A Sacred Himalayan Pilgrimage
Experience a Life-Changing Adventure to Holy Sites and Ancient Monasteries.

Sunday, Sep 29 – Sunday, Oct 20, 2019

Explore the most sacred spiritual sites in India. Linked to Self-realized masters for thousands of years, these mountains embody spiritual aspiration. Together we'll ascend the Himalayan heights!

The Himalayas! “The Roof of the World.”

This will be an Extraordinary Spiritual Journey through the Mystical Lands of the Indian Himalayas 

We invite you to experience the exquisite beauty and spiritual power of Udaipur, Ladakh, Badrinath, and Rishikesh. On this trip you will experience the high Himalayas firsthand, as few people have. 

Of incomparable natural beauty, the Himalayas have been central to scriptures, myths, and legends of countless cultures and religions. Linked to Self-realized masters for thousands of years, these mountains embody spiritual aspiration and mankind’s highest potential.

We’ll travel to Ladakh, Badrinath, and Rishikesh—not by days of trekking, but directly by train, plane, and car. This pilgrimage is for those who love nature, high mountains, and places of spiritual power—without need to be a hiker or climber. 

Visit caves of Sri Shankacharya, founder of the ancient Swami order, Ved Byasa, who scribed the Indian epic scripture, the Mahabharata, of which the Bhagavad Gita is the core. Ancient monasteries in Ladakh, still standing untouched by foreign invasion, are beautiful works of architecture as well as power spots of spirituality.

Explore and drink the nectar of some of the most sacred spiritual sites in India. Together we'll ascend the extraordinary Himalayan heights!

Some of the unforgettable experiences of this trip:

  • A thousand years of continuous Tibetan Buddhist tradition, in the rarefied high desert beauty of Ladakh
  • Following a branch of the Ganges River, from the plains almost to its source, all the way up to Badrinath, a spiritual destination of great power, even more ancient than India’s scriptures
  • Visiting spiritual teachers and ashrams in Rishikesh; walking, shopping and meditating along the banks of the Ganges
  • The extraordinary sights and vibrations of the high Himalayas, and beautiful, ancient cultures
  • The spiritual power emanating from age-old sacred temples and monasteries
  • The spiritual power generated by our own group, through conscious practices, meditation, chanting, spiritual fellowship, and giving back to places of pilgrimage
  • Driving and walking among rugged mountains and remote spiritual destinations
  • Experienced leadership and guidance by Ananda tour leaders and our local experts
Himalayan Pilgrimage group

Udaipur – City of the Lakes

Udaipur, in Rajasthan, is known as the City of Lakes. The marble palaces, beautifully laid out gardens and the lakes make Udaipur seem almost like a mirage. Surrounded by the ancient Aravali Mountains and set on the edge of three lakes, Its a brilliant kaleidoscope of narrow lanes flanked by bright stalls, gardens, lakes, palaces and temples.

 We’ll visit the huge and impressive City Palace, the nearby Jagdish temple, an ancient architectural wonder, and take a boat ride on Lake Pichola out to the Jagmandir Island Palace. Shopping in Udaipur is rich and varied.

 

Himalayan Pilgrimage Ladakh

 Ancient Buddhist Ladakh

The environment of Ladakh, known as "Little Tibet," is absolutely stunning. Rolling valley plains are surrounded by spectacular mountains. The remoteness of this area has a feeling of ageless power and grandiose splendor.

 To reach Ladakh we'll fly directly over the Himalayas, one of the most beautiful flights in the world. A well-kept global secret, Ladakh is part of the Tibetan plateau, and has remained a Shangri-La of traditional Buddhist heritage and culture. Only recently have foreigners been allowed to visit. Our trip is timed for good weather conditions – much of the year Ladakh endures harsh cold weather. From our simple hotel in the Ladakh capital of Leh, we'll take day trips to explore the Indus river valley, visiting and meditating in sacred hilltop monasteries and temples.

 

Himalayan Pilgrimage Badrinath

Badrinath: Land of Spirit

Badrinath is considered the most important of the four sites in India's Char Dham pilgrimage, and gets its name from the temple of Badrinath. It’s unlike anywhere else in the world. The rugged pure beauty of the mountains and rivers alone makes this an unforgettable trip. It is one of the highest places in India accessible by road, and rests near the Tibetan/Chinese border. From here, giant glaciers form one source of the mighty and sacred Ganges River. 

