Highly-distinguished Buddhist teacher, Geshe Tenzin Zopa, will lead a pilgrimage to holy sites in Nepal, including Lumbini, in November 2023 for FPMT in Australia. This experience provides an opportunity for personal transformation under the guidance of a Tibetan Buddhist master, and the emphasis will be on spiritual practices and teachings that Geshe Zopa will lead us through each day. The itinerary has been designed to include adequate time for personal contemplation and meditation, and includes visits to the following sites:

Sawayambu Stupa Vajrayogini (Bijeswari temple)
Vajrayogini temple of Sankhu Bouddha
Kathmandu – holy sites including the Boudha Stupa
Patan, with the focus on the Chenrezig site, statue making and Maha Boudha temple
Pharping (Guru Rinpoche and Vajrayogini holy sites)
Maratika Caves
Namo Buddha 
Lumbini, on border of India


There are thirty places available for this pilgrimage, including two discounted sangha places, and applicants need to fulfil the following requirements:

Have a strong connection to an FPMT centre or service
Be physically and mentally well enough to undertake pilgrimage
Have taken out the relevant travel and health insurance

Bookings are now open and registrations will be accepted on a first-come first-serve basis. A waiting list will be created. The first thirty applicants will be sent details of how to make the $100 deposit to reserve their place within 2 days of their initial registration. If no deposit is received then the next person on the waiting list will be given the opportunity to confirm their registration.

Applicants need to complete a detailed Medical Questionnaire form as well as read and sign the Terms and Conditions and Release, Waiver and Acknowledgement forms below.

A link to the booking system is live at the top of this page.


Pilgrimage Price:

Share Room $4,100
Single Supplement $595

There are two discounted places put aside for sangha (a 25% discount applies)

Pilgrimage Includes:

  • Materials for pujas and rituals
  • Transport for all excursions
  • Domestic flight Kathmandu – Lumbini return
  • 16 nights accommodation
  • Breakfast daily
  • 14 Lunches
  • 16 Dinners, including Welcome and Farewell dinners
  • Entrance fees to all sites as per itinerary
  • Group donation to all monasteries that are visited.
  • Sangha scholarship for two monks or nuns
  • Generous offering to over 1,000 Kopan nuns and monks
  • Generous offering to Geshe Tenzin Zopa la

Pilgrimage Does Not Include:

  • International return flights from Australia to Kopan
  • Cancellation & medical insurance
  • Food and drinks not specified
  • Cost to obtain valid passport
  • Tourist Visa for Nepal
  • Tips & Gratuities for local drivers, porters, etc.
  • Additional donations to organisations or to Kyabje Zopa Rinpoche’s Holy Body Room (we will provide offering envelopes for personal donation)
  • Any items of a personal nature such as laundry, drinks and telephone calls


Applicants will need to complete an online Medical Questionnaire and will need to thoroughly read, sign and return by email the following documents:

Terms and Conditions
Release, Waiver and Acknowledgement

Applicants will be sent confirmation of their place following review of their medical information and receipt of the above forms.


The holy stupa of Swayambu

5th Nov Kopan nunneryArrival and Welcome dinner
Students find their own way to Kopan nunnery accommodation for the first evening. A welcome dinner provides an opportunity to meet other students, pilgrimage leader, Geshe Tenzin Zopa, pilgrimage guide, Amber Tamang, (and event coordinator, Stephie)

6th – 8th Nov – Retreat and Practices led by Geshe Zopa – Kopan Nunnery and Monastery
Geshela will guide us in practices and deliver teachings in the Kopan nunnery gompa, designed to prepare our hearts and minds for the spiritual pilgrimage ahead. We will undertake special practices at the site of Kyabje Zopa Rinpoche’s holy body. During these days there is the opportunity to enjoy the beauty, the many stupas, temples and holy objects of Kopan, the heart of the FPMT organisation.

9th Nov – Swayambu Stupa Vajrayogini (Bijeswari) – Temple and Stupa visit
We journey by bus to nearby Swayambu stupa. This precious hilltop stupa has for centuries been part of the very heart of Buddhist life in Nepal. Guru Padmasambhava’s devotion drew him here, and Swayambhu is where he encountered Princess Shakyadevi of Nepal. Together, they deepened and enhanced the practice of secret mantra in this world. Much later, Guru Rinpoche’s journey would lead him again to Swayambhu, to subdue the local hordes of spirits who had taken control of this sacred precinct. To mark his victory, he adorned the hill with countless treasures, many of which still lie in wait to be revealed. We will visit the Vajrayogini temple which is located on the path to the stupa.

10th Nov – Vajrayogini of Sankhu Bouddha – Puja at Temple, Shopping for Holy Objects
Sankhu is a small village in the east of the Kathmandu Valley, associated with Vajrayogini, as well as an important Hindu shrine. It is considered one of the oldest of the Kathmandu Valley and records go back as far as the 5th century AD. Guru Rinpoche made a pilgrimage to Sankhu and offered a golden icon to the monastery, and also left a number of termas in the vicinity.  We will visit the Vajrayogini temple in the morning, and after lunch Geshela will lead puja, following which then we have allowed time for shopping for holy objects.

