Himalayan Institute - Manali Excursion

Join us on this journey to Manali and other sacred sites in the surrounding peaks and valleys of the Himachal Pradesh Himalayas.

Shrouded in mystery, this expanse of the Himalayas is the custodian of spirituality that gods and humans share and celebrate together. The presiding deity of the valley, Hidimba—a woman who, through her self-effort, arose as a goddess—is testimony that all of us have the potential to transcend our limitations and reclaim our divine nature in this lifetime. This is what the valley stands for. Manali and the surrounding peaks and valleys are the cornerstone of the Himalayan Tradition.

This is the home of the goddesses Chamunda, Vajreshwari, Chintapurni, Jwalamukhi, Shikari Devi, and Tripura Sundari, and the playground of the great masters Vashishta, Lomas, Markandeya, Vyasa, and Parashurama. Pilgrimage to this land means the pilgrimage to the 5,000-year-old Tradition and basking in the love, wisdom, protection, and guidance of these divinities and the Sages. These divinities and masters together form the living body of tantra, more precisely, the Sri Vidya Tradition of tantra.

Highlights

Dharamasala

Dharmasala

The excursion begins in Dharamasala, “house of dharma”, the seat of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. For untold ages, this place has been associated with Patanjali (known in the Tibetan tradition as Nagpa), as even today there stands a beautiful shrine locally known as Bhasuki Naga. In Dharamasala, you’ll experience a mini-Tibet as well as pollination of Indian and Tibetan cultures.

Mandi

Mandi

From Mandi we will visit two beautiful bodies of water—Rewalsar Lake and Prashar Lake. Like Lake Manasarovar in Tibet, Rewalsar is one of the most sacred lakes and is surrounded by Hindu, Sikh, and Buddhist shrines and monasteries. In the Tradition of the Himalayan Sages, this place is of special importance, for here, Padmasambhava received the blessings of Hayagriva and attained oneness with Vajravarahi. And this is where the Sage Lomas conquered old age, disease, and death. Sitting at 9,000ft, Prashar Lake is home to the Pagoda style Prashar Temple built in the 14th century in honor of the sage Prashar who meditated here. The emerald lake is surrounded by snow-capped peaks and green pastures.

Manali Valley

Manali

Manali is one of the most beautiful valleys in the Himalayas. According to legend, after the epic flood receded, this is where Manu and the seven sages envisioned how to reintroduce the human race and establish law and order for a sustainable civilization. Thus this valley came to be known as Manvalaya, the home of Manu or the home of humans, which later evolved into the word Manali. Even though this valley is replete with shrines and sacred sites, we’ll have the special privilege of visiting Hidimba and Tripura Sundari temples.

Key Shrines

Hidimba

Hidimba Temple

Hidimba is the queen goddess of this valley. She was of low birth, and yet through practice and unshakable resolve, she cultivated the qualities and powers coveted by great adepts; played a pivotal role in shaping humanity; and at death, joined the circle of celestial beings. No pilgrimage or act of spirituality in this valley is complete without paying homage to her.

Tripura Sundari

Tripura Sundari

All tantric practices are part of the infinitely vast vortex of Sri Vidya. Our pilgrimage ends as we connect ourselves with this sublime Divine Force and imbibe the energy we individually and collectively need to transcend pervasive fear and confusion ruling our world.

Vajreshwari

Vajreshwari Temple

Vajreshwari is one of the tantric goddesses respected equally in Indian and Tibetan spirituality, and resides in the inner kora of Sri Chakra. She is the goddess of lasting resolution, vitality, strength, and stamina—in brief, kriya shakti, the power of action.

