Ancient Roots, Living Branches: Discovering Buddhist India

Ancient Roots, Living Branches: Discovering Buddhist India – November 2017

Buddhism Tour India

Combining a meditation retreat with a Buddhist pilgrimage, this tour is an exploration of both ancient Buddhist history and living Buddhist traditions. First we explore the ancient holy sites in the North and East of India, where the Buddha practiced and taught – including Bodhgaya and Sarnath – before moving on to the mountains of Sikkim to experience Buddhist village life in the Himalayas.

Buddhism Tour India

The tour is guided by our expert local guides in India, with Lisa Ernst – founder of One Dharma Nashville and visiting teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre California – guiding meditation along the way in various locations, from hotel gardens to Tibetan monasteries.

Lisa Ernst Meditation

We will be interacting with and learning from Buddhist communities and practitioners as we travel. It’s also a fun adventure off the beaten track, and this tour is open to everyone interested in Buddhism and meditation.

Ancient Roots, Living Branches: Discovering Buddhist India

Delhi – Bodhgaya – Varanasi – Sikkim

Buddhist Tours to India

Itinerary:
Day 1: Sunday 5th November: International departure

Departure from your home country to Delhi

Day 2: Monday 6th November: Arrive Delhi. Overnight in Delhi

Arrive in Delhi. We meet you at the airport and drive you to the fabulous Lalit Hotel in central Delhi.

Overnight in Lalit Hotel in Delhi

Day 3: Tuesday 7th November: Day at leisure. Overnight in Delhi

Today we take it easy after a long journey, but we will sit down together in the afternoon and discuss the upcoming adventure. It’s also nice to go and stretch your legs in central Delhi. One of Delhi’s hidden gems, the Agrasen ki Baoli stepwell is a short walk away – and a little adventure we recommend (bear in mind it closes at sunset).

Overnight in Lalit Hotel in Delhi

Day 4: Wednesday 8th November – Fly Delhi to Bodhgaya

Morning transfer to New Delhi airport to catch Air India AI-235 to Gaya (Bodhgaya), departing Delhi at 07:00 and arriving at Gaya (Bodhgaya) at 08:30. Bodhgaya is the site on the banks of the Nairanjana river where the Buddha attained nirvana under a Bodhi tree. This is a major pilgrimage site for Buddhists from around the world, and also for Hindus who revere the Buddha.

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The old Mahabodhi Temple is built by the supposed spot of the Buddha’s nirvana, and dotted around are temples and monasteries built by various Buddhist countries.

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In Bodhgaya we check into the Niranjana Resort.

 Overnight in Niranjana Resort, Bodhgaya

Day 5: Thursday 9th November – Bodhgaya tour

After a guided meditation in the morning, we head out to explore Bodhgaya with our guide, including the Mahabodhi Temple, the Bodhi Tree and the Great Buddha Statue.

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Overnight in Niranjana Resort, Bodhgaya

Day 6: Friday 10th November – Rest day and Mahakala Caves in Bodhgaya

We take it easy today and enjoy the peaceful surroundings, but if you are interested there is the opportunity to visit the nearby 7th century Mahakala Caves containing Buddhist shrines.

Overnight in Niranjana Resort, Bodhgaya

Day 7: Saturday 11th November – Drive Bodhgaya to Varanasi

After our morning meditation we set of for the 6 hour drive to the ancient holy city of Varanasi on the banks of the Ganges – the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world and the holiest city in India.

Buddhist Tours to India

Here we check into the beautiful heritage hotel by the river, the Suryauday Haveli.

As the sun sets we will venture down to the ghats (stone steps leading down to the river) and enjoy the riverside aarti prayer rituals. From here it’s a 10 minutes’ walk to the Academy of Indian Classical Music to enjoy a performance of Indian classical music and Kathak dance.

Overnight in Suryauday Haveli, Varanasi

Day 8: Sunday 12th November – Sunrise boat ride on Ganges. Afternoon Sarnath. Overnight in Varanasi.

Today Lisa is going to wake everyone up early to enjoy a magical sunrise boat ride on the holy river Ganges, to see the faithful perform their morning prayer rituals on the ghats.

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Later in the day we will drive a short distance to the holy site of Sarnath, the deer park where the Buddha taught his first sermon, the first turning of the wheel of dharma.

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Overnight in Suryauday Haveli, Varanasi

Day 9: Monday 13th November – Day at leisure in Varanasi. Overnight train to New Jalpaiguri.

After morning meditation we take it easy for the rest of the day before our overnight journey to the Himalayas.

Buddhist Tours India

Afternoon transfer to Mughal Sarai Junction to catch “North East Express” Train number 12506, in 2-Tier AC, departing Mughal Sarai Junction at 18:25 and arriving at New Jalpaiguri the following morning at 08:20.

