Loseling Altruistic Medical Association (LAMA)
October 7-13, 2013
Drepung Loseling Monastery
Mundgod, Karnataka, India
Thank you for your commitment to participate in this year's medical mission to India. Click any of the links below for important information related to the trip.
We encourage you to review all of this information thoroughly. If you have a specific question which is not answered adequately below, feel free to send us an email.
We will begin our work at the monastery on Monday, October 7, 2013.
You can book your flight to arrive in Mumbai (Bombay) on your own, or use a travel agent or a consolidator. MCI uses Top Value Travel, a consolidator. If you choose to use them, you can call (212) 251-0667 or email Topvaluetravel@aol.com. Your contact is Shrikant (shree-KAHNT). He can help you with your travel arrangements including the domestic flight to Hubli (see below). On past trips, travelers have opted to arrive in Mumbai 2-3 days early to acclimate and do some sight-seeing.
You will need to take a domestic flight from Mumbai to Hubli International airport. The monks will pick us up from the airport and drive us to Mundgod in the North Kanara district of Karnataka State, in southern India, approximately 1 hour away. We will be posting details soon here regarding flight options.
Required Documents & Forms
Please review the three required forms below. All forms are due no later than May 20, 2013. Note that you will need to acquire your India visa in order to complete your Protected Area Permit application.
#1: India Visa
You will need a visa for travel to India. Click here for information on visa applications and guidelines.
You can also do this through a travel agent or a visa company. Medical Care International uses CIBT for our visa applications.
IMPORTANT: When filling out the Visa application, check "tourist" for type of visa. For the purposes of this form, the objective of our trip is "tourism." Also, where it asks if you are traveling on behalf of a company, enter "no." At the end, where it asks for a reference in India, you do not have to fill this out -- just list a U.S. reference.
Visas are available in lengths of 6 months and 5 years. The 5-year visa is more expensive, but is worth the cost if you think you may return to India within the next 5 years. If you opt for the 6-month visa, please wait until at least May 1 to submit your application -- this will ensure your visa is valid until the end of your visit to India in October.
#2: Protected Area Permit
Download Form (PDF, 18 KB)
As the Drepung Loseling Monastery's location is designated as a Protected Area by the Indian government, foreigners are required to obtain a Protective Area Permit (PAP) to enter and stay overnight at the Monastery.
For the permit form, you will need:
- three copies of the attached form, filled out (must be printed out in legal size paper)
- three passport photos
- a photocopy of the information/photo page of your passport
- a photocopy of the India visa page of your passport
- a copy of your medical license (if you are medical personnel)
Instructions for filling out the PAP form:
- Put all the places you are planning to visit: Mumbai, Mundgod, and any others.
- Route: by air from Mumbai to Hubli, by car from Hubli to Mundgod.
- For people accompanying, please put one person from the team.
- For travel and accommodation, please say that you will be a guest of Drepung Loseling Monastery in Mundgod, and that Medical Care International is making travel arrangements.
- For US reference, put anyone you wish.
- For India reference, please put:
Drepung Loseling Monastery
P.O. Tibetan Colony - 581411
Mundgod, Karnataka, India
It is very important that this form be completed by June 1. They are very strict about the permit process, so it is possible that you will not be approved for entry to the protected area if this deadline is missed.
#3: Indemnification Agreement
Download Form (PDF, 230 KB)
Please print, date and sign this document, and return via email, fax or mail (fax or email preferred):
- Fax: (646) 349-5205
- Email: email@example.com
- Mail: P.O. Box 69, New Hope PA 18938
What to Bring
Housing at the Monastery
We will be staying at the Drepung Loseling Monastery Guest House. The rooms have ceiling fans and screens on the windows, so no need to bring a mosquito net.
Other items which may be necessary and/or useful include:
- Flashlight-the electricity/lights go out often.
- Air mattress-small camping type (Therm-a-rest®) is helpful but not necessary. There are sheets on the bed, and a pillow, and they will supply blankets if needed.
- Long Length of rope-invaluable for hanging wet clothes/towel either in your bathroom or on the roof.
- Some of the rooms have hot water heaters, and some of them work. It will be warm, so a cold shower is not so bad.
- There are Tibetan rugs in the rooms, a nightstand, and a chair to sit on as well as the bed.
- Towels-bring a couple. I usually leave them behind. There is a bucket for washing clothes in your room.
- Detergent- small bottle for washing clothes.
- Travel Alarm clock- if you need one to wake up. The a.m. chanting and gong will usually do that!
- Nail brush***-invaluable.
- Hand sanitizer and individually packaged antibacterial wipes.
