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OCTOBER 1-14, 2019

VALLEY OF THE GODDESSES:

A RETREAT TO THE FOOTHILLS OF THE HIMALAYAS

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Are you ready for an adventure into the soulful world of tea plantations and mountain walks, temple bells and sacred chant, vibrant marketplaces and ancient treasures, exquisite textiles and exotic aromas?

Can you imagine being nurtured physically, mentally, and spiritually amongst women in a place of inspired connection and breathtaking beauty?

If your answer is yes, then join Charlene Geiss and Amber Chand, your creativity and visionary guides as they return to TARA for another enchanting journey to Northern India’s Kangra Valley.


THE ADVENTURE


We have designed the adventure with YOU in mind. This traveler’s delight, feast of surprises will have you wandering the pathways to the mountain top abode of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama; sipping tea with village women as they sing their folk songs and share their stories; bargaining for treasures in the bustling mountaintop marketplaces; listening to sacred chants sung by Tibetan nuns at sunset; learning about artisanal crafts and ancient healing modalities; listening to an evening concert of Sufi music; sitting with legendary Tenzin Palmo during a private audience; and ending with a special blessing ceremony of 1001 candles.


Woven into this rich itinerary is the opportunity for you to dive into your inner world through the, “The Seven Lanterns: A Journey to Your Luminous Self,” an experience designed to support you in living a life of enlivened authenticity and creativity. Amber offers you the wisdom of the Seven Lanterns visionary path as you explore how to step into into the next chapter of your unfolding life. Charlene shares creative and thought-provoking techniques for expressing your thoughts, dreams, and life experiences in ways that are meaningful, and at the same time easy and fun.  


TARA: YOUR HIMALAYAN HOME The retreat is held at TARA – your Himalayan home with its organic gardens and stone cottages nestled in the spectacular foothills of Dauladhar Mountain in Himachal Pradesh. Here you discover open hearted Himalayan welcome, nourishing vegetarian food, comfortable beds, and lovely pathways fragranced with the scent of jasmine. October is a perfect time for us to travel…with its warm days and cool nights that invite us to meander into marketplaces, temples, and villages or to sit outside as we journal, photograph, sketch, picnic, nap, and listen to birdsongs. And perhaps sometime during our adventure you can answer the question: why do Amber and Charlene keep returning to this place?


Itinerary

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HIGHLIGHTS

KANGRA: VALLEY OF THE GODDESSES

Our home in Kangra Valley is situated in the Western Himalayas and lies in the state of Himachal Pradesh. It is named The Valley of the Goddesses because of the Hindu goddess temples that are situated throughout the valley. Surrounded by a cedar tree forest the valley has an average elevation of 2,000 feet and lies beneath the magnificent Dhauladhar range with peaks that are as high as 15,000 feet. In 1960 the Dalai Lama moved his Central Tibetan Administration to DHARAMSALA, also known as “Little Lhasa”, and it became the center for Tibetan exiles. Dharamsala delights its visitors with lovely gardens and tea plantations that produce teas that are now popular world-wide. MCCLEOD GANJ, perched on the mountain just beyond Dharamsala, was named after Sir Donald McCleod, a Lieutenant Governor of Punjab during the days of the British Raj. Today, aside from being known as an important Buddhist center and the residence of the Dalai Lama, McCleod Ganj offers us labyrinthian streets with bustling marketplaces that are filled with Tibetan handicrafts, carpets, jewelry, thangkas, and shawls.


DALAI  LAMA'S TEMPLE

At the main temple with its ornate open-air courtyard His Holiness the Dalai Lama gives teachings several times a year. The Dalai Lama’s Temple is considered the most sacred monument here and houses larger than life statues of the Buddha, Padmasambhava, and Avalokitewshwara. One of the world’s largest collections of sacred Tibetan texts is also housed here.

     

TARA & JAGORI GRAMEEN

We will be residing at TARA, a very special healing retreat center with its open-hearted Himalayan welcome, organic gardens and stone cottages, nourishing vegetarian cuisine, comfortable beds (complete with hot water bottles for those chilly nights) and peaceful pathways. Surrounding TARA is an area culturally rich with Buddhist and Hindu temples, art, nature trails and busy village life.

