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Ancient Buddhist Monasteries of India:

Ancient Buddhist Monasteries of India

with Stephen Batchelor and Shantum Seth

January 16 to January 31, 2020 (16-days)

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Ancient Buddhist Monasteries of India: A Pilgrimage
(Jan 16 – Jan 31, 2020)

Stephen Batchelor will co-lead with Shantum Seth a pilgrimage to the ancient Buddhist monasteries of India from January 16 – 31, 2020.

This pilgrimage will take us to some of the rare surviving sites in the Indian subcontinent where Buddhism flourished on its home soil from the 3rd Century BCE to the 10th Century CE. This journey will include the world-renowned stupa at Sanchi, the rock-cut monasteries of Ajanta and Ellora, as well as lesser-known rock-cut temples, such as Pitalkora, Karla, Bhaja, Bedsa, Nasik and Kanheri. Exposure to such a wide-range of sites will grant us a vivid and physical sense of where and how Buddhism evolved in India.

Although these monasteries are no longer active as places of learning and practice, many are in remarkably good condition. Not only will we be able to enjoy the sheer physical beauty and solitude of many of these ancient sites, but also have the unique experience of studying classical Buddhist texts and meditating in the places where these activities originated in India.
The pilgrimage includes two retreats: one with the Dalit Buddhists and one at Sanchi. By travelling to locations that are off the tourist map, we will be able to enjoy them in tranquility and at leisure, allowing us to appreciate more fully the skill and artistic genius of those who built these inspirational edifices.

This pilgrimage will explore some of the places in Buddhist India where the Dharma flourished in the centuries after the Buddha's death and also connect with the revival movement inspired by Dr. Ambedkar.

TEACHER BIOGRAPHIES

                                    
Stephen Batchelor                                                  Shantum Seth

Stephen Batchelor
Stephen Batchelor was born in Scotland and educated in Buddhist monasteries in India, Switzerland and Korea. In 1972, at the age of nineteen, he settled in Dharamsala, and in 1974 he ordained as a Buddhist monk in the Tibetan tradition and later traveled to Korea where he practiced as a Zen monk. Batchelor disrobed in 1985, when he moved to Devon, England to live and teach at the Sharpham Community and Gaia House. Stephen Batchelor has synthesized a distinctively Western Teaching style, drawing from multiple Buddhist traditions.   He currently lives in south-west France.

His books include: The Awakening of the West: The Encounter of Buddhism and Western Culture, Buddhism Without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening, Verses from the Center: A Buddhist Vision of the Sublime,

Living with the Devil: A Meditation on Good and Evil and the recently published Confession of a Buddhist Atheist.

Shantum Seth
Dharmacharya Shantum Seth, an ordained dharma teacher in the Zen Buddhist lineage of Thich Nhat Hanh, is the foremost expert on sites associated with the Buddha and has been leading pilgrimages since 1988. He worked with the United Nations on volunteering, peace, and social development for more than 15 years, and is currently a Senior Advisor to the World Bank and on the Advisory board to the Minister of Tourism, on pilgrimage tourism. He has co-authored books such as Walking with the Buddha and been a consultant for films like BBC-Discovery’s Life of the Buddha and BBC-PBS’s The Story of India. He has been promoting mindfulness in education and with the police/para-military, and is also setting up a meditative practice centre in the foothills of the Himalayas through the non-profit AhimsaTrust.

ITINERARY

DAY

DATE 2020

DAY OF WEEK

TRAVEL

NIGHT'S STAY

1

16th Jan

Thursday

Journey begins in Mumbai

Mumbai

2

17th Jan

Friday

Kanheri Caves 

Mumbai

3

18th Jan

Saturday

Mumbai-Lonavala

Lonavala

4

19th Jan

Sunday

Karla & Bhaja Caves

Lonavala

5

20th Jan

Monday

Bedsa Caves

Lonavala

6

21st Jan

Tuesday

Lonavala-Nasik by road  

Nasik

7

22nd Jan

Wednesday

Pandavleni Caves

Nasik

8

23rd Jan

Thursday

Nasik-Aurangabad

Aurangabad

9

24th Jan

Friday

Ajanta Caves

Aurangabad

10

25th Jan

Saturday

Ellora Caves

Aurangabad

11

26th Jan

Sunday

Pithalkora Caves.

Aurangabad

12

27th Jan

Monday

Drive to Jalgaon. Train/flight to Bhopal

Bhopal/Sanchi

13

28th Jan

Tuesday

Bhopal-Sanchi

Bhopal/Sanchi

14

29th Jan

Wednesday

Bhopal-Sanchi

Bhopal/Sanchi

15

30th Jan

Thursday

Bhopal-Sanchi

Bhopal/Sanchi

16

31st Jan

Friday

Bhopal-Delhi/Mumbai flight/Shatabdi to Agra. 9W 894 7:30 - 9:00 am; AI 436 9:00 -

Departure/Agra

17

1st Feb

Saturday

Agra to Delhi.

Departure/Sanchi

We reserve the right to make changes to this itinerary based on a variety of considerations, including logistics, interests of the tour group, or other reasons, and will make every effort to ensure that any changes conform to the nature of the tour.

