Come and share our passion for India with Ekno’s popular and knowledgeable insider guide, Vikas Kumar, as he takes you on two incredible journeys in 2019  – Inside Rajasthan and Hidden Gems of the Himalayas.

Those who know Vikas are forever touched by his deep love for his country; which is combined with a thorough knowledge of India’s people, culture, political landscape and everything else in between. As he is a true insider you will get to share in his world and his India, ensuring you are in for a rare and rewarding insiders experience.

 Inside Rajasthan

20 – 31 January 2019

A$2950 per person twin share

Includes attending the world renown Jaipur Literature Festival for two days as well as exploring this famous ‘Pink City’. Other highlights of this bespoke tour include:

  • Exploring the colourful chaos of Old Delhi,
  • Marvelling at the majestic Taj Mahal and Red fort in Agra,
  • Wandering through the holy lakeside town of Pushkar and exploring your inner hippy,
  • Enjoying the stunning views from the Mehrangarh Fort in the blue city of Jodhpur,
  • Bespoke Indian experiences such as elephant and camel rides, yoga lessons and Rajasthani cooking classes

Visit itinerary

Hidden Gems of the Himalayas

15 – 26 April 2019

A$2750 per person twin share

Features two of the most spectacular Hill Stations of Northern India, Shimla and Dharamsala. You will experience hidden gems such as exploring old Raj houses, staying at working tea estate, cooking your own lunch with a local Gaddi sheppher family, circumbulating the Dalai Lama’s residence and so much more. Other highlights of this once in a lifetime tour include:

  • Enjoying the many sights and wonders of Delh,
  • Traveling to Shimla on the world famous ‘toy train’,
  • Visiting the heritage village of Pragpur and staying in a palatial country manor,
  • Hiking in the foothills of the Himalayas,
  • Experiencing a visit to the stunning Golden Temple, Sikhism holiest shrine, in Amritsar

Visit itinerary

As with all Ekno experiences, we select our hotels and locations with an eye on combining luxury and comfort into one fabulous experience. With Vikas as your guide you will not only discover hidden experiences unique to India, but you can also relax safe in the knowledge that your security is foremost in our minds. But don’t just take our word for it, see what some of our satisfied clients have had to say about Vikas:

‘Vikas is a remarkable tour guide. Well organised, fun and with such an inspirational life story! It was great to have him interpret and explain situations, history and culture. I can’t actually speak highly enough of him – one gem of a tour guide.’ Rosalyn Johnson, New Zealand

‘Local guide Vikas was a brilliant choice, always open to chat about India and arrange some extra wishes. He was tireless, always living the slogan – “In India, everything is possible!” It was just an amazing, brilliant, fantastic journey every hour of the way. I really fell in love with the country and I can’t wait to return!’ Mario Becker, Switzerland

 

 

 

As a traveler all my adult life, I have realized there are many different stages of travel in ones’ life.  It all started with school trips (travelling with big groups of fellow students) then starting to travel to safe destinations ie in Australia and New Zealand, either by yourself or with a friend.  The next big adventure was to head off to work in the UK then backpacking around Europe, Africa and Asia with a tried and tested formula of a backpack, not much money, a Lonely Planet and a good dose of spirit for anything that came along.

By then, you had the travel bug so travel was a necessity for life so I spent my working life, saving up to keep travelling in between part time study or renovating houses.  By then I would travel with friends, walking or doing something adventurous in Nepal, New Zealand, Canada, Africa and other parts of Australia.  The accommodation would usually be a tent or huts in the wilderness and hire cars or buses.  My forties and half of my fifties were spent in this way so pretty much for 30 years I did the same sort of travel.

However hitting my late fifties and early sixties, things have dramatically changed.  I need comfort and safety, both in equal doses.  I particularly need a comfortable bed, one that just isn’t a slab of form on a wooden bed but one with decent springs and thick top.  Long car, train and bus travel has been replaced by air travel and safety has become a priority.  I want to have the surety that I am safe wherever I travel.  The security of travel knowing that there is someone looking out for you, particularly in India.  From being met at the airport (particularly in Delhi) where the chaos begins as you leave the airport doors, through to getting into the car to take you to your hotel, the experience intensifies. Having lived in  India for 13 years and have travelled far and wide either on my own, leading groups or with a couple of friends then safety is always high on my needs list.  As one of my friends recently said ‘India never turns off’.

