Grand India Buddhist Tour
12 NIGHTS – 13 DAYS
Delhi – Lucknow – Sravasti – Lumbini – Kushinagar – Keshariya – Vaishali – Patna – Nalanda – Rajgir – Bodhgaya – Sarnath – Varanasi – Delhi
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.
Delhi – Agra (210 Km, 4 Hours)
Morning after breakfast leave for Agra.
On arrival Check-In at hotel.
Later start city tour of Agra visiting world famous “Taj Mahal”, the monument of love immortalized in marble. The arch-and-dome profile of white marble has become iconic. The most magnificent feature is the Taj Mahal’s painstaking details: inlaid semiprecious stones and carvings. Next stop is Agra Fort which was built by Great Akbar. The fort is built with red sandstone and portrays a mixture of the Islamic and Hindu styles of architecture. Later visit Sikandra, the tomb of Akbar is a combination of various architectural styles and very diverse from other Mughal Buildings. Overnight stay.
Agra – Lucknow (335 Km, 5 Hours)
Morning leave for Lucknow which is a multicultural city with courtly manners, beautiful gardens, and known for poetry, music, and fine cuisine. Afternoon city tour of Lucknow visiting ‘Bara Imambara’ which a historical building with such a splendid architecture that even modern architects are impressed by its design. The Imambara was built in 1784 by Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula and designed by Kifayat-ullah who is believed to be a relative of the architect of the Taj Mahal. Also visit Jama Masjid. Overnight stay.
Lucknow – Sravasti (180 Km, 4 Hours)
Morning after breakfast 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.
Sravasti – Lumbini (190 Km, 5 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.
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.
Lumbini – Kushinagar (140 Km, 4 Hours)
Morning visit Maya Devi Temple which is believed to be the spot where Queen Maya Devi gave birth to Siddhartha in 563 BC. 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. There is an adjoining garden which is considered to be sacred and there is also ancient pillar of Ashoka and ancient ruins of old stupas. You will find many traditional robed monks under a spreading Bodhi (pipal) tree which is adorned 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.
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 honor 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.
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, proceed to Bodhgaya. Bodhgaya is a very special place for Buddhists as it is Bodhgaya which transformed Prince Siddhartha into Gautam Buddha as he attained enlightenment here with eternal knowledge under the Banyan tree which is today known as Bodhi Tree all over the world. Bodh Gaya is considered the most important pilgrimage for all sects of Buddhists as from here, Buddha began to spread his message of peace throughout the world. Check in at hotel for 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. Overnight stay.
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 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.
Finally, 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.
Varanasi – Kolkata (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.
Return to hotel for breakfast.
Later transfer to airport to catch flight for Kolkata which is often called “fascinating”, “overwhelming”, “grand”, Calcutta evokes such responses because it has several cities in one.
Arrival at Kolkata airport and transfer to hotel. Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta was once glorious Capital during British Raj. The city was once a small fishing village on Hooghly River which is a tributary of Ganges and used to be called as “Ganga” traditionally in Bengal. Kolkata can also be called cultural Capital of India as it has been home to many artists, painters, poets and Mother Teresa. Overnight stay.
Morning full day city tour of Kolkata visiting Victoria Memorial Garden which was built in memory of Queen Victoria, the main building in the center of this beautiful garden has a museum that houses Victorian memorabilia and British Raj paintings. Then visit The Mother House which also has the tomb of Mother Teresa and a simple museum chronicling Mother’s life. Later visit Dakshineswar Kali Temple which is dedicated to Goddess Kali and Belur Math. The Ramakrishna Mission established by Swami Vivekanand is headquartered at Belur Math. Overnight stay.
In the morning, transfer to airport to catch flight for onwards destination.