In the Heart of Tibet in Exile: Buddhist Teachings and Cultural Studies in Dharamsala, Bodhgaya, & AmaravatiIndia.

Time 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Location Dharamsala, Bodhagaya, Amaravati in India
Instructor Venerable Tenzin Choesang

Dharamsala–Namgyal Monastery.

Set in the foothills of the snowcapped Himalayas, Dharamsala is the home of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and numerous monasteries and nunneries. This program, led by Venerable Tenzin Choesang of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Namgyal Monastery, gives participants a unique and in-depth look at the heart and soul of Tibet in exile. This program offers a unique opportunity to receive teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other high Tibetan lamas and experience the sacred religious arts of Tibet. Participants will learn about Tibet’s history and politics through conversations with newly arrived refugees and government officials, and visit with students from the Tibetan Children’s Village. We aim to inspire a peaceful and reflective experience, opening the heart and mind through personal interaction between participants, teachers, and the Tibetan community. Please join us on this spiritual adventure into the heart of Tibet in exile.

Venerable Tenzin Choesang

At the age of sixteen Venerable Tenzin Choesang became a monk at Namgyal Monastery, the personal Monastery of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. There he studied with Gen Lobsang Nyima, the one hundredth throne holder of Je Rinpoche (Lama Tsongkhapa). After finishing his examination for the Master of Buddhist Sutra and Tantra degree in the year 2000, the abbot of Namgyal Monastery selected him to be a teacher at Namgyal Monastery. He taught Namgyal Monastery students both Sutra and Tantra for five years. From 2002 to 2005 he held several positions within the monastery, including education director. Tenzin Choesang has taught and studied at many places across India and around the world.

Relax with morning meditation and sacred walks. Enjoy Buddhist teachings from high Tibetan lamas. Explore Namgyal Monastery and the Norbulingka Institute of Art. Visit the Nechung Oracle and remote meditation hermitages. Learn from the Tibetan Institute of Medicine and the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts. Travel to monasteries and nunneries deep in the forests. Contribute through volunteer work with the Tibetan Children’s Village or newly arrived refugees from Tibet. Go beneath the surface and truly experience Tibetan Buddhism and culture.

Namgyal Monastery, the personal monastery of the Dalai Lama, is situated in upper Dharamsala. It houses huge statues of the Buddha, Avalokiteshvara, and Padmasambhava. The monastery also consists of an institute of learning, where future lamas are educated in higher Tibetan studies.

Gangchen Kyishong: Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) offices are located here. The CTA is the official site of the Tibetan Government in Exile, which comprises the offices of the Prime Minister, the Parliament, Cabinet (the Kashag), governmental departments, and public offices.
Library of Tibetan Works and Archives: The primary objectives of the LTWA are to provide a comprehensive cultural resource center and to promote an environment that encourages research and an exchange of knowledge between scholars and students.

Monastery of the Nechung Oracle: Nechung Monastery’s roots must be traced back several hundred years to understand its significance in Buddhist culture and Tibetan history. Nechung Dorje Drayang Ling Monastery has an important place in Tibetan history as the seat of the State Oracle of Tibet. The oracle is the medium through whom Dorje Drakden (Nechung), the principal protector of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government, communicates with His Holiness and the Kashag (the Cabinet). Major decisions of the state are also made in consultation with the Nechung Oracle.

Men-Tse-Khang: The center for Tibetan Medicine, it is located very near Gangchen Kyishong. The Tibetan medical system is one of the world’s oldest known medical traditions. It is an integral part of Tibetan culture and has been developed through many centuries. We believe that the origin of the Tibetan medical tradition is as old as civilization itself.

Norbulingka: Keeping Tibetan culture and values alive, Norbulingka is dedicated to handing down tradition and restoring standards by providing training, education, and employment for Tibetans. It supports an environment in which Tibetan community and family values can flourish. It reconciles the traditional creatively and respectfully with the modern, and seeks to create an international awareness of Tibetan values and their expression in art and literature.

