Travel Updates to the Book


The purpose of this webpage is for pilgrims and readers to post travel updates, Dhamma-related events, pilgrimage experiences, and corrections/comments. Send us an email at pilgrimage@pariyatti.org to share your insights and information.

The information below was last updated 07-2013, and these updates are incorporated into the 2nd Edition of Along the Path.

Using Global Positioning System (GPS) devices or applications while on yatra
:
Although most drivers know where they are going it is always good to have a little extra help. If you plan on visiting lesser known sites and you happen to have an Ipad or some other tablet, you may want to consider downloading a GPS application. Despite not having some of the newer roads, Navigon GPS India proved, on most occasions, to be a good navigation tool, providing reliable information regarding times and distances.


A note on using ATMs
All airports have ATMs that accept international bank and credit cards and cash machines are becoming increasingly widespread in India. The banks in India that are generally accept foreign cards include Citibank, HDFC, ICICI, UTI, HSBC, the Punjab National Bank and the State Bank of India. You should be aware that these banks usually charge high international transaction fees, so it might be wise to make larger transactions less often. Note that while some ATMs snatch back your money if you don’t grab it within 30 seconds or so, other machines take longer than 30 seconds to release the cash—so don’t panic if the money doesn’t instantly appear.

Laptops users and the internet
If you are travelling with your own laptop you may want to consider purchasing a USB modem device from any cell phone company such as Vodafone or Airtel. 3G model iPads and similar tablets have an internal SIM card like an iPhone. Most cell phone companies can sell you a data plan.

Lumbini Sacred Garden Entrance Fee
While King Asoka exempted pilgrims from all religious taxes, the current administration does not. Pilgrims are required to pay an entrance fee, but fortunately the entry ticket is valid for three days. The sacred garden is open from dusk until dawn.

Stūpas around Tilaurakot
Three stūpas whose layers date from the 4th century BCE to the 1st century BCE can be found beyond the east gate. To get to them you will need to either hop the park’s fence or climb under where there is a large enough opening; otherwise you will need to drive from the archeological park’s entrance, but this is quite a long detour. The first monument, which is visible from the east gate ruins, is referred to as the Kanthaka Stūpa. This grassy knoll is said to mark the spot where Siddhattha’s horse, Kanthaka, died upon returning to the palace without his master who had just renounced the world. The other stūpas, in the village of Dhamnihawa, are believed to have been built over the mortal remains of King Suddhodana and Queen Māyā. Once you have gotten beyond the fence then walk north (to your left) along the narrow road for about ten minutes. After you pass a small Hindu temple with a Buddha statue and an elephant statue on your right, you will soon come to the two stūpas on your left

New Restaurants in Bodhgay
ā
The Olive and Bowl of Compassion are two new hot eateries in Bodhgayā for local and international cuisine. Bowl of Compassion donates a portion of their profits to help eradicate local poverty.

Chanting at the Mulagandhakui Temple in Sarnath
The Dhammacakkapavahana tta is chanted in Tibetan every day at 4:30pm and in Pali at 6:00pm.

Sāriputta Parinirvāṇa Vaṭṭa

Sāriputta, the Buddha’s right-hand man, was venerated for his wisdom by all of the Buddha’s disciples. The Pāli texts indicate that Sāriputta came into this world and passed out of it in the village of Nālaka (also referred to as Nāla and Nāḷagāmaka). While most Buddhists equate this site with Temple 3 at the ruins of the Nāḷandā Mahāvihāra (due to a text written by the 16th century Tibetan scholar Lama Tarantha who wrote about the place from more than 1000 km away), Faxian and Xuan Zang’s descriptions of the stūpa placed by Asoka marking the site point somewhere near the present-day villages of Chaṇḍīmau and Naṇand, next to Giriyek Hill. Several Buddhist artefacts have been found in these villages and the remains of a cylindrical stūpa crown the hill. There is also neat cave, yet to be identified, in the middle of a sheer cliff halfway up the southern side of Giriyek Hill.

