The main stupa of Vikramashila monastic university, destroyed approximately 1200 C.E. India, October 2016. Photo by Annie McGhee.

“Pilgrimage needs faith. The more faith, the more happiness. Otherwise, you are just like a tourist looking at ruins. … When you go to these holy places it reminds you of impermanence. Once these places were great cities but now there are just stones. A thousand years ago these places were quite different. But even though there are just stones now these stones are so precious.”Lama Zopa Rinpoche

In October 2016, Ladakhi Lama, a former attendant of the great Khunu Lama Rinpoche, led a few people from Root Institute in Bodhgaya, India, on a pilgrimage. The group traveled to the ruins of Vikramashila, a one-time monastic university where Lama Atisha lived and taught. For centuries, Vikramashila and Nalanda were the two most important centers of Buddhist learning in India.

In this month’s Mandala online feature, Australian Annie McGhee reports on the pilgrimage to Vikramashila. Read about her experiences, see pictures of the famous site—and perhaps decide whether you too should take a jeep ride across India’s Bihar State to take in the blessings of the precious stones and statues of Atisha’s home monastery!

Read In the Footsteps of Atisha: A Pilgrimage to Vikramashila,Mandala‘s newest online feature:

For those who are inspired, Root Institute is planning a meditative pilgrimage to Vikramashila for December 16-19, 2017. For information, please visit

Ladakhi Lama makes a prayer at Vikramashila, India, October 2016. Photo by Inder Kaant.

Lama Atisha’s Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment is the subject of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Light of the Path teaching retreat series, hosted by Kadampa Center in North Carolina, US. Light of the Path 2017 is scheduled for August 20-September 17, 2017.

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