Footstep of Buddha

Spiritual ToursFootstep of Buddha

Buddhism one of the world's great religions, traces back with the life of Siddharth when a curious wandering prince from the small Shakya Kingdom located at the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal, began his quest for the ultimate truth to solve the mystery of existence. He renounced his royal pleasures and meditated beneath the sacred Bodhi tree at Gaya for years before he attained spiritual enlightenment. Then, as the Buddha, or the enlightened one, he spent the remainder of his life spreading the knowledge of The True Self in the Indian sub-continent. However, it was during the reign of emperors Bimbisara, Ashoka, Milinda and Kanishka that Buddhism flourished at its best and became a global religion, especially in Southeast Asia, due to sincere and untiring efforts of the missionary Bhikshus.

In this 16 days tour you will visit almost all places of Budhist importance. Lumbini the place where he born, Bodhgaya where he attained spiritual enlightenment, Sarnath where he delivered his first sermon after enlightment and Kushinagar where he attained parinirwana after his death. The age old Bhudhist caves at Elephanta Island, Kanheri, Ajanta, Elora and Bhimbetica are the part of your itinerary whiche were earlier the resting place for Budhist monks. Buddhist monasteries and stupas in Snanch are excelent examples of the settlement founded by the Emperor Ashoka of Kalinga fame. 

  • Days: 15 nights/ 16 days
  • Cost: 0000
Day 01: Arrive Mumbai
 
Day 02: Mumbai
 
Day 03: Mumbai
 
Day 04: Mumbai – Aurangabad (Flight)
 
Day 05: Aurangabad – Ajanta – Jalgaon - Bhopal
 
Day 06: Bhopal – Sanchi - Bhimbetka Caves (150kms both ways)
 
Day 07: Bhopal – Lucknow
 
Day 08: Lucknow – Sravasti (200kms/ 4hrs approx)
 
Day 09: Sravasti – Kapilvastu - Lumbini (204kms/ 4hrs approx)
 
Day 10: Lumbini - Kushinagar (170kms/ 4hrs approx)
 
Day 11: Kushinagar – Vaishali - Bodhgaya (310kms/ 6hrs approx)
 
Day 12: Bodhgaya
 
Day 13: Bodhgaya – Nalanda – Rajgiri – Bodhgaya (90kms one ways)
 
Day 14: Bodhgaya – Varanasi (250kms/ 5hrs approx)
 
Day 15: Varanasi
 
Day 16: Varanasi
Day 01: Arrive Mumbai
 
Arrive Mumbai airport, meet and greet with our office representative, assistance and transfer to hotel. Overnight at Hotel.
 
 
Day 02: Mumbai
 
Breakfast at hotel, excursion to The Elephanta Island located 10km away from the Gateway of India at Mumbai. These caves house rock cut temples dating back to the 5th century BC. The rock cut temples dedicated to Shiva Mahadeva are rich in sculptural content. Motorboats take passengers from Appollo Bunder near the Gateway of India. The rock cut temples were created by carving out rock, and creating the columns, the internal spaces and the images. The entire temple is akin to a huge sculpture, through whose corridors and chambers one can walk. The entire complex was created through a process of rock removal. Some of the rock surfaces are highly finished while some are untreated bare rock.
 
The island, located on an arm of the Arabian Sea, consists of two groups of caves the first is a large group of five Hindu caves, the second, a smaller group of two Buddhist caves. The Hindu caves contain rock cut stone sculptures, representing the Shaiva Hindu sect, dedicated to the god Shiva. The rock cut architecture of the caves has been dated to between the 5th and 8th centuries, although the identity of the original builders is still a subject of debate. The caves are hewn from solid basalt rock. All the caves were also originally painted in the past, but now only traces remain. The main cave (Cave 1, or the Great Cave) was a Hindu place of worship until Portuguese rule began in 1534, after which the caves suffered severe damage. This cave was renovated in the 1970s after years of neglect, and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 to preserve the artwork. It is currently maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India
 