To pay tribute to the great “Marshall of Dhamma” (Dhammasenāpati), the Government of Bihar, Bodhgayā Temple Management Committee, Nava Nāḷandā Mahāviha and the local community are developing this region as the Sāriputta Parinirvāṇa Vaṭṭa. If you are in this region at the right time, consider joining the annual “Sāriputta World Peace Walk” that occurs in this zone every Kārtika Pūrṇimā (October-November full moon), the same time of year that the Dhammasenāpati was born and passed away. Check with one of the above organizations or visit http://nalanda-insatiableinoffering.blogspot.ca/ for the event’s details.

To get to Giriyek Hill (30 minutes, 7 km from Rajgir) from Rajgir, take Giriyek Road, which runs along the north side of the mountain and the massive Bharut ammunition factory. The road is very smooth until the campus of the factory ends. From that point onwards the track becomes very bumpy, so going by motorbike or jeep may be the best way to travel. Depending on the season, you may be limited to how far you can go by vehicle. During or after the monsoon season a small lake will force you to walk through the village and grazing area for about 1.5 kilometres. During the dry season you’ll be able to drive right up to the point before the start of the climb to the cave. Beyond this path is another path with a flight of stairs leading up to a cave known by locals as Guvha Mandir. A friendly old sadhu lives there with some of his disciples.


Palm Grove (Jethian, Laṭṭivana/Yaśṭivana)

The most famous monk to stay at the Palm Grove since the Buddha’s time was the 7th century Chinese pilgrim Xuan Zang who spent two years here studying with Jayasena, a great Buddhist saint. Xuan Zang referred to this site as the Yaśṭivana Vihara, explaining that the name of the site was derived from a time when man who after measuring the Buddha’s height with stick (laṭṭhi) made from a palm-type of wood, threw it into the ground. The stick took root and eventually spread, thus becoming Laṭṭivana/Yaśṭivana.

In front of the village water reservoir/lotus pond is a shrine with an impressive black Buddha statue. The shrine, built by the Japanese government and the All Kochi Young Buddhist Association, is located on top of a mound that was probably the remains of a stūpa that either indicated where the Buddha stayed while at Lathivana, or where Bimbisāra and the Buddha met. There is another Buddha statue near the local school. You can ask one of the friendly locals to show it to you.

A new way to reach Jethian from Rajgir is by foot. If you are into trekking along ancient pilgrimage routes then go to the Forest Rest House near the Swarnbhandar Caves and follow the footpath that climbs up to the mountain ridge and continues for approximately 14 km all the way to Jethian. There is a clearly marked sign posted by the Government of Bihar. Alternately, you can begin the trek in Jethian and ask the very cooperative locals to show you to the start of the path, which also has a clearly marked sign placed by the Government of Bihar. Hiring a local to guide is advisable since it will ensure that you don’t get lost and remain protected from potential encounters with dacoits. From Jethian/Rajgir, you can instruct your driver to pick you up in Rajgir/Jethian.


Ayer Pathri (Buddhavana)

About 10 km southwest of Jethian lays the small village of Ayer, which is at the base of a “Buddhavana” hill. It is believed that Lord Indra massaged the Buddha’s body with sandal-wood oil while he was staying in the low cave on the steep side of this hill. At present, the cave’s entrance is littered with the remains of ancient brick votive stūpas and Buddha sculptures. If you have the time to spare, catching the views from this site makes for a worthwhile visit.


Silao

Silao is on the left-hand side of the road that runs about halfway from Rajgir to Nāḷandā. Go through the village for about 200 m until you reach the yellow and pink Mahadevasthan Temple, believed to be at the same spot as the Bahaputta Shrine where the Buddha and Mahākassapa first met. Beyond the Hindu deity you will see two Pala period (8th to 12th century) statues: one is a repaired standing black Buddha statue, the other is a piece of statue that depicts Mahākassapa offering his robe to the Buddha.

Silao is also famous for being the khaja capital of the world. Since the Buddha’s time, people would travel far and wide to devour this Indian sweet. Adventurers of the palate will not be able to resist scoffing down a khaja or two. Best to track down the khaja-wallah least swarmed by flies!

