfortable minibus
✓ All excursions, as indicated in the program
This price does not include:
✓ All personal expenses, like phone bills, insurances, medical costs etc.
✓ Lunches and dinners
✓ Tips to drivers and hotel personnel
✓ Entrance fees and camera surcharges
Maximum 16 persons
26 October 2014
Brussels – Amsterdam – Delhi / Departure: 08h20 / Total travelling time: 10 hours and 15 minutes
7 November 2014
Delhi – Paris – Brussels / Departure: 03h10 / Total travelling time: 11 hours and 20 minutes
Group Trip: To the Source of the Ganga, Day by Day
Day 01: Arrival in Delhi Day 02: City tour Delhi Day 03: Delhi to Agra Day 04: Agra to Rishikesh Day 05: Rishikesh Day 06: Trekking to the source of the Ganga Day 07: Trekking to the source of the Ganga Day 08: Trekking to the source of the Ganga Day 09: Trekking to the source of the Ganga Day 10: Trekking to the source of the Ganga Day 11: Trekking naar de Bron van de Ganga Day 12: Haridwar Day 13: Haridwar to Delhi / Back Home
Group Trip: To the Source of the Ganga, in Detail
Day 01 (26 October) – From Europe to Delhi
After arrival at Delhi airport you will be transferred to your hotel. Overnight stay in Delhi.
Day 02 (27 October) – Delhi
There is so much to see in Delhi. Thousands of years of history from various reins are very difficult to catch in a day. But you will make an effort of course to see all those ancient monuments, museums, art galleries and temples. Be prepared for some real India action in the hustle and bustle of her capital.
In the evening you will have the chance to participate in a workshop Indian cooking.
Day 03 (28 October) – Delhi to Agra
After breakfast you will leave Delhi. Once out of the city, you will experience a completely different India. Cars, noise, people and pollution are rapidly losing ground to cows, villages, trees and hills. Just another face of India. Definitely you will encounter more in the coming days and weeks. You are on your way to Agra. The city of… the Taj Mahal. Yes, you know this building. You have seen it. And yes, you do know that this is a fantastic construction. Still, reality will surpass all your expectations. The Taj Mahal, arguably the most beautiful monument on the planet. Built by Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, it has been described as the most extravagant monument ever built for love.
Day 04 (29 October) – Agra to Rishikesh
You could (should) start the day with a visit of the Taj Mahal. In the morning, it is said, the Taj is even better than at other times of the day. Just check it out yourself. Then, it is time to leave Agra and to head in the direction of the Ganga!
Rishikesh, is known all over the world, as the place where the Beatles attended an advanced Transcendental Meditation. Their interest in TM changed the Western attitude towards Indian spirituality for good. In a way, one could say, the popularity of yoga in the west started in Rishikesh. Thanks to the Beatles and thanks to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
It is believed that meditation in Rishikesh brings you closer to attainment of moksha (reaching nirvana). During the evening worship, the pilgrims perform puja from the temples along the river. As a result the Ganga looks even more spectacular, thanks to the many divas (oil lamps) that are floating on the water.
Day 05 (30 October) – Rishikesh
Today is yoga day. Three different sessions, one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening will calm down your body and soul. For sure, the European thoughts and stress will disappear. In between the sessions you can study yoga, meditation and Hindu philosophy.
Day 06, Day 07, Day 08, Day 09, Day 10 and Day 11 (31 October to 5 November) – Trekking to the source of the Ganga
On day 6 you will start your pilgrimage to the source of the holy Ganga. Gangotri, as the source is named, is approximately 270 kilometres away from Rishikesh. So thank the Hindu deities that you do not need to walk all the way. You will go by bus, along a scenic Himalayan road, to Uttarkashi. But there will be a moment that the bus cannot continue, simply because the road ends. Then, it is time for your legs to do some work.
Every year thousands of pilgrims consider this the highlight of their life. Will you feel this as well? It might very well be. Physically it might be tempting. At the same time, mentally it will be nothing but rewarding. You do not have to be a follower of Hinduism to feel this. Serenity, holiness and spiritualism are in the thin air around you.
During this trekking you will spend the nights in a tent. But rest assured, it will be warm. Cosy even. And the guides, cooks and porters will definitely do their utmost to make you feel happy, proud and enlightened.
