In The Buddhas Footsteps
Route : Delhi - Agra - Varanasi - Bodhgaya - Patna - Rajgir - Nalanda - Patna - Kushinagar - Shravasti - Lumbini - Kathmandu -
The Indian sub-continent has been the birthplace of several religions, but the only one to take a real hold in the western world is Buddhism.
Founded about 500 BC by Prince Siddhartha Gautama, when under the Bo tree at Bodh Gaya he became the “enlightened one”-the Buddha, his philosophy swept both India and Nepal and the surrounding countries, and later, the West.
This fascinating tour will take you from Delhi to Agra, through the pilgrimage trails of northern India and into the mountain kingdom of Nepal, tracing the path taken by Gautama Buddha during his search for the ultimate truth.
Following two days acclimatising and orientation in Delhi, you will visit Agra, the home of the majestic and beautiful Taj Mahal, Red Fort and Itmad–ud-Daulah tomb.
The city famous for its riverside “ghats”, or bathing places, Benares (now called as Varanasi), is an image familiar to anyone interested in India, with its high temples and shrines linings in the banks of the holy river the Ganges, on which you will take an early morning boat excursion to watch the Hindu faithful during their morning prayers. On to Sarnath, where Buddha preached his first sermon, to visit the ruins of monasteries built more than 2,000 years ago and the Dhumak Stupa, built around relics of the Buddha to commemorate his sermon in the Deer Park.
Travelling overland, you will reach Bodhgaya, where the 20 meters high Maha Dhobi temple marks the place where the Buddha attained enlightenment under the shade of the Bodhi tree. Here sits a huge image of the Buddha. In the evening, if you wish you can participate in the evening prayers.
En route to Patna, you will visit Nalanda, the ruins of the famous Buddhist University, founded by the emperor Ashoka, once the home of more than 10,000 students and 1,500 professors. At Rajgir, the first Buddhist council sat, following the death of the Buddha. Here also, time permitting,
you can visit the Japanese built mountain top temple and the ancient ruins of Rajgriha. The city’s surrounding hills are topped by temples built by the members of the Jain religion. There may even be time for you to dip your toes into the hot springs for which this area is famous.
It is at Kushinagar that the Buddha is reputed to have spoken his last words,” Decay is inherent in all things” and then expired. In the afternoon you will visit the site of his cremation and also the Mahaparinirvana temple, containing a massive reclining Buddha figure. Originally 13 Stupas were constructed here but now only the ruins of six remains.
Continuing the road journey to Sarasvati, where the Buddha spent 24 rainy seasons preaching his message.
Our overland journey brings us to the Buddha’s place of birth, 2,500 years ago-Lumbini. We will stay here for one night to allow you to explore at your leisure, then travelling on over the border into Nepal and it’s the capital city, Kathmandu, where we will arrive late in the evening.
The city and valley of Kathmandu are littered with evidence of the religion which predominates here-Buddhism, tinted with Tibetan Tantric influences and Hinduism. During your time here you will visit Bodhnath, Bhadgaon and Pashupatinath. And, of course, no visit to Kathmandu would be complete without a visit to the “all-seeing” temple of Swayambhunath, sitting on top of a wooded hill (now a nature park). The walk up the hill will reward you with sights of the many small monkeys who live here scavenging for food, left by Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims, from the multitude of Shrines on the hill slopes. Reaching the summit temple, with it’s multi-coloured Tibetan prayer flags fluttering in the breeze, is an experience never to be forgotten.
• In-depth exposure into the history of Delhi by visiting Jama Masjid, the bylanes of Chandni Chowk, India Gate, the forerunner to the Taj, Humayun’s Tomb etc.
• Lifelong memories at Taj Mahal, world-famous marble mausoleum
• Experience the aarti ceremony, a boat ride on River Ganges in Varanasi, Sarnath, where Buddha gave his first sermon
• The ancient sites depicting the life of Buddha – place of birth, place where he gave his last sermon and where he was cremated
• Kathmandu, the Diverse historic city, where Buddhism and Hinduism co-exist
Arrival TimeMidnight or Late night
Dress CodeCasual, comfortable and light
Tour Itinerary : - In The Buddhas Footsteps
Day 1: Arrive Delhi
Arrive at New Delhi International airport. After completing the immigration and customs, proceed towards the arrival hall. Meeting and assistance upon arrival with a traditional welcome of garlanding and transfer to the hotel (the room being held from 1400 hrs).