Juafardīh (Kūlika)

Excavations of an Asokan stūpa at Koḷitagāma (present day Juafardīh) are said to mark the site of Mahāmoggāllana’s birth and parinibbāna site (he may have actually passed away here after being beaten up at the Kālasilā Vihāra). The Great Disciple (Aggasāvaka) was born and passed away during the new moon of November-December (Agahana Amāvāsyā). If you are in this region at this time, consider joining the annual Mahāmoggallāna Patha Padakkhiṇā Padayātra. Joining this walking pilgrimage with the local bhikkhu Saṅgha will certainly be an unforgettable experience! Check with the Nava Nāḷānda Mahāvihāra or visit http://nalanda-insatiableinoffering.blogspot.ca/ for the event’s details.

Most drivers will not know how to get to this site (about 5 km from the Nāḷandā ruins) so best to ask a local around the ruins or university.


Nāḷandā's Temple Site 3 is not the Sāriputta Spa
As a result of an error written by the 16th century Tibetan scholar Lama Tarantha (who probably never had access to Xuan Zang’s historical records and who wrote about Nāḷandā, despite never personally visiting the place), most visitors mistake this site to mark the location of where Sāriputta was born and passed away. However, according to Xuan Zang, this temple ruin actually marks the location of the ‘fragrant’ hut (Gandhakuṭi) that the Buddha occupied while staying at Pāvārikā’s Mango Grove. Over the centuries, the building transformed from a simple hut to a moderate stūpa and then into a great temple


Nāḷandā's Multimedia Museum
The multimedia museum takes the viewer through a 45-minute 3D “virtual journey” of Nāḷandā’s historical, religious and geographical legacy. If you don’t mind some historical inaccuracy or exaggeration here and there, then you will certainly enjoy being entertained in the refreshing air-con theatre. The museum has a decent bookshop and is located approximately 100m from the ruins.

Patna's Pāṭaliputra Karuṇā Stūpa
The Pāṭaliputra Karuṇā Stūpa is in the middle of Buddha Smṛiti Udyan, a 20-acre park near the railway station tha twas established in 2010 by the Bihar government to commemorate the 2550th anniversary of the Buddha’s mahāparinibānna. Buddha relics donated by governments and monastic officials from Thailand, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Japan, South Korea and Tibet are currently enshrined in the stūpa’s inner sanctum. You are allowed to meditate in the presence of the relics, and are also encouraged to practice in the meditation hall adjacent to the stūpa. In addition to the library and museum, the park also houses two young Bodhi trees, one a descendent from Bodhgāya and the other from Anurādhpura (which is a descendent from the original tree that the Buddha awakened under).

Place to stay in Vaishali
The Vietnamese Mahāprajāpati Nunnery in Vaishali is a good budget option for pilgrims to stay. And starting in October 2013 10-day Vipassana courses will be conducted. The Vaishali Residency is a comfortable luxury for those who went to spend an extra few hundred rupees.

Eastern Monastery (Pubbārāma
To get to the
Pubbārāma, follow the signs beginning across the road from the Miracle Stūpa. Follow the mud-brick lane through the small village for about a kilometre until you reach the Migāra Māttu Dharam Prasad Forest Monastery. Prior to the opening of this small monastery in 2008, the only thing that marked the site was a broken Asokan pillar which was worshipped by villagers as a Śiva lingam. Today’s site is operated by Bhante Vimal, an Indian Vipassana meditator ordained in Sri Lanka. In 2013, no accommodations were available at the monastery but there was a meditation hall that could seat approximately 30 people. Meditators are always welcome to contribute to the site’s revival by meditating in the hall and offering dāna for the monastery’s development.


Reliable Travel agency
For good quality services and transport rentals, contact Top Travel at toptrav@vsnl.com



The information below was last updated 05-2012

Visa Information for Nepal

Please be advised that free 3-day pilgrim visas to Nepal are no longer available to non-SAARC residents*15-day multiple-entry visas can be obtained for $25 US
, 30-day visas for $40, and 90-day visas for $100 (US cash only, no rupees), with a passport-size photo.

* = South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (members include India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and the Maldives)


Rajdhani Vegetarian Restaurant
in Connaught Circus (New Delhi) is no longer across from the street from the Khadi Bhavan. It has moved to the outer circle of Connaught Place between Janpath Road and Kasturba Gandhi Marg.
 
