Traveling to Nepal/India: seeking recommendations, tips, tricks

Chi, modified 4 Years ago.

Traveling to Nepal/India: seeking recommendations, tips, tricks

Posts: 36 Join Date: 4/23/16 Recent Posts
Hi Everyone,

After a recent retreat, I was reminded how essential Dhamma and Sangha are to being a happy human being.

I'm flying into Kathmandu, Nepal on the 27th of May. Have loose plans to get an Indian visa, spend some time visiting monasteries and temples in the area.

In India, I'd like to live near Dharamsala and in Ladakh to be near monks and monasteries. I'd like to explore Tibetan Buddhism and culture.

Maybe I should spend some time in Nepal, instead of seeing it as just a short stop? I haven't bought tickets to India yet. What do you think?

Anybody who has traveled to these areas have any recommendations for places/areas to stay, monastaries/meditation centers to live in, teachers to visit, etc?

All your thoughts are welcome.
Change A., modified 4 Years ago.

RE: Traveling to Nepal/India: seeking recommendations, tips, tricks

Posts: 793 Join Date: 5/24/10 Recent Posts
Hello, I've been to McLeodganj (Dharamshala) twice. The first time I went there, I asked a fellow local bus travellor who happened to be Tibetan and found out later to be a monk in civilian clothes. He was very helpful and showed me a few hotels and then eventually I found one that suited me. The second time I went straight to the same motel. I don't remember the name of it. Just wanted to tell you this story that in case you haven't found anything by the time you get there, ask a Tibetan and generally, they are very helpful. If you're there, then Karmapa's monastery is a short distance away from McLeodganj. I would highly recommend going there if Karmapa is there and seeing visitors. 
Change A.:
Hello, I've been to McLeodganj (Dharamshala) twice. The first time I went there, I asked a fellow local bus travellor who happened to be Tibetan and found out later to be a monk in civilian clothes. He was very helpful and showed me a few hotels and then eventually I found one that suited me. The second time I went straight to the same motel. I don't remember the name of it. Just wanted to tell you this story that in case you haven't found anything by the time you get there, ask a Tibetan and generally, they are very helpful. If you're there, then Karmapa's monastery is a short distance away from McLeodganj. I would highly recommend going there if Karmapa is there and seeing visitors. 

Thank you for the tips, change. So happy to be around the Tibetan culture and the monks and the dalai lama and Karmapa and dhamma friends.

I'm start lots of conversations with strangers when I'm new to a place, so happy to hear people are so friendly. How long did you spend in the town? Did you visit Tushita or the Dhamma center? I hear there are small towns within walking distance of McLeod ganj that are quieter. Ever visit these?

Thank you so much for your thoughts.
Change A., modified 4 Years ago.

RE: Traveling to Nepal/India: seeking recommendations, tips, tricks

Posts: 793 Join Date: 5/24/10 Recent Posts
Chi:
Thank you for the tips, change. So happy to be around the Tibetan culture and the monks and the dalai lama and Karmapa and dhamma friends.

I'm start lots of conversations with strangers when I'm new to a place, so happy to hear people are so friendly. How long did you spend in the town? Did you visit Tushita or the Dhamma center? I hear there are small towns within walking distance of McLeod ganj that are quieter. Ever visit these?

Thank you so much for your thoughts.
I spent about a week or so each time. I did visit Tushita and attended a one day course there. I used to go there most days to meditate by myself as they let you do that. I didn't go to the Dhamma center in McLeodganj as I had been to other Goenka centers in other places. I did go to some of the other smaller places that are walking distance around McLeodganj but didn't stay there. There is a small settlement that is very popular with Israelites but walking through there, they didn't seem too keen on talking to strangers. Tushita is a good center to go to and check out what courses they are offering when you are there. I did get to see Dalai Lama on two occasions, one when he was just going back to his place in his vehicle and the other time when he was teaching. Obviously he attracts a large crowd to his teachings and teaches in Tibetan but a translator translates it into other languages and you can listen to that with a radio. I would also like to tell you that never ever drink water from a spring even if it looks sparkling clean and you are thirsty. I did that and was sick for a couple of days.
My experience in Kathmandu with Tibetan Buddhism is that it is a different world to the Theravadan one. The monks are kind of tucked away doing they're own thing (which often seems to be academic or external-ritual based as opposed to serious spritual work) and it doesn't feel so natural to just waltz in and recieve meditation instruction - if that is what you were going for. 

There are a lot of monasteries around Bodhanath but the ambience was pretty touristy. Up on a hill in the West of the city is Mingyur Rinpoche's gompa (the locals call it yellow gompa) but again they just seem to be getting on with whatever they are getting on with and beyond that there are 2 more but those are closed to the public since the earthquake. Theres a few more around Swayambunath but I didn't get the impression they were particuarly meditative. 

I've thought about going out to Bhaktapur to namo buddha on my return but its a little way out of the city and I just don't know what to expect when you get there. I actually ended up receiving teaching from the Bonpo gompa Triten Norbutse but I felt very lucky to have got to do so, me and one other girl were the only Westerners who I saw being taught anything in the whole 4 months I was there and even then I felt that it was predicated on giving English lessons in return. I wasn't staying in the Gompa or anything so it felt like there was some give and take going on.  