PILGRIMAGE REGISTRATION INFORMATION & TRAVEL FACTS
The cost for the 16-day “Ancient Buddhist Monasteries of India” (Jan 16 – Jan 31) is US$ 6950, based on double occupancy.  The single room supplement is an additional US$2500

The Agra option (31 January to 1st February 2020) costs US$495, based on double occupancy. The single room supplement is an additional US$140 (the journey ends in Delhi)

The tour price includes:  airport transfers and escort services in Mumbai, guide services, transportation inside India, monument entrance fees, all meals, bottled water and lodging arrangements (based on twin-sharing rooms) for the duration of the pilgrimage. All registration fees are payable in US dollars or the equivalent in Canadian dollars, GBP, Euro etc.
*Forced single room supplement (in case we are not able to room you with anyone else) will be 50% of the single supplement

10% of the proceeds of all our journeys go to promoting mindfulness, educational and social work in India, primarily through the non-profit Ahimsa Trust.  

Please note that the cost does not cover:
International airfare to and from Mumbai, visas and other international arrangements, any extra days spent in India beyond the dates of the pilgrimage, excess baggage fees on the flights, phone calls and faxes during the pilgrimage, laundry during the pilgrimage or medical and other insurance coverage such as travel insurance. 

TO REGISTER
A non-refundable deposit of $500 U.S. per person is required at the time of booking.  The remainder of the cost of the pilgrimage is due by October 15, 2019.  Reservations made on or after October 15 must be paid in full at the time of booking. 

To register, you may complete the form at the end of this document and email it to
Ms. Bina Aranha at info@buddhapath.com

CANCELLATION
For cancellations received up to eight weeks before the commencement of the journey only the deposit will be forfeited.  The cancellation fee within eight weeks of the beginning of the journey will be 100% of the total cost.

TRAVEL INSURANCE
We encourage people to take travel insurance. The range of coverage can vary significantly from policy to policy, and travelers are encouraged to speak with a travel agency to identify a policy that suits their needs.  Things to consider are travel delays, trip cancellation or interruption, medical coverage, and baggage loss or delay.  Before purchasing insurance, you may wish to check with your health insurance carrier to see if your policy includes medical care overseas.  Please note that many insurance carriers require that insurance be purchased at the time a deposit or final payment is made; check with your carrier for details. 

ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE
Arrival and departure is Mumbai.
For the Agra option, departure is from New Delhi (Delhi), India.
Participants are responsible for making their own round-trip flight arrangements to and from their point of origin to Mumbai, India (return from Delhi for the Agra option).  For international flights, tickets should be booked as early as possible.  Flights to and from India are frequently full, and this trip takes place at the height of the tourist season.  Most international flights arrive at night or early morning.  You may check with us before you confirm your flight bookings.
The journey will end on 31 January 2020 in Mumbai. You should book your departure in the afternoon of 31st January 2020 or later.

AGRA OPTION
For those choosing the Agra extension, the tour will end on the 1st of February at 8:00pm in New Delhi. You should book your departure after 11:30pm of 1st of February or early morning of 2nd  February 2020.

EXTRA NIGHTS
For those wishing an extra day or two to recover from air travel before the pilgrimage begins, or who wish to stay longer after the pilgrimage ends, we would be happy to provide a list of hotels in Mumbai and Delhi.  Please make your hotel bookings well in advance, as January is peak season.

TRAVEL DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR THIS TRIP
You will need a valid passport and a tourist visa for India.  Normally the visa is valid for 6 months from the date of issue.  The visa should be obtained before travel.

Visa Information
The Indian Embassy in the US has outsourced its visa applications at http://www.in.ckgs.us/index.shtml
The Indian Embassy has a Consulate in New York (Tel: 212 774 0699), Chicago (312 595 0405), Houston (713 626 2148) and San Francisco (415 668 0662). The main embassy is based in Washington DC and their number is (202) 939 7000. Please ensure that the visa covers the travel period for which you are applying. If you need a reference in India, you can give:  Mr. Shantum Seth, 309-B, Sector 15A, Noida 201 301, District Gautam Buddha Nagar, India.  Telephone: +91-120-2511633. (We can provide information about visa applications from other countries on request)

An Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) as e-Tourist Visa on Arrival (eTVA)  is also available for travelers from 164 countries including Australia, New Zealand, United States of America, UK,  Singapore, Germany, Russia, Mexico, Japan, Norway, Finland...   https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html
You can apply for this Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) a minimum of 4 days before your date of travel. This visa is issued for 60 days only. 

PLEASE CARRY A COPY OF YOUR INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT RETURN TICKET AS YOUR TICKET IS CHECKED BEFORE YOU ARE ALLOWED TO ENTER INDIAN AIRPORTS. AN ELECTRONIC COPY OF YOUR TICKET IS ACCEPTABLE TOO.
IMPORTANT DEADLINES
By October 1, 2019 (or if registration is made after October 1, as soon as possible thereafter), each participant must provide the following details in order to reserve train, air and hotels: 
Name, gender, date of birth, passport number, date of issue of passport, date of expiry of passport, place of issue of passport, and emergency contact information.  In addition, registrants should provide the visa number, date of issue, date of expiry and place of issue as soon as the visa for travel to India has been issued.

