Welcome to Deccan Spirit
India, a journey of the heart and a quest of the soul. Home to Rishis, Saints, and Sages, India is the birthplace of 4 major religions and is home to many others. Some have called India the center of the spiritual universe.
It is an ancient land with a fascinating history of migration, trade, invasions and a diverse blend of cultures. India is beyond the ability of words to describe. It is a country to be seen, though pictures do not do it justice. It is a country to be tasted, heard, smelled and felt. It is a veritable sensual feast.
The Deccan makes up the vast majority of the southern part of India. It encompasses 8 Indian states. It was formed by the largest lava flow on the planet, which lasted thousands of years. It is a mostly arid to semi arid area which is reminiscent of the American Southwest.
These are the physical characteristics which are obvious to even the most casual traveler. Yes it is a stark, stunning and beautiful landscape, but there is something far more subtle and profound about the Deccan. It is possessed of a spirit which the more perceptive traveler will feel. This is the Deccan we will explore and each will discover in their own way. This is the Deccan Spirit.
Day 1: You will be met at the airport in Mumbai by our driver and taken to the hotel. Most International flights arrive early AM. We will be leaving the hotel at 10 AM.
Day 2: We will gather at the restaurant in the hotel for breakfast, to make introductions and have orientation. After breakfast we will depart for Mahabaleshwar. We will make stops for chai, snacks and lunch. After check in at the hotel we will have a short time to rest and freshen up. We will go into town and explore the shops and make any small necessary purchases. Mahabaleshwar has many shops for purchasing gifts to bring home and since this is the strawberry capitol of India it is a great opportunity to purchase some fresh strawberries, raspberries, and mulberries. We will then drive to Bombay Point (Sunset Point) to watch the sunset . We will return to the hotel for dinner.
Day 3: After an early breakfast we will drive to the trail for Arthur’s seat. There are many overlooks affording spectacular views of the Western Ghats. We will then drive to Old Mahabaleshwar to visit the temples one of which is home to a spring which is the source for 5 rivers. Return to hotel for lunch and rest. Drive to Panchgani to visit Tablelands and the seclusion cave Meher Baba used in the 1930’s in Tiger Valley. * We will then return to Mahabaleshwar to Elphinstone Point for sunset. Return to hotel for dinner and relaxation..
Day 4: After breakfast we will bid a fond farewell to Mahabaleshwar and drive to Ellora. Along the way we will stop in Ahmednagar for lunch. We will check in to the hotel then go to the caves. The Ellora caves are a World Heritage site and are a protected archaeological monument. The 34 caves are carved out of the solid stone of the hillside. They represent three of the four faiths to originate in India, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. They were started in the 5th Century and completed in the 13th century. The largest cave took between 150 and 200 years to complete. We will explore as many as we can with particular emphasis on caves 10 and 16. We will return to the hotel for dinner and relaxing. The hotel faces the caves and affords very good views of the complex.
Day 5: After breakfast at the hotel we will make the short drive to the Valley of the Saints at Khuldabad. This valley is “ home “ to the final resting places of some 1400 Sufi Saints including the tomb of Zar Zari Baksh the master of Sai Baba of Shirdi. On a hillside overlooking the valley is the cave in which Sai Baba received God realization.* Khuldabad is the site where the last great Mughal Aurangzeb is interred. After seeing all the mosques and shrines we will return to the hotel and eat lunch. The afternoon will be devoted to exploring more of the caves at Ellora.
There is excellent shopping to be done at Ellora. There are silk shops which sell the famous Himroo silk widely believed to be the silk Marco Polo brought back to Italy and was worn by only the very wealthy and royalty. We will return to the hotel for dinner and relaxing.
Day 6: We will have an early breakfast and leave for the Daulatabad Fort. The fort is one of if not the most impressive forts in India. Daulatabad was made the capital of the Mughal Empire by Emperor Muhammed bin Tughlaq. He forcibly moved the entire population of Delhi there for 2 years until lack of water forced the return to Delhi. The long climb to the top is rewarded with one of the most spectacular views in all the Deccan. We will then leave for Meherabad stopping for lunch along the way at a very nice garden restaurant. We will arrive at Meherabad late in the afternoon and after checking in to the Pilgrim Retreat we will rest and then explore some of the sites associated with Meher Baba, considered by many to be the Avatar of the Age, such as his Tomb- Shrine (Samadhi)*, Meher Retreat, Hospital and Cage room. We will go to Aarti ( a period of prayer and devotion which includes music and poetry). We then return to the Retreat for a scrumptious buffet. (You never thought all this spirituality would make you so hungry.)
