Golden Sands and Diamond Skies with Padma Stewart

A Classical Yoga and Meditation Journey from Desert to Himalayas with Padma February 20 - March 6, 2011

Join Tour Leader and Yoga Teacher, Padma, on an inspiring journey as she shares her favourite locations in India from the deserts of Rajasthan to the high western Himalayas.

Begin each day with gentle yoga classes infused with Classical, Tibetan, and Padma’s own Himalayan practices, to calm, strengthen, and refresh your body. Be guided in meditation to bring you each day closer and closer to the space of inner peace, delight, and clarity that your soul craves. We will visit sacred sites such as the Taj Mahal, temples in Delhi, and a Tibetan Monastery in Manali. We will also enjoy a jeep safari at the Manvar desert camp, meet with Buddhist monks, and celebrate Tibetan New Year on this unforgettable journey to India. READ MORE

Tour Leader Padma, Marla Stewart

Padma, Marla Stewart B.Sc., is a certified teacher of Advanced Yogic Sciences & Meditation and Hatha yoga, and is one of Canada’s senior teachers in bridging western and eastern practices. 

Tour Leader Aarti Bhalla

Aarti Bhalla is a practitioner of alternative medicine, a passionate environmentalist, and an experienced tour guide. She has a love for travel and spirituality, and for showcasing Indian cultural heritage.


Great fun, good people, excellent accommodation. I could recommend this trip to anyone. A hot spot in the cold winter and Sacred Earth Journeys made it happen easily and professionally.Bob Pratt, St. Phillips, NFLD


Tour Description

Join Tour Leader and renowned Yoga Teacher, Padma, on an inspiring journey of North India as she shares her favourite locations from the deserts of Rajasthan to the high western Himalayas.

Padma in Himalayas
Our tour leader, Padma, in the Himalayas

 Begin each day with gentle yoga classes infused with Classical, Tibetan and Padma’s own Himalayan practices, to calm, strengthen and refresh your body. Be guided in meditation to bring you each day closer and closer to the space of inner peace, delight, and clarity that your soul craves. Experience the healing aspects of breath exercises, hand mudras, and other yogic techniques in a unique program carefully designed for this journey.

To begin the journey, Padma will aid you in letting go of all your worries and the weight of your concerns of everyday working life. She will be constantly present as a host and a teacher, leading you ever higher, clearer, and deeper in your own spiritual journey. As an expert meditation master, and an experienced spiritual counsellor, Padma will inspire you to fully explore your soul’s desire in complete freedom.

Naggar Castle in India
Naggar Castle

Explore some of North India’s most stirring and captivating places. From the bustling city of Delhi to the romantic Taj Mahal in Agra, awaken your spirit to the vibrant culture of India. Relight your inner flame during your stay at the exotic Manvar Desert Camp as you wonder at the mesmerizing sand dunes, revel in a thrilling Jeep Safari, and move to the rhythms of traditional music and dance. Let your spirit rise high into the heavens as you discover charming villages in the Himalayas and allow the magnificent views and revitalizing energy to feed your body, mind and spirit. Learn about ancient customs and philosophies from master teachers and experience a culture steeped in tradition. To end the journey, join in the festivities of Tibetan New Year and celebrate the richness of life in all its glory.

Himilayan Terraces in India
Himalayan Terraces

Through classical yoga, traditional meditation, enlightened spiritual discourses, and lots of time for questions, you will not only explore India’s astonishing delights, but you will also be on an authentic journey within yourself as well. Experience a true and honest reconnection with the spark of spirit within yourself and rediscover your authentic self.


Arrive in bustling Delhi. You will be met by our representative in the arrivals hall  of Delhi airport and transferred to your hotel. Meet with your Tour Guide, Aarti, and Tour Leader, Padma later in the day for our first group meeting for introductions and setting intentions for the journey. Check in and enjoy your first night of rest in beautiful and romantic India.
(Overnight in Delhi at the Maidens Hotel)

Padma Marla Stewart in India

After breakfast at the hotel, we drive to visit the amazingly beautiful Bahai Temple which floats like an immense lotus blossom on the earth. In the heart of New Delhi, the bustling capital of India, a lotus-shaped outline has etched itself on the consciousness of the city's inhabitants, capturing their imagination, fuelling their curiosity, and revolutionising the concept of worship. This is the Bahá'í Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, better known as the Lotus Temple. With the dawning of every new day, an ever-rising tide of visitors surges to its doorsteps to savour its beauty and bask in its serenely spiritual atmosphere. Since its dedication to public worship in December 1986, this Mother Temple of the Indian sub-continent has seen millions of people cross its threshold, making it one of the most visited edifices in India. From its high-perched pedestal, this “Lotus” casts its benevolent glance over vast green lawns and avenues covering an expanse of 26 acres of land. Its soothingly quiet Prayer Hall and tranquil surroundings have touched the hearts of the Temple's numerous visitors, awakening in them a desire to trace its inspirational source and capture a bit of its peace for themselves.

