Days 1 ~ 91
Our Semester in India Itinerary!
Our adventure in India begins on September 7th when you arrive in New Delhi. Bantu-ji, Regina, Sean, and Ing-Marie will meet you at the airport and we go to our hotel for rest. The following morning we take what is considered one of the world’s most beautiful flights—ascending to the ancient city of Leh (11,600 ft), capital of the Buddhist region of Ladakh.
In Leh, we spend our first few days in a program orientation, acclimatizing, getting to know one another, and preparing for the journey ahead. Then, on September 12th, led by our local guide Rinchin Namgial, we’ll head out into the mountains for an incredible 6-day trek. Along the way, we’ll learn about Ladakh’s unique history and have the opportunity to hear some the region’s stories and myths from our guides.
On September 17th, we return to Leh in the evening and spend the following day resting in Leh before we travel back to New Delhi on the 19th. We’ll spend the next few days experiencing India’s 3000-year-old capital. From the shrines of Mughal Era Sufi saints, to the cultural institutions of the city’s modern intelligentsia, to a conversation with undergraduates at the local university, our time in Delhi exposes us to some of the many faces of India that co-exist in a single time and place. We’ll also get a chance to do some shopping for clothes appropriate to Indian climate and culture.
On September 21st, we board a train and venture to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. We spend a day visiting the Taj, perhaps the world’s greatest architectural embodiment of love.
That night, we board an overnight train bound for Varanasi, Hindu India’s most sacred place, home of Lord Shiva, city of light, giver of moksha. We arrive the following morning, visit our program house in Varanasi’s Assi Ghat neighborhood, and settle in for one night in our program house all together. On Monday, September 23rd, we visit and settle into our homestays. That Monday, we also begin our eight weeks of classes, exploration, independent study, volunteering, and so much more! During our time in Varanasi, we also take short trips to Bantu-ji’s ancestral village in the countryside; Sarnath, where the Buddha gave his first teaching and Bodh Gaya, where he attained enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree. We’ll also spend about a week outside of the city exploring our inner worlds. This will take the form of a Buddhist meditation retreat (don’t worry! It’s not as hard as it sounds!) most likely in the sacred city of Bodh Gaya. Back in Varanasi, we also get the chance to experience two of Hinduism’s most important holidays—Navaratri and Diwali—in a city where people go ALL OUT for the celebrations.
In mid-November we wrap up our independent studies and give presentations on our experiences. We also throw a farewell party at our program house to express our gratitude to our host families, mentors, and friends.
We then say goodbye to the people and places that make our time in Varanasi so incredible and venture into the student-led expedition phase of the trip. This is a chance for you, as a group, to take the lead in creating and executing a trip to a neighboring city or site of your choice. This is an incredible opportunity for the group to work together to make decisions and plan the travel destination and purpose.
On December 2nd, we head to the a venue outside of Delhi where we spend a few days in peace and quiet with one another, reflecting on our travels in India and preparing to return to the United States.
On the evening of December 5th, we head to Delhi where we spend our final days in country before flying home on the 7th. Our journey together comes to a close, but the transformations our relationships and experiences in India catalyze have only really just begun… ...