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Island of Dhamma – Sri LankaAlong the Path Pilgrimage to India and Nepal

The recent pilgrimages of meditators from India to Myanmar and Sri Lanka indicate a reverse flow. For the people of these countries, Nepal and India were worthy of pilgrimage, as the holy places where the Buddha was born, became enlightened and taught Dhamma. Now the Vipassana meditators from India and other countries go to Myanmar and Sri Lanka out of respect, gratitude and devotion as they had played such an important role in keeping the purity of Dhamma and Vinaya.
—June 2006 VRI newsletter when Goenkaji went to Sri Lanka on a pilgrimage

Features

  • Learn about the valuable contributions made by Sri Lanka to preserve the teachings of the Buddha
  • Travel in a culture that is imbued with Dhamma
  • Visit and meditate at Vipassana centers along the pilgrimage route
  • Travel, meditate, and develop friendships with meditators from around the world
 

Upcoming Pilgrimages

 

November 1 - 18, 2024

Itinerary

Day 1: Kelaniya
Arrive in Kelaniya and check in to our accommodations where we’ll have an orientation session, group meditation, and dinner.

Day 2: Kelaniya
We’ll head out early in the morning for a guided tour and meditation at the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara, where famous paintings of Sanghamitta and Buddhaghosa are found. We'll listen to a talk by Oliver Tanner titled, "The close bond between the Buddhist traditions of Sri Lanka and Myanmar". After lunch, we’ll visit the Post Graduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies in Kelaniya where we'll learn more about Sanghamitta and get a tour of the campus and library.

Day 3: Dhamma Sobha
To help orient the pilgrimage experience, we’ll do a 1-Day course at the Dhamma Sobha Vipassana Centre.

Day 4: Kelaniya to Situlpawwa
After a hearty breakfast, we’ll embark on a 3.5 hour bus-ride to Situlpawwa, with a pit-stop along the way for lunch. After checking into our accommodations, we’ll have a group meditation session.

Day 5: Situlpawwa
We’ll begin the day with a group meditation in the caves of Situlpawwa where many arahants were based in ancient days. We'll spend the day in the area exploring the caves and environs and meditating at various locations.

Day 6: Situlpawwa to Kandy
We'll travel for 5 hours to Kandy. After checking into our accommodations, we’ll have a group meditation session at the famous Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic.

Day 7: Kandy
We will start with an early morning group meditation at the Temple of the Tooth, and then after breakfast visit the Buddhist Publication Society (BPS). In the afternoon we'll visit the Udawattakele Forest Reserve (Senanayake Aramaya) and listen to a talk by Pierluigi Confalonieri titled, "The Renaissance of Dhamma in Sri Lanka".

Day 8: Dhamma Kuta
To help frame the pilgrimage experience, we will join a one day course at the Dhamma Kuta Vipassana Centre.

Day 9: Kandy / Aluvihare
After breakfast we'll travel to Aluvihare for our morning group meditation. At Aluvihare we'll learn about the history of where the Pāli Tipiṭaka was first committed to writing. We'll spend the day exploring the area and meditating at various locations.

Day 10: Kandy to Dambulla
After a hearty breakfast, we'll travel 2 hours to Dambulla and check into our hotel. In the afternoon we'll visit the spectacular Dambulla Royal Cave Temple where we'll meditate and take in the beautiful and inspiring cave paintings.

Day 11: Dambulla
We will visit a local Forest Monastery and have a group meditation there. We will have the honor of participating in a Sangha Dana and then having lunch at the monastery. After a tour of the monastery we'll proceed to the Dhamma Dharani Vipassana Centre for our evening group sitting and a tour of the Centre. We'll wrap up our day with a walk around the lovely lake next to the Centre.

Day 12: Dambulla
We will visit an inspiring Forest Nunnery and have a group meditation there. We will have the honor of participating in a Sangha Dana and then having lunch at the nunnery. After a tour of the nunnery we'll spend the rest of the day exploring the site and sitting in various locations.

Day 13: Dambulla to Anuradhapura
After breakfast, we'll travel for 4 hours to Anuradhapura. En route we will stop by the historical Polonnaruwa site where we will see ancient Temples of the Tooth Relic and the stunning statues at Gal Viharaya. After reaching Anuradhapura we'll have our evening group meditation at the Sri Maha Bodhi tree.

Day 14: Anuradhapura
We will rise early for a group meditation at the sacred Ruwanweli Maha Seya stupa. After breakfast we'll explore the Maha Vihara ruins. In the afternoon we will visit the Dhamma Anuradha Vipassana Centre for a group meditation and Centre tour. In the evening we'll return to the Sri Maha Bodhi for a final group meditation.

Day 15: Anuradhapura
We will rise early for a group meditation at the Sanghamitta stupa. After breakfast we'll explore the Jetavanarama stupa & museum. In the afternoon we will visit the Vessagiriya cave complex for a group meditation and exploring. We'll end our day with an evening group meditation in the caves.

