Buddhist Pilgrimage registration has been closed for 2016
A short video (WALK WITH THE MASTERS) -the story of the sites of the Buddha.
Venerable Thupten Donyo, Director of the Gyuto Foundation, is organizing his sixth Buddhist pilgrimage to India and Nepal that will take place October 29th - November 15, 2016 (2 separate tours: Northern & Southern India) choose one or both. Ven. Donyo will be leading the pilgrimage with prayers and this pilgrimage has taken place every 2 years.
Please note: during the tour we will be staying in 2 to 4 star hotels that are often fully booked during pilgrimage season between November - February. Our hotel names are listed in the itinerary below. Ven. Donyo will be traveling with the group to make sure our members and friends have a pleasant tour while in India and Nepal. While in Nepal, we will NOT be visiting Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, but will visit Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha which is located just near the border area inside Nepal. During the tour we will be flying two times, at the beginning and end of the tour, and traveling by charter bus the rest of the tour.
Joining the pilgrimage with Venerable Donyo will benefit by not only developing your spiritual path, but also in helping fund the Himalayan Children's Education. Ven. Donyo recently transferred the Directorship over the Gyuto Foundation, which he founded in 2000, to the main monastery in India, and is now dedicating his life to the Himalayan Children's Education and Healthcare Project. Ven. Donyo's short message for his charity project.
A pilgrimage is a journey to a sacred place as an act of devotion and faith. Many enlightened beings have advised to visit the place where the Buddha was born, the place where the Buddha attained Enlightenment, the place where he preached the first teaching, and where he passed away into Mahaparinirvana.
During the pilgrimage we will visit the major holy sites of the Buddha such as: Lumbini - birthplace of Buddha, Kushinagar - where Buddha passed into Mahaparinirvana, Rajgir - where Buddha gave teachings on the Heart Sutra, Varanasi - where Buddha preached his first discourse, and finally Bodh Gaya - where Buddha attained enlightenment. We’ll also visit the Taj-Mahal, one of the 7 Wonders of the World. Please see below for the complete list of sites and the corresponding itinerary.
To register for the pilgrimage, please call or send email to Ven. Donyo to make sure there are still seats available. If there are seats available then you will need to send registration application with a photocopy of your passport for hotel reservation. Once you registered then you will need to send $500 deposit check payable to Delek Children's Foundation or DCF. (please write pilgrimage on the memo line) and mail it to: 6401 Bernhard Ave. Richmond, CA 94805 90 days before depature to ensure your place on the pilgrimage. Then full payment of the trip must be paid in full no later than 60 days before depature. Once you registered with deposit we'll send you the confirmation. However, without the deposit your registration will not be confiremed. Your deposit will be part of the payment.
If anyone wishes to join the pilgrimage from other states or other countries, they are welcome to do so. However, registration is still required and all participants must arrive in New Delhi no later than Oct. 31st, 2016.
India and Nepal Visas:
All members please apply for your Indian visa before you book your airline ticket unless you already obtained your Indian visa previously. Here are India and Nepal visa instruction.
During the trip you will be sharing rooms that have twin beds. If you prefer not to share a room and prefer to have single accommodations, there will be an extra charge and reservations are subject to availability. If you are travelling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate. However, if no roommate is available you will be charged the single accommodation room rate. Therefore, we advise you to encourage your family and/or friends to join the pilgrimage so you can share a room with your family or friends. We will make the greatest effort to make you as comfortable as possible.
Northern part of the Pilgrimage will cost $2,600.00 and Southern tour will cost $1400.00 per person without international air fare. All prices based on shared rooms, twin beds. If you would like a single room there will be an additional $800 per person. We do not recommend to book single room because it will be costly. Invite a family member or friend to join the pilgrimage. Interested members, please register below.
Northern Pilgrimage October 29 - November 11
Please note: There will be limited seats available and those seats will be available on a first come first serve basis. Unfortunately, we have closed the registration on July 30th.
Southern India - Visiting Ancient Buddhist Caves
We are also visiting ancient Buddhist Caves in South India right after the pilgrimage November 11th - November 15th, 2016. It will require an additional 5 days to visit the caves near Mumbai but we won't be visiting Mumbai.
If you would like a single room during South India trip, there will be an additional $450 per per person. We do not recommend to book single room because it will be costly. Interested members please register below. Unfortunately, we have closed the registration on July 30th.
Southern Pilgrimage November 11 - November 15
All local members who are joining the pilgrimage with Ven. Donyo are invited for afternoon tea at the Foundation. We know some members are flying from different cities and those members not necessarry to join the orientation. Ven. Donyo will be giving a brief introduction about the pilgrimage so that the members will have full knoledge about trip as well as India and Nepali culture. Those members who can attend the orientation you can organize your roommate at the orientation. Those who can't join the orientation then we'll asign your roommate.
Please note: All members please make sure that you are in good health in order to travel to India with group and free to walk about an hour each day.
When: Sunday, October 16th, at 2 pm - 4 pm
Where: At Gyuto Foundation, 6401 Bernhard Ave. Richmond, CA 94805
Tea and cofee will be served.