This trekking to the source of the Ganga is a moderated trek and is rated as a ‘level 2’ trekking (on a scale from 1 to 5, 1 being easy and 5 being extremely tough). A moderate trek is, rather unsurprisingly, more of a challenge to first time trekkers than an easy trek. You need to be in good health and reasonably fit, and you do exercises on a regular basis at home. A hiking day during a moderate trek can be a fairly easy medium-duration walk, or a harder but shorter walk. Some walking at higher altitude and the occasional longer or more difficult day may be involved, but generally conditions underfoot will be fair. A walking day would normally be between 5 to 8 hours long. Experience is not necessary.
Day 12 (6 November) – Haridwar
On Day 11 you will arrive in Haridwar, the trekking has come to an end! Haridwar, on the shores of the Ganga, is among the seven most sacred cities of India. Any day of the year devotees gather to bathe and worship at the Ganga. Especially in the evenings, this is a superb place to experience the colourful rituals of Hinduism. And a fantastic place to relax, enjoy a spa, massage, great Indian food, Ayurveda. All these brilliant things you have been dreaming of the last week while Climbing to the source of the Ganga. In the late evening of the 6th, you will head back to Delhi.
Day 13 (7 November) – From Delhi Back Home
Travel back to Delhi and then, from Delhi, back home.
At the end of an Indian day you will surely be pleased to be able to relax in a nice hotel and a comfortable room. Therefore, we are spending a lot of time and making serious efforts to find these places. From our point of view, it is of the utmost importance that the hotels do contribute to your overall India experience. Below you can find an overview of the hotels that we are using during this trip. Please, note that in case one or more of these hotels will not be available, we will offer a similar hotel.
Delhi: Hotel Ashok Country Agra: The Retreat Rishikesh: Yog Vashisht Haridwar: Gardenia Spa & Resort
Before starting your journey to India you are required to possess:
✓ An original passport of your country (with a validity of minimum 6 months after leaving India)
✓ A valid Indian visa.
Generally the following documents are required for obtaining Indian Visa. However, the requirement may vary from country to country.
✓ Original passport valid for at least 6 months
✓ Visa fee
✓ Two passport size photographs
✓ Supporting documents, where necessary
✓ Duly completed visa application form
The procedure for obtaining visa depends on your nationality and your country of residence. In some countries you should apply for a visa in person or by post at the Indian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. In other countries the application has been outsourced and is dealt with by an external organization. Due to these differences it is highly advisable to contact the Indian Representation in your country.
For a complete overview of the Indian Representations in the world you can click here: Indian Embassies and Consulates worldwide.
Fortunately, most travellers’ illnesses can be prevented with some common-sense behavior or treated with a well-stocked traveller’s medical kit. However, environmental issues like heat, cold and altitude can cause health problems. Hygiene is poor in some regions so food and water-borne diseases are common. Insect-borne diseases are present, especially in the tropical parts. Therefore, it is essential to be well prepared before travelling to India.
Before you go
✓ Compose your personal medical kit
✓ Check your health insurance
✓ Consult your government’s travel-health website
✓ Visit a specialized travel-clinic to be informed about recommended vaccinations
Medical care is hugely variable, especially beyond the big cities. Some cities now have clinics catering specifically to travellers and expatriates. These clinics are usually more expensive, but are worth utilizing, as they should offer a higher standard of care.
Self-treatment may be appropriate if your problem is minor (traveller’s diarrhea), you are carrying the relevant meditation and you cannot attend a recommended clinic. However, if you suspect you may potentially have a serious disease, especially malaria, do not waste time. Just travel to the nearest quality clinic.
Some golden prevention rules:
✓ Never drink tap water
✓ Check the seal when buying bottled water
✓ Avoid ice unless you know it has been made safely
✓ Be careful with fresh juices, especially in street stalls
✓ Eat freshly cooked food
✓ Peel all fruits and cook vegetables
✓ Follow the crowd, go there where the locals eat
✓ Give yourself a few days to get used to the local cuisine
India is so vast that climatic conditions in the far north have little relation to those of the extreme south. Generally speaking, the country has a three-season year – the hot, the wet (monsoon) and the cool. The most pleasant time to visit most of the country is during the cooler period of November to March. Though visiting the Himalayas during this period is normally too cold. This is more pleasant during the wet and the hot season (from April till October).
