Indian Study Tour: The Heartland of Buddhism

Indian Buddhism Study Tour

The Indian Buddhism Study Tour will offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience of Buddhism in its heartland. Students will learn more about Buddhism from an expert academic researcher and lecturer – in the heartland of Buddhism: India and Nepal. They can also receive credits for NTI’s Applied Buddhist Studies subject ‘Indian Buddhism’ for an NTI postgraduate qualification – Masters, Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate in Applied Buddhist Studies. 

‘Indian Buddhism’ recounts the history of Buddhism in India, and covers the teachings and precepts of the different perspectives from the early beginnings, through to the early development of Mahayana Buddhism in India.

This subject provides a survey of the growth of Buddhism in South Asia from its origins in about the fifth century BCE through to the major developments in India and Sri Lanka, including the appearance of early Mahayana forms. It integrates developments in doctrine with relevant archaelogical and historical evidence from the field.






Saturday 7 & Sunday 8 Nov

9:00am-5:00pm NTI Wollongong Campus Preliminary Class (compulsory for all Tour attendees)


Day 1

Thursday 26 Nov

Flights* depart Sydney in the evening

On flight

Day 2

Friday 27 Nov

Arrive New Delhi. New Delhi to Agra (Taj Mahal)


Day 3

Saturday 28 Nov

Agra to Varanasi

On train

Day 4

Sunday 29 Nov



Day 5

Monday 30 Nov

Varanasi (Sarnath)


Day 6

Tuesday 01 Dec

Varanasi to Gorakhpur


Day 7

Wednesday 02 Dec

Gorakhpur to Kushinagar and back


Day 8

Thursday 03 Dec

Gorakhpur to Lumbini (Nepal)


Day 9

Friday 04 Dec

Lumbini (Nepal)


Day 10

Saturday 05 Dec

Lumbini to Gorakhpur and on to Patna


Day 11

Sunday 06 Dec

Patna to Bodhgaya


Day 12

Monday 07 Dec



Day 13

Tuesday 08 Dec

Bodhgaya to Rajgir


Day 14

Wednesday 09 Dec



Day 15

Thursday 10 Dec

Rajgir to Patna


Day 16

Friday 11 Dec

Fly from Patna back to New Delhi. Flights depart Delhi in the evening

On flight

Day 17

Saturday 12 Dec

Arrive Australia in the early morning


Please note that small changes to the order of events on each day may occur due to the availability of bookings, guides, coaches etc. We will endeavour to inform you as far as possible in advance of any significant changes, such as closure of sites or rescheduling of more than 48 hours.

*Flight schedules and pricing are only released by airlines 11 months prior to departure and may affect the final itinerary and pricing.

Sites of Interest

  • Varanasi (Sarnath): This ancient deer park is the site of the Buddha’s first sermon – the beginning of the entire teaching. The stupa here is among the oldest in the Buddhist world. Sarnath is also a short distance outside the very ancient Indian holy city of Varanasi.
  • Kushinagar: This is the site of the Buddha’s passing away and cremation. Ancient ruins survive of a number of Buddhist structures.
  • Lumbini: Located on the plains of Nepal, this was the birth place of the Buddha. It is also the site of an Ashokan pillar from around 304–232 BCE.
  • Bodhgaya: Here lies the very heart of the Buddhist world – the site of the Buddha’s enlightenment. This is a major pilgrimage centre for Buddhists of all types. It also has a descendent of the Bodhi tree beneath which the Buddha sat to become enlightened.
  • Rajgir: This is an ancient ruined city well known in Buddhist texts because of the amount of time the Buddha and his followers spent  here. Outside the town is the Vulture Peak, the location for many major teachings. This is also the location of the Bamboo Park and the well-known Vulture Peak.
  • Nalanda: This is the site of one of the greatest Buddhist universities. The ruins of the monastic and teaching areas survive, deep in the countryside of Bihar.
  • Taj Mahal: The tour includes a brief visit to this globally iconic building – regarded as one of the eight wonders of the world.


Subject Code: 


  Lecture Date Census Date Location

Semester 2 2017

4-8 September 2017

4 September NTI Wollongong Campus

‘Indian Buddhism'  recounts the growth of Buddhism in South Asia, and covers the teachings and precepts of the different perspectives from the early beginnings, through the development of Mahayana Buddhism.

