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.
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, etc. and are virtually a shopper's paradise. Check-out from your 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. Later in the evening you will be transferred to rail-station for your Gonda train. Overnight is onboard the train.
On you arrival in Gonda, you will be transferred to Sravasti by road. This afternoon you will visit Sravasti. 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. Overnight is in Sravasti.
This morning you will drive to Lumbini. Buddha also is known as Tathagata - One who has found the Truth. Lumbini a 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. Overnight is in Lumbini.
After the visits of Lumbini, you will drive to Kushinagar where Buddha finally attained Mahaparmirvana. 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. Overnight is in Kushinagar.
Today morning you will drive to Patna visiting Vaishali enroute. 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 Patna.
Today you will be transferred to Bodhgaya 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 Bodhgaya.
This morning is for visiting Bodhgaya which is one of the most sacred places for Buddhists 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. Later drive to Varanasi. 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 be transferred to Kanpur visiting Allahabad enroute. Allahabad is known as Prayag or Prayaga or "place of offerings". This city is also known as Triveni or the union place of the three sacred rivers Ganges, Yamuna and the invisible Saraswati. Allahabad hosts the world’s largest religious gathering Maha Kumbh Mela once every twelve years and Ardh Kumbh Mela once every six years. Millions of Hindus visit this sacred city and take a bath at the meeting point of the rivers. You will be visiting the Allahabad Fort. The original fort was built by built by Emperor Ashoka and inside the fort is an Ashoka pillar with edicts inscribed on it. You will continue your drive to Kanpur. Overnight is in Kanpur.
Today morning you will be transferred to Agra visiting Sankasya on the way. Sankasya an ancient city came into prominence at the time of Gautama Buddha. Ashoka installed one of his famous Pillars and built a stupa and a temple commemorating the visit of Buddha. The legend is that all the Buddhas descend to Earth in this place. On his way to the Earth, Lord Brahma and Indra escorted Buddha and a temple marks the place where both of them descended. Of the Ashokan Pillar, now only the capital of the pillar remains. A temple of Bisaridevi, just 500 yards from the village, stands on a sacred stupa. A huge Shivlinga is placed here. Overnight is in Agra.
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 Tourist Circuit of Golden Triangle 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. 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 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. Afternoon can be spent visiting more places of interest or shopping. Agra is famous for inlaid marble work and handicrafts made of marble, wood and metal. Taj Mahal is closed on Friday. After the visits, you will be transferred to Delhi airport to connect to your onwards flight. End of your Buddhism in India tour.