Ring in the New Year in India!
(this page is under construction at the moment - please note that some of these details are upen to revision)
My friend Valerie Hellerman and I will be bringing a small group to India, starting Dec 28, for 15 days on a "Footsteps of the Buddha" journey with special focus on Buddhism's holiest city, Bodhgaya. Our journey will be an opportunity to experience New Year's Eve on the holy river Ganga (Ganges) in Varanasi before welcoming 2018 in Bodhgaya.
Our goal is to see and experience the Buddha's life and teachings, by walking the dusty roads and trails where the Buddha once walked and taught. We leave Lumbini and Kapilavastu, where the Buddha was born and passed away, off of our itinerary to allow for a deeper connection with the holy cities that we do visit. This isn't a "rush and see the sights, take a photo and go" tour, but rather a pilgrimage and opportunity for spiritual growth and inner exploration.
I have lived in Bodhgaya twice (in the fall of 2010 and 2014) teaching Buddhist Philosophy for the Antioch Education Abroad program, housed in the Burmese Monastery. In my time there I have visited Varanasi and Delhi numerous times, as well as other cities including Kolkata, Dharamsala, and Pune in the south. Valerie has visited India countless times on trips aiding the children in the slums of Mumbai, bringing supplies to Tibetan schoolchildren in Dharamsala, and delivering medical aid and knowledge to remote areas of Zanskar. She knows the many peoples and cultures of India as well as anyone.
India truly transports you to a different state of mine, fostering deep reflection on one's life and world. I look forward to co-guiding this journey for you, providing historical and cultural information as well as teachings on the Buddha's thought and meditation techniques as we visit Buddhist sites.
New Delhi, Sarnath, Varanasi
Our journey will begin in New Delhi, where participants will be given a short time to adjust to India before flying to Varanasi, where we will stay in a comfortable hotel just off the famous Asi Ghat along the Ganges River.
A long day-trip to Sarnath will be arranged, where we will explore the stupa at Deer Park, where the Buddha gave his first teaching. We will have time to visit the museum there as well as the Central University of Tibetan Studies where my old friend Pema Tenzin teaches.
Photos from Varanasi and Sarnath (Copyright Justin Whitaker, 2010)
Our final night in Varanasi will be New Year's Eve, where we can ride up the river to the "Burning Ghats" where devout Hindus are cremated at their holiest site, along the "mother Ganga" river. We will also have the opportunity to see rituals along the river honoring the life-giving force of nature which has sustained this city and her people for countless centuries.
What better way to let go of 2017 and open to the possibilities of the new year?
Bodhgaya, Nalanda, Vulture's Peak
Our first morning of 2018 will be spent saying goodbye to Varanasi as we make our way to the airport for a short flight to Bodhgaya.
There we will spend many days exploring the many temples and holy sites of the city, as well as venturing off on optional trips to Nalanda University (the world's first university and home of many of Indian Buddhism's greatest scholars, including Shantideva) and Rajgir, home of Vulture's Peak, where the Buddha delivered many of his most famous teachings.
After Bodhgaya we will fly back to New Delhi for a final night in a 4-star hotel, where we will relax, venture out if so desired, and prepare for the journey home.
More details coming soon!