Day 7: After Aarti at 7 A.M,which is completely optional, we will have breakfast and then tour upper and lower Meherabad which includes the tomb shrine of Gilori Shah a Muslim Saint who was a servant and confidant of Queen Victoria, Meher Baba’s Table Cabin, Rahuri Cabin*, Mandali Hall*, the Dhuni and more.
Day 8: After breakfast we will depart for Meherazad the residence of Meher Baba and his Mandali. We will tour the gardens, Mandali Hall, Baba’s room*, and the main bungalow. We will then climb Seclusion Hill *, a place where Meher Baba did much seclusion work. The top of the hill affords a spectacular view of the countryside. We will then proceed to Happy Valley a site where legend has it that Ram and Sita while in exile spent some time. There are 2 temples here, one main one which has recently been renovated and a smaller one in the forest. The smaller temple* sits over a site which it is said Ram shot an arrow into the rock and a spring came out. This is an excellent spot for our picnic lunch. The valley offers some very good light hiking and if it has been a successful monsoon has a small creek with waterfalls. We will visit a small cave where again Ram shot an arrow into the rock creating a spring so that Sita could have a bath (what a guy). After a short drive we will go to Goraknath hill. This is a very old ruin of a Mughal prince’s residence. It sits atop a large hill and one of its most distinguishing features is a huge swimming pool.. The question of the day will be “ how did he get the water up the hill to fill it up ?” A small prize awaits the winner of the quiz. This day requires lots of light and some moderate hiking. We return then to Meherabad.
Day 9: After breakfast we will depart for Shirdi and Sakori. Shirdi is a major site of pilgrimage in India and was the seat of Sai Baba. It is the site of his Samadhi. We will then depart for Sakori, the ashram of Upasni Maharaj a Sadguru and disciple of Sai Baba who dropped his body on December 24th 1941. We will tour the ashram and if we time it right we will be served lunch on banana leaf plates and have a chance to eat Indian style.
Day 10: After breakfast we will depart for Kedgaon and the ashram of Narayan Maharaj a Sadguru who lived like a king and dropped his body on September 3rd 1945. There is a beautiful temple devoted to Dattatrey where arti is performed everyday at noon. We will tour the grounds, residence and Samadhi of Maharaj. The residence contains some of his personal belongings such as his canes, shoes and gold and silver embroidered jackets. We will spend some time in his puja room * and crypt* where he did his universal spiritual work. Then it is upstairs to his bedroom and the enclosed balcony which houses some very rare photographs of Maharaj bathing in the Ganges. Once again we will be served lunch on banana leaf plates and get to eat Indian style. We will then start back to Meherabad. The rest of the afternoon will be free for relaxation, exploration or shopping.
Day 11: After breakfast we will bid fond farewell to Meherabad and head to Pune. We will have an opportunity for shopping for those last minute gifts for friends and family back home and visit the Samadhi of Babajan a Sadguru who was reputed to be over 125 years old when she dropped the body. Her Samadhi is located in the “Camp Area” of Pune which is a very charming part of town with very old architecture and narrow winding streets. Time permitting we can visit the Samadhi of Jangle Maharaj which has a cave that is reputed to have been visited by all the Avatars. Then it is off to Mumbai for the trip home.
* DENOTES GOOD PLACE FOR SOLITUDE AND MEDITATION
** ITINERARY SUBJECT TO SLIGHT MODIFICATION
You will fly into Mumbai International Airport (Chhatrapati Shivaji “BOM” ). You will be met at the airport and transferred to our hotel. You will also depart from the same airport. If you wish to extend your stay and depart from a different airport you can contact us to make arrangements.
