The Arc of the Sacred Symposium: Buddhist and Hindu Kingdoms

Kolkata, Bodh Gaya, Varanasi, Kathmandu, Lumbini
with Guest Speaker Dr. Todd Lewis and WT Trip Leader Ray Rodney

The Arc of the Sacred Symposium: Buddhist and Hindu Kingdoms route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $7695  
Length: 15 days
Arrive: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Depart: Kathmandu, Nepal
Lodging: 14 nights hotels
Meals: All meals included except 1 lunch and 3 dinners
Activity: Archaeology, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: Overland travel with walking tours, cultural explorations


  • Four-day symposium at Angkor, one of the world’s most phenomenal artistic achievements, featuring five of the world’s top experts in classical Asian art and archaeology, architectural conservation, and Hindu and Buddhist cultures
  • Explore three holy sites of Buddhism: Lumbini, Bodh Gaya, and Sarnath
  • Varanasi, one of Hinduism's seven holy cities
  • Enhanced experience of traveling with expert on Buddhism and world religions, Dr. Todd Lewis

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

This itinerary is part of the Arc of the Sacred Symposium & Tour Program, an extraordinary four-day symposium in Siem Reap, Cambodia, that explores the remarkable spiritual synchronicity that exists across Asian cultures.

The tour described on this page is one of six special journeys which are being offered in conjunction with the symposium. For information on the other symposium tours, click on these links: Temples & Treasures of Cambodia, Ancient Cities & Monuments of the Deccan Plateau, Indochine, and Burma: The Golden Land.

This fascinating journey traces the theme of our symposium back to its roots in India, where both Buddhism and Hinduism originated, and in Nepal, where the Buddha was born and a unique intertwining of these religions—which share many core concepts—flourishes in the Kathmandu Valley. With Guest Speaker Dr. Todd Lewis, who has focused his research on Nepal for the last 30 years, we explore three Buddhist holy sites: Lumbini, Buddha’s birthplace, Bodh Gaya, where he received enlightenment, and Sarnath, where he delivered his first sermon. India's great holy city of Varanasi, and the Hindu temple of Pashupatinath, set along the banks of Nepal's sacred Bagmati River in Kathmandu, round out our discovery of the rise of two of the world’s great religious philosophies. Our experience is greatly enhanced by the expertise and experience of Dr. Lewis, who has researched and written about all the Indian and Nepalese sites we will visit.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-3
The Arc of the Sacred Symposium

Presentations, excursions, and other activities with our guest speakers at the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Resort in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Days 4-5
Kolkata, India

We fly to Kolkata, the former capital of British India, and spend a day exploring this teeming city, including the Indian Museum, with its rare collections of fascinating antiquities and artifacts.

Days 6-9
Bodh Gaya / Varanasi

We head to the pilgrimage town of Bodh Gaya, the most important of the four holy sites of Buddhism. Our explorations include the Mahabodhi Temple, which holds the revered Bodhi tree (Ficus religiosa) under which the Buddha gained enlightenment, Rajgir, where he spent many years meditating and preaching, and Nalanda, site of an ancient Buddhist university. Next, we journey to the Hindu holy city of Varanasi, one of the oldest living cities in the world, where we watch Hindu prayer rituals along the Ganges,  and visit Sarnath, where the Buddha gave his first sermon.

Days 10-12
Kathmandu, Nepal

The ancient past still lingers in the hidden corners of Kathmandu’s busy streets. We discover extraordinary Buddhist and Hindu sites, including Bodhnath, a 1,400-year-old stupa that attracts pilgrims from across Buddhist Asia, and Pashupatinath, with its cremation ghats and wandering sadhus (holy men). We also visit revered Swayambhu temple and Patan’s magnificent Durbar Square. In the heart of old Kathmandu we visit a traditional bahal (courtyard residence) where Dr. Lewis introduces us to a Newar Buddhist teacher for a special blessing ritual, and we later have the privilege of receiving private teachings from a Tibetan lama. Our stay includes a mountain flight for a jaw-dropping panorama of Himalayan peaks. 

Days 13-15
Lumbini / Bhaktapur

A short flight brings us to Lumbini, birthplace of the Buddha, where we visit the 2,000-year-old Maya Devi Temple and the Ashoka Pillar. Returning to the Kathmandu Valley, we explore Bhaktapur, with its elaborate architecture, tiny alleyways, and timeless ambiance, before departing on Day 15 from Kathmandu.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

The Arc of the Sacred Brochure

Download The Arc of the Sacred brochure, featuring a symposium at Angkor Wat with journeys from Nepal to Indonesia. Or request a print copy to be sent by mail.

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:

What the Trip is Like

The trip is Level 1+, or Easiest. It is an overland cultural adventure, and for the most part, physical activity is light, but there will be some long drives, occasionally on rough roads. There will be extensive walking both during the symposium and during the tour, some of it up or down hill, some over uneven footing, and we will spend some time clambering around temple structures. We encourage you to get in shape for the trip because travel to remote places does require some physical stamina. Although this is not a difficult trip, please remember that travel in India and Nepal can be an adventure. The essential requirements are flexibility, a sense of humor, curiosity, enthusiasm about new peoples and places, and an openness to the unexpected.