Inside, the clear and spacious temple invites us to be silent and meditate. Here we will have our first yoga and meditation experience with Padma (whose name means lotus blossom in Sanskrit). Padma will lead a guided spiritual meditation on clearing away the weight and worries of difficult, daily life, and will invite us to open into a new and bright future filled with beauty and peace. We will meditate in silence in this spiritual place and then practice classical yoga to refresh our bodies and build the inner strength we will enjoy for the rest of this journey. All levels of yoga practitioners, from beginner to advanced, will be most welcome. We will then join in an opening circle where we will share introductions and our intentions for the journey.

Later in the afternoon we enjoy a tour of Old Delhi. We visit Jama Masjid, a magnificent mosque that will surprise and impress you with the grandness and devotion of the Muslims of India. Originally called Masjid-I-Jahanuma, which means "mosque commanding a view of the world", the mosque was designed by Shah Jahan and was his last architectural legacy. We then visit the 300 year old Chandni Chowk market, a magical enclave of tiny alleys, all filled to the brim with artisan shops. This is a real working market, not a tourist town. A city within the city, Old Delhi takes us back to the time before cars or trucks, when life in town bustled with human spirit and vital enthusiasm. The noise and crowds are a quintessential part of any Indian market. We will ride on cycle rickshaws through the lanes, getting off to stroll into the shops and enjoy the sizzle and excitement of one of the most fascinating markets on earth. Later we drive past the Government Buildings of President House and Parliament House and we will also have a photo stop at India Gate. We will also stop by the Statue of Ghandi and the Salt March, a historic event that showed the whole world that the yogic ethic of AHINSA, non-violence, is a mighty political power, strong enough to liberate India from the British Empire.

In the evening we enjoy a Welcome Dinner at Park Balluchi Restaurant. Enjoy the luxury of this New Delhi restaurant and savour delicious, authentic Indian cuisine at its best.
(Overnight in Delhi at the Maidens Hotel)

Bahai Temple in India

Every morning, Padma will lead us through a gentle and invigorating yoga class, followed by a meditation designed to steady, calm and inspire your mind. After breakfast and our yoga and meditation practice, we make our way to Agra, a city on the banks of the Yamua River which once served as the capital city for the great Mughal Empire, and is now the repository of some of their finest architectural creations. Once settled at the hotel, we then head off for a visit of Agra Fort. Built by Emperor Akbar between 1565 and 1573, the fort reveals the Mughal talent for combining defensive architecture with beauty and design. Construction for this fort palace was initiated by Akbar as a purely defensive citadel. It was subsequently completed by two successive generations that added the delicate mosaic and magnificent marble palaces. The fort is the history of Mughal life in Agra and offers a magical view of the Taj Mahal. Enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure exploring the city.
(Overnight in Agra at Hotel Clarks Shiraz)

Agra Fort in India

This morning we awake early to greet the dawn for a sunrise Tonga horse and carriage ride to the gates of the world famous Taj Mahal. Built by Sha Jahan in 1630 for his Queen, Mumatz Mahal to enshrine her mortal remains, it is described as “a tear on the face of eternity” by the poet laureate Tagore, and is an enduring monument to love. This architectural marvel is a perfectly proportioned masterpiece fashioned from white marble that stands testimony to the skill of 20,000 craftsmen brought together from Persia, Turkey, France and Italy. The construction of this “Love Poem in Marble” took 17 years to complete.

We then return to our hotel for breakfast and later drive to Jaipur, visiting Fatehpur Sikri enroute. Located 40 km from Agra, the city was built in 1569 by Emperor Akbar in honour of the great Sain Sheikh Chisti, who blessed Akbar and prophesied the birth of three sons to the heirless Emperor. Akbar used Fatehpur Sikri as his capital and the city was fully occupied for 14 years, but slowly became deserted and fell to ruin after Akbar left the city. Scarcity of water was the prime factor for the abandonment of this beautiful city. Here we will visit the remarkably well-preserved and graceful building within the “Ghost City”, including the Jama Masjid, tomb of Salim Chisti, Panch Mahal Palace and other palaces that speak to the grandeur and splendour of the Mughal Empire in the height of its power.

