Spiritual programme

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2020 Fundraising Pilgrimage to Buddha's Sites
From Monday, 27. January 2020
To Sunday, 9. February 2020
Location : Various tour locations

14 days, 13 nights

This is a very special pilgrimage for anyone who wishes to receive blessings and inspiration from holy places in the company of warm-hearted, like-minded people.

Pilgrimage route

Delhi – Sarnath – Sravasti – Kushinagar – Vaishali – Rajgir – Bodhgaya (see route map, below)

Purpose of our biennial fundraising pilgrimages

These pilgrimages, like the inaugural Pilgrimage Celebrating Root Institute's 30th Anniversary [PDF] in January 2018, visit holy sites led by an experienced meditation leader, integrating practices advised by Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, spiritual director of FPMT, and raise money and awareness ​for​ Root Institute for Wisdom Culture.


Ekno ToursThe pilgrimage is being organised by Ekno Travels, Australia. Pilgrimage expert Sharon Thrupp, Director of Ekno Travels, will be the tour leader.

About Sharon: Sharon has lived and worked in Dharamsala, India for the past 14 years. Sharon is passionate about India and is a Buddhist. She has led many pilgrimages throughout India and Nepal. She is also involved in an Indian NGO which provides education and mentoring to under-privileged and marginalised school girls through the Indian Himalayan region. She considers Australia her home by birth but India her home by heart.


The pilgrimage will include Buddhist meditations, prayers and practices related to each site. The meditations will include topics such as the four noble truths, precious human rebirth, bodhichitta, emptiness covering at the end of the pilgrimage almost the whole of the Lam Rim! these will be led by Ven. Drolma.

About Ven. DrolmaVen. Lozang Drolma is an English nun who studied the five-year Basic Programme at Chenrezig Institute in Australia, where she also assisted with the spiritual programme, courses, pujas and meditations. She is a registered FPMT teacher and has run courses at Tushita Meditation Centre and Root Institute. She is living in Dharamsala where she continues her Buddhist studies at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics. 

Tour highlights

  • Experience the wonders of Delhi, including prominent Buddhist relics.
  •  Journey to the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India, including Sarnath, Sravasti and Kushinagar.
  • Visit Nalanda Monastery, ancient Buddhist ruins and the Kesariya Stupa.
  • Visit Varanasi, the 'spiritual gateway of India'.
  • Spend three days in Bodhgaya – the most important Buddhist site.
  • Attend teachings at the Buddhist Root Institute in Bodhgaya.

Schedule – all dates in 2020

27 Jan – Day 1
Welcome to incredible India! An Ekno representative will meet you and escort you to the hotel upon your arrival at the airport in Delhi. After checking into the hotel, spend the rest of the day at your leisure exploring the local area and soaking up the vibrant atmosphere. Our friendly guide and hotel staff will be on hand should you need recommendations or general provisions.
Overnight: Hotel, Delhi.

28 Jan – Day 2
After breakfast at the hotel, we will meet with the Root Institute representative who will accompany us on our pilgrimage. We will spend the day taking in the many sights and sounds of Delhi, including a visit to the National Museum which houses the Sacred Relics of Buddha (5th-4th century BC) which were discovered in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The relics are outstanding specimens of Buddhist art and are illustrated through exhibits in a variety of materials and forms from the three principal Buddhist traditions – Hinayana, Mahayana & Vajrayana. In the afternoon we will visit some of the most famous monuments of Delhi – including India Gate, Rajpath and the Secretariat Buildings.
Overnight: Hotel, Delhi.

29 Jan – Day 3
This morning we will take a flight to Varanasi, considered to be the spiritual gateway of India and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Upon arrival we will check into our hotel before taking a sightseeing trip to the Main Ghat area and the Vishwanath Temple. Varanasi is the holiest of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism and Jainism and played an important role in the development of Buddhism. This evening you will have the opportunity to participate in the breathtaking evening puja (prayer ceremony) which accompanies sunset on the Ganges.
Overnight: Hotel, Varanasi.

