September 24 – October 7, 2017
From Kathmandu, Nepal
Leadership: Michael Gregory is the Director of Mindfulness Meditations Centers throughout the US. He has led hundreds of meditation retreats on almost every subject matter related
to Dharma, in addition to leading meditative pilgrimages throughout Thailand, Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, and India. Michael was ordained as a monk in the Thai Forest tradition, the Burmese Mahasi tradition, and then was ordained in the Tibetan tradition by H.E. Gylatsab Rinpoche at Rumtek monastery in Sikkim. He has practiced in the Thai Forest tradition of Ajahn Chah, the Anapanasati tradition of Buddhadassa Bhikku, and the Jhana traditions of Mahasi Sayadaw and Pa Auk, as well as extensive experience in
the Tibetan tradition.
Mindfulness Meditation Pilgrimage • Day–To–Day Itinerary Detail:
Pre Trip Days: Fly to our meeting point in Kathmandu, Nepal. Travelers from the Americas 'lose' one day crossing the international date line. Please note that you must arrive in Kathmandu, Nepal by September 24, 2017.
Day 2: After breakfast, we enjoy morning sightseeing of the Kathmandu Valley. Places of interest include the Hindu temples, the burning ghats of Pashupatinath on the holy Bagmati river and the nearby Buddhist stupa at Bodhnath. We'll continue on to the Buddhist stupa of Swayambhunath (a stupa is a large, dome and pyramid-like structure containing religious relics). Swayambhunath is also known as "the monkey temple" because of the large troop of monkeys that make it their home. At one time the Kathmandu Valley was a huge lake. Legend has it that the hill, upon which the monkey temple stands, was an island. There is evidence that the Buddhist Emperor Ashoka visited the site 2,000 years ago. Dinner is on your own — either at the hotel or at one of the many nice places, a close walk away, in Bodhnath. Enjoy free time in the evening. Overnight at Hyatt Regency. (Breakfast, Lunch)
Day 3: This morning after breakfast, we can enjoy an optional walking tour of Kathmandu between the neighborhoods of Thamel and Durbar Square. Places to visit include an important Tara Statue, an old Buddhist monastery, the Chenrizik Shrine, several old stupas and finally, Durbar Square — where we find many temples, the old Royal Palace and the Kumari Chok (home of the living goddess). Parts of Durbar Square were damaged in the 2015 earthquakes and could still be under reconstruction.
Day 4: Today we have a full day in the Chitwan jungle. Activities include early-morning bird watching, a village walk and in the afternoon, an elephant ride. Those who prefer to not ride an elephant can ride a jeep safari instead! (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 5: Following breakfast today, we make a three-hour drive to reach Lumbini, only 60 miles away. We'll arrive in time for lunch. Afterwards, we visit the birthplace of Prince Siddhartha, who became the Buddha.
We visit the Ashokan Pillar, containing an inscription of King Ashoka from 250 BC; a sacred pond; ruins of the ancient monasteries; stupas and the temple of Mayadevi, the prince's mother. The site is a 15 minute walk from the hotel. Overnight Hotel Lumbini Garden. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 6: Today, we'll travel to Kushinagar in about five hours — about 106 miles. We start after breakfast, depart Nepal and cross the border into India. Today, patience is a virtue: about 90 minutes will be needed for immigration procedures on both sides of the border.
Kushinagar is the place of Buddha's death. His last words were said to be, "Decay is inherent in all component things. Be diligent in your practice." We will visit the Mahaparinirvana Temple and find the statue of Buddha passing away in meditation. Tonight, Hotel Lotus, Kuhinagar. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 7: Today we travel to Vaishali in four-to-five hours. By starting early this morning, we'll reach Vaishali by lunchtime and have the full afternoon to visit the sites. Vaishali is the place where the first female Sangha was formed. It is associated with Buddha from the time he was meditating there in immense heat, when a kind monkey offered him honey. Because of these events, Vaishali is considered one of the 'Eight Holy Places of Buddhism.' Travel distance is about 110 miles, tonight Hotel Vaishali Residency. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 8: After breakfast today, we travel about five hours, from Vaishali to Nalanda, and enjoy a late lunch on our arrival. We then visit Nalanda — the great monastic university of the ancient times. After our visit, we'll continue driving to Rajgir to spend the night. Travel distance is about 100 miles, tonight Hotel Rajgir Residency. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 9: Today we enjoy Rajgir. We first visit Vulture's Peak, where Buddha taught the Heart Sutra. We'll continue to Venuvana (the bamboo grove) and explore other nearby holy sites. Enjoy some free time in the afternoon. Overnight Hotel Rajgir Residency. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 10: A short two-to-three hour drive (60 miles) brings us to Bodhgaya. Our hotel is directly across from the Mahabodhi Temple which marks the location where the Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. Today lunch is on your own with free time in the afternoon. Overnight at Hotel Lotus Nikko. (Breakfast, Dinner)
Day 11: Today we explore Bodhgaya. This morning we first visit Mahakala (Dungeshwari) Caves, just a short drive away. These are caves where Lord Buddha underwent years of self-mortification before descending to Bodhgaya. Here, two shrines commemorate this period of Buddha's journey to enlightenment. Overnight at Hotel Lotus Nikko. (Breakfast, Dinner)
Day 12: After breakfast, we drive to Varanasi (about 156 miles) in about seven hours and stop for a simple lunch along the way. We should reach Varanasi and check-in to our hotel by the late afternoon. This evening, we can pay an optional visit to the banks of the famous River Ganges — one of the holiest Hindu sites — for the evening worship. Overnight at Hotel Taj Ganges.
(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 13: Found just eight miles from Varanasi is Sarnath. We'll travel there after breakfast today. At Sarnath's Deer Park, Lord Buddha turned the wheel of Dharma for the first time, teaching the four noble truths and the eightfold path to the five ascetics, who were his first disciples. We'll also enjoy a visit to the excellent archaeological museum with displays of Buddhist images dating back to the 5th and 6th centuries. After lunch, your afternoon and evening are free to enjoy as you wish. Overnight at Hotel Taj Ganges in Varanasi. (Breakfast, Dinner)
Day 14: Depending on your departure schedule, you should have free time after breakfast then an on-time transfer to the airport for your flight departing Varanasi. (Breakfast)
Travel Details: If you are making your own flight arrangements, note that you must arrive in Kathmandu, Nepal no later than September 24, 2017 and you may not depart Varanasi, India earlier than the afternoon of October 7, 2017. Ask us about booking a room should you have an overnight stopover, wish to arrive early or depart late. You are welcome to travel early or stay late — we can arrange additional journeys, accommodations or transfers on request.
Mindfulness Meditation Pilgrimage
Mindfulness Meditation Pilgrimage • Administrative Details:
Land Cost (land cost as itinerary has described):
Trip Deposit (submit with application):
Single Supplement (optional single accommodation):
$710-790 USD (optional)
Maximum Group Size:
Other Cost & Need Considerations:
Passport, Visa, Physicians Visit, Emergency Medical & Evacuation Insurance, Travel to Kathmandu & from Varanasi, Meals Beyond Above Itinerary, Beverages, Spending/Personal Money.
Mild: Accommodations are in comfortable lodges and hotels. Activities are usually mild and can include day hikes of less than four hours in length. Vehicle time can include fatigue with long travel along rough roads.
June 24, 2017 ($100USD late fee thereafter)
Mindfulness Meditation Printable Itinerary:
Online (Instant) Trip Application:
Need More Information? Email Us, we're nice: