Ancient Buddhist Monasteries of India: 9-day pilgrimage (Open dates)
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 Karla, Bhaja, Besla, 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Although these monasteries are no longer active as places of learning and practice, many are in remarkably good condition.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 Besla. 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.
Day 1: Begin in Mumbai. Visit Kanheri and Kondevite caves. Proceed to Lonavla.
Day 2: See Karla and Bhaja and stay at Lonavla.
Day 3: Visit Bedse caves and proceed to Nasik
Day 4: Proceed to Ellora and night at Aurangabad/Ellora
Day 5: Pitalkhora morning, Aurangabad caves in afternoon
Day 6: See Ajanta and catch a train to Bhopal or in case of road travel, stay at Bhusaval
Day 7: Bhopal
Day 8: Go to Sanchi (if we travel by bus)
Day 9: Depart for Mumbai/Delhi/Shatabdi to Agra.