1st International Study Tour
Feng Shui Vastu Shastra.
Vastu Shastra (Indian Feng Shui) is the ancient instructions of building which evolved during Vedic times in India. The concepts of Vastu transferred to Tibet, South East Asia and finally to China and Japan where it provided the base for the development of what is now known as Feng Shui.
People, Energy and our Environments. Seminars and unforgettable sacred architectural site visits in North and South India (with an optional trip to Nepal).
Delhi, Jaipur, Udaipur, Ahmedabad, Agra, Bombay, Madras, Malabalipuram, Pondicherry, Auroville, Thanjavur, Kanchipuram, Konark, Varanasi, and Kathmandu (Nepal).
Vastu Research Institute, Seminars with Vastu Shastra Practitioners, lectures on art and sacred design, vedic philosophy and cosmology .
Taj Mahal at full moon (perfect timing!), ancient temples and observatories, traditional and modern designed buildings based on Feng Shui Vastu Shastra, Delhi Museum, Palaces,Forts and much more Magnificent hotels, air conditioned transport
Balwant Saini, our guide throughout the tour, Vastu Practitioner, Author and Architect. Prohbat Poddar, International Vastu Consultant, Teacher and Architect
Roger Green, Feng Shui Design Studio (Australia)
Gina Lazenby, Feng Shui International Network (UK)
William Spear, Macrobiotic Association of Connecticut (USA)
Linsey Franklin, International Feng Shui Centre (USA)
Veronika Schweiger (Germany/Europe)
Day 1 Friday Jan 9th Delhi
Australia / USA / Europe /UK flights arrive Delhi.- the Gateway to India Meeting and assistance on arrival and transfer to the Hotel Imperial
Meet international students and Balwant Saini, our guide and teacher who is accompanying us for the whole tour.
Delhi is the Capital of India and the third largest city, it consists of two parts; Old and New Delhi - you can see the whole history of India in one city dating back thousands of years!
Day 2 Saturday Jan 10th Delhi
Morning - Introduction to Vastu Shastra by Balwant Saini (4 hrs - lunch provided) Afternoon visit to the famous Indian National Museum, which has the best collection of Indian bronzes, terracotta and wood sculptures dating back to the Mauryan period (2nd-3rd century BC) including mural paintings and costumes of the various tribal peoples. Old Delhi and the 'Folk Museum'examples of the craft industry from the whole country.
Saturday evening - Indian Banquet and social evening with Bal Saini and invited local Vastu Shastra practitioners
Day 3 Sunday Jan 11th Delhi
Introduction to Vastu Shastra with Balwant Saini and guest speakers (4 hrs)
Lunch provided . Afternoon visits to:
Old Delhi - much to see and learn - including the ancient walled 'Red Fort' which dates from the peak of the Mughal power. Magnificent gardens and pavilions. Once the most opulent fort and palace of the ornate Mughal Empire; Also visit Jama Masjid, the largest Mosque in India. On our tour we will pass the famous India Gate and the elegant Government buildings and wide boulevards of New Delhi designed by Lutyens.
Day 4 Monday Jan 12th Delhi - Agra
Early morning coach to Agra (204Kms - approx. 5 hrs). Arrive Hotel Trident. Agra is located on the banks of the river Yamuna. Later we visit The massive Agra Fort -stretches for 2.5 km- surrounded by a moat - is really a city within a city, and contains the beautiful marble Moti Masjid, known as the Pearl Mosque for its perfect proportions. At the time of the Moghuls, in the 16th and 17th centuries, Agra was the capital of India and its superb monuments date from that era. Agra Fort was started in 1565 by Akbar with later additions made by his son Jahangir and grandson, Shah Jahan. The maze of courtyards, mosques and private chambers of the fort echo the story of the Mugfhal empire. These magnificent buildings reflect the skill of the ancient Indian architects and artists.
The TAJ MAHAL by FULL MOON! The character of the Taj Mahal changes with the differing lights of the day. One of the seven wonders of the world, built by the emperor Shah Jehan in memory of his beloved consort Mumtaz Mahal, it is the greatest monument to love and devotion. This beautiful mausoleum in pure white marble is an architectural marvel.