Overnight in Delhi
Day 02: Delhi Sightseeing
This morning, after leisurely breakfast, we set off to explore Old and New Delhi, what India's Capital Delhi has to offer.
The visit of Old Delhi includes a drive past of the Red Fort (closed on Monday), built-in 1648 during the reign of Shah Jehan in red sandstone, which gave the fort its name. Jama Masjid is India's largest mosque, built of red sandstone and white marble in the middle of the 17th century. Chandni Chowk(Silver Street), once the imperial avenue down which Shah Jehan rode at the head of lavish cavalcades, is today bustling with shops, stalls and silversmiths' ateliers.
Later, we explore New Delhi to include the visit to India Gate, built-in memory of Indian soldiers killed during the First World War. Rashtrapati Bhawan, built in the early 20th century as the Imperial residence of the Viceroy is today the official residence of the President of India and Parliament House - a unique circular building with huge colonnades, Humayun's Tomb is the first Mughal garden tomb, built by Hamida Begum, Humayun's senior widow and mother of his son Akbar. One of Delhi's most striking monuments is the 70-meter high Qutab Minar, which looms majestically across the wide plains of Delhi.
Overnight in Delhi
Day 03 Delhi to Agra Gatiman Express 0810/0950
This morning after early breakfast, transfer to the railway station to board India's first bullet train to Agra - India's capital during the 16th and 17th centuries, the city is home to an outstanding collection of Mughal architecture.
Meeting on arrival and transfer to the hotel (Room is available from 1400 hrs).
Late morning, visit Agra Fort - on the west end of the Yamuna River, Akbar's magnificent fort dominates the center of the city. The outer walls, just over 20 meters high and faced with red sandstone, tower above the outer moat. The fort is crescent-shaped with a long nearly straight wall facing the river.
This afternoon we visit the tomb Itmad-ud-Daulah, which is believed that the glorious Taj Mahal was probably inspired by this Mughal Mausoleum. It was the very first Mughal structure to be built from marble and make extensive use of Pietras. This beautiful tomb calls for a visit.
In the evening visit Mehtab Bagh during sunset for a mesmerizing view of the Taj Mahal on the other side.
Overnight in Agra
Day 04 Agra to Varanasi (Flight)
This morning, we start early (during the sunrise, visit the world-famous Taj Mahal, set within the paradise gardens. The whole of the Taj complex measures 580 by 300 m and the garden 300 by 300 m. The guiding principle is one of symmetry. The four minarets (41.6 m high) at each corner of the plinth provide balance to the tomb.
We return to the hotel for breakfast.
This morning after breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport to board the flight to Varanasi - dating back to more than 3000 years. Varanasi is said to be the oldest city in the world. You will find temples at every corner of the city. It is said that if one takes his last breath in this city, the person gets the ultimate liberation from the cycle of births and rebirths and attains nirvana.
Meeting on arrival at Varanasi airport and transfer to the hotel (Room will be available from 1400 hrs).
The afternoon is at leisure.
This evening, we set off to the banks of the sacred Ganges to see the devout Hindus performing the "Aarti Puja" with lighted lamps. Near the water, all the priests stand on a wooden stand which is called Chauki. The river is then worshipped by chanting mantras in Sanskrit with vibrating clash of drums and cymbals and with incense, milk, flowers and vermilion. The evening aarti is one of the most visually appealing and spectacular experiences. Hundreds of earthen lamps adorn the riverside and spread yellow light by the time it is dusk. The entire Varanasi city stops and resonates with the sounds of dongs and chimes, originating from every street. The city receives its spiritual resonance from the holy Ganga.
Overnight in Varanasi
Day 05 In Varanasi
This morning, we start very early to experience the boat ride during sunrise on the sacred River Ganges. The Ganga Ghats are adorned with temples or more than a hundred ghats(Banks) which are located alongside the river. The best way to visit and cover every ghat is through, boat ride which will give you a scenic glimpse of all the ghats which are drenched in crimson light. We watch the wonderful colours of the sunrise whilst meandering along the river.
