Land of the Buddha
17 days from £3235 per person
The Buddha's life and history play an important role in Indian society and form an integral part of the country's religious tapestry. This itinerary covers some of the Indian subcontinent's key Buddhist centres and incorporates the four places pivotal to the life of the Buddha - Lumbini in Nepal, Kushinagar, Sarnath and Bodh Gaya where, under the Bodhi tree, Gautama attained enlightenment to become the Buddha. Time will also be spent admiring the architecture of Lucknow, the Bihari city of Patna and sacred Varanasi, a centre of learning and pilgrimage for over 2,000 years.
Lumbini in Nepal is the birthplace of Siddartha Gautama who founded Buddhism and therefore a revered pilgrimage site. An organised complex surrounds the most important places.
Famous as the place where the Buddha obtained enlightenment, Bodhgaya is the holiest place for followers of Buddhism and consequently continually busy with visitors from afar.
The spiritual capital of India, the ghats in Varanasi are constantly in use by pilgrims performing ritual ablutions in the sacred river Ganges. Temples, markets and people fill the city.
Day 1 Depart the UK
Today depart the UK on the Jet Airways flight to Delhi. (N)
Day 2 Arrive Delhi
Arrive into Delhi and stay for two nights at the Maidens Hotel in Old Delhi. Alternatively upgrade to the Claridges Hotel. Delhi is India's capital and a city of two halves. Old Delhi—the heart of Muslim India between the 17th and 19th centuries—is an historic district of grand mosques, majestic forts and crumbling monuments. In contrast New Delhi, with its large government buildings, wide tree-lined avenues and pretty white-washed bungalows was purpose-built in the 1930s by the British as a colonial capital and remains the epicentre of Indian political power. (N)
Day 3 Delhi
After breakfast commence a morning tour of Old Delhi with your guide to explore the area's dense network of bustling alleyways, homes, bazaars and mosques visiting famous Chandni Chowk market, the beautiful Jama Masjid, the Red Fort and Rajghat. In the afternoon continue to New Delhi which was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and is today home to Rashtrapati Bhawan, the official residence of the Indian President, Rajpath and the imposing India Gate. (B)
Day 4 Delhi to Lucknow – by air
Fly from Delhi to Lucknow and stay for two nights at the Vivanta by Taj – Gomti Nagar Hotel. Rich in Indian culture and British colonial history, Lucknow is best known as a centre of India's independence struggle and for the events surrounding the 1857 mutiny. Capital of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow lines the banks of the River Gomti and is home to a wealth of extraordinary Muslim monuments and grand European architecture. The city is also renowned as a centre for zari work and chikan embroidery. (B)
Day 5 Lucknow
Today explore Lucknow with your guide starting at the ruins of the Residency, site of the dramatic siege and subsequent battles that took place during the uprising of 1857. Visit the cemetery where Sir Henry Lawrence is buried, Wingfield Park, Christchurch and, if time, the Kaisarbagh Palace. Later continue to Chowk Market to experience Muslim Lucknow, where highlights include the Bara Imambara, Rumi Darwaza and spectacular Hussainabad Imambara with its golden dome and impressively elaborate calligraphy. (B)
Day 6 Lucknow to Sravasti – 180kms
This morning leave Lucknow and drive to Sravasti and the Lotus Nikko Hotel for an overnight stay. It was here in Sravasti that Buddha gave the majority of his teachings and discourses and where, during the monsoon months, he spent much of his time. Later visit the nearby remains at Jetavana, a monastic complex containing Buddha's hut, as well as the caves at Angulimal. (B/L/D)
Day 7 Sravasti to Lumbini – 190kms
Leaving Sravasti, drive towards the Indo-Nepalese border and cross into Nepal. From here continue by road to Lumbini for a two night stay at the Lumbini Hokke Hotel. Lumbini is believed to be the birthplace of Buddha, Gautama Siddhartha, who was born here c.563 BC and who lived at this location for the first twenty-nine years of his life. (B/L/D)
Day 8 Lumbini
Today visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site with your guide. A series of different complexes and temples, the most important place of interest here is an area called the 'Sacred Garden' which contains not only the place where the Buddha is reputed to have been born but also the 3rd or 4th century BC Maya Devi Temple, an Ashokan Pillar, the Pushkarni where the infant Buddha was given his first bath and numerous other interesting archaeological ruins. (B/L/D)