11th Nov – Kathmandu and Thamel – Holy sites of Chenrezig, Atisha and Tara – Boudha Stupa
Geshe Zopa will lead our visit to the holy temples of Cherezig, Atisha and Tara, located in the town of Kathmandu, near the Boudha stupa where we will make offerings. This holy stupa of extraordinary size and beauty is seen as the very embodiment of the Buddha’s awakened mind. As one of the three great stupas of Nepal, it is a site continuously sought out by devoted pilgrims, unparalleled in its ability to fulfill sincere wishes. The merit amassed by going on pilgrimage to the three stupas of Boudha, Swayambhu and Namo Buddha is said to be inconceivable. We walk to the nearby Thamel district for lunch, shops and sight-seeing.

12th Nov – Day Trip to Pharping – Visit Guru Rinpoche and Vajrayogini Sacred Sites
About 19km south of Kathmandu, Pharping, also known as Yanglesho, is a thriving Newari town whose ancient Buddhist pilgrimage sites are held sacred and visited by large numbers of Tibetans. There are two major practice caves in Pharping blessed by Guru Rinpoche: the Asura cave and the Yanglesho cave. At the bottom of the flight of stairs climbing up to the Asura cave is the old and important Vajrayogini temple.  Yanglesho is of great importance to followers of Guru Rinpoche, as it is where he attained the state of enlightenment. We will receive teachings, make offerings and be guided in practice by Geshela.

14th Nov – Leave Kopan Nunnery – Drive to Maratika
We leave Kopan Nunnery in Kathmandu to travel to Maratika by jeep. The scenic journey takes approximately nine hours. This will be the first of our two night stay in Maratika.

15th Nov – Explore Sacred Maratika Caves – Offerings and Pujas at Holy Places
Maratika, known locally as Halesi, is a sacred pilgrimage site with ancient meditation caves located in eastern Nepal where Guru Rinpoche achieved immortality. These sacred caves have a strong connection with our precious guru, Kyabje Zopa Rinpoche. The Lawudo Lama, Kunsang Yeshe, who was Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s previous incarnation, spent time at Maratika. His heart disciple, Ngawang Chophel, built the monastery at the mouth of the cave and became the first Maratika Lama. Lama Zopa Rinpoche started preparations whilst he was alive to built a large Guru Rinpoche statue there.

There are five main caves—the Long-life Cave, the Heruka Cave, the Secret Cave, the Garuda Cave, and the Naga Cave. There is also Mandarava’s Cave, which is in the jungle a half-day’s jeep trip away. Rangjung Neljorma Khadro Namsel Drönme (Khadro-la) has also come annually to Maratika to do long-life retreat for His Holiness. On one occasion Khadro-la had a vision of Buddha Amitayus in this cave that lasted many days, and she made long-life pills, which she later offered to His Holiness. For the in-depth story of the Maratika Caves visit HERE. (See prayers translated for Maratika pilgrims below.)

Geshe Tenzin Zopa leading practice at holy site. Photo: Sacred Earth Journeys

16th Nov – Drive to Namo Buddha – Stay Overnight at Namo Buddha
We drive approximately eight hours from Maratika to Namo Buddha.

17th Nov – Namo Buddha – Fly to Lumbini
We explore the beautiful and holy site of Namo Buddha, the place where a courageous and compassionate prince offered his body to a starving tigress and was reborn as an enlightened being in the pure realm of Tushita. After he offered his body in generosity to the tigress, people found it difficult to travel through the region for fear of all wild animals, so they developed the practice of reciting “Namo Buddhaya” (“I take refuge in the Buddha”) to dispel their anxiety. To this day, the local inhabitants call the area Namo Buddha. The ancient stupa has become a special place to accumulate merit through activities such as circumambulation and making offerings.

18th Nov – Lumbini, India – Birthplace of the Buddha
Siddhartha Gautama, the Lord Buddha, was born in 623 B.C. in the famous gardens of Lumbini, which soon became a place of pilgrimage. Among the pilgrims was the Indian emperor Ashoka, who erected one of his commemorative pillars there. .For pilgrims, Lumbini is one of the holiest places to visit. In fact, it is one of the four sacred sites that Buddha reportedly advised his disciples and followers to see for themselves. We will soak in the peaceful atmosphere in the knowledge that millions of pilgrims over the centuries have been there before us. Geshela will guide us in meditation and prayer, helping us to connect to the special spiritual energy and blessings of the Buddha’s birthplace.

19th Nov – Fly Back to Kathmandu from Lumbini
Following our meaningful activities in Lumbini, the group returns to Kathmandu where they will stay in accommodation booked in town.

20th Nov – Free Day and Farewell Dinner
The group has free time to spend in Kathmandu, availing ourselves of the many amazing thangka, holy statue and other shops and cafes. A last chance to circumambulate the Boudha stupa perhaps or whatever we desire. In the evening we have a special Farewell dinner and a chance to express our heartfelt thanks to our precious pilgrimage leader and teacher, Geshe Tenzin Zopa, and wonderful guide, Amber Tamang, as well as bid fond farewells to each other, with hearts and minds full of the blessings and inspiration of this opportunity for pilgrimage.

21st Nov – Fly Out from Kathmandu
It’s time to leave our group and say a final goodbye to the holy sites of Nepal. What a life-changing opportunity. Thank you, most precious Geshe Tenzin Zopa!

Photo: Rogier Bos