24 – 31 March 2022
This retreat is for women with an interest in Buddhist Philosophy,
Tibetan Culture and in living a Meaningful Life
Imagine a week in the foothills of the Himalayas, in the home of His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama, surrounded by beautiful nature, eating delicious vegetarian Indian food, engaging in workshops and classes about Buddhism, practicing yoga and meditation, swimming, hiking, shopping, relaxing, dreaming, being, just imagine ……..
There’s something so liberating about stepping outside of your life for a moment
waking up in a new land, excited for the adventure
learning a new philosophy, being intellectually and spiritually stimulated
building new connections with yourself and others
being fully present to a new culture
breathing deeply into your heart centre and allowing space and light to enter
moving your body in gentle, restorative and healing ways
taking quiet time to reflect
capturing memories and life lessons that last a lifetime
Being new but still being you
Explore the foothills Himalayas (optional ½ day hiking) people who don’t want to do that can explore the local village where we are staying, enjoy the coffee shops and beautiful gardens and surrounding.
Explore Tibetan Culture and in particular Thangka Art, Spirituality, Politics and Architecture
Visit colourful local markets (this is the place to buy your singing bowl!)
Meet Jetsumna Tenzin Palmo and visit her nunnery which is in a truly stunning location (Author of “Cave in the Snow”)
Visit the Dalai Lamas Temple, a local nunnery where we can have ghee lamp lit on our behalf and our charity for this trip Jagori which focuses on gender equality and Womens rights
Visit the artisan village of Andretta known for pottery, purchase a lovely ceramic souvenir to take home
Tea Tasting at Wah Tea Estate in Palampur
Three workshops providing an Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism with an English speaking university educated Nun Emma Billsberry (Lozang Drolma)
Three workshops with Tammie Day (Founder of Vibrant Women) on how to incorporate Buddhism into western daily life
Spend time with our local guide who will share his passion for everything Dharamshala, from his home town Naddi and hiking, to the best coffee shop in McLeod Ganj
Optional daily yoga and or meditation classes
Experience the peace and serenity and beauty of the Dhauladhar range (lit. The White Range) which are part of a lesser Himalayan chain of mountains.
Stay in rustic and authentic Tibetan and Indian accommodations, clean and comfortable with artistic touches
Find peace and happiness
INTRODUCTION TO TIBETAN BUDDHISM
This Introduction to Buddhism retreat, is equally appropriate for beginners and those with some background knowledge however please let us know if you are a very experienced practitioner as we want to ensure your expectations are met and or exceeded. Although this retreat is a great reminder of Buddhist fundamentals it is aimed at people with a beginners curious mind, as is the yoga and meditation.
To study about Buddhist Philosophy is to study yourself. During our retreat, our experienced teacher will explain Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and practices giving instruction in order to help you apply this ancient wisdom to increase peace, happiness, and compassion in your daily life.
What is Buddhism? The Buddha’s life story
How Tibetan Buddhism differs from other types of Buddhism
How to be respectful and considerate when visiting Buddhist sites and places of interest
The Four Noble Truths – How to release yourself from suffering
The Noble Eightfold Path – The path to liberation and spiritual enlightenment
Wheel of Life, Karma & Re-birth
The body of the course is composed of philosophy classes supported by yoga and meditation sessions, as well as visits to local monasteries and nunneries and opportunities to practice meditation.
Your Workshop Leader
Lozang Drolma (Emma Billsberry) is originally from a small village in the English countryside. Emma met the Dharma in 2005 when volunteering at an FPMT centre in Australia, Chenrezig Institute. Within a few months she was ordained as Lozang Drolma and began her formal studies with the five year Buddhist Studies Program and became a registered FPMT teacher in 2012. She continued with two years of further Masters studies completing nine years of studies while living and serving in Chenrezig Nuns Community.
While at Chenrezig she assisted the spiritual program offered at Chenrezig leading meditations and pujas. She also regularly taught introductory courses and led retreats at Chenrezig a becoming well known for her natural warmth, kindness and wisdom. In 2012 she assisted the Kopan November course as meditation leader. Since arriving in India in 2015 where she is learning Tibetan and has taught at Tushita Meditation center and Root Institute. Currently Drolma resides in Dharamsala as a student at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics.
*Please note as we are planning this retreat so far in advance and due to current circumstances we are unsure exactly of where Emma will be in 2022. We hope she will be with us however she may not, in this case we do have some other local Western Buddhist Nuns who may be able fill in.
PRACTICING BUDDHISM IN DAILY LIFE
You don’t have to be a Buddhist to learn from the Dharma. There are so many ways we can incorporate the wisdom of Buddhism into our busy modern lives. During these workshops Tammie will weave tips, tools and spiritual practices from her many years of teaching mindfulness and meditation to give you a fresh perspective on your daily life and activities.