Keeping this in mind we at Ekno Travels are experts at providing custom made, safe travels (particularly for women).We understand safety, security and the need to be independent also, so if want to travel independently, pick one of our itineraries or customise one of our trips by adding or removing as many elements as you like.

As an alternative you can also start with a blank page and we will assist you in designing your own fully customised itinerary. You can travel with one of our guides or have one of our local guides at your chosen destination show you around. Our office has your back…being in touch with your driver and guide and of course you.    Talk to us at tour@eknotravels.com.au so we can give you some expert advice on where you want to go, what you want to see and when you want to do it. India will be an incredible experience.

The Dalai Lama’s teachings in Dharamsala are up there on one of the all time experiences to put on your bucket list.

It has a famous person at centre stage – the Dalai Lama, all the pomp and ceremony of an ancient culture, lots of Tibetans from the Amlas (mothers, grandmothers) and their children and grandchildren in their long, silk brocade tunic with a matching (or not) blouse underneath.  The men are also there in their traditional extraordinary, long armed coats covering their trendy jeans.   All this is decorated with silver amulets, coral and turquoise beads.  It is interesting mixture of the traditional versus modernity of jeans, t-shirts and American sports shoes.

The teachings which are on Buddhist Philosophy can be difficult to understand.  The Dalai Lama is a very skilled teacher who has spent a lifetime absorbed in this ancient Philosophy, cuts through it all, and gives very practical advice on how to use it in everyday life.  He has the uncanny ability to tell us when we need and feel as though he is talking to us directly.  With his deep, powerful voice the words that are delivered cut deep into your heart and soul.

The audience for the teachings is a mixture of cultures, ages and races.   From the local Tibetans to people who have travelled far and wide to be in the Dharamsala temple grounds it is an eclectic mix who all come for one common purpose, to get a glimpse to the Dalai Lama and to hear his words.

The teachings happen in his temple grounds.  There are no chairs (you have to bring your own) and the teachings are in Tibetan with the language of your choice through an FM radio.  As it is in an open space, the teachings can happen in all kinds of weather; it can be either freezing cold or blistering hot.  It is also a huge, cultural experience.  Tibetans treat it as a special occasion and dress up for it and sit, listen and socialize in the breaks.   The kids run around as if they are at a picnic.

The Dalai Lama comes and goes to his house in the same way, through the gates at the end of the temple.  If you are cheeky enough, you can manaevour your way to the front and get up close and personal with him (surrounded by his body guards though).  It can be a very moving experience particularly making eye contact and having him stop to talk to you and your neighbours.

We, at Ekno Travels are locals of Dharamsala, so we have put together 2 itineraries to coincide with the 2018 teachings in 4-7 September, 3-6 October 2018 See itinerary here.   Hope you can join us.

 

Katie, Cam, Jason, Sharyn, Sonia and Chris are six friends who met up over the Christmas period last year and decided to achieve 2 things – to hike the iconic Great Ocean Walk and to lose weight. Aged from their mid to late 40’s they set out to achieve these twin goals with determination and motivation as they knew there would be a huge reward at the finish line. Through a variety of diets and a pretty solid regime of walking every day for training, they have now achieved both of these goals.

Between the six of them they lost a staggering 64 kgs, an average of just over 10 kgs each. This in itself is a huge life changing achievement. They felt energised, empowered and above all inspired to take on one of Australia’s great natural wonders.

The friends were now ready to tackle to Great Ocean Road and chose to do so with the added comfort of one of our fixed group departures. This meant that all of the hard work of organising transport, accommodation and catering was taken care of before they had even set foot on the trail. They knew that after a hard yet rewarding day of walking they would be able to return to the comfort of their holiday home where they had comfy beds, hot showers, fully catered meals and a roaring fireplace waiting for them. Throw in a few optional extras like a glass of wine and a massage and they were set to have a truly memorable experience.

The friends not only walked the Great Ocean Walk with ease but went on to hike an impressive 74kms in 3 days. With their already increased fitness levels and a strong determination to complete their mission the group had a wonderful time taking in the many sights and delights along the way. Group leader Sharon Thrupp was on hand to offer support and motivation, and local expert guide Alan provided his unique insider knowledge as the team explored the majestic coastline.

Well done team! What a huge effort. According to Katie, they are already planning their next adventure – both to keep the weight off and to have another truly memorable experience.

