Ven. Rangrig Rinpoche will be leading a pilgrimage to
India and Nepal in Dec 2019, visiting the sacred sights
of the Buddha. Following in the steps of the Buddha,
we will visit Bodhgaya, where he attained
enlightenment; Sarnath, where he gave his first
teachings; Srvasti, where he lived for many years and
gave many teachings; and Kushinagar, where he gave
his final teaching before his death. We will also be
visiting the site of Nalanda, the greatest Buddhist
university in India, where many masters studied,
including Guru Rinpoche, Naropa and Shantideva. We
will also visit Lumbini the Buddhas place of birth and
Pharping, Tso Pema, Boudhanath Stupa,
Swayambhunath and Namo Buddha and more..
In the Pali Tipitaka, the oldest surviving body of Buddhist
literature, the Buddha speaks specifically about the
importance of pilgrimages. According to the Buddha,
practitioners should try to make a pilgrimage to one of the
four holy sites in their lifetime. The journey must be made
with a devout heart and will bring various benefits to one’s
The deposits for the India Pilgrimage is broken down into two parts. The first portion is for India which will be a duration of
2 weeks. Those who wish to stay we will then be travelling to Nepal for one week. At a total $100 US per day. The total trip duration is 3 weeks
trip is in US Funds. The total package is US$2100.00 per person for 3 weeks. India for two weeks is US
$1400 per person, 7 days Nepal (Kathmandu) US$700.00. This includes shared accommodation, internal bus overland travel,
daily breakfast and evening meal. (Lunch cost is up to the individual at travelled locations ). Also, Price includes tsok that Rinpoche will perform at Tso Pema, Varanasi and Bodhgaya ( you are also welcome to purchase you own tsok)
This does not include round-trip air travel to the meeting point (Delhi, India) or Kathmandu, insurance
(required), visas, or personal spending to meet special requirements, for extra activities or for additional offerings or
donations. Those who are no going to join the Nepal trip it is better to end your Pilgrimage in Kushinagar and head back to Dehli from there, this cost is also not included in the pilgrimage. You can also fly from Lumbini to Katmandu and internally and most international flights are available there.
**If you are only attending the Nepal part of the pilgrimage, please specify clearly and let us know your flight itinerary.
Nepali visas will be acquired in Nepal. Also, return flight or transportation back to Dehli is not included but we will help to arrange an option (local fight would be the fastest option).
If you require changes to the group program in order to meet personal
needs or preferences you will be responsible for any associated costs.
Please arrange your flights to arrive in Delhi on or before
Day 1,2: Meet in Delhi,
Day 3,4: Rewalsar (Tso Pema)
Day 5: Dehradun (Mindrolling)
Day 6: Agra
Day 7: Shrawasti
Day 8: Sarnath, Varanasi
Day 9: Sarnath, Varanasi
Day 10-12: Bodhgaya
Day 13: Kushinagar /Lumbini End India portion transportation back to Dehli
Day 15: Lumbini
Day 16: Pokhara
Day 17: Kathmandu
Day 18: Kathmandu,
Day 19: NamoBuddha, Boudhanath, Swayambhunath
Day 20: Godawari, Pharping
Day 21: Transportation to flights home end of the pilgrimage
Modifications to the programme may be necessary due to changing circumstances.
Please be aware that we are travelling to an area where the infrastructure is not similar
to that in the West. Some roads may be in poor condition and the days of travel can
be long. We ask that you be flexible and aware that modifications to the travel and
accommodation arrangements may be necessary due to changing circumstances.
While the organisers are fully committed to the well-being of everyone
on the trip, they can not take responsibility or accept liability for any
difficulties that may arise during or in relation to the trip.
We are planning to meet at Indira Gandhi International Airport in Dehli on the 29th. we will be leaving from there immediately from to go to
Rewalsar as it is quite a long trip, those who require to stop and rest there can be an opportunity to do so. A driver will be around the airport from 10 to 11 and will be there to pick you up on the 29th of Dec,
please call Palden
A sleeping bag is essential. as it can get chilly overnight
. It could also be useful, although
the hotels will have adequate bedding. Also, an inflatable pillow may
be useful. Hand sanitiser gel comes in handy when hygienic cleaning facilities are
unavailable (naturesaide), such as when eating whilst travelling. You should also ensure you have enough
money for lunch as these are not included in the cost of the trip.
