Vacation India Tourism » Religious
Pilgrimage Buddhist Tour
11 Nights / 12 Days
Delhi - Agra - Varanasi - Bodhgaya - Nalanda - Rajgir
- Patna- Vashali - Kushinagar - Lumbini - Balrampur - Lucknow
DAY -1: Delhi
Arrive DELHI. Meet on arrival by company representatives. Proceed to hotel
DELHI, the capital of kingdoms and empires is now a sprawling metropolis
with a fascinating blend of the past and the present. It is a perfect
introduction to the composite culture of an ancient land. A window to
the kaleidoscope - that is India.
Overnight at Delhi.
Early morning proceed to Agra by Shatabdi Express Train. Breakfast to
be served in the train. Upon arrival transfer to Hotel. Afternoon sightseeing
of the Taj and Fort.
Badal Singh established the city of Taj in 1475. Agra finds mention in the
Mahabharat as Agraban. This city in those days was considered to be the
sister-city of Mathura, which was more prominent than Agraban. Agra came
into its own when the Lodhi Kings chose this place beside the RIVER YAMUNA
to be their capital city. Sikander Lodhi made Agra his capital but Babar
defeated the Lodhis to capture not only Agra but also laid the foundation
of the Mughal empire.
In the Mid 16th century and earlier 17th century Agra witnessed a frenzied
building activity and it was during this time when the symbol of love Taj
Mahal was built. The buildings made during this era were purely in the contemporary
Mughal style and of very high quality. The same is still reflected in whatever
monuments remain in Agra. The narrow lanes of Agra filled with aroma of
Mughlai cuisine, the craftsman who are busy in crating master pieces with
their skill all remind of the Mughal royalty which this city had once experienced.
Today whatever remains, has become a major tourist attraction which has
taken Agra again to the heights of glory but this time as a major tourist
destination of India.
Visit the TAJ MAHAL
- one of the Seven Wonders of the World was built
by Shah Jahan in 1631 AD and was completed in 1651AD. Taj Mahal - The symbol
of Love was built in the memory of Mumtaz Mahal (Shah Jahan' s second Wife).
AGRA FORT - Built by the famed Mughal emperor Akbar in 1565 AD, the fort
is predominantly of red sandstone. Ensconced within is the picture perfect
Pearl Mosque, which is a major tourist attraction.
DAY-3: Agra - Varanasi (by AIR)
After breakfast drive to Fatehpur Sikri and visit the Bulund Darwaza.
The deserted, red Sandstone City, Emperor Akbar built that as his capital
and palace in the late 16th century is an exhilarating experience. It
a veritable fairytale city and its "ruins" are in pristine condition
... it's not hard to imagine what the court life must have been like in
the days of its grandeur. Also visit the Bulund Darwaza, the largest gateway
in the world.
Transfer to airport for flight to Varanasi. Arrive Varanasi and visit
VARANASI IS THE WORLD'S MOST ANCIENT LIVING CITY. SUNRISE ON THE RIVERFRONT,
AS SEEN FROM A BOAT, CAN BE SPIRITUALLY UPLIFTING SIGHT. CROWDED WITH TEMPLES,
AND ITS LABYRINTH OF STREETS, THE CITY ATTRACTS THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF TOURISTS.
THE RELIGIOUS CAPITAL OF HINDUISM, VARANASI IS THE CARPET MANUFACTURING
PLACE OF INDIA. IT WAS PREVIOUSLY KNOWN AS KASHI - THE CITY THAT ILLUMINATES.
THE PRESENT NAME IS DERIVED FROM THE FACT THAT THE CITY IS AT THE CONFLUENCE
OF THE RIVERS VARUNA AND ASI.
Reach and proceed to Sarnath.
- 5 miles out of Varanasi for a day excursion:
One of the holiest Buddhist sites in the world, where Buddha preached
his first Sermon in 590 BC. Witness the ruins of a once flourishing Buddhist
monastery and then visit a fine Museum which houses an excellent collection
of Buddhist art and sculptures found at the site.
Overnight at Varanasi. VNS - HOTEL HINDUSTAN INTERNATIONAL.
DAY-4: Varanasi - Bodhgaya
Morning boat ride on the Sacred River Ganges to rituals performed by priests
and devotees. Half day guided tour of Varanasi including the Kashi Vishwanath
Temple, Gyanvapi Mosque and Benaras Hindu University. After lunch proceed
Bodhgaya is one of the sacred places for the Buddhists as well as for the
Hindus. Here under the Bodhi Tree, Gautama attained supreme knowledge to
become Budhha, the `Enlighted One'.