Mindfulness and Meditation practices for busy people
Incorporating the “Six Perfections” in our daily living
Your retreat leader
Tammie Day is a mindfulness, meditation, yoga, nia teacher and group facilitator. A social worker by profession she spent 17 years as a counsellor. She runs retreats and workshops worldwide. Tammie has been facilitating retreats for 10 years and has found the most unique and beautiful places for you to visit whilst engaging in personal development acclivities. She likes to call these meaningful holidays.
Your Local Guides
Vikas and Ashish Kumar are a local guides who come from a small, picturesque village above Dharamsala. They are passionate about the area and the Himalayas and have worked as a trekking guides since leaving school. In this time both guides have introduced many international visitors to the wonders of the India and the Himalayas. They are very excited to be showing us around their local area, (beware everyone knows them so its a bit of a slow process walking down the main street in McLeod Ganj). One of the guides will be with us on outings and for our hike.
YOGA AND MEDITATION
During this retreat participants will be welcomed to take place in either morning yoga, and/or meditation. This will be a gentle hatha/yogalates style, allowing space for those to work at their own ability and comfort level. Please note these sessions are in no way compulsory, and if yoga isn’t your thang, you can just come to the meditation or sleeping in is also an option.
“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.” -Buddha
THE PLACE – DHARAMSHALA NORTHERN INDIA
When travellers talk of staying in Dharamsala, McLeod Ganj is usually where they mean, however we are staying in the quieter, more relaxed and peaceful town of Sidphur. A sweet village that is home to the Norbulingka Institute, (where our accommodation is based) and some cute cafes. 10km’s up the road is the residence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and home to a large Tibetan population, including many maroon-robed monks and nuns. The Tibetan government-in-exile is based in between at Gangchen Kyishong. McLeod Ganj attracts thousands of international visitors, many of them volunteering with the Tibetan community, taking courses in Buddhism, meditation or yoga, trekking in the Dhauladhar mountains, shopping for Tibetan crafts, or just hanging out enjoying the spiritual/alternative vibe and the plethora of good cafes where you’re never far from an interesting conversation with new friends. Dharamshala is also for people who believe in the magic of mountains, the nature lovers.
You will fly in and out of Dharamshala Kangra Airport (DHM) via Indira Gandhi International Airport Delhi. Please read the FAQ’section at the end for full details on arrival and departure information.
OUR ACCOMMODATION – NORLING HOUSE
located in the ground of the Norbulingka Institute
Norbulingka is a unique institute dedicated to the preservation of Tibetan art and culture. They are a self-sustaining community located in Dharamsala, India, dedicated to ensuring that the integrity of Tibetan artistic traditions is maintained for generations to come. Art is a large part of culture, and by maintaining artistic lineages, the institute helps to conserve the unique identity of Tibetans and the sacred traditions which took root in Tibet. Their studios produce museum-quality artwork using methods that have been practiced and passed down for many centuries.
Norling House is located within the grounds of the Norbulingka Institute and is surrounded by the lush gardens and flowing streams. Each room is themed according to a different animal from Tibetan mythology and is a showcase of the work of Norbulingka artists, as all the furniture and original paintings were lovingly hand crafted and painted in Norbulingka workshops. Our guesthouse is the perfect place to spend a relaxing retreat, in a setting so peaceful you will feel you have stepped into paradise. We strive to offer our guests all the modern comforts in a setting of traditional Tibetan charm.
During the day Norbulingka Institute is open to the general public and is a popular tourist destination, outside of the hours of 9 – 5pm we have the place to ourselves. Within the grounds there is also a cafe, restaurant, shop, museum, temple and workshops for the artists, it is a truly special location to host a retreat. It is also safe to walk around the local area outside of the institute which is mainly one street that leads up a hill, there are cafes and shops close by.
I’m hoping people can choose their favourite mythical animal for their room, after booking I will let you know what rooms are left. Perhaps think about which one you would you choose, the Snow Leopard, Dragon, Parrot, Tiger, Snow Lion, Ibex, Phoenix, Garuda, Fish or Sea Monster!
THE PLACE – ANDRETTA
Andretta is a village and an artists’ colony in Himachal Pradesh. The artists’ colony was established in the 1920s, when Irish theatre artiste and environmentalist, Norah Richards moved to the area. Just 13 km from the tea gardens of Kangra valley’s Palampur district this peaceful village is home to around 550 species of birds and sits on the gentle gradient below the snow covered peaks of the Dhauladhar range. Andretta is approximately a 2 hour drive from Norling House and the location of our Retreat Centre The Mirage.
