2012 12 24 Shellie at Prasanthi Nilayam ashram in Puttaparthi India

Me in my Christmas saree at Prasanthi Nilayam ashram in Puttaparthi, India, December 24, 2012.

“The hero’s journey always begins with the call. One way or another, a guide must come to say, ‘Look, you’re in Sleepy Land. Wake. Come on a trip. There is a whole aspect of your consciousness, your being, that’s not been touched. So you’re at home here? Well, there’s not enough of you there.’ And so it starts.”

Excerpt From: Campbell, Joseph. “A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living.” Joseph Campbell Foundation, 2011-08-01. iBooks.


From October 11, 2012 to December 27, 2012 I visited many temples, sacred cities, and several ashrams in India.


Everybody said “My God, you’re brave!”
I wasn’t really brave, I just wanted to go where I wanted to go but there was no one else going, so I went alone.
I believe many women want to travel but don’t have a friend available to join them, or a group going to the place they want to go!  Don’t be afraid to travel alone! Traveling alone is quite easy, and a fun adventure! Read my ebook and see how I did it!


Pilgrimage To India cover



(I just couldn’t resist…the date 10/11/12 was just too auspicious to waste so I set it as my start date for the boldest, bravest adventure of my life…so far!)







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Pilgrimage To India: An American Woman’s Adventure is the chronicle of my day-to-day experiences at divinely-inspired ashrams, timeless temples, and sacred cities as told in emails sent home during my journey throughout India, visiting nine cities and staying in three ashrams. And photos; lots of photos!  (There are approx. 250 photos in the book.)

It was a life-changing journey, with inspirational experiences and divine messages received in every ashram, city, and temple visited. My only regrets are that I didn’t stay longer and I didn’t take more photos. I guess I’ll just have to go back!


Two reviewers rave:

I find Pilgrimage To India exceptionally interesting not only because of the uniqueness of her experiences, but also because of the scope of the author’s genuinely expanded consciousness and heart. Michelle comes from a place of spiritual integrity with a respect for inner guidance and that ‘power greater than us’! Consequently, ‘between the lines’ you’ll discover meaningful messages of how to live the kind of life we all really desire, regardless of where you stand on the planet.


I highly recommend Pilgrimage To India to anyone — whether you are focused upon the magic of India, new on your spiritual journey, or have been ‘seeking’ for a long time!


– Richard Benson, DC, author of Stepping Into Your Personal Field of Abundance and Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness


Pilgrimage to India: An American Woman’s Adventure tells the wonderful story of one woman’s journey to and in India, complete with pictures of exotic places with beautiful temples and detailed commentary that make you feel as though you are right there with her. But, more than an outward journey to an exotic place, this is a story of Michelle’s inward journey to explore her own inner temple and uncover parts of herself long forgotten and hidden away. You actually have the opportunity as you read this book to watch her unfold and blossom, like watching a flower transform from bud to bloom!


– Pat Benage, Personal Evolution Coach and author of Cure Your Depression and Being, Inspired: Finding Answers



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Here is a tiny sampling of photos from the adventure:

October 15, 2012: Me at the Kali Temple in KaliMath.









October 20, 2012: Street shrine near the Ganesha Inn, Rishikesh.









November 6, 2012: Haidakhan Babaji Ashram near Haldwani.









November 19, 2012: Me immersed in the Ganga River during a Chaat Festival on Assi Ghat in Varanasi. Tradition says that immersion in the Ganga purifies, and relieves karmic debt. When I stood up for the third time, I didn’t want to get out of the river, ever. I would have been happy to stand there for the rest of my life! I felt as if I’d been born and baptized all at once!









November 23, 2012: Me with an Indian family in front of The Great Buddha Statue in Bodh Gaya. Indians frequently ask to take a picture with Westerners. It’s very sweet!









November 27, 2012: Paramahansa Yogananda’s meditation room, his parent’s house, Kolkata (Calcutta).











December 14, 2012: Me at the 12th C. Kesava Temple near Mysore. This was incredibly beautiful with the stone carving, and I was fortunate to be there virtually by myself so I got to spend quite a bit of time in the temple (mandir) communing with the spirits of the place.

2012 12 14 01 Shellie at Kesava Temple near Mysore - small


December 21, 2012: Main entrance to Prasanthi Nilayam, the Sathya Sai Baba Ashram in Puttaparthi. As soon as I entered the grounds, this felt like home. The first evening I was there, I attended Meditation and Sai Baba, who left his body about a year ago, kissed me on the head; I was bathed in warmest Love and Welcome to the ashram.











December 26, 2012: My last day in India. After only nine days, these women had become as close as sisters! There is me (Center) with my ashram roommates and sisters (L) Nellie from Russia and (R) Neringa from Lithuania.

2012 12 26 Prasanthi Nilayam Ashram - Three Sisters in Puttaparthi Nellie-Russian Shellie-American Neringa-Lithuanian - small


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My God, You’re Brave! are the words I heard from every single person who learned that I undertook this odyssey through India alone. I never thought of myself as brave; this was simply a journey that had to be, but then I saw this quote and wondered if making the commitment to go to India itself was the act of bravery. It certainly explains how and why this pilgrimage was so charmed:

“Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.” ~Terence McKenna


Map prepared for presentation in January 2013 shows places visited starting at top red arrow and proceeding clockwise.

Map prepared for presentation in January 2013 shows route taken and places visited starting at top red arrow and proceeding clockwise…red, green, blue, purple, and around.


India: Actual Pilgrimage Itinerary: October 11 – December 27, 2012

10/11/12 Depart USA 11:50 am

10/13/12 Arrive New Delhi 2:45 am, check into Hotel Adjanta 4:30 am. Cockroach in bathroom, businesses named after gods, RamaKrishna Plywood, Saraswati Sweets, etc .

