7 nights / 08 days – BUDDHIST ESSENCE TOUR: Ex – Varanasi

Sketched Itinerary

Varanasi – BodhGaya – Patna - Kushinagar – Lumbini – Gorakhpur

Highlights of tour

Stay: 2 nts Varanasi, 1 BodhGaya, 1 nt Patna, 1 nt Kushinagar, 1 nt Lumbini, 1 nt Gorakhpur

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01: VARANASI

On arrival at Varanasi International airport you will be met and assisted by our company executive and transfer to your hotel. Welcome Drink on arrival. Check into hotel. Lunch at hotel than relax.

Varanasi - Varanasi, or Benaras, (also known as Kashi) is one of the oldest living cities in the world. Varanasi`s Prominence in Hindu mythology is virtually unrevealed. Mark Twain, the English author and literature, who was enthralled by the legend and sanctity of Benaras, once wrote : "Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together" . According to the ‘Vamana Purana’, the Varuna and the Assi rivers originated from the body of the primordial Person at the beginning of time itself. The tract of land lying between them is believed to be ‘Varanasi’, the holiest of all pilgrimages. The word ‘Kashi’ originated from the word ‘Kas’ which means to shine. Steeped in tradition and mythological legacy, Kashi is the ‘original ground ‘created by Shiva and Parvati, upon which they stood at the beginning of time.

Get ready for evening Ganga Aaarti. Come back to hotel. Dinner. Stay overnight at hotel.

Day 02: VARANASI

Breakfast at hotel, proceed for full day sightseeing of Varanasi

The tour of this ancient city includes The Bharat Mata Temple, which has a big relief map of India in marble, the Benares Hindu University with its art gallery, and the Mosque of Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb built on the side of an ancient Hindu temple, bathing Ghats, Kashivishwanath temple & Durgakund.

Afternoon come back to Hotel. Lunch.

Sarnath

Where Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining enlightenment in Bodhgaya, today it presents the most expansive ruins amongst places on the Buddhist trail. At Sarnath visit Dhamek Stupa – which is now an official symbol of Modern India. Chaukandi Stupa - this stupa was rebuilt by Mughal Emperor Akbar. After that come back to Hotel. Dinner. Stay overnight at hotel.

Day 03: VARANASI – BODHGAYA (255 kms / 4 hrs)

Early morning enjoy a boat ride on the holy river The Ganges followed by the tour of Varanasi. A highlight of any trip to Varanasi - this incredible scene as multitudes of devotees comes to the river to pay homage to Sun God, after that come back to Hotel, Breakfast and drive down to Bodhgaya.

Bodhgaya is one of the most important and sacred Buddhist pilgrimage center in the world. It was here under a banyan tree, the Bodhi Tree, Gautama attained supreme knowledge to become Buddha,the Enlightened One. Born;in the foothills of the Himalayas as a Sakya prince of Kapilvastu (now in Nepal), most of the major events of his life, like enlightenment and last sermon, happened in Bihar.

Buddhism as a religion was really born in Bihar and evolved here through his preaching and the example of his lifestyle of great simplicity, renunciation and empathy for everything living. Significantly, the state's name of 'Bihar' originated from 'Vihara' meaning monasteries which abounded in Bihar. Several centuries after Buddha's passing away, the Maurya Emperor Ashoka (234-198 BC) contributed tremendously towards the revival, consolidation and spread of the original religion. It is the monasteries, Ashoka built for the Buddhist monks and the pillars known as Ashokan Pillars erected to commemorate innumerable historical sites associated with the Buddha's life, mostly intact to this day, that helped scholars and pilgrims alike to trace the life events and preaching of a truly extraordinary man. There is a magnificent Mahabodhi temple and the Tree from the original sapling still stands in the temple premises. The temple is an architectural amalgamation of many centuries, cultures and heritages. While its architecture has a distinct stamp of the Gupta era, it has later ages inscriptions describing visits of pilgrims from Sri Lanka, Myanmar and China between 7th and 10th century AD. It is perhaps still the same temple Hieuen Tsang visited in 7th century.


After reaching to Bodhgaya. Lunch. Relax than proceed to bodhgaya sightseeing.

