Welcome to the 2nd Root Institute Pilgrimage of the Buddha’s Sites. The sites covered in this Pilgrimage will visit important pilgrimage sites as well as have time for morning and evening meditations. Along the way, Venerable Drolma will be setting our motivation together each day with His Holiness Dalai Lamas motivation for life and visualisation of Shakyamuni Buddha and reﬂect on the qualities of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha to inspire and increase our faith by reciting Praise to Shakyamuni Buddha and making heartfelt dedications for many temporal and ultimate positive goals. We will set the motivation for meaningful discussions on topics such as emptiness and dependent arising and meaningful dedication verses.
In evenings we will meditate on topics including refuge, loving kindness, natural purity of mind, death and impermanence, emptiness and dependent arising, bodhicitta and our potential to achieve enlightenment as well as rejoicing in the many virtues there are to rejoice in.
This is your opportunity to travel safely from holy site to holy site, walking in the Buddha’s footsteps, retracing the meaningful events gone by, including visiting three of the four sites Buddha himself said His follows must go – Bodhgaya where Buddha became enlightened, Sarnath where Buddha ﬁrst turned the wheel of Dharma, and Kushinigar where Buddha passed into paranirvana, also visiting the sites of Buddhas relics, all along the way planting seeds for future Buddhas in our own mind streams making our contribution to a peaceful happier world.
Your Tour Leaders:
Emma Billsberry (Lozang Drolma)
Lozang Drolma (Emma Billsberry) is originally from a small village in the English countryside. Emma met the Dharma in 2005 when volunteering at an FPMT centre in Australia, Chenrezig Institute. Within a few months she was ordained as Lozang Drolma and began her formal studies with the five year Buddhist Studies Program and became a registered FPMT teacher in 2012. She continued with two years of further Masters studies completing nine years of studies while living and serving in Chenrezig Nuns Community.
While at Chenrezig she assisted the spiritual program offered at Chenrezig leading meditations and pujas. She also regularly taught introductory courses and led retreats at Chenrezig a becoming well known for her natural warmth, kindness and wisdom.
In 2012 she assisted the Kopan November course as meditation leader. Since arriving in India in 2015 where she is learning Tibetan and has taught at Tushita Meditation center and Root Institute.
Currently Drolma resides in Dharamsala as a student at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics.
SHARON THRUPP has lived and worked in Dharamsala, India for the past 13 years. Sharon is passionate about India and is a Buddhist. She has led many pilgrimages through out India and Nepal including the Buddha’s Sites and South India. She is also involved in an Indian NGO which provides education and mentoring to underprivileged and marginalized school girls through the Indian Himalayan region.
She considers Australia as her home by birth but India as her home by heart. In her spare time, she does yoga and meditation on her roof top with the Himalayas as a backdrop and wanders the back roads of her home near Dharamsala.
Making the most of our journey
Pilgrimage needs faith. More faith, more happiness. Otherwise, we are just like tourists looking at ruins. Pilgrimage is not just going to holy places and taking pictures. We go to holy places for blessing, so it’s good to do practices at the different holy places.
Bodhgaya is not only the place where the Buddha showed the holy deed of achieving enlightenment under the bodhi tree but also where all the great pandits such as Nagarjuna and Asanga practiced and made so many prayers. Also many great enlightened beings and yogis from Tibet, China, Nepal and other countries came here and made many prayers to benefit us sentient beings so there would be unbelievable, unbelievable benefit for us to purify negative karma and accumulate merit as quickly as possible.
I think you are very fortunate to be able to come to Bodhgaya, where a thousand buddhas will descend, place their holy feet, display holy deeds, and achieve enlightenment. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is the fourth of the thousand buddhas. The rest of the buddhas will descend here and will also display the twelve deeds, and the holy deed, achieving enlightenment.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche
27 Jan 2020
Welcome to incredible India! An Ekno representative will meet you and escort you to the hotel upon your arrival at the airport in Delhi. After checking into the hotel, spend the rest of the day at your leisure exploring the local area and soaking up the vibrant atmosphere.