Evening drive to hotel Taj Khemka to see the Taj by full moon, a breathtaking sight.
Day 5 Tuesday Jan 13th Agra - Jaipur
Early morning visit to the Taj Mahal. Although the Taj is amazingly graceful from almost any angle, it is the close up detail which is really astounding. Semi precious stones are inlaid into the marble in beautiful patterns with superb craftsmanship in a process known as pietra dura.
Morning Coach to Jaipur (distance 204 km)via Fatehpur Sikri - one of the most perfectly preserved 'ghost towns' imaginable. Set on podiums of red sandstone, the free-standing pavilions recall the semi-nomadic patterns of earlier desert existence. The Hindu craftsmen constructed the 'Diwan-i-Khas' representing a mandala i.e., a model of the cosmos.(which is not a plan but an energy field!) It has staggering political and metaphysical implications The seat of government has a humanly scaled edifice, the Emperor Akbar (who built it in the late 16th century) wanted to heal the differences that separate, and used this structure for special audiences with his people, where they came to explain their problems and the emperor could summon his advisors. The Diwan-i-Khas is an extraordinary invention: a machine for governing. Fatehpur Sikri was soon abandoned after it was built when the local wells went dry and it remains today in much the same condition that it was over 300 years ago. It is complete with palaces and mosques and used to be a town larger than London when it was originally constructed. Now it is an extraordinary place to wonder around with its buildings in near perfect condition and one is endowed with a great sense of history.
Later we continue to drive and arrive at the Hotel Trident. In the evening witness the Rajasthani Folk Music and Dance programme. Jaipur is the capital city of the state of Rajasthan and is known as the 'pink city' because of the colour of its buildings (in Rajput culture, pink is traditionally a colour associated with hospitality). The city was planned by the astronomer Maharaji Jai Singh ll (1699-1744). He laid the city out according to Shilpa-Shastra, an ancient Hindu treatise on architecture
Evening free to rest or enjoy your own selection of local music and dance performances.
Day 6 Wednesday Jan 14th Jaipur
Morning lecture on sacred architecture (Shilpa Shastra) of Jaipur by Bal Saini (2hrs) Early lunch then an afternoon tour of Jaipur: the City Palace including 'The Palace of the Winds" (Hawa Mahal) , which is an exquisite example of the Rajput architecture. It was built to allow the ladies of the court to watch the streets below with views of the city. It is a distinctive example of architectural delicacy and beauty. The city palace, with its museum, is still the home of the Maharaja of Jaipur. On show are a extensive collection of art, carpets, textiles and weapons, all beautifully preserved.
Jantar Mantar, a 18th century observatory, one of the five built by Maharaja Jai Singh. There is a sun dial with a 30 meter high gnomon. The shadow this casts moves up to 4 metres an hour. Each construction of the sculptures has a specific purpose, such as measuring the positions of stars, altitude and azimuth, or calculating eclipses. It is the best preserved example of the original five observatories built by Jai Singh, founder of Jaipur.Even today - it still looks futuristic and surrealistic.
Day 7 Thursday Jan 15th Jaipur - Udaipur
In the morning, enjoy an excursion to the Amber Fort just outside Jaipur, overlooking the desert plains of Rajasthan. Make an ascent to the palace on the back of a gaily caparisoned elephant and tour the chambers and hallways of the palace which are famous for the excellence of their design and decoration.
Afternoon flight to Udaipur (flight IC 493 1815/2015) Transfer to Hotel Hilltop Place.
Udaipur has been called the 'Venice of the East' because of its romantic atmosphere, fantastic hilltop fortresses, temples and as a centre for the performing arts. Udaipur has magnificent natural landscapes and superb buildings. As usual, Balwant Saini will be explaining the history and Vastu Shastra significance of local sceneries and architecture.
