Thousands of Buddhist pilgrims flock to India every year in search of absolute serenity offered by Buddhist destinations. The places where Buddha visited for his learning, teachings and salvation have now become prominent pilgrims for the followers of Buddha. All these destinations are linked to the life and sermons of Buddha in a significant way and a budget tour package encompasses all these spots in a reasonably affordable way.
The 10 nights-11 days Budget Buddhist Package starts at Delhi and shifts to several places that Buddha himself identified four places of future pilgrimage: the sites of his birth, enlightenment, first discourse, and death.
The tour moves to Vaishali, Bodhgaya, Nalanda, Rajgir and Bodhgaya – the tour continues taking the tourists to the important places with shrines, stupas, temples and more showcasing the Buddhist interest. The trip shifts to Allahabad, Kanpur, Agra and finally back to Delhi for departure.
Arrive at Delhi and our representative would take you to your hotel. Delhi was the capital of Indraprastha and capital of the Pandavas during the Mahabharata. Been inhabited from the 6th century BC, Delhi has been destroyed and rebuilt several times. It is also known as the “city of cities”. While Old Delhi is a maze of small lanes lined and old buildings, New Delhi (the capital of India) is a modern city with large roads and high rises.
Delhi’s cultural background is varied as it has been influenced by different rulers at different period of time. And the monuments and constructions exhibit the variation in their art and built. The Mughal rulers influenced the food habits a lot and Delhi is the paradise for Mughlai cuisine which originated here. Delhi residents celebrate all festivals due to the proximity of different states.
Spend overnight in Delhi hotel.
Start your morning with a trip to Old Delhi which was built in 1639 AD by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Take a visit to Raj Ghat, the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi and the museum built to commemorate him. Up next on the way is the Red Fort which used to be the residence of the Mughal emperors till 1856. The fort is declared as the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Drive past to the busiest street of Delhi – ChandniChowk which is a shopper’s paradise, you can pick some souvenirs or go for some random shopping of mouth-watering food, clothes, jewels, household, etc.
Checkout from your hotel at 1200 hours noon. Up next is QutubMinar as the next spot in the afternoon which is India’s largest minaret and is declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site. QutubMinar was built in 1192 bu Turk ruler Qutub-Ud-Din Aibak. Up next is another UNESCO World Heritage Site – Humayun’s tomb which is followed by a visit to the India Gate, built in memory of the Unknown Soldier. Move next to the Parliament House, President’s House and other Government Secretarial Buildings, and then toLakshminarayan Temple, a temple dedicated to Lakshmi and Lord Narayana.
In the evening, you will be transferred to rail-station to catch your train to Gonda. Overnight in the train.
Arrive at Gonda, and travel to Sravasti by road in the afternoon. . Located on the banks of the river Rapti, Sravasti remained one of the largest cities during Buddha’s lifetime. It is said that Buddha was in Sravasti for 25 years of which 19 years were spent in Jetavana monastery and 6 years in the Pubbarama monastery.
There are remains of Angulimala’sstupa, Anathapindika'sstupa, and an old Jain temple inside the city walls of ancient Savatthi. Another place to visit is the Jetavana monastery where tourists visit for meditation and chanting at the Gandhakuti (Buddha’s hut) and the Anandabodhi tree.
Overnight is in Sravasti.
You will be taken to Lumbini by road. Lumbini is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered among the holiest places for the Buddhists. This is the birthplace of Lord Buddha. Lumbini has two zones – the eastern zone with the Theravadin monasteries and the western zone with Mahayana and Vajrayana monasteries. The places to visit in Lumbini is the ruins of ancient monasteries, a sacred Bodhi Tree, an ancient bathing pond, the Ashoka pillar and the Mayadevi temple where Buddha was born. Since Buddha is also considered as the incarnation of Lord Vishnu by the Hindus, Mayadevi is also worshipped as Rupadevi, the mother goddess of Lumbini.
After completing Lumbini, next day you will be driven to Kushinagar where Buddha had attained Mahaparmirvana. Kushinagar or Kusinagar or Kusinara is the one of the four most important pilgrimage sites for the Buddhists. Places to explore are a large number of ruined stupas and Viharas that date back to 3rd century BC-5th century BC.
Several constructions here are contributed by emperor Ashoka – the remains of the Par Nirvana Stupa and Par Nirvana Temple are must visit. When rediscovered, these sites were covered in a 40 foot high mound of bricks surrounded by a dense thorny forest.
Spend overnight in Kushinagar.
The next day is a drive to Patna. Visit Vaishali on the way. Vaishali derives its name from King Vishal and was the capital city of Lichchavi. The 24th Jain TirthankaraBhagwanMahavir was born here in 599 BC and it was here where Gautam Buddha preached his last sermon before his death in 483 BC. Must watch is the best-preserved Ashoka Pillar topped by a single Asiatic lion.