- Tissues-individual packs to use for TP while on the road or elsewhere
- Extra bathroom tissue
- Camera (optional)
- Spare batteries- I have been told that if you try to carry on an internal flight, or when you are leaving India , it is possible they will be confiscated. No idea why :) This has never been a problem for me. Camera batteries are available in the cities but not at the monastery. As with everything else, it is much less $$ in India to buy batteries.
- Insect repellant. You might not need it, but you might not find it easily if you do.
- Toiletries: q-tips, shampoo, antiperspirant, etc. You can get shampoo and sanitary pads in Mumbai but not at the monastery. I never saw tampons in India, so you have to bring those.
- Personal Medications/First Aid; acetaminophen, ibuprofen, antidiarrheals, antiemetics (nausea), antibiotics (i.e. cipro), allergy medication, malaria prophylaxis (highly recommended), band aids, etc.
- Plastic Grocery bags- bring a few for trash bags in your room
- Trail snacks/peanut butter
- Ear plugs-at night there may be chatter, music, barking dogs, etc.
- Electrical converter-I brought one once for my battery recharger and blew out the electric on my side of the building for the night. Also blew out the recharger. They generally work well in the cities.
Items Available to Buy at the Monastery
Toothpaste, soap, laundry soap, batteries, snacks, bottled water, men's flip flops.
- Please make sure that all your cash bills are in good condition as they are likely to be refused if they have tears or are very worn. Bring small bills as it is harder to change large ones.
- Credit card - very important. You may want to bring more than one kind.
- Traveler's checks are an option if you prefer them-not all stores accept them.
- Money belt or neck pouch
- Blank checks if you would like to make a tax deductible donation to
- the monastery
- the nunnery
- the health clinic
- ***PLEASE BRING ENOUGH RUPEES*** THERE ARE NO BANK MACHINES or banks for that matter in the monastery. Rupees may be exchanged in Mumbai. While there is not a lot to purchase at the monastery, we may be taken to Camp 3 which does have some Tibetan shops with prayer flags, prayer bowls, clothing, art, etc. In addition we may go to a traditional Tibetan Rug factory where rugs may be purchased as well as a shop where monks make Buddhist and Hindu Statues to sell.
Phone Usage at the Monastery
S.T.D. at the camp: there are direct dial telephone facilities in almost all cities in India , which are called S.T.D. These services are available at the telegraph offices of each city, as well as in private facilities. Usually it is more efficient to use a private S.T.D. service than the Telegraph Department, however, private S.T.D. services do not always have booths to make your phone calls private. The cost is about Rs. 1.00 per second to U.S.A. You are responsible for the cost of the phone call regardless of who answers the telephone or regardless of the quality of the connection. Just because one S.T.D. telephone doesn't work, doesn't mean another will not work.
Caution: try to time your own phone calls, and double check the bill you get. Cell phones with International SIM cards or plans usually work.
- Lightweight clothes that dry quickly. You can get laundry service in the cities, but will be washing your clothes in a bucket at the monastery.
- Sleeveless tops-ok, but shorts and tank tops (on men or women) are best left behind.
- Lightweight khakis are good, khaki skirts, or something like a full broomstick skirt, these are comfortable, for the climate and the society.
- Scrubs are lightweight and dry fast. Non-medical people are welcome to wear them. I usually leave these behind as well.
- You may need a light sweater or jacket for evenings at the monastery. Women may want to bring a lightweight scarf to drape over their shoulders. Otherwise, dress for warm weather.
- Clogs or flip-flops-something to slip on and off easily. The custom is to take off your shoes if you visit a temple or someone's residence, and also when you are in your own room. So it is best to have shoes you can kick off easily. (On my first trip I wore Teva's, and when they took us on the tour of the monasteries I was forever undoing and re-doing the straps)
- Hat optional -for the sun
- Lightweight rain jacket-we should be just out of the rainy season but you never know.
- Medical people: please bring stethoscopes, lights, otoscopes and any other personal equipment you may want to use. Personal hand sanitizer is very helpful. Please feel free to bring any donated medication/supplies with you. However it would be helpful to discuss this with the team prior to our departure.
- If you like, you can give a small gift to your translator in the clinic. We usually try to give a gift to the monks who do our cooking while we are there. (stationary, pens, pencils, gum, flashlights, etc.)
For further information regarding India Travel please visit:
- http://travel.state.gov/ for travel recommendations and up to date warnings.
- http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/destinationIndia.aspx for information on health and recommended vaccinations.
- http://indiavisa.travisaoutsourcing.com/ for India Visa Application.