Day 1: Arrive Delhi. Meet and greet at the airport, transfer to your Hotel.Delhi is a city of contrasts. From the neoclassical architecture of the elegant garden city of New Delhi to the narrow, twisting lanes that surround Chandni Chowk in the old city is what Delhi is all about. Afternoon is at leisure. Overnight stay in the hotel (room check-in 12 noon).
Day 2: Delhi – Varanasi (flight). Morning after breakfast, transfer to Domestic Airport to board Kingfisher flight at 09:30 hours or Indian Airlines flight at 10:30 hrs for Varanasi. On arrival at 10:45/11:45 hours respectively, meeting, assistance and transfer to Varanasi hotel. En-route stop to visit the ancient city of Sarnath where Buddhism first made its appearance nearly 2500 years ago and where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon to his 5 disciples. Visit the Chowkhandi Stupa, the 46 m high Dhamek Stupa and the Dharmarajik Stupa built by Emperor Ashok around 258 BC. See the 20 m high Ashok Pillar, which still exists today. Also visit the museum before continuing your journey to Varanasi hotel. On arrival complete check in formalities.
Varanasi more than 2500 years old is the only city in the world that is still flourishing in its full form. Earlier known as Kashi, which finds mention in the ancient Indian texts of Upanishads and Puranas, Varanasi is believed to have been established by King Kashya in around 1200 BC. Afternoon proceed for a guided half-day city tour of this ancient town, situated on the banks of river Ganges, in the State of Uttar Pradesh. Visit Ramgarh Fort, Benaras Hindu University campus and the temples of Bharat Mata, Kashi Vishwanath (Shiva) and Durga Mata Temples. Wonder around in the narrow by lanes near the Ghats. Evening witness, Aarti (Puja) ceremony performed at the Ghats, of the Ganges River, before returning to your hotel for overnight stay. Includes: (B).
Note: Please note non Hindus are not allowed inside the premises of Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
Day 3: Varanasi - Bodgaya. Early morning, transfer to the Ghats to take an unforgettable boat ride on the Ganges. See the different Ghats (bathing spots) built by kings and noblemen. Ride by the burning Ghats, and watch sunrise before returning to the hotel for breakfast. After breakfast, depart by surface for Bodhgaya, The City of Lord Buddha's Penance and Supreme Enlightenment. The history and tradition of this sacred spot goes back to the earliest days. Reckoned as the most important Buddhist pilgrimage center, it is the place where Lord Sakyamuni (Gautama Buddha) entered into meditation after being moved by the sufferings of mankind. On arrival, check in at Hotel Lotus Nikko. Afternoon enjoy a tour of this ancient riverside town. Visit the Sri Lankan monastery and visit the Mahabodhi temple for the evening prayers and the Bodhi tree under which the Lord achieved his enlightenment. Return to hotel for overnight stay. Includes: (B).
Day 4: Bodhgaya - Rajgir - Nalanda - Patna. Morning after breakfast, depart by surface for Patna, en route visiting Rajgir - a site of great sanctity and significance for Buddhists. The Gridhakuta Hill, in Rajgir, was the seat from where Buddha delivered many of his sermons. It was here that the teachings of Buddha were recorded in writing for the first time. Next visit Nalanda- which literally means the place that confers the lotus. It was one of the oldest universities of the world and it was a center of great learning which reached its zenith between 5th and 12th Century A.D. Both Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavira visited this place. Also visit Karanda Tank - where Buddha used to bathe. Arrive Patna and check in to hotel. Late afternoon visit the Patna Museum. Return to hotel for overnight stay. Includes: (B).
Day 5: Patna - Vaishalli - Kushinagar. Morning after breakfast, depart by surface for Vaishali, believed to be the first republic of the world, having an elected body of representatives, holds special significance for Buddhist devotees. At Kolhua, Lord Buddha delivered his last sermon, hinting at his impending departure from the mortal world. Later continue onward to Kushinagar - where Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana. On arrival, check into hotel. Overnight in Kushinagar. Includes: (B).
