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 Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi. After immigration you will be met by our representative, who will be carrying a placard with your name on, at the indoor arrivals area. Members of the group will be arriving on different flights at different times, and there will be a transfer for each arrival.

From here our representative will take you to the vehicle and drive you from the airport to check into the Lalit Hotel in central Delhi – a drive of about 45 minutes, depending on the time of day. Depending on what time you arrive you can spend the day relaxing at the hotel, or get some rest.

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 all get together in a meeting room in the hotel at 15:00 for a group meditation and to discuss the upcoming adventure.

Overnight in Lalit Hotel in Delhi

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

At 09:30 we will leave the hotel to transfer to New Delhi airport to catch Air India AI-433 to Gaya (Bodhgaya), departing Delhi at 12:10 and arriving at Gaya (Bodhgaya) at 13:40.

Buddhist Tours India

Bodhgaya is the site on the banks of the Nairanjana river where the Buddha attained nirvana under a Bodhi tree. This small town is a major pilgrimage site for Buddhists from around the world, and also for Hindus who revere the Buddha.

Buddhist Tours in India

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. In Bodhgaya we will check into the Sujata Hotel, and at 18:30 we will have a group meditation in the hotel’s Prayer & Meditation Hall.

Overnight in Sujata Hotel, Bodhgaya

Day 5: Thursday 9th November – Bodhgaya tour

We will meet at 09:30 in the morning for group meditation in the hotel’s Prayer & Meditation Hall, before heading out to explore Bodhgaya with our guide, to visit the Mahabodhi Temple, the Bodhi Tree and the Great Buddha Statue amongst other sites.

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Overnight in Sujata Hotel, Bodhgaya

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

09:30 Morning meditation with Lisa in the hotel’s Prayer & Meditation Hall.

Today is a day at leisure to enjoy the peaceful surroundings at your own pace, but if you are interested there is the opportunity to visit, along with our guide, the nearby 7th century Mahakala Caves containing Buddhist shrines.

Overnight in Sujata Hotel, 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.

Here we check into the Tree of Life Resort, in a peaceful area outside of the hectic city.

Buddhist Tours to India

As the sun sets we will drive 20km 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 Tree of Life Resort, Varanasi

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

Today is a very early start as we wake up before the sun and drive to the ghats and enjoy a magical sunrise boat ride on the holy river Ganges, witnessing the faithful perform their morning prayer rituals by the riverside.

Buddhist Tours India

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.

Buddhist Tours India

Overnight in Tree of Life Resort, Varanasi

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

After morning meditation we take it easy at the Tree of Life Resort for the rest of the day, before our overnight journey to the Himalayas. However those who wish to explore more of the old city at their own pace can do so.

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.

Buddhist Tours to India

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: GoAir G8-160 departing Bagdogra at 16:25 and arriving at Delhi at 18:45. Transfer to hotel Ibis near airport.

Overnight in Ibis New Delhi Aerocity

Day 15: Sunday 19th November – International departure

Transfer to Delhi airport for international departures.

Buddhist tour India

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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