Buddha Enlightenment Tour
8 NIGHTS – 9 DAYS
Bodhgaya – Rajgir – Nalanda – Patna – Vaishali – Keshariya – Kushinagar – Lumbini – Sravasti – Varanasi – Sarnath – Varanasi
Arrival at Gaya airport and transfer to Bodhgaya. The city of Bodhgaya witnessed the turning point in the life of Prince Siddhartha. From a wandering ascetic, here he attained supreme knowledge or enlightenment under the shade of a banyan tree, now known as Bodhi Tree and became Buddha – the enlightened one.
Bodhgaya is the place where Buddha began his journey to spread the message of peace and nirvana. Bodh Gaya also has other various monasteries and temples dedicated to Buddhism. Bodhgaya filled with a sense of spiritual & meditative atmosphere and offers a visitor a real Buddhist perspective of exploring his soul. Bodh Gaya is considered the most important pilgrimage for all sects of Buddhists throughout the world. Overnight stay.
Full day is dedicated to visit of Bodhgaya. Visit Mahabodhi Temple which is believed to be built by Great Ashoka who visited this site 250 years after the enlightenment of Buddha. The Temple was rebuilt in 7th century A.D. and it has a long history that has seen periods of invasions and destruction. Muslim invaders destroyed the temple in the 12th century but the Burmese kings restored the temple in the 14th century. However, the temple complex was severely flooded and remained buried under silt till 1811. The temple finally received its last and massive restoration and conservation work after it was excavated in 1861.
The main attraction of the temple is Bodhi Tree under which Buddha spent one week after enlightenment. The Tree is considered to be among the oldest and the most venerated tree in the world. The present tree is considered only as the descendant of the original tree. Daughter of Ashoka, Bhikkhuni Sangamitta, took a shoot of the original Bodhi tree to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century B.C. where the Lankan king Devanampiya Tissa planted it at the Mahavihara monastery in Anuradhapura where it still flourishes today.
Besides the ancient remains, there are temples or monasteries built by other Buddhist countries like Thailand, China, Sri Lanka, Japan, Korea, Nepal, Taiwan, Bhutan etc.
Bodhgaya – Rajgir – Nalanda – Patna (180 Km, 5 Hours)
Morning leave for Rajgir which was once the ancient capital of the Magadha Kings. Buddha often visited this place, seeking the solitude and tranquillity of the Jivkamaravana monastery and preaching and meditating at the Griddhakuta hill (hill of vultures). At this hill, he converted one of the celebrated followers, the Mauryan king Bimbisara, to Buddhism. When Buddha arrived at ‘Parinirvana’ his devotees held the first Buddhist council at the Saptaparni cave.
It was here, that his teachings were penned down for the very first time. Visit Venture’s peak where Lord Buddha set in motion His second wheel of law and preached sermons to his disciples for three months in the rainy season. The peak also houses a massive modern Stupa, the Shanti Stupa, built by the Buddhist Sangha of Japan.
Then proceed to Nalanda which was founded in 5th century B.C. It is one of the world’s oldest living cities. Buddha visited this place number of times. It is most famous for The Nalanda University which was established in 5th century B.C. The ruins of the university are spread over 14 hectares of land.
All the buildings are made with red bricks built in Kushana style of architecture. The most imposing structure is the Sariputra stupa at the extreme south of the University. There are 9 monasteries. Each monastery was provided one shrine which contained the colossal image of Buddha. Also visit Museum here which possesses the treasure antiquities found during the excavations in Nalanda and Rajgir.
Finally, proceed to Patna. Check in at hotel for overnight stay.
Patna – Vaishali – Keshariya – Kushinagar (265 Km, 7 Hours)
Morning leave for Kushinagar enroute visit Vaishali were, the lord Buddha preached his last sermon before his death in Vaishali. It is significantly associated with Buddhism. It is believed that Lord Buddha visited Vaishali many times after he attained enlightenment.
It was the Capital of one of the first Republican states in entire world. Buddha asked Ananada, his disciple to assemble all bhikshus (monks) there and told them about his Mahaparinirvana (final departure) advising them to spread Dharma to bring happiness in the world.
Continue drive to visit Kesariya was known as Kesaputta and was dominated by Kalamas that was later annexed by its monarchical neighbour Kosala. Alara Kalama, the teacher of Buddha before enlightenment, is said to belong to Kesaputta. Buddha is also said to have had direct connection with Kesaputta.
According to Jataka Buddha ruled this place as a Chakravartin Raja in his previous birth. Similarly during one of his visits to Kesaputta that Buddha gave one of his most important discourses, the celebrated Kessaputtiya Sutta, popularly known as Kalama Sutta. Kesariya stupa built to honour the place where Buddha spent the last days of his journey, before attaining Nirvana.
Finally, proceed to Kushinagar which is also a must visit for all Buddhist Pilgrims because it was here that Lord Buddha delivered his last sermon. It was the center of the Mallas dynasty who ruled over the place, however, only few ruins remain today associated with that period. Ashoka the Great had also built many structures in this place where Buddha attained Nirvana.