We disembark the boat and walk through the narrow streets of Varanasi before returning to the hotel. The walk is through the maze of small streets and alleyways, which cannot be disentangled, hiding in disorderly array no less than 2,000 temples and shrines. The streets are noisy, colour is rife.
We return to the hotel for breakfast. After breakfast later in the morning, we will visit Varanasi city and will also cover several popular sites such as Banaras Hindu, Durga Temple dedicated to Durga Goddess, Tulsi Manas Temple, ‘Bharat Mata’ (Mother India). Mahatma Gandhi inaugurated this temple in 1939.
This afternoon, we proceed for the excursion to Sarnath (10 km / about 25 minutes drive one way) (museum closed on Friday), where Buddha delivered his first sermon (Religious language). Explore the Dharmek Stupa, Sarnath Museum. Ashoka pillar and the several statues dating from the Gupta period. Also, visit the Mulagandhakuti Vihar temple with frescoes scenes of Buddha's life.
Return to Varanasi city and you can explore the markets or walk around the city to get the feel of the city life.
Overnight in Varanasi
Day 06 Varanasi to Bodhgaya (via Sasaram) – 280 km about 7 hrs
This morning after leisurely breakfast, we set off for a long drive to Bodhgaya.
En route, we visit the beautiful tomb of Afgan ruler of India, Sher Shah Suri, who ruled over North India and a major part of eastern Afghanistan between 1530 and 1555 A.D. The tomb of Sher Shah Suri, is a landmark in Islamic architecture in India. After the visit, we continue to drive to Bodhgaya – a quiet village located close to Phalgu River. The village is among the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site as the Prince Gautama attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree here and became ‘The Buddha’.
On arrival check in to your hotel.
This evening we will visit the main MAHABODHI TEMPLE, constructed at the site of the jungle where Lord Buddha had meditated and was enlightened. It is possibly the same ancient temple referred by Chinese scholar/traveller Hiuen Tsang in 7th century A.D.
We will also attend and experience the evening prayers and meditation performed by different Buddhist sects (precautions – the shoes have to be removed before stepping into the temple. Carrying large bags and mobile phones are prohibited)
Overnight in Bodhgaya
Day 07 In Bodhgaya
This morning after leisurely breakfast, we proceed to explore this religious city – Bodhgaya and the day is dedicated to visiting the city only.
We once again visit the main temple complex of Mahabodhi Temple to have a feel of the place where Lord Buddha stayed for seven weeks after his enlightenment, meditating in different places around his seat under the Bodhi tree.
The place is also good for your meditation and spiritual discourse inside the garden.
Later visit the archaeological museum of Bodhgaya.
This is followed by a small excursion to SENANIGAON to visit the SUJATA STUPA - a commemorative Stupa where the village girl, Sujata offered a very special meal to Lord Buddha when he broke his long fasting and decided to eat again. Only after accepting this meal, he went back to his seat under the tree for his final meditation.
Later in the afternoon, we proceed to visit the beautiful Buddhist Temples which have a resemblance to the temples found in Myanmar, Thailand, Japan, Bhutan and Tibet.
Overnight in Bodhgaya
Day 08 Bodhgaya to Patna – via Rajgir and Nalanda 300 km about 6 hrs
This morning after early breakfast, we drive through the beautiful countryside to Patna – the most populated city in Bihar. En route, we will visit Rajgir followed by Nalanda.
Rajgir is one amongst the ancient cities of India referred in different Sanskrit literature. Lord Buddha lived in different locations of Rajgir for a long time. The only archaeological site found there are the SONBHANDAR CAVES, where images of Buddhist and Jain Prophets are found.
After the visit of Rajgir, we continue the drive to Nalanda(16 km) - In Buddhist text MAHAVASTU, Nalanda is referred as the birthplace of SARIPUTRA, one of the major disciples of Lord Buddha.
Taranath mentions that the Mourya king ASHOKA built a stupa dedicated to Sariputra. Nalanda flourished as a university internationally respected for spiritual studies till 12th century A.D. Nalanda lost its glory, the huge library was burnt to ashes and the monks fled abroad.
