10 Days |
Considered among the oldest of religions, Buddhism thrived to India in 3rd century BC. Thousands of Buddhist pilgrims come to India to search for utter serenity and to treat their eyes with Buddhist destinations and to get enlightened thereafter. These tourist spots are famous of different stages of Buddha’s life – from birth to sermons to death.
The 9-days Buddhist Pilgrimage tour of India begins with Delhi and covers places of Buddhist interests like Sravasti, Lumbini, Kushinagar, Patna, Rajgir, Bodhgaya and Varanasi. The trip covers all the imperative Buddhist destinations which are linked to the life and enlightenment of Buddha’s life.
Visit to Saheth Maheth at Sravasti. Saheth, a holy pilgrimage is a cluster of shrines covering an area of 32 sq km. Maheth is an ancient village that is believed to be the original site of erstwhile Sravasti city.
Lumbini - the birthplace of Buddha and is the Mecca of every Buddhist; and Kushinagar - the place where Buddha attained nirvana.
Morning visit to Ashokan Pillar - an inscribed pillar erected by Emperor Ashoka (249 BC) on the spot of Buddha's birth.
Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya which is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Sarnath - the buried Buddhist city in Varanasi where Buddha gave his first sermon.
The trip begins at your arrival at Delhi. Our representatives would receive you to transfer to hotel. Also known as the “city of cities”, Delhi has been ruled by several dynasties and rulers from time to time. Old Delhi forms a maze of small lanes lined and old buildings. And the capital, New Delhi is a modern city with new architecture.
The morning begins with a city tour of Old Delhi, built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 1639 AD. Places like Raj Ghat – the cremation spot of Mahatma Gandhi, iconic Red Fort, ChandniChowk – the busiest market, Jama Masjid – built by Shah Jahan and many more would be visited to. You may take a rickshaw ride in ChandniChowk to feel the shopper’s paradise.
Take back to back trips to the two UNESCO World Heritage Sites - the QutubMinar – India’s largest minaret and the Humayun’s tomb. The next stop is the India Gate – which was built in the memory of “the Unknown Soldier”. You will be taken to Lakshminarayan Temple and driven past few more places like Parliament House, President’s House and other Government Secretarial Buildings.
Spend your night at Delhi hotel.
Board your train to Lucknow from Delhi and upon reaching Lucknow, drive directly to Sravasti. The city of Sravasti located on the banks of river Rapti has been one of the largest cities during Buddha’s lifetime and he had spent a large part of his life here. Apparently, Buddha is said to have spent 25 years (rainy seasons as referred to in the legends) in Sravasti – 19 years he was in Jetavana monastery and 6 in the Pubbarama monastery.
The ancient Sravasti holds remains of Angulimala'sstupa, Anathapindika'sstupa, and an old Jain temple. Take a visit to the Jetavana Monastery where meditation and chanting is done at Buddha’s hut (where he apparently lived for those 25 years) and the Anandabodhi tree.
Stay overnight in Sravasti.
The next morning take a road trip from Sravasti to Lumbini – the birthplace of Buddha which is termed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered as the holiest place for the Buddhists.Lumbini is separated into eastern and western zones – the Theravadin monasteries and the Mahayana and Vajrayana monasteries respectively.
Lumbini proudly showcases a number of ruins of ancient monasteries, a sacred Bodhi tree, an ancient bathing pond, an Ashoka pillar and the Mayadevi temple at the place where Buddha was born. Mayadevi, as Rupa Devi (the mother of Lord Buddha) is worshipped here by several Hindus who consider Buddha as Lord Vishnu.
Stay overnight at Lumbini.
A short city tour of Lumbini would be followed by a road trip to Kushinagar – another of the four most important pilgrimagesfor the Buddhists. Buddha had attained Mahaparinirvana here. You would explore a huge number of ruined stupas and Viharas that date back to 3rd century BC-5th century BC.
Interestingly, Emperor Ashoka had made several significant constructions at this site. You would be amazed to see places like the remains of Par nirvana Stupa and Par nirvana Temple. Both were rediscovered as being covered with 40 foot high mound of bricks surrounded by dense thorny forest. Spend overnight in Kushinagar.
