Buddhism is one of the oldest religions in the world. About 488 million Buddhists worldwide represent 7% of the world’s total population, making Buddhism the 14th largest religion in the world. Buddhism has evolved into three major branches: Mahayana, Theravada and Vajrayana. Buddha’s disciples spread Buddhism beyond the borders of India to Southeast Asia, including several places of Nepal. The mortal remains of Buddha were preserved in eight commemorative shrines, and then further distributed by King Ashoka into 84,000 Stupas and temples across his kingdom and beyond.
The 10-days Buddhist Temple Tour covers all the major Buddhist stupas, shrines and temples in India and Nepal along with a city tour in Delhi covering all the major monuments including UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Welcome to Delhi, where you would meet our representative and get transferred to the hotel. As referred in the Mahabharata, Delhi was the capital of Indraprastha when led by the Pandavas. Also known as the “city of cities”, the magnificent city has been inhabited from the 6th century BC and has been the capital of many kingdoms in history. The culture of the city has been influenced by different rulers at different period of time and hence portrays different culture, celebrates different festivals and has a wide variety of cuisine availability reigned by the Mughal cuisine that originated here during Mughal era.
Old Delhi is a beautiful maze of lanes and small streets where old buildings stand. New Delhi, the capital city of India, is a modern city with broad roads and high rises. The city of also a political hub.
Start your day for a trip within the old city which was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 1639 AD. You would be taken to the Raj Ghat – the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi and the adjacent museum that commemorate him. 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.
Qutub Minar is the next spot in the afternoon which is India’s largest minaret and is declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site. Qutub Minar 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 to Lakshmi narayan Temple, a temple dedicated to Lakshmi and Lord Narayana.
Overnight stay in Delhi.
Fly to Patna from the Delhi airport. Directly from Patna airport, you will be taken by road to Nalanda and Rajgir. Nalanda was an ancient centre for studies from 5th century AD till the late 12th century AD and 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.
Up next is Rajgir (named Rajgrih earlier, meaning the House of the King) - the first capital of the kingdom of Magadha which 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.
Once visited Rajgir and Nalanda, you would be driven to Bodhgaya for overnight stay.
This day you would be taken for a city trip to Bodhgaya which is famous for Mahabodhi Temple. It is where Buddha attained enlightenment on a full moon under the Bodhi Tree. Mahabodhi Temple was built after 250 years of the enlightenment of Buddha by emperor Ashoka when he visited Bodhgaya. Different people from countries like China, Japan, Srilanka, Thailand etc have constructed many Buddhist monasteries and temples here in Bodhgaya from time to time. Uruvela, Sambodhi, Vajrasana and Mahabodhi are few of the old names of Bodhgaya. After the city tour, you will be driven to Varanashi. Overnight in Varanasi.
The city of Varanasi is one of the oldest cities in the world, dating back to 5000 years. Varanasi is famous for its spiritual and cultural history and Hindus believe that death and cremation in Varanasi leads to salvation. Also known as the cultural capital of North India, Varanasi has its own charm in the temples, river banks, small lanes, food, culture and the ancient look of the entire ambience. You may take a visit to the buried city of Sarnath which is few kms away from Varanasi. Sarnath is the place where Buddha gave his first sermon.
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.
In the afternoon, you would be driven to Sarnath deer park which is 10kms away from Varanasi. It is where Buddha taught the Dharma first time leading to the Buddhist Sangha come into existence through the enlightenment of Kondanna. The other places to visit are Singhpur village – one km away from the site – which was the birthplace of Shreyansanath, the eleventh Tirthankara of Jainism and holds holy significance for being one of the four pilgrimages which every Buddhist must visit. The site is also famous as Buddha’s DhammacakkappavattanaSutta – where he preached first after attaining enlightenment. The four noble truths and the teachings associated with it were all taught here. Thereafter, visit the ruins, the stupa, the Buddhist temple and the museum (closed on Fridays).
Come back to the hotel for overnight in Varanasi.
This morning you would be taken to Kushinagar by road. Reach Kushinagar by afternoon, which 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.
This morning you would be taken to Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha known as Tathagata. Lumbini is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the holiest places for Buddhists. 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.
Overnight is in Lumbini.
