Sacred Music and Dance of Rajasthan – Join us this February

Sacred Rajasthan

Music & Dance Tour of India

SACRED RAJASTHAN

11 night – A unique small group tour with

Sajida Ben-Tzur – Renowned classical Rajasthani Dancer and

Linda Eifer – Certified Yoga teacher with 25 years experience

Dates:

Feb 6, 2018 – Feb 17, 2018

Cost:

USD $2625.00 – (Does not include airfare)

Includes Daily Optional Yoga/Meditation Practice with Linda Eifer

Accommodation at Luxury Heritage Hotels (please see below)

Additional single room supplement: USD $650.00 

Supplemental Pre/Post main trip activities: Details upon request

Join our select group of adventurous travelers for this journey of a lifetime!

Our schedule:

Each day will be a new adventure! We will begin with optional yoga and meditation. We will then explore and experience rare musical encounters, exquisite classical dance, sacred Sufi, Jain and Hindu shrines, stunning landscapes, royal palaces, fortresses, temples, desert tribal parties and the colorful celebrations of Rajasthan.

India’s impressive landscapes are a glorious backdrop for this special excursion. The tour offers an intimate, unique introduction to India through its tribal musical and dance culture and the stunning people of the Rajasthan desert.

We will be staying in India’s famous Heritage Hotels

 

 

Most palaces and mansions of the royal families are now operating as luxury Heritage boutique hotels. These palatial residences of the Indian Maharajas have been transformed into Heritage Hotels with comfortable modern facilities, elegant luxury and warm of Indian hospitality.

Our Heritage Accommodations include:

  • Udaipur- 2 nights    
  • Jodhpur- 1 night    
  • Ossian- 1 night (Desert campout, luxury tent, not a Heritage Hotel!)
  • Jaisalmer – 2 nights
  • Jodhpur – 1 night
  • Pushkar – 3 nights 
  • Jaipur – 1 night    

Other included Costs:

  • AC Mini Coach/ AC Large Coach as per number of participants
  • Local English-speaking guide in Udaipur, Jodhpur and Jaipur, Jaisalmer
  • Entry fees to the monuments, Boat ride at Lake Pichola in Udaipur 
  • All sightseeing and excursions as per the itinerary
  • All currently applicable taxes

 

Lake Pichola

Cost NOT COVERED:

  • The tour does not cover any personal injuries, health related matters, personal travel insurance must be obtained independently by every participant.
  • Laundry, Visa fees if any, Domestic flights (please see optional, supplemental activities), Extras at the hotels, Tips and gratuities for guides/drivers

Supplemental Excursions with Linda Eifer

THESE PRE/POST DAYS WILL BE LESS STRUCTURED

Participants will arrange their own (recommended) accommodations.

Costs will be minimal – Transportation and lodging are not included

Linda will be happy to advise. Please contact her for details. 

 

 

RISHIKESH, YOGA CAPITAL OF INDIA

6 DAYS PRIOR TO THE SACRED RAJASTHAN TOUR

 

 

 

Linda invites you to join her for an optional six nights in Rishikesh prior to the main body of the trip. Rishikesh is a small town in the northern state of Uttarakhand and famous as the ‘Yoga Capital of India’. It is scenically located where the Ganges River comes down from the Himalayas.

Rishikesh catapulted to Western fame when the Beatles dropped by for a visit to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram. There, the Beatles wrote 18 songs for the White Album and 2 songs for Revolver.

The following excursions will be optional and paid for in Rishikesh.

 

  • Triveni Ghat, where daily, each morning and evening, thousands bathe in the Ganges and enjoy the Maha Aarti ritual.
  • Gita Bhavan. Place of Guru Shri Ram Sukh Daasji, (the great thinker of his time) where, twice a year, people gather to read the Ramayana. 
  • Pranayama (breathing) and meditation at the beautiful Swarg Ashram, at the foot of the Himalayas on the left bank of the Ganges. This is the spiritual “ground zero” of Rishikesh, filled with ashrams and temples known for healthful and satvic living. It is this spot where, for centuries, famous Yogis and Rishis have been doing  Tapasya.
  • Parmarth Niketan for the Pooja Aarti, one of the few Ashrams left in India where children study the Vedas.
  • Rajaji National Park on a Jeep Safari, famous for sightings of Asian Elephants, King Cobra, Tigers, and Himalayan Black bear.  It is also an opportunity to see over 315 species of birds.
  • Veena Maharaja Music school, performance by professional Indian Classical musicians

 

 

 

AGRA/TAJ MAHAL

3 DAYS POST SACRED RAJASTHAN TOUR

 

After Sacred Rajasthan, we will drive to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal, spend a few nights in Delhi, then fly home. You are welcome to join us in the most informal way. We will pay for tours on the pre and post trips as we choose and book them. I have a few hotels in mind and will share booking information as requested. You are free to choose your own hotels and meet up us with us if you’d prefer.