The Training and Research Academy (TARA) and its sister organization, Jagori Grameen (Women Awaken) is the first feminist and eco-friendly center in India supporting Himalayan women and girls in the region. It is well known for its community-based work with women’s and youth collectives, farmer’s groups, and school children. Founded by visionary activist, Abha Bhaiya in 2007, the organization today promotes justice, dignity, and peace, along with sustainable agricultural practices in harmony with nature. Volunteers from around the world help to support this remarkable organization.


PRIVATE AUDIENCE WITH JETSUNMA TENZIN PALMO 

& TOUR OF DONGYU GATSAL LING

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo was born and given the name Diane Perry in England in 1943. Twenty-one years later she was one of the first to be ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monastic. In 1976, she went into seclusion having found a cave 13,200 feet above sea level and practiced there in a living space about 6 feet square for 12 years. The first nine years she allowed very few visitors, but the last 3 years were spent in strict retreat. Her story has been told in, Cave in the Snow, by Vicki Mackenzie.


At the request of her teacher, the 8th Khamtrul Rinpoche, Jetsunma was asked to end her solitary practice and to establish a nunnery to give young nuns of Drukpa Kagyu lineage the opportunity to realize their intellectual and spiritual potential after years of neglect. The Nunnery was named “Dongyu Gatsal Ling” or “Garden of the Authentic Lineage.” DGL has grown to be an important nunnery that provides a daily life of study, meditation, and service that is interwoven with Dharma principles. The nuns take monastic vows and very recently they celebrated the first group of graduating nuns to have completed their studies in Buddhist Philosophy.

     

EXPERIENCING NORBULINGKA INSTITUTE

Meandering through the village streets one comes upon the intricately carved and painted gates of Norbulingka Institute and enters a magnificent shangri-la where beauty permeates everything, everywhere. This place is dedicated to the preservation of Tibetan art and supports an environment in which Tibetan community and family can flourish. Here one can have a meal, meditate in the garden, visit the different studios to watch the artists as they create religious statues, woodwork, and traditional thangka paintings. And the Institute’s store is always a favorite last stop. The Dalai Lama says, “Tibetan society is such an example: that’s why it is worth preserving and I am pleased to see that in its work to keep Tibetan culture alive the Norbulingka Institute is actively contributing to the task.”


SEARCHING FOR THE MOON: A ONE WOMAN SHOW

Skillfully weaving the events of her life across three continents, Amber offers her audiences an eclectic tapestry of evocative global stories: Indian arranged marriages (her parents met through a photograph), adolescence at an English boarding school, fleeing her country as a refugee expelled by a ruthless African dictator, experiencing the rise and fall of her multi million dollar company, learning about true forgiveness from Rwandan widows of the genocide.

Amber offers an extraordinary experience of raw, courageous vulnerability in the face of life’s triumphs and defeats and penetrates into the heart of each story – tapping into the universal themes of love, despair, faith and forgiveness.


OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

Evening of traditional Sufi and folk music 

Shopping the marketplaces in McCloud Ganj 

Thousand and One Lamp Ceremony 

A day of Seva with women in the village 

Hike to Naddi Village (optional) 

Ayurvedic Massages (optional)


TO LEARN MORE ABOUT

TARA - https://tararetreat.org/

JAGORI GRAMEEN- https://jagorigrameen.org/

NORBULINGKA INSTITUTE - https://norbulingka.org/

DOLMA LING NUNNERY - https://tnp.org/nuns/dolmaling/

Video: https://youtu.be/2W8DR4jw9uE)

DONGYHU GYATSAL LING NUNNERY and JETSUNMA TENZIN PALMO - http://tenzinpalmo.com/

MC CLEOD GANJ – https://mccleodganj.com/


COST:

Single Accommodation: $3500

Double Accommodation: $3300

To Contact Charlene

Questions, More Information, Reservations

Click Here


Pictures Above

Top Row: Lake Pichola, Udaipur--Cristy and I, Jodhpur--Blue City, Jodhpur--Amber, Hemant (Marigold Hotel Owner), & I

Bottom Row: Ravla Kemphur (Exotic Marigold Hotel)--Udaipur Shop--Jagmandir Palace, Udaipur--Kankarwa Haveli


Pictures Below

Top Row: Sunset on Lake Pichola--Udaipur--Detail at Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur--Hindu Temple in Udaipur

Bottom Row: Opium Ceremony, Bishnoi Village--Udaipur Palace--Detail of Elephant--Tea Plantation, Munnar