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Pilgrimage to Central Tibet 2015

 

Treasure Sites of Padmasambhava

Pilgrimage to Kathmandu & Central Tibet
May 31 — June 16 / 20, 2015 
[17-Day Core Program]
[4-Day Extention Option] 
 
**Register by April 25**

A Cultural & Educational Travel Program Hosted by Jonang Foundation

Travel on pilgrimage to the renowned power sites of “the second buddha” Padmasambhava, the 8th century tantrika credited with establishing Buddhism in Tibet, where he mystically concealed numerous treasure texts and relics (terma) to be recovered in later centuries. Among the most revered practice places in central Tibet, three spectacular cave retreats on our itinerary are the epicenters of Padmasambhava’s enlightened body, speech and qualities where he meditated for long periods, often with his consort Yeshe Tsogyel. We will visit the sites from which such renowned cycles as The Heart Essence of the Vast Expanse (Longchen Nyingthik), The Heart Essence of the Dakinis (Khandro Nyingthik), and Vajrakīlaya were discovered as treasures.
 
We will visit the places where two of Padmasambhava’s most famous biographies were recovered; Tibet’s first monastery, Samyé; Tibet’s most sacred shrine, the Jokhang; and the Potala Palace of the Dalai Lamas in Lhasa. The Tibet trip concludes with a dip in natural hot springs that were sprung by Padmasambhava himself; in Kathmandu we will visit several additional power spots, including one of the earliest recorded sites associated with Padmasambhava, which is marked by his handprint burnt into rock.
 
Some retreat caves will require light trekking and the scaling of ladders, though participants will have the option to explore a temple or monastery at the foot of each trek.
 
Download the 2015 Pilgrilmage Flyer.
Pilgrimage Itinerary
May 31 | DAY 01) Meet in Kathmandu = HOTEL
June 01 | DAY 02) Kathmandu = HOTEL
June 02 | DAY 03) Fly to Lhasa = HOTEL
June 03 | DAY 04) Jokhang Temple, Potala Palace. Lhasa = HOTEL
June 04 | DAY 05) -> Drak Yerpa Yogin Caves. Lhasa = HOTEL
June 05 | DAY 06) Tsetang. Tradruk Geomantic Temple and Yumbu Lhakang = HOTEL
June 06 | DAY 07) Hike to Yarlung Sheldrak and Pema Shelpuk Caves. Tsetang = HOTEL
June 07 | DAY 08) -> Samye Monastery and Khamsum Zangkhang Ling. Hike to Hepori Hill at dawn = MONASTERY GUESTHOUSE
June 08 | DAY 09) Hike to Chimpu Caves = MONASTERY GUESTHOUSE
June 09 | DAY 10) Visit Tsogyel Lhatso Lake and Kharchen Dzong = CAMP
June 10 | DAY 11) Hike to Drak Yangdzong Caves = CAMP
June 11 | DAY 12) Visit Dzong Kumbum Caves -> Pema Dzong = CAMP
June 12 | DAY 13) -> Lhasa = HOTEL
June 13 | DAY 14) ->Padmasambhava’s Terdrom Hot Springs and Nunnery = HOTEL
June 14 | DAY 15) Hike to Kiri Yangdzong Cave = HOTEL
June 15 | DAY 16) ->Drikung Til Monastery -> Lhasa = HOTEL
June 16 | DAY 17) Fly to Kathmandu or Home
 
4-Day Extension Option to Kathmandu
June 17 | DAY 18) Boudhanath Stupa, Pashupatinath, and surrounding monasteries = HOTEL
June 18 | DAY 19) Padmasambhava’s Parping Caves, Kali Temple = HOTEL
June 19 | DAY 20) Swayambhu Stupa = HOTEL
June 20 | DAY 21) Fly Home
 

