I can’t believe I leave for India on Thursday (my flight leaves from Indianapolis at 5.30pm) and this time next week I’ll be sipping tea in Delhi somewhere! It’s all so surreal. I have so much to do before I go. I have to decide what to take, laundry to do, cleaning, packing, school work!!! I really just need to get a move on. I can get so much done today, as long as I don’t let all of this overwhelm me. I’ve included our itinerary here… so you’ll all know what I’m doing (at least it’s a bare outline plan of where and what…)

EEP!

A Journey to Dharamsala, Northern India Itinerary

April 7-22 2007

Sat. April 7 Delhi. First official day of tour.

All guests arrive in Delhi – most flights arrive very late in the evening of
April 6th and early morning 7th, so upon arrival in Delhi we will convene
in the morning of the 7th for a group welcome.

We will have everyone’s flight information and upon arrival at Indira Gandhi International Airport a driver from will pick you up and take you to Likir House in the Lajpat Nagar neighborhood of Delhi, where rooms will be waiting for you to sleep and shower. Look for a sign that says

9:00am Breakfast at Likir House
10:00am Introductions and Orientation
11:00am Bus to Red Fort
12:00-2:00 Visit Red Fort, rickshaw ride to Chandi Chowk, spice market, masjid, Sikh temple.
2:00-3:00 Lunch at Host Restaurant, Connaught Place
3:00-4:00 Hanuman Temple,
4:00 Back to Likir House
7:00 Dinner at South Indian restaurant near Likir House

Sun. April 8 Day in Delhi

9:00am Breakfast at Likir House
10:00am Sightseeing – Gandhi museum, India gate, Dilli Hat, Fab India
12:00 Lunch outside
2:00pm Bollywood movie
5:00pm Dinner at Defence Colony
7:00pm Depart for train to Dharamsala
8:30pm Overnight on train to Pathankot then on to Dsala

Mon. April 9 Dolma Ling Nunnery
8:00am Arrive at Pathankot train station. We will be picked up by private jeeps, eat breakfast, and continue on to Dharamsala.

12:00 Arrive at Dolma Ling nunnery for lunch and a welcome talk from TNP Director Rinchen Khando Choegyal

Dolma Ling Nunnery is about located about 20 minute down into the Kangra valley below Dharamsala. Dolma Ling is the main nunnery and educational institution supported by the Tibetan Nuns Project. It is also the home of the TNP India offices. Dolma Ling houses 228 nuns and about 22 Tibetan staff members and their families. Dolma Ling also has a small guest house where we will be staying. On the first day after checking into our rooms at the guest house we will take a tour of the nunnery and the Tibetan Nuns Project India offices, meet staff and nuns and have some tea. After the nunnery tour, we will take a short walk down the hill to visit the Norbulingka Institute (www.norbulingka.org) . The Norbulingka Institute promotes the traditional arts and literary studies of Tibet. We will visit the Deden Tsuglakhang, the Seat of Happiness Temple, to admire the one thousand, one hundred and seventy-three images of the Buddha as well as the forty-four foot high temple hall. After Norbulingka, we will return to Dolma Ling Nunnery for a special Tibetan dinner and optional attendance of the evening prayer session and butter lamp lighting.

At Dolma Ling, the nuns follow a daily schedule, waking at 4:30am for morning prayers, breakfast, classes, lunch, afternoon debate and classes, dinner, evening study and prayers. We are welcomed to sit in on the morning and evening prayer sessions but must abide by all rules of the nunnery. The lively afternoon debates are the treasure of Dolma Ling. For the first time in history the nuns are participating in the ancient Tibetan tradition of studying Buddhist text and participating in debate. Both are of traditions that had long been reserved for monks only. During our stay at Dolm Ling, TNP Co-directors, Dr. Elizabeth Napper and Ven. Lobsang Dechen will give us talks on the practice of debate and what the nuns are studying. We will also have time for Q&A sessions with the nuns as well as leisure time with nuns.

Also during our stay at Dolma Ling, we will have time set aside by the nuns and their teachers to talk to have an intimate question and answer session and get to know each other better. We will also screen movies in the evenings on the nuns and Tibet issues.

There are many other things to do around Dolma Ling, aside from returning to Norbulingka often, we will visit the Thosamling Institute, Dr. Barbara’s clinic and walks around the beautiful Gaddi Indian villages nearby.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at Dolma Ling, although there are a few outside restaurants and the lovely Norling Café at Norbulingka if we decide to eat outside.

NOTES ON BEING AT DOLMA LING:
You are very welcome to wander about freely, you can enter classrooms, take pictures wherever you’d like, talk to anyone you meet! The nunnery is a very safe and welcoming environment. However, please be respectful of the nuns and staff work schedules. The nuns are on a very rigorous study schedule and we are coming in right in the beginning of their semesters. You will see a lot of debate and studying around the nunnery. Please try not to disturb study sessions but feel free to be a polite observer. We will receive an in depth orientation upon arrival so more detail will follow.

Although it is very safe, please ALWAYS be aware of your belongings. Lock your rooms and keep valuables on your person.