In Canada, you can search for a consulate or various other online services can
provide assistance in completing your application for an Indian Visa:
New Zealand passport holders can get a one month visa on arrival at Delhi Airport. If
you are entering India somewhere else, a visa is required. Visas are issued at the High
Commission of India in Wellington. Full details are available on their website:
In Australia, visas are issued through the India Passport & Visa Services Centre.
There are offices throughout Australia. Full details are available on their website:
Visas are issued through
Travisa Outsourcing handle indian visa application in the
US. Further details are on their website:
VFS Global’s India Visa Application Center handles UK indian
visa applications. More details on the following website:
We will be travelling by Bus and jeep.
Some roads or sections of road may be in poor condition and the days of travel can
be long. There is always the possibility of delays, breakdowns and disruptions due to
roadworks. However, the scenery will be great. If you have any tendency to motion
sickness (or did in the past) it is useful to bring some medication for this (ginger caps
and b6 works wonders). Some have also found mantra recitation to be very effective. As some of
the road trips are long it is good to have some water and snacks with you. You may
want to bring a neck pillow, earplugs (if you want to sleep) and an MP3 player.
We suggest everyone see their doctor or health professional well before the trip and
consider seeing a naturopathic doctor and request a homoeopathic nosode for Typhoid
and Hepatitis this can prevent unwanted side effects. We ask that you visit your doctor if you have any existing health
conditions that need to be managed. It is good to have a letter from your doctor listing
any medication you take. Preventative supplements will be listed below
You may also want to consider having a dental check-up before the trip
you don’t want to go down with unexpected tooth trouble in India.
This is not a trekking tour so you will not need any special level of fitness. The only
considerations are being able to climb stairs (as hotels often do not have elevators), walk
short distances uphill (some of the sacred sights are up hills) and squat at some of the toilets.
It is useful to bring small containers of gel hand sanitiser (natures aid) which you can use
before eating meals, after toileting and any other occasion you feel the need. Having said
that, in India, there is usually somewhere to wash your hands
We ask that everyone coming on the pilgrimage get full insurance cover.
Even in winter, the sun is fierce and you can easily get burnt. Please bring sunblock,
lip balm, sunglasses and a hat. You may also need to use moisturiser.
First Aid Kit
Many people bring a small first aid kit. It is useful to bring something for both diarrhoea
and constipation. You may also wish to bring something for travel sickness and eye drops,
as some of the places we go to are dusty. If you have contact lenses bring all the supplies
you need with you. Between us, we should have adequate supplies for simple first aid.
General Health Issues in India
You might have heard a lot of scare stories about the health risks of travelling in India,
but rest assured that these are the exceptions rather than the rule. Standards of hygiene
and sanitation have increased greatly over the past decade or so and, if you’re careful, you
should be able to get through with nothing worse than a mild dose of “Delhi belly”.
It’s crucial, however, to keep your resistance high and to be very aware of the
dangers of untreated water, mosquito bites and undressed open cuts.
The lack of sanitation in India can be exaggerated. It’s not worth getting too worked
up about it or you’ll never enjoy anything, but a few common-sense precautions
are in order, bearing in mind that things such as bacteria multiply far more quickly
in a tropical climate, and your body will have little immunity to Indian germs.
One of the chief concerns of many prospective visitors to India is whether the water is safe
to drink. To put it simply, it’s not, though your unfamiliarity with Indian micro-organisms
is generally more of a problem rather than any great virulence in the water itself. As a rule,
it is not a good idea to drink tap water, although in big cities it is usually chlorinated.
When it comes to food, be particularly wary of prepared dishes that have to be
reheated – they may have been on display in the heat and the flies for some time.
Anything that is boiled or fried (and thus sterilized) in your presence is usually all
right, though meat can sometimes be dodgy, especially in towns or cities where the
electricity supply (and thus refrigerators) frequently fails; anything that has been left
out for any length of time is definitely suspect. Raw unpeeled fruit and vegetables
should always be viewed with suspicion, and you should avoid salads unless you know
they have been soaked in an iodine or potassium permanganate solution. Wiping
down a plate before eating is sensible, and avoid straws as they are usually dusty
or secondhand. As a rule of thumb, stick to cafés and restaurants that are doing a
brisk trade, and where the food is thus freshly cooked, and you should be fine.