Day 8 Friday Jan 16th Udaipur - Ahmedabad
Morning proceed on a sightseeing tour of Udaipur stopping first at the City Palace. Marvel at the rooms with mirrored walls and ivory doors, coloured glass windows and inlaid marble balconies, as well as one of the highlights of the tour - the Peacock Courtyard. l The City Palace towers over the East bank of the 3 kms wide lake built by Maharaja Udai Singh in 1600 A.D. (by creating a masonry dam). l Ferry trip to the Lake Palace Hotel - a magical place, covering the whole island with courtyards, fountains, gardens and a swimming pools.
Later, depart Udaipur by deluxe motor coach for Ahmedabad (262 Km). On arrival, check in at Hotel Trident Ahmedabad became famous as the site of Gandhi's ashram and the place where he launched the celebrated march against the Salt Law.
Day 9 Saturday Jan 17th Ahmedabad Seminars
One day Seminar with Parul Zaveri and Nimish Patel from Abhikram Conversation Consultants entitled 'Conversation of Cultural Heritage: The Indian Context' Parul and Nimish work is legendary throughout the world for using traditional building materials, techniques, and craftsmen. They have helped initiate new design processes as a focus in renovations, restorations and new constructions in historic settlements. This seminar will demonstrate the ecological use of traditional building materials, in not only restoration work, but for modern buildings as well. In the afternoon we well visit some of these sites.
Saturday evening: Slide presentation with Yatin Pandya. Yatin Pandya is the associate director of the Vastu Shilpa Research Institute in Environmental Design. This Institute was founded by the Grandfather of Indian Architecture, Balkrishna Doshi. Yatin will be taking about the many projects undertaken by the institute using Vastu Shastra, as will as introducing us to our site visits on Sunday.
Day 10 Sunday Jan 18th Ahmedabad - Bombay
Full day coach trip to visit Adalaj - Stepped Wells. This curious well has a series of steps leading down to lower platforms, eventually terminating in a small octagonal well. Subterranean architecture is a rarity in the world, and the elaborate Step Wells have profound metaphysical connotations. Balwant Saini, our teacher, will use the step-wells as an example of his own research and development of cooling environments throughout Asia and tropical countries.
Vastu Shilpa Research Institute and greeted by Yatin Pandya who will show us around and talk about buildings old and new in the Ahmedabad region, and the many projects the Institute is involved with - including the planning of large cities using Vastu Shastra. Site visit to the famous Gandhi Ashram and the Rare Textile museum Modern Ahmedabad is a showpiece of traditional and contemporary architecture with designs by Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn and well known Indian Architects. It is one of the best places to study the blend of Hindu and Islamic architectural styles known as the Indo-Saracenic. Evening transfer to to airport (10 minutes from Hotel) for flight to Bombay (IC-104, 1920 / 2020). Transfer to The Retreat Hotel (an Island Paradise!)
Day 11 Monday Jan 19th Bombay
Full day Seminar with Mr. D.K. Bubbar, from the Angles Architects. Mr. Bubbar is famous in India for his work with Vastu Shastra, and has just finished writing a comprehensive book based on his 30 years experience. This lecture is entitled 'The spirit of Indian Architecture'. Subjects will include Designing harmonious space, Humanised scales and sacred proportions, The site plans and the Mandalas, Philosophy of Vastu Shastra and its applications to modern dwellings, Astrology and fate and how this is used in design.
In the evening, Mr. Harshad Bhatia, and Architect and Urban Designer , will be joining our cultural evening to give a slide presentation on the architectural history of Bombay.
Day 12 Tuesday Jan 20th Bombay - Bangalore
Early morning flight ( IC- 105, 0615 / 0745) to Bangalore to visit the Shi Baba Ashram Hospital which was built with Vastu Shastra principles. Transfer to Ashram in Puttapurthi Stay one night at the Ashram or return and transfer to Hotel Taj Residency
Day 13 Wednesday Jan 21st Bangalore - Madras Day free for independent activities, to enjoy the atmosphere of an Indian Ashram and to meet the people there.
Evening transfer to airport for flight IC-952 1910 / 1955 to Madras Transfer to Hotel Trident.
