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Detailed Itinerary - 13 Day Buddhist Pilgrimage

 

Depart from origin. If you are commencing your journey from the United States, we can recommend the best airlines and routings for your particular needs. We can also introduce you to consolidators who offer discounted fares (First, Business and Economy) on these flights. This is a service provided solely as a convenience and extra value for our guests. We do not sell airline tickets to people not touring with us.

 

Day 1: Arrive at Delhi - most flights arrive either in the evening or at night. Our services begin here. You are greeted at the airport by an Easy Tours Travel Facilitator or your Tour Director, and ushered to a chauffeur driven vehicle. You are then driven to your hotel where you are assisted with your check-in. The next day’s plans are briefly reviewed and you are presented with your welcome package. Among other things, this package includes a beautiful handcrafted journal for your explorations, travel documents such as your air tickets and hotel vouchers, as well as copies of documents (such as our General Travel Guide) that were sent to you earlier.





Day 2: Delhi. Start your exploration of India with a guided city tour of New Delhi. This excursion begins with the magnificent temple Bangla Sahib Gurudwara (a gold domed Sikh Temple). Qutab MinarThis is Sikhism’s shrine, and people of all religions are welcome here. You now continue on a drive to Lutyens’ New Delhi. This drive will include photo opportunities at some of the following attractions - the exterior of the massive and awe-inspiring Rashtrapati Bhawan (known as Viceroy’s House during the British era), Delhi’s landmark structure India Gate. After exploring the Lutyens’ New Delhi you will be driven to visit the awe-inspiring Qutab Minar (1193 A.D.). This 239-foot tall medieval tower is a symbol of victory and a beautiful example of Persian architecture from that period. There is a winding stairway inside the tower that goes up all the way to the balcony at the very top of the tower – unfortunately they are no longer accessible for visitors. The Qutab Minar and its Monuments are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Within the Qutab complex, amidst the ruins of the Quwat-ul-Islam Mosque, stands one of the legendary Ashoka Pillars. This large iron pillar has withstood the ravages of Delhi’s weather (and recent pollution) and has not rusted in more than 1500 years. After the Qutab complex you will be driven to visit the magnificent tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun. Delhi has such an abundance of amazing monuments that this Tomb Complex (1562 A.D.) does not quite get the acclaim that it deserves. It is Delhi’s third UNESCO World Heritage Site and its amazing architecture and the elaborate gardens (all currently undergoing restoration) will captivate you.
There is a Break for Lunch.
Afternoon - enjoy a city tour of Old Delhi. Drive, walk and ride through the ancient city’s streets and alleys; explore crowded and colorful bazaars. This excursion includes an exploration of the Jama RickshawMasjid (1650 A.D.), the largest mosque in India. The Masjid (Mosque) is a magnificent example of Mughal architecture and is constructed of red sandstone and white marble. It is an active place of worship and its courtyard can hold 25,000 worshippers. You continue on to the amazing Red Fort that was finished a decade before the mosque. Both structures were built by Shah Jahan, the emperor who created the Taj Mahal.
The great city inside the massive sandstone walls of the Red Fort offers visitors a large number of architectural and historical attractions; it was once known as the 8th wonder of the world. The Red Fort was the seat of the Mughal Empire for more than two hundred and fifty years and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is an amazing example of a blend of Persian, Indian and European architecture. You will also experience a fascinating rickshaw ride in the ancient alleys of the crowded and colorful bazaar at Chandni Chowk, followed by a walk through the ancient spice and street food market that is part of the bazaar. After these experiences a short drive will deliver you to an oasis of calm and serenity, which also happens to be your last destination in Old Delhi. The cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi (Raj Ghat) is a simple yet stirring memorial to the father of the nation. Lush lawns extend beyond the enclosure surrounding the black marble platform occupying the spot where the Mahatma was cremated. An eternal flame burns next to the platform.




Day 3: Delhi - Varanasi. You are assisted with your check-out from your hotel and driven to the airport. Board the mid-morning flight to Varanasi. You are greeted at the airport by your Tour Director who will accompany you till you depart for Delhi and your international flight.
Afternoon - Proceed for a tour of Sarnath. Explore the monuments of this holy city, including the ancient Dhamekha Stupa that is located near the spot where the Buddha preached his first few sermons. This Stupa was constructed by Emperor Ashoka in 249 BCE. Sarnath was also where the first Sangha was formed and is home to a number of other Buddhist monuments that you will visit, including the Chaukhandi Stupa and the Mulagandhakuti Vihara temple. You will also visit the Sarnath Archaeological Museum to view its small but impressive collection of local artifacts.
After your exploration of Sarnath you are driven to your hotel where you are assisted with your check-in.
Sunset cruise on the Ganga - time and your inclination permitting, your guide can take you for a sunset cruise on the Ganga. You can float your own oil lamps while you watch the iconic Hindu prayer and oil lamp ceremony at sunset. Your personal boat enables you to enjoy a great view of the hundreds of lamps as they are sent floating on the holy river.
Varanasi is famous for silk weaving.

A Note about Hotels in Varanasi & Khajuraho: Whilst we believe these destinations are truly unique and rank among the most noteworthy in all of Asia, the Hotels in these cities do not offer the same world class luxury offered at most destinations in India. At Varanasi (with one notable and expensive exception that is seldom available as it only has 4 rooms & 6 suites) and Khajuraho the options are very few. Easy Tours routinely monitors these establishments for changes in service standards, and our preferred hotels represent the best options available in each destination. For guests that require luxury in all their lodging we recommend that you select one of our other tours that does not visit these destinations.




Day 4: Varanasi - Bodh Gaya. Start your day with an early morning boat cruise on the Ganga. The best time to visit the Ghats is dawn when the pilgrims take their morning dip. It is also the ideal opportunity to experience some of Hinduisms ancient and iconic rituals. The most famous Ghat is the Dasadwamedh Ghat from where we begin this tour. You can simultaneously witness the ceremony of a recently deceased Hindu’s ashes being immersed in the river while another Brahmin priest orchestrates the naming ceremony of a newborn. Just like the previous evening, your boat offers an excellent view of all the activity on the Ghats – women bathing discreetly while still wearing their sarees, the priests offering prayers as they immerse themselves in the holy water, men that are oblivious to their surroundings as they practice yoga or meditate on the banks of the Ganga.
Return to your hotel to freshen up and pack.
Check out of your hotel after breakfast and proceed on the drive to BodhGaya.
Stop at Sasaram, if you are so inclined, for a brief self guided exploration. The main attractions are the beautifully sculpted tombs of Emperor Sher Shah Suri, his father and the architect who designed the monuments. Continue with your journey afterwards. Arrive at BodhGaya in the evening and check in to your hotel.





Day 5: Bodh Gaya - Proceed for a complete tour of BodhGaya, a destination that many consider Buddhism’s most sacred site. The main complex encompasses the spot where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment and it includes the Mahabodhi Temple/Stupa, as well as a descendant of the Bodhi Tree under which the Buddha sat during his meditations here. The Mahabodhi temple is over two thousand years old and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can meditate here for a while if you choose. After this you will visit the BodhGaya Museum. This museum houses artifacts excavated in BodhGaya and the region around it. Stop over at nearby Magadh University, an educational institution of international repute that has a centre of studies for history, culture and philosophy.




Day 6: Bodh Gaya - Patna. You are assisted with your check out of your hotel and you proceed on the drive to Patna. You have the option of making this journey a little longer by taking a detour that will include stops at Rajgir and Nalanda. This decision needs to be made at the time of your reserving this tour.
If you do decide to visit these Buddhist destinations, your first stop will be Rajgir, the ancient capital of the Magadha kingdom, for a brief exploration. This ancient city is over 3000 years old and Lord Buddha spent some time here. There are a number of Buddhist archaeological sites. One of those worth visiting is Gridhakuta, or Vulture Peak. Located on top of a small hill, this site is believed to be one of Lord Buddha’s meditation places.
On the top of the hill there is a Viswa Shanti Stupa (Peace Stupa) build by the Government of Japan. You may choose not to attempt a visit to the top as it is a very arduous climb. A short drive from Rajgir will bring you to the impressive ruins of the ancient university of Nalanda, which was the greatest seat of Buddhist learning in history. Established in 450CE, in its heyday the university boasted a student body of over 10,000 and a faculty that numbered over 2000. The university was destroyed in 1193CE by Turkish Muslim invaders who set the small city on fire and slaughtered the entire population.
Continue on your drive to Patna. Arrive at Patna and you are assisted with your check-in at your hotel.




Day 7: Patna - Vaishali - Patna. Sleep in this morning and enjoy a leisurely breakfast. After freshening up, you proceed on the one and a half hour drive to Vaishali with your guide and chauffeur. Vaishali was once a magnificent city and in the 6th century BCE it was the capital of one of the world’s first Democratic Republics. It is a major Buddhist and Jainism pilgrimage destination and the Buddha preached his last sermon here. It is now a village but its history goes back to the Mahabharata era and the tales of its prosperity and grandeur are echoed in the ruins around the village.
An amazing Ashoka Pillars stands here, erected about 250 BCE. The Buddha visited Vaishali on more than one occasion and, at the request of the monarch at that time, he is said to have caused the demise of a devastating pestilence that had killed thousands. There are a number of Buddhist sites in this city, including a Stupa that is supposed to contain some of the Lords ashes.
You return to Patna and your hotel after your exploration of Vaishali.




Day 8: Patna - Kushinagar. Check out of your hotel in the morning and drive to Kushinagar. Arrive at Kushinagar in the early afternoon and check in to your hotel.
There is a break for lunch.
Afternoon -
Enjoy a guided tour of Kushinagar, where Lord Buddha passed into Mahaparinirvana. You will visit Lord Buddha’s cremation site, Mahaparinibbana Sutta, as well as the Parinirvana Stupa and the Parinirvana Temple. The ancient statue of the Buddha inside the Parinirvana Temple is quite impressive when you consider its age. Return to your hotel after you are through with your exploration of ancient Kushinagar.




Day 9: Kushinagar - Lumbini (Nepal). Kushinagar has a number of Buddhist archaeological sites ranging from the 3rd to the 5th century BCE.
This morning you will be guided to some of them based on your preferences.
There is a break for an early lunch.
Noon - Check out of your hotel and drive to Lumbini. Arrive at your hotel in Lumbini and check in to your hotel.




Day 10: Lumbini. Start your exploration of Lumbini this morning. Lumbini is the birth place of Lord Buddha and is one of the four most significant pilgrimage destinations for Buddhists. Lumbini is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has a large number of major Buddhist monuments. The area called the Lumbini Monastery Zone allows no commercial structures of any sort, only monasteries of various Buddhist sects. An Ashoka Pillar dating back to 259 BCE is one of the main attractions of this area. The other significant attraction is the Maya Devi Temple, dedicated to Lord Buddha’s mother. Other attractions you will experience include the Buddha’s birthplace in the Sacred Garden, and the Sacred Pond called Puskarni, where Maya Devi took a bath before giving birth to the Buddha. If you are so inclined you can pay a visit to one or two of the monasteries in the Lumbini Monastery Zone, time permitting.




Day 11: Lumbini - Kapilavastu - Shravasti. Start your day with a drive to nearby Tilaurakot, which is said to be the childhood home of the Buddha. The name of the city was Kapilavastu during the Buddha’s time, and this is where Prince Siddhartha lived for the first 29 years of his life. There are the archaeological remains of some stupas, as well as traces of a walled enclosure and a moat that surrounded it. There are two Ashoka Pillars here, which were supposedly put up by the great emperor to memorialize the birth of the Buddha in two previous ages. The eastern gate is considered important, because the Buddha is said to have passed through this gate when he departed to seeking answers to the plight of the world. There is a small museum containing some pottery found in the area as well as ancient coins.
There is a break for an early lunch.
Continue on the drive to Shravasti. Arrive at Shravasti and check in to your hotel.




Day 12: Shravasti - Lucknow. Start your day with a brief guided tour of Shravasti. This is the town where Lord Buddha spent his time during the monsoons for about 27 years. His time here was spent in meditation and in preaching to his main followers. Remains of various monasteries, stupas and temples can be found in this very ancient city.
There is a break for an early lunch.
Noon - Check out of your hotel
and proceed on the drive to Lucknow. Arrive at Lucknow and check-in to your hotel.




Day 13: Lucknow - Delhi - International Flight. Check-out from your hotel and then you are driven to the airport where you board your flight to Delhi. Upon your arrival at Delhi you are greeted at the airport by an Easy Tours Facilitator & your chauffeur. The rest of the day is a good time to do some last minute shopping and/or sightseeing if you are so inclined.
Your vehicle and driver stay with you until your (usually late evening) assisted check in at the airport. If your flight departs early in the morning you may want us to arrange a room for you so you can rest.

Our services end at Delhi airport.






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This Visit gives you some of the best highlights of India.

ETI Experiences
Rickshaw Ride at Chandni Chowk
Boat cruise on River Ganges
Oil lamp Aarti ceremony
  UNESCO World Heritage
Humayun's Tomb
Qutab Minar
Red Fort

Other Sights
  Jama Masjid
India Gate
Safdarjang’s Tomb
Connaught Place
The Ghats of Varanasi
  Bodhgaya
Kushinagar
Lumbini
Sravasti

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