 Much lore surrounds Badrinath: Paramhansa Yogananda said the immortal Mahavatar Babaji lives nearby to this day. Badrinath is mentioned in the ancient texts of India, and was re-established as a pilgrimage site in the ninth century by Adi Shankaracharya, the great reformer of Hinduism and founder of the Swami order. Legend also tells of the Pandavas of the Mahabharata making their divine ascension here.

 

Himalayan Pilgrimage Rishikesh

Rishikesh: Gateway to the Himalayas 

Rishikesh, land of the Rishis, is situated on the banks of the Ganges River. Saints and sages have frequented this sacred foothill locale for centuries.

Hundreds of ashrams and yoga and meditation centers populate this fascinating and picturesque area. Among the sacred places we will visit are the sites made holy by Swami Sivananda, Anandamayee Ma, other saints and ancient rishis. We’ll also visit Vanamali Devi, now known simply as Mataji, a modern spiritual teacher and author; and the Kriya Yoga Ashram of Swami Shankarananda, disciple of Swami Sri Yukteswar’s lineage.

 Other Rishikesh activities:

  • Morning meditation on the Ganges river ghats and Swami Sivananda’s kutir (home) which is now a shrine.
  • Attend the celebrated Ganga arati at Parmarth Ashram.
  • Visit Anandamayee Ma’s ashram.
  • Meditate next to the ashes of Lahiri Mahasaya at the ashram of Swami Keshabananda.
  • Experience the Sivananda bhajan hall where “Hare Krishna, Hare Rama” has been chanted non-stop since 1942. 
  • Stroll along the banks of the Ganges, relax, shop in the myriad shops and stalls that are in abundance.

.“The benefit of pilgrimage to holy places is not because of their rich history, but for the fact that divine blessings can be experienced when visiting them. Their very soil is impregnated with a higher consciousness.”

—Swami Kriyananda

 Is this Trip for Me?

Your own meditation practice will enhance the pilgrimage experience, but is not necessary to deeply enjoy this trip. A love of adventure, high mountains, natural beauty, ancient cultures, spiritual traditions, and silence is all that is needed. Optional group meditations are offered most days.

You should be moderately fit, without health conditions liable to be affected by elevations up to 11,500 feet. All destinations involve climbing many stairs, at your own pace. Extensive walking is not required. Longer hikes are optional.

 Travelling in the high mountains one must expect the unexpected, and flexibility is a key item to pack in your suitcase. Daytime weather is usually mild, but can also change suddenly. Roads are occasionally blocked by falling rock, which may cause delay or change of plans. 

 Pilgrimage Leaders

This pilgrimage is led by Krishnadas and Mantradevi LoCicero and Keshava Taylor. They are all experienced pilgrimage leaders, long-time Ananda teachers and down-to-earth yogis, with big hearts. Every aspect of this adventuresome pilgrimage is carefully planned, coordinated, and prepared, for maximum ease of travel and depth of experience, in all ways. Ananda has a long history of successful inspirational pilgrimages in India, and around the world, We work closely with local experts and qualified services to guide each trip with greatest safety, inspiration, and care.

Testimonials:

I can't say enough about the many wonderful and powerful experiences I had on our pilgrimage! Feeling the amazing power of the many sacred places stands out. And being a part of a group of like-minded people was a strong confirmation of how real our spiritual journey is.

—V.B., Aptos, California, USA

 I love Badrinath! ...there are no words to express what we experienced [there] both individually and as a group. For me it was a divine experience like never before.

—R. B., Gurgaon, India

Himalayan Pilgrimage Rishikesh


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Nayaswami Krishnadas

Nayaswami Krishnadas

Spiritual Travel Host, Meditation Teacher, Director of Guest Services, Ananda Minister and Counselor
What is a nayaswami?

An exceptionally knowledgeable and gifted meditation teacher, Nayaswami Krishnadas shares his passion for meditation with dynamic enthusiasm. Over the last three decades he has taught thousands of people, from all over the world, how to meditate.

See programs, articles, and full bio.


Nayaswami Mantradevi

Nayaswami Mantradevi

Ananda Minister and Counselor, Raja and Hatha Yoga Teacher, Spiritual Travel Host
What is a nayaswami?