If you are feeling inspired, why not set your own weight loss and exercise goals? You may surprise yourself and then be able to take the next step … a walking holiday to test the new you! You can gfet your own private group together or join on of our organised groups for the Great Ocean Walks here

Pushkar Camel Fair Tour 

15 – 23 November 2018
A$1900 per person twin share – A$1750 if you book by end of June

Pushkar-Camel-Fair-2018-2If there is one thing that India does well, it is knowing how to throw great parties and festivals. Festivals in India are a mecca of bright colour, rich culture and unique spiritual traditions. One festival has all of that as well as an added bonus – camels!
The Pushkar Camel Fair is held each November on the full moon and is one of India’s most highly-rated travel experience. This is truly a spectacle on an epic scale, attracting over 200,000 people along with thousands of camels, horses and cattle. Why not take this once in a lifetime opportunity to witness the all the sights, sounds and carnival atmosphere of one of the last great traditional melas (festivals) in the world?
Pushkar is situated only an hour away from Jaipur, the capital city of the desert state of Rajasthan. It is also a deeply spiritual town, with the only temple in India dedicated to the Hindu god Brahma. This tour will also visit India’s famed ‘golden triangle’ which includes a visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra as well as the pink city of Jaipur.
Our Pushkar Camel Fair tour brings together some of the most culturally significant sites in India for one spectacular nine day holiday. For those eager to explore North India’s diverse heritage and culture, this is the adventure for you. Come as part of a group or travel on your own with our help if you wish. Treat yourself to something very different, you won’t be disappointed.
Tour Highlights:
  • Wonders of Delhi
  • Magnificent Taj Mahal in Agra
  • Once in a lifetime opportunity to witness the colour, spectacle and carnival atmosphere at India’s greatest tribal gathering
  • Holy lakeside town of Pushkar
  • Colourful bazaars of the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur
  • Unexpected beauty and charm of the Amber Fort in Jaipur

The Kumano Kodo, or Kumano Ancient Trail, is a pilgrimage route to Kumano, part of the mountainous Kii Peninsula which stretches south from the Kansai cities of Osaka, Nara and Kyoto. The well-maintained trail threads its way through deep valleys, mountains and small villages to offer a wonderfully-varied hike over four days. Stay at comfortable family-run inns with excellent food, soak in natural hot springs, and visit the shrines along the way. The pilgrimage routes to the three great Kumano Shrines – Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Nachi Taisha, and Hayatama Taisha – were popularized during and after the Heian Period (794-1185), when the Imperial family and nobility began to seek salvation in sangaku shinko (a belief in the supernatural power of mountains), rather than through common religious practices.

For  a true insiders experience, join us led by Buddhist monk Venerable Kartson (Yaki Platt) and Ekno Travels founder Sharon Thrupp. This once in a life time tour will include walking the ancient trail,  a temple stay at Mt Koya and visits to the culturally significant cities of Nara and Kyoto.
We will depart Brisbane and arrive together in Osaka before heading for Nara (the first permanent capital of Japan), full of historic treasures and wonders – including some of Japan’s oldest and largest temples.
Next is Mt Koya which is home to an active monastic centre founded twelve centuries ago as well as being the headquarters of the Shingon Buddhist sect. Situated on a small plain at the top of Mount Koya, the Monastery is a deeply spiritual complex of temples, halls and pagodas. Surrounded by a thick forest of massive cedars, it is a serene place for reflection and contemplation. There is also a women’s pilgrimage circuit which you may wish to complete during your stay.

Next we travel to historical Kyoto, full of shrines and temples, followed by walking the ancient pilgrimage trail of Kumano Kodo at the most stunning time of year with the autumn leaves in full colour.

Our walk is very flexible with several shortcut options. Without the short-cuts we will walk 54km over four days, however with two insider guides supporting the group you will not be alone, whichever option you choose to take. The walk can be strenuous at times, but you will have the luxury of only carrying a day-pack each day.

A must for Buddhists and non Buddhists alike.  Full itinerary

https://eknotravels.com/tours/pilgrimage-to-japan/

 

 

Why go for a group?

Jump the queues — often tour groups have tickets pre-arranged to major or busy attractions meaning you don’t have to wait in crazy, boring long lines to get into an attraction.

Everything’s done for you — it’s all organised on your behalf, including how you get there, what you see and where you stay. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

It’s super social — if you’re on a multi-week tour you get to know your other travelers.

Local expert — most tour groups provide you with a host or guide knowledgeable about the area you’re travelling in/to.