Afternoon city tour visit the Gateway of India: Mumbai's most famous landmark, The Gateway of India, is situated at Apollo Bunder. It was designed by George Wikket. It was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to India in 1911. Through this magnificent monument, numerous viceroys and governors were welcomed to India as they disembarked from their steamers, hence the name. Price of Wales Museum; Barely a stone's throw from the Gateway of India is the Prince of Wales Museum, a magnificent, but somewhat strange structure, built in a confluence of Gothic and Moorish styles, and crowned by a sparkling white dome. It boasts a good collection of ancient Indus Valley artifacts dating back to 2000 BC, plus some priceless Tibetan and Nepali Art. There is an entire gallery devoted to Buddhist tankha scrolls and another to Tibetan bronzes, but the chief attraction here is the collection of over 2000 miniature paintings from the various art schools of India. Marine Drive; which runs along the shoreline, starting at Nariman Point and up to Malabar Hill. This is a windswept promenade, flanked by the sea and a row of art deco buildings. Looped between the concrete jungle of Nariman Point, Mumbai's Manhattan, and the leafy green slopes of Malabar hill, Marine Drive was once called the queen's Necklace, strung with glittering street lights like an enormous strand of imperious jewels. Hanging Gardens; laid out in 1881 these formally laid out gardens have a notable collection of hedges shaped like animals. Perched at the top of Malabar Hill, on its western side, just opposite the Kamala Nehru Park, these terraced gardens, also known as Ferozeshah Mehta Gardens, provide lovely sunset views over the Arabian Sea. Overnight at hotel.
 
 
Day 03: Mumbai
 
Breakfast at hotel, full day excursion to visit Kanheri Caves; these are Buddhist caves or monasteries where monks practiced their austerities around the first century AD. And unlike the artistic extravagance of Elephanta, they are spartan and bare. Situated in the heart of Mumbai's National Park, the complex contains more than a hundred tiny cells cut into the flank of a hill, each fitted with a stone plinth that evidently served as a bed. There is also a congregation hall supported by huge stone pillars that contains the dagoba, a kind of Buddhist shrine. And if you pick your way up the hill you will find channels and cisterns that are remnants of an ancient water system that channeled rainwater into huge urns. In fact, Kanheri is probably the only clue to the rise and fall of Buddhism in Western India. These caves remind one of the other rock-cut caves, which have been the seat of Buddhist monks at different times. Abode of monks during the 1st to 9th century, these caves are rather simple and partially adorned.
 
The term Kanheri has been derived from a Sanskrit term 'Krishnagiri', which means 'black in color'. And these caves have been chiseled out of a gigantic basaltic rock. Indeed, Kanheri Caves is an excellent illustration, which portrays rise and fall of Buddhism in India. Most of them are small cells, which are cut into the ends of a hill and each of them has a stone platform to serve as a bed. There is one congregation hall that is supported by massive stone pillars. Majority of the caves are monasteries, intended for living, study and meditation. All of them have elaborately carved sculptures, reliefs and pillars and encompass rock-cut stupas for worship. The unique figure of Avalokiteshwara captures the attention of everyone. No less than a hundred inscriptions have been found here, in Brahmi, Devanagari and Pallavi scripts. One Chaitya cave has some defaced woodwork on its roof. By the time this region was swayed by the Mauryan and Kushan empires, Kanheri became a major center of university in India. While going further up the hill, you would come across many watercourses that reveal the ancient water system. A trip to Kanheri Caves would definitely be an interesting one, especially in the company of ancient structures and scenic beauty of Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
 
Sanjay Gandhi National Park; Originally planned as a wildlife retreat outside Mumbai, the Sanjay Gandhi National Park is now virtually engulfed by the growing city. Most of it is wild and unsafe, but breathtakingly beautiful, filled with dense forests and dotted with sylvan lakes. There are wild animals here, of course, but the only way you can see them is to take the Lion Safari at the entrance. Don't expect displays of predatory power though: most of the animals here are so used to tourists that they merely yawn at the passing buses. Overnight at hotel.
 
