In the Footsteps of Buddha
Type: Spiritual Tour
Duration: 16 Days
Best Time to Travel: October – March
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In the Footsteps of Buddha - Itinerary
This fascinating tour retraces some of Buddha’s journeys throughout India and is a must for anyone interested in Buddhism. We take in the fascinating caves at Ajanta and Ellora, both of which were retreats for Buddhist monks before travelling north through Agra and the magnificent Taj Mahal to Varanasi, one of India’s holiest cities. Nearby is Sarnath with its array of ancient stupas and temples where Lord Buddha delivered his very first sermon after attaining enlightenment. We continue north to Bodhgaya and the Mahabodhi Temple and Patna where Buddha famously converted a local king to his way of thinking. At Lumbini we come to the birthplace of Prince Siddharta Gautama who went on to become Lord Buddha.
Arrival in Mumbai, meet our representative and transfer to the hotel.
Mumbai - or Bombay, as it was formerly known - remains India’s city of dreams. Despite poverty and pollution, it is so dynamic that paupers still flock here in the hope of becoming successful entrepreneurs. Built largely by the British around one of the best-protected natural harbours in the world, Mumbai is India’s economic centre. The city is also home to the country’s prolific Bollywood film industry, which churns out more films per year than anywhere in the world and of course was the setting for the hit film ‘Slum Dog Millionaire’.
Mumbai - Aurangabad
Depart for the airport and the shortflight to Aurangabad. On arrival you will head out to Ellora Caves. Impressive in their own right are the rock-hewn temples and monasteries of Ellora, located only 30km from Aurangabad. The caves are the meeting point for Buddhists, Jains and Hindus. In all, there are 34 elaborate cave temples.
This afternoon enjoy an excursion to Daulatabad Fort, a labyrinthine structure that was once covered in Persian tiles. Return hotel to check in.
Enjoy a full day excursion to Ajanta Caves. Nestling in an inner fold of the Sahyadri hills, 100km from the city of Aurangabad in the shape of a mammoth horseshoe are the 30 rock-hewn caves of Ajanta, dating from 2nd century B.C. Discovered in 1819 by a group of British Officers the caves took around 600 years to create. Carved with little more than hammers and chisels, Ajanta, once the retreat of the Buddhist monastic orders, features several ‘Chaityas’ and Viharas. The exquisite paintings and sculptures of Buddha’s life belong to the Mahayana period.
Aurangabad - Delhi
Transfer to the airport for the flight to Delhi. Upon arrival meet our representative and transfer to the hotel. The remainder of the day is free.
Delhi - Agra
We have a sightseeing tour of Old Delhi visiting the Red Fort, the Jama Masjid Mosque, India’s largest and renowned as the most elegant mosque in India. Also visit Humayun’s Tomb, a precursor to the Taj Mahal and Qutub Minar, India’s tallest stone tower made of red sandstone and considered an architectural marvel of the 13th century.
Drive to Agra and check in to our hotel.
Agra – Varanasi
Sunrise visit to the incomparable Taj Mahal, the world's greatest monument to love and devotion. It is undoubtedly a building as close to perfection as is humanly possible and its appearance changes with the light at different times of the day. Visit Agra Fort, the imposing red stone fort started in 1565 by Akbar.
Transfer to Agra Railway Station for the overnight train to Varanasi.
Upon arrival at Varanasi Railway station we meet with our representative and transfer to the hotel. After we have freshened we have an excursion to Sarnath. Here Lord Buddha delivered his very first sermon after attaining enlightenment. The site includes a number of Buddhist stupas and temples including the Dhamekh Stupa, the seat of the holy Buddha. We also visit the ruins of Dharmarajika Stupa and Mulagandhakuti Temple, where Lord Buddha is said to have rested and meditated while in Sarnath. The Ashoka Pillar built by the emperor Ashoka is a must see in Sarnath.
Return to Varanasi.
Visit the ghats at night to witness the evening Ganga Puja. At this ancient ceremony we can hear the chants of Vedas and Upanishads. This is a truly memorable experience filled with colour and noise, bells, fire and incense accompanied by hundreds of candles floating on the River Ganges.
Varanasi - Bodhgaya
After breakfast we will leave for Bodhgaya. Upon reaching Bodhgaya, transfer to the hotel.
After breakfast we have a full day visit to Bodhgaya and Gaya. We visit The Mahabodhi Temple, Bodhi Tree, Great Buddha Statue, Niranjana River, Sujata Temple And several other significant temples. The Mahabodhi temple built to the east of the sacred tree stands 17 feet high on a base 5 foot square, and consists of a pyramidal tower surmounted by a stupa. The Vajrasana or Diamond Throne lying between the Bodhi Tree and the temple marks the actual spot where Buddha is believed to have sat in meditation and attained supreme knowledge.
A gilded Buddha smiles upon the visitors from a niche in the wall of the temple, and his footsteps carved in stone hold flower offerings from devotees. Later we have the chance to visit several Buddhist temples built by followers from all over the world.