Mahabodhi Temple: The temple stands in the east to the Bodhi Tree. Its architectural effect is superb. Its basement is 48 square feet and it rises in the form of a slender Pyramid till it reaches its neck, which is cylindrical in shape. The total height of the temple is 170 ft. and on the top of the temple are Chatras which symbolize sovereignty of religion. Four towers on its corners rise gracefully giving the holy structure a poise balance. This sacred edifice is like a grand banner unfurled by time to proclaim to the world the pious efforts of the Buddha to solve the knots of human miseries, to ascend above worldly problems and to attain transcendental peace through wisdom, good conduct and disciplined life.

Inside the temple, in the main sanctum, there is a colossal image of the Buddha in sitting posture touching the earth by his right hand. In this posture the Buddha accomplished the supreme enlightenment. The statue is of black stone but it has been guilder by the devotees. The entire courtyard of the temple is studded with large number of votive stupas. These stupas are of all sizes built during the past 2500 years ago. Most of them are extremely elegant in structural beauty. The ancient railings, which surround the temple, are of the first century BC and are among the very interesting monuments of the century.




Animesh Lochan Chaitya: It is believed that the Buddha spent one week here looking towards the great Bodhi tree out of gratitude, without twinkling his eyes.

Bodhi Tree: The present Bodhi Tree is probably the fifth succession of the original tree under which the Buddha had attained enlightenment. Vajrasana, the seat of stability, is a stone platform on which the Buddha is supposed to have sat in meditation gazing east, under the Bodhi tree.

Chankramana:This marks the sacred spot of the Buddha's meditative perambulations during the third week after pious enlightenment. It is believed that wherever the Buddha put his feet lotus sprang up.

Ratnagarh: The Buddha spent one week here, where it is believed that five colors came out of his body.

Other Treasures of Bodhgaya: 80 ft Statue of the Buddha, Lotus Tank, Buddha Kund, Rajayatana, Brahm Yoni, Chinese Temple & Monastery, Burmese Temple, Buddhist Monastery of Bhutan, International Buddhist House & Japanese Temple, Thai Temple & Monastery, Tibetan Monastery, Archaeological Museum. Sujata village (2 kms), Dungeshwari Hill (Prag bodhi) (22 kms by road), Maitraya Project (3 kms). Stay overnight at hotel.

Day 04: BODHGAYA VIA NALANDA - PATNA (155 kms / 6 hours)

After morning breakfast at hotel, drive down to Patna via Nalanda and Rajgir

Nalanda, founded in the 5th century AD, is famous as the ancient seat of learning. The ruins of the world's most ancient university lies here which is 62 km from Bodhgaya and 90 km south of Patna. Though the Buddha visited Nalanda several times during his lifetime, this famous center of Buddhist learning shot to fame much later, during 5th-12th centuries. Hieun Tsang stayed here in the 7th century AD and left detailed description of the excellence of education system and purity of monastic life practiced here. He also gave a vivid account of both the ambiance and architecture of this unique university of ancient times. In this first residential international university of the world, 2,000 teachers and 10,000 monks students from all over the Buddhist world lived and studied here. The Gupta kings patronized these monasteries, built in old Kushan architectural style, in a row of cells around a courtyard. Emperor Ashoka and Harshavardhana were some of its most celebrated patrons who built temples, monasteries and viharas here. Recent excavations have unearthed elaborate structures here. An International Center for Buddhist Studies was established here in 1951. Nearby is Biharsharif, where an annual urs is celebrated at the Dargah or tomb of Malik Ibrahim Baya. Baragaon, 2 km away has a sun temple, famous for Chhath puja. To be visited are Nalanda museum & Nava Nalanda Mahavihar in addition to the great ruins.

Nalanda University Ruins Archaeological Complex: The total area of the excavation is about 14 hectares. All the edifices are of the red brick and the gardens are beautiful. The buildings are divided by a central walk way that goes south to north. The monasteries or "Viharas" are east of this central alley and the temple or "Chaiyas" to the west. The Vihara-1 is perhaps the most interesting with its cells on two floors built around a central courtyard where steps lead up to what must have been a dais for the professors to address their students. A small chapel still retains a half broken statue of the Lord Buddha. The enormous pyramidal mass of the Temple no .3 is impressive and from its top commands a splendid view of the entire area. It is surrounded by smaller stupas, many of which studded with small and big statues of the Lord Buddha in Various poses or "Mudras"

