The Hippy Trail

A Journey through Spiritual North India

Embark on an expedition to Spiritual India north on this 25-day quest for enlightenment in a region that will inspire and captivate you at every turn. Stroll along the holy river Ganges and try a yoga lesson in Rishikesh, marvel at the splendour of the Golden Temple in Amritsar and volunteer in one of the world’s largest kitchens to help feed the hungry. Explore ‘Little Lhasa’, the home of Tibetan Buddhism in India in Dharamshala and visit India’s highest and most boutique tea producing region for a walk through the gardens and a cheeky cuppa. Feast your eyes on the technicolor carpet of the ‘Valley of Flowers’ on an optional 3-day trek and try to spot India’s most majestic inhabitant, the Bengal Tiger, in the deep, dark jungle.


TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

  • Stay in a working Ashram in Rishikesh with enough free time to have a go at some of the Ashram’s activities, as well as wander through the abandoned ashram of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi visited by the Beatles in the 60’s
  • Explore the Golden Temple of Amritsar and see one of the world’s largest kitchens which feeds thousands free-of-charge daily and take the opportunity to volunteer in the temple for half a day
  • Pop in on the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala and visit the many Buddhist temples and spiritual centres, as well as enjoy a brew at a tea plantation in India’s smallest tea producing region
  • Ride the rails through the countryside on some of India’s most iconic train journeys, including the Himalayan Queen and the Kanga Toy Train
  • Go on safari in search of majestic Bengal tigers in Corbett National Park, and take a night-time walk in the jungle among India’s nocturnal creatures
  • For the more adventurous, trek to the UNESCO World Heritage listed ‘Valley of Flowers’. If trekking isn’t for you, stay in Joshimath in a mountain lodge and investigate temples and sights closer to town. The choice is yours!

The Basics

Start: Delhi

Finish: Delhi

Trip style: Unique

Max group size: 15

25 Days

DELHI – DELHI

$9955 AUD*

Departure date: 23 September 2023

OR CONTACT US for more information

Trip code: HTDD *from

ITINERARY

Arrive in bustling Delhi make your own way to the hotel. Meet your trip leader and traveling companions for a welcome meeting at 17.00. After the meeting head out into Delhi to a local restaurant for dinner.

Experience the chaos of Old Delhi Railway station this morning, as we board the Delhi – Pathankot Express train to Amritsar in the region of Punjab. This scenic journey will pass through rural villages, small towns and stunning countryside and offers a glimpse into everyday life in India.

Arrive in Amritsar in the late afternoon and check in to the haveli where we will stay for the next three nights. A ‘haveli’ is a traditional Indian townhouse or mansion, usually owned by the same family for many years. The ancestors of our haveli owners once traded carpets, dry fruit, tea and weapons on the Silk Road.

Tonight, a traditional dinner will be served in the haveli’s dining room.

After breakfast we meet our guide who will take us to see Amritsar’s most iconic site, the Golden Temple. The temple is the most significant site in the Sikh religion and is open to worship for everyone from all walks of life and from all faiths. The guiding light behind Sikhism is it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, just be a good person. We don’t know about you, but we can get on board with that!

Marvel at the beauty of the temple and dip your feet into the holy sarovar (man-made pool) to cleanse your sins. Take a walk through the giant kitchen which serves free food to thousands of people in the city daily. We will enjoy lunch today, sitting on the floor of the temple’s dining hall, alongside the temple worshippers.

After lunch there will be the option for you to give something back by volunteering in the temple kitchen. Chop vegetables, wash plates or hand out food to the needy; there is always something to be done. Volunteering in the temple is free and included in the trip cost, however if you would rather not participate, enjoy the rest of the day at leisure to explore the city.

Optional experience: Village Encounter

In the morning we visit a gaushala, or cow shelter, which supplies milk to a number of homes in Amritsar including our haveli. Enjoy the simple yet captivating experience of feeding the cows at the shelter which is considered one of Hinduism’s holiest practices. After feeding the cows, visit the nearby Shiv Temple, built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

After lunch head to Amritsar’s blind school for tea and snacks. The blind school was constructed on land donated by the ancestors of our haveli and provides accommodation and education for vision-impaired boys of all ages. We will take snacks and beverages to enjoy and distribute to the people living at the blind school. Inverted Atlas will also make a donation on every visit.