Nayaswami Mantradevi teaches with insight, clarity and joy, gained from over 35 years of meditating and sharing yoga philosophy. Her concern for others is one of her key qualities, and she has the innate ability to communicate and apply spiritual principles to real life situations. Her classes are creative and experiential, with humor and discussions keeping them lively and interactive.

See programs, articles, and full bio.


Keshava

Keshava

Keshava Taylor is the spiritual co-director of Ananda’s meditation center in Delhi. Keshava and his wife Daya have lived in India since the founding of Ananda's work there in 2003. He has been leading pilgrimages in India for the past 13 years. In addition to organizing trips in India for Westerners, Keshava regularly lead trips for Indian pilgrims to spiritual power points around the country. Living in India, they continue to develop relationships with the custodians of these shrines, as well as our tour operators, guides, and hotels.




See programs, articles, and full bio.



Accommodations, Meals, Transportation

All hotels, restaurants, and menus have been personally inspected by Ananda. We'll stay in clean, Western-style, comfortable but not luxurious 2- or 3-star hotel rooms with attached bath, and central heating where needed. In the mountains the variety of fruits and vegetables is limited. Still, hotel buffet meals include simple but healthy Indian, Western, and Asian dishes.

We'll fly from Delhi to Leh, about 1 hour each way. Transportation within Ladakh will be by air-conditioned bus or SUV, on good roads, driving 2 - 4 hours a day for two days..

Transportation up to Badrinath includes air-conditioned train the first afternoon, followed by 12 - 14 hours of driving by air-conditioned SUV, spread over two days. The road to Badrinath is spectacularly scenic, but often curving. Washouts during the monsoon season are never fully repaired, making the road paved for most of the distance, but also with long gravel stretches, sometimes in poor condition. Our drivers are well-experienced with these roads,and we'll have a very experienced local guide we have worked with for almost 30 years of Ananda Himalayan pilgrimages, but this is definitely a mountain adventure.

About the Altitude

Leh is at an elevation of 11,500 feet. Arriving by flight requires a 12- to 24-hour acclimatization period to adjust to the elevation and thin air. We'll spend our first day resting, drinking extra water, and having light, optional activity within the town of Leh. By taking this rest period, most people have little discomfort. You should consult your doctor if you have a chronic problem that could be affected by elevation. There is no need to walk long distances, but both Ladakh and Badrinath involve climbing many stairs. Those with asthma, diabetes, blood pressure, lung or heart conditions should consult their doctors and may need to limit their activity. You may choose to arrive in India a day or two earlier than the group if you would like extra time to rest and get over jetlag, before ascending to this elevation. This would cost just $100-150 per day extra. Badrinath is only slightly lower than Ladakh, at 10,000 feet, but we make our ascent gradually by road. Also in Badrinath, hiking is optional, and you can have a thoroughly enjoyable time without long walks.

Costs

Double occupancy* $5495
Early-bird price for double occupancy if paid in full before May 1, 2019* $5195
Single occupancy $6995
Early-bird price for single occupancy if paid in full before May 1, 2019 $6595

*All prices are per person based on double occupancy

Special note: If you book a shared room and you or your roommate decides to change to private accommodations, BOTH of you will need to pay the single occupancy rate (provided another room is available, of course). Also, if you request a shared accommodation but there is no one to share with you, you’ll need to pay the single occupancy rate.

Payment

In order to reserve your space, please submit a down payment of $1000 with your reservation form.

Cancellation Policy

If you cancel by June 1, 2019, your payment will be refunded, less a $300 cancellation fee. If you cancel after June 1, 2019, any refunds will be subject to the terms and conditions of any travel/hotel fees, our tour company and other providers in India, plus any other charges incurred on your behalf by Ananda Sangha.

Price Includes:

  • All ground and air transportation in India, within the itinerary
  • Accommodations in each destination
  • Two meals per day for 10 days, usually breakfast and dinner and 3 meals for 6 days
  • All required tips and taxes
  • Professional local guides, and tour leaders from Ananda

Price does not include:

Flight to and from India; passport and visa fees; travel insurance; excess baggage charges; most lunches; items of a personal nature - laundry, snacks, beverages other than those included with meals, room service, any transportation outside of group activities, hotel telephone or internet, donations, and medical care should you need it.