Preventative herbs and supplements
A couple of suggestions are for upset stomach black walnut (parasites) Berberis for any viral infection
(high fevers), a good multistrain probiotic, whole food supplement for complete nutrition, Ginger B6
if you have motion sickness, lastly 5htp for a sleep aide if needed. Chlorella tabs is also helpful for nausea
December January is a good time to visit India, with the monsoon having finished
and the temperatures still cool. From Delhi to Bodhgaya, the temperatures should
be up to 25°C during the day, cooling down overnight to about 8° C. It is
, therefore, advisable to have clothing suitable for all temperatures. As mentioned
above it could still be very hot in places so bring a hat and sunglasses, and sunscreen
India’s unit of currency is the rupee, usually abbreviated “IRs” and divided into
a hundred paise. Almost all money is paper, with notes of 10, 20, 50, 100, 500
and, 2000 rupees: . Coins start at 10 paise range up to 20, 25 and 50 paise, and 1, 2 and 5 rupees.
Banknotes, especially lower denominations, can get into a terrible state, but
don’t accept torn banknotes; no one else will be prepared to take them, so
you will be left saddled with the things, though you can change them at the
Reserve Bank of India and large branches of other big banks. Don’t pass them
on to beggars; they can’t use them either, so it amounts to an insult.
Large denominations can also be a problem, as change is usually in short supply.
Many Indian people cannot afford to keep much lying around, and you shouldn’t
necessarily expect shopkeepers or rickshaw-wallahs to have it (and they may – as may
you – try to hold onto it if they do). Paying for your groceries with a Rs100 note will
probably entail waiting for the grocer’s errand boy to go off on a quest to try and
change it. Larger notes – like the Rs500 note – are good for travelling with and can
be changed for smaller denominations at hotels and other suitable establishments. A
word of warning – the Rs500 note looks remarkably similar to the Rs100 note.
At the time of writing, the exchange rate is roughly:
In addition to your cash, you may wish to carry some travellers’ cheques to
cover all eventualities, with a few small denominations for the end of your
trip, and for the odd foreign-currency purchase. US dollars are the easiest
currency to convert, with pounds sterling a close second. Major hard currencies
can be changed easily in tourist areas and big cities, less so elsewhere.
Travellers’ cheques aren’t as liquid as cash, but obviously more secure (and you get a
slightly better exchange rate for them at banks). Not all banks, however, accept them,
and those that do can be quirky about exactly which ones they will change. Well-known
brands such as Thomas Cook and American Express are your best bet, but in some places
even American Express is only accepted in US dollars and not as pounds sterling.
A credit card is a handy back-up, as an increasing number of restaurants, large shops and
tourist emporia as well as airlines and train companies now take plastic; American Express,
Mastercard and Visa are the most commonly accepted brands. If you have a selection of
cards, take them all. You’ll get much the same exchange rate as you would in a bank, and
bills can take a surprisingly long time to be charged to your account at home. The Bank
of Baroda (Bobcards) and Standard Chartered Grindlays issue rupees against a Visa card
at all their branches. Remember that all cash advances are treated as loans, with interest
accruing daily from the date of withdrawal; there may be a transaction fee on top of this.
However, you can also withdraw cash from ATMs in India using your debit card, which
is not liable to interest payments, and the flat transaction fee is usually quite small – your
bank will be able to advise on this. Make sure you have a personal identification number
(PIN) that’s designed to work overseas. Larger branches of all the main Indian banks now
have ATMs, though the amount you can withdraw from them in any 24-hour period
varies. The other downside of relying on plastic as your main access to cash, of course, is
that cards can easily get lost or stolen, so take along a couple of alternative ones in case; and
make a note of your home bank’s telephone number and website addresses for emergencies.
It is illegal to carry rupees (besides spending money) into India, and you won’t get
them at a particularly good rate in the West anyhow (though you might in Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore).
Its also illegal to take Rupees out of the country
Its also helpful to get a travel pouch to where next to your body as pickpockets are active
Whatever you buy (except food), you will almost always be expected to haggle over
the price. Bargaining is very much a matter of personal style, but should always
be lighthearted, never acrimonious. There are no hard and fast rules – it’s really a
question of how much something is worth to you. It’s a good plan, however, to
have an idea of how much you want, or ought, to pay. “Green” tourists are easily
spotted, so try and look like you know what you are up to, even on your first day,
or leave it till later; you could wait and see what an Indian might pay first.
