Join Us for an Informal
Southern India Pilgrimage
to Visit Ramana Ashram & Arunachala Hill
February 6 – 22, 2017
This Pilgrimage is Being Offered
By Volunteer Hosts
As a Fundraiser for the Awakening Together
Retreat Center Campaign
Your Volunteer Pilgrimage Hosts:
Please Read the Details on This Page Carefully, & then
Contact Us if You Want to Go on This Trip
Monday, February 6, 2017 is the day our hosts are departing the United States for India. They will arrive in Chennai, India just after midnight on February 8. Depending on your country of departure, you may be able to depart for India on Tuesday, February 7 or Wednesday, February 8. We ask everyone to plan to arrive in Chennai no later than Wednesday, February 8, 2017. The pilgrimage will end on the evening of Tuesday, February 21.
Note: Our hosts departing flight was cancelled and rescheduled to the following day. See specific flight information below.
Each person will make his/her own flight reservations. We are providing the hosts’ flight information so you may coordinate your flights with their flights if you choose to. You are not required to coordinate your flights with theirs.
Flights to India:
Depart Chicago on Monday, February 6 at 4:15pm on United Airlines. Flight UA8837. This flight is operated by Lufthansa. It arrives in Frankfurt, Germany at 7:25am on Tuesday, February 7.
Depart Frankfurt on Tuesday, February 7 at 10:15am on United Airlines. Flight UA9130. This flight is operated by Lufthansa. It arrives in Chennai (MAA) at 12:05am on February 8.
Return Flights, Leaving India for the USA:
Depart Chennai on Wednesday, February 23 at 1:45am on United Airlines. Flight UA9131. This flight is operated by Lufthansa. It arrives in Frankfurt at 7:50am.
Depart Frankfurt at 10:40am on United Airlines. Flight UA8836. This flight is operated by Lufthansa. It arrives in Chicago at 1:10pm.
Note: You may also depart the night of February 20, the early morning of February 21, the night of February 21 or the early morning of February 22. Some travelers are choosing these options.
Each person will make his/her own hotel reservations. We are providing important hotel information below.
Hotel in Chennai:
We will stay in Chennai until Saturday, February 11, because it can be helpful to stay near the airport in case someone’s bags are delayed or someone misses a flight and arrives a day or two late. Also, there are some nice places to visit in Chennai.
We will stay at the Clarion Hotel Chennai (25, Dr. Radhakrishnan Salai, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, 600004 India). Your reservation should begin on your first night in India. Check-in begins at 2pm and goes until 5:30am on the following day in order to accommodate international flights, which usually arrive in the middle of the night. We will checkout of the Clarion Hotel on February 11.
The Clarion is 13 miles from the airport in Mylapore, which is a very nice residential area in Chennai. From the hotel, we can walk to Chennai City Center Mall, San Thome Cathedral, Kapaleeswarar Temple, Parthasarathy Temple, Ghandi Beach, Marina Beach and Spencer’s Plaza Shopping Mall.
Hotel Options in Tiruvannamalai:
We will travel to Tiruvannamalai on Saturday, February 11. We will stay there 10 nights from February 11 – February 21, when we will travel back to Chennai. Your volunteer hosts will stay at the Ramana Towers Hotel. We recommend you stay in the same hotel. However, we are sharing other options just in case this hotel is full when you make your reservations.
Ramana Towers – Ramana Towers is an all-suites hotel near Ramana Ashram. Each room has one or two bedrooms, living room, kitchen and a traditional south India bathroom with hot water. Each bedroom has one double-bed. The price for a one bedroom suite (Luxurious Double Suite) is approximately $30 per night. The price for a two bedroom suite (Luxurious Double x2 Executive Suite) is approximately $50 per night. For the exact cost in Indian Rupees, see the Tariff page on the website. A small daily tax will be added to the tariff. To make reservations, send an Enquiry to the hotel manager. You can confirm your reservation by wiring a deposit to the hotel. The manager can give you information for wiring a deposit.
Lakshmi Residency Inn – If you are unable to get a suite at Ramana Towers, we recommend this nearby hotel. It is also an all-suites hotel and it is within walking distance of Ramana Ashram. This hotel has one bedroom suites for the same price as one bedroom suites at Ramana Towers.
Aakash Inn – If you are unable to get a suite at Ramana Towers, this is another option. It is near Ramana Towers and Ramana Ashram. You can book directly on Trip Advisor. It has good reviews and offers rooms at a good price.
Rainbow Guest House – This guest house has a good reputation, but it is not in the same neighborhood as Ramana Towers. It takes about 20 minutes to walk to Ramana Ashram from this guest house.
Note: Our hosts flight was canceled and rescheduled for 24 hours later than originally planned. We haven’t decided what we will do with this extra day, but we might take a side trip to Pondicherry. This page will be updated when that is decided.
Itinerary and Other Costs:
This trip will be planned spontaneously while we are in India. You will be able to spend time with the volunteer hosts, going where they decide to go, or you can go your own way. However, we will travel together from Chennai to Tiruvannamalai on February 11 and from Tiruvannamalai back to the Chennai airport on February 21. You will be required to pay your share of transportation costs. Once we know how many people are going on this trip, we will be able to make transportation arrangements. Until then, the price is unknown. Transportation costs are much less in India than they are in the United States.
There will be opportunities to take optional tours with local guides. If you choose to go on a tour, you will pay your share for the tour and transportation.
You will need money for your meals and for any shopping you choose to do.
The amount of money you need depends on how much shopping you plan to do while in India. In addition to the money needed to pay for your hotel, you should also have about $500 – $1000 for transportation, tours, meals and shopping.
Note: Credit cards are not as common in India as they are in the United States. It is best to have Rupees available in 500 and 1000 denomination bills. You can get these from your bank or airport before leaving the United States, or you can get Rupees at the Chennai airport. We do not recommend purchasing Rupees at an Indian bank since a trip to an Indian bank can take several hours. There are ATMs in India, but they may not always work.
The volunteer hosts will help you prepare for the trip by sharing useful information in the months and weeks prior to departure. They will provide opportunities for things to do while in India. After the trip is over, please consider the value of the assistance that you received from the hosts both before and during the trip, and then donate that amount to the Awakening Together Retreat Center Campaign. The recommended donation is $200 – $500+ based on your perceived value of the assistance provided by the volunteer hosts.
Passport and Indian Visa:
You will need a Visa to travel to India. In order to get a Visa, your passport must not expire before August 25, 2017. If your passport does expire before that date, you will need a new passport.
We recommend using A Briggs Visa Service to obtain your Indian Visa. Indian Visas are good for six months from the time of issue, so do not apply for your Visa prior to September 15, 2016.
Vaccines and Health Preparations:
Review Health Information for travel to India from the Center for Disease Control. If you do not have the vaccine for Hepatitis A and B, we recommend that you see your doctor to begin this vaccination process by August 1, 2016.