Pilgrimage to India and Sri Lanka February 2015
A Journey in the Heart
“His mother treasured all these things in her heart.” (Luke 2:51 – NRSV)
Living is a journey, both a journey inwards and a journey outwards. The outer world into which we travel is partly made up of natural facts and forces and partly constructed by politics, culture, society, religion and individual behaviours. Dealing with this outer world is perhaps the most obvious part of the human journey. We cannot escape it!
We can, however, become forgetful of the inner world or simply take it for granted. In fact, it needs deliberate attention. How well we deal with that inner world bears directly on how well we deal with the outer world.
Our pilgrimage to India and Sri Lanka will be an encounter with other cultures and environments. We will leave our comfort zones that depend so much on what we can take for granted. This can be expected to provide the jolt to body, mind and spirit that can awaken us to new possibilities – not only there but also here.
The pilgrimage will then be as much a journey in the heart as it is a journey across sea and land. The latter evokes the former, the former makes the latter rich and life giving. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, will be our companion along the way.
India is a country to be experienced with the heart – a journey in the heart. It is not a destination, but an experience. It is a country you need to understand with your soul. It is a country that pulls at your heart strings; once experienced it will leave you wanting to return for more. Words cannot describe this 5000 year old civilisation; to quote a few, enchanting, mesmerising, intriguing, but also exasperating, chaotic, indiscernible. I will leave you to decide.
Our spiritual journey starts in Mumbai formerly known as Bombay. It comprises of seven islands, ceded to the Portuguese in 1534. The Portuguese never gave “Bom Baim” or “Good Harbour” much importance and left it in charge of the religious orders - the Franciscans and the Jesuits. We then switch the frenetic pace of city life for the peaceful setting of a 300 acre coffee plantation in the hill country of Coorg or Madikeri situated 867 metres above sea level. Here we will have plenty of time to reflect and commune with nature during the three days we spend at the Orange County Resort that has its own chapel, where needless to add many spiritual activities will take place. After an overnight stay in Bangalore, we will travel to Sacciadananda (Fr Bede Griffiths” Ashram) where spirituality will be taken to a different level during the four nights we spend in meditation and prayer.
Day 1 – 2 Feb. Arrival Mumbai
Met by Distant Frontiers Representative on arrival and transferred to the hotel. Overnight at Taj Landsend.
Day 2 – 3 Feb. Mumbai
Breakfast. Meet for introductions, overview and meditation. Personal time. Prior to dinner there will be a walk through a typical East Indian Catholic village.
Day 3 – 4 Feb. Mumbai
After breakfast, board a coach for a half day sightseeing tour of Mumbai that will end with lunch in the city. Overnight at Taj.
Day 4 – 5 Feb. Mumbai – Coorg via Mangalore.
Coorg is a nature lover’s haven. It is an ideal place to meditate and get in touch with the inner self. You can indulge in nature walks, bird watching – over 300 different species, or simply just choose a quiet spot near the lake to meditate.
Early breakfast, then leave by coach for Mumbai airport to check-in for your flight to Mangalore. On arrival in Mangalore, you will be driven by coach to Coorg, approximate journey of 3 hours. Overnight at Orange County Resort*. Dinner.
*All meals at Orange County included.
Day 5 – 6 Feb. Coorg
Breakfast. Coracle ride on river Cauvery. Coracles are local fishing craft that are circular and ideal for navigating these waters. Quiet spiritual time. Lunch/Dinner
Day 6 – 7 Feb. Coorg
The planned activity today is a visit to the Bylekuppe Tibetan Settlement. This is the second largest settlement outside Tibet complete with a Tibetan monastery that houses 7000 monks. Meditation. Lunch/Dinner
Day 7 – 8 Feb. Coorg – Bangalore 260 kms.
After breakfast we will leave by coach for Bangalore. It is a long journey of approximately 6-7 hours. This will be broken up by lunch along the way. Overnight at MovenPick Hotel. Dinner.