This subject provides a survey of the growth of Buddhism in South Asia – from its origins in about the fifth century BCE, through to the major developments in India and Sri Lanka, including the appearance of early Mahayana forms. It integrates developments in doctrine with relevant archaeological and historical evidence from the field.

Students will:

  • understand and discuss the historical background of Indian Buddhism and its relation to the life of Sakyamani Buddha
  • analyse the basic doctrines and key philosophical concepts of Indian Buddhism, such as the Four Noble Truths, Eightfold Noble Path, dependant Origination, Karma, Samsara, Nirvana, and more
  • learn a detailed account of the development of the Mahayana Schools of Indian Buddhism
  • further develop the skills to pose research questions, investigate and analyse the literature, and present reports.

Who is it for?

‘Indian Buddhism’ is ideal for:

  • any student in NTI’s postgraduate Certificate, Diploma or Masters program in Applied Buddhist Studies
  • anyone interested in history, religion and/or philosophy
  • Buddhism devotees and anyone interested in learning more about Buddhism.


Preliminary reading

1 week prior to lectures and workshops

Lectures and workshops (5 day intensive on-campus)

9:00am - 5:00pm daily


3 weeks - Final assignments due 


3 weeks proceeding Tour/Classes - Final assignments due 

Attendance and class participation

Lecture Period


Group work on framing research questions, proposals and individual

presentations (15 minutes)

Lecture Period


Assignment on research methods, critical analysis and interpretation (1,500 words)

1 week after Lectures/Tour



Research proposal and critical literature review (3,000 words)

3 weeks after Lectures/Tour




‘Indian Buddhism’ is an elective subject in Nan Tien Institute’s postgraduate Applied Buddhist Studies program.

This 6 credit point subject can be an elective in:

Masters (Applied Buddhist Studies)

72 credit points

Graduate Diploma of Applied Buddhist Studies

48 credit points

Graduate Certificate in Applied Buddhist Studies

24 credit points

Study costs/scholarships

The total subject cost is $1,250.00 for Domestic students, and $1,600.00 for International students.

Australian students


International students


Entry requirements

There are no prerequisites to study this subject as a non-award student.

There are academic and/or program and work experience prerequisites for studying this subject as part of the NTI Applied Buddhist Studies program. Contact NTI for details on entry requirements.

PhD (South Asian Studies) Australian National University

Dr Royce Wiles is a specialist international educator, researcher and bibliographer. He is at the core of NTI’s academic team as a full-time lecturer and researcher.

Dr Wiles has 30 years of experience in Asian Studies; South Asian Languages (Hindi, Snaskrit, Prakrits, including Pali); Buddhist meditation; lecturing and tutoring; researching management and course development.

He also has extensive experience ranging from specialist historical research; teaching and lecturing; international development; and experience in post-conflict development work; as well as the management of specialist libraries and research programmes.

During his most recent appointment with the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU), in Kabul Afghanistan, Dr Wiles worked with Kabul University, the National Museum of Kabul, the National Archives of Afghanistan and other agencies attempting to salvage and rebuild the region’s tertiary education system.

Some of Dr Wiles’ other interesting international professional and academic experience includes:

  • gaining access to rare medieval palm leaf manuscripts held privately in Jaisalmer, India;
  • initiating and managing a research project funded by the United States Insitute of Peace (USIP) on current land issues as they relate to peace-making in Afghanistan;
  • delivering training courses and lectures to Nai journalists and Stanford Law students working on Afghanistan; and
  • providing field work guidance for international PhD scholars and academic advice to Afghan thesis students.

Current Roles

Lecturer, Buddhist Studies, Nan Tien Institute, Wollongong

Previous Roles

  • CELTA (University of Cambridge Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) (International House, Sydney) (2003)
  • PhD (ANU) (2000)
  • Graduate Diploma in Librarianship (University of Canberra) (1988)
  • Bachelor of Arts (Asian Studies) (First class honours] (ANU) (1986)
  • Bachelor of Arts (University of Auckland) (1979)
  • Manager for information resources and editor of the Afghanistan research newsletter (Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) (Kabul)) (2003-2012)
  • Cataloguing and information management contracts: National Library of Australia, various government departments in Canberra (2001-2003)
  • Lecturer and sessional tutor, Australian National University (and University of Sydney) 1997-2000, 2003
  • 1992-1996 Meditation retreats and study (Thailand, Burma, India, Sri Lanka)
  • South and West Asia Librarian, Australian National University 1983-1992