30 Jan – Day 4
After breakfast we will drive to Sarnath, one of the four main Buddhist pilgrimage sites in North India. On arrival in Sarnath, we will visit the Deer Park where the Buddha taught The Four Noble Truths (his first teachings) after attaining enlightenment. Afterwards we will visit Dhamekh Stupa and other important Buddhist ruins including Chaukhandi Stupa and Mulganda Kuti Vihar. The Dhamekh Stupa is said to mark the exact spot of the Buddha’s first teaching of the Four Noble Truths. In the late afternoon we will return to Varanasi. The evening is free to explore or rest at your leisure.
Overnight: Hotel, Varanasi.

31 Jan – Day 5
After a very early breakfast, we will be driven to Sravasti (approximately 8 hours), stopping for breaks along the way. Sravasti is where the Buddha spent the greater part of his monastic life, as well as many rainy seasons teaching to his disciples.
Overnight: Hotel, Sravasti.

1 Feb – Day 6
Today we will spend the day exploring the ruins of Sravasti, the capital of an ancient kingdom. We will be able to see age old stupas, majestic viharas, and several temples, the remains of which have been used to establish Buddha's association with the town.
Overnight: Hotel, Sravasti.

2 Feb – Day 7
This morning we will leave for Kushinagar (approximately 6 hours drive). Kushinagar is an important Pilgrimage site where the Buddha attained parinirvana after his death and is where the statue of the reclining Buddha is housed. The image was unearthed during excavations in 1876. Carved from sandstone, the statue represents the dying Buddha reclining on his right side. We will also have the opportunity to visit the site of the Maitreya Statue Project.
Overnight: Hotel, Kushinagar.

3 Feb – Day 8
The first stop after breakfast is the Mahaparinirvana temple – the site of the reclining Buddha. We will then visit the Rambhar Stupa, which marks Lord Buddha's cremation ground.
Overnight: Hotel, Kushinagar.

4 Feb – Day 9
After breakfast we will leave for Vaishali, an important pilgrimage location known as the place where 500 women were ordained by the Buddha. On the way we will visit Kesariya Stupa, the venue where the Buddha delivered his Kalama Sutta. The Stupa has 5 large terraces which vary in shape and house a life like statue of Lord Buddha.
Overnight: Hotel, Vaishali.

5 Feb – Day 10
After breakfast we will depart for Nalanda Monastery (4 hours drive). Nalanda was the most renowned university in ancient India and was home to the great Buddhist scholars of the time. Established in the 5th century BC, it remained the centre of learning up until the 12th century AD. In the afternoon we will leave for Rajgir, which during the Buddha’s lifetime was the capital of the powerful Magadhan kingdom, ruled by the virtuous King Bimbisara.
Overnight: Hotel, Rajgir.

6 Feb – Day 11
After breakfast we will take the chairlift to visit Vultures Peak and the Japanese Stupa. Vulture Peak Mountain is one of several sites that was frequented by the Buddha and his community of disciples for both training and retreat. It is also the location where the Buddha gave sermons including the renowned Heart Sutra. During the late afternoon we will be driven to Bodhgaya. In the centre of Bodhgaya is the ancient Mahabodhi Stupa, the holiest Buddhist temple in the world. This temple marks the location where the Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment.
Overnight: Root Institute, Bodhgaya.

7 Feb – Day 12
After breakfast we will make a pilgrimage to the Mahabodhi Stupa. The history of this site goes back over 2,500 years and it is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Enjoy spending a relaxing morning here, watching other pilgrims and quietly contemplating life. The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure to explore the town.
Overnight: Root Institute, Bodhgaya.

8 Feb – Day 13
This morning we will attend Buddhist teachings at the Root Institute. In the afternoon we will have the opportunity to visit other significant Buddhist temples around Bodhgaya.
Overnight: Root Institute, Bodhgaya.

9 Feb – Day 14

Depart Bodhgaya
The pilgrimage tour ends after breakfast this morning. We will transfer you to the airport in time for your ongoing flight.