Day 8 – 9 Feb. Bangalore to Trichy via Chennai.
Breakfast. Leave for the Airport to board a flight for Chennai and then on to Trichy. On arrival at Trichy, we will be met by a coach and transferred to Shantivanam Ashram. Overnight ashram.
Day 9 – 10 Feb. Shantivanam.
Follow arranged program.
Day 10 – 11 Feb. Shantivanam
Day 11 – 12 Feb. Shantivanam
Day 12 – 13 Feb. Shantivanam. Trichy – Colombo
Leave after breakfast for Trichy airport for a flight to Colombo.
After the hustle and bustle of India step down a gear or two and enjoy this Isle of Serendipty (fortuitous happenstance). Our cultural discovery of this tropical isle takes us to the ancient kingdom of Anuradhapura - the original centre of Buddhism on the island, the rock cave temples of Dambulla with their impressive statues and cave paintings and the epicentre of Sri Lankan Buddhism today- Kandy and the temple of the Golden tooth. No visit to Sri Lanka would be complete without a close encounter with its playful pachyderms and a visit to the famous tea plantations that are enveloped in mists in the high country. Colombo, the capital, beckons at the end with its historic colonial past. The Portuguese, Dutch and finally the English all vied for supremacy of this strategically positioned island in the Indian Ocean.
Day 12 – 13 Feb. Airport – Pinnawala – Kandalama
Met on arrival by Aitken Spence airport representative. Proceed by coach to Kandalama, en route visiting the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. You will get a chance to observe elephants at close quarters. A snack will be provided at Pinnalanda restaurant. Overnight at Heritance Kandalama. Dinner
Day 13 – 14 Feb.
Breakfast. Board a coach to visit the Dambulla Rock Temple. This is a World Heritage Site built in the 1st century BC by King Walagambahu. It consists of 5 caves of painted walls and ceilings. There are 150 images of the Buddha, the most impressive being one of the Buddha carved out of rock. Meditation. Dinner. Overnight at Heritance Kandalama.
Day 14 – 15 Feb
After breakfast we will leave by coach for Anuradhapura. It was the first capital of ancient Ceylon and is home to two world heritage sites. We will see the Sri Maha Bodhi (Sacred Bo Tree) that is supposedly a sapling of the original Bo Tree under which Prince Siddhartha attained enlightenment. It is over 2200 years old. The other places of interest that we will be visiting are the Brazen Palace (2nd century BC) and Ruwanweliseya (2nd century BC) the most famous of all dagobas. The sightseeing will be followed by lunch at Palm Garden village in Anuradhpura. Dinner. Overnight in Kandalama.
Day 15 – 16 Feb
Breakfast. Leave for the hill city of Kandy. En route we will visit the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens located about 7 kms from Kandy. These gardens cover 147 acres and are noted for its orchid house. Dinner. Meditation. Overnight at Amaya Hills.
Day 16 – 17 Feb
Breakfast. Visit a tea plantation inclusive of lunch. Meditation before dinner. Overnight Hotel.
Day 17 – 18 Feb
Breakfast. Eucharist. (Ash Wednesday) Board the coach for a sightseeing tour of Kandy. Kandy was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings and is a World Heritage site. Return to the hotel and the rest of the day is free. Dinner. Overnight at Amaya Hills.
Day 18 – 19 Feb. Kandy - Colombo
Breakfast. Embark on a coach journey from Kandy to Colombo, approximately 3 hours. Leisure. Meet at 5.30pm for celebration of the Eucharist including time for personal sharing.(Ite missa est day). This will be followed by dinner. Overnight at the Galle Face Hotel.
Day 19 – 20 Feb
Breakfast. We will be checking out of the hotel after breakfast. Proceed on a walking tour of Colombo. This will be followed by a visit to a shopping centre for last minute shopping and lunch (not included). Around 4 pm we will return to a hotel near Colombo Airport – day room usage for about 5 hours. We will check out from the hotel around 10pm to embark on your return journey back to Australia.