We will visit the archaeological site of the ancient university complex and the museum.
Later, continue the drive to the city, Patna – has seen the rise and fall of India's first major kingdoms. It had a glorious period spanning from 6th century BC to 5th century AD for a thousand years.
On arrival, check into the hotel.
Rest of the day is dedicated to visiting the two famous museums of Patna.
Overnight in Patna
Day 09 Patna to Kushinagar via Vaishali 225 km about 7 hrs
This morning, we start early to Kushinagar - near Kasia, is celebrated as the place where Buddha died at the age of 80 and was cremated and passed into Parinirvana. This place is one of four major Buddhist pilgrimage sites.
Enroute visit Vaishali and explore the Ashoka Pillar - the lion Pillar at Kolhua was built by Emperor Ashoka. It is made of a highly polished single piece of red sandstone. This is a historic place where prophet Mahavira was born. It is believed that Lord Buddha visited the place three times and he delivered his last sermon here and also announced his Mahaparinirvana. After his death, the second Buddhist council was held here.
At Vaishali, we visit the stupas where relics of Lord Buddha was found during the archaeological excavation and also visit the archaeological museum.
After the visit to Vaishali, we drive to Kushinagar.
On arrival, check in to the hotel.
Later in the evening, we take a short walk to the MAHAPARINIRVANA Stupa, where Lord Buddha left his mortal body. We will also attend the prayers and meditation in the evening.
Overnight in Kushinagar
Day 10 In Kushinagar
This day after breakfast, we set off to explore Kushinagar - visit the site where the body of Lord Bouddha was cremated. It was here, after the cremation, the ashes were distributed to seven clans of Shakya dynasty first. As per history, the Maurya Emperor Ashoka redistributed the ashes to different places and erected Stupas to propagate Buddhism.
We visit Mahaparinirvana Stupa later.
Overnight in Kushinagar
Day 11 Kushinagar to Shravasti 260 kmabout 8 hrs
This morning, after early breakfast, we drive to Shravasti – the ancient kingdom also referred in Sanskrit epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. It is also believed that Anathapindaka who gifted a vast garden Jetavana Vihara to Lord Buddha where he lived for years. Lord Buddha had shown certain miracles here. King Prasenjit and bandit Angulimal were initiated in the Dharma, in Shravasti.
On arrival, check into the hotel.
Later, we visit the stupa dedicated to Bandit Angulimal and Saripura, one of the two major disciples of Lord Buddha.
Overnight in Shravasti
Day 12 Shravasti to Lumbini 205 km about 6 hrs – we cross the checkpost
This day, we start early from Shravasti to Lumbini – the birthplace of Lord Buddha.
Enroute we stop at Piprawa village - the excavation of Dr K.L. Srivastava reveals that the current village Piprawa in Uttar Pradesh, bordering Nepal was the capital city of Kapilavastu of King SHUDDHADHANA, the father of Lord Buddha. The holy relics of Lord Budhha was found in the stupa of Piprawa which is exhibited in the Indian Museum of Kolkata, and National Museum of Delhi.
After the visit, we start our drive to Lumbini in Nepal – where we have to pass through the borders, where the immigration and customs clearance is required.
On arrival, check into the hotel.
During the evening, visit and attend the Buddhist prayers at Maya Devi Temple - the parts of the Temple are believed to be over 200 years old.
Overnight in Lumbini
Day 13 In Lumbini
This day is dedicated to the visit of Lumbini.
We first start with the exploration of the Lumbini garden with its solemn and tranquil environs. According to the lunar calendar, Lord Buddha was born on the day of the full moon in the sixth month in 623BC under a sal (Shorea robusta) grove.
The garden is today an open field with a collection of buildings. The most important among the existent relics is the Ashoka Pillar.
The temple of Maya Devi contains a stone relief depicting the birth scene of Lord Buddha. This shrine has been worshipped by the devotees of Lord Buddha since the beginning of the Christian era.
Legend has it that the temple was built on the ruins of the Ashokan Stupa, built by Emperor Ashoka when he visited Lumbini in the 3rd century BC South of the Maya Devi temple is the Pushkarani sacred pond, where the Buddha was given a first holy bath. This structure has three projecting terraces in descending order and is riveted with fine brick masonry.