Overnight: Hotel, Delhi
28 Jan 2020
After breakfast at the hotel, we will meet with the Root Institute representative – Venerable Drolma who will accompany us on our pilgrimage. We will spend the day taking in the many sights and sounds of Delhi, including a visit to the National Museum which houses the Sacred Relics of Buddha (5th-4th century BC) which were discovered in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The relics are outstanding specimens of Buddhist art and are illustrated through exhibits in a variety of materials and forms from the three principal Buddhist traditions – Hinayana, Mahayana & Vajrayana.
In the afternoon we will visit some of the most famous monuments of Delhi – including India Gate, Rajpath and the Secretariat Buildings.
Overnight: Hotel, Delhi.
29 Jan 2020
This morning we will take a flight to Varanasi, considered to be the spiritual gateway of India and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Upon arrival we will check into our hotel before taking a sightseeing trip to the Main Ghat area and the Vishwanath Temple.
Varanasi is the holiest of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism and Jainism and played an important role in the development of Buddhism. This evening you will have the opportunity to participate in the breathtaking evening puja (prayer ceremony) which accompanies sunset on the Ganges.
Overnight: Hotel, Varanasi.
30 Jan 2020
After breakfast we will drive to Sarnath, one of the four main Buddhist pilgrimage sites in North India. On arrival in Sarnath, we will visit the Deer Park where the Buddha taught The Four Noble Truths (his first teachings) after attaining enlightenment. At Deer Park we will offer prostrations, incense and Praise to Shakyamuni Buddha by circumambulating the Dhamekh Stupa and reﬂecting on the Four Noble Truths. This is the site where Buddha gave this teaching as he turned the ﬁrst wheel of Dharma. Time permitting we will visit the Buddhas relics at the Sri Lankan Temple.
The Dhamekh Stupa is said to mark the exact spot of the Buddha’s first teaching of the Four Noble Truths. In the late afternoon we will return to Varanasi. The evening is free to explore or rest at your leisure.
Overnight: Hotel, Varanasi
31 Jan 2020
After a very early breakfast, we will be driven to Sravasti (approximately 8 hours), stopping for breaks along the way. Sravasti is where the Buddha spent the greater part of his monastic life, as well as many rainy seasons teaching to his disciples.
Overnight: Hotel, Sravasti
1 Feb 2020
Today we will spend the day exploring the ruins of Sravasti, the capital of an ancient kingdom and we reﬂect on the story of Angulimala as we circumambulated his commemoration stupa, and the generosity of Anathapindada at his commemoration stupa. We will offer Praise to Shakyamuni Buddha upon Miracle Hill. Then at Jeta Grove, at the entrance of Buddhas main residence we will offer prostrations, circumambulate three times, offer incense and recite the Vajra Cutter Sutra, at the place this sutra was ﬁrst taught.
We will be able to see more age old stupas, majestic viharas, and several temples, the remains of which have been used to establish Buddha’s association with the town.
Overnight: Hotel, Sravasti
2 Feb 2020
This morning we will leave for Kushinagar (approximately 6 hours drive). Kushinagar is an important Pilgrimage site where the Buddha attained paranirvana after his death and is where the statue of the reclining Buddha is housed. The image was unearthed during excavations in 1876. Carved from sandstone, the statue represents the dying Buddha reclining on his right side. We will also have the opportunity to visit the site of the Maitreya Statue Project.
Overnight: Hotel, Kushinagar
3 Feb 2020
First stop after breakfast we will offer prostrations and circumambulations at the Rambhar Stupa, which marks Lord Buddha’s cremation ground. In the Mahaparinivana temple shrine room of the Reclining Buddha, we will offer prostrations and circumambulations, reciting many prayers together including Praises to Shakyamuni Buddha, Seven Limb Prayer, Praise of Dependent Origination and the Foundation of All Good Qualities. If the opportunity arises we can offer incense and robes and meditate at Buddha’s side on death and impermanence, then chant Buddhas mantra around the beautiful Buddha statue in the shrine room nearby.
We will then visit the Rambhar Stupa, which marks Lord Buddha’s cremation ground.
Overnight: Hotel, Kushinagar.
4 Feb 2020
After breakfast we will leave for Vaishali, an important pilgrimage location known as the place where 500 women were ordained by the Buddha.