Rajgir just 15 kms from Nalanda is located the complex of temples and monasteries. The place is called Rajgir. It is one of the most important tourist places in India. Being located in a valley, Rajgir is a very scenic place. The small hill grit town is covered with lush green forest which add to the beauty of the place. Rajgir was the capital of the Magadh Mahajanpad (State) when Patliputra was not formed. In those days it was called Rajgrih. Rajgir or Rajgrih means the home of Royalty. This place has been associated with Lord Buddha and Buddhism. Buddha not only spent many years in Rajgir but also delivered sermons here and proselytized emperor Bimbisar at the Griddhakoota hill. The Jivekarmavan monastery was the favorite residence for Buddha. Even Bimbisar gave Venuvan Vihar to Buddha for his residence. It is said that it was at Rajgir that physician treated Buddha, Jivak after he was injured by his cousin Devdatta.The teachings of Buddha was penned down at Rajgir and it was also the venue for the first Buddhist Council.

Today Rajgir has come up as one of the most important pilgrimage for the Buddhist.Rajgir also has some very beautiful Hindu and Jain temples which attracts Hindus and Jains also to the place. Not only as a place for worship, Rajgir has come up as health and winter resort with its warm water ponds. These ponds are said to contain some medicinal properties which help in the cure of many skin diseases. The added attraction of Rajgir is the Ropeway which takes you uphill to the Shanti Stupa and Monasteries built by the Japanese Devotees on top of the Ratnagiri hill.

Lunch will be provided at Rajgir

After reaching to Patna, welcome drink in the hotel. Check in. Freshen up. Dinner. Stay overnight at Hotel.

Day 05: PATNA – KUSHINAGAR (250 kms / 6 hrs)

Breakfast at hotel than drive down to kushinagar.

Kushinagar - is another Buddhist destination, worth a sincere admiration, due to the serenity, rich history, and the splendid structures of Buddhist root. The excavations led by general Cunningham has revealed some antique artifacts and structures related to all sects of Buddhism. Kushinagar also expresses the common thread of all sects of Buddhism through its magnificent Viharas, Chaityas, temples and Tibetan monasteries. In ancient times, the town was also known as Kushinara and Kasia. In this place Lord Buddha had left the world behind him after offering an invaluable contribution to humanity, the great religion known as Buddhism that preaches peace and brotherhood. In 543 BC, on a full moon night of Magh the legend delivered lecture to his Sangha and declared that he is going to leave the mortal world soon enough. Kushinagar is situated at a distance of 53 km west of Gorakhpur, in Uttar Pradesh, in the northern part of India.

Nirvana Stupa and temple - The excavations leading to the finding of the copper vessel and the Brahmi inscription on it proving the matter that Buddhas ashes were buried in the pace, made this place a suddenly important destination for all Buddhists devotees. Besides, the huge reclining statue of Buddha in the temple is also very attractive.

Wat Thai temple - The unique temple, built to celebrate the victory of King Bhumibol's great accession of the throne, and the subsequent Golden Jubilee, is worth a watch, especially because of the innumerable trees that were planted here. Besides, there's the Chinese temple, the Meditation Park and an International Buddha trust, and the Birla temple to add charm to roaming around in the city. Stay overnight at Kushinagar.

Packed Lunch will be provided on the route.

Reach kushinagar, check into hotel. Dinner. Stay overnight at hotel.

Day 06: KUSHINAGAR – LUMBINI (125 kms / 3 hrs)

Breakfast at hotel, drive down to Lumbini.

The birthplace of Lord Buddha

Lumbini-a place in the South-Western Terai of Nepal, evokes a kind of holy sentiment to the millions of Buddhists all over the world-as do the Jerusalem to Christians and Mecca to Muslims. Lumbini is the place Lord Buddha -the apostle of peace and the light of Asia was born in 623 B. C., Located in the flat plains of south-Western Nepal and the foothills of Churia range , Lumbini and its surrounding area is endowed with a rich natural setting of domesticable fauna and favourable agricultural environ. Historically, the region is an exquisite treasure-trove of ancient ruisn and antiquities, dating back to pre-Christian era. The site, described as a beautiful garden in the Buddha’s time still retain its legendary charm and beauty. To the mere 12 miles north of Lumbini lies the dense and picturesque sal-grove.

For centuries, Buddhists- all over the world, knew that Lumbini where the Lord was born is somewhere around. The descriptions of famous Chinese pilgrims (of ancient times) Huian Tsang and Faeihan indicated to this area-saying ‘Lumbini-where the lord was born is a piece of heaven on earth and one could see the snowy mountains amidst a splendid garden-embedded with stupas and monasteries! However, the exact location remained uncertain and obscure till December the 1st 1886 when a wandering German archaeologist Dr. Alois A. Fuhrer came across a stone pillar.

