11 nights / 12 days – BUDDHIST & HERITAGE TOUR Ex - Delhi

Sketched Itinerary

Delhi – Jaipur – Agra – Khajuraho – Allahabad – Varanasi – Bodhgaya - Patna

Highlights of tour

Stay: 1 nt Delhi, 2 nts Jaipur, 1 nt Agra, 1 night Orchha, 1 night Khajuraho, 1 nt Allahabad, 2nts Varanasi, 2 nts Bodhgaya

Day 01: DELHI

On Arrival at Delhi International airport, you will be received & welcome by our representative than you will be transferred to hotel in the capital city of India “Delhi”. Welcome drink at hotel. Check into hotel’s room.

India’s capital and a major gateway to the country, contemporary Delhi is a bustling metropolis, which successfully combines in its folds - the ancient with the modern. Amidst the fast spiraling skyscrapers the remnants of a bygone time in the form of its many monuments stand as silent reminders to the region’s ancient legacy. The first impressions for any visitor traveling in from the airport are of a specious, garden city, tree-lined with a number of beautiful parks.

After freshen up, proceed for half day sightseeing of Delhi covering Red Fort, India Gate, President House, National Museum etc. Dinner. Stay overnight at hotel.

Day 02: DELHI – JAIPUR (275 kms / 4.30 hrs)

Morning breakfast at hotel and drive down to Jaipur. After reaching Jaipur, check into hotel. Lunch. Freshen up & proceed for Half day city tour of Jaipur.

Jaipur's past is never too far from hand. The city of victory, Jaipur presides over the fascinating desert state and its people: surrounded by rugged hills, ea76ch crowned by a formidable fort; and beautiful palaces, mansions and gardens dotted throughout its precincts. The palaces and forts of yesteryear that were witness to royal processions and splendour are now living monuments, accepted quite naturally into the lifestyles of the people of the "pink city". Except for the busy traffic of bicycles, cars and buses, little seems to have changed. There is a timeless quality to Jaipur's bazaars and its people. With its historical past, Jaipur revives legends of the ancient Rajputs. The dresses of the women and the turbans of the men add colour to this fascinating city.

After buffet breakfast at the hotel, you will be driven just outside Jaipur to the ancient capital of Amber to see the fabulous Amber Fort. Maharaja Mansingh, Mughal Emperor Akbar’s most successful General, started the construction of Amber Fort in the 17th century. Before the City Palace was constructed in Jaipur, Amber was the seat of power. An elephant / Jeep will spare you the trouble of reaching up to the fortress (Elephant ride is subject to availability). Once on top, stroll through the sprawling complex of courtyards and halls. Many of the rooms have delightful wall paintings, with precious stones and mirrors inlaid in the walls. Dinner. Stay overnight at hotel.


Day 03: JAIPUR

Breakfast at hotel. you will proceed for City tour of Jaipur. Lunch.

Among the highlights to be seen while touring Jaipur include the City Palace, which is an overwhelming complex of exquisite palaces, gardens and courtyards, decorative art and carved doorways. The palace museum houses collections of rare manuscripts, armoury, costumes, carpets and miniature paintings. Walk to the adjacent Jantar Mantar or Astronomical Observatory made by the Maharaja of Jaipur, built in 1726 and is one of the five such astronomical wonders built by Sawai Jai Singh and makes accurate predictions even to this day. You will stop and see the `Palace of Winds’, otherwise known as Hawa Mahal. It is really an elaborate facade behind which the ladies of the court used to watch the daily goings on in the street below. It is extremely intricate in its pink sandstone carving. The cool wind blows through its facade of windows and latticed screens through which the queens of the court once viewed the streets of the city. You will also have the opportunity to wander about the local markets. Dinner. Stay overnight at hotel.

Day 04: JAIPUR – AGRA (250 kms / 6 hrs)

Fatehpur Sikri (if time permits) - the deserted red sandstone city, built by the Great Mughal Emperor Akbar as his capital and palace in the late 16th century. Fatehpur Sikri (the City of Victory) was the capital of the Mughal Empire for only some 10 years. It was abandoned soon after it was built when the local wells went dry and it remains today in much the same condition that it was over 300 years ago. It is complete with palaces and mosques and used to be a town larger than London when it was originally constructed. Later this evening you will arrive into Agra.

Visit to the Taj Mahal (closed on Fridays). The Taj Mahal is everything that has been said about it and more. Taking 22 years and 20,000 men to build, the white marble was quarried 200 miles away and was transported to the site by a fleet of 1000 elephants. Built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as an expression of his love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, in mid 17th century, the Taj Mahal is truly one of the wonders of the world. Though the Taj appears to be amazingly perfect from almost any angle, it is the close-up marble inlay work, which is really astounding. You will have ample time to view and be mesmerized by this outstanding piece of architecture.

