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Buddhist Pilgrimage Tour of India (12 Days / 11 Nights) - PI-0129

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Buddhist Pilgrimage Tour of India (12 Days / 11 Nights)

From the Stupa of Sanchi to the ruins of Nalanda and the ultimate caves of Ellora and Ajanta; Buddha's preachings reached all over in India through the art form. This tour takes you from the Ajanta caves which were created nearly thousand years after the nirwana of Lord Buddha to the place where he attained his enlightenment.

Day 1: Mumbai
Sunday, June 23, 2024 - Monday, June 24, 2024

On arrival at Mumbai, our representative will receive and transfer to the hotel.The seven islands that came to constitute Mumbai were home to communities of fishing colonies. For centuries, the islands came under the control of successive indigenous empires before being ceded to the Portuguese and subsequently to the British East India Company. During the mid-18th century, Bombay was reshaped by the British with large-scale civil engineering projects, and emerged as a significant trading town. Economic and educational development characterised the city during the 19th century. It became a strong base for the Indian independence movement during the early 20th century. When India became independent in 1947, the city was incorporated into Bombay State. In 1960, following the Samyukta Maharashtra movement, a new state of Maharashtra was created with Bombay as capital. It was renamed Mumbai in 1996.
Overnight stay at hotel.

Day 2: Mumbai - Aurangabad
Monday, June 24, 2024 - Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Morning transfer to the airport to take the flight to Aurangabad. Arrive & transfer to hotel. Afternoon visiting Ajanta caves 2000 year old 30 rock-hewn caves where paintings recount the life of Lord Buddha and the tales of this prince's earthly experiences.The beautiful murals and the frescoes still retain their colour and charm, which attracts thousands of tourists to this place every day.
Return to the hotel for overnight stay.

Day 3: Aurangabad
Tuesday, June 25, 2024 - Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Morning after breakfast visit Ellora Caves. Ellora's shrines are not exclusively Buddhist, but of the Hindu and Jain faiths as well.These monolithic carvings are intricate and are carved from top to bottom. The most famous amongst these is the Kailash cave dedicated to Lord Shiva.Afternoon visit Daulatabad Fort Just 13 km from Aurangabad,we can see a massive hill fortress,the Daulatabad Fort.This impressive fortress, once known as 'Devgiri', the hill of the Gods was built in the 12th century by Bhillama, the king of the Yadav dynasty. It was named Daulatabad, the city of fortune, by Mohammed Bin Tughlaq the Sultan of Delhi and visit Bibi–ka–Maqbara, known as Taj Mahal of the south, this replica of the Taj fails to create that magic of the actual Taj. Overnight stay at hotel.

Day 4: Aurangabad - Mumbai - Bhopal
Wednesday, June 26, 2024 - Thursday, June 27, 2024

Morning after breakfast take flight for Mumbai. Upon arrival, take a small city tour visiing the Gate Way of India, Elephanta caves and the Prince of Wales Museum. Drive pass the Marine drive and the Victoria Terminus.Evening board train for overnight journey to Bhopal. Overnight on board.

Day 5: Bhopal
Thursday, June 27, 2024 - Friday, June 28, 2024

Morning arrive & transfer to hotel. Afternoon excursion of Sanchi stupa. Sanchi is located near the ancient city of Bhopal in the state of Madhya Pradesh. It is the city of the great Stupa, a dome shaped monument covering relics of Buddha, and the remains of a Buddhist monastery. Sanchi is a place of Buddhist Piligrimage.Overnight stay at hotel.