On the way we will visit Kesariya Stupa, the venue where the Buddha delivered his Kalama Sutta. The Stupa has 5 large terraces which vary in shape and house a life like statue of Lord Buddha. We will make a brief stop to offer prostrations and circumambulations at this huge Stupa.
At Vishali we will make prostrations and circumambulate the site where Buddhas relics are kept, and time permitting a visit to the museum. Here we will offer prostrations as we circumambulate Anandas’ Stupa, Buddha’s residence and the ﬁrst ever nunnery. We will offer praises to Tara and make heartfelt prayers.
Overnight: Hotel, Vaishali.
5 Feb 2020
After breakfast we will depart for Nalanda Monastery (4 hours drive). Nalanda was the most renowned university in ancient India and was home to the great Buddhist scholars of the time. Established in the 5th century BC, it remained the centre of learning up until the 12th century AD. In the afternoon we will leave for Rajgir, which during the Buddha’s lifetime was the capital of the powerful Magadhan kingdom, ruled by the virtuous King Bimbisara.
We will make prostrations and offer incense at Shariputra’s Stupa and recite prayers including Praises to Shakyamuni Buddha and to the Seventeen Nalanda Pandits, the Seven Limb Prayer, Praise of Dependent Origination, Foundation of All Good Qualities Lam Rim prayer and complete our practice with Shantidevas dedication verses.
We will make our way to our hotel for the evening. Evening at leisure.
Overnight: Hotel, Rajgir
6 Feb 2020
After breakfast we will take the chairlift to visit Vultures Peak and the Japanese Stupa. On top visit the beautiful Peace Pagoda and be enchanted by the perpetual beating of the drum of truth. We will prostrate and circumambulate the pagoda and reﬂect on emptiness and dependent arising. It is a great place to participate in a walking mediation to Vultures Peak and offer prostrations, circumambulations, incense and light and recite the Heart Sutra here in the place where Buddha ﬁrst taught this essential sutra.
Vulture Peak Mountain is one of several sites that was frequented by the Buddha and his community of disciples for both training and retreat. It is also the location where the Buddha gave sermons including the renowned Heart Sutra.
During the late afternoon we will be driven to Bodhgaya. In the centre of Bodhgaya is the ancient Mahabodhi Temple, the holiest Buddhist temple in the world. The temple marks the location where the Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment.
Overnight: Root Institute, Bodhgaya
7 Feb 2020
After breakfast we will make a pilgrimage to the Mahabodhi Stupa.
During the next two days we will go together to the Mahabodhi Stupa where we offer prostrations, circumambulations at the stupa. If the occasions arises we will offer robes the the Buddha and recite Praises to Shakyamuni Buddha and around the inner and out koras.
The history of this site goes back over 2500 years and it is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Enjoy spending a relaxing morning here, watching other pilgrims and quietly contemplating life. The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure to explore the town.
Overnight: Root Institute, Bodhgaya
8 Feb 2020
This morning we will attend Buddhist teachings at the Root Institute. In the afternoon we will have the opportunity to visit other significant Buddhist temples around Bodhgaya.
Overnight: Root Institute, Bodhgaya
9 Feb 2020
The pilgrimage tour ends after breakfast this morning. We will transfer you to the airport in time for your ongoing flight.
If you wish this pilgrimage package can be combined with one of our other tours or India extensions.
Fully accompanied by a representatives of the Root Institute and Ekno Travels
Met on arrival at Delhi International Airport
13 nights’ accommodation with breakfast
Flight from Delhi to Varanasi
Private transport for all transfers and sightseeing as mentioned below
- Delhi airport pickup and drop off
- Sightseeing in Delhi
- Pickup Varanasi airport to hotel, sightseeing to Sarnath
- Car/Mini Bus from Varanasi – Sravasti – Kushinagar – Kesariya – Vaishali – Nalanda – Rajgir – Bodhgaya
All attractions and entrance fees as per itinerary
Boat Ride in Varanasi
Local guides in Delhi, Varanasi, Sarnath, Nalanda and Rajgir
Accompanied by local English speaking guide from Delhi to Bodhgaya
Airfares to and from India
Travel Insurance (compulsory)
Occasional optional items not identified in itinerary description
Tipping and personal expenses
Bottled water and other beverages not included with meals