"The Buddha once lived here"
Lord Buddha the gentle colossus who founded the first universal religion
of the world, worked and lived much of his life in Bihar though he was
born in Kapilavastu, now in Nepal. Most of the major events of his life,
like enlightenment and last sermon happened in Bihar. Significantly. the
state's name originated from 'Vihara' meaning Buddhist and Jain monasteries,
which abounded in Bihar.
Though the Buddha was born as a Sakya prince in the Terai foothills of the
Himalayas, Buddhism as a religion was really born in Bihar and evolved here
through his preaching and the example of his lifestyle of great simplicity,
renunciation and empathy for everything living. Perhaps the present day
life of trauma and tension reminds us of the other alternative that was
always available to us, the Buddha's way of life, gentle and simple.
Several centuries after Buddha's passing away, the Maurya emperor Ashoka
(234-198 BC) contributed tremendously towards the revival, consolidation
and spread of the original religion. It is the monasteries Ashoka built
for the Buddhist monks and the pillars erected to commemorate innumerable
historical sites associated with the Buddha's life, mostly intact to this
day, that helped scholars and pilgrims alike to trace the life events and
preachings of a truly extraordinary man.
The Buddha attained enlightenment in Bodhgaya, under the Bodhi tree, 10
km from Gaya. the ancient Hindu pilgrimage centre. The tree from the original
sapling still stands in the temple premises. It is the most important Buddhist
pilgrimage centre as Buddhisrn was born here.
The magnificent Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya is an architectural amalgamation
of many centuries cultures and many heritages that came to pay their homage
here. The temple definitely has architecture of the Gupta and later ages,
inscriptions describing visits of pilgrims from Sri Lanka, Myanmar and China
between 7th and 10th century AD. It is perhaps still the same temple Hiuen
Tsang visited in 7th century.
Overnight at Bodhgaya. B'GAYA - LOTUS NIKKO B'GAYA / SUJATA
Morning after an early breakfast proceed to Bodhgaya. Packed lunch to
Sightseeing of Maha Bodhi Temple and Tree. Visit the
Chinese Temple. In the afternoon visit Niranjana Temple and River. Visit
the school of the destitute. Lunch and dinner at Bodhgaya. Overnight at
Bodhgaya. B'GAYA - LOTUS NIKKO B'GAYA / SUJATA
DAY-6: Bodhgaya - Nalanda - Rajgir - Patna
Early morning proceed to visit the historical towns of Nalanda & Rajgir.
Have lunch at Rajgir. Proceed to Patna after lunch. Overnight at Patna.
- Nalanda, where ruins of the great ancient university have
been excavated, is situated at a distance of 90 km. south east of Patna
by road. It falls on way to Rajgir. It is also linked by rail with Patna,
Rajgir and Bakhtiyarpur (on Delhi-Howrah main track).
Hieun Tsang, the renowned Chinese traveller of the seventh century, says
that according to tradition the place owed its name to a Naga of the same
name which resided in a local tank. But he thinks it more probable that
Lord Buddha, in one of his previous births as Bodhisatwa, became a king
with his capital at this place and that his liberality won for him and his
capital the name Nalanda or "Charity without intermission". The
third theory about the name of the place is that it derived from Nalam plus
da. Nalam means lotus which is a symbol for knowledge and Da means given
the place had many lotuses.
Nalanda has a very ancient history. It was frequently visited by Lord Vardhamana
Mahavir and Lord Buddha in the 6th century BC. during his sajourns, the
Lord Buddha found this place prosperous, swelling, teeming with population
and containing mango-groves. It is also supposed to be the birth place of
Sariputra, one of the Chief disciple of the Lord Buddha.
- The Buddha lived in the sixth century BC. Mahavir was born
in 567 BC and the traveller in Bihar will encounter them both constantly.
Rajgir is 10km south of Nalanda and sacred to the memory of the founder
of both Buddhism and Jainism. Lord Buddha spent many months of retreat during
the rainy season here, and used to meditate and preach on Griddhkuta, the
'Hill of the Vultures'. Lord Mahavir spent fourteen years of his life at
Rajgir and Nalanda. It was in Rajgriha that Lord Buddha delivered some of
his famous sermons and converted king Bimbisara of the Magasha Kingdom and
countless others to his creed. Once a great city, Rajgir is just a village
today, but vestiges of a legendary and historical past remain, like the
cyclopean wall that encircles the town and the marks engraved in rock that
local folklore ascribes to Lord Krishna's chariot.This legend, like many
others associates Rajgir to that distant time when the stirring events recorded
in the epic Mahabharata were being enacted. Rajgir is located in a verdant
valley surrounded by rocky hills.
An aerial ropeway provides the link with a hill-top stupa "Peace Pagoda"
built by the Japanese. On one of the hills in the cave of Saptparni, was
held the first Buddhist Council. The Saptparni cave is also the source of
the Rajgir Hot Water Springs that have curative properties and are sacred
to the Hindus.
