This morning on your arrival in Mumbai, you will be transferred to your hotel. Mumbai earlier called “Bombay” consists of seven islands and is the finance capital of India. It is a city of people shrouded in wealth as well as people rolling in extremely poverty. Asia’s biggest slum Dharavi is in Mumbai. We start this West India & North India holiday package with a city tour of Mumbai. This afternoon, you will be taken to the Hanging Gardens located on the beautiful slopes of the Malabar Hills as well as Kamla Nehru Park offering a marvelous and panoramic view of the Chowpatty Beach as well as the Marine Drive. You will continue with your tour and taken to Mani Bhawan, Prince of the Wales Museum, Gate of India and Dhobi-Ghat and will drive through Marine Drive, Flora Fountain and Crawford market. Overnight is in Mumbai.
You will be transferred to Mumbai airport in time for your Aurangabad flight. On arrival in Aurangabad, you will be transferred to your hotel. Aurangabad built in 1610 AD by Malik Ambar was named after the Emperor Aurangzeb. Some of the places of interest in Aurangabad are Bibi Ka Maqbara, Panchakki, Kali Masjid, Jumma Masjid, Quila-E-Ark, Aurangabad Caves, etc. Bibi Ka Maqbara built in 1678 is the tomb of Aurangzeb's wife Dilras Banu Begum and is called the Baby Taj as it has a similar design as Taj Mahal. The Ajanta sight-seeing takes you to the Buddhist Chaityas and Viharas with carvings and fantastic wall paintings. The paintings show Buddha’s life and rituals of the Mahayana Buddhism period. The Mural paintings prove that the ancient Indians had mastered a fluent style, dealing with large groups of people and were painted on top of a dry plaster surface rather than into a wet plaster. The paintings show in detail the life of a wealthy court. The ceilings are painted with detailed decorative motifs and some of them represent the Jataka tales showing the previous lives of Buddha as a ruler. Ajanta Caves are closed on Mondays. Overnight in Aurangabad.
This morning, you will be visiting the Ellora Caves dating back from 5th century to 11the century takes you to the monasteries & temples excavated out of the vertical face of a rock. These 34 caves of Ellora have Buddhist monasteries, Hindu temples and Jain temples. The amazing and wonderful Kailasa Temple is the largest monolithic structure in the world. Ellora caves are closed on Tuesdays. You will check-out from the hotel at 1200 hrs noon. Later transfer to Manmad railway station to connect train for Bhopal. Overnight is onboard the train.
On your arrival in Bhopal, you will be transferred to your hotel. Later you will be going for a tour of Sanchi. Sanchi a UNESCO world heritage site is an important places of Buddhist pilgrimage is famous for its Stupas and other Buddhist monuments from the 3rd century BC to the 12th century AD. The Stupa, one of the oldest stone constructions in India was built by Ashoka the Great in the 3rd century BC. About fifty monuments including stupas and temples remain on the hill of Sanchi. Although made of stone, the gateways and the balustrade were carved as in wood and covered with narrative sculptures showing the life of Buddha with day to day happenings. Overnight is in Bhopal.
Today you will be transferred to Bhopal rail station to board train for Agra. On arrival in Agra, you will be transferred to your hotel. Agra the former capital of Hindustan is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna. Agra is a major tourist destination of India and a part of the Golden Triangle tourist circuit along with Delhi and Jaipur. Agra also known as Akbarabad went through its peak during the time of Mughals and was the capital of under the Mughal rulers Akbar, Jahangir and Shahjehan. Overnight is in Agra.
In the morning visit of Agra, you will be taken to Taj Mahal, one of the wonders of the world. This beautiful building is elegantly built with white marble by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan between the years 1631 to 1648 and it was built in the memory of his favorite beloved Queen Mumtaz Mahal. Standing majestically on banks of Yamuna River, this breathtaking, immensely beautiful monument is a synonymous to romance and love. Your next stop Agra Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and known for its architectural structure and was built in the 16th century during the Mughal Empire. This place comprises of several fairy-tale palaces like Khas Mahal and Jahangir Palace. Over here you will also get a chance to see Diwan-e-Aam and Diwan-e-Khas, which are also known as private audience hall and public audience hall. Agra is famous for inlaid marble work and handicrafts made of marble, wood and metal. TAJ MAHAL IS CLOSED ON FRIDAYS. Check out from the hotel is at 1200 hrs noon. Late evening you will be transferred to rail-station to board a Varanasi train. Overnight onboard the train.
