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Itinerary 2016
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Bablu Kumar is a young man of 35 years who was born in Bodhgaya and grew up surrounded by Buddhism. He writes short stories and poems in both English and Hindi. Currently, he is raising funds to build a Bodhi dharma Meditation Centre in Bodhgaya so spiritual aspirants can practice meditation, participate in retreats & follow the Satya marg (True Paths). Mr. Kumar has been involved with the Shambhala Meditation Centres since 1998 and is a devotee of the great master Chogyam Trungpa.

Bablu Kumar has been leading pilgrimages in Bodhgaya since 2003. His goal in leading pilgrimages is to two-fold – to teach about the history of Buddha in the birthplace of Buddhism and to help aspirants to see the Buddha within us. With his skillful guidance, he endeavours to help pilgrims bring the Buddha alive in themselves.

Pilgrimages for 2016

Thank you for your interest in Buddhist Pilgrimages to India, located in the birthplace of Buddhism. We accommodate groups up to 40 people as well as personal retreats, organized by Bablu and led by our experienced guides.

We journey across the plains of the river Ganges to where the Buddha attained enlightenment (in Bodhgaya) and gave his first teaching (at the Deer Park in Sarnath). We visit his favorite meditation places: Vulture Peak in Rajgir, the Jeta Grove at Sravasti (where he spent 24 rainy seasons), Retcati and Kushinagar, his final resting place. Depending on the current political climate, we may also visit the sites where the Buddha was born (Lumbini in present-day Nepal) and spent his childhood (Kapilvastu).

Besides visiting the places where the Buddha lived and practised, we will visit Varanasi, sacred to Hindus, where thousands of pilgrims come daily to bathe in the holy river Ganges; and Nalanda, the famous Buddhist university that thrived from the 5th to the 12th century. The trip also includes visits to temples and stupas, monasteries, museums and villages. We walk through the countryside and take a boat ride along the Ganges at sunrise. The pilgrimage is an opportunity to explore areas that few tourists visit and develop an understanding of some aspects of Indian life that in many ways have not changed since the time of the Buddha. It is a transformative journey that allows you to touch an ancient culture and civilization and its perennial truth, an inner journey experiencing the life of the Buddha for ourselves, and an outer journey through a fascinating and mysterious India, herself a wonderful teacher.

At each pilgrimage site along the way, our guides will tell stories of the Buddhas life and give you teachings to help you understand the Buddha as a human being, the drama of his life and the significance of what he taught.

We will schedule time for daily sitting practice and walking meditation, regular Dharma discussions, and contemplative time for ourselves. The creation of a traveling Sangha will be an important aspect of this trip giving the journey a greater cohesiveness and building a sense of support that will continue much beyond the time in India and Nepal.

Daily schedule and special excursion.

We start the trip in Delhi, where we meet Bablu and fly to Patna. There after we travel by our private coach to Bodhgaya and an overnight stay at hotel . We will be in Bodhgaya for 2 days followed by travel to Varanasi, Sarnath, Kushinagar, Sravasti (and possibly Lumbini and Kapilavastu). From Saravasti we head to Lucknow and return to New Delhi, with a trip to Agra to see the Taj Mahal.

Besides visiting the places where the Buddha lived, we will visit monasteries, temples and shrines. The trip includes visits to homes of locals in cities and villages, an 8 kilometre gentle walk to Dungeshweri Mountain (Mahakala Cave) where Gautama Buddha practiced his austerities and meditated for six years, ate nothing and becoming little more than a skeleton. He eventually thought that if he continued like this, that he would die and achieve nothing. So he left that very place and he walked through the river and was meditating under the banyan tree where he met a lady. She was the queen of Senani village and she became known as Sujata. She fed a bowl of milk porridge to Buddha. The village is known as Sujata Village today.

In Varanasi we take a boat ride along the Ganges at sunrise. Depending on the general interest of the group we may visit schools, hospitals, villages, city markets, and see what various unplanned surprises may unfold along the way. Everything is of course optional. We will make sure to find the time for some shopping. The Buddha lived and traveled along the Indo-Gangtic plains in northern India. Besides New Delhi, the pilgrimages visit two states of northern India, Utter Pradesh and Bihar. The cities are a big contrast from the villages and have their own interesting (if seemingly chaotic) life style.