Research interests

  • Background and history of mettā (loving kindness) teachings
  • Nature of text transmission in the Pali canon
  • Jaina canon research
  • Jaina bibliography

Current research projects

  • Examination of the Pārājikā sections of the Vinaya in the Burmese “Fifth Council” text
  • Textual history of Buddhist “scriptures” (especially in Pali)
  • History of mettā teachings and scholarship
  • Śvetāmbara canonical text publishing

Recent publications

  • (forthcoming 2014) Bibliography of the Shvetambara canon: a descriptive listing of text editions, commentaries, studies and indexes (Leiden: Brill)
  • (forthcoming 2014) “Buddhadasa Bhikkhu” in The Buddhist World (Abingden: Routledge).
  • 2013     “The Jina’s realm: continuities and discontinuities between the Jain, Buddhist and Hindu traditions” (Public lecture at the Art Gallery of South Australia at the opening of an exhibition of Jain, Hindu and Islamic art of India).
  • 2013     “The Sanskrit commentary tradition on Jain texts” Asian and African Studies–Vol. XVI, No. 1 (April 2013): Indian Subcontinent: between Tradition and Modernity.
  • 2013     “Protection of Mes Aynak: the unique Buddhist archaeological heritage of Afghanistan” Lecture at the Seminar: “Protection of Mes Aynak: the Unique Buddhist Archaeological Heritage of Afghanistan” 2, March 2013, National Assembly Hall, the House of Representatives of Thailand.  
  • 2012     “Trophy libraries and strategic opacity: challenges setting up information management functions for the Afghan legal sector (2003-2011)” In, snapshots of an intervention: the unlearned lessons of Afghanistan’s decade of assistance (2001–11). Berlin/Kabul: Afghanistan Analysts’ Network (AAN).
  • 2007     “The first collected edition of Shvetambara Jain canonical texts.” In, Prof. Satya Ranjan Banerjee felicitation volume (Delhi: Eastern Booklinkers, p. [420]-433.
  • 2007 “Mapping Afghanistan.” In, Afghanistan research newsletter (no. 13, April 2007, p. 2-6).

​Teaching interests

  • Buddhist studies
  • Jaina studies
  • Pali pedagogy


TEL: +61 (2) 4258 0762
FAX: +61 (2) 4258 0701


Domestic Students


$6325.00 twin share*


$5375.00 (upfront) twin share*

International Students


$6575.00 p.p. twin share*

  • NOTE: Single-room occupancy available for $910.00 extra


  • Tuition: Indian Buddhism ABSPG104 (Award or Non-Award)
    • Teaching throughout Tour - 26 November - 12 December 2015 - by NTI Lecturer, Dr Royce Wiles
    • A compulsory weekend of instruction at NTI Wollongong Campus, 7&8 November, 2015, 9:00-5:00pm, and pre and post assignments for Award Students.
  • Travel:
    • Airfares (including taxes and fuel surcharges): Economy return Sydney-Delhi; one way Patna to Delhi
    • Train: overnight train from Agra to Varanasi/Benares in best of class service (2A)
    • Private coach: all additional land travel
  • Accommodation: three/four star hotels (twin share)
  • Meals: all breakfast, lunches, dinners with bottled water
  • Entrance fees: all monuments as per itinerary
  • Guides:
    • Local English-speaking Tour Manager accompanying entire trip
    • Local guides at all major sites
  • Tips: drivers, wait staff and guides
  • Tour coordination and support: Academy Travel – Australian-owned, fully-licenced travel operator, 
  • specialising in tertiary education-focussed tours
  • Insurance: comprehensive travel insurance with ‘Suresave’

Not Included in Tour Cost

  • Passport costs – passport must be valid for 6 months from date of return
  • Visas
    • Australian passport holders require a valid Multiple Entry Visa to India (c. AU$100.00)
    • Australian passport holders require a valid Visa to Nepal, available on arrival c. US$25.00)
  • Spending money for personal expenses such as laundry, additional bottled water or telephone calls
  • Tickets for any additional, personal travel, including public transport or sightseeing
  • Camera or video fees for camera usage at all monuments and temples
  • Porterage and tips for porters
  • Transport to/from international airport in Australian city of departure/arrival
  • Any additional travel insurance premiums required for age, existing conditions or extension travel
  • Additional fees incurred for any damage to hotels, sites, coaches, etc. These will be the sole responsibility of the individual Tour participant/s at fault.