Overnight on sleeper train in 2-Tier AC Class

Day 10: Tuesday 14th November – Arrive NJP morning and drive to Kewzing(130km).

Arrive at New Jalpaiguri Railway Station at 08:20am, and drive 4.5 hours up mountain roads to Kewzing at an altitude of 1700m in the Himalayan state of Sikkim. We will stop on the way for lunch.

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In the village of Kewzing we will be staying in homestays with local families. For the next few days we will experience traditional Himalayan village life – accommodation will be simple but clean and comfortable, with private rooms. Our meditation will continue in the hall of the village monastery – one of only two Bon monasteries in the whole of India.

Overnight in homestay in Kewzing

Day 11: Wednesday 15th November – Kewzing village homestay: Meditation and relax in Kewzing.

Today is a day to relax after a long journey, to talk to the monks in the village and learn about Bon and Tibetan Buddhism.

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Overnight in homestay in Kewzing

Day 12: Thursday 16th November – Kewzing village homestay Meditation and relax in Kewzing.

A day to relax and enjoy village life, with meditation in the monastery hall.

Overnight in homestay in Kewzing

Day 13: Friday 17th November – Day trip to Pemayangtse, Rabdentse and Sangacholing

Full day tour of Pemayangste Monastery, Rabdentse ruins of a former capital of Sikkim, and Sangacholing Gompa, the oldest monastery in the region, which involves a 4km trek.

Buddhist Tours to India

Overnight in homestay in Kewzing

Day 14: Saturday 18th November – Drive Kewzing to Bagdogra, fly to Delhi

Today we say goodbye to Kewzing and set off on our return journey. We will drive 130km (4.5 hours) to Bagdogra airport to catch flight to Delhi: SpiceJet SG-125 departing Bagdogra at 15:25 and arriving at Delhi at 17:50. Transfer to hotel Ibis near airport.

Day 15: Sunday 19th November – International departure

Transfer to Delhi airport for international departures.

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The cost per person sharing a twin or double room:
£2,270
Single room supplement:
£580
The cost includes:
  • 12 nights’ accommodation in a sharing twin or double room or single room with en-suite facilities (Check-in is 1400 hrs and checkout 12 noon. Early check-in late checkouts are subject to availability).
  • Breakfast and dinner each day, with lunches included at the homestays
  • Internal flights from Delhi to Bodhgaya and Bagdogra to Delhi in economy class
  • Train tickets and reservations as per itinerary (Varanasi to New Jalpaiguri) in AC First Class
  • All arrival/departure transfers, long drives and sightseeing by a chauffeur driven private air-conditioned car or coach. Travel in Sikkim will be in AC Innova vehicles, with 3 people per car.
  • Services of a local English-speaking representative for all arrival and departure transfers to assist you at the airports and railway stations.
  • Services of English speaking guide during sightseeing as specified in the itinerary.
  • Entrance fees to all monuments during sightseeing as specified in your itinerary.
  • English speaking escort guide for the whole tour
  • Mineral water while travelling
The cost does not include:
  • International airfare.
  • India visa fee. You can now apply for visa on arrival in India- please click here for more information. https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html
  • Any expenses of a personal nature like laundry, telephone calls, beverages, gratuities etc.
  • Camera fees at monuments and other places of interest.
  • Travel Insurance: It is essential to have adequate travel insurance in place before your departure. This should be appropriate for your age, health and destination you are visiting.
Please ensure:
  • It includes comprehensive medical and repatriation cover
  • It provides cover for your whole trip
  • It covers you for all activities
  • It covers all your pre-existing medical conditions
  • Keep your Policy Number and Insurer’s 24-hour Emergency Number handy with you

If you wish to book this tour, please compete the booking form, sign and e-mail it to us. A non-refundable deposit of £400.00 per person is needed at the time of booking. Balance payments will be due 8 weeks before departure. You can make the deposit payment by debit card or electronic transfers to our bank. Credit card payment will be charge at 2% extra. Our Bank details are on the booking form. Bookings are confirmed on first come first served basis. When the tour is full we will take about 5 additional names on the waiting list to replace their booking with any cancellations etc.

CONTACT US

To enquire or make a booking on this tour, please call: 020 8901 7630 Monday – Friday 9.30am – 5.30pm, Saturday 11am – 4pm

TESTIMONIALS:
“I cannot recommend this company enough. Safe to say India has got under our skin and into our hearts, and when we visit again we will definitely be booking with this company - if you are thinking of going I urge you to do the same.”- Gillian and Ashley Iredale
``The whole experience was great, the most relaxing day of the holiday was the cruise up the backwaters when the whole group experienced it together``- Margaret Fortune
``A whole variety of experiences- worship, culture, scenery, friendliness of the people & their hospitality``- Daphne Brindle
``Being in India and witnessing the faith that the people of India have, Hindus, Muslim or Christians, seeing with my own eyes the devotion the people have`` - Steve Breward
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