Buddha and Beyond Tour
13 NIGHTS – 14 DAYS
Delhi – Lucknow – Sravasti – Lumbini – Kushinagar – Keshariya – Vaishali – Patna – Nalanda – Rajgir – Bodhgaya – Sarnath – Varanasi – Bhopal – Sanchi – Bhopal – Mandu – Ajanta Caves – Aurangabad – Ellora – Mumbai
Day : Arrival Delhi and City Tour
Arrive at Delhi. Welcome at the airport and transfer to hotel.
We start our tour by first visiting Old Delhi. Board on to a rickshaw and enjoy a rickshaw ride through the intricate alleys of Chandni Chowk. After a joyful ride, we stop at Jama Masjid which is the oldest and one of Asia’s largest mosques. It was built by Shah Jahan in the year 1656. After Jama Masjid, we then visit majestic Red Fort and then drive past to reach New Delhi through India Gate, Parliament Building and Rashtrapati Bhawan. Return to hotel for overnight stay.
Day : Delhi – Lucknow (By Train) Drive to Sravasti (180 Km, 4 Hours)
Early morning transfer to railway station to board a train to Lucknow.
Arrive at Lucknow station and immediately 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.
On arrival Check in at hotel for Overnight stay.
Day : Sravasti – Lumbini (190 Km, 5 Hours)
In the morning visit Saheth in Sravasti. It has a number of Buddhist Stupas and monasteries. The main attraction 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.
Then drive to Kapilvastu.
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.
Day : Lumbini – Kushinagar (145 Km, 4 ½ 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 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.
In the afternoon 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 Mukutbandhan-Chaitya. Overnight stay at hotel.
Day : Kushinagar – Keshariya – Vaishali – Patna (265 Km, 7 Hours)
In the morning leave for Patna, en route visit Keshariya which was known as Kesaputta and was dominated by Kalamas, which 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.
Continue drive to 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.
Finally, proceed to Patna. On arrival Check-In at hotel for overnight stay.
Day : Patna – Nalanda – Rajgir – Bodhgaya (180 Km, 5 Hour)
Morning leave for Bodhgaya enroute visit 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.
Continue drive to visit 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). It was also 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.
Finally, reach 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. Bodhgaya is the place where Buddha began his journey to spread the message of peace and nirvana. Bodh Gaya is considered the most important pilgrimage for all sects of Buddhists throughout the world.
Check in at hotel for overnight stay.
Day : Bodhgaya
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 year 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 Mahalia 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. Overnight stay.
Day : Bodhgaya – Sarnath – Varanasi (250 Km, 6 Hours)
In the morning leave for Varanasi with stop en-route at 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 dharma chakra – 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.
Then proceed to 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. On arrival check in at hotel for overnight stay.
Day : Varanasi – Bhopal (By Flight)
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.
Later, transfer to airport to catch flight for Bhopal. (There are no direct flights so most probably, you have to take flight to New Delhi and then take another connecting flight to Bhopal).
Bhopal is the capital of Madhya Pradesh. Bhopal is also known as the City of Lakes as there are various natural as well as artificial lakes. Bhopal was founded by king Bhoja of the Paramara dynasty in 11th century.
If time permits, we can visit old town and upper lake known as Bada Talab, one of the largest man-made lakes. Bhopal city seems to be built around the lake and from any of its side offers spectacular views of the town. The Tribal Museum is also interesting to visit. Overnight stay.
Day : Bhopal – Sanchi – Bhopal (55 Km 1 ½ Hours)
Morning leave for excursion to Sanchi, a place of historical and religious importance. One of the oldest stone structures in India, the Great Stupa at Sanchi is an important Buddhist monument, which stands proud as an icon of Sanchi, built by Emperor Ashoka to honour Lord Buddha is listed among the world heritage sites by UNESCO. It is a hemispherical brick structure; the Stupa is surrounded by four gateways called Toranas, each representing love, trust, courage and peace. These gateways are beautifully sculptured and crafted. The Stupa was crowned with chatra as it is built over the relics of the Buddha. It is around 37 meters in diameter and over 16 meters high. Lush gardens surround the stupa.