Day 6: Kushinagar - Lumbini. After an early, breakfast proceed for a morning tour of Kushinagar. It was here that the Tathagatha, the reciter of truth, breathed his last with the "last words" behold now, brethren, exhort you, saying, decay is inherent in all component things! Work out your salvation with diligence! After sightseeing of the Rambhar Stupa and the Mahaparinirvana Temple, where you see the statue of Buddha in a reclining posture, continue onwards by surface for Lumbini - birthplace of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. Later on arrival, check into hotel. Overnight stay in the hotel. Includes: (B).
Note: Lumbini is the Indian Nepal border and legal formalities are to be completed to enter Lumbini. Please remember you need multiple entry visas for both countries. Later on arrival, check into Hotel Buddha Maya Garden.
Day 7: Lumbini. After breakfast, proceed for tour visiting the Ashok Pillar, erected by Magadha emperor Ashok, to commemorate the birth place of Buddha in 251 BC - today only the lower shaft of the pillar stands, the upper past having been split into two. Other attractions are the sacred garden (Lumbini grove) the Mayadevi Temple with a bass relief of Mayadevi, the Buddha's mother and a sacred stone marked with a "foot imprint" of Ashok and Puskarni, the sacred pond, wherein, Mayadevi is said to have had taken a bath just before giving birth to Buddha - the Enlightened one. Return to hotel for overnight stay. Includes: (B).
Day 8: Lumbini - Kapilvastu - Sravasti. After breakfast, depart by surface for Sravasti en-route visiting Kapilvastu - the capital city of the Sakya clan, and one of the earliest republics, it was in Kapilvastu opulent environs, that the holy soul of prince Siddhartha (Gautama Buddha) spent his childhood. Here he saw sorrow and pain, disease and death. The place holds significant value for Buddhist pilgrims and has several Stupas. The archaeological excavations have revealed stone caskets containing relics believed to be that of Buddha's. Sravasti, where Lord Buddha Spent 24 "Baisakh" of his life and delivered his sermons.
On arrival, check into hotel. Afternoon visit the extensive ruins of this ancient city. Sravasti has two villages, Sahet and Mahet, which is spread over an area of 400 acres and has a number of ruins. This is where the Lord performed his Miracle sitting on a petal led Lotus multiplying 1000 times. Also visit the Angulimar's cave and the village of Sujata, which is where a woman with the same name gave Lord Buddha his first meal of milk and rice pudding after he came out of the austerities he was performing and broke his fast. Next tour takes you north of Sahet, towards the Rapti River, is the ancient fortified city of Mahet.
The entrance to the mud fortification of Mahet is constructed in a beautiful crescent shape though an ancient structure, its five gates and walls are still visible. Pakki Kuti, Kuchhi Kuti and many other Stupas tell the story of the great monasteries that once stood here. Visit also the remnants of Jetavana, a splendid monastery with inscriptions dating back to the 12th century, is thought to be one of the favorite sites of the Buddha. Sravasti was also under the influence of Lord Mahavira the last Jain Tirthankar, and the splendid Shwetambara temple here attracts thousands of Jain pilgrims. The Sobhnath Temple is believed to the birthplace of the Jain Tirthankar Ambhavnath. Overnight stay in the hotel. Includes: (B).
Day 9: Sravasti - Lucknow. After breakfast depart by surface for Lucknow. On arrival, check into your Hotel. Afternoon explore this royal city of the Nawabs. Lucknow is caught in a time warp. It exists in an in-between land of the past and the present looking back constantly to the memories of a colonial-Nawabi past. Despite the Indo-Persian legacy, Lucknow has a composite "Indian culture".
The welding of various cultural strains nurtured by centuries of Mughal and later Delhi Sultanate rule, to the folk traditions of the Indo- Gangetic plains has produced a complex, yet rich synthesis. The Urdu language acquired its baffling phonetic nuances and suave perfection here. It was at Nawab Wajed Ali Shah's court that the most advanced of all classical Indian dance forms, the Kathak, took shape. The popular Parsi theater originated from the Urdu theater of this city. The tabla and the sitar were first heard on the streets of Lucknow. Overnight stay in the hotel. Includes: (B).