Check our Facebook Page – Sacred Rajasthan

 

Linda EIfer demonstrates Astavakrasana (Eight-Angle Pose)

Contact:

Please call or email Linda Eifer if you have any questions or to request  further information:

310 926-7404

simchayoga@gmail.com

Namaste

Linda Dubow Eifer

Certified Yoga Instructor

#23 Looking back on my India Trip

I came to India without expectations, partly because over the years, I heard such conflicting information—from the emotional toll to the physical difficulties. I read books on India, saw movies and documentaries. Before our trip, we welcomed, and gratefully listened to advice on food, water and shoes—and we got conflicting information. With all that, nothing prepared me for the first taxi ride to the hotel. I arrived alone and at rush hour. People on foot, bike, motorbike, tuk tuk, cars, trucks, vans, busses and later, ox-carts! By the time I left the country, at least I got the driving thing—just honk, go and keep moving, space will appear, don’t be polite, you’ll confuse everyone.

Ultimately, we made our own way, with endless help from Deepa, the owner of India Magic Tours, our guides, especially Freni and Ragesh, our drivers, and our guardian angel, Suresh.

I have never traveled like this before. I have backpacked, camped and stayed at the Pierre. I usually plan my own trips. (Last year I relied on Boby and he planned an amazing trip for us, (me, Boby and Gage) in Cambodia and Burma. I don’t like group tours, though I’ve been on many, and led even more.  I never thought I could afford a private tour. Thank goodness, Ronni knew better, and we managed an affordable (very) trip tailored to our specific desires and expectations. Magic India Tours was always making sure we were safe and accounted for. Every hotel knew we were arriving, and had been contacted by Magic India just prior to our arrival. Each driver had our itinerary and checked it against ours.

What I do know is that India not a place to visit once. We saw a small fraction of the country, and of that, we saw it under one set of conditions. I was grateful to travel with Ronni and Pinchas. We share many of the same interests and Ronni gained a shopping partner. When Ronni and I were stumped by our guide’s questions, Pinchas came through with a brilliant answer, or an even better question. I read aloud relevant stories of the dieties while we were driving to temples. Ronni kept us up to date on current Indian politics by reading aloud from the newspaper. Too often, my stories of the dieties and their troubles sounded exactly like the issues in the daily news.

By having long conversations with our guides and drivers, we learned something about attitudes toward local politics and politicians. There is a sometimes ruling Communist Party in Kerela. There is a less successful Communist Party in Tamunadil. The top Community Party politician in Tamudadil changed his name to Stalin. (That’s just stupid) The chief Minister of Tamunadil is a woman named Jayalalithaa. She added the final “a” to her name after consulting with her astrologist. Her name and picture is plastered all over Tamunadil. She supports and sponsors everything EVERYTHING that goes on in her state. She is lovingly referred to as Puratchi Thalaivi (revolutionary leader) or as Amma (mother). She is not to be confused with the Hindu spiritual leader and guru, Amma, who is revered as a saint by her followers and widely respected for her humanitarian activities. Amma’s face is posted all over Chennai (capital city of Tamunadil) as she is soon to appear there. You might have heard of her as the hugging guru. She has hugged over 32 million people.

With our guides and drivers, we talked about the intricacies of arranged marriages. We learned that the caste system is illegal, but in the Karola paper, there are ads for arranged marriages according to caste. All our drivers and most of our guides were in arranged marriages.  Even if they met their spouses on line, on their own, they come back and go through the proper “arranged marriage” steps.

I learned the extent of tolerance, especially from the Hindus we spoke with. (Unless you are left-handed…)

I learned that although I can’t drink the water, my hair loves it. Never been so soft…

I thought I only brought home pictures, but I just opened my suitcase, and it appears I brought home the smells of India as well…

I expected the country to be an explosion of color. It was.

I expected friendly people, and was blown away by the kindness, generosity, curiosity and frankness of most everyone we encountered.

I expected to get at least a little sick. I did not (I’m not counting my cold). I’m not over Indian food, but I might have to have a hamburger soon.

I love my new clothes, and though they might look a bit odd in LA, I’m not sure I care.

Our photographs are all over India; we posed with children, their parents and their grandparents. I stopped worrying about taking pictures of people when I realized people were taking far more pictures of us.

I’m sorry my family was not with me—all of them.

I thought of them every day. They would have loved it.

#22 Mahabalipuram and Chennai, India

Sunday

Suresh was waiting for us this morning, my last full day in India. We met Rebecca, our guide for the morning. She has a Christian name because she is 3rd generation Christian. We drove to the ruins by the shore in Mahabalipuram, and again found something different than anything we have previous seen. The town, leading to the historic site, is filled with granite stone cutters and carvers. Their yards are filled with deities and occasionally modern abstract sculptures.

