India is said to change people. If we are in search of spiritual guidance, greater self-awareness or a series of life altering moments, then we pack our rucksacks and head to India. People have been doing this for years. India is a place of self-discovery and contemplation. You do not need to give away your belongings and live in an ashram to understand this. There is a spiritual component to every tour of India. It does not matter if you are on a culinary journey down India’s spice trail, riding on one of the country’s historic railroads or adventuring in the Himalayas, the numerous Buddhist monasteries scattered throughout country are a reminder that meditation and nirvana are part of daily life. For most of us, meditation and nirvana are things we read about in books. Due to our busy jobs, domestic demands and fast-paced lifestyles, we are lucky to get fifteen minutes of quiet time a day. We visit India to reflect and take a breath. As a Buddhist might say, we visit India to alleviate the stress we experience in samsara.
Trekking in Sikkim
There is said to be over 200 monasteries in the Sikkim region. These monasteries, or Gompers, are part of the Niangua and Kagy sects of Buddhism. Llamas, dressed in long, flowing red robes, can still be heard chanting ancient Buddhist mantras. A trekking tour through the Sikkim region combines cultural heritage with India’s stunning natural beauty. You can hike through a rhododendron forest and camp beneath the Kangchenjunga. A stop at the famous hill station in Darjeeling is essential for anyone looking for a transcendental experience, or simply a spectacular and life-altering view.
Due to its beautiful and unscathed landscape, Bhutan has often been called the last Shangri-La. Its isolation from the rest of India has helped maintain its natural beauty. Sadly, this isolation and unspoiled beauty comes at a cost, and tours through the Bhutan region are expensive. However, Bhutan’s Buddhist culture, heritage and heart-stopping scenery is unrivalled. There are several monasteries in the Thimphu valley. In Bhutan, trekking routes range from 3 to 24 days. Due to the unpredictable weather, there is only a small window of opportunity to trek in Bhutan. April and October are said to be the best months for high-altitude treks, but shorter, low-altitude tours can be taken throughout the year.
India is a place of reflection and self-discovery. Around every switchback there is a vista to marvel at. Inside every monastery there is something that connects us to a greater purpose. Whether you are a spiritual person or not, there is no escaping some type of spiritual experience when you tour India.