After visit of great Stupa at Sanchi, proceed to visit Udaigiri Caves. The caves are great example of rock-cut sculptures of Hindu deities and Jain pantheons. The most important among these is the sculpture of Hindu God Vishnu depicted in the form of Varaha (boar) rescuing the Mother Goddess (Bhu Devi) from being drowned in an ocean. Besides Hindu and Jain ruins, there are also few notable archaeological remains of Buddhist stupas.
Later return to Bhopal for overnight stay.
Day : Bhopal – Mandu (290 Km 6 Hours)
In the morning leave for Mandu, a city of ruins that is located on the western part of Madhya Pradesh. This ruined city is a celebration in stone of life and joy. It is a loving tribute shared between the prince Baz Bahadur and his gorgeous partner, Rani Roopmati. Mandu was originally fort capital of Parmar rulers. The fort houses, beautiful Palaces like Jazz Mahal, ornamental canals and baths. Every structure of Mandu is an architectural marvel. Upon arrival check in at hotel.
In the afternoon, we shall visit Jahaz Mahal which is brilliantly carved palace and is beautifully located on a narrow strip of land between two lakes, Munj Talao and Kapur Talao. It looks like a ship floating on the waters of the lakes. The palace boasts of three huge halls differentiated by corridors. Also visit Hindola Mahal which has wonderful sculptures. Another attraction is Jama Masjid. The mosque has a dome entrance hall and flight of steps. The design of the mosque gives a presence of quiet soberness.
On other side of the town is Roopmati’s Pavilion. The pavilion is famous for the tragic love story of Prince Baz Bahadur and Roopmati. The corridors of the pavilion have arched openings. The western ledge of the pavilion contains a huge reservoir for rain water harvesting. Overnight stay at hotel.
Day : Mandu – Ajanta – Aurangabad (395 Km 8 Hours)
Morning leave for Aurangabad. Stop en route and visit Ajanta Caves which is located in the heart of the Sahyadri hills, about 100 km from Aurangabad. Ajanta is famous for the most beautiful rock-cut caves of India. Built during the Gupta period these caves were carved using simplest of tools-the hammer and chisel, yet the beauty of these caves remains unmatched to any modern architectural wonder. The Ajanta caves, a set of 29 caves are together in the shape of a horseshoe. The caves walls are adorned with magnificent murals and paintings depicting the diverse stories from Jataka tales, including the incarnations of Lord Buddha as Bodhisattva and many more stories.
The Ajanta caves are a monument that truly displays art, history and heritage. Continue driver to Aurangabad. On arrival check in at the hotel for overnight stay.
Day : Aurangabad –Ellora caves – Mumbai (By Flight)
Morning visit Ellora group of Caves which has Buddhists, Jain, and Hindu rock cut temples and monasteries that were built in the 7th century. There are 12 Buddhist caves, 17 Hindu caves, and 5 Jain caves which were carved out of serene hills. The most beautiful is the Kailash temple which took 100 years to be carved out from a single piece of rock. Two carved columns and two elephants guard the entrance. The temple is surrounded by pillared corridors. The walls of the corridors are adorned with 6 to 7 feet high sculptures of different avatars of Shiva. Here you can find Shiva in every mood, from slaying demons to meditating posture. The famous carpenters cave has a sculpture of a seated Buddha.
Back to hotel. Check out from the hotel and then city tour of Aurangabad, evening transfer to Aurangabad airport to catch flight for Mumbai. Upon arrival at Mumbai airport, transfer to hotel and check in for overnight stay.
Day : Mumbai
Morning city tour of Mumbai, India’s largest Metropolis city. The city was first founded by the Portuguese and today is known for its glittering nightlife. The city even houses millionaire Bollywood Industry, The industry which brings fashion, glamour and cinema together.
Start Mumbai tour by first visiting Gateway of India, an important landmark of the city that was built during the British era in the year 1923. The monument was originally built to honour the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Bombay. Next stop is at Hanging Gardens which is located on the Malabar hills. They are generally referred to as Oasis in tranquillity. Bushes and shrubs take the shapes of animals and arches. Below the ground are the hidden reservoirs and behind the trees are the hidden tower. One of major attractions of Mumbai is Prince of Wales Museum which is housed in an elegant building in Indo Saracenic design encircled by a small park. The central hall crowned by a dome welcomes visitors. There are three exhibition areas that were inaugurated in 1923. The museum features private possessions of the rulers.
In the evening, transfer to Mumbai airport to catch fight for onwards destination.