Descriptive Pilgrimage Itinerary

May 31 | DAY 01) Meet in Kathmandu = HOTEL
June 01 | DAY 02) Kathmandu = HOTEL
June 02 | DAY 03) Fly to Lhasa = HOTEL
Fly from Kathmandu and arrive in Lhasa, the cultural epicenter of Tibet, at an altitude of nearly 12,000 feet! We will rest, acclimatize and circle the barkor market in the old city.
June 03 | DAY 04) Jokhang Temple, Potala Palace. Lhasa = HOTEL
Visit the Jokhang (7th cent.), Tibet’s most sacred shrine and the recovery site of The Pillar Testament, which is among the earliest texts to name Avalokiteshvara as the patron deity of Tibet, as well as the most iconic Tibetan structure, the Potala Palace of the Dalai Lamas and the primary seat of government from 1649–1959.
June 04 | DAY 05) -> Drak Yerpa Yogin Caves. Lhasa = HOTEL
With a storied history extending back to the 7th cent., the caves at Yerpa have sheltered many of Tibet’s great meditators, including Padmasambhava. This is the power site of his enlightened speech.
June 05 | DAY 06) Tsetang. Tradruk Geomantic Temple and Yumbu Lhakang = HOTEL
In Tsetang lie the tombs of the emperors, including those of Songtsen Gampo, Tri Songdetsen and Relpachen. Tradruk houses several imperial-era treasures, including the renowned “looks-like-me” statue of Padmasambhava.
June 06 | DAY 07) Hike to Yarlung Sheldrak and Pema Shelpuk Caves. Tsetang = HOTEL
Hike up to Sheldrak, the power site of Padmasambhava’s enlightened qualities, and to Pema Shelpuk – the recovery site of his most popular biography, Orgyen Lingpa’s Testament of Padmasambhava (14th cent.).
June 07 | DAY 08) -> Samye Monastery and Khamsum Zangkhang Ling. Hike to Hepori Hill at dawn = MONASTERY GUESTHOUSE
Explore Samye, Tibet’s first monastery that was established in part due to Padmasambhava’s taming of the demons by dancing atop Hepori Hill – which we will hike to watch the sun rise over the valley. The third site is “The Copper Island of the Three Realms,” the recovery site of Padmasambhava’s first biography, which shares its name.
June 08 | DAY 09) Hike to Chimpu Caves = MONASTERY GUESTHOUSE
The caves at Chimpu have been the retreat homes for many of Tibet’s most renowned practitioners, such as Padmasambhava, Yeshe Tsogyel, Vairocana and other imperial-era contemporaries. Longchen Rabjam and Karmapa III Rangjung Dorje inhabited retreats in close vicinity, resulting in the syncretism of the Nyingma and Karma Kagyu lineages. Jigme Lingpa experienced his visions for the Longchen Nyingthik treasures here, and the Vima Nyingthik was discovered here as well. This is also considered the power site of Padmasambhava’s enlightened speech.
June 09 | DAY 10) Visit Tsogyel Lhatso Lake and Kharchen Dzong = CAMP
This lake and palace were the birthplace and home of Padmasambhava’s consort, Yeshe Tsogyel, who is credited with lossless memory and countless treasure concealments. The fragrant juniper trees in the area are said to have sprung from her hair.
June 10 | DAY 11) Hike to Drak Yangdzong Caves = CAMP
Hike up the hillside still inhabited by long-term retreatants to this spectacular cave complex, deep within a limestone mountain, where Padmasambhava and Yeshe Tsogyel completed the 3-year darkness retreat together. All the treasures for the fierce deity Vajrakilaya are said to have been concealed here. This is the power site of Padmasambhava’s enlightened body.
June 11 | DAY 12) Visit Dzong Kumbum Caves -> Pema Dzong = CAMP
Delve into this cave complex associated with Padmasambhava featuring massive caverns and several tunnels. 
June 12 | DAY 13) -> Lhasa = HOTEL
Participants will have free time to roam, shop and explore Lhasa on their own.
June 13 | DAY 14) ->Padmasambhava’s Terdrom Hot Springs and Nunnery = HOTEL
While Padmasambhava is said to have created these medicinal hot springs, which we will have the opportunity to enjoy more than once, this area is associated with Yeshe Tsogyel in particular.
June 14 | DAY 15) Hike to Kiri Yangdzong Cave = HOTEL
This all-day circumambulatory hike traverses a 17,000 foot pass and leads to the icy Kiri Yangdzong cave, the recovery site of the Khandro Nyingthik.
June 15 | DAY 16) ->Drikung Til Monastery -> Lhasa = HOTEL
This is the seat of the Drikung Kagyu and the foremost site for sky-burial in the region. Participants will have more free time to explore Lhasa in the afternoon. We will convene for a farewell dinner.
June 16 | DAY 17) Fly to Kathmandu or Home
 
