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We Take Real People To Amazing Places!

Mindfulness Meditation Pilgrimage with Michael Gregory
September 24 – October 7, 2017
From Kathmandu, Nepal



Overview: We'll begin in Nepal's ancient city of Kathmandu, nestled at 4600 feet in the Himalayan foothills. Our journey ends in Varanasi, one of the longest-continually-inhabited cities in civilization, resting along the banks of the fabled Ganges river. We wend our way to Bodh Gaya, the "Mecca of Buddhism" — home to the famed Bodhi tree under which the Buddha gained enlightenment. We will visit its monasteries and temples, representing all the world's Buddhist cultures and long traditions.

Distinct from a luxury vacation or sightseeing tour, our journey is meant as an immersion into the Buddhist worldview as a contemplative pilgrimage — providing an 'opportunity of a lifetime' to connect directly with the storied legacy of the Buddha himself. Throughout our journey, we will experience Nepal and India's rich cultural diversity as we explore the variety of ways in which Buddhist practitioners express themselves. Prepare to enter the stream of countless pilgrims who traveled to Bodh Gaya over the last twenty-five centuries to pray, meditate, make offerings, and receive blessings at these venerated monuments imbued with power and meaning.

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.

Michael is appreciated for a teaching style that de-centralizes the role of a guru, institutional spirituality, as well as the usage of rites and rituals. He encourages every being to empower themselves by finding the pure and unlimited potential of this very moment.


Guide: Amber Tamang is from a small village in Nepal's Solu Khumbu region and has a Master's Degree in Culture, Religion and Philosophy — his undergraduate law thesis was on legal protection for workers in tourism. An independent researcher in the culture and religion of the Himalayas, Amber has published articles in Nepali and English, including one for Mandala magazine. Amber first became a porter in 1992 and joined Himalayan High Treks guide in 1995 — introducing many travelers to the wonders of Nepal, Tibet and India. He has supported many pilgrimages and those who have traveled with him praise his patience and kindness. Amber and his family live in Kathmandu, Nepal.


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 1: Everyone meets in Kathmandu today. Upon your arrival, proceed through immigration (obtain visa) and go upstairs, take a cart and reclaim your luggage. Continue through customs and exit the secured area of the airport.

Once outside, look for a sign with your name on it. Our friendly, helpful staff will meet you and transfer you, in about 30 minutes, to our hotel. If you do not see our staff at the airport, or if you had a last-minute change in your flight details, contact Amber, our Kathmandu guide. You will find a free phone in the airport arrival area.

We overnight at the Hyatt Regency Kathmandu. Set on 37 acres, it is a ten-minute walk from Boudhanath Stupa — the most-holy of all Tibetan Buddhist shrines outside Tibet. Our hotel provides all the services you'd expect, including fine restaurants and a pool set in a beautiful garden. (No Meals)


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.

After lunch, transfer to the airport for a 25 minute flight to Chitwan National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for its abundance of wildlife including rhinos, tigers, bears and many bird species. A short drive carries us to our jungle lodge. In the late afternoon, stretch with a jungle walk followed by an evening cultural program. Overnight Green Park Chitwan. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

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)


Post Trip: Same day return date recrossing the International Date Line to the Americas.


Important Note: This is meant only as a guide to what our days will be like. Changes may be made as we go along and will be announced as well as posted when possible in the hotel reception areas. These depend upon local conditions, our acclimatization and health. Good health, a reasonable level of fitness, and a positive outlook make it enjoyable. Sturdy vehicles will be provided, but remember that adventurous travel is not for those who are prone to car sickness. Some of the areas to be visited are remote and facilities can be limited in Nepal and India.

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.

Cost & Registration Details: Michael Gregory is making the final determination about who can participate in the trip.
Please check with Kathy Lorch at 970-389-2051 if you need clearance.

Land cost is dependent on group size which will be from 10 ($3,200) to 20-25 ($2,800) participants.

The deadline for sign-up is June 24, 2017. Late sign-ups may be accepted if there is space available, with a service charge of $100.

If you would prefer to have a private room you'll be charged a single supplement of $710-790, depending on group size.

The trip includes airfare from Kathmandu to Chitwan, ground transportation by the best available vehicle and comfortable accommodation throughout — starting with the Hyatt in Kathmandu and ending with the Taj Ganges in Varanasi.

Early Registration Discount: We'll offer a $200 discount to each person who signs up and pays in full by April 24 (or a $100 discount for those who sign-up with a $500 deposit by April 24 and pay for the for the trip by June 24).

Note: Round-trip airfare to Kathmandu and return home from Varanasi is estimated at $1772 from Tampa (on Qatar Airlines) and $1593 from Colorado (on Cathay Pacific Airlines) departing the U.S. on Friday Sept. 22 and returning on Sunday, Oct. 8.

Payment for any added services may be required at the time the service is received. Please refer to the "Our Policies" section of this website for more information.





Mindfulness Meditation Pilgrimage • Administrative Details:

Land Cost (land cost as itinerary has described):

$3,200-$2,800 USD

Trip Deposit (submit with application):

$500USD

Single Supplement (optional single accommodation):

$710-790 USD (optional)

Maximum Group Size:

25 Participants

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.

Trip Activity–Level:

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.

Registration Deadline:

June 24, 2017 ($100USD late fee thereafter)

Mindfulness Meditation Printable Itinerary:

Mindfulness Meditation Pilgrimage

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Mindfulness Meditation Online (Instant) Application

Trip Application:

Custom Application

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