Celebrating Diversity and Co-Existence

Celebrating Diversity and Co-Existence
A Multi-faith Journey to India with Rabbi Frank Dabba Smith
2 – 16 March 2018

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Below the surface of its overwhelming physical sensations, India offers many forms of beauty and the possibility of witnessing and, for some, experiencing the deepest of spiritual engagements. When it comes to faith and established religion, India contains the heritages of seven of the nine major groupings in the world. Of course, there have been the inevitable conflicts but there is also an unrivalled historical legacy of many centuries of tolerance, sharing and mutual enrichment.

This journey to northern India will give a small group excellent opportunities to approach this extraordinary heritage of religious diversity and co-existence. We will experience the architecture, art, rituals, altruistic activities and meet the adherents. Our trip will also take in the natural beauty and experience cooking the cuisines. We will travel by various methods and, at all stages, the range of photographic possibilities will be superb.

A little about the group leader:

After working as a freelance photographer and teacher, Frank Dabba Smith trained to be a Liberal Rabbi and has served since 1997 at Mosaic Liberal Synagogue in London. His PhD dissertation is concerned with the behaviour of the renowned camera manufacturer Ernst Leitz of Wetzlar during the Holocaust. Publications include My Secret Camera and Elsie’s War, and solo photographic exhibitions include Leica Gallery (New York) and SAK-Art Museum (Denmark). Frank serves on the International Advisory Committee of EcoPeace-Middle East, as Vice-Chair of the Brent Multi-faith Forum, on the Independent Advisory Group of the Metropolitan Police in the London Borough of Brent and as a trustee to Berakah-Arts.

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Celebrating Diversity and Co-Existence
A Multi-faith Journey to India with Rabbi Frank Dabba Smith

London – Delhi – Mathura/Vrindavan – Agra – Amritsar – Dharamshala – Delhi – London

Itinerary:
DAY 1 – FRIDAY 2ND MARCH 2018: FLY LONDON TO DELHI

Meet at Heathrow Airport to board direct overnight flight to Delhi, with either British Airways, Jet Airways or Virgin Atlantic.

DAY 2 – SATURDAY 3RD MARCH 2018: WELCOME TO DELHI

Arrive at Delhi airport in the morning and transfer to Colonel’s Retreat. After freshening up we will head out for an afternoon walk around Old Delhi, Chandni Chowk and Jamia Masjid.

Group tours in India

Overnight in Colonel’s Retreat, New Delhi

DAY 3 – SUNDAY 4TH MARCH 2018: THREE RELIGIOUS SITES IN DELHI

Today we will explore India’s capital, focussing on three places of worship.

First we can either leave early for the English Sung Eucharist at 08.30 or we can go a little later in the morning. Here in the centre of New Delhi we will also catch glimpses of the President’s House, the Indian parliament buildings and the India Gate memorial.

After lunch we will go for a chat at Delhi’s only synagogue, Judah Hyam.

Enjoy the sunset at Humayun’s Tomb, the sandstone blueprint for the Taj Mahal, from where we will walk down narrow old alleyways to the Sufi shrine at Nizamuddin Dargah. If we are lucky we will get to hear the devotional Qawwali music and singing.

India group tours

Overnight in Colonel’s Retreat, New Delhi

DAY 4 – MONDAY 5TH MARCH 2018: DELHI TO MATHURA/VRINDAVAN

After breakfast we will drive out of Delhi (180km, 3 hours) to Vrindavan, near Mathura a holy city and birthplace of the Hindu god Krishna.  After checking in to the guesthouse for ISKCON – the International Society for Krishna Consciousness – we will go out to visit some of the many Hindu Temples around Mathura and Vrindavan.

Travel to India

Overnight in MVT Guest House, Vrindavan

DAY 5 – TUESDAY 6TH MARCH 2018: MOUNT GOVARDHAN PARIKRAMA OR NGO VISIT

Today there are a couple of options. Those interested in experiencing a nice long pilgrimage walk can opt in for the 20km circumambulation of the holy Mount Govardhan alongside other pilgrims. Those who are not quite up for a long walk can visit a local development organisation to learn about their work.

Overnight in MVT Guest House, Vrindavan

DAY 6 – WEDNESDAY 7TH MARCH 2018: AGRA & FATEHPUR SIKRI

This morning we will drive about an hour to Agra, for a guided tour of the Taj Mahal and a drink at the Sheroes Hangout, a café run by acid attack survivors.

Christian Pilgrimage to India

In the afternoon we will drive 45 minutes to the deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri, where the great Mughal Emperor Akbar held debates between Portuguese Catholics, Hindu priests, Buddhist monks and Muslim scholars way back in the 16th century.

Overnight in Grand Imperial

DAY 7 – THURSDAY 8TH MARCH 2018: OVERNIGHT TRAIN TO AMRITSAR

Morning at leisure to relax and enjoy the hotel grounds and pool. Afternoon transfer to Agra Cantt railway station to board overnight First Class sleeper train to Amritsar: Chattisgarh Express (18237) departing Agra at 16:30 and arriving at Amritsar the following morning at 08:10.

Overnight on train

DAY 8 – FRIDAY 9TH MARCH 2018: AMRITSAR & THE GOLDEN TEMPLE

At Amritsar we check into the pilgrimage guest house accommodation within the temple complex. We will spend much of the day in Golden Temple taking in the peace and sanctuary in the place, and helping in the kitchen to prepare free meals for the pilgrims – in addition to being a good deed, it’s a good lesson in Indian cookery.

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Later in the day we will head out to the poignant site of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre by the British in 1919, and on to the closing of the border ceremony at Wagah with displays from the Indian and Pakistani armies, before going back to the Golden Temple for the closing ceremony.

