February 14, 2018 – February 27, 2018 all-day
South India

Courage & Renewal® Peace & Social Justice Pilgrimage

FEBRUARY 14-27, 2018

Mumbai – Chennai – Puducherry – Madurai – Thekkady – Alleppey – Kollam – Cochin

Join me and Dr. Mukta Panda for this transformational journey.

India Serenity

What to expect on this pilgrimage…

India, and particularly south India, is one of the most spiritual destinations in the world.  It is a land surrounded by ocean and sea, rice fields, cashew-nut and mango trees, misty peaks and dense tropical forest, sacred temples and extraordinary diversity of religious culture:  Jains, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, and Christians.

On this 14-day pilgrimage, we begin in Mumbai, a gateway to south India, and then on to Chennai and the beautiful and romantic temples at Dakshinachitra and Mahabalipuram, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Sites and one of the seven sacred cities of India.

Ashram visits….

India CultureOur pilgrimage includes a rare visit to some of India’s most well known ashrams, including, Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville in Puducherry, described as an “experiment in international living where men and women could live in peace and progressive harmony with each other above all creeds, politics, and nationalities.”  We also visit Matha Amrithanandamayi Mission, a famous ashram founded by one of India’s few female gurus, Amrithanandamayi, also known as Amma (Mother) or ‘The Hugging Mother’ because of the darshan (audience) she offers, often hugging thousands of people in marathon all-night sessions.

Grassroots Women’s Cooperatives visits….

Visit women’s self-help cooperative projects in Tamil Nadu, financed by the Quaker micro-credit lending organization, Right Sharing of World Resources. Learn first hand from women and children how microfinance empowers mutual trust, collaboration, and interdependence. Return home inspired by lives of dignity and courage.

Cruise the backwaters of blissful Kerala….

We journey to Kerala, South India’s most serenely beautiful state with hundreds of miles of glorious Arabian Sea coast and beaches; a network of glistening backwaters; and the spice and tea-covered hills of the Western Ghats. Our Sabbath Rest Day, based in an ayurvedic center Kerala, offers rest, relaxation, and integration. We then board air-conditioned house boat or kettuvallum” (meaning rice barge), for a traditional and stunning backwater two-day cruise along the vast network of lagoons, lakes, and rivers of Kerala, a highlight of any visit to this region.  On this cruise, we will cross shallow palm-fringed canals and lakes, studded with Chinese fishing nets, and long shady canals. An abundance of bird life is found in the area while you observe rural village life as you live aboard the house boat. The houseboats tie up at sunset, to overnight along the water’s edge.

India CruiseOur evenings are a time to build community with reflection, discussion, and integration, using the Courage & Renewal® Approach.  A Sabbath Rest Day allows you to slow down to savor this transformational pilgrimage.

Serene Kochi (Cochin) is the final destination on this pilgrimage. Nowhere else in India could you find such an intriguing mix: giant Chinese fishing nets, a 400-year-old synagogue, ancient mosques, Portuguese houses, and the remains of the British Raj.

The goal of this pilgrimage is twofold:

—to facilitate a transformative experience through exposure to south Indian religious traditions and culture, promoting greater understanding; and

—to reflect on critical issues of peace and social justice, using Courage & Renewal Principles & Practices, supporting greater awareness and action.

About the climate, transportation, and hotels….

India BeautyWith nine hours of sunshine and average temperature of 82 degrees, south India in February, is ideal. Transportation is domestic air, air-conditioned coach, and boat. The following meals are included: 13 breakfasts, two lunches, four dinners, including a welcome and farewell dinner. The hotels are four-star. International air is not included.

This pilgrimage is suitable for anyone of average fitness.

Registration & Fees

Price: $4599 per person double occupancy. $5999 per person single occupancy.

Payment: A non-refundable deposit of $500.00 per person is required to reserve your space.  Space is limited to 12 participants. See payment schedule.

The price includes:

  • Expert guides
  • Daily Courage & Renewal® reflection
  • Domestic flights
  • Meals: 13 breakfasts, two lunches, four dinners, including welcome and farewell dinners
  • Luggage support
  • Sabbath Rest Day to integrate the pilgrimage experience
  • Entrance fees listed temples
  • House boat cruise in backwaters of Kerala, including all meals
  • Ashram visits
  • Small group travel to build an intimate community of pilgrims
  • Three-pre-departure conference calls to prepare you for this journey of a lifetime
  • Comprehensive pre-departure materials

Download and share this flyer with a friend (PDF)

Download Registration Form (PDF)

Download Pre-Pilgrimage Medical Information and Information Form (PDF)

Price DOES NOT include:

  • Round trip international airfare
  • Tips & Gratuities

Travel Documents Required to Travel to India:

After you register, we’ll ask you to confidential medical information form and pre-pilgrimage questionnaire.


