VAJRA VIDYA INSTITUTE
SARNATH, VARANASI, INDIA
Founded by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche
GENERAL INFORMATION & VVI
(updated October 2010)
ABOUT SARNATH & VARANASI
is a major Buddhist pilgrimage site (also known as Deer Park) and
is located 10-km northeast of Varanasi. This site is where the Buddha
gave the first teachings known as the Four Noble Truths and is known
as the place where The Buddha turned the First Wheel of Dharma. The
Vajra Vidya Institute is located just behind Deer Park. The Park is
a large and beautiful area with tree, flowers, lawns and a small zoo.
The ancient 34 meters high Dhamekh Stupa is located in the park along
with the ruins of the ancient monasteries. Adjacent to or near the
park are monasteries and temples of different schools of Buddhism
from Japan, China, Thailand, Burma and others. The Indian Buddhist
society called Mahaboudhi Society maintains the park. The Mahaboudhi
Temple within the park has a tooth relic of the Buddha. The area of
Sarnath is peaceful with few cars on the roads. It is very easy to
get around Sarnath on foot or by bicycle rickshaw. The Central Institute
for Higher Tibetan Studies, a university for Higher Buddhist studies
of all four lineages of Tibetan Buddhism is also located in Sarnath.
as the Holy City, is a major pilgrimage place for Hindus. The Ganges
River, which flows through Varanasi, is sacred to Buddhist and Hindus
alike. On the Ganges, the many temples and burning ghats for cremations
make it is a very interesting place to visit. Varanasi is very crowded
with air pollution. It is reputed to be the oldest continuously inhabited
city in the world. Varanasi is very famous for silk and is where traditional
Tibetan silk brocade is being made. The city is also well-known for
it’s traditional music and dance schools. The famous Benares
Hindu University and Sanskrit University have students from all over
the world. However, Varanasi, while being interesting, is not peaceful
HOW TO GET THERE
Varanasi can be reached
by air, train or bus from major cities in India. Most people fly first
to Delhi and then get a connecting flight to Varanasi. The Varanasi
airport is about 1-hour’s drive from Sarnath. There are several
airlines flying from Varanasi to Delhi. Airlines flying every day
are Indian Airlines, Jet Airways & Sahara Air. Thai Airways operates
a direct flight from Bangkok to Varanasi and Gaya. Train from Delhi
takes around 18 hours and is often delayed. Sarnath is approx. 15-20
minutes by car from Varanasi. Between Kathmandu and Varanasi ,Air
India has flights four times weekly.
Many airlines fly to Delhi from
Europe, USA and all over the world either directly or on connecting
When reaching the Varanasi Airport
or the city of Varanasi , take a taxi to Sarnath. When you reach Sarnath,
go to the backside of Deer Park. The area is known as Kajoohay. If
the driver doesn’t know, then ask someone directions to Kajoohay
or the “Big Tibetan Temple” or “Big Mandhir”
(temple). It is, by far, the largest one in the area and is well known
to the local people
It’s advisable to change
money at the airport bank on arrival in Delhi or Varanasi to get Indian
rupees for taxis etc. and some funds to last for some time so you
don’t need to go to the bank for awhile. The rate for the Indian
Rupee to U.S. dollar is approx. 44 rupees to one dollar. You can probably
get Indian Rupees from banks in your country. There are banks in Sarnath
(and of course in Varanasi if you need to change more money later).
There’s some ATM machines now and there is one bank that does
credit card withdrawals. Most convertible currencies can be exchanged
but U.S. dollars are best. Pound sterling, Canadian dollar, Deutchmark
can be exchanged. It’s best to bring traveler’s cheques
for most of your money for security reasons and some cash for easy
exchange. Some advisors say to get traveller’s cheques in $20’s.
This is seems, from my experience, to be not so practical. $50’s
and $100’s are better.
You must get an Indian visa at
an Indian Embassy in your own country before arrival in India. It
is not possible to get visa at the airport. Ask only for a tourist
visa. Do not request a visa for study as it can be complicated. Most
Indian Embassies issue a six month multiple entry visa. In some countries
it’s possible to get a long-term visa (10 years in U.S.) if
you have traveled previously to India. If you are travelling to Nepal,
you can get a one-month or two month visa for Nepal at the airport
that can be extended at the immigration office in Kathmandu. The cost
of the visa is $30 US for one month.
on hotels and guesthouses:
Vajra Vidya Guesthouse
During the seminar: $15 daily, including meals
Double Occupancy. (If available, single rooms at $20 daily including
Rooms in the monastery: $10 daily, including meals.
There is a small guesthouse at
a Nyingma nunnery next door to the VVI. If not enough room at the
VVI, people can also stay there. We don’t have information at
this time about how to reserve. One would need to go there and check.
The Golden Buddha Guesthouse
With attached bathrooms, private garden and restaurant. It’s
about a 30 minute walk from the institute or you can take a bicycle
rickshaw. Bicycles can be rented nearby. The Guesthouse restaurant
is nice but service is very slow. The downstairs rooms are dark and
a bit scruffy but cool. The new upstairs rooms have only one double-size
bed in each room. I cannot really recommend it because each year
the quality of this place goes down and it’s badly managed.