BUDDHIST PILGRIMAGE COST INCLUDES:
- * Flight from New Delhi Gorakakpure
- * Return flight from Varanasi to New Delhi
- * All meals are included during the entire trip
- * 10 days transportation by A/C deluxe coach bus
- * 12 days lodging in twin bed, shared rooms in 2*-4* hotels
- * English speaking tour escort at all times
- * All entrance fees to the sites
COST DOES NOT INCLUDE:
- International airfare or visa fees
- Travel Insurance
- Airport taxes if any
- Expenses of personal nature
- Excess baggage
- All personal expenses such as DRINKS, LAUNDRY, MEDICAL, etc.
- Insurance of any kind
- Any incidental charges such as flight delay/cancellation due to unforeseen happenings.
- Bank charges for fund transfer.
- Costs which are not included above in “Cost Includes”
- On the last day we request that all members offer small gifts to our tour guide, bus driver and driver's assistant. They always expect some gift from us at the end of the service.
- Those members who arrive in Delhi before or stay behind the tour schedule, all additional expenses will be covered by the individual including meals, hotel and transportation from the airport. We encourage that everyone travel on the same flight or try to meet our schedule if flying with different flights or flying from differnet states in order to keep the cost for the tour.
If you decide to cancel and notify us in writing before departure, we will refund your money after subtracting the following fee:
More than 60 days ............$500
30 - 59 days....................... 50%
Less than 30 days .............No Refund
There will be no refunds if you leave the trip for any reason, after the trip has begun. No refund will be made for meals and accommodations if not utilized.
DESCRIPTION OF THE SITES:
Lumbini is the sacred place where the Buddha was born, located in Nepal. There is an ancient shrine there with an image representing his birth as Prince Siddhartha. At this site Asoka's pillar is found, which is engraved with an inscription commemorating Emperor Asoka’s pilgrimage.
Sravasti is said to have been Buddha's residence for 25 years while living in the monastery of Jetavana in Sravasti. Sravasti is the only place where Buddha was supposed to have astonished rival teachers by performing miracles. It is in Sravasti that Buddha transformed Angulimal from a dacoit into a Buddhist monk. The two 21-meter high pillars erected by Emperor Ashoka mark these sites.
Vaishali is the place where one of the eight portions of the Buddha's relics have been enshrined in the foundation after the Maha Parinirvana of Buddha. Buddha first visited Vaishali in the fifth year after his enlightenment and is where he spent the whole rainy season. Later King Ashoka built a stupa there.
Kushinagar is the place where the Buddha lay down and passed into Mahaparinirvana. There are sites that are related to Buddha's Nirvana. A large mound nearby marks the place where a great stupa once stood, and where the Buddha was cremated.
Bodh Gaya is the place where the Buddha attained enlightenment. To the west of the temple is the Bodhi tree and sandstone seat where the Buddha is said to have sat when he reached his full enlightenment. It is the place which should be visited and seen by a person of devotion and which should cause awareness of the nature of impermanence.
- Rajgir is known as Vultures Peak, this is where the Buddha gave teachings on the Heart Sutra. The first Dharma council was also held there just after Buddha passed into Mahaparinirvana.
Please note: Rajgir we have to take 15 minutes on cable car up then walk down hill about 40 minutes.
Nalanda is home to the Monastic University that became famous in the centuries following the Buddha’s passing. Nalanda was a flourishing center of learning and for centuries was famous for its learned and versatile teachers.
Varanasi is where Buddha preached his first discourse after attaining enlightenment at Bodh Gaya. Emperor Asoka built a Stupa there which stood at a height of about 150 feet tall, the impressive ruins of which can still be seen.
Taj Mahal is regarded as one of the 7 Wonders of the World, and some Western historians have noted that its architectural beauty has never been surpassed. The Taj Mahal is the most beautiful monument built by the Mughals, the Muslim rulers of India. Its stunning architectural beauty is beyond adequate description, particularly at dawn and sunset.
Pilgrimage Tour Itinerary for Oct. 29th - Nov. 12th, 2016
Saturday, October 29 at 12.20 pm: Depart from San Francisco to New Delhi with All Nippon Airways.
Sunday, October 30: Still on flight
Monday, October 31: Arrive Delhi (All Nippon Airways Arrive Delhi at 12:15 AM)
Meet and assist on arrival at Delhi international airport and transfer to hotel. After breakfast or lunch, sightseeing of Delhi. Overnight at Delhi.
Tuesday, November 1: Delhi – Gorakhpur – Lumbini
Only Air India flight operates daily once a day from Monday to Saturday except Sunday. AI-9809 Departure from Delhi at 12:15 and Arrives Gorakhpur at 14:15.
Wednesday, November 2: Lumbini + Lumbini – Sravasti
Morning visit Lumbini. Afternoon depart to Sravasti. Overnight at Sravasti.
Thursday, November 3: Sravasti + Sravasti – Kushinagar
Morning visit Sravasti. Afternoon depart to Kushinagar. Overnight at Kushinagar.
