Recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983, the Ajanta Caves are described as being one of the finest and largest surviving examples of ancient Indian art.
They consist of twenty-nine immense rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments, which date from the third century BC to about the 5th century CE. The Ajanta Caves consist of ancient monasteries and worship halls of different Buddhist traditions carved into a 250 feet wall of rock. The caves have exquisite wall paintings, many depicting the past lives of the Buddha - pictorial stories from the Jataka Tales. The caves also include rock cut of images of the Buddha and Buddhist deities.
Ellora, also a UNESCO site, and extending over 2 kilometers, is one of the largest rock-cut monastery-temple cave complexes in the world featuring Buddhist, Hindu and Jain monuments and artwork dating from 600-1000 CE. The Ellora caves show the integration and tolerance of these three major faiths, which must have existed at that time.
Each of the 100 caves excavated at this site, depicts the deities and mythology as well as monasteries, which are specific to each of these religions. Twelve of the caves are Buddhist, with one featuring a superb Maitreya statue.
At each site the group will be given important information about the site and led into different meditations and practices relevant to the place. The idea is to become a pilgrim rather than a tourist, during this trip.
Pilgrimage needs faith. More faith, more happiness. Otherwise, we are just like tourists looking at ruins. Pilgrimage is not just going to holy places and taking pictures. We go to holy places for blessing, so it’s good to do practices at the different holy places.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Annie was born in Australia and is a long-term student of Tibetan Buddhism, primarily at Chenrezig Institute, an FPMT centre in Australia. She is passionate about pilgrimages and the history and sacred sites of Buddhist India. In October 2016 she visited Vikramashila in NE Bihar, with Ladakhi Lama and a small group from Root Institute. Her article, In the Footsteps of Atisha, relating to this pilgrimage, was published in Mandala's online magazine in April 2017. Annie and Geshe Rabga led a group from Root Institute to Vikramashila in December 2107. She has lived in Indonesia researching the connections between Mahayana Buddhism in Indonesia & Tibetan Buddhism, and has presented papers at several conferences in Indonesia. which have been published.
December 13 – Day 1
After breakfast, travel by Jeep to Patna airport for your flight to Delhi. Arrive Delhi & check into your hotel. Overnight Delhi. Evening teaching/prayers with Geshe-la.
December 14 – Day 2
A full day of sightseeing in Delhi, including the National Museum, Tibet House, the Red Fort & the old spice market. Overnight Delhi. Evening teaching/prayers with Geshe-la.
December 15 – Day 3
A half-day of sightseeing, including Humayan's Tomb. Afternoon flight to Aurangabad. You will be picked up from the airport by mini bus or taxi to Ellora & check into your hotel. Overnight Ellora. Evening teaching/prayers with Geshe-la.
December 16 – Day 4
Depart after an early breakfast by mini bus or taxi to Ajanta Caves for a full day with an English-speaking guide, and then back to your hotel in the late afternoon. Overnight Ellora. Evening teaching/prayers with Geshe-la.
December 17 – Day 5
Depart after an early breakfast to nearby Ellora Caves for a full day with an English-speaking guide. Back to your hotel late afternoon. Overnight Ellora. Evening teaching/prayers with Geshe-la.
December 18 – Day 6
After breakfast, checkout of hotel & drive to Aurangabad for a late morning flight to Delhi. Check into your hotel. The afternoon is optional free time or a visit to the Old Markets. Overnight Delhi. Evening teachings/prayers with Geshe-la.
December 19 – Day 7
After breakfast, checkout of your hotel, then a late morning flight to Patna. Arrive Patna & get picked up by Jeep to return to Root Institute for supper.
Note: This schedule is subject to change.