And sightseeing of Red Fort or Agra Fort - the seat and the stronghold of the Mughal Empire under successive generations. This was the seat of Mughal rule and administration and the present structure owes its origins to Akbar who erected the walls and gates and the first buildings on the eastern banks of Yamuna River. Shah Jehan added the impressive quarters and the mosque while Aurangzeb added the outer ramparts. Visit its Hall of Public Audience and its Royal Pavilions. Dinner. Stay overnight at hotel.

Day 05: AGRA – ORCHHA (250 kms/ 5 hrs)

Breakfast at hotel, drive down to orchha, on arrival Check into hotel. Lunch. Relax. And proceed for sightseeing of Orchha.

Orchha - Orchha (or Urchha) is a town in Tikamgarh district of Madhya Pradesh state, India. The town was established by Maharaja Rudra Pratap Singh in 1501, as the seat of an eponymous former princely state of central India, in the Bundelkhand region. Orchha lies on the Betwa River.

On a seasonal island on the bank of the Betwa River, which has been surrounded by a battlement wall, stands a huge palace-fort. The fort consists of several connected buildings erected at different times, the most noteworthy of which is the Raja Mahal.

The Ram Raja Temple is built on a square base and has an almost entirely plain exterior, relieved by projecting windows and a line of delicate domes along the summit. Evening back to hotel. Dinner and Stay overnight stay at hotel.

Day 06: ORCHHA - KHAJURAHO (175 kms/ 3 hrs)

Breakfast at hotel, Drive down to Khajuraho. Lunch. half day sightseeing of Khajuraho.

Khajuraho - The city was once the original capital of the Chandela Rajputs, a Hindu dynasty that ruled this part of India from the 10th to the 12th centuries. The Khajuraho temples were built over a span of a hundred years, from 950 to 1050. The Chandela capital was moved to Mahoba after this time, but Khajuraho continued to remain the important destination. The whole area was enclosed by a wall with eight gates, each flanked by two golden palm trees. There were originally over 80 Hindu temples, of which only 22 now stand in a reasonable state of preservation, scattered over an area of about 8 square miles (21 km). Unlike other cultural centers of North India, the temples of Khajuraho never underwent massive destruction and a number of them have survived. They are fine examples of Indian architectural styles that have gained popularity due to their salacious depiction of the traditional way of life during medieval times. They were rediscovered during the late 19th century and the jungles had taken a toll on some of the monuments. Evening back to Hotel. Dinner. Stay overnight at hotel.

Day 07: KHAJURAHO – ALLAHABAD (315 kms / 6 hrs)

Breakfast at hotel than we will start drive to Allahabad from Khajuraho. Enroute Lunch. Evening reach to Allahabad. Relax. Dinner. Stay overnight at hotel.

Allahabad
Allahabad, also known as Prayag, is a city in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and the administrative headquarters of the Allahabad District. The city is situated on an inland peninsula, surrounded by the rivers Ganges and Yamuna on three

In adition to sides, with only one side connected to the mainland Doab region, of which it is a part. This position is of importance in Hindu scriptures for it is situated at the confluence, known as Triveni Sangam, of the holy rivers. As per Rigveda the Sarasvati River (now dried up) was part of the three river confluence in ancient times. It is one of four sites of the Kumbh Mela, an important mass Hindu pilgrimage.

Day 08: ALLAHABAD – VARANASI (130 kms / 2 hrs)

Breakfast at hotel, than drive down to Varanasi. Lunch. Warm welcome in traditional style by our representative and check into hotel.

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.

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. Dinner and after that late night you will be transferred to Railway station to board the train Kolkata.

Day 10: VARANASI

Breakfast at hotel, Varanasi City tour.

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, evening Ganga aarti.

Dinner and stay at hotel.

Day 10: VARANASI – BODHGAYA (255 kms / 4 hrs)

Early morning breakfast and transfer to railway station to board the train to Gaya. Arrival at Gaya Railway station, Pick up and transfer to BodhGaya. After reaching check into hotel. Than, proceed for Bodhgaya’ sightseeing..

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.


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.

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, evening Ganga aarti.

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 11: BODHGAYA – NALANDA / RAJGIR – PATNA (215 kms / 4 hrs)

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 12: DEPARTURE FROM PATNA

Morning Breakfast and free time, Check out and transfer to Railway station or Patna airport to board the train or flight to Delhi or Kolkata.

TOUR ENDS

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