The Path Continues – Western India

Along the Path Pilgrimage to India and Nepal

Features

  • Visit and meditate at Sanchi, Ellora, Ajanta, Dhamma Giri, and the Global Vipassana Pagoda, and other famous sites connected to the teachings of the Buddha
  • Visit and meditate at Vipassana centers along the pilgrimage route
  • Travel, meditate, and develop friendships with meditators from around the world


Upcoming Pilgrimages

January 4 to January 18, 2018

Open - Apply Now

Maximum of 30 pilgrims

Itinerary

Day 1: Bhopal
Pilgrims fly to Bhopal and proceed to the serene Dhamma Pala Vipassana Centre. Between our check-in, orientation session and group meditations, pilgrims will have a chance to take walks in and around the centre, and socialize with their fellow travellers.

Day 2: Bhopal
To help orient the pilgrimage experience, we will attend a 1-day course at Dhamma Pala.

Day 3: Bhopal to Sanchi
We’ll start the day with an early breakfast and group sitting, followed by a three-hour journey by private coach to Sanchi. After checking in and eating a delicious lunch at the Gateway Retreat Hotel, we’ll explore and meditate at the impressive, yet rarely visited Satdhara, Sonari, and Andheri stūpas that once contained Arahant relics. From there, we’ll proceed to the Mahābodhi Chetiyagiri Temple which houses fantastic oil-on-canvas paintings of the Buddha’s life, and more importantly for meditators, the relics of the venerable bhikkhus Sāriputta and Moggallāna.

Day 4: Sanchi
Towering above the small town of Sanchi is the magnificent Great Stūpa—the focal point of Chetiyagiri, or the “Hill of Stūpas.” At Sanchi’s ancient monastic complex, we will not only admire the ornate, 16-metre high, masterpiece erected by Emperor Asoka, but contemplate and meditate at a number of other stūpas that once housed the corporeal relics of Buddha, Sāriputta, Mogallāna and other venerable Arahants. We’ll then continue onward to visit Sanchi’s archaeological museum that shelters various ancient stone statues, terracotta pots, and iron tools, as well as a photographic exhibition of the early Sanchi excavations.

Day 5: Sanchi to Igatpuri
Today we’ll travel by air and road from Sanchi to Igatpuri. The day will conclude with a group meditation at Dhamma Giri, and a delicious dinner and comfortable rest at the Manas Resort.

Day 6: Igatpuri
After a hearty breakfast at our hotel, we’ll re-energize with a 1-day course, followed by a tour of Dhamma Giri—the epicentre of S.N. Goenka’s Vipassana tradition. Pilgrims will spend the evening resting and enjoying the premises of the Manas Resort.

Day 7: Igatpuri to Ellora
After our last group sitting at Dhamma Giri, we’ll stop at the quiet Pandulena cave-temple complex, perched high-up on the Deccan hillside, where we’ll explore and meditate in the first century hand-hewn caves. These caves, as with others that we’ll visit during the pilgrimage, vary in shape and size. Some were used as private accommodations for meditating and sleeping, others were used as common prayer and meditation halls, and others as dining areas. We’ll spend the rest of the day travelling to Ellora, where the Kailas Resort awaits to take care of weary bodies.

Day 8: Ellora
Leaving our hotel after a sumptuous breakfast overlooking the Ellora complex, we’ll spend the day wandering around and meditating at various locations within the spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Site. Unlike most of the other cave-temple complexes that were inhabited primarily by Theravāda monks, Ellora’s majestic architecture and sculptures have a different flavor as they draw inspiration from Vajrayana Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain traditions as well—demonstrating how the ancient ascetics lived together for over 800 years in religious harmony. Ellora’s rock-cut, multi-storied temples are some of the largest monolithic structures of the world. Contemplating how these structures were all carved by hand, rather than machine, will nourish our insights into the diverse ways in which devotion to the spiritual life may manifest.  

Day 9: Pitalkhora
A mini-road trip to the remote and rarely visited caves of Pitalkora will certainly be a memorable experience. While the site may lack the grandeur of Ajaṇṭā and Ellora, the quiet and calm that the complex offers is well worth the journey. Also, the remoteness may offer some semblance to what the original resident meditators experienced over two thousand years ago.

Day 10: Ellora to Ajaṇṭā
To help us prepare for the next day’s escapade, today’s laid back schedule includes some easy travelling and relaxation at Ajaṇṭā’s MTDC Tourist Hotel.

Day 11: Ajaṇṭā to Aurangabad
With meditation and walking gear in hand, we will spend the day exploring the various Ajaṇṭā caves chiseled into a picturesque horse-shoe shaped canyon. These caves were not merely rugged places to live quietly and simply, but also shaped into aesthetic expressions of the spiritual life. The meticulously arched portals, ornate pillars, detailed sculptures, and wondrous fresco paintings that have miraculously survived the past two millennia leave all visitors with a sense of awe. Departing from Ajaṇṭā after a memorable day, we’ll drive to Aurangabad where we’ll have a good night’s rest before another day of discovering and travelling.

Day 12: Aurangabad to Global Vipassana Pagoda
After an early morning meditation at the 6th century Aurangabad cave-temple complex, we’ll embark on a long journey to the Global Vipassana Pagoda, a beacon of light symbolizing sīla, samādhi, and paññā.

Day 13: Global Vipassana Pagoda
To help integrate the pilgrimage experience, today will be dedicated to sitting a 1-day course at the Global Vipassana Pagoda. Following the course, a local guide will explain the history, symbolism, and architecture of the pagoda itself—which is the largest hollow dome in the world, as well as the surrounding monuments constructed in reverence of the Dhamma.

Day 14: Global Vipassana Pagoda to Kanheri
We’ll spend our last full day together at the Kanheri cave complex located in the massive Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Exploring and meditating in the hundred-plus hand-hewn caves and other rock-cut monuments amidst the lush forest is a wonderful opportunity to examine the impermanent and impersonal nature of reality. Following this escapade, we’ll check-in to the Ramakrishna Hotel in Ville Parle, a stone's throw from the airport. Pilgrims can then go for some last minute shopping or simply unwind before our divergent journeys home.

Day 15: Pilgrimage Ends
After our final morning meditation, we’ll enjoy one last breakfast together before being shuttled to the airport.

View Map of Route

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Map of Pilgrimage in Western Indial

Pilgrimage for 14-nights (US$1,850) 

  • Bhopal: 2 nights (includes 1-day Vipassana course at Dhamma Pala)
  • Sanchi: 2 nights 
  • Igatpuri: 2 nights (includes 1-day Vipassana course at Dhamma Giri)
  • Ellora: 3 nights
  • Ajanta: 2 nights
  • Mumbai: 3 nights (includes 1-day Vipassana course at Global Vipassana Pagoda)

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

The Path Continues – Western India: US$1850 per person. This covers all accommodations, meals, transportation, entry fees, and guide fees. Accommodations are shared and in hotels and meditation centers. The pilgrimage cost does not include visas, personal travel insurance, cost of airfare to and from India, nor additional nights' accommodation at the beginning and end of the pilgrimage.

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 cover the costs of volunteers who help us run the pilgrimages, and also to provide scholarships for those who are unable to afford the full pilgrimage fees. Scholarships are not awarded to cover the costs of the optional Ease into India package.

Donate to the Pilgrimage Fund

Guidebook

Along the Path cover

Now revised and updated, this unique guidebook provides practical and inspiring information for meditators who plan to visit India and Nepal and the sacred sites where the Buddha lived and taught.