OUR ACCOMMODATION – THE MIRAGE
The Mirage is a cluster of traditional Himachali mud houses which have lovingly been restored to an inviting homestay with modern amenities.
Set amongst dense foliage in the artist’s colony of Andretta, against a backdrop of jungle & bamboo groves of the Shivalik hills, the Mirage is a veritable museum of hand picked Indian furniture & artifacts.
PRICE PER PERSON
We have a maximum of 10 rooms for this retreat.
(Please note that for the first 4 nights all rooms have ensuites however for the last 3 nights two rooms will share one bathroom)
*Flights not included
“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.” ― Dalai Lama
Arrive to Norling House from the airport, settling your room, have a snack in the café.
4pm we meet for a guided tour of the Norbulingka Institute, so we can better understand the purpose of this beautiful institute which focuses on preserving the Tibetan art of Thankga, (Tibetan Buddhist Spiritual Painting/Woodcarving/Metal work). You can see the craftsmen in their workshops and it has a lovely shop as well with paintings, carvings, clothes and soft furnishings. I recommend the pencil cases for presents they are very sweet and original.
5pm – Introductions on the first floor of Norling House includes Masala Chai. Here we will discuss the week ahead, answer questions and get to know each other.
6pm our first group meditation in the stunning Temple with its giant Golden Buddha statue.
7pm Dinner and local dance performance
Accommodation – Norling House (housed within Norbulingka Institutes grounds this is a very special and spiritual and artistic place I feel so blessed to be able to take you here.)
Accommodation – Norling House
7am morning yoga on the grass followed by a 30 min meditation in the temple or 8am (for those not doing yoga, just join for meditation in the temple)
9am Breakfast in the restaurant
10am – 11am Introduction to Meditation with Tammie
11.30pm We explore (with our local guide) McLeod Ganj home of the Dalai Lama in Exile. This afternoon you can also visit a local temple and have time to wander the shops for Tibet wares. Purchase your beautiful singing bowls and tingshas, lovely shawls and other handmade products from the Tibetan market. Have lunch at a local cafe *self-pay
4:00 – 5.30PM Meet Lozang Drolma (Emma Billsberry) for our first workshop in Buddhism. We have a dedicated space at Norling house set up for workshops etc.
Accommodation – Norling House
This morning sees us leaving early for a half day hiking tour, (only for the moderately fit) of the local mountain ranges with our trusty guide Vikas who knows this area like the back of his hand as it is his local Village.
After our hike we will stop at St. John’s Church in the Wilderness an eminent landmark in the hill town of McLeod Ganj. This church is an ancient church in Himachal Pradesh that was erected in the year 1852. The most interesting aspect of this church is that it stands amid the lush green surroundings of a forested area. Such surroundings enhance its charm to a great extent. This church is built in the Neo-Gothic style of architecture and is one of the key attractions located in McleodGanj.
On the way back to Norling House we can check out the new cinema complex (Maximums Mall) to see if a Bollywood movie is showing with English subtitles, if not perhaps just some retail therapy or pick up any items you may be missing, such as snacks or forgotten toiletries * if you are not keen on hiking today you can have a relaxed day at Norling House, wandering the local village, which has some cute cafes and then meet us at the cinema complex in the late afternoon.
Dinner – to be decided perhaps at the mall, what a contrast!
Accommodation – Norling House
7am morning yoga on the grass followed by a 30 min meditation in the temple at 8am (for those not doing in yoga, just join for meditation in the temple)
9am Breakfast in the restaurant
10am – 12pm Workshop – Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism with Lozang Drolma
1pm – 3pm Workshop continued
3pm We visit a local NGO https://www.jagorigrameen.org/ to see the work they’re doing in relation to gender equality and women’s rights in the local region, this also includes working with whole families and Men. This is the charity earmarked for this trip and a donation will be made on behalf of all participants $25 per person.
Late afternoon takes us to Dolmaling Nunnery https://tnp.org/nuns/dolmaling/ just a 10 minute walk from Norling House. Here we can hear about what the day in a life of a Nun is like and have the Nuns lights a butter lamp for us, to make our dreams and wishes come true, or to show gratitude for something, or for a loved one, this is a beautiful practice and each Buddhist complex has one of these beautiful Light Houses throughout the Himalayas. The lamps traditionally burn clarified yak butter, but now often use vegetable oil or ghee. Hopefully the head Nun will also have time to discuss with us the current situation for Tibetans in exile and how their struggle continues and how they have made lives for themselves here in Dharamsala.
