Wellness, Yoga & Green Tourism

Two years ago, in 2017, Parmarth Niketan was awarded the Wellness, Yoga & Spiritual Tourism Award at the 5th Annual International Tourism Conclave and Travel Awards in New Delhi. At the time, the idea of promoting religious, spiritual and wellness pilgrimages was just beginning to make waves. But, the words spoken to the delegates at the ceremony by Ganga Nandiniji of Parmarth Niketan and her invitation to delegates to come to Parmarth Niketan , coupled with tour agents and operators looking for something more meaningful finally brought their annual conference to Rishikesh for two consecutive years. This year the International Day of Yoga Celebrations, as well as an evening at the Parmarth Niketan Ashram for its divine Ganga Aarti and Satsang were in built into their schedule.

According to Ajay Gupta, Chairman and Managing Director, ICM (I Creative Minds) Group and its subsidiary, India Travel Mart (ITM)ICM Group, “With the kind of stressful lives that we lead, a person tends to look for refreshing holidays and unique wellness travel destinations. We organized ITM Rishikesh 2019 – an exhibition and conclave on religious, pilgrimage, wellness and spiritual tourism on the sidelines of Yoga Day 2019 celebrations – to boost strategic networking among delegates and visitors. We are so glad to have the blessings of Pujya Swamiji, Sadhvi Bhagawatiji and the support of Parmarth Niketan continuously for our efforts and look forward to propagating Yoga, Wellness & Spiritual Tourism.”

But, there’s more to these types of tour packages than just exploration and enlightenment –there’s also responsibility. Something that the Parmarth Niketan representative echoed two years ago in New Delhi. “Spiritual Tourism is the USB of our country,” Ganga Nandini declared. “It connects people beyond borders and boundaries. But, at what cost?”

Ganga Nandini continued, “When our Honorable Prime Minister first shared his vision for Swachh Bharat – a nation-wide campaign designed to clean up the streets, roads and infrastructure of India’s cities, towns, and rural areas – he shared it in the context of tourism.” She said that filthiness was the single greatest obstacle to promoting tourism – without paryavaran (our environment) there can be no paryatan (tourism).

She added, taking her Guru’s divine example, “Hence, let us pledge today to uphold our Tourism Social Responsibility (TSR) and commit to at least one action that we can take within our tour agencies and businesses to be the green change we want to see in the world.”

Present at the inauguration ceremony of their Conference at the Ganga Resort she shared Pujya Swamiji’s vision ’s words turned out to be, at the least, quite prescient. “I envision a day,” he began, “in which our River Ganga will be flowing free and unpolluted, and her banks will be protected with green corridors and sustainable riverfront development–. e Every ghat, as the sun rises, will welcome pilgrims to practice Yoga, and every day, as the sun sets, will ring with the sacred sound of Ganga Aarti.”

The folks at ICM and ITM appear to be listening. Not only did their conference do the business of tourism – the focused session, structured and organized B2B meetings, interactions with 200+ delegates from the travel trade – but, they made sure to do the business of the spirit, with vibrant morning Yoga sessions, (including one with over 500 other yogis at the International Day of Yoga celebrations at Parmarth Niketan. They joined for the evening Ganga Aarti that same say and received special blessings from Pujya Sadhvi Bhagawatiji in the form of a Rudraksha sapling as a symbol of their commitment to responsible and conscious tourism. They later joined her for an intimate and soulful Satsangs session in which they asked the purpose of their lives, duty vs dharma, etc. and were so inspired that they joined her for a special Global Om Chanting on the banks of Lord Shiva until well-past midnight – the perfect end to an inspiring day!

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