It’s all inclusive! Once you’ve paid your fee for the group tour, all you’ll really need is spending money (note: look to what meals are included as sometimes not every meal is covered in the fee).

Skill up — choose a tour group that has some kind of ‘learning’ aspect involved (like cooking school, a local craft workshop etc).

Big and small — there’s SO many group tour providers to choose from and you can go as big or as small as you want (check out the “tour capacity” to see how many you’ll be travelling with).

You don’t need to group it the entire way — consider something like adding a small five day group tour in the middle of a trip.

What are the pitfalls of group travel?

Follow the flag — a big downside to being a part of a group is that you’re a member of a really conspicuous pack, so you don’t blend in and can be a target of pesky street vendors.

Odd man out — group tours can be a bit like travel Survivor if you don’t like you’re fellow travellers you may want to have yourself voted off the bus stat!

Everything’s done for you — the downside to having things organised for you is that the choice of where to eat and stay is taken away from you.

I want OUT! Group tours do offer some free time but you’re on a schedule, so this will be the first thing to get cut if there’s a scheduling issue.

 5 golden rules for group travel

Check the total capacity of the tour so you know if you’re joining a big beast or a petite bunch.

Read up on the itinerary — make sure you’re covering the things YOU want to see. If it cover 3/4’s of what you wanted to see then it’s a great option.

Try and travel with a companion — that way if you can’t stand the other travellers you’ll have someone to talk to and you can share your accommodation with them.

Choose a tour group that has an ethical or sustainable ethos.

Find a tour group that facilitates a lot of free time so you can go off exploring yourself, also meaning you spend your traveler cash with locals and inject some money into local economies.

  • Taken from an interview of Chris from Lonely Planet.  You can read the full interviewhttp://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/drive/group-travel/9371388

Intoxicating, crazy, exasperating, wonderful, beautiful, daunting, overwhelming,  fantastic.  India is all these things, and more. (Lonely Planet)

How can you possibly prepare yourself?  Having lived, worked and traveled frequently throughout India,  I have put together 10 of my best travel tips for women so that you can  get the most out of your travels in India.

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  1. Try to get fit and healthy before you embark on your journey. Make sure you have good gut health.  I recommend you take good pro-botic before you travel as that will ensure that any nasties will stay away. There is a product on the market called grapefruit seed or citrus seed extract; you will need 10 drops a in bottled water each day This will help with any tummy bugs.  Both products can be found at a local health food shop or online.
  2. India can be dusty and dirty and in some of the bigger cities there can be pollution (depend on which time of year you are there). Bring a facemask which can be worn in the bigger cities.  The ones that will keep 80% of the pollutant particles out are 3M (the company) and the number of the mask is N95.
  3. Pack lightly as India has a lot of stairs and uneven roads. I recommend you bring a solid suitcase on wheels.  If you are travelling on an internal flight, most of the airlines will only allow 15kgs per passenger and 7kgs as carry on.  This rule is usually enforced and you will be required to pay the excess luggage fee around $10 per kg extra (which is payable by you).
  4. If traveling between September and December then pack light, cotton clothes.  Make sure that your necklines aren’t too low or your skirt lengths too high.  Bare arms are permissible.  In some temples, your head has to be covered so bring a scarf (lightweight if it is hot).  A scarf is invaluable when travelling as it can cover up, use for protection against the sun and also make your outfit be dressier.   Don’t bring high heels and leather soled shoes – As the pavements, roads, surfaces are very uneven, bring flat ‘sensible’ shoes, either walking shoes or if it is hot bring travelling sandals which can air your feet as well as provide protection.
  5. Don’t bring any expensive jewelery and keep your money tucked away safely. Either bring a handbag that you can cross the strap over your body or keep your handbag zipped up.     India is a poor country so best not to tempt dishonesty.
  6. India has its own time, slow! It is country where everything works slowly and this can take some adjustment.  Whilst planes run on time (mostly) and your days activities will leave on time also,  things can take longer than you are expecting.  Have patience!  It is the journey not the destination that is important.
  7. Whilst we are not used to tipping in Australia, it is encouraged and accepted in India. People you will come across whilst travelling won’t earn so much money so tipping is a good way to show your appreciation for a job well done, it also helps subsidize their otherwise low wages.  The average tip in a restaurant would be around IR100-IR200 per bill.  For groups it would be a bigger tip.  It is a good practice whilst you there.
  8. Don’t drink from the local tap or brush your teeth under the shower. Have a supply of bottled water or there may be places which say ‘drinking water’ as the water supply has been filtered (see above also for grapefruit seed extract).   Only buy food from recommended places – mainly good restaurants.  Don’t eat off the streets especially cut fruit and try to stick to vegetarian food in India. It can be questionable about how the meat is prepared and cooked.
  9. Beer and wine are served in up market restaurants and may not be available everyday of your tour. In this case, you may have to have a couple of ‘alcohol’ free days on your trip – particularly in out of the way places.  Wine is expensive in India.
  10. Men will stare at you in India, mainly on the streets. Your interactions during your travels with be mainly with men.   Men work in the hotels, shops, drive the cars/buses you will be travelling it.  The women are mostly invisible except on the streets shopping.  Keep your interactions with men in a slightly standoff manner and ignore the stares.   They are not used to seeing women in larger groups by themselves.