This afternoon get amongst the locals as we head to the border between India and Pakistan for the Wagah Border ceremony. The spectacle is a colourful display of both rivalry and brotherhood between the two nations.

Depart Amritsar early this morning and travel through the beautiful rolling hills of northern India to the mysterious rock-cut temples of Masrur. The temples are believed to have been constructed between 6th and 8th centuries CE and contain carvings of both Hindu and Buddhist deities. Climb to the summit of the temple and for a picnic overlooking a breath-taking view of the snow-capped Dhauladar Range.

Continue to Dharamshala after lunch and check in to our hotel, then visit the Norbulingka institute, which plays a key role in preserving the traditions and culture of the Tibetan people in exile in India.

Start the day with a visit to the temple of his holiness, the Dalai Lama. Following the Tibetan uprising of 1959, the Dalai Lama relocated his monastery to Dharamshala where it contains 200 monks, representing all four Tibetan monastic lineages.

The rest of the day is yours for independent adventures in Dharamshala.

Optional experience: Bhagsu Waterfalls Hike

Optional experience: Dharamkot to Naddi Village Hike

Jump on board the Kanga Toy Train to Palampur. The miniature train winds its way through the spectacular hills and forests of the Kangara Valley, showcasing stunning views of emerald fields and the Dhauladar Mountains.

On arrival in Palampur, we will visit a tea plantation and factory to learn about the production of tea in the ‘tea capital of northwest India’.

In the morning we will transfer to the town of Mandi, often called the ‘Varanasi of the East,’ it is home to some amazing religious sites and boasts an incredible eighty-one temples.

Upon reaching Mandi we will visit the temple of Bhimkali, one of Mandi’s most important religious sites. The architecture of the temple shows an amalgamation of Hinduism and Buddhism in its design and the temple houses a large museum which exhibits images of Hindu gods and goddesses. Spend some time wandering the 500-year-old sunken garden. The garden was originally a lake, but was transformed by Raja Joginder Sen.

The remainder of the day is free to explore Mandi and its vast array of temples.

Spend the morning by Rewalsar Lake, named the ‘Lotus Lake’ by Tibetan Buddhists, the lake is surrounded on all sides by rugged mountains and is at an altitude of 1360m above sea level. Wander around the lake, stopping to enter and observe the various temples that line its shores.

After lunch transfer to the Shimla countryside to check in to our hotel in the hill country.

Today we visit Rashtrapati Niwas, formerly known as the Viceregal Lodge. The Lodge was the former residence of the British Viceroy in India and houses some of the oldest photographs and artefacts from the British rule. After our visit to the lodge, we will take a walk around Shimla to see its many temples, sample its street food and peruse its markets, finishing at famous Wake and Bake café to chill out over a coffee while enjoying the view over the city.

The rest of the afternoon is yours to explore Shimla.

All abord the Himalayan Queen! Travel over scenic bridges, cross huge ravines and admire the jaw dropping scenery on another of India’s most iconic train journeys. On arrival in Kandaghat we meet the coach and travel to Chandigarh.

On arrival in Chandigarh, check in to our eco-hotel in one of India’s most modern cities.

This morning visit Chandigarh’s rock garden. The rock garden was started by a government official in 1957 and has since spread to 40 acres. The sculptures within the garden are completely made from home and industrial waste products. After visiting the rock garden, we will take a leisurely stroll through the Zakir Hussain Rose Garden.

The remainder of the afternoon is free for independent adventures in Chandigarh, in the evening we will watch the sunset at Sukhna Lake.

We will depart Chandigarh early in the morning for Rishikesh, yoga and meditation capital of the world. On the way we will stop in Dehradun, capital of the province of Uttarakhand. In Dehradun we will visit the Tapkeshwar Temple located within a cave and dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.