Arrive and check in at hotel.
Kapilvastu is one of the most important pilgrimage site for Buddhists. Lord Buddha had spent his childhood and youth in this town. Once the capital of the Shakya kingdom; the place will unfold the story of birth of Buddhist religion. Mystic charm and magic of the village can be felt with spirituality and devotion. The village is sprinkled with many Stupas that were built by Ashoka and Gupta kings.
Finally, proceed to Lumbini, which is famous in the world for being the sacred site of Lord Buddha’s birth.
Upon arrival, check in at hotel for overnight stay.
Kushinagar – Lumbini (145 Km, 4 ½ Hours)
Morning visit Kushinagar where excavations reveal structures and artefacts related to all sects of Buddhism. Kushinagar is the common thread of all sects of Buddhism through its magnificent Chaityas, Viharas, temples and monasteries.
Visit Nirvana Temple perched high on a plinth, the temple houses reclining Nirvana statue of Lord Buddha and is made of monolithic red sandstone. The statue is placed over huge brick-pedestal with stone-posts at the four ends. Inscriptions are beautifully engraved on the statue which dates back to the 5th century.
Ramabhar Stupa is the cremation site of Lord Buddha and is also called as Mukutsbandhan-Chaitya.
Finally, proceed to Lumbini which is famous in the world for being the sacred site of Lord Buddha’s birth.
Upon arrival, check in at hotel for overnight stay.
Lumbini – Sravasti (190 Km, 5 Hours)
Morning visit Maya Devi Temple marks the spot where Queen Maya Devi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama in around 563BC. The temple is enclosed by the brick foundations of monasteries and ancient temples. The ground floor of the temple still has remains of the ruins of the ancient Maya Devi Temple dating back to 3rd century BC. In the adjoining sacred garden you’ll find the pillar of Ashoka, ancient ruins of stupas, and maroon- and saffron-robed monks congregating under a sprawling Bodhi (pipal) tree decorated with prayer flags.
There is a sacred pond beside the temple which is believed to be the birth spot where Maya Devi bathed before giving birth to the Buddha.
Later leave for Sravasti is where Buddha delivered many of his important sermons. Sravasti is the most important Buddhist pilgrimage site in the country. Lord Buddha bewildered his sermons with a million fold expression of himself, seated on a thousand-petaled lotus, as fire and water sprung from his body. After arrival check in at hotel for overnight stay.
Sravasti – Varanasi (310 Km, 9 Hours)
In the morning visit Saheth in Sravasti. It has a number of Buddhist Stupas and monasteries. The main attractions here are two chambers; Gandhakuti and Kosambakuti, which were used by Buddha. Gandhakuti or fragrant chamber is the most sacred place as it was used as personal chamber by Lord Buddha and devotees offer large amount of flowers to the Lord.
Afterwards leave for Varanasi. It is the oldest living city of the world and is famous as the city of temples. Varanasi or Kashi as it is popularly known is the most important place of pilgrimage for Hindus and the sight of devout praying standing water deep in Ganges. Buddha had reached here after he attained Nirvana to look for five Hindus Ascetics who he had met earlier before enlightenment and who had insisted that the only path to salvation was through self-mortification. Buddha gave them the precious gift of spiritual knowledge thus they became his followers and the first members of the Sangha. After arrival at Varanasi check in at hotel for overnight stay.
Varanasi – Sarnath – Varanasi (30 Km, 1 ½ Hours)
Early morning Boat tour on River Ganges to visit Bathing Ghats. We explore Ghats to witness the live rituals of the world’s most important religion. Sailing on the holy waters of Ganga, enjoy the sight of sunrise and at the background you will experience thousands of pilgrims worshipping sunrise and having a bath in the holy water. Return to hotel for breakfast.
Later excursion to Sarnath, one of the four most important Buddhist pilgrimage destinations in India. Visit Dhamekh Stupa which is the most wonderful and massive structure at Sarnath. Built partly in brick and partly in stone, the Dhamekh Stupa is 28 meter in diameter at the base and 43.6 meter in height.
The Stupa has a specific significance at Sarnath as it signifies the place where Buddha delivered his first sermon after he attained enlightenment at Bodh Gaya. Here he preached his first discourse to his five former companions. This event is described in Buddhist texts as dharmachakra – pravartana, meaning the turning of the Wheel of Law. The Buddha taught them all that he had learned and thus they also became enlightened. This marked the foundation of the first Buddhist Sangha or the community of monks. The name Dhamekh proves that it certainly has some linkage with Buddha’s Dharma. It is believed that the Stupa was built by Ashoka on the spot where Buddha set in motion the wheel of law.
While returning to Varanasi, tour of Ganges by boat and experience Aarti ceremony on Ghat there. Overnight stay at hotel.
In the morning, transfer to airport to catch flight for onwards destination.