Day 16: Anuradhapura / Mihintale
Taking our packed breakfast with us, we'll travel to Mihintale and have a group meditation there at sunrise. We'll visit and meditate at Arahant Mahinda’s cave. In the afternoon we will visit the Mihintale Kaludiya Pokuna monastery and walk around the nearby pond and have our evening group meditation there.

Day 17: Anuradhapura to Negombo
We will travel for 3.5 hours to Negombo. After settling into our hotel, we'll have our evening group meditation and wrap up session.

Day 18: Negombo
Departures at any time.

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view route on Google Maps

Map of Pilgrimage in Sri Lanka

Pilgrimage for 17-nights (US$2,550) 

  • Colombo: 3 nights (includes 1-day Vipassana course at Dhamma Sobha)
  • Situlpawwa: 2 nights
  • Kandy: 4 nights (includes 1-day Vipassana course at Dhamma Kuta)
  • Dambulla: 3 nights
  • Anuradhapura: 4 nights
  • Negombo: 1 night

Eligibility

Eligibility & Code of Conduct

Pariyatti pilgrims are expected to be serious Vipassana meditators who are committed exclusively to practicing Vipassana meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka, and have: (click Read More)

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  1. completed (not including service) at least three 10-day Vipassana courses
  2. not practiced any other meditation techniques since their last 10-day course
  3. been practicing this technique of Vipassana for at least one year
  4. attempted to maintain a meditation practice and the five precepts in daily life.

The capable Pilgrim:

  • understands that a Pilgrimage is not a vacation, but rather a serious endeavor that requires both physical and mental stamina. The Pilgrimage process is much more like a Vipassana course, and requires participants to practice awareness and equanimity to everything that they experience both externally and internally.
  • understands that a Pilgrimage is physically demanding. In addition to long hours of sitting, participants will often walk between the various sacred sites and frequently spend long periods of time on bumpy bus rides.
  • understands that it is his/her responsibility is to put up with discomforts and uncertainties as they arise, and also work with his/her inner “storms” in a balanced and responsible manner. Staying back from a day’s activities when feeling unwell, either mentally or physically, is not a loss but will help you recuperate for the rest of the pilgrimage. Pushing your limits is not acceptable as the results affect the entire group.
  • understands that while on a Pilgrimage, limiting speech is the best approach. When speech is necessary, it should be limited to the concerns at hand or to Dhamma-related discussions. This will foster a deeper and more balanced pilgrimage experience.
  • is expected to be firmly committed to daily meditation practice. Group sittings are central to the pilgrimage experience and to fostering unity and harmony with your fellow pilgrims.
  • is expected to be consistent in participating in scheduled group sittings. At the same time, s/he is expected to make sensible choices to maintain one’s physical, emotional and mental health and may choose to meditate on his/her own or to take rest, when needed.
  • is expected to dress modestly and in line with local cultural norms. Shorts, tank tops, and other tight or revealing clothing are not appropriate in the cultural context or while on a Pilgrimage. Clothing which is ideal for the climate meets these requirements, and it is available for minimal cost locally. Please plan ahead to ensure you have appropriate clothing before the pilgrimage starts.
  • is expected to comply with requests made by the Pilgrimage Guide and male/female managers.
  • understands that if s/he is unable to meet this Code of Conduct, s/he may be removed from the pilgrimage, and will be responsible for arranging the return travel.
  • is required to carry travel health insurance.
  • displays conduct that is amenable to group travel and appropriate for the cultural context.

Cost

Island of Dhamma – Sri Lanka: US$2,550 per person for shared accommodations, and US$3,350 per person for single accommodations. This covers all accommodations, meals, transportation, entry fees, and guide fees. Accommodations are in hotels. The pilgrimage cost does not include visas, personal travel insurance, nor cost of airfare to and from Sri Lanka.

Scholarships & Donations: If you are able to afford the full fees, in the application process you will have the opportunity to consider donating to fund scholarships to support others who cannot afford the full amount. For those who cannot afford the full fees, in the application process you will be asked how much you can afford to pay. 

Anyone wishing to donate to our Pilgrimage Fund is welcome to do so. Contributions to the Pilgrimage Fund will be used to provide scholarships for those who are unable to afford the full pilgrimage fees. 

One-time Donation Monthly Donation

Guidebook

Sacred island cover

A travel and pilgrimage guide meant for Buddhists or those interested in the Buddha's teachings who wish to explore Sri Lanka's rich cultural and spiritual heritage. Drawing on his extensive knowledge of the Island, the author weaves together archaeological findings, art history and the stories and legends of the Buddhist tradition to bring to life 33 places of religious significance. He offers practical advice on how to travel in Sri Lanka and what the visitor can do to learn more about Buddhism and meditation.

Includes detailed maps, illustrations and colored photographs of the sacred sites, of interest to general readers as well as pilgrims.