10/13 – Taxi tour of Delhi – Vishnu Temple


10/14 Taxi from New Delhi to Guptakashi 6:30 am – 5:30 pm.


10/14 – 10/19 (5 days) Guptakashi/Kalimath for Navratri 10/16 – 10/24 Accommodations: Mrityunjaya Palace Hotel in Guptakashi (The only reservation made is the Mrityunjaya Palace Hotel & Yogananda Ashram.)

10/15 Kalimath temple complex where Kali kicked my ass around at 5:00 pm.

Early by one day for Navratri.

10/16 – 10/18 Arati at Kalimath, also Fire Puja on 16th where I had a deja-vu experience about being there before


10/19 Travel bus Guptakashi to Rishikesh 6:30 am – 3:15 pm; bus broke down, waited at side of road for an hour for replacement bus w/ Kali altar. Checked into Ganesha Inn 4:00 pm landing right in the middle of where I wanted to be…minutes from temples and ghat.


10/19 – 10/28 Rishikesh – many temples and ashrams

10/20 Shopping along Lakshman Jhula

10/21 Researching local temples

10/22 Lakshman Jhula – 4 temples

10/23 Ram Jhula – several temples, Bhoot Nath Temple (Shiva)

10/24 Hired taxi – Nilkanth Mahadev (Shiva) and Kanji Puri (Durga)

10/25 Trivendi Ghat & Bharat Mandir Temple & Museum


10/28 Travel Rishikesh to Haldwani; bus Rishikest to Haridwar then to Haldwani, arrived 5:30. A short rickshaw ride to Kailash View Hotel which was a mess.


10/29 – 11/11 Haldwani taxi 7:45 am to Babaji ashram in Haidakahan arrived at 9:45 am

11/5 Parvati’s Tree and Babaji’s cave experiences.

11/7 Shaktidevi

11/10 Hike to Mt. Kailash


11/11 Travel by taxi Haidakhan to Haldwani – stay at Nanuk Hotel


11/12 – 11/13 Travel Haldwani to Varanasi

11/12 bus from Haldwani to Bareilly 9 am – 1 pm

11/12 –13 train (lower berth) Bareilly to Varanasi 11/12 3:30 pm–11/13 6:50 am. This is the train ride where I had to walk down the aisle of the sleeper car and ask if anyone spoke English because we stopped for a while away from the station and I didn’t know where we were or what was happening.


11/13 – 11/22 Varanasi – Hotel Haifa, Assi Ghat 8:30 am

11/15 – Durga Mata Temple, Saaket Mochan Temple (Hanuman), Kashi Viswanath Temple

11/16 – took gifts of statues and beads to Ganga and did cleansing/blessing

11/17 – Tulsi Manas Mandir (Ram temple), Krishna Cleanses Ganga on the ghats

11/19 – Chaat Festival; immersed myself in the Ganga (mid-point of trip, 37th day)

11/21 – classical music concert at music school


11/22 Travel Varanasi to Gaya train 4:50 pm to 10:40 pm w/ young Russian couple.

Missed our late train and managed to get on this one w/ help of Visitor Center man.


11/23 – 11/25 Bodh Gaya – stopped here at suggestion of Shakti Guru, young man at Babaji ashram who helped with train reservations. Hotel Rose Valley 12:15 am

11/23 Taxi tour of eight Buddhist temples in Bodh Gaya.


11/25 – 11/26 Travel train (upper berth) to Kolkata 10:30 pm – 6:30 am

At station, chatted w/ young girls traveling w/family, their older brother took me to the place where my sleeper car would arrive. Took pre-paid taxi to ashram.


11/26 – 12/6 Calcutta Yogananda ashram Yogoda Satsanga Math–Dakshineswar 8:30 am

Did a lot of sight-seeing with a Canadian family, Karen & Doug, son Orion & his girlfriend.

11/27 – Kali Temple, Yogananda’s house, Levitating Saint’s temple/room

11/29 – Serampore neighborhood of Kolkata:

House of Yogananda’s uncle

Smritir Mandir, Swami Yukteshwar’s former ashram

Rai Ghat and Banyan Tree

Panthi Boarding House (mostly destroyed)

12/1 – Belur Math and museum included Ramakrishna, Holy Mother Sri Sarada and Swami Vivekananda


12/6 Travel by plane Calcutta to Mysore 7:15 am – 9:35 am; took pre-paid taxi to The Green Hotel in Mysore, arrived 2:15 pm


12/6 – 12/17 Mysore – 12/6/- 12/9 The Green Hotel; 12/9 – 12/16 Aishwarya Residency Hotel

12/7 – climbed Chamundi Hill, 1000 steps, and ashram kirtan.

12/11 – St Philomina Cathedral

12/12 – Mysore Palace and kirtan with Julie and friends.

12/13 – Karanji Lake Nature Park & Mysore Zoo

12/14 – Ancient temples: Kesava, Srikanteshwara, Vaidyanatheshwara

12/16 – Mysore Violin Brothers concert


12/17 Travel Mysore to Puttaparti taxi 9:00 am – 4:15 pm


12/17 – 12/26 Puttaparti, Prasanthi Nilayam, Sai Baba ashram

Participated in multiple activities; bhajans, meditation, darshan, informative talks

12/22 – purchased harmonium

12/24 & 12/25 – Wonderful holiday programs and special Christmas Eve dinner.


12/26 Travel by taxi Puttaparti to Bangalore airport 11:00 am – 1:15 pm


12/26 Travel Bangalore to New Delhi 7:30 – 10:00 pm flight

12/27 Depart New Delhi, India at 4:15 am, return to U. S. A. Arrive Redmond, Oregon at 6:25 pm same date!


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