 
Day 04: Mumbai – Aurangabad (Flight)
 
Breakfast at hotel, transfer to airport to board flight for Aurangabad. On arrival transfer to hotel. After refreshment leave for sightseeing tour of Aurangabad. Visit Bibi Ka Maqbara: the burial place of Aurangzeb's 1st wife, Rabia-ud-Durrani. It is an imitation of the Taj at Agra, termed as the poor man's Taj Mahal. Located behind the mausoleum is a small archeological museum. This mausoleum is also termed as 'poor man's Taj Mahal' owing to it being a poor replica of the Taj. Behind the mausoleum is located a small archeological museum. Emperor Aurangzeb's son built this monument in 1679 AD in memory of his mother Rabia (Aurangzeb's wife).
 
Ellora Caves: hold the distinction of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ellora Caves represent the major religions, namely Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. There are a total of 34 monasteries and temples at Ellora, belonging to the three different religions. Also visit Aurangabad Caves: artificial caves, dug out of the rather soft rock during the 6th and 7th century. This caves are found on two separate locations, called Western Group Caves (caves 1-5) and Eastern Group Caves (caves 6-10), about 1km from each other. Each group has five caves. The architecture and iconography is influenced by Tantric Hinduism. Evening return to the hotel. Overnight at Hotel.
 
 
Day 05: Aurangabad – Ajanta – Jalgaon - Bhopal
 
Breakfast at hotel, drive to Ajanta Caves (104kms/ 2hrs). The Buddhist Caves of Ajanta were discovered by the British officers in 1819 while tiger hunting. Ajanta Caves were first mentioned in the writings of the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang who visited India between A.D 629 and 645. The Caves at Ajanta are older than those at Ellora , which date from about 200 B.C to 650 A.D. The thirty Caves at Ajanta are set in a steep crescent-shaped hillside in a forested ravine of the Sahayadri hills, which you can explore on tours to Ajanta. 
 
Thirty beautiful Buddhist Caves with mesmerizing sculptures and paintings depicting Buddha's life as well the lives of the Buddha in his previous births. Five of these Caves are Chaityas (Place of worship) while the other twenty-five are Viharas (monasteries). Ajanta Caves are divided in two categories based on two schools of Buddhist thought - Hinayana Caves and Mahayana Caves. 
 
After visiting the Ajanta Caves transfer to Jalgaon Railway station (40kms/ 1hrs) to board train no. 12779, Goa Express OR 12627, NZM LINK EXP 1203/ 01930hrs for Bhopal. On arrival transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel.
 
 
Day 06; Bhopal – Sanchi - Bhimbetka Caves (150kms both ways)
 
Breakfast at hotel, full day excursion to visit Sanchi. Its serene environs reflect the importance of this hilly enclave as an ancient Buddhist site. This amazingly well preserved and extensive site dates back over several centuries from the 3rd century BC. Home to many Buddhist monasteries and stupas the settlement was founded by the Emperor Ashoka of Kalinga fame. Ashoka's young wife hailed from Vidisha, which is about 10km away. It was with patronage from Vidisha's rich merchants that Sanchi grew to a thriving township by the 12th century.
 
Bhimbetka amazing rock shelters in the foothills of the Vindhya Mountains. The range runs alongside the Malwa plateau's southern edge. Deep in these great sandstone spurs, high above the forest cover are five clusters of caves, which were used as shelters for centuries by aboriginal settlements. The walls of these are embellished with paintings dating from the Mesolithic Period onwards. There are about 21 villages located in close proximity to the shelters and their inhabitants reflect the lifestyle of those depicted on these ancient caves. The Bhimbetka rock shelters are a World Heritage Site. Indian archaeological records in 1888 were the first to note their historical importance as a Buddhist site. Further research led to the discovery of other prehistoric rock shelters. Many of the rock shelters are marked by paintings superimposed over older ones over the centuries. Overnight at hotel.
 