About Academy Travel

Academy Travel is an Australian-owned company with offices in Sydney’s CBD and in Rome, Italy. They are a fully licensed travel agent and tour operator. Academy Travel was established in 2005 and operates more than 30 individual tours per calendar year. They work with the wide range of government and private schools and tertiary institutions in both cities and regional areas across New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

ABN:   69 150 402 841
ACN:  150 402 841
Travel Agent’s Licence: 2TA08799

Academy Travel is an accredited member of:


More details on Academy Travel can be found on their website.

Additional Travel

Can I arrange extra travel before or after the Tour?

Participants may undertake additional travel before or after a tour. Separate booking, deposit and payment conditions will apply to additional travel and will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis.

Any changes that affect the included flights will cost the individual a change fee of $150.00 plus any additional airport taxes.


What flights are included and which airline are they with?

The flights included are: Sydney to Delhi return in economy class; and one-way Patna to Delhi.

Airlines are selected based on scheduling, fares and safety. Academy Travel’s preferred international airlines for travel to India include Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways.

The internal Indian flight – Patna to Delhi – flight  will be booked upon final confirmation of your Tour group with a local carrier, or 6 months prior to departure (whichever is the latter). This flight will be advised in your final detailed itinerary documentation.

NOTE: The intention is that the Tour group will be allocated a block of seating on each flight, however seat allocations are at the discretion of the airline. Special seating requests cannot be guaranteed.


What standard of hotels will I be staying in during the Tour?

Hotels range from 3* to 4* standard. Academy Travel will provide a list of confirmed hotels for the tour in your final detailed itinerary documentation.

All hotels have been inspected by our Indian ground operators. You will be accommodated in twin rooms with single beds (single-occupancy is available at an additional cost on request). All hotels have private en-suite bathrooms (no shared facilities).

Hotels may sometimes change due to operational reasons, and you will be informed of any changes as soon as possible.

Examples of hotels used:

  • Agra, Jaypee Palace, standard room

  • Varanasi, Hotel Hindustan International, standard room

  • Gorakhpur, Shivoy Hotel, standard room

  • Lumbini, Buddha Maya Garden Retreat, deluxe room

  • Patna, Hotel Ashok Patliputra, standard room

  • Bodhgaya, Royal Residency, standard room

Land Transportation

How will we travel around India and Nepal?

Academy Travel works with a local operator, Indian Vistas, and selects local coach companies with good safety records and well maintained vehicles. The drivers meet local licensing requirements and adhere to driving times and rest periods. You will be transported by a 35-seater, air-conditioned coach.


What meals are included? Can I request any special dietary requirements?

All meals are included through the Tour. 15 breakfasts, 15 lunches and 14 dinners. Water is included with the evening meal.

Special dietary requirements must be advised at time of booking to ensure they are catered for on flights and throughout the Tour.


Passports and Visas

Do I need to have any visas or special passport provisions, and who can help me with these?

Each passenger is required to hold a passport with at least 6 months validity from the date of return to Australia in order to travel.

It is essential that airline tickets are issued in an identical name to that shown on the passport.

A copy of each passenger’s passport photo page must be provided to Academy Travel at least 8 weeks prior to departure. Participants may be liable for a ticket re-issue fee if accurate name details are not provided.

Australian passport holders will require visas for India and Nepal. The cost is not included, however, Academy Travel will provide further information on obtaining the relevant documentation.

Other international passport holders will be advised by Academy Travel if a visa is required.

Academy Travel can facilitate this process, however, the responsibility and cost for obtaining any required visas rest with the individual passenger.

Safety and Travel Warnings

Are there any safety or travel concerns which could affect my Tour?

Department of Foreign Affairs Travel Warnings

Academy Travel closely monitors travel advice provided by the Australian Government.

Should the level of warning for an entire destination country be changed to one of the two highest levels (‘Reconsider your need to travel’ or ‘Do not travel’) Academy Travel will, on the request of the Nan Tien Institute, cancel all arrangements and refund all monies paid by the organisation or participants.