Passport

You will need a passport that is valid until March 2020. If yours expires before March 2020, you must renew it before you request your visa. If you need a new passport, or need to renew one, do so immediately by going to travel.state.gov. You will find instructions there.

Visa

All our travel will be within India. You'll need a visa for India, but no other special permits. The easiest way to obtain a visa is to go to a nearby Indian Embassy, or go to the web-site: www.cgisf.org

Please check with Krishnadas before filling out your visa application for the special information you will need to include on your application:

Name:   Email:  

Krishnadas will be available to assist you in getting the right application form (depends where you live) filling it out, and sending it.

Flights

You can fly on your own to Delhi. The airport designation is DEL. We will arrange your pick-up from the airport to the resort.

We will be happy to help book your flights and we can travel together to India. At this time, the cost appears likely to be about $1350 round trip. (We will give you an exact figure at the time you wish to book.)

Connecting Flights

If you will be coming from cities other than San Francisco, please arrive early enough to ensure that you will not miss the international flight to Delhi!

If you are coming from California

Please arrive at San Francisco by 10pm, the day of the travel.


Reserve Your Space

A $1000 deposit is required. The balance is due May 1, 2019
Reserve online now. Please call 1-800-346-5350 or 530-478-7518 if you have any questions.

Following is the itinerary for our 2019 A Sacred Himalayan Pilgrimage.

It describes the main sights you will experience and see. The itinerary can change here and there, according to need or circumstance. You will receive an itemized itinerary during our opening gathering in Delhi.

Arrival in Delhi

Sunday, September 29

Most pilgrims will land in New Delhi, the capital of India, and ride by car or bus to our hotel. Most international flights arrive at night. This will give you a chance to immediately go to sleep and start adjusting to India time.

Monday, September 30

Orientation in Dehli, India

Our first day will be lightly scheduled, in order to give you time for rest and orientation. A four-minute walk from the hotel is the Ananda meditation center. There we’ll have lunch and an opening gathering. You can change dollars for rupees at this time.

Meeting new friends in Dehli, India

The Ananda Delhi Center, directed by Keshava and Daya Taylor, will serve as a home base for our pilgrimage. We’ll return there after Udaipur, and at the end the pilgrimage. It offers a peaceful oasis to visit, to “rest and re-group,” enjoy group meditations and home-cooked meals. Keshava will help lead the pilgrimage with us. His part has been to organize the Indian logistics of our trip.

After lunch we’ll offer an optional outing to an outdoor Market.

The next morning we’ll leave early to fly to Udaipur

Udaipur

Tuesday to Friday, October 1-4

The next three nights will be spend in Udaipur. Its beautiful, exotic surroundings are perfect for transitioning into India. A short flight from Delhi will take us to this vibrant and gorgeous city. We’ll explore the rich culture of Rajasthan, while adjusting to the Indian time zone. Udaipur has impressive temples, museums, and natural features. Our hotel is right on the lake with picturesque views and high level comfort.

On the agenda is the huge and impressive City Palace; the nearby Jagdish Temple, an ancient architectural wonder; and a serene boat ride on Lake Pichola out to the Jagmandir Island Palace. Shopping in Udaipur is rich and varied.

Ladakh

View of Ladakh, India

Ladakh is India's most remote and sparsely populated region, a high desert, cradled by the Karakoram and the Himalayas.

It offers a unique Himalayan landscape and culture that, until 1974, had been glimpsed by only a few intrepid Western travelers. It is one of the last undisturbed enclaves of Mahayana Buddhism, Ladakh's principal religion for the last thousand years. Perched on rocky hilltops and sheer cliffs, medieval monasteries are both repositories of ancient wisdom and living centers of worship.

Saturday, October 5

Aerial view of Ladakh, India

 

In the morning we’ll fly to Leh, the capital of Ladakh. It’s just a one-hour flight, but one of the most spectacular in the world—flying over the whole Himalayan range, from south to north, at an altitude low enough for incredible views.

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After checking in to our hotel, (see below), we’ll rest for most of the day to acclimatize our bodies to the 11,500 foot elevation and the rarified air.