Explanation of Trip Levels


Departures & Leaders

Jan 25-Feb 8, 2015

Program Cost

Prices are for 2015
$7695 (15-16 members)
$8095 (11-14 members)
$8895 (8-10 members)
Single supplement: $1475
Internal airfare: $1095 (subject to change)
more on pricing

Extension Costs
Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge Extension
   from: $630
Tharu Lodge Extension
   from: $660
Taj Mahal and Jaipur Extension
   from: $2595
Kanha National Park Extension
   from: $2095
Dharamsala and Amritsar Extension
   from: $1795
Bangkok Extension
   from: $645
Phuket Extension
   from: $795
Chiang Mai Extension
   from: $490
Laos: Luang Prabang Extension
   from: $860
Phnom Penh Pre-Symposium Extension
   from: $795

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Program of presentations by Guest Speakers and symposium excursions
  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Accommodations based on double occupancy, including three nights at the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Resort during the symposium, and hotels in India and Nepal
  • Welcome and farewell dinners
  • All meals included except 1 lunch and 3 dinners
  • Sightseeing and activities as noted
  • Airport transfers on scheduled arrival and departure dates
  • Land transportation in air-conditioned buses
  • Entrance fees and service charges, including still camera fees in India
  • Bottled water at meals during symposium
  • Baggage handling; gratuities to hotel and restaurant staff

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare from US to Siem Reap, Cambodia, from Siem Reap to Kolkata, India, and from Kathmandu, Nepal, to US; transfers for independent arrival or departure; any meals not specified after each itinerary day; international airport departure taxes; hotels en route and any hotel nights that may be necessitated by airline schedule changes or other factors; optional tipping or gratuities to trip leader, and local guide and drivers; medical immunizations, travel insurance, passport and visa fees; items of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, drinks with meals, bottled water, internet use, laundry, etc.)

Trip Payment Schedule*

At time of reservation: $1000
Due July 29, 2014: 25% of trip cost
Due October 27, 2014: Balance

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule*

Minimum fee: $500 per person
270-181 days prior to departure: $1000 per person
180-91 days prior to departure: 100% of trip cost
90 days or less: 100% of trip cost

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Resort

Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Resort

Days 1 to 3 (3 nights), Siem Reap, Cambodia

Set among lovely gardens and ponds, the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Resort will feel like an oasis of serenity after a full day exploring the temples ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Taj Bengal

Days 4 to 5 (2 nights), Kolkata, India

This large hotel is set in a good location, away from the busy streets of town. Comfortable modern  rooms have been newly refurbished, and contain traditional touches such as paintings reflecting the ambiance of colonial times. Besides impeccable service, the hotel offers amenities including a fitness center, swimming pool, and spa.

The Royal Residency

Days 6 to 7 (2 nights), Bodh Gaya, India

Conveniently located close to many of Bodh Gaya’s sites, the Royal Residency is an ideal place to stay. Though the guest rooms in this hotel could use some updating, they are spacious, clean, and quiet.

Gateway Hotel Ganges Varanasi

Gateway Hotel Ganges Varanasi

Days 8 to 9 (2 nights), Varanasi, India

Set on 40 acres of landscaped gardens and crowned by a lovely pool, the Gateway Hotel Ganges is a veritable oasis of calm in the bustling temple ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Gokarna Forest Lodge

Gokarna Forest Lodge

Days 10 to 12 (3 nights),
Day 14 (1 night), Kathmandu, Nepal

Perched on a hillside about four miles outside of Kathmandu, this resort is a tranquil oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the city, with ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Lumbini Hotel Kasai

Day 13 (1 night), Lumbini, Nepal

This simple but elegant, no-frills hotel offers cozy, air-conditioned rooms in a peaceful atmosphere. There is an on-site organic garden where vegetables for the restaurant are grown.

Extension Accommodations

If you would like to view the accommodations offered with our extensions options:

Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Our Trip Leaders

Here are the Trip Leaders scheduled for this journey (please note that leader assignments are subject to change).

Dr. Todd Lewis

Departure Dates: January 25-February 8, 2015

Dr. Todd Lewis, one of the world’s leading authorities on the religions of the mid-montane Himalayan region and the social history of Buddhism, is a member of the faculty of the College of the Holy Cross, with a dual appointment as Research Associate in the Department of Sanskrit and Indian ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

Ray Rodney

Departure Dates: January 25-February 8, 2015, January 25-February 8, 2015

As Wilderness Travel’s Special Projects Manager, Ray plans and manages our educational Special Events, which have taken him from the Mayan countries to the Andes, Greece, and Egypt for archaeology programs; from Kenya, the Serengeti, and Botswana to the Bering Sea and Sea of Cortez, and to ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:


Phnom Penh Pre-Symposium Extension

Archaeology, Cultural Adventures, Walking
3 days  -  Level 1


Dharamsala and Amritsar Extension

The Dalai Lama's Mountain Abode & the Sikhs' Golden Temple

Cultural Adventures, Walking
5 days  -  Level 1+

Kanha National Park Extension

Gameviewing in one of India’s Great Wildlife Reserves

Wildlife & Natural History
5 days  -  Level 2

taj mahal agra india cultural tour

Taj Mahal and Jaipur Extension

Romantic Rajasthan, Land of Princes

Cultural Adventures
4 days  -  Level 1


Laos: Luang Prabang Extension

Gilded Temples and Traditional Buddhist Culture of Laos

Cultural Adventures
3 days  -  Level 2


Tharu Lodge Extension

Cultural Encounters, Jungle Walks, Elephant Rides

Cultural Adventures, Walking, Wildlife & Natural History, Photography
3 days  -  Level 1

tiger mountain pokhara lodge

Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge Extension

Spectacular Scenery and Enchanting Villages of the Annapurna Foothills

Cultural Adventures, Hiking / Trekking, Walking
3 days  -  Level 3


wat arun bangkok thailand

Bangkok Extension

Discover the Beautiful Cultural Monuments of Bangkok

Cultural Adventures
3 days  -  Level 1

Chiang Mai Extension

Explore the Wonders of Northern Thailand

Cultural Adventures, Walking, Wildlife & Natural History
3 days  -  Level 2

Phuket Extension

Explore a Jewel Set in the Andaman Sea

Cultural Adventures, Sea Kayaking
4 days  -  Level 2