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A Magical and Rejuvenating Stay along the Ganges in India

Hey there!

Wow, our most recent adventures have been truly one of kind. Sorry, to eveyone out there that has been looking forward to our latest post, we haven't had the chance to catch up on group orientated activities lately; such as blogging because we where staying at the beautiful Phool Chatti Ashram in Rishikesh. Last week was such a terrific and benificial experience for us all. A soul cleansing, spell enchanting stay that was much needed and had been something we were in all need of after our second stay in Delhi whether we knew it at the time or not. The ashram is a small paradise nestled between large mountainous hills and it overlooks the scared Ganges river. Setting the perfect atmosphere for personal growth and deep reflection time. Our days spent there were some of the most structured so far on our journey. Each morning we were met with a budding sunrise of warm colors and powdery clouds. The mornings consisted of us beginning with a silent meditation, chanting, yogic cleansing practices and finally followed by Hatha yoga. Thereafter, we would grab our plates up to silent breakfast (all meals and activities before lunch where carried in silence. And I have to say it really added a special element to meal time). Breakfast was my favorite meal, nothing better than fresh tropical fruit salad and hot homemade honey porridge in the morning! I ask you ”please sir may I have some more”? Our afternoons were filled with daily chores and nice soothing walks along crisp clear rivers,creeks, and waterfalls. We often found ourselves becoming one with the nature around us and looked forward to exploring more of the beautiful sites. After lunch and 2 hours of free time we would spend our evenings conversing over lectures, grabbing our yoga mats for one more round and commencing the evening affairs with Pooja. Finally, to end our long days we would finish with Kirtan (musical melodies of flutes, violins, drums and chantings). Lastly, before venturing off to join our dreams we went to evening guided meditations. As days went by it began to feel routine and we began to make friendships. Some of the highlights were: dunking ourselves into the fridged mother Ganges as a way of rejuvenating our bodies, minds and souls; basking in the warm sun like children do hours on end and swimming in the Him river; bundling up tight next to each other; playing music and acting out skits next a large bonfire as we sipped cups of chai. But personaly the most enjoyable moment was on the final day of our stay; we did a Fire Ceremony which involved reciting a chant 108 times and throwing a mix of special woods into a small flame. It was a perfect way to end our stay. We left feeling our healthiest, strongest and clearist in minds that we have felt in a long time.

Our time there was well spent and we all experienced feelings that we have never felt before. But like always the time came when we had to hit the road. We decided to extend our stay in Rishikesh as we felt that there was just so much we had yet to see and do still. We didn't waste anytime and before we knew it we rafting class 3 rapids and riding the bull!!!! Let's just say Lindsay rides in style, guys. We left with smiles on our faces as we chased after our departing train to Dharamasala. What an adrenaline rush that was!

Today Shanti left the Dev Bala family farm in outer Dharamsala, where we stayed for five rejuvenating days. Dev Bala sits right on the foothills of the Himalayas, which means you can stand in the garden, gazing out over luscious semi-tropical fields and farms in the valley, and turn your head to look at the snowcapped peaks right above you. The family at the farm grows what seemed like everything imaginable to us–bananas, papayas, cherries, starfruit, spinach, pumpkin, squash, coriander, turmeric, ginger, hibiscus, roses, peonies, the list goes on and on. They made us homemade bread and fresh curd and buffalo butter every day as well. Some of our activities this week included lovely walks through the surrounding wheat fields, a bumpy open top jeep ride to a hot springs IN A TEMPLE, a visit to a nunnery, playing frisbee, meeting a Tibetan activist and watching a documentary about Tibet, lots of reading in the garden, extended breaks for chai, and doing henna with our host sister, Priyanka.

Today we're dealing with Indian bureaucracy trying to get travel permits and shaky internet connection before we continue to Bir.

In good spirits and health, sending lots of love for everyone at home, 

Shanti Group