If you wish this pilgrimage package can be combined with one of Ekno Travels' other tours or India extensions.


  • fully accompanied by Ven. Drolma
  • met on arrival at Delhi International Airport
  • 13 nights' accommodation with breakfast
  • flight from Delhi to Varanasi
  • private transportation for all transfers and sightseeing as mentioned below:
    • Delhi airport pickup and drop off
    • sightseeing in Delhi
    • pickup in Varanasi and transferred to hotel, sightseeing to Sarnath
    • car/mini bus from Varanasi, Sravasti, Kushinagar, Kesariya, Vaishali, Nalanda, Rajgir and Bodhgaya
    • all attractions and entrance fees as per itinerary
    • boat ride in Varanasi
    • local guides in Delhi, Varanasi, Sarnath, Nalanda and Rajgir
    • accompanied by local English-speaking guide from Delhi to Bodhgaya.


  • return airfares to India
  • cost of Indian tourist visa (on arrival)
  • lunch and dinner
  • extra activities and transport not stipulated in the itinerary
  • personal expenditure such as drinks, laundry service and souvenirs
  • tipping
  • camera and video entry charges at local sights and monuments
  • occasional optional items not identified in itinerary description
  • donations
  • compulsory insurance of any kind.


Place Name of hotel, guesthouse or similar Nights
Delhi Hans Plaza 2
Varanasi Buddha Castle  2
Sravasti Lotus Nikko Hotel 2
Kushinagar Lotus Nikko Hotel 2
Vaishali Vaishali Residency 1
Rajgir TBA 1
Bodhgaya Root Institute 3

Route map

2020 fundraising pilgrimage route map

Making the most of our journey

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.

Bodhgaya is not only the place where the Buddha showed the holy deed of achieving enlightenment under the bodhi tree but also where all the great pandits such as Nagarjuna and Asanga practiced and made so many prayers. Also many great enlightened beings and yogis from Tibet, China, Nepal and other countries came here and made many prayers to benefit us sentient beings so there would be unbelievable, unbelievable benefit for us to purify negative karma and accumulate merit as quickly as possible.

I think you are very fortunate to be able to come to Bodhgaya, where a thousand buddhas will descend, place their holy feet, display holy deeds, and achieve enlightenment. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is the fourth of the thousand buddhas. The rest of the buddhas will descend here and will also display the twelve deeds, and the holy deed, achieving enlightenment.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Guidelines of behaviour in a Dharma environment

Root Institute is a delightful, semi-monastic meditation centre.

To maintain a conducive, spiritually harmonious atmosphere for inner reflection and meditation, we kindly ask all our students, guests and visitors to observe the following guidelines:

  • Respect all life: do not intentionally kill any living being, even small insects.

  • Respect others' property: do not steal or take anything not freely given.

  • Be honest and straightforward: do not lie or intentionally deceive others.

  • Be celibate: no sexual activity; this also includes no romantic holding hands, hugging, massages and other physical displays of affection.

  • Be alert and mindful*: avoid intoxicants such as alcohol, drugs and cigarettes; we encourage you to stop smoking while here, but if this is impossible, you can smoke outside the gates.

  • Be considerate of others' silence: keep silence in the appropriate areas and at all times during residential courses, especially in the meditation hall (gompa) and dormitories; no singing or playing music and, in general, maintain a quiet demeanour while on the property.

  • Be considerate of the monks and nuns: dress respectfully; please no shorts above the knee, tank-top shirts, or tight and revealing clothing.

  • Couples: can stay in the same room for two weeks or less under the celibacy policy.

Please be aware:

  • * The Bihar state government has passed laws totally prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol in the state, with very severe penalties! Please ensure that you do not carry any alcohol with you in Bihar.

  • Also, please note that those in service or teaching in FPMT centers and projects do not engage in the practice of Shugden and, due to our commitment to following His Holiness the Dalai Lama's advice and supporting his work, we do not share our materials and facilities with those who knowingly continue to practice Shugden against his advice.