8am Breakfast – After Breakfast we drive to The Mirage stopping on the way at a picturesque Village of Palampur for lunch and a wander before making our way to Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery which was founded by Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo at the request of her teacher His Eminence H.E. Khamtrul Rinpoche. Here we hope to meet Tenzin Palmo in person and have a bit of a chat, coffee and buy some Audios and DVDs in the shop, (these are great priced teachings of Tenzin Palmo and produced to support the Nunnery). The scenery in this part of the world is spectacular. *Meeting Tenzin Palmo is dependent on her schedule and although we have put in a request if a more pressing matter comes up, (what than meeting us!) then she will need to attend to this instead.
Late afternoon we will arrive at The Mirage our quirky and rustic home for the next 3 days.
5pm a restorative yoga class will be offered or you might like to take a dip in the newly built retreat centre swimming pool. We are expecting temperatures around 30 degrees, even though you may still see snow-capped mountains.
7pm we will take dinner on the Terrace before having a restful night sleep. The Mirage is a retreat and heritage homestay in the foothills of the Dhauladhar range. Please note it is very rustic and bathrooms may be shared. As always beds can be firm and hot water not always plentiful so please adjust your expectations accordingly.
Accommodation – The Mirage
7am Wake up morning yoga and meditation class before eating breakfast on the patio overlooking the gardens.
This morning will be a workshop with Tammie on how to use the principles of Buddhism everyday life too busy modern westerners.
This afternoon we visit the local Artists Colony of Andretta starting with Norah Richard’s House – started some 75 years ago by an Irish woman named Norah Richards, who acquired the land from the District Commissioner of Kangra in 1935. Norah Richards, a dramatist and environmentalist lived in Andretta from the mid 30’s, through the time of partition until her death in 1971. She was a formidable and resourceful Irish woman, passionate about Shakespeare, who built an adobe house here in the English style. She taught Punjabi students how to perform plays in a small outdoor theatre outside her home. Her adobe house has recently been renovated by the Punjabi University Patiala, with the skills of local artisans. The little theatre is still in use by the Punjabi university students. They perform plays every year on Norah’s birthday, October 29th. Anyone can come and watch the well-acted dramas, sitting under the stars among the local village folk. — Google “Andretta Artists Village” for more on the fascinating story of Norah Richards & Andretta’s direct links to some of the founding legends of Bollywood. Norah Richards was brought to Andretta at the insistence of Jaya Dayal of Lahore University, the man who built the Mirage in 1948. According to the late cine actor Shammi Kapoor, “he was in love with her & she with Shakespeare”.
Andretta Pottery and Craft Society – This is a working art pottery making attractive earthenware with rangoli style slip designs. The pottery offers 3 month classes for students. Also attached to the pottery is a Terracotta Museum. While the main collection in this museum is the work of local village potters from the neighbouring parts, the museum also has a house collection of pottery from around the globe including several works from Mexico, England and Holland. — For more about Andretta Pottery go towww.andrettapottery.com
Sobha Singh Art Gallery – The Art Gallery is a display of work by the famous painter of Sikh gurus, SobhaSingh, created over his three decades in Andretta. He was another of Norah’s artist friends that she brought together to share her dream.
B.C. Sanyal the artist – B.C. Sanyal, who died recently at the ripe old age of 101, had a beautiful mudbrick holiday cottage in Andretta where he used to come and paint. His daughter Amba is today a director of the Norah Centre for the Arts.
Return to The Mirage for some quiet reflection time.
7pm Dinner – After dinner Inspirational Buddhist Movie
Accommodation – The Mirage
7am morning yoga and meditation class before eating breakfast on the patio overlooking the gardens.
This morning will be a workshop on how to use the principles of Buddhism everyday life too busy modern westerners (continued from yesterday with Tammie).
2pm we head out to the Wah Tea Estate for a guided tour, lunch and a tea tasting.
Head back to our charming accommodation for a farewell meal and final night together.
Accommodation – The Mirage
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Morning meditation followed by breakfast and closing ceremony.
Head back to the airport to make our way home, refreshed, reenergised and hopefully with a few new tips to live a more content life.
May you be peaceful, May you be happy, May you be safe from harm and free from suffering, May you be awakened to the light of your true nature, May you be free
*Please note as we are planning things so far in advance and due to the current situation some changes may be needed, for example some businesses may no longer be in operation or may not be accepting visitors etc.
This retreat is for you if you want to ……
Immerse yourself – in one week of meditation and Buddhist philosophy, yoga, discussions, workshops, deep thinking all of which can bring new and exciting elements to your spiritual practice.
Get a new perspective – Going to a new place creates an opportunity to experience a new landscape externally but also internally.
*Actually* meditate – When you have extended free time, it’s a lot easier to meditate. No cell phone buzzing or boss reminding you about deadlines. On retreats, it feels a lot more natural to breathe deeply and be present in the moment. There is perhaps no better place in the world than to practice meditation than Dharamshala, the collective energy is very powerful, you actually want to participate and meditate.