Finally, India is a country of men (where the women can often be invisible).   It has a strong patriarchal system, a modest and conservative country as far as women are concerned so it is courtesy to adhere to some of these tips in particular about the dress and behavior.

Vikas Kumar (our Tour Leader) performed  Pind Daan Ritual last week on the banks of the sacred Ganges in Varanasi. The ritual was following the death of one of our  Leaders (Amber Chand) whose mother, Asha Chand passed away at the age of 95 in the UK recently.   Pind Daan is a mandatory ritual which is to be performed after death. Pind Daan gives an ultimate relief to the departed soul and paves way into the world of peace.

Amber describes her mother as  a wonderful, most beloved soul. Born in India, lived in Uganda after marriage, and then in England for the reminder. The first Indian woman lawyer in East Africa.  Twice a refugee – first during partition (1947) and then after Idi Amin (1971-79),  the African dictator expelled her family out Uganda. She was a wise soul,  Amber lovingly remembers.

We are proud of you Vikas Kumar to offering to perform this important Hindu ceremony as it is considered a a great honour to perform this ceremony by someone not related to you.  May you rest in peace Asha.

 

Vikas Kumar performing Pind Daan ceremony in Varanasi December 2017
Vikas Kumar performing Pind Daan ceremony in Varanasi December 2017

 

“India, incredible, intoxicating and almost impossible to imagine” which is how this cover of this months Qantas magazine. Step beyond..with a great photo of the Chand Baori, in the village of Abhaneri.

 

Abhaneri is a village in the Dausa district of Rajasthan state in India. It is situated at a distance of 95 km from Jaipur, on the Jaipur-Agra road.

Abhaneri was originally named Abha Nagri, which means “city of brightness,” but due to mispronunciation, the name was changed. The city is now in ruins, but it attracts tourists from across the globe. Chand Baori consists of 3,500 narrow steps over 13 stories. It extends approximately 30 metres into the ground making it one of the deepest and largest stepwells in India.

 

Spiti Valley in India is a very remote location with limited tourist infrastructure.  This makes this part of the world a little-visited but rewarding destination. Voted as number 8 of the of Lonely Planet Best in Travel Regions 2018 this is a must for adventurers who want to see and experience extreme beauty, remoteness and never to be repeated landscape ever again. From the ancient Monasteries of Tabo, Dhankar and Ky, you will also be able  take a glimpse in the exotic life of these remote and isolated communities of Kaza and the small villages that make up this beautiful valley.  SpitiValleyTour2018

As one of their writers describes the Spiti Valley  – “Imagine an arid land set high in the Indian Himalaya, a high-altitude desert punctuated by small patches of green and miniature villages of white, flat-roofed houses perched below stark rocky hillsides and jagged snow-covered peaks. Picture high passes blocked by snow and ice for half the year, and scattered stabs of colour from fluttering prayer flags and precariously perched Buddhist monasteries.
John Noble, Lonely Planet writer  

There has never been a better time to come and enjoy this amazing place.  Get there before it becomes popular!