Passport and Visa
You will need a valid U.S. passport and an Indian Tourist Visa. If you do not have a passport you can go to your local post office and make an application. This should be done as soon as possible as it can take up to 6 weeks or more and you will need to send your passport off to get the Visa. To obtain the visa you will need to go to Cox and Kings Global Services, http://www.in.ckgs.us/ as they handle all the Visa requests for India. There are three options for tourist Visas, Multi- entry- 6 months, Multi- entry- 5 years, and Multi- entry- 10 years. A 10 year Multi- entry is recommended as India has a way of capturing your heart and you will probably wish to return someday. With a 5 or 10 year Multi- entry visa you can return as often as you like without having to reapply.
Accommodations and Food
We will be staying in hotels in Mumbai, Mahabaleshwar, and Ellora. We will be staying at the Meher Pilgrim Retreat at Meherabad.* All meals will be included, and are mostly vegetarian. At some places non-vegetarian meals will be available.
This trip is suitable for adults and young adults who are reasonably fit. There will be days with lots of walking and exploring Temples, caves, and other sites. There will be a small amount of moderate hiking on uneven ground which you may opt out of.
Equipment and Clothing
We will be in Sub -Tropical India at the end of winter. The days will be sunny and temperate (70’s-80’s F) and the nights will be cool, especially in Mahabaleshwar. Generally light weight, loose fitting, light colored clothing will be the most comfortable, along with a sweater or light jacket. A broad brimmed hat for protection from the sun is also recommended. Comfortable walking shoes/sneakers are a necessity. Once you have registered for the trip a more detailed list of suggested items will be sent to you.
An excellent guide for the area we will be visiting can be found at www.avatarmeherbaba.org. “Welcome Home” http://userview.home.mindspring.com/welcomehome/index.html you will find the answers to most if not all your questions as well as some pictures of Meherabad. (more pictures of Meherabad can be found in the Photo Galleries on this site) Good information can also be found in the Lonely Planet and Fodor’s guides. For answers to questions not found here feel free to contact us.
• Approximately half of the visit will be at Meherabad. There is a Pilgrim Retreat which accommodates 200 people. The rooms are light and airy. They have desks, closets and beds equipped with mosquito nets. The rooms accommodate 1, 2 and 4 persons. The food is vegetarian and is served buffet style. Chai is served in the morning and afternoon. Meherabad was Meher Baba’s second ashram and he did most of his work here which included schools and hospitals. It is non denominational and all religious traditions are represented and respected. It is now a site of pilgrimage for tens of thousands from all over the world every year. More information can be found here http://www.meherbabainformation.org/meherabad.asp.
Health and Insurance
In the event the need should arise for health care, Meherabad has a health clinic and a hospital. I also have a personal physician who has his own health clinic just west of Ahmednagar. Travelers insurance is required which will cover trip issues related to flight cancellation, lost luggage etc. as well as health issues. Insurance is available from a number of providers including American Express. A good list of companies and reviews can be found here. http://www.topconsumerreviews.com/travel-insurance/
Our trips are open to all reasonably fit adults and young adults. Typically, a person under 18 years of age may join a trip only if accompanied by a parent or designated guardian and with the consent of the trip leader.
How to Register for a Trip
We accept reservations on a first-come, first-served basis.
Phone: You can register calling 479-846-4094 or 479-422-4361.
Online: You can register over the Web using our secure and easy online reservation form.
U.S. Mail: If you’re registering for a trip via U.S. mail, you should fill out one reservation form for each trip and include all people who want to be considered as part of that trip party. The first person on the reservation form is considered the primary applicant and will be the only party member to receive reservation information, brochures, bills, and forms. Please include on a separate sheet of paper any addresses that may be different from the primary applicant’s address. Mail your completed reservation to the address listed on the form.
Every trip requires a deposit for each individual on the trip (including children). The amount of the deposit varies with the trip price:
Trip Price Deposit
One half the cost of the trip is required at registration.
We apply your deposit to the trip price when we confirm your reservation. All deposits and payments are in U.S. dollars ($). If you make your reservation less than 60 days before the trip starts, the full trip fee is due when you register. If you cancel from a trip, you may be charged a cancellation fee. Please read the cancellation chart.
When a space is available on a trip and you pay your trip deposit, we reserve a confirmed spot for you and mail a confirmation packet to the primary trip party participant. (If you’re registering alone, this is you.) Your confirmation packet includes three important forms for each person in the trip party. Each participant needs to complete the three forms when he/she receives them and return them Deccan Spirit within 30 days to get approved. (Confirmation is subject to approval by the trip leader: see approval process for details.)