This also might be one of the times you want to have extra cash for special prayer services or pujas. There is also a nuns store so you can buy products made by the nuns here as well.

Sat. April 14 Shift to Kashmir Cottage

1:00-7:00 Check into rooms. Walk down to Shugsep Nunnery. Drive up to Namgyal Monastery, residence of the Dalai Lama, walk the Lingkor, visit shops around McLeod Ganj. Easy orientation to Dharamsala.

7:00pm Dinner at Kashmir Cottage

After settling into our rooms we will meet up with our Tibetan guide for a walking tour of McCleod Ganj – the heart of Dharamsala. We will visit some of the sites of the Tibetan settlements in Dharamsala, such as the Men Tsee Khang clinic – the Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute of His Holiess the Dalai Lama (www.men-tsee-khang.org) and learn about Tibetan medicine. We will also tour Genkyi, the complex that houses the political and social workoffices of the Tibetan Government in Exile as well as the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives. We will then venture up to upper Dharamsala and drop in on the nuns at Geden Choeling nunnery for an afternoon tea. We will also visit the nuns at Shugsep nunnery before returning back to Kashmir Cottage for dinner. We will spend more time exploring both Shugsep and Geden Choeling nunneries on the following days. After dinner there will be time to relax in the lovely setting of Kashmir Cottage or take an evening walk around the Namgyal Monastery complex, the residence and monastery of the Dalai Lama, which we will visit more extensively the following days.

Also during the following days some of the activities will include:

• Daily breakfast in the dining room at Kashmir Cottage

• Tours and talks at Shugsep and Geden Choeling nunneries.

• Tour the Tibetan Government in Exile offices. – The Tibetan parliament has an extensive complex that houses the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives. Located within the compound of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, the Library serves as a repository for Tibetan artefacts and manuscripts and a centre for language and cultural education. Its holdings include more than 80,000 manuscripts, books and documents, hundreds of thangkas, statues and other artifacts, 6,000 photographs, and other materials (http://www.tibet.com/ltwa.html)

• Tour the Tibet Museum in the complex of Namgyal Monastery (www.tibetmuseum.org) . The Tibet museum was established with the aim of presenting Tibet’s history and visions for its future throughtexts, photographs, videos and installations. The museum features amain exhibition, “A long look homeward”. It is divided into two sections: the first floor presents the Chinese occupation of Tibet and its results, and the second one displays Tibet’s past and hopes for its future.

• Lunch at the Namgyal Monastery Café overlooking the beautiful hillsides of Dharamsala. After lunch we have been invited to join in on a class at the Buddhist School of Dialectics, a monaster where over 100 monks are trained in advanced Buddhist philosophy. After a Q&A session with the monks, they will take us on a guided tour of the Namgyal Monastery complex and His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s temple.

• Upper Tibetan Children’s Village school (better known as TCV). We will tour the school grounds and meet the children.

• Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, also known as TIPA
(www.tibetanarts.org). TIPA was one of the first institutions established by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in exile, its mission is to preserve the cultural identity of Tibetans by keeping alive our artistic traditions and by sharing them with the world.

• Exploring Dharamsala – there are many things to do in beautiful Dharamsala. There is a walk to a lovely waterfall, small treks through the hills, shopping shopping shopping! Meeting Tibetans along the way, tea, tea and more tea. There are also many lovely surprises that are scheduled last minute. Often there will be a last minute evening performance at TIPA or movie screening or cultural talk. We will take advantage of as much as possible, but some things cannot be scheduled until we arrive.

Some great web resources on learning about Dharamsala are:
http://www.tibet.net
http://www.tibet.com
http://www.dalailama.com

Fri. April 19 Depart for Amritsar

Check out Kashmir Cottage 5 hour drive to Amritsar
Visit the Golden Temple at dusk
Stay overnight in Armitsar

Sat. April 20 Day in Amritsar

Visit Golden Temple at sunrise
Day in Amritsar 5:00pm train to Delhi

Fabulous dinner served on India’s premier express 1st class service to Delhi!

Arrive Delhi 11pm check into Delhi hotel

NOTE: This is a different guest house than the first few days in Delhi – Likir House did not have enough rooms for all of us on return. This one is a lovely old British bungalow complex in the neighborhood of Lodi Colony, easy drive to the airport. The
contact info is:

Lutyens Guest House
39 Prithvi Raj Road, New Delhi 110011 INDIA
Tel: (+91) 11 24611341 / 24625716 / 24694523
Mobile (for urgent assistance): Shukla +91 98 91386330; Vinita 0-91-9810053013
website: http://www.lutyensguesthouse.com

There is a beautiful swimming pool and garderns so bring a swimsuit! And YES you will have transfers set up for you to the airport, and those of you staying on a few more days will be shifting back to Likir House (not far – but much cheaper since you will be paying for those extra days on your own.
Sun. April 21 Last Day in Delhi

Morning breakfast in the gardens
Last day of shopping or sightseeing

5:00 pm departure dinner at Chilly Spice – Thai Restaurant run by Tibetans near our guest house.

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