In the Steps of the Buddha–2013

Exploring Wisdom and Compassion through a Tibetan Perspective–An adventure following in the steps of the Buddha to–Bodhgaya, the Bodhi Tree, Sarnath.

“A rare and unforgettable experience”

Program summary

On this journey we walk in the footsteps of the Buddha. We will walk slowly and softly, gaining wisdom with each step. This program, led by Venerable Tenzin Choesang of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Namgyal Monastery, will follow the path of the Buddha, with glimpses of the diverse cultures of India along the way.

Bodhgaya is the place where the Buddha attained enlightenment. To the west of the temple are the Bodhi Tree and sandstone seat where the Buddha is said to have sat when he reached his full enlightenment. It is the place which should be visited and seen by a person of devotion and which should cause awareness of the nature of impermanence.

Rajgir is known as Vulture’s Peak and is where the Buddha gave the teachings of the Heart Sutra. The first Dharma Council was also held here just after the Buddha passed into Mahaparinirvana.

Nalanda was home to the monastic universities that became famous in the centuries following the Buddha’s passing away. Nalanda was a flourishing center of learning and for centuries was famous for its learned and versatile teachers.

Varanasi is where the Buddha preached his first discourse after attaining enlightenment at Bodhgaya. Emperor Ashoka built a stupa here which stood to a height of about 150 feet, the impressive ruins of which can still be seen today. We will join hundreds of Indian pilgrims sitting along India’s holiest river, the Ganges. We aim to inspire a peaceful and reflective experience, opening the heart and mind through personal interaction between participants, teachers, and the Indian and Tibetan communities.
Nagarjunakonda, Amaravati–Pilgrimage Centers for Buddhists
Nagarjunakonda: An important center for Buddhist learning, Nagarjunakonda is located on the banks of the River Krishna about 65 kms. from Vijaywada and 150 kms. from Hyderabad in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Nagarjunakonda was one of the main Buddhist centers of India from the second century B.C. until the third century A.D. It is believed that the great Buddhist scholar and founding father of Mahayana Buddhism Nagarjuna founded the university here. The site was a great place for worship by monks and scholars; its name is a combination of Nagarjuna and konda, the word for “hill” in Telugu.

Mahastupa: The Mahastupa is the main stupa located at Nagarjunakonda and contains relics of Buddha Shakyamuni. The stupa was constructed in the third century A.D.

Amaravati: His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave the Kalachakra Initiation at this site in 2006. Large numbers of Buddhists attended this precious Kalachakra

Tantra Initiation held at the spiritual home of the Kalachakra teaching. Amaravati is a unique location for the initiation as it offers a return to the home of the Kalachakra Tantra at South India’s most revered Buddhist pilgrimage site, within the rural sleepiness of Amaravati Village in Andhra Pradesh.

On the banks of the Krishna River, Amaravati was once a Buddhist settlement of great repute. After Lord Buddha gave the first Kalachakra teaching here, Amaravati became known as Palden Drepung (Tibetan) or Shri Dhanyakataka (Sanskrit). Today, archaeologists and Buddhist pilgrims throughout the world continue to visit the ruins of the two-thousand-year-old Buddhist stupa and small museum. Despite its small size and rural location, Amaravati has a confluence of religious statues, temples, and monuments, demonstrating its appeal to a number of religious faiths.

The Amaravati Stupa: Also known as the Mahachaitya Stupa, the Amaravati Stupa happens to be the largest stupa in India. Today only remains of the stupa can be seen; however, a number of tourists interested in the history of Buddhism make a visit to this site.

Ashokan Pillar: Excavations in Amaravati have also unearthed the ruins of an Ashokan pillar, which is perhaps the first example of Mauryan art in South India.