To reserve contact the owner: John Upadhyaya: email@example.com
Phone: 91-542-587933 or 311030 (home)
Jain Paying Guesthouse
Located near the park with seven
rooms with common bathroom at around $5 a day without meals. There
is one room with bathroom and hot water. They cook very good vegetarian
Contact owner: Dr. Jain
Phone: 0091-542-585621- www.visitsarnath.com
Adarsh Guest House
This is a new small one, very
close to Sarnath Park. It’s located at S.14.78 Shiv Temple Road
(near the Japanese Buddhist temple. It has only eight rooms with attached
bathrooms. No restaurant
Phone: 0091-542-585673 Fax: 585379 or mobile: 0091- 98380-45385
Some of the other monasteries in the area have attached guesthouses
which are very basic.
There are many decent hotels in Varanasi from medium prices (around
$12-$25 a day). There are also a number of budget hotels. If you are
interested check “The Lonely Planet Guide to India”.
For more luxurious accommodation
there’s the Taj Gange (5 star). Previously, some participants
stayed at “Clarks of Varanasi” which is a 3 star hotel
and very comfortable with swimming pool etc. Discounted room price
was around $40 - $50 a day. Phone: 91-542-348501 Fax: 348186 firstname.lastname@example.org
WEATHER & CLOTHING
The weather can vary from cool
to hot so bring light clothing and sandals for Sarnath. In late February
or even into March, it can be a bit cold at night and in the morning
so bring a some warm clothing as well. If you plan to travel to Dharmsala
, Darjeeling District, Sikkim or Nepal you will need some warmer clothing
and a light jacket and umbrella.
If travelling to or from Nepal,
there is an Indian Airlines flight about three times weekly from Varanasi
to Kathmandu (see “How to Get There”). From Varanasi,
Bhoudgaya can be reached by train or by car within one day. To get
to Dharmsala people generally travel from Delhi and go either by air
(3 flights a week), train or bus. You can get to Sikkim by flying
from Delhi to Bagdogara in the Darjeeling District or by train to
Bagdogara and then bus to Gangtok, Sikkim. Kalu Rinpoche and Bokar
Rinpoche’s monasteries are in the Darjeeling district and can
also be reached from Bagdogara (near Siligaree). Airfare between Delhi
and Varanasi and Kathmandu/Varanasi is about the same – around
$72 one way. Kathmandu to Delhi is $142-one way. Several airlines
fly daily between Varanasi and Delhi daily and are approx. $72 one
There is a Thai Airways direct
flight from Bangkok to Varanasi.
We have long distance phone service
(STD) and fax in the Institute. There is also a photocopy machine.
STD rates to USA/Canada are 13 rupees per min.
There are also communications offices in Sarnath for e-mail (some
have broadband) long distance telephone calls, faxing, photocopying
We don’t have e-mail available for participants at the VVI.
We have long distance
phone service (STD) and fax in the Institute. There is also a photocopy
machine. STD rates to USA/Canada are 13 rupees per min.
There are communications offices in Sarnath for e-mail with fast internet
service, long distance telephone calls, faxing, photocopying etc.
We don’t have e-mail available for participants at the VVI.
Medical care is not as good as Kathmandu but there are doctors of
western and herbal medicine as well as homeopathic doctors. Now there’s
a Apollo Hospital in Varanasi which is quite good.There are many well-stocked
pharmacies with most types of ordinary medicines. Many pharmaceutical
companies in Europe and America are in partnership with Indian companies.
We have a small medical clinic at the VVI with medicines. There’s
two monk health practitioners, a doctor from Varanasi who comes three
times weekly and often visiting doctors from the west.
There is a laundry person who
comes to on the VVI Guesthouse and picks up laundry. It’s delivered,
washed and ironed the next day. The hotels also have laundry services.
WHAT TO BRING
- A small flashlight for power
outages and walking at night (you can buy flashlights in India but
they are not as good).
- mosquito repellent for evening
- medicines and vitamins that
you take regularly
- tapes and tape recorder if
you wish to tape the teachings. CD’s of the teaching will
be available in Boudha.
- Our guest house has hangers
but if staying elsewhere, a few hangers if you need them
- a few clothepins etc. if you
will be doing small laundry yourself.
THE VAJRA VIDYA BOOK
AND GIFT STORE SELLS MOST DHARMA ITEMS, THANKAS, STATUES, BOOKS AND
TEXTS. THERE IS ALSO A COFFEE SHOP RUN BY THE MONK’S WELFARE
ASSOCIATION (VERY POPULAR!) Soap, toothpaste, shampoo,
toilet paper, mineral water, batteries, camera film, notebooks, pens,
chocolate bars, cookies and snacks are available in VVI coffeeshop.
There’s also stores across the street from the VVI and in the
nearby village of Sarnath. Fruit sellers everywhere.
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