After our visit to the temple we continue to Rishikesh, we will stop for lunch at a local ‘dhaba’ along the way.

On arrival in Rishikesh, we check in to our ashram which will be our home for the next four nights. This evening at the ashram, participate in the ‘Aarti’ ceremony conducted for the Hindu river god on the banks of the Ganges.

This morning we take a walk through Rishikesh to the abandoned ashram of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The ashram was abandoned in the 1990’s and nature has now started to reclaim the grounds. The ashram gained notoriety in 1968, when it played host to the Beatles who visited for 3 months. We will spend the morning at the ashram with free time to wander and explore the buildings, admire the psychedelic art and graffiti and pause to view, reflect and listen to the peaceful flowing of the river Ganges from the ashram’s look out.

After our visit to the abandoned ashram, we make our way across the Ganges crossing the suspension bridge (keeping a sharp look out for monkeys!) to the other side of Rishikesh. Once across the bridge we will have some free time for lunch and shopping followed by a visit to the Lakshman Temple.

In the evening we will climb aboard a boat back to our own side of the river and witness a magical sunset.

Today is yours to explore Rishikesh. Partake in some of the activities offered by the ashram such as yoga or meditation, take a walk around town, barter in the markets or sit in a café and watch the chaos.

Optional experience: River rafting on the Ganges

We journey to the ancient city of Haridwar this morning to explore one of the most holy sites of the Hindu religion. According to legend, Haridwar is one of four sites where the Amrit, the elixir of immortality, was accidentally spilt by the celestial bird Garuda. We will spend the day exploring the city including a visit to the cave temple of Lord Krishna and the Chandi Devi Temple which sits atop a hill in the city and is accessible by cable car.

We will take a stroll by the river to the see the holy ghats of the city, where Hindu pilgrims take a holy bath in the river to purify themselves of sin. There will be time to bathe in the river if you wish, so be sure to bring a towel!

In the evening, we will sit by the river to enjoy and partake in the region’s most atmospheric Aarti ceremony.

We depart Rishikesh early this morning for the long, scenic drive to Joshimath. We stop in the town of Srinagar on the way for lunch and to stretch our legs before continuing to check in to our mountain lodge in the Himalayan foothills of Joshimath.

This morning enjoy a walk around Joshimath town, taking time to visit Shri Shankracharya Math Temple as well as time to enjoy the local street food. In the afternoon take a trip to Auli Lake, one of the highest manmade lakes in the world, visit the Narsingh Temple and enjoy a trip on the scenic ropeway.

Optional trek – Valley of Flowers Trek (3 day trek) (BLD)

If you have chosen this option, set off to the town of Govindghat to begin your trek to Ghangaria, the closest town to the UNESCO World Heritage listed Valley of Flowers. The trek between towns is via mostly paved paths but is very steep in places. In the evening we overnight in basic accommodation in Ghangaria before commencing our trek into the valley in the morning.

In the morning we trek the last 2km into the Valley of Flowers. Once there we enjoy another 5km walk through the technicolour carpets of the valley floor before heading back to Ghangaria to spend the night.

On the final morning of the trek we walk back down from Ghangaria and return to Govindghat where we will meet our transportation back to Joshimath to arrive in the late afternoon. On the way back back to Joshimath we will visit Vishnuprayag.*

* Those participating in the trekking option will not be able to participate in included sightseeing in Joshimath. Although the Valley of the Flowers trip is listed as optional, it is included in the trip price. We acknowledge that not everyone likes trekking, so we have elected to give our travellers a choice. If you wish to participate in the Valley of the Flowers trek, this option must be selected prior to departure.

We begin our day with a visit to Badrinath Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. There has been a temple on the site since the 8th century CE and it is one of the most visited pilgrimage sites in India.

Return to Joshimath for lunch before visiting the Tapovan hot springs to enjoy a hot, healing bath in warm waters which are rich in minerals.

