Recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983, the Ajanta Caves are considered one of the finest and most extensive surviving examples of ancient Indian art.
They consist of twenty-nine immense rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments, which date from the 3rd century BC to about the 5th century CE. The Ajanta Caves consist of ancient monasteries and worship halls of different Buddhist traditions carved into a 250-foot wall of rock. The caves have exquisite wall paintings, many depicting the past lives of the Buddha – pictorial stories from the Jataka Tales. The caves also include rock cut of images of the Buddha and Buddhist deities.
Ellora, also a UNESCO site, and extending over 2 kilometers, is one of the largest rock-cut monastery-temple cave complexes in the world featuring Buddhist, Hindu and Jain monuments and artwork dating from 600-1,000 CE. The Ellora Caves show the integration and tolerance of these three major faiths, in peaceful co-existed at that time.
Each of the 100 caves excavated at this site depicts the deities and mythology as well as monasteries, which are specific to each of these religions. Twelve of the caves are Buddhist, with one featuring a superb Maitreya statue.
At each site the group will be given important information about the site and led into different meditations and practices relevant to the place. The idea is to become a pilgrim rather than a tourist, during this trip.
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.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Lharampa Geshe Ngawang Rabga is Root Institute's Basic Programme resident teacher. He has a very gentle, humble and soft personality. For an introduction to Geshe-la, his background and feelings about teaching, please visit the page on our resident teacher.
Annie was born in Australia and is a long-term student of Tibetan Buddhism, primarily at Chenrezig Institute, an FPMT centre in Australia. She is passionate about pilgrimages and the history and sacred sites of Buddhist India. In October 2016 she visited Vikramashila in NE Bihar, with Ladakhi Lama and a small group from Root Institute. Her article, In the Footsteps of Atisha, relating to this pilgrimage, was published in Mandala's online magazine in April 2017. Annie and Geshe Rabga led a group from Root Institute to Vikramashila in December 2107. She has lived in Indonesia researching the connections between Mahayana Buddhism in Indonesia & Tibetan Buddhism, and has presented papers at several conferences in Indonesia. which have been published.
December 13 – Day 1
After breakfast, travel by Jeep to Patna airport for your flight to Delhi. Arrive Delhi & check into your hotel. Overnight Delhi. Evening teaching/prayers with Geshe-la.
December 14 – Day 2
A full day of sightseeing in Delhi, including the National Museum, Tibet House, the Red Fort & the old spice market. Overnight Delhi. Evening teaching/prayers with Geshe-la.
December 15 – Day 3
A half-day of sightseeing, including Humayan's Tomb. Afternoon flight to Aurangabad. You will be picked up from the airport by mini bus or taxi to Ellora & check into your hotel. Overnight Ellora. Evening teaching/prayers with Geshe-la.
December 16 – Day 4
Depart after an early breakfast by mini bus or taxi to Ajanta Caves for a full day with an English-speaking guide, and then back to your hotel in the late afternoon. Overnight Ellora. Evening teaching/prayers with Geshe-la.
December 17 – Day 5
Depart after an early breakfast to nearby Ellora Caves for a full day with an English-speaking guide. Back to your hotel late afternoon. Overnight Ellora. Evening teaching/prayers with Geshe-la.
December 18 – Day 6
After breakfast, checkout of hotel & drive to Aurangabad for a late morning flight to Delhi. Check into your hotel. The afternoon is optional free time or a visit to the Old Markets. Overnight Delhi. Evening teachings/prayers with Geshe-la.
December 19 – Day 7
After breakfast, checkout of your hotel, then a late morning flight to Patna. Arrive Patna & get picked up by Jeep to return to Root Institute for supper.
Note: This schedule is subject to change.
Students are most welcome to apply for individual or groups retreats here. To make the most of this special time, we would like to suggest the following:
It is good to settle all outside communication before you begin your retreat. Telling friends and family that you will be out of contact for the duration will significantly help to reduce distractions. Likewise, settling your travel arrangements, etc. before you come to Root Institute is highly advisable.
To maintain a healthy, calm, clear mind, observing silence will also bring you the mental space most conducive to retreat.
Practicing Dharma is a source of happiness, so rejoice in your efforts!
Thank you for thinking of Root Institute as your place for retreat. We will do our best to support you!
Root Institute is a delightful, semi-monastic meditation centre.
To maintain a conducive, 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.