Pilgrimage Itinerary
DHARMA JOURNEY NEPAL AND INDIA PILGRIMAGE ITINERARY
Day 1
(Feb. 5, 2021)

Everyone meets in Kathmandu. Our local staff will pick you up at the airport and transfer you to the Hyatt Regency near Boudhanath Stupa. First, you will go through immigration and then upstairs to claim your luggage. Finally go through customs and proceed to exit the airport.

Meet in the hotel lobby for dinner at 6 PM with the entire group, including Ven. Robina Courtin and our local guide Amber Tamang. The hotel is less than a ten-minute walk from Boudhanath Stupa, one of the holiest of Buddhist shrines. Overnight at Hyatt Regency, Kathmandu. (Dinner)

Day 2
(Feb. 6, 2021)

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 1950s, it has been one of the most eagerly sought travel destinations. Durbar Square is at the heart of this historic city. You can have lunch on your own outside 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 $30USD payable directly to Amber. This cost includes vehicle, driver, and guide but not entrance fees or lunch. Overnight at Hyatt Regency, Kathmandu. (Breakfast)

Day 3 - 4
(Feb. 78, 2021)

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 good. There has even been a cookbook 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. Overnight Kopan Monastery. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 5
(Feb. 9, 2021)

In the morning 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. In the afternoon 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. Overnight Kopan Monastery. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 6
(Feb. 10, 2021)

Lumbini. Meet in the lobby after an early tea for transfer to the airport for our 30-minute flight to Bhairahawa airport on Buddha Air. Then it is an hour's drive to Lumbini. After lunch, visit the birthplace of the Buddha. 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. Overnight Hotel Lumbini Garden New Crystal, Lumbini (Tea, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 7
(Feb. 11, 2021)

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. Then an all-day scenic drive to Sravasti with a light lunch en route. Overnight at Hotel Lotus Nikko, Sravasti. (Breakfast, Light Lunch, Dinner)

Day 8
(Feb. 12, 2021)

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, Sravasti. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 9
(Feb. 13, 2021)

Drive from Balarampur to Kushinagar, stopping for a light lunch en route. In the afternoon enjoy a couple of hours free time before dinner. 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." Overnight Hotel Lotus Nikko, Kushinagar. (Breakfast, Light Lunch, Dinner)

Day 10
(Feb. 14, 2021)

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 to be your teacher after my passing." Overnight Hotel Lotus Nikko, Kushinagar. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 11
(Feb. 15, 2021)

An all-day drive from Kushinagar to Rajgir, in the state of Bihar. Light lunch en route. This is our longest day of driving. Overnight Indo Hokke Hotel. (Breakfast, Light Lunch, Dinner.)

Day 12
(Feb. 16, 2021)

Enjoy a morning visit to 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. After lunch at the hotel, 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. Later in the afternoon, we drive to Bodhgaya and overnight at FPMT's Root Institute. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 13
(Feb. 17, 2021)

From Root Institute, a meditation center set in tranquil gardens, we will visit Mahabodhi Stupa, the site of Buddha's enlightenment, for teachings and meditation. In the afternoon, visit several FPMT centers to learn about charitable activities such as the Maitreya School and Tara's Children Project. This evening, we can enjoy another visit to Mahabodhi Stupa. Overnight at Root Institute. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 14
(Feb. 18, 2021)

Bodhgaya to Varanasi. We'll get an early start for the drive to Varanasi and have a simple breakfast en route then a late lunch/early dinner at the hotel. In the early evening, we can pay an optional visit to the banks of the famous River Ganges, one of the holiest Hindu sites. Overnight Radisson Hotel, Varanasi. (Light Breakfast, Lunch/Dinner)

Day 15
(Feb. 19, 2021)

Visit Saranath 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. (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 16
(Feb. 20, 2021)

Travel to Kathmandu. Early check-out from the hotel and transfer to the airport. Transfer to the hotel on arrival in Kathmandu and check-in then some free time and overnight at the lovely Hyatt Regency in Kathmandu. (Light Breakfast)

Day 17
(Feb. 21, 2021)

Final group activity is a puja and dinner together at Boudhanath in the evening. Overnight at Hyatt Regency, Kathmandu. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 18
(Feb. 22, 2021)

Transfer to the airport to depart Kathmandu or continue exploring the region. (Breakfast)

Notes:
1. This is meant only as a tentative guide to what our days will be like. Changes may be made before departure or as we go along in which case they 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.
2. 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 Friday, Feb. 5, 2021.
3. Sturdy vehicles with air-conditioning will be provided.
4. Airport transfers included on Day 1 and Day 18. We can arrange optional transfers and services at an extra cost should you arrive early or depart late from the program.
5. Included meals for each day have been shown at the end of the daily description.
 
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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
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Effie@HighTreks.com
 
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