View of Ladakh, India

Mid-afternoon we’ll offer a visit to Shanti Stupa for a view over Leh, the meandering bright green Indus Valley, surrounding high desert, and lofty mountain peaks. We can then walk through a traditional village to reach Leh’s main bazaar, on the ancient Silk Road connecting China, India, and Europe. It’s still a crossroads of Tibetan, Kashmiri, and Indian culture.

Our dinners in Leh will be at our hotel, a building using traditional Tibetan architecture.

Sunday, October 6

Buddhist Temple of Ladakh, India

We’ll leave early to witness soul-stirring traditional morning prayers and chanting by the Buddhist monks at the 15th century Tikse monastery, followed by breakfast.

With our Ladakhi Buddhist guide, we’ll visit and meditate in Tikse, Hemis, and Stakna monasteries—vibrant centers of meditation, dedication, and service, preserving a deep and ancient mystical heritage, still intact.

Hemis is the largest and wealthiest monastery, founded in 1672, and home to 500 monks. Old manuscripts found in the monastery support the tradition that Jesus stayed at this spot during his “lost years.”

Monday, October 7

Buddhist Temple Paintings,Ladakh,India

After breakfast we’ll take a scenic drive along—and high above—the Indus River, and visit the charming ancient village of Alchi, containing deeply peaceful 11th century temples. See there wall paintings done in Kashmiri style, amazingly preserved by Ladakh’s rarefied air and dry climate. The Buddha’s teachings were brought from India first to Kashmir, then to Ladakh, then to Tibet in the 9th century. Ladakh’s continuous and still vibrant tradition of meditation, introspection, and Buddha’s teachings of Dharma, dates from this time.

We’ll also visit Likir and Spituk monasteries, which offer rich collections of paintings and Buddhist artifacts, and the opportunity to feel the tangible power left by centuries of spiritual masters and monks meditating in these same shrines.

Tuesday, October 8

We’ll take an early morning flight to Dehradun via Delhi, then drive to Rishikesh on the Ganges River for the night.

View of Badrinath,India

Badrinath

Wednesday, October 9

After meditation and breakfast we start our driving trip, slowly climbing through small villages and above beautiful river canyons, following the Ganges River toward one of its two sources. After about 6 hours of driving, our dinner and overnight stop is Rudraprayag.

Thursday, October 10

Temple in centre of village of Badrinath,India

After meditation and breakfast, we continue driving, much of the time still along the Ganges, as continuously stunning and lofty mountain vistas unfold. After about 7 hours we gratefully reach our final destination of Badrinath, at an elevation of 10,000 feet. Badrinath is remote and beautiful, with a spiritual power tangible to all who come. It’s remarkable that such an isolated place can exert so much influence religiously, culturally, and spiritually.

Krishnadas in the village of Badrinath,India

 

If there is time in the late afternoon, we’ll visit the famous temple in the center of town, above the Ganges, which here is much smaller, and known as the Alaknanda River. The colorful Temple of Badrinath enshrines the sacred statue discovered in the river by Sri Shankaracharya in the 9th century. This statue depicts a seated, long-haired yogi, looking strikingly like Mahavatar Babaji. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims each year seek spiritual blessings at this holy site.

 

 

 

Friday, October 11

We can meditate at the temple in early morning, then walk back to our hotel for breakfast.

We’ll drive a short distance to the village of Mana, just 15 miles from the border of Tibet. From here, amidst stunning natural beauty and clear air, ancient history becomes blended with still more ancient Hindu mythology. We’ll meditate in the cave where Ved Vyasa is said to have written the Mahabharata epic. Another cave is attributed to the elephant-headed Ganesha, who served as Vyasa’s scribe.

Caves above the village of Badrinath,India

Close by, the characters of the Mahabharata come to life, as the “Stairway to Heaven” marks the path the Pandava brothers took at the end of their lives; Bhima’s bridge is the boulder he is said to have placed so his brothers could cross the Saraswati River. The Saraswati River is said to have its source from the mountain here, and flows above ground for only a short distance before going underground, only to emerge hundreds of miles later at Allahabad.

It’s just a 2-mile walk along the river from Mana to Badrinath. We’ll have dinners together at our hotel every evening in Badrinath.

Saturday, October 12

Caves above the village of Badrinath,India

While it’s still dark, we can walk to the temple and participate in the unique and moving early morning Abhishek puja, full of symbolism, led by Badrinath’s head priest.