Day 6: Bhopal - Agra
Friday, June 28, 2024 - Saturday, June 29, 2024

Morning after breakfast go for local sightseeing. Afternoon departure transfer to railway station to depart for Agra.The city finds mention in the epic Mahabharata where it was called Agreva?a, or 'the border of the forest'. Legend ascribes the founding of the city to Raja Badal Singh (around 1475), whose fort, Badalgarh, stood on or near the site of the present Fort. However, the 11th century Persian poet Mas'ud Sa'd Salman writes of a desperate assault on the fortress of Agra, then held by the Shahi King Jayapala, by Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni.Sultan Sikandar Lodi was the first to move his capital from Delhi to Agra in the year 1506; he died in 1517 and his son Ibrahim Lodi remained in power there for nine more years, finally being defeated at the Battle of Panipat in 1526. It achieved fame as the capital of the Mughal emperors from 1526 to 1658 and remains a major tourist destination because of its many splendid Mughal-era buildings, most notably the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, all three of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Arrive Agra and transfer from railway station to hotel for overnight stay.

Day 7: Agra - Varanasi
Saturday, June 29, 2024 - Sunday, June 30, 2024

After breakfast visit Fatehpur-Sikri (40 kms. from Agra)-once the capital of Mughal Empire and abandoned after 15 years due to scarcity of water. Its fortifications and Palaces are in a wonderful state of preservation. Afternoon half day city tour visiting the World famous Taj Mahal built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan in the year 1652 as a memorial for his beloved wife MumtazMahal. The grandeur called the Taj is perhaps the most photographed, filmed, described and sketched building of the world. Taj Mahal is where fantasy coincides with reality in perfect harmony. An inspiration for innumerous artists over the centuries, the Taj is an ode to love. It took 22 years to create this jewel. Agra Fort built and renovated over the centuries, this massive fort gained recognition only during the Mughal reign. Tomb of Itmad-ud-daullah- built by Empress Noorjehan in the memory of her father.Late evening departure transfer to railway station for overnight train to Varanasi.Board on train.

Day 8: Varanasi
Sunday, June 30, 2024 - Monday, July 1, 2024

Morning arrive and check in at hotel. After breakfast visit the Temples of Varanasi.Varanasi is said to be the oldest surviving city of the world. Varanasi is also called as Kashi or Benaras. Being the most venerated pilgrim place in Hindu religion, Varanasi is said to be a museum of temples. Also called the city of temples, Varanasi is home to about 2,000 temples. People from all parts of India as well as the world come to Varanasi to visit these temples, making the holy Temples of Varanasi amongst the most visited temples in India. Many important and famous temples are located at Ganga Ghats (river front), adding to the religious value of the holy river, Ganges.
Most of the temples that are located on the Ganga Ghats are old and date back to the medieval period. According to legends the first Siva Jyotirlinga, the fiery pillar of light, came through the earth here and flared into the sky. Therefore Varanasi is also called Kashi, "the City of Light." The Kashi Vishwanath Temple, located near the Ganga Ghats, is the most famous and important temple of Varanasi. In this temple resides the guardian of the holy city, Lord Shiva. Other important Temples of Varanasi are the new Vishwanath temple, the Sankat Mochan temple, the Durga temple, the Kal Bhairav temple and the Mritunjaya temple.
Afternoon visit to Sarnath- the holy shrine of the Buddhist where LORD BUDHA preached his first sermon after he had gained Enlightenment. Sarnath, located just 12 km from the Hindu holy city of Varanasi, is the site of the deer park where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma after his enlightenment. Sarnath is one of four holy Buddhist sites sanctioned by the Buddha himself for pilgrimage. The other three sites are: Lumbini (birth); Bodh Gaya (enlightenment); and Kushinagar (death).
Sarnath has previously been known as Mrigadava, "deer park," and Isipatana, meaning the place where holy men (Pali: isi) fell to earth. The latter name is based in the legend that when the Buddha was born, devas came down to announce it to 500 holy men. The holy men all rose into the air and disappeared and their relics fell to the ground.
The current name Sarnath, from Saranganath, means "Lord of the Deer" and relates to another old Buddhist story in which the Bodhisattva is a deer and offers his life to a king instead of the doe he is planning to kill. The king is so moved that he creates the park as a sanctuary for deer.
All of the ancient buildings and structures at Sarnath were damaged or destroyed by the Turks. However, amongst the ruins the Dharmekh Stupa is impressive at 128 feet high, and 93 in diameter. This dates from around 200 BC and is the spot where the Buddha is said to have preached his first sermon.
Only the foundations remain of the Dharmarajika Stupa, but it is notable as a rare pre-Ashokan stupa.
The decaying ruins of the Mulagandhakuti Vihara mark the place where the Buddha spent his first rainy season in meditation. In the 7th century, a writer described it as 200 feet high and containing 100 niches containing a Buddha carving along each wall. A life-sized statue shows the Buddha turning the wheel of the law.
Overnight stay at hotel.