Day 10: Lucknow - Delhi. Morning after breakfast, in time transfer to the airport to connect Kingfisher flight at 09:00 hours for Delhi and on arrival at 10:05 hours, transfer to your hotel.Rooms from 12 noon. Afternoon proceed for half day combined guided city tour of Old and New Delhi. Start your tour visiting Old Delhi. Drive past Red Fort built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Visit Jama Masjid (The great Mosque) Walk through the bazaars of Chandni Chowk, built during the Mughal reign, followed by a visit to Raj Ghat, the final resting place of Mahatma Gandhi.
Next visit New Delhi - The buildings designed by Edward Lutyens, architect of modern Delhi - are truly majestic. The Presidential Palace, Parliament House and India Gate are all reminiscent of the British “Raj”. You drive through Delhi’s beautiful tree-lined avenues and the Diplomatic Enclave en route to the 12th century, 234-foot high fluted minaret of Qutab Minar. Finish your tour visiting Humayun the Mughal Emperor's tomb. Return to hotel for overnight. Includes: (B).
Day 11: Delhi - Jaipur. Morning after breakfast, depart by surface for the City of Jaipur - an exuberance of color, dance and song with traditional arts and crafts. Known, as 'Pink City' is one of India's most well planned cities with wide straight avenues, roads, streets and lanes in a grid system. A 5 hours drive gets us to this land of Maharaja's, forts and Palaces and diversity of colors and culture that is unique to the State of Rajasthan. On arrival, check in at your Hotel. Afternoon proceed for half day guided sightseeing tour of the City Palace, Palace museum, the Jai Singh's observatory, Hawa Mahal (Palace of winds) and Albert hall museum. Return to hotel via Johari Bazar (Gem Market) and Curio shops. Overnight stay. Includes: (B).
Day 12: Jaipur. Morning after breakfast, proceed for full day excursion to see three of the most impressive forts of Rajasthan. Visit the impressive Amber Fort the former capital of the Royal Family of Jaipur, taking an elephant ride to the top of the fort. Next visit Jaigarh and Nahargarh Fort. Jaigarh built in 1726, has the world’s largest cannon on wheels, while Nahargarh built in 1734 provides a panoramic view of Jaipur city. Late afternoon, return to hotel via Ram Niwas Garden. Overnight stay in the hotel. Includes: (B).
Day 13: Jaipur - Fatehpur Sikri - Agra. Morning after breakfast, depart by surface for the Mughal splendor of Agra, the city of Taj, En-route stopping to visit Fatehpur Sikri, the ghost city 35 km from Agra. Built in red sandstone it was the political capital of India's Mughal Empire under Akbar's reign from 1571 until 1585, when it was abandoned, ostensibly due to lack of water. Sikri shared its imperial duties as a capital city with Agra, where a bulk of the arsenal, treasure hoards, and other reserves were kept at its Red Fort for security.
During a crisis, the court, harem, and treasury could be moved to Agra, only 26 miles away, less than a day's march. Built in honor of Sufi saint Salim Chisti, in 1571 by Mughal emperor Akbar, who foretold the birth of 3 sons to Emperor Akbar, is an example of robust stability combined with originality. Each important edifice here represents a type by itself. Notable among them are the Diwane Khas, Punch Mahal, the Tomb of Salim Chisti, and the Buland Darwaza. Drive on to Agra and check-in to your hotel for overnight stay. Includes: (B).
Day 14: Agra. Morning after breakfast, visit the incomparable Taj Mahal. This monument a fine example of fusion of many architectural styles is one of the wonders of the modern world. Built in the year 1652 AD by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, it took 22 years and 20,000 skilled artisans to complete this poem in white marble. Next visit Agra Fort, which lies across the river Yamuna. It was here that Aurangzeb the 3rd son of Shah Jahan kept his father under house arrest followed by a visit to Itmaudualla, a mausoleum built by Emperor Jahangir;s wife,Queen Noor Jahan in memory of her parents. End your tour visiting Sikandra, tomb of the Mughal Emperor, Akbar the Great before returning to your hotel for completing check out formalities. Afternoon depart by surface for Delhi and on arrival transfer to International airport. Includes: (B).
Note: Please note Taj Mahal is closed on Friday's. Also you have the option of seeing the Taj at sunrise and full moon night. In the later case 48 hours advance notice is required with certain legal documents. This is FYI only.
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Asia India Nepal Spiritual Odyssey Pilgrimage/Spirituality Archeology/History
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