4-Day Extension Option to Kathmandu
June 17 | DAY 18) Boudhanath Stupa, Pashupatinath, and surrounding monasteries = HOTEL
In their past lives, Padmasambhava, Shantarakshita, and Tri Songdetsen are said to have been the brothers that built this massive stupa, and this is where Jigme Lingpa traveled in his vision to receive the Longchen Nyingthik.
June 18 | DAY 19) Padmasambhava’s Parping Caves, Kali Temple = HOTEL
Being the place that Padmasambhava received his invitation to Tibet, this is one of his earliest attested sites where he attained an even higher stage of enlightenment. One of the caves is marked by a rather convincing hand-print burned into stone.
June 19 | DAY 20) Swayambhu Stupa = HOTEL
One of the most mystical and iconic sites in the Kathmandu Valley, its long stairway represents the path to enlightenment. We will convene for a farewell dinner.
June 20 | DAY 21) Fly Home
 

Pilgrimage Leader

Daniel Hirshberg, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Asian Religions at the University of Mary Washington. He first traveled to Buddhist Asia in 1996 and has regularly returned to India, Nepal and Tibet for extended periods since, including a six-week group tour of Tibet that he co-led in 2006. In 2011 he explored each of the sites on this itinerary in-depth for his doctoral research at Harvard University. Dan specializes in treasure revelation (terma) and the biographies of Padmasambhava, and his revised dissertation will soon be published as Delivering the Lotus-Born: Padmasambhava in the Memory of Tibet’s Golden Age. Dan has also been an active member of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche’s Nitartha Translation Network since 2004, focusing on the liturgies and instructions for the tutelary deity Vajrakīlaya and Dorjé Drolö, a fierce emanation of Padmasambhava.
 

 

Enrollment Process

The enrollment process consists of these 4 steps:

  1. Send an inquiry email to [email protected] along with a completed Registration Form. Write, "PILGRIMAGE 2015" in the subject line. You will be contacted by the pilgrimage leader or a foundation representative who can answer any questions that you may have. 
  2. Setup an appointment to talk with the pilgrimage leader on Skype or the phone. 
  3. Pay the $1000 nonrefundable enrollment downpayment to reserve a spot on the program. This fee will be credited towards your total amount due.
  4. Receive the invite and join the email forum exclusive for the pilgrilmage group. This forum will be moderated by your pilgrimage leader and serve as the platform via which to pose questions, communicate with your fellow pilgrims, distribute relevant information, and discuss logistics in preparation for the pilgrilmage.

 

Cost & Payment Process

A $1,000 enrollment downpayment is required per person to reserve a spot. Early enrollment is encouraged. Spaces are limited and the program will close once full. Spaces are reserved in the order by which each person enrolls. The enrollment downpayment will be credited towards each person's total cost. See the Cancellation and Refund Policy.

Please contact us about making an enrollment downpayment. 

Total Cost of Core Pilgrimage Program to Central Tibet

$5,450

Total Cost of Program with 4-Day Extension to Kathmandu

$6,125
 

*Pilgrims must confirm participation by April 25. Payments must be received in full no later than May 10. 

Cost includes: Roundtrip airfare to/from Kathmandu<->Lhasa; full board including meals and accommodation in hotels, guesthouses, and camp sites; tents and camping equipment; cooks and cook assistants; one support truck for cooking team and equipment; English-speaking local Tibetan guide in TAR and Nepalese guide in Kathmandu; all necessary road permit and travel documentation; visitation, entrance, and conservation fees to all sites and monasteries; all ground transportation and inland transport by bus to/from airports; snacks and bottled mineral water. 

Cost does not include: Roundtrip international flight tickets from/to port of origin, visas, airport taxes, personal insurance, extra costs in case of natural disasters, sleeping bags, tips, personal expenses, drinks.

There is an option to reserve a single room/tent:  Single Supplement = $650

*Vegetarian options will be provided at each meal.
*A percentage of each total payment is tax-deductible in the U.S. via Jonang Foundation.
 
Payments can be made via the online cart, Pilgrimage Program Payment. Contact us to send personal checks or wire bank transfers.

 

Contact Information

For all queries about the pilgrimage, please contact us at [email protected] with the word "PILGRIMAGE" in the subject line.

Please contact us about future programs.