Café Olla at 1767 Kantipath in Kathmandu is recommended to be a good place for a food and tea set in a nice garden. It is close to Dharma Shringa's city office where daily meditations are held for Old Students in the tradition of S.N. Goenka. The Fresh Tea and Spice House across the road has a fine selection of teas and spices, and the owners are quite knowledgable and friendly. 

Gotami Nunnery in Lumbini (across from Dhamma Janani) hosts Yoga classes upon request. The classes are led by Mr. Govinda Sharma Subedi, a local Old Student. You can find him at the restaurant that he runs next door to the nunnery.

Korean Temple in Lumbini now rents bicycles to pilgrims and tourists for Rs. 100/day.
 
Amda Ayurvedic Health Care Centre
not far the Big Buddha Statue in Bodhgaya
A European meditator recommends this health centre as a good place to receive Ayurvedic treatments by an experienced Ayurvedic doctor in case you fall ill during your journey. His staff is also said to provide quality therapeutic massages that can help relieve the tensions from travelling.

Hotel Sampurn Inn in New Delhi (Paharganj)
857 Chaniwali St., Main Bazaar, Paharganj
Ph: 001 23584600, 9560256560

A Canadian meditator and ex-pat recommends this brand new hotel with restaurant, internet, and clean rooms with or without AC. 


Be Happy Café in Bodhgaya
Be Happy Cafe is a vegetarian pizzeria, coffee house, and bakery owned and operated by Vipassana meditators. The restaurant specializes in pizzas, pastas, salads washed in mineral water, sandwiches on fresh baked brown bread, homemade granola, Lavazza Italian Espresso, and lots of delicious desserts such as chocolate cake, chocolate truffles, carrot cake, and cheesecakes. It offers WIFI and water bottle refills from a UV/RO water purifier. 

The restaurant is located in front of the Vietnamese Temple in the far corner of the Kalachakra Ground, next to Fujiya Green Restaurant.  It is open from September to April .

.http://behappycafebodhgaya.weebly.com


Accommodation in Rajgir
The Burmese Vihara no longer offers accommodations on a donation basis. However, the newly expanded Thai Vihara now offers clean accommodation and delicious food on a donation basis to both Thai and non-Thai nationals.

Book Post
There is no longer a special (cheap) rate at the Post Office for books.

Reliable travel agent with good vehicles and drivers, contact
Jitendra Singh" <travelpointvns@yahoo.com>

Accomodations in Lumbini Offered by Local Meditator
 The Shanti Guest House is located in Mahiliwar is located on the outskirts of Lumbini near the village and offers simple, yet comfortable rooms on a donation basis to meditators. Biraj Singh, the owner, is a long time Dhamma trustee at Dhamma Janani Biraj and is very involved in the local community's health and educational projects. Biraj and his wife also run a tea stall, a delicious home-style vegetarian restaurant, and souvenir stand near the Lumbini Sacred Garden. 
 
Mobile:  (00977)-9847322808
Tel: (00977) 71580169  
 

A recommended place to stay in Vaishali
 
Wat Thai Vaishali
Shanti stupa Rd
Distt Vaishali 844128
Bihar, India
 
Tel: 91-6224-229421; Mobile: 91-993-1222114 or 943-1290369.
email: watthaivaishali@hotmail.com
 

Recommended Hotel in New Delhi. Read the description below written by a Canadian meditator:
 

Our luck begins right off the bat with accommodations.  Aman Delux, a lower mid level hotel  conveniently located in Rajouri Gardens , south west of Rajeev Chowk (Connaught Place).  It’s a short two block walk to the Rajouri Gardens Metro Stn; there’s a Fab India across the street, an excellent vegetarian restaurant next door, a large shopping mall half a block away and numerous banking options up and down the street.  A pre paid cab (no AC) from the airport was 425 Rs.

A selection of rooms runs from Rs 1500 (small room) to  Rs 3000 a night. Most of us paid for the Rs 2000 room, which had 2 beds in a room that allowed for some space between beds. All rooms have attached baths.  The staff are helpful  and very pleasant to deal with.

Aman Deluxe, A-30-31, Vishal Enclave, Rajouri Garden, Opposite Vishal Cinema, New Delhi – 110027, Telephone – (+9111) 45702658, 25413980, 25421965, Fax: 25450888. 200 metres from Rajouri Gardens Metro. Check internet for website and online booking.