Ancient Buddhist Monasteries of Eastern India with Shantum Seth co-led by Stephen and Martine Batchelor:
January 15 to January 30, 2020 (14-days)

For futher information & registration please contact us at

Ancient Buddhist Monasteries of Eastern India: 14-days pilgrimage

Ancient Buddhist Monasteries of India: A Pilgrimage (Jan 15 – Jan 31, 2020)

Stephen and Martine Batchelor will co-lead with Shantum Seth a pilgrimage to the ancient Buddhist monasteries of India from 15 – 30 January, 2020.

This pilgrimage will take us to some of the rare surviving sites in the Indian subcontinent where Buddhism flourished on its home soil from the 3rd Century BCE to the 10th Century CE. This journey will include the world-renowned stupa at Sanchi, the rock-cut monasteries of Ajanta and Ellora, as well as lesser-known rock-cut temples, such as Pitalkora, Karla, Bhaja, Bedsa, Nasik and Kanheri. Exposure to such a wide-range of sites will grant us a vivid and physical sense of where and how Buddhism evolved in India.

Although these monasteries are no longer active as places of learning and practice, many are in remarkably good condition. Not only will we be able to enjoy the sheer physical beauty and solitude of many of these ancient sites, but also have the unique experience of studying classical Buddhist texts and meditating in the places where these activities originated in India. The pilgrimage includes two day-long retreats: one at the remote Pitalkora, and one at Bedsa. By travelling to locations that are off the tourist map, we will be able to enjoy them in tranquility and at leisure, allowing us to appreciate more fully the skill and artistic genius of those who built these inspiring edifices.

This pilgrimage is particularly recommended for those who have completed the traditional journey to the places where the Buddha lived and taught, and would like to extend their awareness of Buddhist India to those places where the Dharma flourished in the centuries after the Buddha's death.


Stephen Batchelor                                                Martine Batchelor                                            Shantum Seth

Stephen Batchelor
Stephen Batchelor was born in Scotland and educated in Buddhist monasteries in India, Switzerland and Korea. In 1972, at the age of nineteen, he settled in Dharamsala, and in 1974 he ordained as a Buddhist monk in the Tibetan tradition and later traveled to Korea where he practiced as a Zen monk. Batchelor disrobed in 1985, when he moved to Devon, England to live and teach at the Sharpham Community and Gaia House. Stephen Batchelor has synthesized a distinctively Western Teaching style, drawing from multiple Buddhist traditions.   He currently lives in south-west France.

His books include: The Awakening of the West: The Encounter of Buddhism and Western Culture, Buddhism Without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening, Verses from the Center: A Buddhist Vision of the Sublime,
Living with the Devil: A Meditation on Good and Evil and the recently published Confession of a Buddhist Atheist.

Shantum Seth
Dharmacharya Shantum Seth,an ordained dharma teacher in the Zen Buddhist lineage of Thich Nhat Hanh, is the foremost expert on sites associated with the Buddha and has been leading pilgrimages since 1988. He worked with the United Nations on volunteering, peace, and social development for more than 15 years, and is currently a Senior Advisor to the World Bank and on the Advisory board to the Minister of Tourism, on pilgrimage tourism. He has co-authored books such as Walking with the Buddha and been a consultant for films like BBC-Discovery’s Life of the Buddha and BBC-PBS’s The Story of India. He has been promoting Mindfulness in Education and with the police/para-military through the non-profit Ahimsa Trust.


For futher information & registration please contact us at



DATE 2020





15th Jan


Journey begins in Mumbai



18th Jan


Kanheri Caves 



19th Jan





20th Jan 


Karla & Bhaja Caves



21st Jan 


Bedsa Caves



22nd Jan 


Lonavala-Nasik by road  



23rd Jan 


Pandavleni Caves



24th Jan 





25th Jan 


Ajanta Caves



26th Jan 


Ellora Caves



27th Jan 


Pithalkora Caves. Travel to Jalgaon



28th Jan 


By Coach to Bhopal



29th Jan 





30th Jan 


Bhopal-Delhi flight/Shatabdi to Agra.



31st Jan 


Agra to Delhi.


We reserve the right to make changes to this itinerary based on a variety of considerations, including logistics, interests of the tour group, or other reasons, and will make every effort to ensure that any changes conform to the nature of the tour.

The cost for the “Ancient Buddhist Monasteries of India” (Jan 15 – Jan 30) is $ 5750 U.S. based on double occupancy.  The single room supplement isan additional $1965 U.S.  The tour price includes:  Guide services, monument entrance fees, transportation inside India, meals, bottled water and lodging arrangements for the duration of the pilgrimage.  All registration fees are payable in U.S. dollars only.