Don’t worry too much about the first quoted prices. Some guidebooks suggest
paying a third of the opening price, but it’s a flexible guideline depending on the
shop, the goods and the shopkeeper’s impression of you. You may not be able
to get the seller much below the first quote; on the other hand, you may end
up paying as little as a tenth of it. If you bid too low, you may be hustled out of
the shop for offering an “insulting” price, but this is all part of the game, and
you’ll no doubt be welcomed as an old friend if you return the next day.
Don’t start haggling for something if you know you don’t want it, and never let
any figure pass your lips that you are not prepared to pay. It’s like bidding at an
auction. Having mentioned a price, you are obliged to pay it. If the seller asks
you how much you would pay for something, and you don’t want it, say so.
Sometimes rickshaw-wallahs and taxi drivers stop unasked at shops; they get a small
commission simply for bringing customers. If you’re taken to a shop by a tout or driver
and you buy something, you pay around fifty percent extra. Stand firm about not entering
shops and getting to your destination if you have no appetite for such shenanigans.
A daily breakfast and evening meal is included at all the hotels. For our other meals,
while we often eat meals together, they will not be pre-arranged which will allow us the
flexibility to eat at local establishments or at more preferred hours. In most towns, there
is usually a non-Indian option if you need to take a break from curries, although it is
usually more expensive, and of much lesser quality, than the native cuisine on offer.
General notes in Indian food
Indian food has a richly deserved reputation throughout the world for being
aromatic and delicious. If you’re a vegetarian, you’ve come to the right place.
Indians are used to people having special dietary requirements: yours will be
respected, and no one will think you strange for having them. Indeed, some of
the very best food India has to offer is vegetarian, and even confirmed meat-eaters
will find themselves tucking into delicious dhals and veg curries with relish.
Most religious Hindus don’t eat meat or fish, while some orthodox Brahmins will not
eat food cooked by anyone outside their household (or onions or garlic, as they inflame
the baser instincts), and Jains are even stricter. Veganism is not common, however;
if you’re vegan, you’ll have to keep your eyes open for eggs and dairy products.
Many eating places state whether they are vegetarian or non-vegetarian either on signs
outside or at the top of the menu. The terms used in India are “veg” and “non-veg”. You’ll
also see “pure veg” which means that no eggs or alcohol are served. As a rule, meat-eaters
should exercise caution in India: even when meat is available, especially in the larger towns,
its quality is not assured except in the best restaurants, and you won’t get much in a dish
anyway – especially in railway canteens where it’s mainly there for flavouring. Hindus, of
course, do not eat beef and Muslims shun pork, so you’ll only find those in a few Christian
enclaves and Tibetan areas. Note that what is called “mutton” on menus is in fact goat.
Broadly speaking, there are four types of eating establishment: dhabas, bhojanalayas and
udipis; restaurants; tourist restaurants; and fast-food joints. Dhabas and bhojanalayas are
cheap Indian diners, where food is basic but often good, consisting of vegetable curry, dhal
(a lentil soup pronounced “da’al”), rice or Indian bread (the latter more standard in the
north) and sometimes meat. Often found along the sides of highways, dhabas traditionally
cater to truck drivers, and one way of telling a good dhaba from a distance is to judge
from the number of trucks parked outside. Bhojanalayas are basic eating places, usually
found in towns (especially around bus stands and train stations) in the north and centre
of the country; they tend to be vegetarian, especially those signed as “Vaishno”. Both
dhabas and bhojanalayas can be grubby – look them over before you commit yourself.
Restaurants as such vary in price and quality, and can be veg or non-veg, offering a
wide choice of dishes, much like Indian restaurants anywhere else in the world. Deluxe
restaurants such as those in five-star hotels can be very expensive by Indian standards,
but they offer a chance to try classic Indian cooking of very high quality: rich, subtle,
mouthwatering, and still a fraction of the price you’d pay for such delights at home
– assuming you could find Indian food that good. Try a meal in one at least once.
The third type of eating place caters specifically for foreign travellers with unadventurous
tastebuds: the tourist restaurant, found in beach resorts, hill stations and travellers’
meccas across India. Here you can get pancakes and fritters, omelettes and toast, chips,
fried prawns, cereal and fruit salad. The downside is that they tend to be pricey, some
miss the mark by a long way, and they are not, of course, authentically Indian.
The fourth type is international fast food including burgers (without
beef ) as well as pizzas, which have taken cosmopolitan India by storm
with familiar household names available in most major cities.