 
Day 07: Bhopal – Lucknow
 
Breakfast at hotel, visit The Taj-ul-Masjid mosque a pink-wash stone structure is said to be the largest mosque in Asia and is Bhopal's most majestic monument. Commissioned by Begum Sultan Jehan in 1878, it was only completed a century later. In the central courtyard devotees wash in the sacred tank before entering the vast pillared prayer hall. The Dhai Seedhi Masjid, built by Dost Mohammad in 1716 is believed to be Bhopal's oldest masjid. The Jama Masjid with its gilded finials was commissioned by Qudsia Begum in 1837. By the Lower lake is the Moti Masjid gifted to the city by Sikandar Jehan in 1860.
 
Evening transfer to railway station to board train no. 12534, Pushpak Exp departing at 2050hrs for Lucknow. Overnight train.
 
 
Day 08: Lucknow – Sravasti (200kms/ 4hrs approx)
 
0840hrs arrive Lucknow railway station, assistance on arrival and transfer to restaurant for breakfast. After breakfast drive to Balrampur check in at hotel. Afternoon sightseeing of Sravasti; the capital of the ancient kingdom of Kosala, has the honour for sheltering Buddha for 24 rainy seasons in the Jetvana Gardens. 
 
Also known as Sahet - Mahet, are two different sit's the main one being Sahet and about 500 meters away is located Mahet. The city believed to be founded by the mythological king Sravast, has age-old stupas, majaestic monasteries and several temples. Budha is said to have performed some miracles here. This holy place also has the famous Anand Bodhi tree, an offspring of the one said to have been planted by Buddha's main disciple Anand. Overnight at hotel.
 
 
Day 09: Sravasti – Kapilvastu - Lumbini (204kms/ 4hrs approx)
 
Breakfast at hotel, drive to Lumbini, enroute visit Kapilavastu (Piprawaha). Kapilavastu was the ancient capital of the Sakya Clan whose ruler was the Father of Buddha, for which reason the Buddha is also referred to as the Sakyamuni. Prince Gautam, as the Buddha was then known, left his palace in Kapilavastu at the age of 29 & revisited it 12 yrs. later, long after he had attained enlightenment. A large Stupa stands at the ancient sight which is said to have the bone relics of the Buddha.
 
Lumbini, the place where the Buddha was born in 623 BC, is situated in the Terai plains of southern Nepal. For those interested in the treasury of cultural and archaeological riches, Lumbini is the perfect place to be there with a number of stupa, monasteries, meditation centers and bahals (courtyard), no other place evokes the time and aura of the Buddha like Lumbini. Overnight at hotel.
 
 
Day 10: Lumbini - Kushinagar (170kms/ 4hrs approx)
 
Breakfast at hotel drive to Kushinagar, check in at hotel. Kushinagar; It was here that the Tathagata, the reciter of truth, breathed his last with the last words, "behold now, brethren, I exhort you, saying, decay is inherent in all component things! Work out your salvation with diligence". A temple dedicated to the event - the Mahaparinirvana temple today stands amidst a serene 'sal' grove ...... as if still reminiscing the great demise. The huge statue of the Reclining Buddha, excavated in 1876 at the temple, is one of the most momentous of all sights for the devout. It was brought from Mathura by a devout monk, Haribala, during the reign of King Kumara Gupta in the 5th Century A.D. The whole of Kushinagar, since the Mahaparinirvana of Gautam Buddha, was turned into a memorial site with stupas including the relic stupa-Mukutbandhana and Gupta period Chaitayas and Viharas, built by the devout kings. The Chinese travelers Fa Hien, Hieun Tsang and T. Ising. Visited Kushinagar during different centuries and recorded a graphic account of the place which later fell to bad times, due to lack of patronage. These recordings provided the vital clues for excavations done centuries later by Sir Alexander Cunningham. 
 