This morning, on your arrival in Varanasi, you will be transferred to your hotel. The morning is at leisure to discover the city or visit Sarnath. Or a stroll in the busy bazaars of Varanasi also called Benaras or Banaras or Kashi will be quite interesting. Varanasi is said to be the oldest living city in the world, dating back to 5000 years. It has been the cultural and spiritual capital of North India for years. The belief of Hindus is that death in Varanasi leads to salvation. Varanasi is also known as the holy city of India or the city of temples, or the city of learning and also as the oldest living city on earth. Today you have an afternoon tour of Sarnath - the deer park where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma, and where the Buddhist Sangha came into existence through the enlightenment of Kondanna. Singhpur, a village one km away from the site, was the birthplace of Shreyansanath, the eleventh Tirthankara of Jainism, and a temple dedicated to him, is an important pilgrimage site. This is one of the four places of pilgrimage which every Buddhist should visit. It was also the site of the Buddha's Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, which was his first teaching after attaining enlightenment, in which he taught the four noble truths and the teachings associated with it. Visit the ruins, the stupa, the Buddhist temple and the Museum (closed on Fridays). Overnight is in Varanasi.
This morning, you will be taken to the River Ganges for a boat ride. Two of most renowned ghats Manikarnika and Harishchandra are frequented by hundreds of devotees. These two ghats are quite famous not only for taking a holy dip, but also for cremation purposes. It is strongly believed by Hindus that whoever dies in Varanasi and gets cremated on bank of river Ganga achieves salvation, thereby releasing him form this birth cycle. You may witness numerous funeral pyres burning around in these ghats. Later you will drive to Bodhgaya. Rest of the time is free. Overnight is in Bodhgaya.
Today morning you will be visiting Bodhgaya which is a religious site due to the Mahabodhi Temple. Gautama Buddha attained enlightment on a Buddha Purnima under the Bodhi Tree in this place. Bodhgaya was earlier known as Uruvela, Sambodhi, Vajrasana and Mahabodhi. Emperor Asoka visited Bodh Gaya 250 years after the enlightenment of Gautama Buddha and built the original Mahabodhi Temple. People from different countries like China, Japan, Srilanka, Thailand, etc have constructed many Buddhist monasteries and temples in this town. Rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight is in Bodhgaya.
Today you will drive to Patna visiting Nalanda and Rajgir enroute. Nalanda an ancient centre for studies thrived from the 5th century AD to the late 12th century AD and attracted thousands of scholars from all over India as well as from far away countries. Nalanda was the world's first residential universities accommodating over 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers. Bakhtiyar Khilji with his Muslim army destroyed this and burnt the library. The number of books was so huge that they burnt for months. Huen Tsiang, the famous Chinese traveler has left glowing account of the activities of this great seat of learning. There is an array of monasteries and temples and museum with collection of antiquities recovered from the site. Rajgir earlier known as Rajgrih means the House of the King. This was the first capital of the kingdom of Magadha and goes back to more than 1000 BC. Rajgir is sacred to both the Buddhists and Jains. This is where Gautama Buddha held the "Atanatiya" conference at the Gridhra-kuta. Lord Mahavir spent fourteen years of his life at Rajgir and Nalanda. Rajgir is also sacred to Hindus due to its hot water springs, known as Brahmakund. The important places here are the Bimbisar's Jail, the Ajatshatru's Fort, the Jarasandh's Akhara and Rajgir Heritage Museum. Overnight is in Patna.
This morning you have a quick tour of Patna. After the tour, you will be transferred to Kushinagar visiting Vaishali on the way. Patna also known as Pataliputra is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world and was a seat of learning and fine arts. Takht Sri Patna Sahib is one of the Five Takhts of Sikhism and the birthplace of the tenth Guru Gobind Singh. There are five more Gurdwara Pahila Bara, Gurdwara Gobind Ghat, Gurdwara Guru Ka Bagh, Gurdwara Bal Leela and Gurdwara Handi Sahib. Kumhrar and Agam Kuan are the sites of the ruins of the Ashokan Pataliputra. Didarganj Yakshi is as an example of Mauryan art. Padri Ki Haveli, High Court, Golghar, Secretariat Building are fine examples of the British architecture. Vaishali earlier known as Visala was the capital city of the Licchavi and derives its name from King Vishal. It was at Vaishali where the 24th Jain Tirthankara, Bhagwan Mahavir was born in 599 BC and where Gautama Buddha preached his last sermon before his death in 483 BC. Vaishali has the best-preserved Pillar of Ashoka, topped by a single Asiatic lion. At the Relic Stupa the Lichchavis reverentially encased one of the eight portions of the Buddha's relics, which they received after the Mahaparinirvana. Buddha organized his Bhikshu Sangha here and initiated his maternal aunt Maha Prajavati Gautami into the order. Overnight is in Kushinagar.