Should the level of warning for specific region or city on the itinerary for the tour be changed to one of the two highest levels (‘Reconsider your need to travel’ or ‘Do not travel’) Academy Travel will, on the request of Nan Tien Institute, modify the itinerary to avoid visiting these places at no additional cost.

Tour Manager

Is there someone knowledgeable who will make sure the Tour runs smoothly?

An experienced, English-speaking, local tour escort will escort the group. This Tour Manager will be with your group from arrival in India, throughout the Tour – tight up to your departure.

The smooth running of the tour; ensuring that all services are delivered as promised; and dealing with any emergencies or re-scheduling that occurs during the Tour – are all the responsibility of the Tour Manager.

Tour Rules

Are there any rules and guidelines I have to abide by whilst on the Tour?

Nan Tien Institute will provide all participants with clear guidelines on behavioural and cultural expectations during the compulsory weekend of instruction at the NTI Wollongong Campus, 8 November 2015, 9:00-5:00pm (prior to the Tour departure).

All individual Tour participants will be responsible for any damage to hotels, sites, coaches that they cause, including any associated fees.

Travel Insurance

What are the details of the included travel insurance policy?

Travel insurance is required for all participants on the Tour. Academy Travel includes comprehensive travel insurance for every participant once the travel insurance application form is completed and lodged.

Participants are encouraged to complete the travel insurance application at the time of booking to guarantee coverage as soon as possible for pre-departure events.

  • Travel Insurance is required. Comprehensive coverage is included in the Tour price

All travel insurance policies contain exclusions, surcharges etc for pre-existing medical conditions, extension of travel and other important details. For example: if you have pre-existing medical conditions, are aged older than 49, or are undertaking additional travel, a supplementary payment may be required.

Participants are encouraged to read their policy carefully and to contact the insurer if anything is unclear.

The contract for travel insurance is between the traveller and the travel insurance company. Travellers are bound by the terms and conditions of the travel insurance policy, and Academy Travel has no influence over this policy or the outcome of any claim made by a tour participant.


Booking forms and deposits for the Indian Buddhism Study Tour must be made ASAP to secure your place and booked directly with NTI's study tour travel partner: Academy Travel.


  • Each participant must fill out an Academy Travel booking form.
  • Participants must be over 18 years old.
  • Members of the public are also invited on the Tour, but must participate as Non-Award Students in all areas of the Tour and teaching program.
  • NTI has the right to refuse a booking from any potential participant.


  • A deposit of $500.00 is required at the time of each booking. If minimum numbers for the tour are reached, this deposit is non-refundable.
  • The full-balance payment is required by 1 September 2015.
  • All payments must be made directly to Academy Travel.
  • If you decide to cancel your booking, the following charges apply:     
  60+ days before Tour start   $500.00*
  60-65 days before Tour start       20% of total amount due
  44-15 days before Tour start        75% of total amount due
  14 days or less before departure       100% of total amount due
  *this amount may be transferred by Nan Tien Institute to another student making a new booking for your place in the Tour.
  • If the ‘Indian Buddhism Study Tour’ is cancelled, ‘Indian Buddhism – ABSPG104’ will be taught at the Nan Tien Institute Wollongong Campus in NSW, Australia on 7, 8, 20, 21, 22 November 2015, and all travel costs (minus tuition fees) will be refunded.
  • Tuition fee component is:
  • FEE-HELP government assistance is available for Australian Domestic Students.
  • Census date for the 'Indian Buddhism' postgraduate subject is 16 November 2015 - no tuition refunds will be given after this date.
  • There will be no refund for any unused portions of the Tour – e.g. meals, entry fees or accommodation.


  • Prospective participants must supply a copy of a valid passport or a copy of their birth certificate at the time of booking.


  •  ‘Indian Buddhism Study Tour’ requires a minimum of 15 participants to proceed.
  • Bookings are limited to a maximum of 30 participants.


  • Travel Insurance is required. Comprehensive coverage is included in the Tour price. If you have pre-existing medical conditions, are aged older than 49, or are undertaking additional travel, a supplementary payment may be required.


Tour Booking Form: download now
Travel Agent Terms and Conditions
Nan Tien Institute Terms and Conditions

Please read these Terms and Conditions carefully before booking.

Enter Expression of interest here