The visiting The Mahaparinirvana Temple, commemorating the place of the great decease with a reclining statue of Lord Buddha, Mata Kunwar Shrine contains a 10th Century blue schist image of Buddha and; Rambhar Stupa, which is supposedly the spot where Lord Buddha was cremated and his relics divided into eight equal parts. Apart from this, a Chinese Temple, a Buddhist Temple, a Tibetan Temple and the Indo-Japan-Srilanka Buddhist Center hold significant religious value for pilgrims. Overnight at hotel.
 
 
Day 11: Kushinagar – Vaishali - Bodhgaya (310kms/ 6hrs approx)
 
Breakfast at hotel, drive to Bodhgaya, enroute visit 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, Emperor Ashoka erected a huge pillar to commemorate the spot of the last sermon. Vaishali was also the center of the 2nd Buddhist Council congregation, held after 100 years of Buddha's Parinirvana to discuss the ten points of Vinaya, the rule of conduct under dispute. At the excavated archaeological site of Raja Vishal Ka Garh is an ancient parliament house, which indicates that this republic flourished in the 6th Century B.C. Vaishali is famous for Amrapali, the beautiful dancer and courtesan of Vaishali, who offered Buddha a mango orchard and impressed by his teachings became a nun (Bhikshu) in turn. The excavations carried out in Vaishali have brought to light Buddha Stupa (4th Century B.C.) and II, built in brick with a casket containing part of the ashes of Buddha. Other sites of historical importance in Vaishali include Chaumukhi Mahadeva, a lingam carved with four faces of Lord Shiva; the Bhawan Pakhar Temple, where a large number of Hindu deities are enshrined at one place and are worshipped together; Coronation Tank where the Lichhavi Kings were anointed before being crowned and; the Vaishali Museum which has a small collection of regional handicrafts. Also worth a visit is Kundupur, 4 kms from here which is the birthplace of Lord Mahavira (6th Century B.C.) who spent 22 years of his initial years here. Overnight at hotel.
 
 
Day 12: Bodhgaya
 
Breakfast at hotel, visit Mahabodhi Temple: standing tall at 54 mts. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this temple has been renovated over the years. It enshrines a large golden Buddha, and is encompassed by an ancient railing, dating back to 100 BC. Bodhi Tree: where Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment, and the Vajrasana or throne, where Buddha sat. The tree, acts as a shade to seven holy shrines situated here, said to be the places where Buddha spent a week each meditating, after his enlightenment. Animesh Lochana Chaitya Temple: is where Buddha, in his second week, sat looking at the Bodhi tree, without batting an eyelid. Ratnachankrama is where Buddha spent his third week walking between the Bodhi tree and Animesh Lochana Chaitya, and is also referred to as the Jewel Walk. Ratanaghara Chaitya marks the fourth week of meditation and the Muchhalinda Pond, his sixth week of meditation. Tibetan Monastery, housing the Maitreya Buddha (future Buddha). Also see the Burmese Temple, Chinese Temple and Monastery, Buddhist Monastery of Bhutan, Thai Temple and Monastery, and many more. Overnight at hotel.
 
 
Day 13: Bodhgaya – Nalanda – Rajgiri – Bodhgaya (90kms one ways)
 
Breakfast at hotel, full day excursion to Nalanda: A hot seat of knowledge and learning, Nalanda boast of a rich culture and tradition that has gained accolades world wide. Established in the 5th century, the ancient University of Nalanda flourished under the patronage of the various rulers. This tiny village was the favourite place of Lord Buddha and Mahavira who had lived here for several years. There is a fabulous legend behind the name Nalanda, which narrates how this village got its name. It goes like this that the place where the monastery was going to be constructed was the abode of a serpent and while digging the foundation the serpent got injured. The clairvoyants of that time observed that the monastery that would have been constructed in that place would be renowned for a long. Later this Monastery turned to be a great institution of knowledge, whose unparallel credentials gave it a unique seat in the entire history of the nation. A place that carries the rich history, tradition and culture of a great nation Nalanda proffers some unique experience to the visitors. A visit to this tiny hamlet is just like going back to the ancient times. While roaming through the ramparts of stupas, monasteries and viharas one would feel they are walking through the doorsteps of various centuries. It is a must visit place for those who are proud of being a part of such a great culture and interested in knowing the colourful incidents of the past.
 