This morning you will be visiting Kushinagar. Kushinagar or Kusinagar or Kusinara is the one of the four most important pilgrimage sites for the Buddhists. It is here that Gautama Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana after falling ill from eating a meal made of a species of mushroom. A large number of ruined stupas and Viharas here date back to 3rd century BCE - 5th century CE. Emperor Ashoka has contributed to a significant construction at this site. The remains of the Par nirvana Stupa and Par nirvana Temple, when rediscovered, were covered in a 40 foot high mound of bricks surrounded by a dense thorny forest. After the visits drive to Lumbini. Lumbini UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the holiest places for Buddhists as this is the birth place of Lord Buddha. Lumbini is separated into an eastern zone having the Theravadin monasteries and the western having Mahayana and Vajrayana monasteries. Lumbini has a number of ruins of ancient monasteries, a sacred Bodhi tree, an ancient bathing pond, an Asoka pillar and the Mayadevi temple where Buddha was born. As Hindus regard Buddha as an incarnation of Vishnu, a large number of Hindu pilgrims come here to worship Maya Devi as Rupa Devi, the mother goddess of Lumbini. Continue your drive to Balrampur. Overnight is in Balrampur.
Early morning drive to Lucknow airport visiting Sravasti enroute. Sravasti located on the banks of the river Rapti River was one of the largest cities during Buddha's lifetime. One legend is that Sravasti was named after the king Shravasta. The second legend is that Sravasti was called Savatthi after the sage Savattha who lived here. Buddha passed a great part of his life in Savatthi. He is said to have spent 25 rainy seasons in Sravasti of which 19 were in the Jetavana monastery and 6 in the Pubbarama monastery. He spent the rest of the 10 rainy seasons in other places. Inside the city walls of the ancient Savatthi there are remains of Angulimala's stupa, Anathapindika's stupa, and an old Jain. The Jetavana monastery is where meditation and chanting is done at the Gandhakuti (Buddha's hut) and the Anandabodhi tree. You have a connecting from Lucknow to Delhi. On your arrival in Delhi, you will be met by our representative and transferred to hotel. Delhi was the capital of Indraprastha and capital of the Pandavas during the Mahabharata. This magnificent city has been inhabited from the 6th century BC and has been a capital of many kingdoms. It has been destroyed and rebuilt many times and is called the "city of cities". Delhi's culture has been influenced by its different rulers and the city is full of beautiful monuments. The Mughal rulers influenced the food habits of the residents and Mughlai cuisine originated here. Due to the proximity of different states, all festivals are celebrated here. Old Delhi is a maze of small lanes lined and old buildings and New Delhi has large road with huge buildings. Delhi is the capital of India and is the hub for politics. Overnight is in Delhi.
Your morning tour starts with Old Delhi, built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 1639 AD. You will visit the Raj Ghat where father of our nation Mahatma Gandhi was cremated. You will be visiting the museum that was built to commemorate him. You will be driven past the iconic Red Fort and Chandni Chowk, a very popular and a busy market in Old Delhi to the next stop - Jama Masjid, one of the iconic, historic and largest mosques in India - built by Shah Jahan. A rickshaw ride in Chandni Chowk could be quite interesting as this part of the city is quite crowded as it is full of shops. These numerous shops sell delicious mouth-watering food, clothes, jewels, household goods, etc. and are virtually a shopper's paradise. Check-out from the hotel is at 1200 hrs noon. In the afternoon, you will visit Qutub Minar, touted as India’s largest Minaret. Qutub Minar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was built in 1192 by Turk ruler Qutub-Ud-Din Aibak. You will then move forward to Humayun’s tomb, yet another UNESCO world heritage site. Your next stop is India Gate, built in memory of the Unknown Soldier. You will be driven past the Parliament House, President’s House and other Government Secretarial Buildings, to your final destination will be at Lakshminarayan Temple, a temple dedicated to Lakshmi and Lord Narayana. Late evening transfer to airport for your return flight. End of your Indian Buddhism tour package.