What to expect
As a person who wants to discover the Buddha within, the pilgrimage will bring you to physical locations, which people have been traveling to for thousands of years.
The places where the Buddha was born, reached his awakening, taught and died carry his energetic and spiritual imprint. The goal of this pilgrimage is to offer people the time and space to bask in that energy and allow for transformation as well as to give support and companionship during the process.
India has the second largest population on the planet. Northern India is a colorful, dusty, chaotic, intense, loud, beautiful, peaceful place. The culture of India is amazing and different than what most westerners are used to. With its religions, music, food and driving etiquette, it is like no other place on the earth. Middle Way Tours was created to help you navigate through this beautiful mystery so you are more available to have a personal experience within yourself and within the craziness of it all.
Nepal is a lot smaller than India and therefore less intense. Kathmandu is a city filled with culture, color and deep spirituality. It is so much fun to just wander around getting lost. As long as you know the name of your hotel you can always very easily get home.
India and Nepal deal mostly in cash. It is best if you can take cash with you. If you are buying an expensive piece of art or clothing there are some places that take credit cards however, it is common practice that cash is preferred and mostly the only way to pay for things. There are ATM machines in each place we go however, you are never guaranteed the machine will have money or that it will give you money. It is amazing how you can do everything right with your bank and still not be able to get money out of the machine. Bring cash, as there are money-changers everywhere. Also, make sure to tell your bank you are going to India and Nepal so they don’t suspend your account thinking someone stole it your card.
All the food we eat on the trip is expected to be clean and sanitary. Middle Way Tours is very conscious about food preparation and has put a lot of effort into hand-picking restaurants conducive for healthy eating.
Food choices will vary. There will be delicious Indian or Nepali cuisine served at every meal and western style choices for some.
If you have food allergies please tell us ahead of time so we can prepare.
Many Indians are vegetarian and it’s very common for restaurants to offer a choice of “veg” or “non-veg” food. Middle Way Tours provides vegetarian options only.
All the places we stay are quite lovely and very different from each other. We stay in a mix of monastery guesthouses and hotels. Each place we stay is comfortable and clean. Most places are double rooms but, if you require a single room we can accommodate.
Yoga and Meditation
Yoga will be offered several mornings and evenings during the 15-day pilgrimage (see schedule). We do a gentle Hatha and Tibetan yoga practice that is appropriate for all levels including those who have not done yoga before. Traveling can be difficult on the body and it is important we keep ourselves rested, relaxed, invigorated and restored while on this spiritual journey.
Meditation is done in conjunction with yoga as we work with the mind, breath and body to stay happy and healthy. We will also do group meditations at each location on the tour. Everything is explained and open for discussion as we go.
On the pilgrimage we will tell stories of the Shakyamuni Buddha’s life and give one-hour teachings in relation to each place we visit.
It is important to have plenty of time for personal contemplation. We will do group meditations and teachings however, there will be plenty of time for self-inquiry and quietude.
Phone and Internet
Phone and Internet are available in both India and Nepal. Internet places with computers and phones are available and most restaurants, hotels and café’s have free wifi if you have your own device. If you would like to use your cell phone to make calls or connect to the internet outside of a café then you need to purchase a local sim card which we can arrange. Your cell phone is ‘unlocked’ for it to work.
If your phone is not ‘unlocked’ and you want a phone then you have plenty of options to buy one when you get to India which we can help you with although it is recommended to unplug from
MWT will provide 24-hour a day cell phone access so there is never a time when you cannot be reached or you cannot make a phone call.
The general practice in India and Nepal is for women to wear clothes that are below the knee and show no cleavage. For men, it seems that anything goes.
We travel to a lot of monasteries and temples so it is out of respect for the monastics that women cover up their bodies. The women in India wear sari’s and separates that come together as a set. They are lovely to look at and very comfortable. The locals love seeing foreigners in local clothing and there will be plenty of opportunity to shop in the different places we go.
The best shopping will be in Bodhgaya, Varanassi and Kathmandu. All the places of the Buddha’s life are fairly quiet (for India) and don’t have a lot of diverse shopping options. There is plenty of food, toiletries and every day items to buy in each place but, the best shopping by far, is in Bodhgaya (for Buddhist items), Varanassi (for everything India) and Kathmandu (clothes, cashmere, Buddhist items, Tibetan items, jewelry, art, blankets, shawls etc…). In each of these three places you will have plenty of time to shop
On the tour we pick you up in a car, van or mini-bus depending on how many people are coming. Each place we go is within driving distance of the other. To save time sometimes we take a short plane ride from Lumbini to Kathmandu. All vehicles are air-conditioned with a very good driver. I have driven all over this area and know the roads very well. I have handpicked the route we take because I think it is the best for comfort and time.
Health and First Aid
Staying healthy before you come to India and while you are here is very important. We ask that you get plenty of rest especially in the days leading up to the trip. This means being packed ahead of time. There will be a time difference between home and India so keep that in mind and act accordingly. We have an extensive first-aid kit and doctor’s on-call throughout the pilgrimage. There are hospitals near to every place we visit in the case there are any issues. That being said, it is imperative you remember to bring your own personal medications. Don’t pack them in your suitcase instead please take them with you in your carry on luggage. Also take with you any medicine you particularly like for instance ibuprofin, aspirin, allergy medicine, digestive medicine etc….Pharmacy’s are common and medicine over here is much cheaper than in the USA. However, if you are a health nut do not expect to easily find yourself herbs and supplements. Go to your health store ahead of time and bring what you like and what you know works for you.
Visa (India and Nepal)
Apply for an Indian Visa as early as you can but not before you book your plane ticket in the case the visa is not granted. The visa usually takes from 7-14 days to process but can take longer. You can do it via mail or in person and need to make sure you have two clear pages left in your passport and that the passport is valid for at least six months.
In Nepal visas are given at the border when we arrive. You need to bring two passport size photos with you and $25 cash in your home country’s currency. They do not except Indian or Nepali rupees.
By purchasing a power converter, you can charge and use your electronic equipment rather easily. Most outlets in India use a standard adapter that you’ll be able to find in any travel or luggage store near you. Amazon also carries them.
While power outages are common throughout India, it’s unlikely that this will cause any great issues during your trip. These outages are generally short-lived and when they do happen, they can be kind a fun! Be sure to carry a small flashlight.
Electricity in Nepal is less predictable however, it is still usually not a problem.
In India, there is a saying that “Guests are Gods” and tourists are generally treated quite well. You might find that you become the center of attention, that the locals are eager to become your friend. They may want to practice English or want to have their picture taken with you. Sometimes this can be quite overwhelming.
You’ll need to remember that their intentions are usually quite good and that if you need some personal space or need to take a rest from the attention it’s OK to do so.
March in northern India and Nepal is warm but not super hot. It is always good to bring layers. September is just on the cusp of the rainy/warm season and winter. While it will be warm, plan to dress for a variety of weather conditions as it can be hot and rainy one day and cooler the next, requiring a jacket. There are plenty of things to purchase if you need anything extra.
In the bigger shopping areas there are also places to receive massages and other spa treatments like facials, manicures etc…
It is a very common practice in India and Nepal that tour participants tip the helpers at the end of the trip, therefore we will post envelopes where you can offer tips and thank you notes to the various helpers on the tour.