After breakfast we can walk in the Neelkanth Valley, above the temple, where a number of sadhus and yogis live very simply. There is a special place on the river where departed souls are blessed and prayed for, and we can offer our own love and blessings at this spot. Free time in the afternoon can include bathing in the hot springs below the temple.

 

 

 

Sunday, October 13

Meditation can be at the temple, breakfast as usual at the hotel. Today we can spend longer in the Mana area, and those who wish can walk the “Stairway to Heaven” as far as Vasundhara Falls—a 3-mile hike. Free time can be spent exploring the town and hills at your own pace.

Monday, October 14

Cave Meditation,India

After an early breakfast we’ll start our drive down the mountain. An important stop will be the ancient town of Joshimath, where we can visit and meditate in Adi Shankaracharya’s cave, where he is said to have achieved enlightenment. Here, also, is one of the four monasteries he established in the four cardinal points of India.

Swami Kriyananda wrote, "I have always suspected that Paramhansa Yogananda was, in fact, himself Shankaracharya. Some of the stories he told me about that great master seemed to me the sort of thing history could not have recorded."

Cave Meditation,India

 

We expect to arrive late afternoon at Rudraprayag and will stay the night there.

 

 

 

 

Rishikesh

Tuesday to Friday, October 15 - 18

After meditation and breakfast we’ll drive from Rudraprayag to Rishikesh. Along the way, we’ll stop at a beautiful natural stretch of the Ganges River, meditate in Vashishta Guha, a large, very powerful cave, said to have been that of the ancient sage Vashishta, and spend some time beside the river. Late afternoon we’ll arrive in Rishikesh, and have dinner at our hotel.

View of Rishikesh,India

 

View of Rishikesh,India

Swami Sivananda came to Rishikesh in the 1930’s and popularized meditation and yoga, making the town the “capital of yoga.” Our Rishikesh activities include meditation at Sivananda’s cottage on the Ganges River, his samadhi mandir, where his body is, and in the temple where “Hare Krishna, Hare Rama” has been chanted non-stop since 1942.

We can take a boat across the river, and at sunset participate in the Ganga Arati ceremony right on the water. We might meditate in the beautiful domed Kriya Yoga Ashram, built using the calculations of Swami Sri Yukteswar.

View of Rishikesh,India

               One late afternoon we'll have chanting, discussion, and arati with a wise and devoted modern spiritual teacher, Sri Vanamali Devi, now simply called Mataji, at her idyllic ashram overlooking the Ganges River. You’ll also have free time to spend by the river, to sightsee, shop in the markets, and walk along the pathways along the Ganges between the neighborhoods of Ram Jhula and Lakshman Jhula.

One morning, we’ll visit the inspiring and heart touching Mother Miracle School, a non-profit training center for children and families living in impoverished Rishikesh communities. Shahla Ettefagh started with 12 children in an after-school program, and now has over 400 students. Then we’ll take a bus ride 45 minutes to the town of Haridwar, where the enormous Kumbha Mela gathering is held every 12 years.

View of the ganges River in Rishikesh,India

Paramhansa Yogananda said, “If you go to a place where masters have lived, the vibrations there will quicken your realization.” We’ll visit the ashram of Swami Keshabananda, where an outdoor temple houses the ashes of Lahiri Mahasaya. Then we’ll go to the ashram of Anandamayee Ma, immortalized in Autobiography of a Yogi, as the “Joy-Permeated Mother.” Her ashes are kept here in a special shrine, and the house where she lived is preserved.

Saturday, October 19

After one more morning stroll along the Ganges River, meditation, and breakfast we’ll have a late morning departure back to Delhi. After another interesting ride through India to the airport, and a plane ride, we’ll be scooped up and transported back to the hotel where you started your pilgrimage in.

In the evening we will have our final gathering to exchange stories of pilgrimage highlights and bid farewell to each other, until we meet again. Dinner will be served at the Ananda Delhi Center.

Sunday, October 20

Your last day is a free day in Delhi. Time to get everything repacked and refresh yourself for the trip back home. Since many pilgrims have late night flights, your hotel room is reserved for an additional night. This gives you all day to have your room, plus the option of leaving early the next morning, with usual morning check out time.

Upon returning home expect to feel the deep blessings of pilgrimage for a long time afterwards.

Go with Love!

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