This day would be spent at Vaishali – the capital city of Lichchavi. Not only for Buddha’s last sermon here, Vaishali is also famous as the birth place of the 24th Jain Tirthankara, BhagwanMahavir born in 599 BC. Buddha preached his last sermon here at Vaishali in 483 BC before his death. Places to explore include the Pillar of Ashoka topped by a single Asiatic lion, the Relic Stupa where one of the eight portions of Buddha’s relics are preserved and encased by the Lichchavis. The place is also famous for Buddha’s organized BhikshuSangha which he passed on to his maternal aunt MahaPrajavatiGautami for further organizing.
The next destination is Patna which would be covered by road. Stay overnight at Patna.
The next destination is Bodhgaya and on the way you would be taken to Nalanda and Rajgir. Nalanda has always been known as the knowledge hub. Students and scholars from all over India and other countriescame down to this ancient study centre from the 5th century AD to the late 12th century AD. Nalanda University was among the first residential universities accommodating over 10000 students and 2000 teachers. However, the library was burnt down by the army of BakhtiyarKhilji. Nalanda also holds importance for the activities by the famous Chinese traveler HuenTsiang. Explore the set of monasteries, temples and museums with a collection of antiquities recovered.
Rajgir is the next place of interest which is considered sacred by both the Buddhists and the Jains.Rajgir was the first capital of Magadha and is as ancient as dated back to 1000 BC. Buddha had attended the “Ataniya” conference at the Gridhra-kuta. The Jains consider is as holy as Lord Mahavir had spent fourteen years of his life at Rajgir as well as Nalanda. Rajgir is also considered sacred by Hindus due to its hot water springs named Brahmakund. Places to visit are Bimbisar's Jail, the Ajatshatru's Fort, the Jarasandh'sAkhara and Rajgir Heritage Museum. Overnight is scheduled at Bodhgaya.
Explore Bodhgaya as the next destination. Considered as one of the most sacred places for Buddhists, the main attraction is the Mahabodhi Temple. It is said that Gautam Buddha achieved enlightenment on a full moon night under a Bodhi Tree in this place. The temple was built after 250 years of Buddha’s enlightenment by Emperor Ashoka. People from China, Japan, Srilanka, Thailand and many more places have constructed many Buddhist monasteries and temples here in Bodhgaya. Spend your entire day visiting these places amid religious activities. The overnight is at Bodhgaya.
Travel by road to Sarnath the next morning. There is a deer park where Gautama Buddha preached about Dharma and the Buddhist Sangha came into existence through the enlightenment of Kondanna. One km away from here is Singhpur village which is an important pilgrimage site being the birthplace of Shreyansanath, the eleventh Tirthankara of Jainism who has a dedicated temple located at this place. It is also one of the four most sacred pilgrimages for the Buddhists.
The place is also where Buddha taught the four noble truths and the teachings associated with it – known as DhammacakkappavattanaSutta, his first teaching after attaining enlightenment. Places to explore are the ruins, stupas, the Buddhist temple and the museum (which remains closed on Fridays).
From Sarnath, travel to Varanasi which is considered to be dating back to 5000 years making it one of the oldest cities around the world. Varanasi is considered to be the cultural and spiritual capital of North India for years and breathing last here is considered to be the path to salvation. Overnight stay at Varanasi.
Your trip to Varanasi will not be complete without visiting the ghats of River Ganges - Manikarnika and Harish chandra. These two famous ghats are frequented by hundreds of devotees. Take a boat ride across these two ghats and witness several funeral pyres burning around in these ghats. It is believed by the Hindus that it is pious to be cremated on the bank of Ganges and the soul gets salvation and freed from rebirth cycle. Take a holy dip to get into the feeling of the religious ambience.
You would be transferred to the airport later for your flight to Delhi where you would catch your return or connecting flight. The hotel accommodation isn’t included for this night.
Depart with memories and exploration of few of the most ancient places as your India and Nepal Buddhist tour comes to an end.