Our journey begins in the rich and ethnically diverse capital of Delhi which has long been the seat of many faiths and cultures. In Delhi, our special focus will be on Islam, though on our journey through the city we will be visiting sites and people associated with Bahai, Buddhist, Jain, Hindu and Christian faiths. We plan to visit to the Dargah (tomb) of Hazrat Nizamuddin, the famous Muslim Sufi and mystic saint of the Chisti order. This revered saint was popular among people of all faiths because of his doctrine of renunciation and tolerance towards other religions. This is in the midst of the historic and fascinating village of Nizamuddin in the heart of Delhi. We shall also visit the magnificent tomb of the Mughal emperor, Humayun built by his widow in 1565. It is one of the most beautiful Mughal monuments, with features like high arches, a full double dome, carvings, inlaid work on marble, and trellis-work in red sandstone. This beautiful mausoleum has been restored recently, by the Aga Khan foundation, to much of its original splendour.
The next day we will go on to experience Old Delhi. We will walk through the alleys of the old city, visiting a family home, the fascinating wholesale markets of Chandini Chowk, historic buildings and the sacred sites of different faiths. The grand Jama Masjid mosque built by Shah Jehan (who built the Taj Mahal), the Digambar Jain temple and its bird hospital (the largest in the world), the Gurudwara Sisganj of the Sikhs and the Gauri Shankar (Shiva) temple of the Hindus. As evening approaches we will go to the impressive Red Fort (also built by the Moghul emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century), an important monument in India even today, and attend a very well made Sound and Light show that tells of the history of Delhi.
We will visit a site associated with Mahatma Gandhi, the National Museum which houses the relics of the Buddha and some of the best sculptures in the world. In the heart of New Delhi, the lotus-shaped outline of the Bahá'í Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, better known as the “Lotus Temple", has quietly etched itself on the consciousness of the city's inhabitants. It’s serenely spiritual atmosphere inspired Dizzy Gillespie, the late renowned Baha'i jazz musician, to exclaim: "I cannot believe it! It is God's work". In the evening you will visit an Indian home and have a relaxed evening and dinner with an Indian family.
From Delhi we move on to Rishikesh, to worship with Hindus and commune with the Ganges. At Rishikesh, the Ganga enchants as she flows by, quietly but purposefully. The river, which is perceived as a living Goddess, makes Rishikesh far more tranquil than its popularity would otherwise have it be. The evening‘aarti’ is a beautiful sight to behold with its hundreds of oil lamps floating on the Ganga in the dark along with glistening marigolds. Rishikesh's silvery white rapids offer opportunities to go white water rafting as well. We plan to take side trips to the confluence of the two main rivers that form the Ganges at Devprayag, and to visit the new Mindfulness Practice Center we are setting up on the outskirts of Dehradun. From Rishikesh we move on to Amritsar.
Easily the most visited city in the Punjab, Amritsar is the beating heart of the Sikh religion. The biggest attraction in Amritsar is, of course, the Golden Temple — Darbara Sahib, to refer to it by its popular name, or Harmandir Sahib, its proper name. Even the staunchest of atheists are unlikely to forget the moment they first lay eyes on the shimmering Golden temple in the midst of the lake. We will also visit Jallianwalla Bagh a historical landmark spot in pre independence India.
Extensions that may be added before Living Faiths of India:
The Exquisite Caves 2012: 6th March to 8th March 2012