Enjoy the rest of the day exploring the local bazzars.
(Overnight in Jaipur at Shahpura House)

View of Taj Mahal in India

Spend this morning at your leisure with yoga and meditation or take advantage of an optional excursion to the Amber Fort with an elephant ride! In the afternoon we transfer to the airport for our flight to Jodhpur and then make our way to the exotic Manvar Camp. Manvar is located in the heart of the Great Indian Thar Desert. It lies between the cities of Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, and Bikaner and is an unprecedented tourist destination offering a rare opportunity to enjoy Rajasthan’s desert life, culture, wildlife and beauty. Upon arrival we check into camp and settle into our deluxe tented accommodations surrounded by the stunning desert sand dunes.
(Overnight at Manvar Camp)

Manvar Camp in India

After breakfast and our morning yoga and meditation practice, we revel in a thrilling Jeep Safari to visit tribal villages, observe the desert wildlife, watch local crafts people at work, and enjoy the beautiful sand dunes. Sailing over the desert sands, we can truly feel the palpable fire and energy of this lively culture and spirit. The evening is then enlivened with a roaring campfire, mashaals and traditional entertainment with local musicians and dancers.
(Overnight at Manvar Camp)

Manvar Desert Camp in India

This morning we enjoy our final yoga and meditation practice among the golden sands at our desert camp. We then drive to the Jodhpur airport and board our flight back to Delhi. Upon arrival we are transferred to our hotel for check in. Spend the rest of the day enjoying all the city has to offer independently. Visit some of the city’s major sites, enjoy shopping at the local markets and shops, or simply relax and spend the afternoon in private contemplation in the beautiful hotel garden.
(Overnight in Delhi at the Maidens Hotel)

View of Manvar Camp in India

Arise early this morning for a transfer to the airport to board our flight to Kullu. The small plane flight up into the Himalayas is like an astonishing National Geographic adventure. The plane flies low between high hillsides, towards the narrower valley of Kullu. Looking down from the plane, you will see remote, untouched valleys, gullies and villages where there are no roads, only foot trails linking the mini-hamlets. The steep green hillsides are finely terraced and exquisitely cultivated by generations of ardent field work. This wonderful flight offers a magical view of the Himalayas that you would never imagine possible. In the distance the high white-peaked Greater Himalayas line the horizon.

We touchdown in the Kullu Valley, known as the “Valley of the Gods”, famous for its apple orchards, wooden temples, charming villagers, and traditional folk music and dances. The valley, due north of New Delhi, rises out of the fertile Punjabi fields and is surrounded by mountains which soar to snow peak heights. It is home to sweet and gentle tribal people who have lived in this area for thousands of years. The hillsides are full of carefully crafted stone terraces, and farmers plough the long strips of fields with their prized oxen. Local women still wear the beautifully coloured hand-spun robes made from the wool they spin from their own sheep. Everywhere here, you experience how life has existed naturally for thousands of years in the Himalayas, in tiny hamlets clustered throughout the valley with their stone slab roofs and great wrap-around porches. In the springtime, when we are here, there is still snow on the mountaintops up the valley, and the bright new green of young crops fills the valley floor. Almond, apple, and plum trees blossom profusely and brightly throughout the area, making this the prettiest season of all in the Himalayas.

Upon arrival we will enjoy breakfast at the Apple Valley Resort which rests right beside the powerful Vyaas River, named after the famous author Vyaas who wrote the Bhagavad Gita scripture and famous commentaries on sacred Hindu scriptures. After breakfast Padma will give a spiritual talk on timeless meditation philosophy and guide us through an authentic Himalayan Tantric meditation. We will also enjoy the honour of meeting a resident, authentic Himalayan Meditation Guru, who will give a talk and practice on the ancient art of meditation. This will be an extremely rare opportunity to experience and speak with a living meditation master in the Himalayas, one who is living a true mystical and spiritual yogic life in India.