One of the eight portions of Buddha’s relics is reverentially encased at the VaishaliStupa, which was received after the Mahaparinirvana. BhikshuSangha was organized here by Buddha and was later handed over to his maternal aunt MahaPrajavatiGautami for further caretaking.
Drive straight to Patna for stay overnight.
Drive to Bodhgaya and visit Rajgir and Nalanda on the way. Rajgir (named Rajgrih earlier, meaning the House of the King) was the first capital of the kingdom of Magadha and dates back to more than 1000 BC. Rajgir is where Buddha held the “Atanatiya” conference at the Gridhra-kuta. It is also where Lord Mahavir spent fourteen years of his life at Rajgir (and Nalanda). The place is hence, holy for both the Buddists and the Jains.
Rajgir is also sacred for the Hindus for its Brahmakund – hot water springs. The places of interest are the Bimbisar's Jail, the Ajatshatru's Fort, the Jarasandh'sAkhara and Rajgir Heritage Museum.
Up next is Nalanda – an ancient centre for studies from 5th century AD till the late 12th century AD and was the academic hub for scholars, students and teachers from all over India and other countries. Nalanda University was the world’s first residential universities accommodating over 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers. HuenTsiang, the famous Chinese traveler has left his glowing account of the activities here.
There are several monasteries and temples and museum to keep antiquities recovered from the site. Drive to Bodhgaya for overnight.
This morning you would be visiting the Mahabodhi Temple of Bodhgaya. Known as one of the most sacred places for Buddhists, Buddha attained enlightenment on a full moon night under the Bodhi Tree in this place. Emperor Ashoka visited Bodhgaya 250 years after the enlightenment and built the original Mahabodhi Temple. People from different countries like China, Japan, Srilanka, Thailand etc have contributed by constructing many Buddhist monasteries and temples in this town.
Bodhgaya was also known as Uruvela, Sambodhi, Vajrasana and Mahabodhi in ancient days. You willo be driven t Varanasi later for overnight stay.
Start your day with a boat ride in the two holy banks of the River Ganges – ghatsManikarnika and Harishchandra where thousands of devotees flock for taking holy dips and also for cremation purposes. Hindus believe that those who breathe their last in Varanasi and are cremated in these banks get released from the birth cycle.
Later, you would be driven to Kanpur visiting Allahabad on the way.
Allahabad is also known as the “place of offerings” and is also called Prayag or Prayaga. It is the union place of three sacred rivers Ganges, Yamuna and the invisible Saraswati and that’s why known as Triveni. Allahabad is famous for hosting the world’s largest religious gathering MahaKumbhMela after every 12 years and ArdhKumbhMela after every 6 years. Millions of Hindus visit Allahabad to visit Triveni for holy dips at the meeting point of the rivers. Allahabad Fort is another place you would be taken to for visit. The original fort was built by Emperor Ashokaincluding an Ashoka pillar with edicts inscribed on it.
After Allahabad visit is over, you would be driven to Kanpur. Overnight is in Kanpur.
This morning you will be transferred to Agra and will drop by at Sankasyaenroute. Sankasya is an ancient city which became famous since the time of Buddha. One of the famous Ashoka Pillars stands here along with a stupa and a temple in the memories of Buddha’s visit. Legends believe that all the Buddhas descend to Earth in this place. It is believed that on his way to the earth, Lord Brahma and Indra escorted Buddha and this is the place where both of them descended which is now a temple. One the capital of the pillar of all the Ashokan Pillar still remains. A temple of Bisaridevistands on a sacred stupa about 500 yards from the village where a huge Shivlingais worshipped.
Drive past to Agra for overnight stay.
Agra was the ancient capital of Hindustan which stands on the banks of the river Yamuna. Agra is one of the three cities of the Tourist Circuit of Golden Triangle along with Delhi and Jaipur and is one of the major tourist destinations in the country. Agra was known as Akbarabad during the reign of the Mughals when it was through its peak and was the capital of under the Mughal rulers Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan.
The first stop in the morning is TajMahal – one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Built in the memory of his beloved wife Queen MumtazMahal, Shah Jahan built this marvelous piece of art crafted in white marble between the years 1631 and 1648. It stands majestically on the banks of the river Yamuna and is a mark of love and romance.
Up next is Agra Fort – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and known for its architectural structure. Built during the Mughal Empire in 16th century, Agra Fort has several fairy-tale palaces like KhasMahal and Jahangir Palace. You will be taken to see Diwan-e-Aam(public audience hall) and Diwan-e-Khas (Diwan-e-Khas). Spend the afternoon visiting more places of interest or shopping handicrafts of marble, wood and metal. TajMahal is closed on Friday.
You will be driven to Delhi airport next to catch your next or return flight.