We will also be visiting…
  • Chamunda Devi: Located at the bank of the Bana Ganga, this shrine houses one of the most vibrant forms of tantric goddesses, Chamunda. Here, the scripture Durga Saptashati and practice related to the Navarna mantra come to life provided we have cultivated enough sensitivity to feel it. This is the place where Nandi, the son of the sage Shilada, attained immortality and became Rudra Shiva. Experience the energy in the cave where Nandi became Shiva.
  • Chintapurni: Literally, Chintapurni means the fulfiller of desires, and is another name for Kameshvari. Like Vajreshwari, she resides in the inner kora of Sri Chakra. In our Tradition, this goddess is often worshipped as Chinnamasta and as such, she is an embodiment of boundless compassion, love, and forgiveness.
  • Jwalamukhi: Jwalamukhi is the fire goddess. This shrine consists of natural flames emerging from the ground, and the goddess is worshipped in these flames. On rare occasions, there are more than twelve flames, but most often, five to seven flames are visible. This is one of the most miraculous and powerful shrines in the western Himalayas, and for a long time, has been a stronghold of the sadhus of the Natha tradition.

Itinerary

March 5—16, 2018

Day 1, March 5 Dharamshala [6,831ft]: Arrive at Dharamshala airport and transfer as a group to hotel. Afternoon: Visit Bhagsu Nag temple and waterfall. Overnight at hotel in McLeod Ganj.
Day 2, March 6 Dharamshala: Morning: Visit the Dalai Lama Temple Complex. Afternoon: Chamunda Devi temple. Overnight at hotel in McLeod Ganj.
Day 3, March 7 Dharamshala: Morning: Visit Vajeshwari Temple. Afternoon: Packed lunch at Nagarkot Fort and continue onto Chintapurni Temple. Evening return to hotel for overnight stay.
Day 4, March 8 Dharamshala to Mandi [2,789 ft]: Depart from Dharamshala for Jwalamukhi Temple. Afternoon: Continue onto Mandi. Upon arrival, enjoy shopping and sightseeing in Mandi which is known for its handicrafts and silver jewelry. Overnight at hotel.
Day 5, March 9 Mandi: Morning: Short drive to reach Rewalsar Lake [4,462 ft], Lomas Rishi temple, and other surrounding shrines. Afternoon: Return to Mandi. Overnight at hotel.
Day 6, March 10 Mandi to Prashar Lake [8,957 ft]: Morning: Drive to Baggi Brige for the start of the trek to Prashar Lake (5-6 hours). Reach by mid-afternoon. Overnight camping in tents.
Day 7, March 11 Prashar Lake to Manali [6,26ft]: Morning: Trek from Prashar Lake to Baggi bridge (3-3/12 hours). Afternoon: Continue to Raghunath Temple in Kullu before reaching Manali. Overnight at hotel.
Day 8, March 12 Manali: Morning: Visit to Hidimba Temple and Museum of Himachal Culture and Folk Art. Afternoon: Visit to Manu Temple and Old Manali. Overnight at hotel.
Day 9, March 13 Manali: Morning: Short drive to start of Solang Valley trek (3—4 hours). Return to hotel by late afternoon. Overnight at hotel.
Day 10, March 14 Manali: Morning: Drive to Tripura Sundari Temple in Naggar. Afternoon: Visit Jamadagni Temple on return to Manali. Reach late afternoon. Overnight at hotel.
Day 11, March 15 Manali: Morning: Drive to Vashisth Temple and continue to Jogini waterfall trek (2—3 hours). Afternoon: Free-time in Manali. Evening: Farewell dinner. Overnight in hotel.
Day 12, March 16 Manali to Bhuntar Airport (Kullu): Morning: Depart for Bhuntar Airport. Depart on afternoon flights. Pilgrimage ends with drop-off at airport for afternoon flights.

*Dates, itinerary, and schedule are subject to change.

Registration Information

Rates

Regular Registration: closes October 31, 2017—$3,000
Late Registration: closes January 1, 2018—$3,250

$500 deposit holds your space

For more information or to make a balance payment:
Call: (800) 822-4547 x6
Email: excursions@himalayaninstitute.org

If mailing an application, send to:
Himalayan Institute Spiritual Excursions
Attn: Alat Shanti Tigunait
952 Bethany Turnpike
Honesdale, PA 18431 USA

Two ways to register

Online: Register online for your Abode of the Goddesses Pilgrimage. Complete the registration form below and make your payment (deposit or full) in order to save your space.

Register Online

Mail: Download the Tour Participant Agreement (“TPA”). Print, read, complete, sign. Mail your signed TPA with deposit or full payment.

Download TPA

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the nature of this excursion?