Day 14 Thursday Jan 22 Madurai
Morning transfer to airport for flight D5 - 201 to Madurai (0600 / 0725) Meeting and assistance on arrival and transfer to Hotel Ashok. Madurai begins our study tour of South India, which is renown for its application of Vastu Shastra. There are many extraordinary examples of Vastu Shastra used over thousands of years. This temple town is unique in that all its temples are living temples and it remains a major religious centre attracting pilgrims the year round. In the afternoon, we will have a tour of Madurai including: The Meenakshi Temple is an excellent example of Dravidian architecture, with gopurams, multicoloured images of gods, goddesses, animals and mythical figures. The temple occupies an area of six hectares! Its Hall of a Thousand Pillars is fabulous and is filled with worshippers at all hours of the day.
Tirumalai Nayak Palace (1636), restored by Lord Napier, dance and drama concerts are performed daily. This palace is built in a highly decorative style, and is compared to the ancient monument at Thebes. Its enormous roofed arcade supported by 48 foot high stoned pillars still stands; and griffins, lions, and other monster gargoyles are to be seen everywhere.
Day 15 Friday Jan 23 Madurai - Tanjore
Morning depart by deluxe coach for Tanjore (also known as Thanjavur-182 Kms)
Arrive Hotel Sangam Tanjore (Thanjavur) is the ancient capital of the Chola Kings, who ruled from 850 to 1270 AD, but whose origins go back to the beginning of the Christian era. Later it became part of the Vijaynagar Kingdom, then passed into the hands of the Marathas and went to the British. The town itself is dominated by the enormous gopurams of the Brihadeshwara Temple which is situated between the Grand Anicut Canal and the old town. It is surrounded by fortified walls and a moat. The old town is a maze of winding streets and alleys with extensive ruins of the palace of the Nayaks of Madurai in the centre. For ages it has been the chief political, literacy and religious centre of the south. We will be visiting the Saraswati Mahal Library, dating from the time of the Marathas, it contains a rare collection of books and manuscripts on paper and palm leaves. Tanjore is also an important centre for bronze figure casting.
Day 16 Saturday Jan 24th Tanjore
Morning visit to the Brihadishwara Temple. It is the crowning glory of Chola temple architecture Afternoon visit to the 10th century Nataraj Temple - it has a court carved like a massive chariot. Evening free to enjoy the atmosphere of Tanjore
Day 17 Sunday Jan 25th Tanjore - Pondicherry
Coach trip to Pondicherry via Kumbakonam and Chidambaram which are very important Vastu Shastra sites. The temples at Chidambaram are the oldest in Southern India and portions of them are gems of Dravidian art. The principal temple is dedicated to Siva with other temples being remarkable for their roofs, porches and tanks. Well off the beaten track, this delightful village which was once the capital of the Chola Kingdom, is certainly worth a visit. At the end of a narrow, very rural road you will see the early Chola shrine dating from 907. This shrine marks the holy spot of Shiva as Nataraja, the cosmic dancer. Two high walls surround the 55 - acre temple, pierced by four mighty gopura. There are fabulous relief panels of women on the walls of the gopura porches each in a different pose. These are a catalogue of the 108 positions for classical Bharata Natyam as laid down in the Natyashastra, the Sanskrit treatise on Indian dance and drama. After exploring this fascinating and little visited area, we will continue onto Pondicherry.