Lunch at hotel, you will proceed for sightseeing of Lumbini.

Lumbini Garden and ascertained beyond doubt it is indeed the birthplace of Lord Buddha.

The Ashokan Pillar
Discovered by the now famous German archaeolgist Dr. Fuhrer, the pillar is the first epigraphic evidence relating to the life history of Lord Buddha and is also the most visible landmark of the garden. The historic importance of the pillar is evidenced by the inscription engraved in the pillar (in Brahmi script). It is said that

the great Indian Emperor Ashok visited the site in the twentieth year of is ascendancy to the throne and as a homage to the birthplace,erected the pillar. The inscriptions in the pillar roughly translates as: Kin Piyadesi beloved of th Gods, having been anointed 20 yeas, came himself and worshipped saying Here Buddha Shakyamuni was born: And he caused to make a stone (capital) representing a horse; and he caused (this) stone pillar to be erected. Because the worshipful one was born in the village of Lumbini has been made free of taxes and recipient of wealth". Evening come back to hotel. Dinner. Stay overnight at hotel.

Day 07: LUMBINI – GORAKHPUR (130 kms / 3 hrs)

Breakfast at hotel, proceed for Lumbini sightseeing.

Puskarni - the sacred pool
South of the Ashokan Pillar, there is the famous sacred pool- ‘Puskarni’ believed to be the same sacred pool in which Maya Devi took a holy dip just before giving birth to the Lord and also where infant Buddha was given his first purification bath. Architecturally the pool has the projecting terraces in descending order and is reverted with a fine brick masonry.

Sanctum-Sanctorum of the Birthplace
The single most important place of the Lumbini (and to the entire Buddhist world for that matter) is the stoneslab-located deep in the Sanctum sanctorum.

Revealed after a hard and meticulous excavations under the three layers of ruins over the site of a famous Maya Devi temple, the stone slab foundation pinpoints the location of the original place-marking the exact spot of the birthplace of Lord Buddha.

Image of Maya Devi

In adition to Ashokan Pillar, the other Shrine of importance is the bas-relief image of Maya Devi, Enshrined in a small pagoda-like structure, the image shows MayaDevi , mother of the Lord. Supporting herself by holding on with her right hand to a branch of Sal tree, with newly born infant Buddha standing upright on a lotus pedestal on an oval halo. Two other celestial figures are depicted in an act of pouring water and lotuses bestowed from heaven.

Earlier the image was placed in the famous white temple of Maya Devi beside the pillar-now totally dismantled to make way for the excavations, which revealed the Sanctum Sanctorum the exact spot where the Lord was born.

The Buddhist Temple
The monastery-of the Buddhist temple is built inside the surrounding complex of Lumbini in the manner of modern Buddhist shrines in Nepal. The prayer hall contains a large image of Buddha. medieval style murals decorate the walls. Stay overnight at hotel.

Afternoon Lunch at hotel, proceed from Lumbini to Gorakhpur

Gorakhpur - Situated on the basin of rivers Rapti and Rohini the geographical shape of the Gorakhpur City is of bowl. The west of the city is guarded by cool Rapti river while the east is associated with excel Sal Forest, giving the divine sense of peace with cool breeze every moment. The south is showered with the power of excellence, in shape of greenish Ramgarh Tal and north is the plinth of city's advancement.

Gorakhpur was a part of the famous kingdom of Koshal, one of sixteen mahajanpadas in 6th Century B.C. The earliest known monarch ruling over this region with his capital at Ayodhya was IKSVAKU, who founded the solar dynasty of Kshatriya. It produced a number of illustratious kings till the accession of Ram, who was the greatest ruler of this dynasty. Since then, it remained an integral part of the erstwhile empires of Maurya, Shunga, Kushana , Gupta and Harsha dynasties. According to tradition, the Tharu king, Mausen of Madan Singh (900-950 A.D.) ruled over Gorakhpur city and the adjoining area. Check into hotel. Relax. Dinner. Stay overnight at hotel.

Day 08: DEPARTURE FROM GORAKHPUR OR GORAKHPUR – VARANASI (200 kms / 4 hrs)

Breakfast at hotel, than transfer to Gorakhpur railway station or Airport for departure to onward destination. Or Drive down to Varanasi for your departure.

TOUR ENDS

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