If it is one thing that India does really well, they know how to throw great parties and festivals.  They are a  mecca of colour, culture and brightness.  Weddings in all their glitziness, music, beautifully dressed people outstrip anywhere in the world.  Their festivals are no exception.  They are full of colour, music, marigolds, camels and whatever is on offer.  One festival has all that and an added bonus, camels! Where else in the world would you find a camel fair with all that thrown in.  Pushkar in India of course.  Situated about an hour from Jaipur in Rajasthan, in the middle of the desert and is also a very spiritual town to boot!  It’s annual Camel Festival is a big draw card and certainly worth a visit.  We run a tour each year but you can also travel with our help if you wish.  Treat yourself to something very different, you won’t be disappointed.PushkarCamelFair

Pilgrimages are a part of nearly every religion. The faithful set out in hopes of finding virtue and gaining merit. Among Buddhists, they visit places where a spiritual master once spent time meditating. His presence makes the place seem somehow blessed or charged, as if there is some kind of electricity around it. Pilgrims come to feel these mysterious vibrations. They try to share in the visions of the master. Along their road, they undertake hardship with no thought of material reward. Their every step, every movement, becomes filled with a sense of spiritual progress.

We Buddhists believe that merit is accumulated when you take part in something religious, with discipline and faith, because in doing so you shape a proper attitude within. With the right attitude, any journey to a sacred place becomes a pilgrimage. In our tradition, the Buddha advised that in times to come people interested in his teachings should be told about the places associated with the major events of his life. His purpose was not to ensure the aggrandizement of the person of the Buddha, but rather the welfare of his followers. We believe that expressing respect and admiration for the qualities of the Buddha—by making offerings or undertaking a pilgrimage—contributes to our own spiritual progress.

There is a strong nomadic strain in the Tibetans, which lends itself to the rigors of pilgrimage. Our land itself is a source of spiritual inspiration, not only because of the profusion of temples and monasteries, but because we regard even the physical features of the land as sacred. Mount Kailash in western Tibet is especially famous. Buddhists revere it as the sacred location of the meditational deity Chakrasamvara. For Hindus, it is the abode of the deities Shiva and Parvati. Jains and Sikhs have their own special associations with it. Even for those without a specific faith, the mountain’s physical form and color make it a natural symbol of purity.

For Tibetans, India is also a holy land. It was the birthplace of the founder of Buddhist culture and the source of the wisdom brought to our mountains hundreds of years ago by Indian saints and seers. My first opportunity to pay my respects there came in 1956, when I was invited to attend celebrations of the 2,500th anniversary of the Buddha’s birth. I was overjoyed. I was to have a chance to visit Bodhgaya, the place that, like every Buddhist, I associated with the highest achievements of the spiritual path, the Buddha’s attainment of perfect enlightenment.

When I finally stood in the presence of the seat of enlightenment, I was profoundly moved. Reflecting on Shakyamuni Buddha’s great accomplishment in this place, I also could not fail to remember his overwhelming kindness to all sentient beings. Not only did he achieve perfection himself, but also he revealed that each of us has the potential to do so, too. I believed then, as I do now, that the teachings of the Buddha could lead not only to inner peace in the lives of individuals, but also to peace between nations. At Bodhgaya, as at other Buddhist sites, I was also filled with admiration for the masterpieces of Indian religious art, expressions of creative genius and profound faith. I was reminded that sectarianism and communal conflict have in the past harmed this great heritage. Yet ultimately, India’s underlying spirit of tolerance and religious freedom has always restored peace and calm.

Essentially, all religions teach us to discipline and transform ourselves so that we can achieve inner peace and a kind heart. Yet today, in different parts of the world, we see the flames of conflict being fanned in the name of religion. People take up arms in the name of religion only because they are too narrow-minded to grasp the true meaning of their respective faiths.

I firmly believe we can take steps to help nurture understanding and harmony among religions, and thus promote peace and security. One of the important ways of doing this is to encourage contacts among the faiths, perhaps by visiting others’ places of pilgrimage. If possible, they can pray together; if not, they can just sit in silent meditation. Pilgrimages like this are an immensely valuable and deep experience.

It was in this spirit that, in 1993, I went to Jerusalem, a site holy to three of the world’s great religions. I went to the Wailing Wall with Jewish friends. I visited Christian places and prayed with Christian friends, and then I visited the Mount Rock, the holy place of our Muslim friends and prayed with them. I have also paid visits to various Hindu, Islamic, Jain and Sikh shrines and places holy to Zoroastrians both in India and abroad. Sometimes we prayed together and sometimes meditated together in silence.

More recently, I joined Christian and Buddhist leaders in a pilgrimage of prayers, meditation and dialogue at Bodhgaya. Each morning under the Bodhi Tree, we all sat together and meditated. Since the Buddha came more than 2,500 years ago, and since Jesus Christ came almost 2,000 years ago, I think that this was the first time such a meeting had taken place. (Source: Newsweek  April 23rd 2007, edited for Ekno Experience)