Amaravati Museum: A small but interesting museum in Amaravati displays exhibits that range between the third century B.C. and the twelfth century A.D. Some of the finest exhibits include statues of the Buddha with lotus symbols on his feet, curled hair, and long ear lobes. Apart from this, there are also limestone sculptures of the goddess Tara and the bodhisattva Padmapani. Numerous other Buddhist sculptures that were excavated here now adorn the Chennai Government Museum and the British Museum in London.


Important Information

Pilgrimage Cost to Dharamsala

Cost for Room, Board, and Internal Transportation in India: $2,800 per person
If one would like a single room, there will be an additional charge of $400.

Cost for Airline Ticket from NYC to Delhi: approximately $1,500 per person
Namgyal will book tickets for the entire group; individuals must arrange and cover costs separately for their travel to New York City. The cost quoted is based on current ticket prices, hence this cost is subject to change depending on actual ticket prices at the time of purchase in the fall.

Approximate Total Cost: $4,300 per person
Pilgrimage Cost to Dharmasala, Bodhgaya, and Amaravati
Cost for Room, Board, and Internal Transportation in India: $5,600 per person
If one would like a single room, there will be an additional charge of $800.

Cost for Airline Ticket from NYC to Delhi: approximately $1,500 per person
Namgyal will book tickets for the entire group; individuals must arrange and cover costs separately for their travel to New York City. The cost quoted is based on the current ticket prices, hence this cost is subject to change depending on actual ticket prices at the time of purchase in the fall.

Approximate Total Cost: $7,100 per person
The Price Includes: All lodging (double occupancy; some private rooms will be available on a limited basis for an extra charge as noted above), all meals in India, specific donations made by the group, and entrance fees to the monuments and historic sites on the itinerary.

The Price Does NOT Include: Transportation costs to and from NYC, visa fees, airport taxes, miscellaneous transportation other than what is scheduled for the group, spending money, emergency evacuation insurance (required), travel insurance (recommended), expenses for meals that participants choose to purchase outside the scheduled meals, medicine, immunizations, personal tips, extra luggage fees, hotel laundry service, personal offerings at temples and monasteries, extended stay beyond the scheduled trip dates, changes to or extensions of air tickets, and express mail delivery of air tickets.

Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies
Tour Registration Form

Please indicate which Pilgrimage you are registering for:

1. Dharamsala:

2. Dharamsala, Bodhgaya, and Amaravati

Please complete and return to:

Namgyal Monastery
412 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850

The total package cost for the ten days to Dharamsala is approximately $4,300, while the total package cost for the twenty-one days to Dharamsala, Bodhgaya, and Amaravati is approximately $7,100. The final cost will depend on the actual cost of airline tickets at the time of their purchase. To register you will need to complete the following form with a photocopy of your current passport and a $500 nonrefundable deposit. Please make your check payable to: Namgyal Monastery. Please write India Pilgrimage Tour in the memo line. Once we receive your completed form and deposit, we will begin the registration process.

Please note: Official registration begins June 1st 2013. The maximum number of persons traveling to India is 35. We will process the registration materials in the order in which they are received. The final payment must be made no later than September 15th 2013, or you may pay in full at the time of registration.

* Please print your name exactly as it appears in your passport and send a photocopy of your valid passport together with this form.

First name_________________________ Last name____________________________________

Date of Birth______________________ Sex______ Email _______________________________



Social Security Number____________________ Phone (Reachable) _______________________

Deposit (nonrefundable) _________, or Pay in full_________ Check #_______ Date paid__________

Balance amount _____________
Signature _________________________ Date __________________

From the net income 75% will be donated to Du Khor Choe Ling in Ithaca for construction and program operating costs and 25% will be donated as seed money for the 2014 Kalachakra ritual ceremony program.
Cancellation Policy

Cancellation Policy: In the event that a participant cancels their tour and requests a refund, the In the Steps of the Buddha Committee will consider a full or partial refund (less the $500 deposit) on an individual case-by-case basis. The $500 deposit is nonrefundable.