The ruins date back to the 7th century and It is thought that the area served as a school. The different sculptures may have been examples of different styles of architecture, demonstrated by instructors and practiced on by students. There are mini-temples, elephants, carvings of deities and the stories that support them. According to our guide, much of the carving is unfinished as war interrupted the work and it was never resumed. One of the highlights is Arjuna’s Penance, a huge carving on the face of a granite rock depicting scenes from the Mahabharatha. Arjunaq and other figures are in yoga poses. Nearby, we saw a priest hand painting a Ganesh in a small shrine with turmeric paste. He was working with great care and reverence.

Near Arjuna’s Penance is a monstrous rock that sits perched on a grassy sloop, called Shiva’s ball of butter. The Sunami hit this part of India and there was a question of its stability. It hit hard and 10,000 lives were lost. When the water receded, everyone near the shore walked toward the sea to see this curious ocean behavior. I might have done the same. There are endless thatched hut villages, housing fisherman and their families along this coastline of the Bay of Bengal. The villages just disappeared.

We made one more stop before Chennai at an Indian cultural center. We enjoyed walking around and identifying the styles of homes we now recognized. Again, it was a place for locals and mostly Indian families were there.

Our hotel for the night, or in my case, a few hours, is the Footprint B&B in Chennai. We have 2 rooms of a 3 bedroom apartment. This time, the bathroom has a beautiful stone plate with oil, a candle, and incense. Lovely touch, no soap…. It is on a quiet residential street, and I love it even for this short time. Suresh picked me up and dropped me at the airport at 11PM. Check-in does not start until 1:45AM and the security guard at the airport did not want to let me in to the terminal. I think he relented when he saw tears in my eyes. The tears were actually for Suresh, but whatever works… I mistakenly assumed that if one gets to fly first class, one (me) should be able to go right to the Etihad lounge. Boy, was I wrong. So here I am writing my last bit about this trip. It is now 2:30am. I got to security about 2 and the officer asked me for proof of where I stayed in Chennai. Seems he does not know the Barefoot B&B. Of course, I had nothing. I fished around and found a card for my hotel in Allepey and for some reason that worked. Eith ad gave me a pass for the Air India Lounge. It is in the old part of the airport, has no wifi and I’m afraid to eat the food here. Looks like it’s been sitting forever. One more hour and I’ll be in my Etihad business seat to Abu Dabhi.

The first Etihad flight was nothing special, and when we got to Abu Dhabi we had to go through this insane crush of people and pass inspection again. Two minutes later, I was showering in the Etihad lounge, then got a foot massage in a private massage room, with scented water, scrubbing salts and lotions. The guy was great and it is just part of the services offered in the lounge.  I still have not really slept. They wanted to make me breakfast, but I had to leave for the next round of security and board my FRIST CLASS SEAT to JFK. So that is where I am now. I have pretty much my own room, with a door that closes, a chef and when I’m ready, they give me pjs and make my bed.

#21 Mahabalipuram, India

Friday we drove from Punducherry to Mahabalipuram. We checked in for two nights at the Ideal Resort. This place is truly a beach resort. There are hammocks between Palm trees, a pool large enough to swim laps, and a very international collection of guests. The gift shop is stellar as is the food. From Pondicherry on, we’ve been back to eating fish, fresh juices, fresh fruit and fresh vegetables. I think I drank 3 glasses of carrot juice today.

And while we are talking about food, the street fried potato ships in Chidambaram were memorable. It was a few days ago, and the temple was closed until 4PM so we walked around the city, taking pictures and enjoying the archecture and the people. The potato chips were an added bonus. The guy offered us each one and 20 rupees later, we had a bag of chips, sprinkled with hot red pepper powder. We also found a woman making masala chai near the entrance to the temple. We ordered three then sat while she made it in the traditional style. She served it in paper cups, then decided we were ready for the real deal and switched each one out to the metal cups everyone else uses. At this point, it was an “oh well”. Obviously, we are not drinking the water, but when we go to local restaurants, order bottles of water, then pour the contents into wet metal cups, I know we are getting just a little bit!

The other interesting incident involved a local woman who attached herself to Ronni. She stuck to Ronni’s side for about 15 minutes, talking nonstop. Ronni clearly gestured that there was no common language, but that did not seem to be a viable concept. The woman did ask, or gesture, what kind of car we drove, but then did not get that we did not have one. She might have wanted us to take her with us. It was a strange, and uncomfortable encounter.

Back to Mahabalipuram, I finally caught a cold, so I pretty much laid low, slept through lunch and dinner. Saturday, I sat out by the pool, caught up writing all of you guys, and watched the mostly French tourists. At breakfast and dinner there is an extensive buffet. Breakfast is always included, but we splurged tonight and got the buffet. I think it was $14.00!!! Every evening, there are three musicians playing classical ragas. We sat for a long time, enjoying the evening, the food and the music.