Rajgir, visit Vishwa Shanti Stupa: The Vishwa Shanti Stupa is on a 400 m high hill and is built in marble. The four shining statues of Buddha are on the four sides of the stupa. Venu Vana Monastery: King Bimbisar built Venu Vana Monastery as residential quarters for Lord Buddha. It was the very first present to Lord Buddha by the king. Griddhakoota Hill: At Griddhakoota Hill, Lord Buddha set in a motion his second wheel of law or Dharma Pravartan Chakra. Continuously for three months, he gave religious sermons to his followers even during the rainy season. The Buddha Sangha of Japan has constructed a massive modern stupa, the Shanti Stupa or the Peace Pagoda at the top of the hill to commemorate the event. Overnight at hotel.
 
 
Day 14: Bodhgaya – Varanasi (250kms/ 5hrs approx)
 
Breakfast at hotel, drive to Varanasi, check in at hotel. Evening visit Dasashwamedh Ghat to attend Holy Ganga Aarti; Every evening, a magical aarti is performed at Dasashwamedh Ghat. Halt your boat right at the steps for the best view. The presiding priests stand on a wooden chauki in the water. To the chant of Sanskrit mantras, and the clash of cymbals and drums, the river is worshipped with flowers, incense, sandalwood, milk and vermilion. First the blazing camphor lamp and then the many- flamed aarti lamps are raised high and then arched back to the water, the dark river reflecting the golden flames as Ganga accepts the worship. Overnight at hotel.
 
 
Day 15: Varanasi
 
Breakfast at hotel, excursion to Sarnath; one of the three holiest sites for Buddhists. This is where the Buddha delivered his first sermon in 528 BC. There are many temples here, representing the many cultures where Buddhism is the dominant religious philosophy. You'll find the Tibetans, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Burmese and the Thai have set up centres of learning, monasteries and temples. The Ashokan Pillar here used to be crowned by a capital that had four lions with their backs to each other looking out in the four cardinal directions the capital, now a national emblem for the Indian Union, is in the Archaeological Museum in Sarnath. The Ashokan Pillar, constructed by the legendary King Ashoka (3rd century BC), still stands. There are many stupas here, as is a bodhi tree that is a sapling from the bodhi tree in Sri Lanka. The Bodhi tree is the peepul tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. A cutting from the original was planted in Anuradhapura (Sri Lanka), and the bodhi in Sarnath has been grown from a sapling from that.
 
Afternoon city tour, visit World famous Benaras Hindu University: founded by Pandit Madan Malviya at the turn of the century, also has a new Vishwanath temple. The temple, built by the Birlas, a rich industrialist family, is meant for a caste-less, egalitarian society, Tulsi Manas Temple: Its white marble walls have the verses of Tulsidas’ Ramcharitmanas inscribed on them and Bharat Mata Temple: a modern shrine, inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi. It has a huge relief map of the Indian sub-continent showing all its rivers, mountains and pilgrimages. Overnight at hotel.
 
 
Day 16: Varanasi
 
Early morning boat ride and Ghat visit along the Ganges and catch the scene of devotees bathing and praying in the sacred water. Varanasi or Kashi is older than traditions. Varanasi presents a unique combination of physical, metaphysical and supernatural elements. 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.
 
Breakfast at hotel, transfer to airport to board flight for Delhi, from Delhi board connecting flight for your home country.