Please read the following information carefully: All participants are advised to check with their health insurance carrier as to coverage abroad and for precautionary medical treatment for travel in India. Namgyal Monastery requires that all participants have both health coverage and emergency evacuation insurance for the duration of the trip. Travel insurance is also highly recommended. Although this program is designed to accommodate people of varying ages, please note that there will be periods of aerobic walking and stair climbing due to the design of some temples and the steep topography of certain areas. All participants are advised to see their health care provider well in advance to ensure that they are in good health at the onset of the trip. We also require that you inform both Namgyal Monastery and the program instructors of any chronic or acute health problems that might impact your travel in India.
Namgyal Monastery and the program instructors will take the utmost care and precaution in all stages of the planning and execution of this program, but there is always the potential for physical dangers. Please be advised that we cannot always guarantee your safety, but we can assure you that your safety, comfort, and the quality of your experience are of paramount importance to us. Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies cannot be held accountable for any unforeseen occurrences that should happen while the tour is under way in India.

Travel in India always has its challenges, but it can be an exciting and enriching experience that can change your life. Please join us for this unique spiritual adventure and experience for yourself the rich beauty and extraordinary wonders of India, in the steps of the Buddha
Schedule of Activities


November 27th: Leave from NYC.

November 28th: Arrive in Delhi in the evening at 8:30 P.M. On arrival, check in at hotel.

November 29th: After breakfast, drive to Dharamsala; on arrival, check in at hotel.

November 30th: After breakfast, visit to Namgyal Monastery and meet with Namgyal abbot.

November 30th: Audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

November 30th: After lunch, visit Tibetan Children’s Village and meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s younger sister.

December 1st: Teaching preparation.

December 2nd to December 4th: His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teaching on Tsongkhapa’s Three Principal Aspects of the Path (Lamtso namsum) and Tsongkhapa’s Foundation of All Good Qualities (Yonten shekyurma)

December 3rd at 5:30-7:00 P.M.: Visit to Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts for cultural program.

December 5th: After breakfast, visit to Bir Sherapling Monastery and Bir Suja School.

December 6th: Audience with His Holiness the Karmapa and visit to Norbulingka.

December 7th: Visit remote meditation hermitages.

December 8th: After breakfast, drive to Delhi and check in at hotel.

December 9th: After breakfast, leave for Delhi airport. Persons attending the Dharamsala Pilgrimage only will return to U.S. Persons continuing on for the Pilgrimage to Bodhgaya and Amaravati will board flight to Hyderabad and than drive to Amaravati and check in at hotel.

December 10th: After breakfast, visit Amaravati Mahastupa; perform special Kalachakra Six-Session Guru Yoga Tsok Offering Prayer at the spiritual home of the first Kalachakra teaching.

December 11th: After breakfast, visit Nagarjunakonda and other pilgrimage sites for Buddhists and check in at hotel.
December 12th: After breakfast, drive to Hyderabad airport to board flight to Bodhgaya and check in at Namgyal Mahayana Guest House.

December 13th: Bodhgaya (Nalanda and Rajgir). Daylong excursion to Nalanda and Rajgir. Visit the ruins of Nalanda University and the Museum. Then proceed to Rajgir to visit Vulture’s Peak, where the Buddha taught the Heart Sutra. Thereafter, proceed to Bodhgaya and overnight at Namgyal Mahayana Guest House.

December 14th: Bodhgaya: one full day in Bodhgaya to practice around the Mahabodhi Stupa and the Bodhi Tree. Overnight at Namgyal Mahayana Guest House.

December 15th: Bodhgaya–Varanasi: morning free; after lunch, drive to Varanasi. Check in at hotel on arrival and overnight at hotel.

December 16th: Varanasi: after breakfast, daylong excursion to Sarnath visiting Dharmek Stupa in Deer Park, where the Buddha delivered his first sermon, and the Buddhist Museum.

December 17th: Varanasi–Delhi: after breakfast, drive to Varanasi airport to board flight to Delhi; check in at hotel; in the evening, board flight to U.S.

December 18th: Arrive in New York City.

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