A: This excursion is a spiritual pilgrimage to the Himachal Pradesh Himalayas and includes travel to Dharamshala, Mandi, and Manali. This region of the Himalayas has a rich spiritual and cultural history and is home to the goddesses Chamunda, Vajreshwari, Chintapurni, Jwalamukhi, and Tripura Sundari and great masters Vashistha, Lomas, Markandaya, Vyasa, and Parashurama.

Q: What is the duration of this pilgrimage?

A: The pilgrimage is 11 days and 12 nights from March 5—16, 2018. The pilgrimage will begin with pick-up at the airport in Dharamshala on March 5 and end with drop-off at the airport in Manali on March 16.

Q: What are the main locations we will be visiting?

A: On this pilgrimage we will spend 3 nights in Dharamshala, 2 nights in Mandi, 1 night camping at Prashar Lake and 5 nights in Manali. From these locations we will travel to different points of interest and shrines including those dedicated to Chamunda Devi, Vajeshwari, Jwalamukhi, Lomas Rishi, Raghunath, Hidimba, Manu, Jamdagini, Vashistha, and Tripura Sundari.

Q: How much walking will be required? What is the difficulty level?

A: Treks will range from easy to moderate difficulty. The longest trek will be approximately 5—6 hours to reach Prashar Lake. Other treks will average 2—4 hours. Additionally, there will be short walks required to reach other key shrines.

Q: How can I prepare for this pilgrimage?

A: Physical fitness and overall good health are important elements for a spiritual excursion like this. If you haven’t already, we suggest that you begin a regular practice for conditioning your body. Aerobic exercise is especially helpful to prepare for trekking and high altitudes. One method is fast walking, building up to a steady pace on inclines, hilly terrain, or stairs, and increasing distance. *

The yogic breathing techniques (pranayama) of kapalabhati, bhastrika, and nadi shodhanam (alternate nostril breathing) are also good preparation, as is the practice of agni sara to energize the solar plexus and help sustain vitality. These practices are best done regularly, starting with a few repetitions and progressing gradually according to your capacity. If you don’t know these techniques, we recommend that you take a pranayama or hatha yoga class with a qualified instructor. Yoga International.com provides instructional articles and videos on some of these techniques, including contraindications, as do the books Path of Fire and Light, Vol. 1, by Swami Rama, and Science of Breath, by Swami Rama, Rudolph Ballentine, MD, and Alan Hymes, MD. These can be ordered through Himalayan Institute Press at 800-822- 4547, press 4, or online.

Q: What will the weather be like in early to mid-March in Dharamshala, Mandi, and Manali?

A: Weather and temperatures can change suddenly in the mountains. We will primarily be in the mid-elevations, which are less extreme in terms of weather conditions. Generally, in March, the days are sunny with daytime temperatures ranging from the mid-50s to low-70s (14°C–22°C), and evenings ranging from the low-40s to high-50s (6°C–14°C). Be prepared for a full range of temperatures and conditions, particularly when trekking to higher elevations and when camping.

Q: What is the highest altitude on the pilgrimage?

A: The highest altitude we will reach is 9,000ft at Prashar Lake.

*Consult with your physician before beginning this or any exercise program. If you experience any unusual discomfort, discontinue exercise and consult with your physician.

Q: How do I get to India?

A: From the United States: Many U.S. and international airlines offer flights to New Delhi, India. On the East Coast, a good number of flights depart from or connect at New York (JFK or EWR in Newark, NJ). Other major airports throughout the U.S. also offer flights to India. A number of flights stop in Europe where passengers change planes to a new flight number.
From other countries: Numerous flight options to/from Delhi from other countries around the globe are available. Depending on the departure city, many flights from Europe are non-stop to Delhi.

Q: Where can I stay for my overnight in Delhi?

A: There are a range of accommodations available in Delhi including airport lounges, airport hotels, and hotels in the city. Registered participants will receive a list of hotel options.

Q: How do I get from New Delhi to Dharamshala (Dharamshala-Kangra Airport)?

