Please keep in mind that the below itinerary has been planned more than a year in advance, so there will very likely be some modifications and minor adjustments made in the coming months. However, we expect the final itinerary to be close to the below and we will be sure to post any significant changes here.
Prayer Flags in Dharamsala, India
March 12/13, 2009: USA to Delhi
Catching our evening flight at JFK, we’ll fly non-stop to Delhi arriving late in the evening of our first long day of travel. We’ll settle in at our guesthouse and encourage everyone to get a good night’s sleep in order to be well-rested and ready for our first day out on the town.
Overnight: Guesthouse in Delhi
March 14: Delhi
We will begin this morning with an introduction to India over breakfast. We’ll discuss tools for culture shock, how to be a sensitive cross-culturalist, and learn some Hindi language basics. Then, we’ll tour important religious sites in Old and New Delhi including the breathtaking Mughal architecture of India’s largest mosque, The Jama Masjid, and Shah Jahan’s Red Fort.
After sharing morning puja (devotion ceremony) at ISKCON temple near guesthouse and a discussion/talk about Hindu Bhakti movement, we’ll catch our afternoon flight to Dharamsala, home to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile. Orienting ourselves to the small hill station of McLeod Ganj and Tibetan Buddhism, we will attend a basic meditation instruction at a local Tibetan Buddhist monastery. Afterwards, we’ll share a traditional Tibetan meal of Momo and Then Thuk soup before retiring to our hotel.
March 15: Delhi to Dharamsala/McLeod Ganj
Starting the day with an early morning visit again to Namgyal Monastery, we’ll have an opportunity to observe and experience Tibetan Buddhism in practice. From there, we’ll visit the Tibet Museum where a riveting photographic account of the history of Tibet is a permanent installation. Local contemporary artists are also featured offering commentary on the experience of young Tibetans born in India and who have escaped over the Himalaya. In the afternoon, we’ll walk down the hill to the seat of the Tibetan Government in Exile. We’ll take a tour of the Tibetan Library of Works and Archives and hear guest speaker Geshe Lhakdor give us a further explanation of the central role Tibetan Buddhism plays in daily life. After a dinner meal, we’ll attend a screening of a movie (Group choice, though India/Religion related).
Overnight: Hotel in McLeod Ganj
March 16: McLeod Ganj
After hearing a guest speaker give us an introduction to Islam, offering a unique perspective of the Kashmiri refugees who have also made McLeod Ganj their home, we’ll attend a basic Tibetan language lesson to prepare us for the local families of Tibetan refugees who will be our hosts for the next two days. Over tea, families and students will be introduced and matched. Students will enjoy a unique opportunity to connect with local Tibetan families to understand more deeply the lifestyles of Tibetan refugees living in McLeod Ganj.
Overnight: Night One with Homestay Families
March 17: McLeod Ganj
Rising early, we’ll take a day trip to the Norbulinka Institute where talented students of Thangka painting, wood and metal working, and textiles create stunning works of religious art for monasteries and practitioners all over the world. If our karma is ripe to do so, a visit to Gyuto Tantric Monastery will bring us a possible audience with His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, head lama of the Kagyud tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. We’ll return to McLeod Ganj for our second night with homestay families.
Overnight: Night Two with Homestay Families
March 18: McLeod Ganj
Transferring from our homestay families back to the hotel, we’ll take some reflection time to process our homestay experiences and what we’ve taken in during the past few days. Those who are interested can join a guided afternoon hike to Bhagsu or Naadi – both hikes feature stunning views of the Himalayas. In the late afternoon, we will have the opportunity to visit His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s Namgyal Monastery where we’ll observe monks and nuns in the dramatic Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhist debate, another opportunity to experience Buddhism in practice. In the evening, we’ll have the honor to attend a traditional Indian Music Concert of tabla drums, sitar, and shani flute given by local tabla drumming guru, Ashok Trimurti.
Continue reading "Wisdom Traditions of North India: Itinerary" »