Day 9 Lumbini to Kushinagar – 130kms
After breakfast leave Lumbini and, crossing back into India, continue to Kushinagar and the Royal Residency Hotel for an overnight stay. Kushinagar is revered as the location of Buddha's death and subsequent cremation. Rediscovered in the 19th century, later visit the Mahaparinirvana Temple and Ramabhar Stupa. (B/L/D)
Day 10 Kushinagar to Patna – 280kms
This morning leave Kushinagar and drive to Vaishali where the Buddha preached his last sermon. Later continue to Patna and stay two nights at the Maurya Patna Hotel. Capital of Bihar, this state was not only the early home of Buddhism but was also the birthplace of the Emperor Ashoka. Today Patna is a large city which lines the banks of the River Ganges. (B/D)
Day 11 Patna
Today explore Patna with your guide. Places of interest include the Gulzaribagh, site of the former East India Company's principle opium warehouse, and the remarkable Golghar 'round house' built of stone slabs in 1786 by Captain John Garstin as a grain store. Also visit the State Museum and the Chowk area of old Patna. (B/D)
Day 12 Patna to Bodh Gaya – 85kms
via Nalanda and Rajgir
This morning leave Patna and drive south to Bodh Gaya stopping en-route in Nalanda, home to one of the world's oldest universities and an ancient pilgrimage site visited by both Buddha and Mahavir, the founder of Jainism. From here drive to Rajgir then continue by road to Bodh Gaya and the Royal Residency Hotel for a two night stay. One of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage centres in the world, it was here under the Bodhi tree that Gautama, the prince, attained enlightenment to become the Buddha. (B/L/D)
Day 13 Bodh Gaya
Today explore Bodh Gaya with your guide. This vast area houses numerous monasteries, temples and statues, however, the focal point of the entire settlement is the beautiful Mahabodhi Temple and large Bodhi tree. The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is believed to stand on the site of an earlier 3rd century BC shrine. Bodh Gaya is also home to temples built by pilgrims from other lands in their own architectural style, from the traditional Bhutanese temple to its modern Japanese counterpart. (B/L/D)
Day 14 Bodh Gaya to Varanasi – 250kms
Leaving Bodh Gaya, drive Varanasi and stay two nights at the Suryauday Haveli or upgrade to the Taj Nadesar Palace. Situated on the banks of the sacred River Ganges, Varanasi has been a centre of learning and pilgrimage for over 2,000 years and is one of the oldest surviving cities in the world. An assault on the senses, few places compare making any visit here an undoubted highlight of the country. Later this evening make your way to ghats and watch the beautiful evening aarti religious ceremonies take place. (B)
Day 15 Varanasi
Early this morning take ride on a small rowing boat on the River Ganges to silently view the sunrise and witness the pilgrims who gather to perform their daily religious rituals on the riverbank in the lifting mist. This truly is a magical experience. As the sun rises, take a guided walk through the heart of the old city lanes and in the afternoon visit the evocative ruined city of Sarnath where Buddha first preached his message of enlightenment 2,500 years ago. (B)
Day 16 Varanasi to Delhi – by air
Today transfer to Varanasi Airport in good time to catch the afternoon flight to Delhi. On your arrival you will be met and transferred to the Radisson Blu Airport Hotel which is ideally located close to the international airport and where you will stay overnight. (B)
Day 17 Delhi to the UK
Today transfer back to Delhi Airport to catch the Jet Airways flight non-stop to the UK. (B)
KEY: N = No meals B = Breakfast L = Lunch D = Dinner
- International flights from the UK
- Domestic flights
- Private car with English speaking driver
- Sightseeing with local English speaking guides
- Hotel accommodation and taxes
What's not included
- Cost of visas
- Travel Insurance
- Expenses of a personal nature
Guide to Price
The price above is a guide and can vary according to selected airlines, hotels and season. If you wish to travel alone we will be very happy to assist you with your arrangements and will provide a proposal on request
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