Detox digitally – One of my favourite things about a retreat is shutting off my technology. While we do have wifi, you don’t feel the need to constantly text, update Facebook or call friends. It feels good to unplug. Trust me the wifi is crap, you’ll have no choice anyway!
Relax and de-stress – Sometimes we have to be far from home to give ourselves the permission to truly relax. Being on a retreat allows you to listen to your body, rest when you need it, and be free from stress. Even though we have a full schedule, its not taxing and there are lots of nurturing activities like yoga and walking, watching movies, sightseeing, having all meals loving prepared for you etc.
Replace old habits – The best way to break a bad habit is to replace it with a new healthy one. When you feel motivated you can replace unhealthy habits with conscious new behaviours that support you in being your best self.
Make new friends – Undeniably, you will meet individuals with similar interests. Even if you go alone, you have a chance to make friends with people who you might know for the rest of your life.
Appreciate home and your life more – While a week away is always nice, we often come home with a refreshed appreciation for life, feeling happier, healthier, and re-energised to jump back into your routine with new vigour. Heck, it might even feel fun.
You deserve it! – Thoreau said: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” While this quote might be on your refrigerator, chances are you make excuses about why you can’t YET. Often times the excuses are about money, time or circumstances but guess what, you deserve a break. You work hard for a reason and you can always find reasons why you should or should not do something. The key to happiness is deciding what you really want and making it happen. No excuses. The time is NOW!!
This retreat is not for you if …
You have recently gone through a major crisis and are still very emotionally fragile – the whole experience may be too overwhelming so it may be best to wait until you have regained some inner strength (feel free to contact us if you want to discuss this)
You are seeking a therapeutic program, this is a skills development retreat with a focus on understanding Buddhism. This does not mean that you will not experience therapeutic or life enhancing benefits we just want you to make sure your expectations match our program outline.
You are expecting to have individual sessions/counselling with the retreat leader, unfortunately time does not allow for this.
Your health and/or mobility prevents you from travelling to a country such as India. The footpaths are very uneven and there are stairs at the accommodation.
You expect India, a developing nation, to have all of the comforts and conveniences of a Western country. (The places we stay in are beautiful, comfortable and perfectly suited for a retreat experience but India is not a western country so things run differently – I guess this needs to be met with a level acceptance and understanding). For example beds are very firm and hot water and good water pressure are not guaranteed.
This retreat is designed to support busy women to slow down and connect with themselves, in a beautiful location, in a fun and supportive way, whilst in the company of other like-minded women.
The Trip Notes on this link are always the most up to date version. When booking a tour in advance things regularly change such as visa application processes or pick up information, please always refer to these notes on the website as the most recent version of trip notes for your tour.
The most convenient and cheapest way to get your visa is online e-Visa – To complete online choose E-Visa Application. https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html The online application can only be completed 30 days prior to travel, unless you want a 12-month visa. Previously it has taken 3 days to receive the E-Visa. This cost is between $10 and $50USD, prices change all the time sorry but just to give you a guideline.
Some further details – India Mission is where your application will be lodged ie Canberra, Sydney etc the office closest to you. You can use these contact details for hotel and reference in India sections. You can use these contact details for hotel and reference in India sections. Address: NORLING HOUSE – Mohli Lahrandi, Himachal Pradesh 176057, India Phone: +91 94184 36410 or alternatively Ekno Tours and Travels Pvt Ltd, Dickey Cottage Village Molhi, PO Sidhpur, HP 176057, Ph 0981685999. Your reference in Australia is your emergency contact It seems there is no other option but to request a 1-year visa and for 60 days even though you may only be travelling for 8 days. You also only require single entry unless you are planning on visiting India twice in the same period . Good Luck and welcome to Indian Bureaucracy!
ARRIVALS: You will arrive and depart from Dharamshala Kangra Airport (DHM) via Indira Gandhi International Airport Delhi.
There are no direct flights to Dharamshala. Depending on the airline you travel with you may need to transfer from the international to the domestic terminal. If you need to spend a night in Delhi we suggest the Aloft Hotel at the Delhi Aerocity. The Lemon Tree Premier Airport Hotel or Red Fox Hotel at Delhi Aerocity are also fine, just rooms are a lot smaller (they are all within a 3 minute walk to each other and we can do drop offs and pick ups). Tammie will be staying at the Aloft hotel on the night of the 23rd of March and can fly with you the next day to Dharamshala. *Flights are not arranged as yet but we will put them here when we have them.
If you would like us to arrange your extra nights accommodation and airport transfers for you please see below.