We give you a two-week (14-day) grace period from your sign-up date to cancel reservation free of charge. However, if the trip leaves within 30 days of your sign-up date, there is no grace period. After the two-week grace period, we assume you still want to participate, and you are then subject to cancellation fees if you cancel (see cancellation chart).
If there isn’t space available when you register, we place you on a wait list, and your deposit holds your space there. As long as you remain on the wait list, your deposit is fully refundable at any time. We assume you still want to participate if a space becomes available. We automatically move you onto the trip if an opening occurs.
• If space becomes available and you are moved onto a trip more than 30 days prior to the trip start date, we notify you via U.S. mail or email of your new signed-up status, and we give you a two-week grace period from that new sign-up date to cancel with a full refund. After the two-week grace period, we assume you still want to participate, and you are then subject to cancellation fees if you cancel (see cancellation chart).
• If space becomes available and you are moved onto a trip within 30 days of the trip start date, we notify you via U.S. mail or email and by phone. You then have two (2) business days in which to cancel with a full refund. After the two-day grace period, we assume you still want to participate, and you are then subject to cancellation fees if you cancel (see cancellation chart).
Once you move off the wait list and onto the trip, your acceptance is still subject to approval by the trip leader (see approval process). You should complete all participant approval forms when you receive them and return them to the trip leader, even if you are on the wait list.
If your wait listed group is a party of two or more, we may move smaller trip parties ahead of you in order to fill the trip. We will only do this within two months of the trip start date.
All trip reservations are subject to approval by the trip leader. We mail a confirmation packet to the primary party member, whether the party is confirmed on the trip or is on the wait list. Included in the packet are three forms for each trip participant to complete: the participant approval form, the medical form, and the liability waiver. Each trip participant must promptly fill out and return these three forms to the trip leader (the trip leader’s address is listed on the forms). You are subject to cancellation from a trip if you don’t submit these three forms to the trip leader within 30 days of making your reservation.
The trip leader reviews these forms and makes sure that each trip participant has the experience, and physical conditioning needed for the outing. The trip leader will contact you if you are not approved for the trip. If you are not leader-approved, we will refund any trip fee payments you have made to date If you have any questions about your suitability for a trip, you should contact the trip leader directly.
Full payment of your trip fee is due 90 days prior to the trip start date. You need to send final payments by the dates indicated in your confirmation packet.
Please note: Your payments are due at the times indicated, regardless of your approval status. If we don’t receive your payment on time, we may cancel your reservation, in which case you forfeit your deposit.
If you are wait listed, no payment other than the required deposit is necessary. We will bill you when you make it onto the trip as a signed-up participant. If you decide to cancel within your grace period, we will refund you all trip fees paid to date. (See wait list for grace period details.)
Unless otherwise noted, adults and children pay the same prices.
Our trip prices do not include travel to and from a trip’s starting point. Travel to and from the starting point is your responsibility. The starting point for this trip is Mumbai, India. Most international flights to Mumbai arrive either late at night or early in the morning. If the date for you to be in Mumbai is say Jan. 5th that means you will arrive before 11.59 PM on the 4th. Or early AM on the 5th. Please be advised we will be leaving the hotel promptly at 10 AM the day of the trip. It is suggested you arrive as early as possible, so that you can get some rest and get over jet lag. You may be asked to make your travel arrangements through a specific travel agency.
Cancellations and Refunds
You must notify us directly if you need to cancel from a trip. You can contact Deccan Spirit weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., CST, 479-846-4094 or 479-422-4361. The amount of your refund is determined by the date that you notify Deccan Spirit of your cancellation. Trip leaders have no authority to grant or promise refunds.
Deccan Spirit regrets that it cannot make exceptions to the reservation and cancellation policy for any reason, including personal emergencies. The reservation and cancellation policy applies to all reservations, regardless of whether or not the trip leader has notified you of approval. Your trip insurance policy is VERY important in this regard.
Trips Cancelled or Changed by Deccan Spirit
On rare occasions, we must cancel or change trips. If this occurs, our responsibility is limited to a refund of any trip fees you’ve already paid. Deccan Spirit is not responsible for airline tickets, other tickets or payments, or any similar fee penalties that you may incur as a result of any trip cancellations or changes.