The Agra option (30 January to 31st January 2018) costs $395 US, based on double occupancy. The single room supplement isan additional $120 U.S. 

Please note that the cost does not cover:
International airfare to Mumbai and from New Delhi, visas and other international arrangements, any extra days spent in India beyond the dates of the pilgrimage, excess baggage fees on the flights, phone calls and faxes during the pilgrimage, laundry during the pilgrimage, or medical and other insurance coverage such as travel insurance. 

As the good hotels are limited, and sometimes a few groups arrive on the same day, it may be difficult for hotels to provide a single room, and in some very exceptional circumstances, even a twin-sharing basis is unavailable.  We ask for your understanding if this circumstance should arise.

A non-refundable deposit of $500 U.S. per person is required at the time of booking.  The remainder of the cost of the pilgrimage is due by November 30, 2019.  Reservations made on or after November 21 must be paid in full at the time of booking. 

To register, you may complete the form at the end of this document and email it to BinaAranha at

For cancellations received up to eight weeks before the commencement of the journey a cancellation fee of 15% of the total cost will be levied. Between eight weeks and two weeks before the journey, the cancellation fee will be 50% of the total cost.  The cancellation fee within two weeks of the beginning of the journey will be 100% of the total cost.

Arrival is in Mumbai and departure is from New Delhi (Delhi), India. Participants are responsible for making their own round-trip flight arrangements from their point of origin to Mumbai, India and return from Delhi.  For international flights, tickets should be booked as early as possible.  Flights to and from India are frequently full, and this trip takes place at the height of the tourist season.  Most international flights arrive at night or early morning.  You may check with us before you confirm your flight bookings.
The journey will end on 30 January 2020 in New Delhi. You should book your departure for an early morning flight on 31st January 2020

For those choosing the Agra extension, the tour will end on the 31st of January at 8:00pm in New Delhi.

For those wishing an extra day or two to recover from air travel before the pilgrimage begins, or who wish to stay longer after the pilgrimage ends, we would be happy to provide a list of hotels in Mumbai and Delhi.  Please make your hotel bookings well in advance, as January is peak season.


You will need a valid passport and a tourist visa for India.  Normally the visa is valid for 6 months from date of issue.  The visa should be obtained before travel.

Visa Information
The Indian Embassy in the US has outsourced its visa applications at
The Indian Embassy has a Consulate in New York (Tel: 212 774 0699), Chicago (312 595 0405), Houston (713 626 2148) and San Francisco (415 668 0662). The main embassy is based in Washington DC and their number is (202) 939 7000. Please ensure that the visa covers the travel period for which you are applying. If you need a reference in India, you can give:  Mr. Shantum Seth, 309-B, Sector 15A, Noida 201 301, District Gautam Buddha Nagar, India.  Telephone: +91-120-2511633.

An Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) as e-Tourist Visa on Arrival (eTVA)  is also available for travelers from 164 countries including Australia, New Zealand, United States of America, UK,  Singapore, Germany, Russia, Mexico, Japan, Norway, Finland...
You can apply for this Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) a minimum of 4 days before your date of travel. This visa is issued for 60 days only. 


By October 1, 2019 (or if registration is made after October 1, as soon as possible thereafter), each participant must provide the following details in order to reserve train, air and hotels:  Name, gender, date of birth, passport number, date of issue of passport, date of expiry of passport, place of issue of passport, and emergency contact information.  In addition, registrants must provide the visa number, date of issue, date of expiry and place of issue as soon as the visa for travel to India has been issued.

As stated above, hotels, food, transportation within India, and guide services are all covered by the tour fees.  It is suggested that travelers carry cash for expenses like gifts or souvenirs, as it is difficult to change money at the sites we visit during the pilgrimage.  Travelers will also need money if they are planning to extend their stay in India before or after the pilgrimage.  Credit cards such as VISA or American Express are accepted in some of the hotels and in most large, but not in all the places we visit.  There are ATM machines in most places where one can access cash, but their presence is not universal as it is in the U.S. or other countries.  One U.S. dollar approximates 65 Indian Rupees.  We recommend that you convert some cash at the airport when you arrive in Mumbai.  There is no need to exchange it in the U.S. — it is best to do so in India.  There are a couple of banks with a standard exchange rate at the airport both before and after you clear customs.  Please keep your bank receipts carefully in case you need to change the money into dollars when you return home. 