Eating and the right-hand rule
The biggest minefield of potential faux pas has to do with eating. This is usually done
with the fingers and requires practice to get absolutely right. Rule one is: eat with your
right hand only. In India, as right across Asia, the left hand is for wiping your bottom,
cleaning your feet and other unsavoury functions (you also put on and take off your
shoes with your left hand), while the right hand is for eating, shaking hands, and so on.
Quite how rigid individuals are about this tends to vary, with brahmins (who at the top
of the hierarchical ladder are one of the two “right-handed castes”) and southerners likely
to be the strictest. While you can hold a cup or utensil in your left hand, and you can
usually get away with using it to help tear your chapati, you should not eat, pass food or
wipe your mouth with your left hand. Best is to keep it out of sight below the table.
This rule extends beyond food. In general, do not pass anything to anyone with
your left hand, or point at anyone with it either; and Indians won’t be impressed
if you put it in your mouth. In general, you should accept things given to you
with your right hand – though using both hands is a sign of respect.
The other rule to beware of when eating or drinking is that your lips should
not touch other people’s food – jhutha or sullied food is strictly taboo. Don’t,
for example, take a bite out of a chapati and pass it on. When drinking out of
a cup or bottle to be shared with others, don’t let it touch your lips, but rather
pour it directly into your mouth. This custom also protects you from things
like hepatitis. It is customary to wash your hands before and after eating.
Privately run phone services with international direct dialling facilities are very
widespread. Advertising themselves with the acronyms STD/ISD (standard trunk dialling/
international subscriber dialling), they are extremely quick and easy to use; some stay open
24 hours. Both national and international calls are dialled direct. To call abroad, dial the
international access code (00), the code for the country you want – +1 for Canada, for
example – the appropriate area code (leaving out any initial zeros), and the number you
want; then you speak, pay your bill, which is calculated in seconds, and leave.
Prices vary between private places and are slightly cheaper at official telecommunications
offices; many have fax machines too. Calling from hotels is usually more expensive.
“Call back” (or “back call”, as it is often known) is possible at most phone booths
and hotels, although check before you call and be aware that, in the case of
booths, this facility rarely comes without a charge of Rs3-10 per minute.
to 7pm – but this falls to half rate on Sundays, national holidays, and daily from
7am to 8am and 7pm to 8.30pm, after which the charge is reduced further.
Call charges to and from mobile phones are far lower in India than Western countries,
which is why lots of foreign tourists opt to sign up to a local network while they’re
travelling. To do this you’ll need to buy an Indian SIM card from a mobile phone shop;
these cost around Rs150, plus the price of a top-up card (varying from Rs150-500). Your
retailer will help you get connected. They’ll also advise you on which company to use.
Different states tend to be dominated by one or other of the main firms – Airtel, BPL or
!dea (formerly AT&T). If you intend to stay inside their designated coverage area, charges
for texts and calls are cheap. However, to use your phone outside your company’s coverage
you’ll need to shell out extra for a roaming facility – otherwise, you’ll have to buy a new SIM
card each time you change states. Note that when roaming, both you and your caller pay
for incoming calls. We will be in three states, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Bihar.
In all the large cities and in many tourist towns there are Internet and email facilities
accessible to the general public, usually at cybercafés, though many hotels and STD
booths offer this service as well. Charges for Internet use range from Rs10 to Rs60
per hour for reading mail and browsing, and extra for printing; most centres offer
membership deals which can cut costs. You should make constant checks to see whether
your connection is still alive; in the main cities and resorts faster connections through
ISDN/broadband is now common, though they cost twice the price of standard dialup
connections. The shops that advertise email alongside unrelated business concerns are
cheaper, but you have to send and receive mail through their own private account.
In spite of the crushing poverty and the yawning gulf between rich and poor, India is,
on the whole, a safe country in which to travel. The best way of enjoying the country is
to stay relaxed but with your wits about you. Crime levels in India are a long way below
those of Western countries, and violent crime against tourists is extremely rare. Virtually
none of the people who approach you on the street intend any harm: most want to sell
you something (though this is not always made apparent immediately), some want to
practise their English, others (if you’re a woman) to chat you up, while more than a few
just want to add your address to their book or have a snap taken with you. Anyone offering
wonderful-sounding moneymaking schemes, however, is almost certain to be a con artist.
It’s not a bad idea to keep $100 or so separately from the rest of your money, along
with your travellers’ cheque receipts, insurance policy number and phone number
for claims, and a photocopy of the pages in your passport containing personal data
and your Indian visa. This will cover you in case you do lose all your valuables.