India is a wonderful place for children, however extra caution is needed in hot and crowded conditions. Pay particular attention to hygiene and be very cautious in traffic.
COSTS & MONEY
On the financial front, India pleases all pockets. Accommodation ranges from simple backpacker lodgings to luxurious palaces. Eating out in India is in any case great value for money. In some budget restaurants you can eat for less than a euro. While at the urban restaurants prices might start from around 4 euros.
ATMs are found in most urban centres across the country. Major currencies such as US dollars, British pounds and euros are easy to change throughout India. Credit cards are accepted at a growing number of shops, restaurants and hotels.
Internet cafes are widespread in India and connections are usually reasonably fast. It is advisable to save your messages regularly as power cuts can be common. In an ever-increasing number of hotels, restaurants and coffee shops Wi-fi access is available.
To avoid expensive roaming costs get hooked up to a local mobile-phone network. It is inexpensive and relatively straightforward. In most Indian towns you simply buy a prepaid mobile-phone kit (SIM card and phone number) from a phone shop or a grocery store. Thereafter, you must purchase new credits on that network, sold as scratch cards in shops and call centres. Note that SIM cards are state specific. They can be used in other states, but you pay for calls at roaming rates and you will be charged for incoming calls as well.
FOOD & DRINK
Indian food is different. Not only in taste but also in cooking methods. It reflects a perfect blend of various cultures and ages. Just like Indian culture, food in India has also been influenced by various civilizations.
Foods of India are well known for being spicy. And it is true, throughout India, spices are used generously. This is not only done to make the food tasty. But also because spices carry, in one or the other way, nutritional and medicinal properties.
North Indian Food
Kashmiri cuisine is strongly influenced by the Central Asian cuisine. In Kashmir, mostly all the dishes are accompanied with rice. In other northern states like Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh dishes are accompanied with chapattis and other types of bread. In this part of India you will come across meat-dominated Mughlai cuisine, which includes curries, kebabs and koftas. Tandoori meat dishes are another North Indian favourite. The name is derived from the clay oven, or tandoor, in which the marinated meat is cooked.
West Indian Food
rajasthan and Gujarat are the states that represent the dessert flavor of Indian food. Here an immense variety of dals and achars (pickles/preserves) is used. Simply to substitute the relative lack of fresh vegetables in these areas. In Maharashtra, the food is usually a mix between north and south. Here people use both rice and wheat. Along the coastline of Mumbai a wide variety of fish is available. Some of the delicious preparations include dishes like Bombay Prawn and Pomfret. In Goa you can notice the Portuguese influence in the cooking style as well as in the dishes. One of the most well known dishes of this region is the extremely spicy Vindaloo.
East Indian Food
In eastern India, the Bengali and Assamese styles of cooking are noticeable. The staple food of Bengalis is the combination of rice and fish. Bengalis really love eating varieties of fish. A special way of preparing is by wrapping it in a pumpkin leaf and then to cook it (this is known as ‘Hilsa’). Another unusual ingredient that is commonly used in the Bengali cooking is the ‘Bamboo Shoot’.
South Indian Food
In the south of India, people use a lot of spices and coconuts. As most of them have coastal kitchens fish is also widely available. To impart sourness to the dishes tamarind is frequently used in Tamil Nadu. In Andhra Pradesh cuisine chilies are excessively used. In Kerala, some of the delicious dishes are lamb stew, Malabar fried prawns, Idlis and Dosas. Another famous item of this region is the sweetened coconut milk.
Tea is a staple beverage throughout India; the finest varieties are grown in Darjeeling and Assam. It is generally prepared as masala chai, wherein the tea leaves are boiled in a mix of water, spices such as cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger, and large quantities of milk to create a thick, sweet, milky concoction. Different varieties and flavors of tea are prepared to suit different tastes all over the country.
Another popular beverage, coffee, is largely served in South India. One of the finest varieties of is grown around Mysore, Karnataka, and is marketed under the trade name ‘Mysore Nuggets’. Indian filter coffee, or kafee, is also especially popular in South India.
Lassi is a popular and traditional Punjabi yogurt-based drink. It is made by blending yogurt with water or milk and Indian spices.