A: Non-stop flights between Delhi and Dharamshala are available. The flight is approximately 1 ½ hours. The group pick-up on March 5, 2018 will be from the Dharamshala-Kangra Airport on flights arriving between noon-1pm. Alternatively, overnight trains between Delhi and Pathankot (53 miles from Dharamshala) are available. From Pathankot you can take a taxi to reach Dharamshala. Note that transfers outside the main group pick-up from the Dharamshala-Kangra Airport at the designated time on March 5, 2018 are not included in the cost of the trip.

Q: How do I get from Manali (Kullu, Bhuntar Airport) to New Delhi?

Non-stop flights are available between Manali and New Delhi. The flight is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. The group drop-off at Kullu, Bhuntar Airport near Manali will be on March 16, 2018 for morning flights. Alternatively, you can also drive from Manali to Chandigarh (8-9 hours) and connect to Delhi or other popular cities in India by train. Note that the excursion rate only includes drop-off at the Kullu, Bhuntar Airport near Manali at the designed time on March 16, 2018.

Q: Do I need a passport and visa?

A: Passports and visas are required for travel to India. Passports must be valid for at least six (6) months after your return date from India. It is also recommended that you have at least 3 blank pages in the back of your passport. A valid passport must be submitted with the visa application and your passport must be signed where indicated.

Q: Where do I apply for my visa?

A: Cox & Kings Global Services Pvt. Limited is the only authorized service provider for the Embassy of India and its Consulates across the USA for visa support services. Note: According to the Consulate of India website, the Embassy of India and its Consulates in the USA do not recognize any other agency to provide visa services. Information on the process for obtaining an India visa can be found at the Cox & Kings website . Non-U.S. passport holders: check with your local India consulate for details and requirements for obtaining a visa.

Q: What immunizations do I need?

A: No immunizations are required for the areas we’re traveling to in India. You’re welcome to check the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization websites for their list of recommended vaccines. These vaccines are optional and the decision to get them is strictly a personal choice. We encourage you to discuss immunization with your health professional in order to make an informed decision based on your own personal preferences and health history.

Q: Are there any natural ways to enhance my health before going to India?

A: Himalayan Institute Chyawanprash is highly recommended in preparation for your pilgrimage to India, and anytime. Described in ancient Ayurvedic texts, Chyawanprash is a synergy of specifically selected herbs and fruits in a nutritive tonic. The principle herb Amla (Amalaki) is one of the world’s most concentrated naturally occurring sources of antioxidant Vitamin C. A spoonful a day of this 2,000 year old formula is a tasty way for people of all ages and constitutions to nourish mind and body, while supporting healthy immune function.* Take it regularly for several months before your departure to strengthen and build your immune system. Himalayan Institute Safe Travels is a specific blend of herbs we also suggest you take when traveling abroad or domestically.

Chyawanprash

se-faqs-health-chyawanprash

Purchase Here

Safe Travels

se-faqs-health-safetravels

Purchase Here

*The statements made here have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If taking any medication, consult with a healthcare practitioner before using this product. Do not use during pregnancy or lactation unless recommended by a healthcare practitioner. As with any herbal preparation, consider size, age, weight, constitution, and lifestyle as guidelines for use.

Q: Is the water safe to drink?

A: Bottled (mineral) water is recommended when staying in hotels in India and it can be purchased directly from the hotel or other local sources. Bottled or boiled and filtered water will be provided for the duration of the pilgrimage.

Q: What medicines should I bring with me?

A: If you are taking prescription medication, bring an adequate amount with you. Although some medicines are available in India, their supply and quality are not reliable. Bring homeopathic or herbal remedies or your choice. Consult in advance with your health practitioner regarding other medications and recommendations for known allergies, possible altitude sickness, diarrhea, or general stomach upsets.

Q: Where will we be staying?

A: Shared accommodations in Dharamshala, Mandi, and Manali will range from guesthouse to hotel rooms. Comfortable 3 to 4 season tents will be provided while camping in Prashar Lake. Private, single, accommodations are not available.

Q: What type of meals can I expect?

A: Freshly prepared vegetarian meals will be served throughout the trek. Inquire about special dietary needs including gluten-free and vegan options.

Q: Will I be able to do laundry?