Bodhgaya – Patna
After breakfast we have an excursion to Rajgir and Nalanda. Lord Buddha spent many months of retreat during the rainy season at Rajgir and meditated and preached on Gridhakuta, the "Hill of the Vultures". In total it is belived he spent 14 years of his life at Rajgir and Nalanda. It was in Rajgir that Lord Buddha delivered some of his famous sermons and converted King Bimbisara of the Magadha Kingdom and countless others to his creed. At Rajgir we can visit the monastery of Venuvana Vihar built by King Bimbisara for the Lord Buddha to reside in. This was the King's first offering to Lord Buddha.
Founded in the 5th Century A.D. Nalanda is known as an ancient seat of learning. At its height 2,000 teachers and 10,000 Students from all over the Buddhist world lived and studied at Nalanda. In its heyday the university was a respected place for study and it flourished from the 5th and 12th centuries. Departing Nalanda, we continue our drive to Patan where we find our hotel and check in.
A free day to relax in Patna. You could visit the museum with its extensive collection of Buddhist statues. Also worth a visit is Gandhi Maidan, a park situated in the north of the city with the Golghar. This beehive-shaped structure was completed in 1786 by Captain John Garstin of the Bengal Engineers and was intended to be just the first of a series of these huge grain stores. In the end, however, no others were ever built.
Patna - Kushinagar
We depart Patna for Kushinagar stopping at Vaishali along the way. Vaishali is mentioned in the Ramayana as well as in Buddhist literature, and is reputed to be the birthplace of Lord Mahavira. It was the scene of the Second Buddhist council held approximately one hundred years after Lord Buddha's death. According to some historians Vaishali is thought to be one of the oldest democratic republics in the world. Recent archaeological excavations have brought Vaishali in to prominence again. Here we visit the Ashoka Pillar, Buddha Stupa and Shanti Stupa.
Later we drive on to Kushinagar and our hotel.
Kushinagar - Lumbini
This morning we drive to Lumbini, The birthplace of Prince Siddharta Gautama who went on to become Lord Buddha. Lumbini is situated in the southern Terai plains of Nepal and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Upon arrival at Lumbini we check in to our hotel. Later we visit the Ashoka Pillar which dates back to 259 BC. When King Ashoka constructed this pillar he exempted the villagers from paying tax and gave out 100 golden coins to the people. In the 7th century the pillar was struck by lightning and split into two parts. The site at Lumbini was lost for centuries and covered with dense vegetation before being re-discovered in 1895.
We take a walk through some of the various monasteries belonging to nations from around the world.
Lumbini – Sravasti
Drive to Sravasti, the capital of the ancient kingdom of Kosala. It is believed that Buddha sheltered here for 24 rainy seasons in the Jetavana Gardens. The area is also sacred to Buddhists as it is here that Lord Buddha is said to have performed his greatest miracle to confound the Tirthika heretics.
Enjoy a sightseeing tour of Sravasti.
Sravasti – Delhi
We depart Sravasti and drive to Lucknow where we catch our flight to Delhi
Upon arrival, transfer to our hotel. Remainder of the day at leisure.
Transfer to Delhi international airport for your onward destination.
- 15 nights’ accommodation on twin/double sharing room basis at listed hotels above or equivalent
- Assistance on arrival/departure by an experienced our office representative
- Buffet breakfast at hotel
- Meals as listed in the program
- Sunrise tour of Taj Mahal
- Transportation using the services of an air-conditioned vehicle for all transfers, sightseeing and excursions as per itinerary.
- Qualified English speaking guides at sightseeing spots.
- Sightseeing as mentioned above in the program
- Entrance fee to the monuments as mentioned in the itinerary
- 1 bottle of mineral water will be provided daily to each guest (500 ml)
- Overnight train Agra – Varanasi (2nd Class AC Sleeper Cabin)
- Domestic flight: Lucknow - Delhi
- Road taxes, parking fee, fuel charges, Interstate taxes
- All current applicable taxes
What's Not Included?
- Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
- Any alcoholic/non-alcoholic drinks including Mineral Water/Soft drinks during meals
- Camera fees, Porterage, Tips, Gratuities etc
- Things of a personal nature like laundry, telephone, spa, drinks, room service etc.
- Any kind of Insurance
- Any other supplement or item which is not listed in above inclusions
- Mumbai – Bawa International (Standard Room)
- Aurangabad – VITS Aurangabad (Standard Room)
- Delhi – Africa Avenue (Standard Room)
- Agra – Taj Resorts (Standard Room)
- Varanasi – Hotel City Inn (Standard Room)
- Bodhgaya – Hotel Tathagat International (Standard Room)
- Patna – Buddha Inn (Standard Room)
- Kushinigar – Lotus Nikko (Standard Room)
- Lumbini – Buddha Maya Hotel (Standard Room)
- Sravasti – Lotus Nikko (Standard Room)