Varanasi and Bodhgaya are both significant pilgrimage sites, having their own distinct character and personality. In both of these places we get a closer view of how modern and traditional India are trying to co-exist. Kushinagar, Lumbini, Sravasti and Rajgir are smaller towns and relatively quiet, giving the pilgrims the opportunity to absorb the nuances of local culture and society.

MEDITATION & DISCUSSION : 6 AM TO 08:00AM DAILY.

Pilgrimage registration information and travel facts: -

The cost for this Buddhist pilgrimage in the foot step is 4699$ based on double occupancy. This price includes room and board, transportation inside India, bottled water and guide services.

Arrangements for the duration of pilgrimage

Please note that the cost does not cover international airfare to and from New Delhi. Visas and other international arrangements, any extra days spent in India beyond the dates of the pilgrimage, excess baggage on the flights, phone calls and faxes, laundry, medical and insurance coverage during this pilgriame.

As good hotels are limited at the Buddhist sites, and some times a few groups arrive on the same day, it can be difficult for hotels to provide single rooms. We ask for your understanding if this circumstance should arise.

Registration: -

Advance deposit of 950$ per person is required at the time of booking.

The reminder of the cost of the pilgrimage is due by the 1st of November 2016. If you book after the November 1, payment in full is required. We limit the number of pilgrims to 40 (on a first come, first serve basis) .

Registration form is attached at the end of this document.

Cancellation

40-30 days before departure of tour : 25% of the tour cost. 15- 10 days before departure of tour : 50% of the tour cost. Less than 5 days before departure of tour :100% of the tour cost.

International flights: -

Participants are required to book their flights into and out of New Delhi.

Arrival: -

For international flight arrangements you should ensure that tickets are booked as early as possible. Flights to and from India are frequently full, especially during the tourist season that starts in November. Please arrange to be in New Delhi for November 10, 2016. Most international flights arrive at night or in the early morning. You may check with us before you confirm your flight bookings. The hotel will be booked from 12 noon onwards on 10th November, so pilgrims may check in from then onwards.

Departure: -

The pilgrimage ends at noon on November 25 in New Delhi.

Extra nights: -

For those arriving before the 10th of November and require accommodation, please let us know and we can arrange your stay in New Delhi.

Travel documents required for this trip: -

You will need a valid passport and visas for both India and Nepal. Please ensure that the Indian Visa you are applying for is a multiple entry visa. Normally the Visa is valid for six months from the date of issue. The visa for India must be obtained before travel. The Indian embassy has consulates in New York (Tel: 212-774-06699), Chicago (312-595-0405, Houston (713-626-248), and San Francisco (415-668-0662). The main embassy is based in Washington DC and their number is 202-939-7000.

It is possible to get a Visa at the Nepalese border during the pilgrimage. It is free but do ensure to bring a passport size photograph.

Three months before the pilgrimage, each participant must provide the following details in order to reserve Air and hotels: Name, sex, date of birth, passport no. Date of issue of passport, date of expiry of passport and place of issue of passport. Once you gets your Indian visa, you will need to send the Visa number, date of issue, date of expiry and place of issue.

Money exchange, acceptance of credit cards and tipping/ donation information’s: -

Your transportation, hotels and food are completely covered but do bring along some cash or travellers cheques if you'd like to do some shopping. Credit cards like Visa or American express are acceptable in some of the hotels and large shops in Delhi or Varanasi but not in other places we visit.

Currently, one US dollar is equal to RS 67(Indian rupees).

Tipping tour guides and restaurants is optional. Knowing how much to tip tour guides and merchants can be challenging, but fortunately we've developed a pretty good system. Mr. Bablu can recommend how much to tip so you are not overpaying and will pool all contributions from the group to give to the guides at the end.

The general tipping rule is Rs 50 for baggage handlers. 10% tip is customary in restaurants and no tipping is expected for taxi drivers but you can always choose to tip if you received exceptional service.