In the afternoon we take an excursion to Naggar, once the capital of Kullu Valley, and home to an old castle and old stone temples. Also, up the hill above the castle, is the Roerich Art Gallery, displaying some of the painters’ artwork. The views of the Beas Valley are superb from here. After lunch at Naggar Castle, an architectural beauty from over 500 years ago and the prior residence of the King of Kullu, Padma will lead us on a beautiful hike along the ridge to explore this quaint and ancient hillside town. We will visit several of the temples, old and new, that enrich this village with original heritage, including a 5000 year-old Krishna temple. Hiking up into the surrounding hills, we will also explore the steep and forested ridge-top that looks down over the Kullu Valley. Here, you will have a magnificent sensory experience of the natural Himalayan pine-scented forests.

Later, we travel on to Manali, (which means where the first man was born on earth), enjoying a scenic rural drive which takes us along the winding side of the valley, through villages and up steeper into the valley towards the high snow-topped Himalayas. Upon arrival we check into our hotel and enjoy dinner before settling in for a blissful evening.
(Overnight in Manali at Banon Resort)

Kullu Valley in India

After breakfast and our yoga and meditation practice, we visit the Hadimba Devi Temple and the picturesque Tibetan Monastery where we will have the privilege of listening to a lecture with a local monk. The Hadimba Temple tells a story from ages ago of a pantheon of gods and mortals as they play out epic tales. Visiting the surrounding valleys, you’ll feel the breathtaking experience of an ancient place and time.

Later this afternoon, we visit the natural hot water fountain and temple in the Vashishtha Baths to relax and soothe ourselves in the healing waters. These baths are famous for their therapeutic properties. Your body will thank you for soaking in the salts of the mountains and your soul will imbibe the essence of Himalayan health. We may also have the possibility of visiting Nehru Kund and Solang Valley (time permitting).

This evening we enjoy dinner in Manali. This fun and multicultural town includes the native tribal people, many Tibetans who have made a new home here, and travellers from all over India and all over the world who come to delight in mountain village beauty. Manali is also famous for appearing in many Bollywood films and Bombay stars are often seen when a movie is filming here.
(Overnight in Manali at Banon Resort)

Manali in India

After breakfast and our yoga and meditation practice, we enjoy a full day excursion to Rohtang Pass, referred to as being “at the end of the habitable world”. Revel in an exhilarating drive up to Rohtang Pass (13,886 ft) for superb views of the Trans-Himalaya mountain chains and Lahoul Valley on the other side of the pass. Here at Rhotang Pass you will experience what high altitude feels like. At the very tip of the Kullu Valley, Rhotang stands majestically at the pass between India and Tibetan lands. Walking around this dry, windswept pass, we will hike over into the Spiti Valley where treeless, Tibetan mountains and plains reach for thousands of miles. Herds of mountain ponies gallop by. The prayer flags whip in the high, thin air, and you will feel your spirit expand. You’ll know the infinite expanse of pure, unadulterated being within you and through you and you will touch the spirit of your highest awareness. We will meditate on top of the world, allowing the vastness of pure life to exist within us and permeate to our soul. It’s hard to come down from such an exhilarating space, but when we return to Manali and the comfort of Banon Resorts, we’ll delight in a delicious Indian meal and rest in the ease of a cosy bed.
(Overnight in Manali at Banon Resort)

Rohtang Pass in India

After breakfast and our yoga and meditation practice, we drive to Palampur, stopping for lunch in Mandi, a river-side town with step-like Ghats on the water’s edge, much like those in Varanasi. We’ll have lunch in a heritage castle here and have a stroll through this semi-tropical, non-touristy, southern Himalayan town. We may also have the possibility to stop at the new Tibetan Temple near Bhuntar and visit some family shawl shops to pick up some wonderful gifts and souvenirs.

We later arrive in Palampur, the tea capital of northwest India, set on the rising slopes of the Kangra Valley which merges with the Dauladhar ranges. Tea, however, is just one aspect that makes Palampur a special resort; an abundance of water and proximity to the mountains has endowed it with a mild climate. Palampur, whose name derives from the local word pulum, meaning lots of water, was a part of the local Sikh kingdom and later on came under the British rule. The place enjoys a healthy climate and the pine scented air is said to have curative properties. The scenery presents a sublime and beautiful contrast of plains presenting a picture of rural loveliness and repose, and majestic hills. Behind this town stands the high ranges of Dhauladhar Mountains, whose peaks remain covered with snow for most of the year. Situated in and about the middle of the Kangra Valley, it is a convenient base to explore the surroundings. This hill station is not only known for its numerous tea gardens and paddy fields, but it also known for its colonial architecture and temples.
(Overnight in Palampur at Taragarh Palace Hotel)