Most people if you mention you are interested in meditation will tell you to check out Goenka or Kopan monastery but Goenka you don't need to go as far as Kathmandu to take part in and Kopan seemed pretty, urm, touristy? mushroom culture? that was my impression from their online prescence anyway.

In Lumbini you have the panditarama which I always hear good things about but that is Vipassana of course. 

So yeah these were my impressions, basically to get serious meditation instruction seems difficult, the culture is a different one to the Theravadan one where many monks seem to feel a duty to the laity that goes beyond ritual. There is this orientalist fantasy that I have difficulty shaking, something like the film Dr. Strange, and in my experience reality just isn't like that . Also Many monks don't speak English or don't speak it to any degree that fine instruction requires. Communication is a problem.

I hope that was helpful.
Joe:
My experience in Kathmandu with Tibetan Buddhism is that it is a different world to the Theravadan one. The monks are kind of tucked away doing they're own thing (which often seems to be academic or external-ritual based as opposed to serious spritual work) and it doesn't feel so natural to just waltz in and recieve meditation instruction - if that is what you were going for. 

There are a lot of monasteries around Bodhanath but the ambience was pretty touristy. Up on a hill in the West of the city is Mingyur Rinpoche's gompa (the locals call it yellow gompa) but again they just seem to be getting on with whatever they are getting on with and beyond that there are 2 more but those are closed to the public since the earthquake. Theres a few more around Swayambunath but I didn't get the impression they were particuarly meditative. 

I've thought about going out to Bhaktapur to namo buddha on my return but its a little way out of the city and I just don't know what to expect when you get there. I actually ended up receiving teaching from the Bonpo gompa Triten Norbutse but I felt very lucky to have got to do so, me and one other girl were the only Westerners who I saw being taught anything in the whole 4 months I was there and even then I felt that it was predicated on giving English lessons in return. I wasn't staying in the Gompa or anything so it felt like there was some give and take going on.  

Most people if you mention you are interested in meditation will tell you to check out Goenka or Kopan monastery but Goenka you don't need to go as far as Kathmandu to take part in and Kopan seemed pretty, urm, touristy? mushroom culture? that was my impression from their online prescence anyway.

In Lumbini you have the panditarama which I always hear good things about but that is Vipassana of course. 

So yeah these were my impressions, basically to get serious meditation instruction seems difficult, the culture is a different one to the Theravadan one where many monks seem to feel a duty to the laity that goes beyond ritual. There is this orientalist fantasy that I have difficulty shaking, something like the film Dr. Strange, and in my experience reality just isn't like that . Also Many monks don't speak English or don't speak it to any degree that fine instruction requires. Communication is a problem.

I hope that was helpful.


Huh! Thank you for sharing your perspective, Joe.

I guess I am not really going for meditation instruction as much as just being near monks and the culture of generosity and metta. Kathmandu has never been as much of a draw as McLeod ganj and ladakh, but I just love being back in touch with dhamma and being connected to spiritual friends.

Now I'm thinking I'm ok with being around western tourists who are interested in Buddhism. I love starting random conversations and listening to stories.

Sometimes I feel like being in serious retreat and sometimes I just want to see the different ways people live and how monasteries work and feel the energy of the monks and be around during full renunciation. I'm quite undisciplined so I like to see things emoticon

Thank you for your thoughts joe. Feel free to write with anything else the comes to mind.
Chi:
I guess I am not really going for meditation instruction as much as just being near monks and the culture of generosity and metta. Kathmandu has never been as much of a draw as McLeod ganj and ladakh, but I just love being back in touch with dhamma and being connected to spiritual friends.

Now I'm thinking I'm ok with being around western tourists who are interested in Buddhism. I love starting random conversations and listening to stories.

Sometimes I feel like being in serious retreat and sometimes I just want to see the different ways people live and how monasteries work and feel the energy of the monks and be around during full renunciation. I'm quite undisciplined so I like to see things emoticon

Thank you for your thoughts joe. Feel free to write with anything else the comes to mind.


In that case there are a thousand guest houses to stay at and monasteries to visit around Boudhanath, all centered around the stupa. I met a girl who had been staying there and she said she loved the community of like minded people that she found there. That sounds like the place you should go based on what you are looking for.
Change A., modified 4 Years ago.

RE: Traveling to Nepal/India: seeking recommendations, tips, tricks

Posts: 793 Join Date: 5/24/10 Recent Posts
I have been to Ladakh too but that was a long time ago. I think you can stay in monastries too and they might rent out room to you in Ladakh. I'm not sure though but I've stayed in a monastery somewhere else in India. Ladakh isn't as populated as other places in India and there are some monastries that are very secluded sitting high up on the mountains.

I found it easy to hang out with monks in McLeodganj though. They are every where and you can find them in restaurants too having food. You can also volunteer to teach English to Tibetans and they are very thankful if you do. You can immerse yourself in Tibetan culture there. 

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