Patna, the capital city of Bihar, is a historical city, which has like
Delhi, experienced the trauma and pain of being conquered. The heritage
of Patna or Pataliputra as it was known, goes back to two millennia. This
city was the seat of administration for many rulers and each of them ascended
with a new name for their capital.
Kusumpura became Pushpapura, Patliputra, Azeemabad and now Patna. Pataliputra
was the capital of Magadha, a kingdom, which dominated and influenced
the politics of India for a long time. Located on the banks where rivers
Sone and Ganga merge, this city has witnessed the rules of Chanakya, Chandragupta,
Ashoka and the Nanda rulers
DAY-7: Patna - Vaishali - Kushinagar
Explore the side where Buddha was cremated and visit Mahaparinirvana Temple.
Overnight at Kushinagar.
KUSHINAGAR - LOTUS NIKKO
VAISHALI - Vaishali has a past that pre-dates recorded history. It is held
that the town derives its name from King Vishal, whose heroic deeds are
narrated in the Hindu epic Ramayana. However, history records that around
the time Pataliputra was the centre of political activity in the Gangetic
plains, Vaishali came into existence as centre of the Ganga, it was the
seat of the Republic of Vajji. Vaishali is credited with being the World's
First Republic to have a duly elected assembly of representatives and efficient
The Lord Buddha visited Vaishali more than once during his lifetime and
announced his approaching Mahaparinirvana to the great followers he had
Hundred years after he attained Mahaparinirvana, it was the venue of
the second Buddhist Council. According to one belief, the Jain Tirthankar,
Lord Mahavir was born at Vaishali. The Chinese travellers Fa-Hien and
Hieun Tsang also visited this place in early 5th and 7th centuries respectively
and wrote about Vaishali.
While talking of the famous men and women associated with Vaishali, Amrapali
was the cynosure not only of Vaishali but of the neighbouring kingdoms
Therefore, to avert bloodshed, the parliament of Vaishali declared her
to be a Court dancer besides consigning her to lifelong spinsterhood.
Later she became a devout Buddhist and served the Lord Buddha.
- The Buddha is believed to have breathed his last in this
land with pastoral surrounding, the small hamlet of Kushinagar, 53 km west
of Gorakhpur. The land is venerated as the site of the Buddha's Mahaparinirvana,
his death and cremation, that marked his final liberation from the cycles
of death and rebirth.
This small town in the former kingdom of the Mallas was surrounded by
dense forest. It remained oblivous to the outside world until it was rediscovered
by the archaeologists in the nineteenth century.
The modern Indo-Japan-srilanka Buddhist centre, Kushinagar is rediscovering
its roots, and is home to many viharas, including a Tibetan gompa devoted
to Sakyamuni, a Burmese vihara, and temples from China and Japan.
DAY-8: Kushinagar - Lumbini
BY ROAD. Proceed after breakfast. Reach and sightseeing.
The birthplace of the Gautama Buddha, Lumbini, is the Mecca of every Buddhist,
being one of the four holy places of Buddhism. Buddha himself identified
four places of future pilgrimage: the sites of his birth, enlightenment,
first discourse, and death. Hence the birth of Gautam Buddha makes it one
of the most sacred places in the world. The Sal tree where Siddhartha was
born is difficult to locate now. But Ashoka, in the 21st year of his reign
visited the forest and raised a pillar on the spot where Siddhartha was
The Mayadevi Temple : This Mayadevi temple dedicated to the mother of
the Buddha has been digged out and restored. The temple has a stone artifact
depicting the nativity of the Buddha. Maya Devi, his mother, gave birth
to the child on her way to her parent's home in Devadaha while taking
rest in Lumbini under a Sal tree in the month of May in the year 642 BC.
The beauty of Lumbini is described in Pali and Sanskrit literature. Maya
Devi- it is said was spellbound to see the natural splendor of Lumbini.
While she was standing, she felt labor pains and catching hold of a drooping
branch of a Sal tree, the baby, the future Buddha, was born.
Overnight at LUMBINI
- NIRVANA / PAWAN
- Balrampur by road, Sight seeing of Shravasti visit
: Saheth & Maheth BALARAMPUR LOTUS NIKKO
During the time of Sakyamuni, a rich and pious merchant named Sudatta
lived in Sravasti. While on a visit to Rajgir, he heard the Buddha's sermon
and decided to become the Lord's disciple. But he was caught in a dilemma
and asked the Lord whether he could become a follower without forsaking
worldly life. To his query, the Buddha replied that it was enough that
he followed his vocation in a righteous manner.