Mandi in India

After breakfast and our yoga and meditation practice, we drive to Dharamsala, a city in the upper reaches of the Kangra Valley surrounded by dense coniferous forest. We check into our hotel upon arrival and then visit Mcleodganj, the headquarters of all exiled Tibetan citizens and the residence of His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama. The Tibetan culture here is vibrant, rich, sublimely mystical and deeply soaked in the peace and wisdom of Buddhist meditation. Here, we visit the Dalai Lama's residence and, if lucky, we may even have the opportunity of an audience with Him. We will also circumnavigate the main temple at McCloudganj where giant Tibetan prayer flags line the outer edges of the meditation halls. Inside, supersized statues of the Tibetan gods stand at the head of the main hall. We will enter this hall and sit in silent meditation.

Later in the afternoon, we visit the Kangra Museum, well-known for its Kangra School of Miniature Paintings and other artifacts, and the Masrur Temples which are rock-cut, richly carved temples in the Indo-Aryan Style.
(Overnight in Dharamsala at Surya Resort)

Dharamsala in India

Today we enjoy an array of activities from yoga and meditation classes to teachings and visits with Tibetan monks, and more! We will also have the honour of meeting with a Ghese, a Buddhist Monk, who will give a lecture on the following topics: Tibetan Buddhism and its history, the auspicious symbol of Tibetan Buddhism, the Om Mani Padme Hum, and the “way to Nirvana”.
(Overnight in Dharamsala at Surya Resort)

Dharamsala Prayer Wheels in India

Today we experience Tibetan New Year, typically a 3 day event full of excitement and revelry! There will be much to observe and delight in and we will make the most of this very festive occasion. This day will be a truly unique experience and one which will leave you with many lasting impressions and wonderful memories.
(Overnight in Dharamsala at Surya Resort)

Goddess statue in India

This morning we bid our farewells to our new-found friends and our magical Indian experience as we transfer to the airport for our return flight to Delhi. The flight from Dharmsala is a spectacular journey in itself, flying down the Kangra Valley over tea farms and the verdant stretches of Punjabi fields below. Upon arrival in Delhi, there will be time for some last minute shopping at the markets and emporiums, then a transfer to the airport hotel where you can rest and freshen up in the day room before departing on your flight home. You will leave amazed, dazzled, charmed and replenished spiritually. You will have touched and remembered a place in yourself that you had forgotten was there. The awakening of your heart and mind will thrill you long after you return to your home land. Namaste.

Prayer Flags in India

Golden Sands and Diamond Skies with Padma Stewart

Tour Includes:

  • 14 Nights Accommodation at Hotels, Resorts, and Luxury Tented Desert Camp
  • Breakfast daily, 6 Lunches, and 9 Dinners
  • Arrival and Departure Transfers
  • Domestic Flights: Jaipur/Jodhpur, Jodhpur/Delhi, Delhi/Kullu and Dharmamsala/Delhi with transfers ($690 for domestic flights included in tour price)
  • Private Coach Transportation
  • Hotel Taxes & Service Charges
  • Admission to all Sites as per Itinerary
  • All Guide Services as per Itinerary


Added Features:

  • Travel with Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Padma
  • Informative Talks and Lectures with local Buddhist Monks and Teachers
  • Daily Yoga and Meditation Practice
  • Cycle Rickshaw Tour of Old Delhi
  • Sunrise Tonga Horse & Carriage Ride to Taj Mahal
  • Cultural Show with Traditional Entertainment at Manvar Desert Camp
  • Jeep Safari in Indian Thar Desert
  • Thermal Baths at Vashishtha
  • Visit to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s Residence
  • Tibetan New Year Fesitivities in Dharamsala

Tour Does Not Include:

  • Airfare to Delhi, India
  • Cancellation & Medical Insurance (ask us for a quote if your are Canadian)
  • Meals and drinks not specified
  • Fees to obtain valid passport
  • Fees to obtain Indian tourist visa
  • Any items of a personal nature such as laundry, drinks and telephone calls
  • Gratuities for tour guides, drivers, local guides, waiters, hotel staff, etc.
  • Any item that is not specifically detailed on our website or in the final itinerary.

Tour Price:

    • Double Room: USD $4,335 per person
    • Single Supplement: USD $1,065
Book this Journey
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1-877-874-7922 to help you make your reservation

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