This morning we will visit Vishnuprayag at the confluence of the Alaknanda River and Dhauliganga Rivers. This stretch of the Alaknanda River is called the ‘Vishnu Ganga’, after Lord Vishnu appeared to Sage Narada during his meditations.

The remainder of the day is yours in Joshimath to explore the city.

In the evening meet for dinner at the mountain lodge with your traveling companions to share stories from your adventures over the last few days.

Depart Joshimath early this morning for a full day’s drive to the hill town of Ranikhet.

Along the way we will pause for lunch and to stretch out legs in the town of Karnaprayag.

This morning we will depart Ranikhet and transfer to Corbett National Park, home of India’s most famous resident, the Bengal Tiger.

We will arrive in the afternoon in time for lunch and check in to our safari camp.

In the late afternoon we will head out into the park on safari to see if we can spot India’s big cat and other wildlife.

Rise early this morning for a dawn safari in Corbett National Park – you have to get up early if you want to spot India’s most majestic resident, the Bengal Tiger. The park is well known for tiger sightings; however, you will also be on the trail of leopards, elephants and the Himalayan Black Bear as well as hundreds of species of native birds.

Relax with some down time at the lodge in the middle of the day before our afternoon safari followed by dinner. After dinner explore the lodge with a night walk to see if you can spot some of the park’s nocturnal fauna.

Rise early this morning and head back to bustling Delhi.

On arrival in Delhi check back into our hotel and this evening say farewell to your trip leader and traveling companions at dinner in a special local restaurant.

Services conclude after breakfast. Inverted Atlas can assist you with additional accommodation arrangements before or after the trip as well as provide an airport transfer.

If you wish to spend more time in India, why not book one of our Bolt-on experiences for Delhi and Agra?

The Hippy Trail - Spiritual North India
Trip Map
The Hippy Trail

Details

Duration: 25 Days

Trip style: Unique

Group size: Minimum 6 / Maximum 15

Trip code: HTDD

Cost: $9955.00 AUD twin share

Single supplement: $2250.00 AUD

Inclusions

  • 24-nights accommodation in lodges, homestays, havelis, Ashram, eco-hotels and hotels
  • Tickets for Kanga Toy Train – Dharamshala – Palampur / Himalayan Queen – Shimla to Kalka and other transport as specified in itinerary
  • Meals as specified in itinerary (B = Breakfast / L = Lunch / D = Dinner)
  • Services of your Inverted Atlas trip leader and local guides
  • All entrance fees as per itinerary
  • Valley of Flowers National Park Trek OR Joshimath Sightseeing (option must be selected prior to travel).
  • Tips for local providers          

Optional experiences (not included):

  • Amritsar: Village Tour
  • Dharamshala: Bhagsu Waterfalls
  • Dharamshala: Forrest Trek    
  • Rishikesh: Ganges River Rafting

* Please note some optional experiences must be booked prior to travel. You will be given the option to add these experiences at check out

Trip price does not include

  • International airfares or domestic airfares
  • Airport transfers on arrival and departure
  • Visa for India
  • Any expenses associated with COVID-19
  • Meals not included as per trip itinerary including drinks and mini bar
  • Additional accommodation before or after the tour
  • Items of a personal nature including but not limited to laundry, souvenirs, porterage etc.
  • Travel insurance – please note comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of travel with Inverted Atlas

Journey Rating – Quest

This trip travels through India, a wonderful colourful country but one where things might not always go to plan and should you definitely pack your sense of adventure and more importantly your sense of humour. There are a few very long travel days where we will be getting up early and arriving into our accommodation quite late, but never fear – all the accommodation is of a comfortable standard with no sharing or camping. We will mostly travel by coach on this trip, however there are a few train trips included where practical so you can rub shoulders with the locals.

In India there is a highly recommended dress code for women so as not to cause offense culturally – arms and legs should be covered by either a full-length dress or pants with knee length kaftan or shirt. Men are strongly advised to wear trousers. The quality of amenities such as hospitals and pharmacies will be limited to large cities. Be prepared for eastern-style squat toilets in public places (not hotels). The weather is likely to alternate between humid heat and cool when at altitude.