Overnight in Lumbini
Day 14 Lumbini to Kathmandu 300 km about 9 hrs
This morning, we set out on a long days journey to Kathmandu - the capital of the ancient mountain kingdom of Nepal with the air of a medieval city is spread over an area of 360 km square at an altitude of 1336 meters above sea level. The city with a maze of narrow streets, wooden temples, and decorated palaces gives the feel of an amalgamation of ancient traditions with the modern. Even today, it still reflects its impressiveness and splendour due to which the visitors are enchanted whose gaze may linger on an exquisitely carved wooden window frame, an 18th-century bronze sculpture or the spiritually uplifting stupas. Nepal was opened for the visitors during 1950s and today, Kathmandu is made one of the most fascinating cities of the world due to rapid technologies of the 21st century and the traditional lifestyle in contrast. On arrival check into the hotel.
The rest of the day is at leisure.
Overnight in Kathmandu
Day 15 In Kathmandu
This morning, after breakfast, we set off to discover life in the medieval times and we will cover two ancient kingdoms of Kathmandu valley, Kathmandu Durbar Square and Patan Durbar Square from the time of the Malla Dynasty.
The first stop is at Patan, the ancient satellite city, also known as 'Lalitpur', the city of artisans, and home to the valley's finest craftsmen who have preserved the ancient techniques to produce exquisite sculptures. The city still shines with the vibes of its old-world charm and you can still see the narrow streets, lots of Hindu and Buddhist temples, monasteries and other monuments in a well-preserved state as well as brick houses. Patan Durbar square is one of the seven monument zones that make Kathmandu valley the UNESCO World Heritage site
Continuing our exploration of the area in Patan, we visit the Temple of the Living Goddess, where you may catch a glimpse of the Kumari at one of the open windows overlooking the inner courtyard.
Our next stop is the central meeting area of Kathmandu which is known as Durbar Square. This area is a profusion of several temples which highlight a wide array of architectural style belonging to the 11th century. The area also includes the Royal Palace with its gilded gates and elaborate statues, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites. The square is full of life with lots of hustle-bustle due to a multitude of nationalities which are interwoven with each other, lots of shops and stalls exhibiting several Nepalese and Tibetan handicrafts.
We now move to Swayambhunath, the oldest Buddhist shrine which is said to in the world also known as the `Monkey Temple'. Perched high on a hilltop, it commands a superb view of the entire Kathmandu Valley.
Overnight in Kathmandu
Day 16 In Kathmandu
This morning after leisurely breakfast for a full day's visit, to include Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Bouddhanath Stupa and Pashupatinath Temple.
Our first visit, Bhaktapur Durbar Square which is located in Khwopa aka Bhadgaon or Bhaktapur is 13 km east of central Kathmandu. It's the fusion of stone sculpture, wood sculpture, antique architecture, unique arts, culture and especially of Newari ethnicity. The major attractions of the square are the 55 window palace, Nyatapola temple, Bhairav Nath temple, and Golden Gate.
This visit is followed by the visit of Bouddhanath Stupa - one of the most favourite Buddhist shrine in Kathmandu and is one of the largest stupas in South Asia. It is built in mandala style which measures 36 meters in height. The canopy has 13 stages. The brick fence has 108 images of meditational Buddha. Pair of Buddha's eyes in the stupa symbolizes the awareness. The stupa is a center of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal.
Our next visit is the Pashupatinath temple, located in the bank of Bagmati River, which is the biggest Hindu shrine of Nepal. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva; the creator of Yoga and dance. Saints visit here for the shelter to meet death and the cremation in the bank of the river which meets the holy Ganges river. Those who attain death in Pashupatinath are believed to reborn as a human. The main temple has the gold plated copper roof and 4 sliver doors which is the masterpiece of Hindu architecture. Only the Hindus are allowed entering inside the main temple but there are many different monuments available in the bank of the Bagmati River.
Evening free to explore the market of Kathmandu on your own.
Overnight in Kathmandu
Day 17 Depart Kathmandu
This morning, after breakfast departure transfer to the airport in time to board the flight to your next destination or back home.
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