Arrive Hotel Ashok in Pondicherry
Day 18 Monday Jan 26th Pondicherry
Seminars with Prabhat Poddar Study day with Prabhat Poddar Prabhat Poddar is a member of the New York Academy of Sciences and is a trained architect and civil engineer. Prabhat has lived in the famous Shri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, India, since he was four years old. He is founding director of the Shri Aurobindo Institute of Applied Scientific Research at Pondicherry and has helped with the planning, design and construction of the Auroville International Township project. During the last 10 years he has acted as a Vastu consultant to a number of major design and development organisations in India, Europe and USA. He regularly lectures on the principles and wisdom of the Veda's and their application as expressed in the ancient art of Vastu Shastra. Most people visit Pondicherry to see the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville. Its spiritual tenets represent a synthesis of yoga and modern science. Auroville, designed by French architect Roger Anger, was conceived as 'an experiment in international living where men and women could live in peace and progressive harmony with each other above all creeds, politics and nationalities'. The settlement includes alternative technology and agriculture. Pondicherry is laid out on a grid plan - and is sometimes called the 'Cosmic City'
Day 19 Tuesday Jan 27th Pondicherry - Seminar with Prabhat Poddar
Study day with Prabhat Poddar Enjoy the diverse culture of Pondicherry. French is still widely spoken, and seaside villas and cobbled streets are more reminiscent of the south of France than the south of India! You may wish to visit the Auroville Cultural Centre
Day 20 Wednesday Jan 28th Pondicherry - Mahabalipuram
Coach trip to Mahabalipuram (132 Kms) l Arrive Hotel Temple Bay Go for a swim. Malabalipuram is world famous for its spectacular shore temple and great seafood restaurants! Now reduced to a lovely village, Malabalipuram was once the second capital and sea port for the powerful Pallava dynasty, who were Jain Kings of Kanchipuram. The dynasty lasted from the 5th to the 8th century A.D. Extraordinary examples of their artistic achievements remain e.g. the beautifully carved shore temples from the late 7th century have forecourts lined with bulls and mythical deities. Known to the Greek traders as early as the 1st century AD, if you start at the beginning of its history, you will see 5 rathas, or rock temples. They are the predecessors of the later more elaborate Dravdian temples. In the village centre is a huge frieze, 12m high and 28m long. It was carved in the 1st century Ad and a mass of animals and figures recount the Mahabharata episode of Arjuna's penance. The hillside is scattered with eight temple porches with bold sculptures inside. There is still one surviving shore temple, it was built in the 1st century. A row of Nandi Bulls surround the walls. Mahabalipuram boasts an excellent open air museum and you can watch stone masons and sculptors at work in the town centre.
Day 21 Thursday Jan 29th Mahabalipuram
Study ancient art and Vastu Shastra Architecture at the College of Vastu Shastra.
Day 22 Friday Jan 30th Mahabalipuram - Madras via Kanchipuram
Morning depart by deluxe coach for Madras, visit Kanchipuram enroute. Kanchipuram is one of the seven sacred cities of India and is famous for its hand woven silk fabrics. It is a spectacular temple city which was the capital of the Pallavas, the Cholas and also the capital for the Rojas of the Vijaynagar, roughly the 5th to the 15th centuries AD. There are many temples and beautiful Chola bronzes. There are some thousand temples in and around Kanchipuram. We will visit the best examples of these: Kailashnatha temple (c.725) and the seventh century Vaikunthaperumal temple, which have lion pillar cloisters and sculptures of gods and hippogryphs. The large temple complex of Ekambareshwara, with its delicate carvings is a mixture of three influences; Pallava, Chola and Vijayanagar. It has 1,000 pillars, each carved differently. Several of these temples are living and are extremely interesting as customs have not changed for thousands of years. En route to the temples one can watch master silk weavers, cotton weavers and lungi (colourful loin cloths) weavers in action. Kamakshi, and all built in the 7th and 8th centuries. Arrive Hotel Trident Evening celebration dinner to mark the end of Stage 1 and the beginning of Stage 2 tour.
Day 23 Saturday Jan 31th
Madras: End of Stage 1 tour or Beginning of Stage 2 tour Your choice: departure to Delhi to end stage 1 tour for International flights back home departing Sunday January 31st. You will booked on Indian Airlines departing Madras to Delhi flight number IC - 537 Departing Madras Airport in the evening. Meeting and assistance on arrival in Delhi and transfer to the International Airport. Or your choice of departure time and destination as arranged or begin stage 2 tour to Konarka, Varanasi, Kathmandu (Nepal), returning to Delhi on the 9th February.
Day 23 Saturday Jan 31th STAGE 2 - Madras Seminar
One day workshop with Vastu practitioners, architects, designers andastrologers. Evening free to prepare for stage 2 tour or depart for New Delhi for return trip home.