Travelers often have questions about tipping.  In the last few years, we have developed a system where a kitty is collected at the beginning, and the tips are distributed from it (contributing is optional). This covers all the incidental tipping/donations during the pilgrimage at hotels/restaurants etc. A tip for the guides and drivers is an optional addition to this kitty. Thus far, this has worked well. It usually works out to $10 to $15 per day, but this figure could vary. It may be a good idea to set aside $200 for tips.

If you arrive before the start of the pilgrimage or stay after it concludes, the general rule is as follows:  tipping someone who has carried your luggage is common and we would suggest Rs.50 to Rs.100.   In restaurants, one normally leaves a tip of between 5% to 10% of the entire bill, unless a service charge has already been levied.  It is not necessary to tip taxi drivers; however if you have hired a car for the day and you are happy with the driver, a tip of between Rs.200 to Rs.500 is fine.

Travelers often have questions about tipping.  In the last few years, Shantum has developed a system where he does all the tipping/donations during the pilgrimage and keeps a running tab of it.  At the end, the amount is divided among the pilgrims and repaid to him (contributing is optional).  Thus far, this has worked well.

If you arrive before the start of the journey or stay after it concludes, the general rule is as follows:  tipping someone who has carried your luggage is common and we would suggest Rs.50.  Depending on how heavy your luggage is and how many pieces there are, Rs.50 is a reasonable amount for three pieces of baggage.  In restaurants, one normally leaves a tip of 10% of the entire bill.  It is not necessary to tip taxi drivers; however if you have hired a car for the day and you are happy with the driver, a tip of Rs.100 is fine.

We choose the best available accommodations in the vicinity of the monasteries based on shared, twin-bedded rooms with a private bath or shower and toilet.  The accommodations are clean and comfortable — in some cases monastic-style, and in some cases rather luxurious.  If you prefer a single room, there is a price supplement of U.S. $ 1965.

The weather in January in Delhi can be cold but in the other parts which we travel it is usually pleasant but can get warm (30 degrees centigrade) so get plenty of light cotton clothing as well as a warm jacket.  It’s important to be comfortable and modestly dressed. There is no need to bring formal clothing. 

Generally, the weather is dry with a small possibility of light rain in some places.  It is handy to have an umbrella that can double as a sunshade if it gets too sunny or even be used as a walking stick.  Please bring comfortable sneakers or sandals.  We do not go on treks, but one or two of the (optional) walks are long.  We also visit a number of temples where you will need to remove your shoes, so it is helpful to bring a pair of socks (the airline slip-ons are very convenient).  It is always useful to have a hat or cap to protect you from the sun.  We are allowed 20 kilos (44 lbs.) on Indian airplanes, so we recommend that you travel light.  Laundry facilities are available at all the places we stay, and laundry is returned within 24 hours.

We stay in clean, safe places, and the food in the places we stay will be clean, fresh and prepared to suit a delicate digestive system.  You will be provided bottled mineral water for drinking.

If you are coming from Africa or some parts of Latin America, a certificate of yellow fever inoculation is required by the Indian authorities.  There is no other medical restriction upon your entry into India.  We normally recommend a Hepatitis-A shot and a Tetanus shot.  If you prefer to be more careful, then please speak to your physician.  We do carry a first-aid kit with us, but many people prefer to bring their own supply of medicines.  We would recommend you get an insect/mosquito repellent and also a stomach medicine for both diarrhea and constipation as one’s stomach has its own way of adjusting to different foods.

ADDITIONAL TRAVEL SERVICES (e.g. shuttle buses, taxis)
We provide all the transport services during the journey, including having you met at arrival in Mumbai.  There is no extra charge for meeting people at the airport.  For those who want to make your own arrangements, the MumbaiAirport has black and yellow cabs, and radio cabs.  Depending on the time you arrive the cab fare will be in the range of Rs.300-900.  It is easy to get a cab at the hotel for the airport when one leaves for the same price.

Shantum Seth and Seth Consultants Pvt. Ltd. while undertaking tours, transportation, hotel accommodation and other services only act on the clear understanding that they shall not be in any way responsible or liable for any accident, damage, loss, delay or inconvenience caused in connection with travel and other facilities arranged by the company, their employees or agents. All bookings are accepted and executed with utmost care, yet no responsibility is taken for any change or deviation on account of factors beyond their control.

By making a deposit for the tour, participants acknowledge that they have read and understood this document in its entirety, and have consented to all conditions herein, including the Disclaimer and Release of Liability.  For participants under age 18, their parent or legal guardian shall sign on their behalf and the same Disclaimer and Release shall apply.








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