Explore the city of Lumbini in the morning. Later, travel by road from Lumbini to Bhairahawa airport to catch a flight to Kathmandu. On arrival to Kathmandu, you will be transferred to your hotel. Kathmandu is the largest metropolis and capital city of Nepal. There is so much to explore in the city of Kathmandu including a number of exotic attractions with historical as well as religious significance. The city dates back to 2000 years and holds rich history in mythology as well as in modern history. Many religious and cultural festivities take place here. The residents of Nepal are the followers of Hinduism and Buddhism. Overnight is in Kathmandu.
This is going to be an eventful day with so many places to visit which begins with Kathmandu and Swayambhunath. The trip starts with Durbar Square which is the heart of Kathmandu. The spot was built between 12th to 18th centuries and displays brilliant architectural structures. The site is adorned with numerous fortresses, temples, religious shrines, figurines, fountains etc. exhibiting the marvelous construction work. The finely carved figurines and other stone engravings in the different monuments and structures inside Durbar Square beautifully display ancient as well as modern style of architecture. The palace entrance depicts stone-made lions and ancient inscriptions engraved on stone walls in various languages.
The trip moves ahead to the famous Mahadev and Parvati temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Next spot is Hanuman Dhoka which was built by ancient monarchs and spread across an area of 5 acres of land comprising of numerous palaces, shrines etc. with its courtyards built around middle years of 16th century.
In the 17th century during the reign of King PratapMalla, several sacred temples dedicated to various Hindu God and Goddesses were built. Narayan Shah too had his own contribution along with the royal family with stayed here till later years of the 19th century. Afternoon is free to visit other monuments and excursion to the nearby places of interest.
Swayambhunath is also famous for another sacred place of the Buddhists - Monkey Temple which is flocked by the monkeys in the temple complex. Swayambhunath is the oldest religious site in Nepal which dates back to 5th century CE. Swayambhu means “self-created” which relates as per SwaymbhuPurana narrating that the valley was filled with a lake with a single lotus grown in it.
The complex has a stupa, a number of shrines and temples all dating back to the Lichchav period. The stupa is magnificent for the famous Buddha’s eyes and eyebrows painted on it which gives an illusion that he is looking at all the four directions. Early morning every day before dawn hundreds of Buddhists and devotees circumambulate the stupa clockwise as a ritual of prayer and meditation.
Afternoon will be for visiting Bhadgaon and Pashupatinath Temple. Bhadgaon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is also known as Bhaktapur and Khwopa. The place is an ancient Newar town and was once the capital of Nepal during the Malla kingdom. Bhadgaon was in the trade route of India and Tibet in ancient times. It is popular for mask dances of various gods and goddesses. It is famous for traditional art, craft works, pottery, temples, ponds, architecture, monuments, local customs, culture, religion and festivals.
Up next is Pashupatinath Temple – the oldest Hindu temple in Kathmandu. Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the temple is the most important Shiva temples in the world for the Hindus. Only born-Hindus are allowed to step in to the temples while the non-Hindus may watch it from the other side of the river. Pashupatinath Temple dates back to 400 AD. The temple bears similarities with Nepalese pagoda style of architecture which abode the sacred linga. The two level roofs are of copper with gold covering. It has four main doors, all covered with silver sheets.
Overnight is in Kathmandu.
This morning visit Patna and Boudhanath. Patan also known as Lalitpur is a large town located by the banks of Bagmati River in Kathmandu. Patan is famous for its exclusive handicrafts, statues, masks and jewelry. The places to visit in Patan are the Durbar Sqaure, The Museum, Ashok Stupa and temples likeDegutale temple, Krishna temple, Shankar Narayan temple, Vishnu temples, Vishwanath temple, Bhimsen temple, Mahaboudha Temple, Machchhendranath temple, Golden Temple and Kumbheshwar Temple.
Up next is Boudhanathalso known as Boudhanath or Boudha, or Baudhanath or the KhasaCaitya. Boudhanath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has one of the largest Buddhist stupas in the world which dates back to the 5th century AD making it one of the holiest places for the Buddhists. The site is surrounded by many Tibetan Gompas.
You would be taken to the temple of Bodhnath, the colossal 2500 years old stupa which stands as one of the largest on the world. This Stupa has the all seeing-eyes of the Buddha by king Mana Deva in expiation of his sins of the advice inset with prayer wheels. The Stupa is on the ancient trade route from Tibet.
Later you will be taken to the airport to board flight for your journey onwards or return.