This is a very special pilgrimage for those who have a connection with Root Institute, but would suit anyone who wishes to receive blessings and inspiration from holy places in the company of warm-hearted, like-minded people.
The pilgrimage is being organised by Ekno Travels, Australia. Pilgrimage expert Sharon Thrupp, Director of Ekno Travels, will be the tour leader.
About Sharon: Sharon 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 throughout India and Nepal. She is also involved in an Indian NGO which provides education and mentoring to under-privileged and marginalised school girls through the Indian Himalayan region. She considers Australia her home by birth but India her home by heart.
The pilgrimage will include Buddhist meditations, prayers and practices related to each site. The meditations will include topics such as the four noble truths, precious human rebirth, bodhichitta, emptiness covering at the end of the pilgrimage almost the whole of the Lam Rim! these will be led by Annie McGhee, a long-term FPMT student.
About Annie: Annie came in contact with Tibetan Buddhism in the late 1970s at Chenrezig Institute in Australia and has been formally studying since 1997. She lives in Australia and is passionate about pilgrimages, and the history of sacred sites. In October 2016, she visited Vikramashila, in Bihar, with Ladakhi Lama and her article was published in Mandala's online magazine in April 2017. She has lived in Indonesia doing Buddhist research and had papers published for the International Conference of Jambi Studies in Sumatra and the 14 Sakyadhita International Conference for Buddhist Women in Java.
Wonders of Delhi – including the National Museum which houses the Sacred Relics of Buddha
Sarnath – where the Buddha tough for the first time
Sravasti – where the Buddha meditated
Kushinagar – where the Buddha attained enlightenment after his death
Vaishali – where the Budhha ordained many woman
Kesariya Buddha Stupa†
Nalanda University – where many renowened Buddhists scholars studied
Vulture's Peak – where the Buddha taught the Heart of Perfection Wisdom Sutras
Bodhgaya Mahabodhi Stupa – where the Buddha manifested enlightenment.
1 Jan – Day 1
Arrive in Delhi. Transfer from the International Airport to hotel in Delhi. Overnight Delhi.
2 Jan – Day 2
After breakfast at the hotel, meet with Root Institute representative who will accompany you on your Pilgrimage. We spend the day in the sights and sounds of Delhi, including the National Museum which houses the Sacred Relics of Buddha. If time permits, visit other Delhi monuments including India Gate, Rajpath and Secretariat Buildings. Overnight Delhi.
3 Jan – Day 3
Morning flight to Varanasi, considered the spiritual gateway of India and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Arrive in Varanasi late morning and check into your hotel. Sightseeing trip in Main Ghat area and 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, participate in the breathtaking evening puja which accompanies sunset. Overnight Varanasi.
4 Jan – Day 4
Leave after breakfast for Sarnath, one of the four main Buddhist pilgrimage sites in North India. On arrival in Sarnath, visit the Deer Park where the Buddha taught The Four Noble Truths (his first teachings) after attaining enlightenment. Afterwards, we visit Dhamekh Stupa and other Buddhist ruins including Chaukhandi Stupa and Mulganda Kuti Vihar. The Dharmek Stupa is said to mark the exact spot of the Buddhaís first teaching of the Four Noble Truths. Return to Varanasi late afternoon. The evening is free to explore or rest at your leisure. Overnight Varanasi.
5 Jan – Day 5
After a very early breakfast, we drive to Sravasti (approximately 8 hours) stopping for breaks along the way.
Overnight Sravasti. Sravasti is where the Buddha spent many rainy seasons teaching to his disciples and spent the greater part of his monastic life.
6 Jan – Day 6
Spend the day around the ruins of Sravasti which are believed to be the originals of ancient Sravasti. Overnight Sravasti.
7 Jan – Day 7
This morning we leave for Kushinagar (approximately 6 hours drive). Kushinagar is an important Pilgrimage site where the Buddha attained paranirvana after his death and where†the long statue of reclining Buddha is housed. The image was unearthed during the excavations of 1876. Carved from sandstone, the statue represents the dying Buddha reclining on his right side. The group can also visit the site of the Maitreya Statue Project. Overnight Kushinagar.
8 Jan – Day 8
Our first stop after breakfast is Mahaparinirvana temple, the site of the reclining Buddha. visit the Rambhar Stupa - which marks Lord Buddha's cremation ground. Overnight Kushinagar.
9 Jan – Day 9
After breakfast leave for Vaishali an important pilgrimage place as it is where 500 women were ordained by the Buddha.†On the way we visit Kesariya Stupa which was 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. Overnight Vaishali.
10 Jan – Day 10
Depart for Nalanda Monastery (4 hours drive). Afternoon visit to Nalanda which was the most renowned university in ancient India and the home to the great Buddhist scholars. Established in the 5th century B.C. it remained the center of learning till the 12th century A.D. Rajgir was the lifetime of the Buddha and was the capital of the powerful Magadhan kingdom, ruled by the virtuous King Bimbisara. Overnight in Rajgir.
11 Jan – Day 11
After breakfast, visit to Vulture's Peak and the Japanese Stupa. Vulture Peak Mountain is one of several sites frequented by the Buddha and his community of disciples for both training and retreat is the place where the Buddha gave sermons including the Heart Sutra. Late afternoon drive to Bodhgaya. Overnight Root Institute, Bodhgaya.
12 Jan – Day 12
After breakfast pilgrimage to Mahabodhi Stupa
13 Jan – Day 13
Rest day. Night at Root Institute, sponsored.
14 Jan – Day 14
30 years of Root Institute Celebration. Breakfast at Root Institute, sponsored. End of Pilgrimage.
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
Root Institute is a delightful, semi-monastic meditation centre.
To maintain a condusive, spiritually harmonious atmosphere for inner reflection and meditation, we kindly ask all our students, guests and visitors to observe the following guidelines:
Respect all life: do not intentionally kill any living being, even small insects.
Respect others' property: do not steal or take anything not freely given.
Be honest and straightforward: do not lie or intentionally deceive others.
Be celibate: no sexual activity; this also includes no romantic holding hands, hugging, massages and other physical displays of affection.
Be alert and mindful*: avoid intoxicants such as alcohol, drugs and cigarettes; we encourage you to stop smoking while here, but if this is impossible, you can smoke outside the gates.
Be considerate of others' silence: keep silence in the appropriate areas and at all times during residential courses, especially in the meditation hall (gompa) and dormitories; no singing or playing music and, in general, maintain a quiet demeanour while on the property.
Be considerate of the monks and nuns: dress respectfully; please no shorts above the knee, tank-top shirts, or tight and revealing clothing.
Couples: can stay in the same room for two weeks or less under the celibacy policy.
Please be aware:
* The Bihar state government has passed laws totally prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol in the state, with very severe penalties! Please ensure that you do not carry any alcohol with you in Bihar.
Also, please note that those in service or teaching in FPMT centers and projects do not engage in the practice of Shugden.
Our spiritual programme now runs from beginning of September through to end of April.
On the appropriate dates in the Tibetan calendar year-round, however, we observe the standard pujas of the Gelug tradition and these are drop-in sessions which anyone can attend. If you are in Bodhgaya and would like to come along, please feel welcome to join us for:
Unless otherwise indicated, registration is required for all spiritual programme events except drop-in sessions, Festival of Lights & Merit, and Mahabodhi Stupa events.