A passport is required for this pilgrimage. It must be valid for at least 6 months after your return date. This information about travel documents pertains to participants holding U.S. passports. All other passport-holders should call us for specific requirements.


  • Your passport must have 2 blank passport page(s) for entry/exit visas in this country.
  • A travel visa is required. And it must be obtained in advance.
  • The cost of this visa is not included in the cost of this pilgrimage.
  • You may obtain your Indian Visa (eTA or e-Tourist Visa) online at https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/index.html

Cancellation:  Please see registration website for details.


About Your Leaders…

Valerie BrownValerie Brown is an international retreat leader, writer, leadership coach, and Principal of Lead Smart Coaching, LLC, specializing in application and integration of mindfulness in daily life (www.leadsmartcoaching.com).  She transformed her high-pressure career as a lawyer-lobbyist, representing educational institutions and nonprofits, to human-scale work with leaders and teams to foster trustworthy and authentic connections.  Valerie’s books include, The Road that Teaches:  Lessons in Transformation through Travel (QuakerBridge Media, 2012) and The Mindful School Leader:  Practices to Transform Your Leadership and School (Corwin, 2014), named one of the ‘best books on courage’ in 2014 by the Center for Courage & Renewal.  She has studied and practiced mindfulness in the Plum Village tradition since 1995 and was ordained in the Order of Interbeing by Thich Nhat Hanh in 2003.  Valerie is a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and a certified Kundalini yoga teacher.


Mukta PandaDr. Mukta Panda
Bio coming soon.

Retreats & Facilitation Services

Coaching & Consulting Services

Conflict Resolution & Mediation Services

Named one of the best courageous books of 2014 by the Center for Courage & Renewal, this book is for educational leaders who feel overwhelmed, stressed, and exhausted, and offers explicit practices to help readers avoid burnout and become the mindful, poised, effective leaders they were meant to be. Loaded with real-time encouragement with portraits of educational leaders who are incorporating mindfulness practices, like attentive breathing, mindful walking about the school building, or calming pauses in the office throughout the school day, this book is a must-have guide.

Valerie Brown and Kirsten Olson. Corwin, December 2014. 344 pages.

The Road that Teaches: Lessons in Transformation through Travel.

Not your average travel guidebook, this book explores some of the world’s great pilgrimages, destinations, and the author’s reflections on the lessons she learned from them. Read this book to discover how travel can be transformational, how to be more mindful while traveling and every day, the adventures of traveling alone, the delights of encountering new people and places, ancient pilgrimage journeys and sacred travel worldwide.

Valerie Brown. QuakerBridge Media, 2012, 152 pages. Also available from QuakerBooks.

Heartfulness: Renewing Heart, Mind, and Spirit on Retreat and Beyond Valerie

Valerie Brown guides readers toward renewal of mind, heart, and spirit by encouraging them to take time away from the busyness of their lives through retreat. Drawing on her experience as a retreatant and retreat leader, she introduces readers to opportunities for personal restoration within a variety of focused retreats. She wonders how Friends experience of expectant waiting influences the retreat process and how retreats influence expectant waiting. She encourages the “big questions”—What has meaning and purpose in my life? What am I avoiding? What brings me most alive?—and offers specific practices for retreatants to cultivate in everyday life.

Valerie Brown. Pendle Hill Pamphlet #421.

Quakers are advised to begin worship by “centering down.” This is the first step in a Friend’s intention to wait in “holy expectancy,” to be drawn by the Light into communion with God. Centering prayer is also a practice used by Christian mystics to prepare for contemplation, and “centering” describes the meditation of a Buddhist in pursuit of that deep awareness called “mindfulness.” Valerie Brown is an explorer and teacher of centering practices, a Buddhist, and an active Friend. Drawing upon her own experiences and wide studies, she describes for Friends how these various traditions can offer us a better understanding and preparedness for our precious, elusive, mysterious, and simple practice of centering into worship. Discussion questions included.

Valerie Brown, Pendle Hill Pamphlet #407. 2014.