CURRENCY EXCHANGE, ACCEPTANCE OF CREDIT CARDS & TIPPING
As stated above, hotels, food, transportation within India, and guide services are all covered by the tour fees.  It is suggested that travelers carry some cash for expenses like gifts or souvenirs at the sites we visit during the pilgrimage.  Travelers will also need money if they are planning to extend their stay in India before or after the pilgrimage.  Credit cards are accepted in most hotels and in the larger cities we visit.  There are ATM machines in most places where one can access cash, but their presence is not universal as it is in the US or other countries.  One US dollar approximates 70 Indian Rupees.  We recommend that you convert some cash at the airport when you arrive in Mumbai.  There is no need to exchange it in your country — it is best to do so in India.  There are a couple of banks with a standard exchange rate at the airport both before and after you clear customs.  Please keep your bank receipts carefully in case you need to change the money into dollars when you return home. 

TIPPING
Travelers often have questions about tipping.  In the last few years, we have developed a system where a kitty is collected at the beginning, and the tips are distributed from it (contributing is optional). This covers all the incidental tipping/donations during the pilgrimage at hotels/restaurants etc. A tip for the guides and drivers is an optional addition to this kitty. It usually works out to $10 to $15 per day, but this figure could vary. It may be a good idea to set aside $200 for tips.

If you arrive before the start of the pilgrimage or stay after it concludes, the general rule is as follows:  tipping someone who has carried your luggage is common and we would suggest Rs.50 to Rs.100.   In restaurants, one normally leaves a tip of between 5% - 10% of the entire bill, unless a service charge has already been levied.  It is not necessary to tip taxi drivers; however if you have hired a car for the day and you are happy with the driver, a tip of around Rs.500 is fine.

HOTELS/HOUSING
We choose the best available accommodations in the vicinity of the sites based on shared, twin-bedded rooms with a private bath or shower and toilet.  The accommodations are clean and comfortable —in some cases rather luxurious and in one place rather simple.  If you prefer a single room, there is a price supplement of US$ 2500.

WEATHER & CLOTHING NEEDS
There can be a wide variation of temperatures in the places we visit, ranging from 10 to 30 degrees Celsius (50 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit) so get cotton clothing as well as some warm clothes.  It’s important to be comfortable and modestly dressed. There is no need to bring formal clothing. 

Generally, the weather is dry with a small possibility of light rain in some places.  It is handy to have an umbrella that can double as a sunshade if it gets too sunny or even be used as a walking stick. 
Please bring comfortable sneakers or sandals.  We do not go on treks, but the terrain may sometimes be uneven.  We also visit monasteries where you will need to take off your shoes, so it is helpful to bring footwear which is easy to remove. 
It is always useful to have a hat or cap to protect you from the sun. 
We are allowed 15 kilos (33 lbs.) on Indian airplanes, so we recommend that you travel light.  Laundry facilities are available at all the places we stay, and laundry is returned within 24 hours.

HEALTH CONCERNS
We stay in clean, safe places, and the food in the places we stay will be clean, fresh and prepared to suit a delicate digestive system.  You will be provided bottled water to drink.

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.  We normally recommend a Hepatitis-A shot and a Tetanus shot.  If you prefer to be more careful, then please speak to your physician.  We do carry a first-aid kit with us, but many people prefer to bring their own supply of medicines.  We would recommend you get an insect/mosquito repellent and also a stomach medicine for both diarrhea and constipation as one’s stomach has its own way of adjusting to different foods.

ADDITIONAL TRAVEL SERVICES (e.g. shuttle buses, taxis)
We provide all the transport services during the journey, including having you met at arrival in Mumbai.  There is no extra charge for meeting people at the airport.  For those who want to make your own arrangements, the MumbaiAirport has black and yellow cabs, and radio cabs.  Depending on the time you arrive the cab fare will be in the range of Rs.500-2000.  It is easy to get a cab at the hotel for the airport when one leaves for the same price.

DISCLAIMER AND RELEASE OF LIABILITY
Seth Consultants Pvt. Ltd. (Buddhapath and Eleven Directions), 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.

By making a deposit for the tour, participants acknowledge that they have read and understood this document in its entirety, and have consented to all conditions herein, including the Disclaimer and Release of Liability.  For participants under age 18, their parent or legal guardian shall sign on their behalf and the same Disclaimer and Release shall apply.

 

For futher information & registration please contact us at info@elevendirections.com

 

"This wondrous journey opens Dharma door after Dharma door. Led by Shantum Seth, the pilgrimage teaches you through history and living Buddhism what the heart of the Buddha was truly about. Shantum himself is an example of practice, an inspiration and a teacher of grace, kindness and insight. With him, you feel the presence of Buddhism as a living tradition of compassion."

-Joan Halifax Roshi, Founding Teacher, Upaya Foundation, USA

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