India group tours

Overnight in Golden Temple, Amritsar

DAY 9 – SATURDAY 10TH MARCH 2018: AMRITSAR

After a morning at leisure to rest, we will head out in the afternoon to meet with a local NGO or school to meet with the team and discuss their work. This evening we have another great food tour from 5pm to 9pm to discover Amritsar’s local eateries, famous fish and chicken recipes, and traditional ice cream.

Overnight in Golden Temple, Amritsar

DAY 10 – SUNDAY 11TH MARCH 2018: DRIVE AMRITSAR TO DHARAMSHALA

Today is a beautiful drive firstly through the agricultural heartland of the Punjab, and then climbing up into the foothills of the Himalayas.

India journey

Our destination is Dharamshala, home of the exiled Dalai Lama and a large community of Tibetan refugees. The distance of 200km will take about 5 or 6 hours.

After checking in, in the evening we will head out for another holy circumambulation – the kora path around the Dalai Lama’s residence, a walking practice sacred to Tibetan Buddhists.

Overnight in hotel Chonor House, Dharamshala

DAY 11 – MONDAY 12TH MARCH 2018: DHARAMSHALA

Today is mostly at leisure to relax after all the traveling, or wander the town of McLeod Ganj (upper Dharamshala) at your own pace. We will have lunch with a local Tibetan family.

Overnight in hotel Chonor House, Dharamshala

DAY 12 – TUESDAY 13TH MARCH 2018: DHARAMSHALA

Today is an exploration of Tibetan culture with a visit to the Dalai Lama’s monastery and main temple, the Tibetan Museum and a talk on Buddhism at Namgyal Monastery.

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Later we will drive out to the Norbulingka Institute, a centre dedicated to the preservation of traditional Tibetan arts and culture.

Overnight in hotel Chonor House, Dharamshala

DAY 13 – WEDNESDAY 14TH MARCH 2018: DHARAMSHALA

Day at leisure to explore Dharamshala at your own pace. For those who fancy a walk we will hike up the mountain trail to Magic View café – a total walk of about 4 hours there and back.

Overnight in hotel Chonor House, Dharamshala

DAY 14 – THURSDAY 15TH MARCH 2018: FLY DHARAMSHALA TO DELHI

Morning transfer to Dharamshala airport to board Air India flight AI-9814 from Dharamshala (12:50) to Delhi (14:30). On arrival at Delhi airport, transfer to nearby hotel Colonel’s Retreat “At the Airport”.

This evening we can go into Delhi for a final meal together.

Overnight at Colonel’s Retreat “At the Airport”.

DAY 15 –FRIDAY 16TH MARCH 2018: INTERNATIONAL DEPARTURE

Transfer from hotel to Delhi airport to board direct daytime flight to London with either British Airways, Jet Airways or Virgin Atlantic.

The cost per person sharing a twin or double room:
£2,465
Single room supplement:
£425
The cost includes:
  • Return international direct flight from Heathrow to Delhi in Economy Class.
  • Internal flight from Dharamsala to Delhi with Air India on day 14
  • Train tickets and reservations as per itinerary in First Class
  • 12 night’s accommodation in hotels as per itinerary, sharing twin or double room with en-suite facilities (Check-in is 1400 hrs and checkout 12 noon. Early check-in late checkouts are subject to availability)
  • Daily breakfast and dinner at all hotels.
  • All arrival/departure transfers, long drives and sightseeing by a chauffeur driven private air-conditioned coach.
  • Services of a local English-speaking representative for all arrival and departure transfers to assist you at the airports and railway station. 
  • Services of English speaking guides and local specialists during sightseeing as specified in the itinerary. Entrance fees to all monuments during sightseeing as specified in the itinerary
  • English speaking escort guide for the whole tour
  • Mineral water while travelling
  • Full ATOL bonding
The cost does not include:
  • Lunches, except day 11. (We will be stopping at clean and reasonably priced restaurants for lunch, and you can pay as you go for what you have). Dinner out on day 14
  • India visa fee. You can now apply for visa on arrival in India- please click here for more information. https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html
  • Any expenses of a personal nature like laundry, telephone calls, beverages, gratuities etc.
  • Camera fees at monuments and other places of interest.
  • Travel Insurance: It is essential to have adequate travel insurance in place before your departure. This should be appropriate for your age, health and destination you are visiting.
Please ensure:
  • It includes comprehensive medical and repatriation cover
  • It provides cover for your whole trip
  • It covers you for all activities
  • It covers all your pre-existing medical conditions
  • Keep your Policy Number and Insurer’s 24-hour Emergency Number handy with you

If you wish to book this tour, please compete the booking form, sign and e-mail it to us. A non-refundable deposit of £400.00 per person is needed at the time of booking. Balance payments will be due 8 weeks before departure. You can make the deposit payment by debit card or electronic transfers to our bank. Credit card payment will be charge at 2% extra. Our Bank details are on the booking form. Bookings are confirmed on first come first served basis. When the tour is full we will take about 5 additional names on the waiting list to replace their booking with any cancellations etc.

CONTACT US

To enquire or make a booking on this tour, please call: 020 8901 7630 Monday – Friday 9.30am – 5.30pm, Saturday 11am – 4pm

TESTIMONIALS:
“I cannot recommend this company enough. Safe to say India has got under our skin and into our hearts, and when we visit again we will definitely be booking with this company - if you are thinking of going I urge you to do the same.”- Gillian and Ashley Iredale
``The whole experience was great, the most relaxing day of the holiday was the cruise up the backwaters when the whole group experienced it together``- Margaret Fortune
``A whole variety of experiences- worship, culture, scenery, friendliness of the people & their hospitality``- Daphne Brindle
``Being in India and witnessing the faith that the people of India have, Hindus, Muslim or Christians, seeing with my own eyes the devotion the people have`` - Steve Breward
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