We require you to purchase travel insurance to cover: cancellation fees associated with a trip as well as airfare or other nonrefundable expense in the event you need to cancel a trip; medical expenses incurred on a trip; and the cost of a possible medical evacuation from a trip. We suggest you visit this site http://www.topconsumerreviews.com/travel-insurance/ to find a travel insurance plan to fit your needs. You will need to submit proof of insurance along with your final payment for trip approval.
You may be required to provide a physician’s statement of your physical fitness. Special inoculations may be required for international travel. You should also check with a physician regarding immunization against tetanus, which we recommend for travel in developing countries.
In the case of accident, illness, or a missing trip member, Deccan Spirit—through its trip leaders—will attempt to provide appropriate first aid, and will try to arrange for search and evacuation assistance when the trip leader determines it is necessary or desirable, and that emergency help or evacuation may be difficult to arrange. Costs of an evacuation and/or search (e.g., helicopter), and of medical care beyond basic first aid, are the financial responsibility of the ill or injured person. Back country medical aid is costly, and Deccan Spirit does not provide this coverage for participants on any of its trips. Therefore, we advise you to obtain medical and evacuation insurance: you can usually purchase it as part of a travel insurance package. (See travel insurance.)
Dismissal from a Trip
At the trip leader’s discretion, you may be asked to leave a trip if the trip leader feels that your further participation may be detrimental to you, the trip, or to other participants on the trip.
Items Not Allowed
Firearms and pets (except for seeing-eye dogs and other service dogs) and illegal drugs are not allowed on any Deccan Spirit trips.
In order to ensure your safety and that of others on the trip, you are responsible for the following: Providing accurate and complete personal information requested for approval; carefully reviewing all trip information provided, and understanding as thoroughly as possible the physical and mental demands of the trip, as well as possible risks; properly equipping yourself in accordance with recommendations of the trip leader and Deccan Spirit respecting the customs of the areas/countries visited, avoiding breaking any applicable laws, and refraining from antisocial conduct during the trip; following environmental guidelines and regulations in accordance with direction from the trip leader; and always respecting the rights and privacy of other trip members.
Electronic devices are discouraged but may be used as long as, in the judgement of the trip leader, they do not impair the safety, serenity, or enjoyment of any trip member, or cohesiveness of the group. Wi Fi is available in a few locations as are internet cafes. Due to Indian Government regulations it will take over a week to get a cell phone or a SIM card so it is not worth the effort. International calls can be made via Skype and at STD phone stands
Deccan Spirit reserves the right to take photographs and/or videos during Deccan Spirit trip, and to use those photographs and/or videos for marketing purposes for Deccan Spirit. As a participant on one of our trips, you therefore are agreeing to let your image be used in such photographs and/or videos. Participants who do not wish their images to be used in this manner should notify the trip leader in advance. When taking pictures in certain places such as temples and mosques always ask, to avoid any unpleasant confrontations. The same applies to taking pictures of individuals as they may object to you photographing them.
CANCELLATION FEES APPLY AS FOLLOWS:
|Time of cancellation||Cancellation fee per person|
|A||90 or more days prior to trip start date (except as noted in “E” below)||Amount of deposit|
|B||14-89 days prior to trip start date (except as noted in “E” below)||50% of trip fee|
|C||0-13 days prior to trip start date||Entire trip fee|
|D||“No-show” at the starting point, or you leave during a trip||Entire trip fee|
YOU WILL NOT PAY CANCELLATION FEES IF:
|E||You cancel from a confirmed position within 14 days of Deccan Spirit receives your reservation. NOTE: This 14-day grace period does not apply if the trip start date is within 30 days of when Deccan Spirit receives your reservation.|
|F||You are not approved by the trip leader (after that trip leader has received your approval forms).|
|G||You cancel within 14 days of a Deccan Spirit change in trip date, trip leader, and/or trip price.|
|H||You cancel from a wait list.|
|I||You fail to move off a wait list onto a trip as a signed-up participant.|
Have a great time! Our main goal is providing you with a safe, enjoyable, and inspiring spiritually rich journey.