Friday, November 4:Kushinagar + Kushinagar – Vaishali / Patna
Morning visit Kushinagar. Afternoon depart to Vaishali or Patna. Overnight at Patna or Vaishali.
Saturday, November 5: Vaishali/Patna + Vaishali – Bodhgaya
Morning visit Vaishali. Afternoon depart to Bodhgaya. Overnight at Bodhgaya.
Sunday, November 6: Bodhgaya
Morning visit to Mahabodhi temple, Sujata village. After lunch, visit to Mahakala cave. Overnight at Bodhgaya.
Monday, November 7: Bodhgaya (Rajghir & Nalanda)
After early breakfast, depart to Rajghir & Nalanda. Overnight at Bodhgaya.
Tuesday, November 8: Bodhgaya – Varanasi
After early breakfast, depart to Varanasi. After lunch, visit Sarnath. Overnight at Varanasi.
Wednesday, November 9: Varanasi – Delhi
After breakfast, depart to airport to board flight to Delhi. Overnight at Delhi.
Thursday, November 10: Delhi – Agra – Delhi
Morning drive to Agra to visit Taj Mahal. Evening return back and overnight at Delhi.
Friday, November 11: Days free for independent activities till departure transfer to international airport to board return flight home.
Saturday, November 12 at 1: 25 am: Depart from New Delhi to San Francisco and Arrive on same day Saturday, November 12 at 9.30 am
(Note: Those not continuing their trip to South India leave very early (1:25 am) November 12 - and those who wish to visit South India will leave Delhi in the afternoon on November 11)
Northern part of the pilgrimage ends here.
Please note: Southern part of the tour is seprate from the Northern part of the pilgrimage.
Ancient Buddhist Caves Ajanta & Ellora in South India.
- The caves were built in two phases starting around the 2nd century BC, with the second group of caves built around 400–650 AD. Buddhist Monks used to retreat to this serene place during the monsoon, and as they had plenty of time during such retreats they used it for deepening their religious quest through prayer and discussion.
Friday, November 11: Delhi – Aurangabad
Air India flight Departs from Delhi at 17:50hrs and Arrives Aurangabad at 20:05hrs.
Air India is the only flight operating directly to Aurangabad. Rest flies via other places and takes more than 9 hours. Overnight at Aurangabad
Saturday, November 12: Aurangabad – Ajanta
Visit Ajanta Caves. Overnight at Aurangabad.
The Ajanta caves are closed on Mondays, and the Ellora caves are closed on Tuesdays.
Sunday, November 13: Aurangabad – Ellora
Visit Ellora Caves. Overnight at Aurangabad.
The Ajanta caves are closed on Mondays, and the Ellora caves are closed on Tuesdays.
Monday, November 14: Aurangabad – Delhi
Air India flight Departs from Aurangabad at 16:50hrs and Arrives Delhi at 20:05hrs.
Air India is the only flight operating directly from Aurangabad to Delhi. Rest flies via other places and takes more than 9 hours. Overnight at Delhi
Tuesday, November 15: Depart Delhi
Day is free for independent activities till departure transfer for onward journey.
All participants are advised to check with their health insurance carrier regarding coverage abroad as well as their medical professionals for any precautionary medical treatments for travel to Nepal and India. Emergency medical facilities may not be readily available at all times in Nepal and India.
Below is a list to help you organize everything you'll need prior to travel:
- Advised to travel as light as possible
- Roundtrip Airline Ticket (s): Please confirm flight details beforehand
- Be sure to arrive to the airport at least three hours prior to departure
- Valid Passport with Indian visa
- Extra Copy of Passport: Just in case!
- Extra passport photos- Email yourself a copy so you have a digital copy as well
- Cash: you may need approximately $1,000 - $3,000 for personal needs
- DO NOT bring traveler's checks from small banks!
- Money, passport and tickets need to be protected at all times and carried on your person throughout the entire trip
- Travel insurance: not necessary, but recommended.
- November is good weather in Nepal and India but may get a little cold in the morning and evening, so we recommend some warm clothes and/or extra layers just in case
- Comfortable shoes for a lot of walking
- A small, light blanket can be very useful on the bus
- Modest clothes - skin exposure and figure hugging clothes are not commonly worn in India and Nepal and will bring a lot of unwanted and annoying attention
- If you are taking any electrical items, you will need 220 volt (NOT 110 volt) and the correct adapter plug for India
- Small camera and reliable alarm clock
- Hat and sunglasses -the sun can be quite strong even in winter
- Tylenol, cough drops, bandages, and so on for basic first aid/medical needs
- A small hot water bottle
- Strong plastic bags for wet or dirty clothes
- Padlock(s) - mainly for luggage
- Wet wipes or wet towels, very useful in India
- Dried fruit & nuts/ snacks for yourself on the bus
- Blow up neck ring cushion
- Small flash light
- Small first aid kit
- Some candies for kids in the rural areas
Thank you and Tashi Delek,
Ven. Thupten Donyo