Pilgrimage Itinerary
Day 1
(Oct. 23, 2017)

Everyone meets in Kathmandu. Our local staff will pick you up at the airport and transfer (20-30 minutes) you to Hotel Tibet International in Boudhanath. First you will go through immigration (obtain visa) and then go up stairs to claim your luggage. Take a cart for this and finally go through customs and proceed to exit the airport. As you go outside look for a sign with your name on it.

Meet in the hotel lobby for dinner at 6 PM with the entire group, including Ven. Robina and our local guide Amber Tamang. Overnight at Hotel Tibet International. The hotel is less than a five-minute walk from Boudhanath Stupa, one of the most holy of Buddhist shrines. (Dinner)

Day 2
(Oct. 24, 2017)

Kathmandu. Our first day is free to relax or to explore the city. Nepal's capital is a delight to the senses, the imagination and the heart. For centuries Kathmandu was forbidden to outsiders. Since it opened to the world in the early 1950's, it has been one of the most eagerly sought travel destinations. Durbar Square is at the heart of this historic city. There are options to have lunch on your own in the city or at the hotel. An optional half day sight-seeing of Kathmandu will be offered. Cost per person, assuming a minimum group size of six, is $25USD payable directly to Amber. This cost includes vehicle, driver and guide but not entrance fees or lunch. Overnight at Hotel Tibet International. (Breakfast)

Day 3 - 6
(Oct. 25-28, 2017)

Meditation retreat at Kopan Monastery with Ven. Robina. Meet in the hotel lobby at 8 AM for the short drive to Kopan. Established in 1970 as a place of retreat for Westerners and eventually a monastery for the monks of Solu Khumbu (where Lama Zopa Rinpoche is from), Kopan is beautifully situated on a hill above the Kathmandu Valley. One of the best Gelug monasteries in Nepal, it is home to 400 monks and, at Kachoe Ghakyil down the road, 400 nuns. People come from all over the world to attend retreats and courses at Kopan, especially the famous November course. The accommodation is comfortable and the food very satisfactory. There has even been a cook book published with favorite recipes from Kopan. Note that single rooms are not available and also that men and women room separately.

A typical day on retreat starts early with meditation, followed by breakfast. Then there will be teachings and discussion until lunch, with a tea break. After lunch there will be a two-hour break, during which you can take a short easy walk, rest, or study quietly in the excellent library or on your own. During the afternoon there are more teachings and discussion; and after dinner a final session of teachings and meditation. Often a group in retreat will opt to maintain silence for all or part of the time (for example before breakfast and after dinner) as this adds to the contemplative quality of the experience. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 7
(Oct. 29, 2017)

In the morning visit Boudhanath stupa and temples, monasteries and the village. Boudhanath is the religious center for Tibetans living in Nepal and is especially beloved by them. Lama Zopa Rinpoche says that upon first sight of the stupa, all one's prayers will be fulfilled. In the afternoon visit Swayambhunath stupa. According to legend, Kathmandu Valley was filled with a great lake, at the center of which a lotus flower grew. With the slash of the sword of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri, the lake was drained and the lotus settled on top of the hill and transformed into the stupa. There is evidence that the great Indian Buddhist Emperor Ashoka visited the site 2,000 years ago. Overnight at Hotel Tibet International. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 8
(Oct. 30, 2017)

Visit the village of Pharping, 11 miles south of Kathmandu. Once an independent kingdom, Pharping with its many shrines, monasteries and temples, is perched on a hillside. It is a powerful place of the female Buddha, Vajra Yogini, and many yogis meditate here. We will see "the self-emanating" Tara and a cave of the eighth century Indian yogi, Guru Rinpoche, Padmasambhava, who built the first monastery in Tibet, at Samye. On our return to the city, we will stop to view the ancient statues of Chenrezig, Tara and Manjushri in the center of Kathmandu. Overnight at Hotel Tibet International. (Breakfast, Packed Lunch, Dinner)

Day 9
(Oct. 31, 2017)

Lumbini. Meet in the lobby at 7:00 AM (after tea) for transfer to the airport for our 30-minute flight to Bhairahawa airport on Buddha Air. An hour's drive to Lumbini to Buddha Maya Garden Hotel. After lunch, visit the birth place of the Buddha, a 15-minute walk from the hotel. Here there is an Ashokan Pillar with an inscription of King Ashoka from 250 BC, a sacred pond, ruins of the ancient monasteries, stupas and the temple of Mayadevi, the Buddha's mother. (Tea, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 10
(Nov. 1, 2017)

Lumbini to Sravasti. After breakfast, we will drive to Sanauli, the Nepal/India border, an hour away. We stop for passport control and to change money into Indian rupees. An all-day drive to Sravasti, light lunch en route. Overnight at Hotel Lotus Nikko. (Breakfast, Light Lunch, Dinner)

Day 11
(Nov. 2, 2017)

After breakfast we visit Jetavana Grove, in Sravasti, capital of the ancient Kosala kingdom, where Buddha and his disciples retreated every rainy season for twenty-five years and where he gave many of his teachings. According to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, it is easy to meditate here, so blessed is it. Relax in the afternoon, or visit the cave of the former bandit, Angulimala. After meeting Lord Buddha, he calmed down and embraced Buddhism. Overnight Hotel Lotus Nikko. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 12
(Nov. 3, 2017)