Please note you can arrange to get a taxi from the airport to the hotel etc, for around $20AUD each way if you prefer that. Our quote is more expensive because it is someone who will wait at the arrivals gate for you with a sign with your name on it and even if your flight is delayed will still wait for you. Not everyone is comfortable arranging taxis although it is fairly straight forward at Delhi airport. The drive to the hotel is only around 7 minutes.
Return trip from airport to hotel with car and driver and drop off to airport with car and driver – A$60 each way (this is only if you are spending the night in Delhi, airport transfers in Dharamshala are included in your package) *This is per car which can take 3 people and you can divide the cost. If there are more than 3 people we will have to send a mini bus and will notify you of the price.
If you book the Lemon Tree when you go to add your personal details it also gives you the option to add an airport transfer. I cannot vouch for these not having used them before. but it is the only hotel that offers hotel transfer – HERE
We prefer the Aloft Hotel Delhi but you can also stay at the Lemon Tree Premier or a cheaper hotel, the Red Fox, which is adjoined to the Lemon Tree Hotel and is around $35 a night cheaper. You can book these yourself online, please note all bookings are subject to 25% tax and you may want to include breakfast in your room rate.
For the Red Fox click HERE
For the Lemon Tree click HERE
Or stay where Tammie is at the Deli Aloft click HERE
IF YOU WANT US TO BOOK FOR YOU:
We can only book for you 1 Night accommodation at the Delhi Aloft– $250AUD per room single, (*Lemon Tree is cheaper and very small room with single bed you can book this yourself here) $290AUD twinshare per room (A$145 per person)
*you may not need this accommodation if you are flying on the same day as the start day and can arrive to Dharamshala before 2pm in the afternoon.
FLIGHTS DELHI TO DHARAMSHALA
We will discuss flight times with you to fit in with your international arrival and departure flights. Please note: cost for flight is subject to change until they have been paid for. Flights are currently fluctuating so we suggest using https://www.skyscanner.com.au to book your flights, alternatively contact Donna McHugh – email@example.com our personal Travel agent if you wish her to book flights for you. She will send you a quote first and charges $55 for the booking and will post tickets to you. She can arrange international and domestic flights anywhere in the world.
DEPARTURES: You can depart anytime on the last day of the retreat this is the 31st of March 2022. You need to leave the retreat centre 4 hours before your flight departs so please consider this while you are also considering your return international flight. Depending on which airline you use you will possibly need to take a shuttle bus from the domestic to international terminal so please also allow time for this. DIAL provides a complimentary shuttle bus service for passengers, every 20 minutes between domestic and international terminals of the Indira Gandhi International Airport. You can also spend an extra night in Delhi we can help you will all arrangements.
FLIGHT BOOKINGS: Donna McHugh from Wauchope Travel to arrange all of our flights please contact her if you require assistance on (+61) 02 65852288 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Donna can arrange flights to and from anywhere in the world and she knows our itineraries.
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Meet and greet by Vibrant Women Representative at Dharamshala airport
7 nights’ accommodation with breakfast
1 dinner and local dance performance at the Norbulingka Institute
Guided Tour of the Norbulingka Institute
3 Lunch and Dinners at The Mirage, Andretta
Pickup and drop off at Dharamshala airport
Sightseeing in and around Dharamshala as per itinerary
Tea Tasting at Wah Tea Estate
3 Workshops on Tibetan Buddhism with a Lozang Drolma at Norbulingka Institute
3 Workshops on incorporating Buddhism into busy western lives
Lamp light ceremony and visit to Dolma Ling nunnery
Donation to DGL Nunnery, Dolma Ling Nunnery and Jogori Charitable Foundation (on a group basis)
Local English speaking guide throughout tour
International and Domestic Air fare
Lunches & dinners (where not included)
Travel Insurance (compulsory)
Occasional optional items not identified in itinerary description
Tipping and personal expenses (we suggest $15 a day per person to cover our drivers, accommodation and guide tips. You can pay this in AUD $105 or 5,000Rp. We will collect this at breakfast on the first day of the retreat).
Bottled water and other beverages not included with meals
It is essential all guests take out their own travel insurance and to travel with a credit card in case of emergencies. Guests need to tell their bank they are travelling to India so that the bank allows them to use their card there.
Up until the 31st of March 2021 all monies paid are full refundable. From 90 days before the start of the retreat a $750 non-refundable, non transferable deposit will be retained. For between 90 days and 60 days, 50% will be forfeited in addition to the non refundable, non transferable deposit. For less than 60 days or for no shows the entire amount will be retained as we would have already had to pay for accommodation, transport, flights and activities, and this money will not be returned to us. Once the tour has commenced no monies will be returned to you. This is why travel insurance is compulsory.