Day 24 Sunday Feb 1st Madras - Konarka
Morning transfer to airport for flight IC - 877 to Bhubaneshwar (1040 / 1235) Meeting and assistance on arrival and transfer to Hotel Ashok in Puri.
Rest day and relax on the beach.
Day 25 Monday Feb 2nd Konarka
Full day excursion to Konark
The Sun Temple at Konark, standing among the sand dunes of the sea shore, dates back to the 13th century, a masterpiece of Orissan architecture and one of the few sun temples in the country. The sheer magnitude of its architect's imagination is revealed in the design of the temple in the form of a procession chariot. Around the base of the temple are 24 gigantic carved stone wheels pulled by seven mighty stone horses. The walls have carvings of erotic images of entwined couples, and the temple is said to contain a great deal of iron which would draw unwary ships to shore! The horses at the entrance, the encircling friezes and the chariot wheels are executed with exuberance. The outstanding sculptures are conceived on a grand scale.
Konark is a World Heritage Site and is a peaceful small village. Return to Hotel Ashok.
Day 26 Tuesday Feb 3rd Puri / Bhubaneshwar
Morning visit to the Nine Planets' Shrine; the carved seated figures represent Surya (the sun), Chandra (the moon), Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Rahu and Ketu. Puri is a sacred city dominating Orissa's sea bathing.
Rest day to enjoy the seaside and go for a swim.
Later transfer to the Hotel Oberoi in Bhubaneshwar.
Day 27 Wed. Feb 4th Puri - Varanasi
Morning transfer to board the 'Puri Express' train to Varanasi (departing 1050 hrs) Overnight on board. First class tickets are booked.
Day 28 Thurs. Feb 5th Varanasi
Arrive Hotel De Paris in Varanasi at 0435 hrs. Varanasi , the 'eternal city' is an important pilgrimage site in India and has been a centre of learning and civilisation for over 2000 years! Situated on the banks of the sacred Ganges River, it was where the Buddha first preached his message of enlightenment 25 centuries ago. Besides being a pilgrimage centre, it is considered an auspicious place to die, ensuring an instant route to Heaven. Varanasi is a centre of learning, many scholars and students flock here from all over the world.
In the morning, we will visit the buried Buddhist city of Sarnath just outside Varanasi - its as holy to the Buddhists as Varanasi is to the Hindus. Here you will witness the ruins of a once flourishing Monastery and then visit a museum which houses an excellent collection of Buddhist art and sculpture.
Visit to the tree where Buddha experienced enlightenment.
Afternoon free time to shop and explore Varanasi. Stroll along the narrow lanes and bazaars full of shops selling, among other things, the world famous Banaras Silks. You can also visit the many Hindu temples that line the river Ganges.
Day 29 Friday Feb. 6th Varanasi - Kathmandu (Nepal)
Morning transfer to airport for flight IC - 752 to Kathmandu (1250 /1400) and assistance on arrival and transfer to the Hotel Blue Star.
Day 30 Saturday Feb. 7th Kathmandu (Nepal)
Morning sightseeing tour of Kathmandu visiting Durbar Square to see the fine examples of Nepalese architecture in Kathmandu's Palaces and pagodas. We will also visit Ason Tole, a typical Nepalese market place.
Afternoon excursion to the imposing 2,000 year old stupa at Swayambhunath, majestically set high on a hill overlooking the Kathmandu Valley.
Day 31 Sunday Feb. 8th Kathmandu (Nepal)
Full day excursion to Patan and Bhatgoan. A drive through the Nepalese countryside and a visit to Patan, known as the 'City of Grace', where you will see beautiful fine art and architecture. We will also visit the Tibetan Refugee Craft Centre.
Bhatgaon (Bhaktapur - the City of Devotees) is a centre of medieval art and architecture. This legendary city was founded by King Ananda Deva in 889 A.D and is shaped like a conch-shell. Pottery and weaving are its traditional industries.
Day 32 Monday Feb. 9th Kathmandu (Nepal) -Delhi
Time free till transfer to airport for flight IC - 814 to Delhi (1350 / 1515)
International flights back home departing Monday evening.