A note about fitness

This trip is a bit of an adventure and as such requires a good level of physical fitness. You should be able to walk up to 2.5km during scheduled sightseeing, climb up to 200 stairs unassisted, use an eastern style squat toilet (beware if you have knee issues) and confidently walk over uneven surfaces. You will need to be able to carry your own luggage to and from the coach/bus, as well as on and off the train. (Due to OH&S regulations our trip leaders are not able to assist with luggage.)

In addition, you should be in good health, with no major chronic conditions requiring frequent medical attention. This trip often travels through remote locations where the availability of a hospital or even phone reception to call an ambulance is limited. While all our trip leaders are required to have a valid first aid certificate, they are far from doctors and any assistance they are able to provide will be limited to basic first aid. For more information please see our booking conditions.

Single supplement

Traveling by yourself? No problem, we love single travelers and don’t believe in penalising them by charging half the trip price again for our single supplement. With us you are only paying the actual cost to have a room all to yourself. If you’re up for making a new friend, you can elect to share with another single traveler of the same sex and only pay the twin-share price. The choice is yours!

Trip leader description

Accompanying you along your journey will be your Inverted Atlas trip leader. Your trip leader is a logistics extraordinaire, keeps the trip running smoothly and ensures you have the best time possible on your trip. It is important to know that while your trip leader has the best job in the world, they aren’t actually on holidays, but rather they are there to make sure you have the best time while you are on your holiday! Your trip leader may at times need some time out so that they can complete back of house tasks that ensure everyone continues to enjoy the trip. It is also your trip leaders’ job to handle any issues (heaven forbid!) that come up while you’re on your trip like:

  • If you lose your passport or other travel documents
  • If there is a problem with your room at the booked accommodation – seriously please tell your trip leader don’t wait until you leave
  • If you become unwell and need to find a pharmacy
  • Assisting with restaurant recommendations or additional sightseeing during free time
  • Questions regarding the itinerary

Your trip leader will have some good local knowledge about the destination in which you are traveling, however they are not a ‘local guide’. You’re welcome to ask your trip leader anything about the trip and if they don’t know they will find out and get back to you. Other people you will meet along the way are ‘local guides’ who are generally available to the group in specific towns or at specific sites like national parks, temples or archaeological sites. These people are the local experts and will be able to answer any questions you may have about the history and culture of a specific site.

Itinerary disclaimer

This itinerary is correct at the time of upload to our website and we have composed it in good faith. From time to time we may elect to make changes before departure, if we are making a big change we will of course notify you, however if it is a small change this will be reflected in the final trip notes. So, make sure you download these prior to departure. Small changes prior to departure are usually made with the groups best interests in mind and come about due to liaising with our best resources – our past travelers and of course our trip leaders! The ability to change and evolve depending on what our travelers enjoy is what makes us such a great trip operator.

While we strive to operate our trips exactly to the letter of the itinerary, sometimes we may need to make changes on the ground while the group is on the road. This is all part of the adventure of traveling and we would ask that you come on your trip with an open mind and a good sense of humour because as much as we want it to, everything doesn’t always go to plan. In fact, these impromptu situations often make the best stories that you can have a laugh with your friends about later.

Age requirements

Minimum Age: 16 years

We do not recommend bringing young children on this trip due to the remoteness of some of the destinations visited.

There is no upper age limit for this trip but you should consider the above fitness requirements prior to booking. If you are 65 years or over you will be asked to complete our Health Check Form and have your medical practitioner sign it to confirm you are good health and able to participate safely on this trip.

Travel insurance

Please note that comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of travel with Inverted Atlas. Insurance must include provision for medical situations, emergency medical repatriation to your home country and personal liability at a minimum. Proof of valid travel insurance will be requested by your trip leader on arrival at the pre-departure meeting. Please have this paperwork available for them. If you are unable to provide proof of comprehensive travel insurance, you may not be allowed to join the trip and no refund will be payable.

You might also like these trips