Payment of your deposit indicates your agreement to the cancellation policy.
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All meals are included whilst at The Mirage.
Only breakfast is included whilst at Norling House.
All other meals are self pay, 3 lunches and 3 dinners. There is a cafe and restaurant at Norling House and some meals we will also eat out.
Whilst at the Mirage
The home cooked regional dishes are made from locally sourced produce and are simple and tasty. The spice level is minimal and you can add extra chilly and salt etc to meet your taste.
Breakfast generally consists of fruit salad, eggs & toast etc. Porridge or paratha & curd is also available upon request, the cook will do his best to accommodate any specific dietary requirements if informed. Condiments, Jams & spreads are available.
Lunch is a home-cooked vegetarian meal.
Dinner consists of soup, salad, 3 veg dishes and then followed by dessert.
Indian Rupees are only available in India as it is a closed currency. You can change some money at the Delhi airport on arrival and then a credit card and an ATM card as well just in case you need a back up. Good to have a few options in case one doesn’t work.
You will need to take some money to cover drinks, laundry and souvenirs, plus any additional sightseeing that may be offered to you. We think around AUD$300/£165/$215USD per week should be enough. Your India retreat does not include some lunches and some dinners however, you will also need to allocate a certain amount of money for shopping and drinks while on retreat. These meals are at your own arrangements so the amount allocated will be different for each participant. On average in 2019 our meals were around $15 AUD.
Tipping is a firm and expected element in the tourism industry. A nominated tipping amount is not included in all group tour pricing. However, we suggest $15 a day is appropriate. We will collect approximately A$105 (5000R) at the introduction session, this will then distribute the tips among your main service providers – guides, drivers and accommodation – on your behalf. You will see how hard people work for us but of course this is only a suggestion. Any other tipping, such as tips for for restaurants is at your discretion based on satisfaction of services received, as are gratuities for additional requested special services. It is suggested a 200R tip for your drivers to and from the airport is adequate (approx. AUD$4). You can pay for your tips in AUD too totally fine $105AUD.
The temperature in March ranges between 10 and 30 degrees Celsius. The average temperature being 21 degrees during the day and 12 degrees overnight. The weather remains pleasant throughout and hence; it is an excellent time to enjoy sightseeing and walking in the Himalayas. Hopefully there will still be some snow on the mountain tops but nice warm days 🙂 Perfect time to visit.
Now the official line is that they will only allow 15kgs of check in luggage and 7kgs of hand luggage, (and they strict about this) as it is a small regional airport. Extra baggage allowance is IR500 or A$10 per kg for every extra kg (which the clients have to meet). However, Air India may honour the international baggage allowance of – usually 30kgs coming to Australia, (it is different for Europe and USA), if people can show their Air India ticket they have flown or about to fly internationally within a 24 hour window they will usually honour the international allowance. When they check in they will have to produce their international ticket and remind the counter staff of the rules, (which they should honour albeit with reluctance). *Only applicable if flying Air India on both domestic and international flights, otherwise the 15 kilo limit applies.
A. Dharamshala Kangra Airport (DHM) via Indira Gandhi International Airport Delhi.
There are no direct flights from Australia to Dharamshala. Depending onthe airline you travel with you may need to transfer from the international to the domestic terminal. For this reason we suggest you spend a night at the Lemon Tree Premier Airport Hotel in Delhi. Tammie will also be staying at this hotel on the night of the 4th or 13th of April and can fly with you the next day to Dharamshala. Flight still to be decided. *If you would like up to organise your accommodation, airport transfers and domestic flight from Delhi to Dharamshala return please ask us for a quote.
You can depart anytime on the last day of the retreat however it is a 2 hour drive from our accommodation to the airport so please consider this while you are also considering your return international flight. You will possible need to take a shuttle bus from the domestic to international terminal so please also allow time for this. You can also spend an extra night in Delhi we can help you will all arrangements.
Q. What dates and times should I fly in/out of India?
A. Please make sure your flight arrives no later 2pm into Dharamshala as we have a guided tour planned for 4pm and the drive is 1 hour from the airport. Dharamshala is a very small airport you will have no trouble finding your driver with a sign with your name on it.
Q. What sort of rooms are available?
A. We have both single and twinshare rooms available. The single room has the supplement included. If you choose twinshare and are not travelling with a friend we will do our best to find you a roommate however in the event noone else is seeking a twinshare roommate then the single room rate will apply. We hope you understand. *Please note that snorers, smokers or people who wear CPAP machines when sleeping must disclose this when booking as this could impact other peoples sleep and they need to be aware of this. **Also please note we cannot guarantee compatibility of roommates, for example you may be of different ages or nationalities, however mostly when we do match people up they get on well and its only for a short period of time. Some people have even made lifelong friendships.