A: It may be possible to do hand laundry on portions of the pilgrimage when there are stays of more than one night, and weather conditions are favorable for drying. Laundry service may also be available at hotels in Dharamshala and Manali for an additional charge.

Q: What do I need to bring?

A: For this trekking pilgrimage it is very important to be properly equipped with appropriate mountain gear.

The following items are essential:

  • Comfortable, waterproof hiking shoes
  • 2—3 activewear T-shirts
  • 1—2 long sleeve shirts
  • Thermal base layers (tops and bottoms)
  • 1 medium or heavyweight fleece jacket
  • Down jacket
  • Wind and waterproof layer with a hood
  • 2—3 trekking pants
  • Gloves
  • Warm hat
  • Thick wool hiking socks (4—5 pairs)
  • Lightweight travel or pack towel
  • Two 1-liter or one 2-liter water bottles or hydration pack
  • Sun hat
  • Sunglasses with UV protection
  • Walking stick / trekking poles
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Personal toiletries, including soap and shampoo
  • Wet wipes or a similar product
  • Prescription medicine, if required
  • Day pack with rainproof cover
  • Sleeping bag (rated to approximately 20° F); and compression sack for packing it

Other things to consider:

  • Waterproof liner for inside your duffel (or a large garbage bag)
  • Camp shoes (shoes you can slip in/out of at camp)
  • Rubber sandals
  • Rain poncho
  • Extra Zip lock or plastic bags
  • Camera and accessories
  • International converter kit for rechargeable items, or bring extra batteries
  • Plug adaptor
  • TSA luggage locks (locks keep zippers closed during handling and help prevent accidental opening)
  • Pocket knife (packed in checked baggage, not in carry-on)
  • Toilet paper and/or pocket tissues
  • Laundry soap (for hand laundry)
  • Earplugs
  • Energy drinks/electrolytes
  • Snack bars, trail snacks

*Duffle bag weight is limited to no more than 22 lbs/10kgs. This is especially important for trekking days when luggage will be carried by porter or mule. In order to avoid having to leave items behind, be sure to pack within the weight limit.

Q: What is the culture like and how should I dress?

A: Due to cultural customs in India, the tour organizer asks women to refrain from wearing shorts above knee length, tops with spaghetti straps, halter tops, tank tops, plunging necklines or backs, sleeveless tops, form-fitting clothing, and short skirts or miniskirts. Men are asked to refrain from wearing muscle shirts. On mountain trek days and when visiting temples, long pants are appropriate for women and men. For women, long loose skirts are an adaptive piece of western clothing. Leggings are recommended for underneath long skirts, particularly if temperatures are cooler.

Q: Where can I change money?

A: Change currency into Indian rupees before exiting the Customs area at the Delhi airport. Traveler’s checks are no longer widely accepted, therefore, plan to bring cash for exchange. State Bank of India, near the baggage claim area (across from carousel 14) and before the Customs exit, is recommended for currency exchange. Count your rupees before leaving the window and be sure you are given an encashment certificate for your transaction. Retain this encashment certificate to use for exchanging any excess rupees at the end of your travel.

Q: Will we have access to a phone or internet?

A: Phone connections and service in the mountainous areas is unreliable and generally poor. Phone connections in the city of Dehra Dun are stronger and generally more reliable. Several local telephone carriers are located in the international arrivals area of Terminal 3 at Indira Gandhi International Airport. Inquire about options and cost at Airtel or Idea upon arrival in India. Outside of Delhi, these services will likely be unreliable and not work. If you plan to use a local SIM card in your GSM mobile phone, have your local service provider unlock the phone before your departure for India. CDMA phones may require additional attention to avoid roaming charges with a local SIM card. Check details with your service provider.

Q: How do I register for this trip?

A: Register online or download and mail the Tour Participant Agreement (TPA) with your deposit or full payment.

Q: What if I need to cancel?

A: Requests for cancellation must be made in writing to the tour organizer. See the Tour Participant Agreement for complete terms and conditions and applicable cancellation charges.

Click for Registration Information

Pilgrimage Map

Pilgrimage Photo Journey

Contact

For more information or to make a balance payment:

Call (800) 822-4547 x6 or email excursions@himalayaninstitute.org