HOTEL/ HOUSING.

We select the best available accommodations in the vicinity of the sites (the majority are 5-star hotels and Tibetan guest houses) that are double occupancy with twin beds, a private bath/shower and toilet. The accommodations are clean and comfortable, with some being monastic in style and others are very luxurious. If you prefer a single room for the entire trip, there is a price supplement of US$ 450 person.

Weather and clothing needs:

The weather is pleasant in November and we recommend that you bring some cotton shirts/trousers and t-shirts and one light sweater or shawl for meditation in the morning. Temperatures can vary considerably, from 15 to 30 degrees Celcius. There is no need to bring any formal clothes. The climate will mostly be dry with a small possibility of light rain in some areas. It is handy to have an umbrella that can be double up as a sun shade or a walking stick!

Please bring comfortable sneakers or sandals. We do not go for treks but one or two of the (optional) walks are long. We also visit a number of temples where you need to remove shoes so it is helpful to bring a pair of socks, which you could wear specially in the temples (air line slip-ons are very convenient). It is always useful to have a hat or cap to protect you from the sun.

Information:

You can check in 30 kilos of baggage on India airplanes; we recommend that you travel light. Laundry facilities are available at all accommodations on the trip, and laundry is returned within 24 hours.

Health concerns:

We stay in clean, safe places and the food will be clean, fresh and prepared to suit a delicate digestive system. You will be provided bottled mineral water for drinking. If you are coming from Africa or some parts of Latin America a Certificate of yellow fever inoculation is required by the Indian Authorities. There is no other medical restriction upon your entry into India/Nepal. We normally recommend a hepatitis A shot and tetanus Shot. If you prefer to be more careful then please speak to your Physician. Many people like to take some precaution against malaria, but it is not necessary. We do carry first-aid kits with us, but many people prefer to bring their own supply of medicine. We would recommend you get an insect/mosquito repellent and also a stomach medicine for diarrhea and constipation as one's stomach has its own way of adjusting to different foods.

Additional travel services (e.g. shuttle buses, taxis) that you may want to use: We provide all transportation necessary as soon as you land in New Delhi.

For those who want to make their own arrangements, Delhi Airport has black and yellow cabs, and white cabs. It is preferable to take the black and yellow cab (under authority of the Delhi Traffic Police) and it is best to get a prepaid cab. The prepaid taxi booth is located after customs near the bank. Let your driver know where you want to go and how many pieces of luggage you have, and he will ask you to pay a certain amount and give you a slip in return with the cab number on it. Outside the airport the black and yellow cabs are lined up and you will need to show your slip to them. After the cab driver has dropped you at your destination, then you will give him the slip of paper. You need not pay anything extra at all. If you are coming on your own we will let you know the hotel address in advance. Cab fare will be in the range of 400-500 Rs, depending on traffic.

Liability:

BABLU KUMAR & Buddhist Pilgrimages, while undertaking tours, transportation, hotel accommodation and other services, only act on the clear understanding that they shall not be in any way responsible or liable for any accident, damage, loss, delay or inconvenience caused in connection with travel and other facilities arranged by the company, their employees or agents. All bookings are accepted and executed with utmost care, yet no responsibility is taken for any change or deviation on account of factors beyond their control. It is recommended that you insure yourself before you arrive in India.

* * * *

TO REGISTER FOR THE PILGRIMAGE:

Write all the following details and send us via email to:

Emai : info@buddhistpilgrimages.in

Name............................sex................................

Address............................................................

Email Address......................................................

Telephone No....................Mobile No..........................

Date of Birth...................Nationality........................

Passport number.................Place of Issue.....................

Date of Issue...................Date of Expiry.....................

I AM REGISTERING FOR: In the Footsteps of the Buddha Pilgrimage 2016 (# of persons x 4699$)........

Grand Total: .......................................................

DEPOSIT & PAYMENT: .................................................

950$, as deposit can be paid to register for any Buddhist pilgrimage. The remaining Amount must be received by or before NOVEMBER 2016   I understand and agree to all terms and conditions of the pilgrimage As detailed above.

Signature............................................................

Date...................................................................

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