Q. Will there be any western facilities? A. I’m not going to lie to you, the hot water is sketchy and the water pressure low, however the weather is warm so it will be fine. There are western toilets at all venues. At Norling House people have ensuites, at The Mirage one bathroom is shared between two rooms (which could be up to 4 people). Beds at the Mirage are firm.
Q. What is the maximum group size?
A. Our groups are usually between 12 and 18 participants. These are ideal numbers as they are small enough to be manageable and intimate but large enough for diversity and fun! We have a maximum of 10 room for this retreat.
Q. What will the food be like?
A. The food is Indian haha and I think most people know what this is like. Yes its spicy but we can ask to tone it down. Keep in mind that when you ask, “Is this spicy ?” and the waiter says, “No Maam” his taste buds are not like yours and it will be spicy. India is heaven for vegetarians, all that delicious dahl, spinach and paneer, mushrooms with tomatoes and cauliflower and fresh green peas, potatoes with cumin seeds, koftas and the list goes on, India is my favourite food destination.
Q. Will there be alcohol available?
A. Due to the location of this retreat alcohol is not available for purchase. McLeod Ganj itself is a dry town. If you would like to have a few drinks we suggest bringing some duty free with you which may be nice on the terrace of The Mirage in the afternoon for sun downers. As this is a Buddhist retreat we do not encourage excessive drinking, we want you to make the most of your time and fully immerse yourself in the experience.
Q. Do I require a visa to enter India?
A. The most convenient and cheapest way to get your visa is online e-Visa – To complete online choose E-Visa Application.
The online application can only be completed 30 days prior to travel, unless you are requesting a 12 month visa. Make sure you don’t apply too early so that your visa is expired by the time you want to depart, 30 days in advance is enough, previously it has taken 3 days to receive the E-Visa. This cost is between $10 and $50USD, prices change all the time sorry but just to give you a guideline.
You will receive a document on how to complete your VISA application around 6 weeks before the start of the retreat. Its a step by step process with images.
Q. I have never travelled to a an exotic country like India before, will I experience culture shock?
A. Yes, but in the very best way. India is an incredibly friendly place and has a rich cultural and spiritual history. Dharamshala has a large Tibetan population so you can at times feel like you are in Tibet or Nepal, also geographically with the backdrop of the Dhauladhar range. If you have been to India before Dharamshala will feel very different, relaxed and not so noisy.
Q. Will I get altitude sickness?
A. Sorry girls we are not climbing to Everest base camp, you will not get altitude sickness, the highest point of Dharamshala is 2,100 metres above sea level and to to get altitude sickness you need to be above 2,500 metres above sea level. Once you get above the tree line where plants don’t grow this is a good indication of altitude. There are some winding roads however if you are prone to car sickness, but we only travel for a most of 2 hours on 2 days.
Q. What should I wear/bring with me?
A. Please wear culturally appropriate clothing ie cover shoulders and knees. You will need stretchy comfortable clothes for yoga and meditation. It will be warm so you won’t need many clothes. *Please do not bring any valuable items with you to India such as expensive jewellery.
Q. How much money will I need?
A. Well, that depends on your shopping habits! You will need to allocate around $15 per meal lunches and dinners and then add on extra for personal spending. Normally I tell people to bring around $500AUD to change on arrival to India. Then bring a credit card for the other larger spending. I would be very surprised however if you can spend $500AUD I think $300 would be sufficient.
Q. Can I add extra days or extra tours to this trip?
A. We do not suggest you come early or stay longer unless you have something specific in mind or another person with you. Mostly we are covering all the places to visit during our time together so unless you just want to rest or hike (two extremes) there isn’t really that much to do.
Q. I think I wanna come….but it is a big decision and I am not 100% sure, can I talk it over with you and see if it is right for me?
A. Yes, I think that is a great idea.
You don’t know me and I want you to! Please view previous testimonial here to get an idea of what our past guest have to say about us and also if you just flick me an email to email@example.com I will arrange a time to call you or just give me a call – (+61) 0459247122 this works for Whatsapp too.
A. Great! You can just complete the registration form on the webpage and from there we will send you a confirmation email outlining what is covered in the trip, answering any questions and provide you with payment options. Once you have paid the deposit or commenced a payment plan then we will send you the trip notes and any other documentation you need to prepare for your journey. We are available to help you every step of the way.
Q. I’m nervous about arranging my international flights, can you help me?
A. We use Donna McHugh from Wauchope Travel to arrange all of our flights please contact her on (+61) 02 65852288 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Donna can arrange flights to and from anywhere in the world and she knows our itineraries.