A Heritage Travel Itinerary for India

Immerse yourself in traditional Indian culture with a visit to the ancient city of Haridwar.

Along the banks of the Ganges River in Haridwar. / Photo via Exotica .im/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Number of Bostonians with Indian Heritage: 10,447

For centuries, Hindu ancestors have made pilgrimages to the ancient city of Haridwar, where a loved one’s ashes are traditionally scattered into the Ganges River. To craft a five-day itinerary to this holy place, Boston-based heritage-travel expert Kristin Chambers, of D.A. Luxury Travel, collaborated with Greaves Tours, a company that’s been planning one-of-a-kind excursions to India since 1979.

Day 1

You made it! After touching down at Delhi Airport, let your personal concierge whisk you off to Matsya, a famous Indian haute-couture design studio where you can create your own custom sari to be shipped home to Boston. Then check into Oberoi hotel in nearby Gurgaon for some R  &  R.

Day 2

Hop on IndiGo airlines’ morning flight to Dehradun; from there, it’s just an hour by car to Haridwar. Once you’ve made yourself at home in a plush Ganges-view suite at the Haveli Hari Ganga Hotel, it’s time to experience a traditional Ganga Aarti ceremony, the 90-minute Hindu ritual held at dusk at Har Ki Pauri, a series of steps leading to the riverbanks.

Day 3

Today is all about connecting with Haridwar’s spiritual past. The morning begins with a tour of the Haridwar temples, which are mainly dedicated to the gods Shiva and Vishnu. Then ride a chairlift to Mansa Devi Temple, located atop the Himalayas’ southernmost mountain, to check out its breathtaking mirrored interior.

Day 4

Ready to learn more about your own past? If you’ve been able to locate your family’s pandit, a scholar or priest who keeps handwritten records documenting marriages, births, and deaths, now’s a good time to meet up and trace your genealogy. Spend the rest of the day in Rishikesh, where you can witness another Ganga Aarti ceremony.

Day 5

It’s almost time to head home from Delhi, but not before stopping by one of India’s most treasured landmarks: the Taj Mahal. Navin Piplani, an architecture conservationist, takes Chambers’s clients on private tours of the ivory palace. —A.B.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Heritage Travel Journey