In the morning we will return to Jetavana for prayers and meditation. All-day drive from Balarampur to Kushinagar, stopping for a light lunch en route. Kushinagar is the place where Buddha passed away. His last words were said to be, "Decay is inherent in all component things. Be diligent in your practice." (Breakfast, Light Lunch, Dinner)

Day 13
(Nov. 4, 2017)

In Kushinagar. After breakfast we visit Mahaparinirvana Temple where there is the statue of Buddha passing away in meditation. In the afternoon we visit the unadorned but very holy Rambhar Stupa, where Buddha was cremated. "Do not be sad," he told his disciples. "Let the Dharma I have taught you be your teacher after my passing." (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 14
(Nov. 5, 2017))

All-day drive from Kushinagar to Rajgir, in the state of Bihar. Light lunch en route. Relax in the afternoon. Overnight Hotel Rajgir Residency. (Breakfast, Light Lunch, Dinner.)

Day 15
(Nov. 6, 2017)

Enjoy an early morning visit to Vulture Peak, where Buddha gave many teachings, including The Heart Sutra. We will take a leisurely walk up to the top for meditation and teachings. After lunch at the hotel, we will visit the ruins of Nalanda Monastery. From the 5th to the 12th centuries, Nalanda was a major Buddhist university with 10,000 monks and students in residence. In the afternoon we drive to Bodhgaya and overnight at FPMT's Root Institute. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 16
(Nov. 7, 2017)

From Root Institute, a meditation center set in tranquil gardens, it's a short walk into town; rickshaws are also available. We will visit Mahabodi Stupa, the site of Buddha's enlightenment, for teachings and meditation. Bodhgaya also has shops and restaurants to explore. In the afternoon, visit several FPMT centers to learn about charitable activities such as the Maitreya School and Tara's Childern Project. This evening, we can enjoy another visit to Mahabodhi Stupa. Overnight at Root Institute. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 17
(Nov. 8, 2017)

This morning we could visit Mahakala (Dungeshwari) Caves, a short drive from Bodhgaya. Your afternoon is at your leisure. After dinner, we'll have a final puja and teachings at Mahabodhi Stupa. Overnight at Root Institute. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 18
(Nov. 9, 2017)

Today we'll travel to Varanasi. Light lunch en route. In the early evening, we can pay a visit to the banks of the famous River Ganges, one of the holiest Hindu sites, for the evening worship. Overnight Radisson Hotel. (Breakfast, Light Lunch)

Day 19
(Nov. 10, 2017)

Deer Park, Sarnath. A few miles north of Varanasi is Deer Park, where Lord Buddha turned the wheel of Dharma for the first time, teaching on the four noble truths and the eightfold path to the five ascetics who were his first disciples. Enjoy a visit to the excellent archaeological museum with many Buddhist images dating back to the 5th and 6th centuries. After lunch, your afternoon and evening are free to enjoy as you wish. Overnight Radisson Hotel. (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 20
(Nov. 11, 2017)

We'll fly from Varanasi to Kathmandu, via Delhi, in the late afternoon. We could return to Sarnath in the morning. Transfer from the airport in Kathmandu to the Hotel Tibet International. (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 21
(Nov. 12, 2017)

Free day in Kathmandu. Dinner together in the evening. Overnight Hotel Tibet International. (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 22
(Nov. 13, 2017)

After breakfast, our final group activity is morning puja at Boudhanath stupa. Later, transfer to the airport to depart Kathmandu or continue exploring the region. (Breakfast)

Notes: This is meant only as a guide to what our days will be like.
1. PreTrip Arrival: Fly to our meeting point in Kathmandu, Nepal. Travelers from the Americas ‘lose’ one day crossing the international date line. You must arrive in Kathmandu no later than Monday, October 23, 2017. If you arrive early, we can arrange transfers and additional accommodations on request (additional cost).
2. Changes may be made as we go along and will be announced as well as posted when possible in the hotel reception areas. These changes will be based on local conditions, health and hotel availability.
3. Times mentioned are all approximate and rounded off.
4. Sturdy vehicles with air-conditioning will be provided.
5. Airport transfers included on October 23 and November 12. We can arrange optional transfers and services at a modest cost should you arrive early or depart late from the program.
6. Included meals for each day have been shown as bold at the end of each daily description.
7. Contact information is current and subject to change.
8. The format for the phone numbers is country code, city code, then the local number in parentheses. Nepal’s country code is 977 and India’s country code is 91. For mobile phones in Nepal you don’t need to put the city code 1 after the country code as you do for other local numbers. You will find more information about international calling in our trip notes, provided after registration
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For more information please contact Effie Fletcher, Pilgrimage coordinator at
Himalayan High Treks
241 Dolores Street, San Francisco, CA 94103-2211 USA
Phone US & Canada toll free (800) 455 8735
Phone (1) (415) 551 1005 * Fax (1) (415) 861 2391
Ven. Robina Courtin
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