Sudatta invited the Buddha to Sravasti and began to look for a suitable
place to build a vihara. A beautiful park at the southern edge of Sravasti
attracted his attention. The park belonged to Jeta, son of King Prasenjit
of Sravasti. Jeta demanded that Sudatta cover the entire park with gold
coins. Sudatta painstakingly paved every inch of the land with gold. Then
Jeta said that since the trees were left uncovered they belonged to him.
But finally, he had a change of heart and donated valuable wood to build
the vihara. The park came to be known as Jetavana Vihara in recognition
of Prince Jeta's donation to the sangh.
Buddha spent 25 years living in the monastery of Jetavana. Many Vinaya rules,
Jatakas and Sutras were first discussed at this place. The Buddha is supposed
to have astonished rival teachers by performing miracles at Sravasti. It
is said that it was in Sravasti that the Buddha transformed Angulimal from
a dacoit into a Buddhist monk. He also delivered many important sermons
here. King Ashoka erected two pillars 21 meters high on either side of the
eastern gateway of the Jetavana monastery. Sravasti was a flourishing center
of learning during the Gupta period. When the famed Chinese traveler Hiuen
Tsang visited this site, he found several damaged stupas and ruins of monasteries
and a palace.
Sravasti has two villages, Sahet and Mahet. From the Balrampur-Sravasti
road one can enter Sahet, which is spread over an area of 400 acres and
has a number of ruins. A little north of Sahet, towards the Rapti River,
is the ancient fortified city of Mahet. The entrance to the mud fortification
of Mahet is constructed in a beautiful crescent shape. Though an ancient
structure, its five gates and walls are still visible. Pakki Kuti, Kuchhi
Kuti and many other stupas tell the story of the great monasteries that
once stood here.
Remnants of Jetavana, a splendid monastery with inscriptions dating back
to the 12th century, is thought to be one of the favourite sites of the
Buddha. Emperor Ashoka is also said to have visited this site. There is
a sacred pipal tree here, which is a sapling from the original Maha Bodhi
tree under which the Buddha had attained nirvana. Today, Jetavana has
two monasteries, six temples and five stupas. One temple was built by
the monk Ananthapindika and called Gandhakuti. This is the most sacred
temple in Jetavana since the Buddha is believed to have lived at this
Sravasti was also under the influence of Lord Mahavira the last Jain Tirthankar,
and the splendid Shwetambara temple here attracts thousands of Jain pilgrims.
The Sobhnath Temple is believed to the birthplace of the Jain Tirthankar
DAY-10: Balrampur - Lucknow. Reach and sight Seeing : explore this royal
city of Nawabs.
Lucknow is caught in a time warp. It exists in an in-between land of the
past and the present looking back constantly to the memories of a colonial-Nawabi
past. There is at the same time a sense of pride at the thought of being
after Delhi, the most important center of power in free India. Politics
has indeed been Lucknow's forte but culture has been its historical identification.
Despite the Indo-Persian legacy, Lucknow has a composite Indian culture.
The welding of various cultural strains nurtured by centuries of Mughal
and later Delhi Sultanate rule, to the folk traditions of the Indo-Gangetic
plains has produced a complex, yet rich synthesis. The Urdu language acquired
its baffling phonetic nuances and suave perfection here. It was in Nawab
Wajed Ali Shah's court that the most advanced of all classical Indian dance
forms, the Kathak, took shape. The popular Parsi theatre originated from
the Urdu theatre of this city. The tabla and the sitar were first heard
on the streets of Lucknow. LUCKNOW - PARK PLAZA
- Delhi : by Shatabdi Express (1545 - 2145).
Arrive Delhi and check in at hotel.
Full day tour of Old & New Delhi, Visit Raj Ghat, Jama
Masjid, Red Fort, Humayun's Tomb, India Gate, Parliament House, Lotus Temple,
Shantivan, Laxmi Narayan Temple. Relax in the evening. Proceed for day tour
of Old & New Delhi. (0900 HRS)
- A sightseeing tour of Old Delhi would entail visiting the
Raj Ghat - the memorial site where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated; Jama Masjid
- the largest mosque in India and the Red Fort - once the most opulent fort
and palace of the Moghul Empire.
Cycle rickshaw ride from Jama Masjid to Chandni Chowk.
- An extensive sightseeing tour of New Delhi would include
a visit to the Humayun's Tomb, the Qutub Minar, a drive along the ceremonial
avenue - Rajpath, past the imposing India Gate, Parliament House, the President's
Residence and would end with a drive through the Diplomatic Enclave. Overnight
Delhi - Park
- Free to explore city and last minute shopping. Check out
in the evening and proceed for The Dances of India Show. Have dinner then
transfer to Airport for flight home.
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