Day 9: Varanasi - Bodhgaya
Monday, July 1, 2024 - Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Morning Ghat tour of Varanasi.Varanasi or Kashi is older than traditions. Varanasi presents a unique combination of physical, metaphysical and supernatural elements. According to the Hindu mythology, Varanasi liberates soul from human body to the ultimate. It is the Ganga Ghats of Varanasi that complement the concept of divinity. Ghats of Ganga are perhaps the holiest spots of Varanasi. The Ganga Ghats at Varanasi are full of pilgrims who flock to the place to take a dip in the holy Ganges, which is believed to absolve one from all sins.
There are number of temples on the bank of the Ganga river in Varanasi. It is believed that people are cleansed physically, mentally and spiritually at Ganga Ghats. It is at the Ganga Ghats where we see life and death together. For thousands of years people have been thronging these Ghats to offer their morning prayers to the rising sun. There are more than 100 ghats along side Ganga in Varanasi. Some of the prominent and popular Ghats at Varanasi are the Dasaswamedh Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat, Harischandra Ghat, Kabir Ghat and Assi Ghat.
After early lunch drive down to Bodhgaya.On arrival check in at hotel. Dinner & overnight stay at hotel.

Day 10: Bodhgaya
Tuesday, July 2, 2024 - Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Morning after breakfast full day sightseeing of Bodhgaya.
Here under the Bodhi tree (Tree of Awakening).Shakyamuni Gautama attained supreme knowledge to become Buddha,the "Enlightened One",the propounder of one of the great religions of the world.The tree that stands today is believed to have grown from the original Peepal tree under which Lord Buddha meditated. River Niranjana in which the Buddha bathed after attaining enlightenment flows quietly outside the tiny hamlet where the story of Prince Siddhartha ended and the saga of the Buddha began.Overnight stay at hotel.

Day 11: Bodhgaya - Rajgir - Nalanda - Patna
Wednesday, July 3, 2024 - Thursday, July 4, 2024

Morning after breakfast drive to Patna. Enroute lunch in Rajgir via Nalanda unversity ruins.Rajgir is 12 kms south of Nalanda on the road to Bodhgaya and is located in a verdant valley surrounded by rocky hills. It is sacred to the memory of founders of both Buddhism and Jainism. Lord Buddha spent many months of retreat during the rainy season here and used to meditate and preach on the Griddhankuta, the hill of the Vultures. An aerial ropeway provides the link with a hilltop stupa built by the Japanese. One one of the hills is the cave of Saptparni, the first Buddhist Council was held. The Saptparni cave is also the source of the Rajgir hot water springs that have curative properties and are sacred to Hindus.Nalanda is famous as an ancient seat of learning and has the ruins of one of the world's most ancient university. Founded in the 5th Centuary AD, this great seat of learning flourished until the 12th Century. Both the founders of the two religions Buddhism and Jainism, the Buddha and Parsvanath Mahavir, visited Nalanda. The Chinese chronicler Huien Tsang spent many years here both as a student and as a teacher.Arrive Patna and check-in at hotel for overnight stay.

Day 12: Patna - Delhi
Thursday, July 4, 2024 - Friday, July 5, 2024

Early Morning after breakfast transfer to airport to take the flight to Delhi. Upon arrival transfer to city for sight seeing of the city. Drive past President House, Parliament House (House of Representatives) and India Gate- War Memorial (stop for photography). You may visit the Qutab Minar and the Lotus Temple. Later transfer to airport for onward destination.

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