India is dotted with many Buddhist monasteries far and wide. Buddhist Monasteries Tour allows a pilgrim or a tourist to pay respects to these temples of faith, devotion and contentment. This trail begins with the ancient monastic trails where caves served as monasteries or shelters for monks. Aurangabad, Ellora and Ajanta caves are the testimony to the Buddhist monasteries and over the time have become the core exhibiting Buddhist heritage of the region. The next prominent destination during Buddhist monastery tour is Sanchi, where many Buddhist monuments erected during the time of Ashoka's empire keep the region's heritage intact. The journey continues to the repositories of Buddhist temples and monasteries in Rajgir, Bodhgaya, Varanasi, Kushinagar, Lumbini and Sravasti, that are still dwelled by many Buddhist monasteries.
Day 1, Arrival Mumbai - Aurangabad
Upon arrival in Mumbai International Airport, continue Mumbai sightseeing tour to its bejewelled architectural attractions including Prince of Wales museum, Gateway of India, Marine Drive, Parliament House, Hanging Gardens on Malabar Hill and Kanheri Buddhist Caves. Later transfer to Mumbai domestic airport and depart for Aurangabad. On arrival at Aurangabad Airport, transfer to Hotel for overnight stay.
Day 2, Aurangabad - Ellora - Ajanta - Bhusaval - Bhopal
After breakfast, begin the enriching sightseeing to Ellora and Ajanta Caves. Both of them are recognized as the world heritage sites and present a rich spectacle of Buddhist stonework sculptures and paintings as old as 2nd century BC. Later in the evening transfer to Bhusaval Railway Station to board overnight train for Bhopal.
Overnight on Board.
Day 3, Bhopal - Sanchi - Bhopal - Agra
After breakfast, continue the sightseeing of Sanchi, the repository of Buddhist heritage resurrected under the rule of Mauryan Emperor Ashoka. The major structures of reclaim in Sanchi are Toranas or decorative gateway and an oldest stupa enshrining the relic of Buddha.
After sightseeing, return to Bhopal and transfer to Railway Station to board connecting train for Agra. On arrival, transfer from Agra Cantt. Railway Station to hotel.
Overnight in Agra.
Day 4, Agra
Begin the morning with a remarkable sightseeing to incomparable Taj Mahal with its speculative view. Taj Mahal, the medieval architectural wonder of the world is a fine example presenting a fusion of many architectural styles. Continue exploring the city of love with a visit to Agra Fort which is positioned across the river Jamuna.
Overnight stay in Agra.
Day 5, Agra - Delhi - Patna (AIR)
Continue day 5 of the Buddhist monasteries tour with a visit to Delhi. On arrival, continue the sightseeing of iconic landmarks of Delhi including India Gate, President House, etc. Later transfer to Domestic Airport to board connecting flight for Patna. On arrival at Patna Airport, transfer to the hotel for overnight stay.
Day 6, Patna - Rajgir - Bodhgaya
After early breakfast, drive to Bodhgaya, the site of Buddha's enlightenment. Enroute continue the sightseeing of Rajgir, the ancient capital of 6th century Magadha Empire. This witnessed many important discourses from Buddha. The site is also dotted with numerous Buddhist attractions, including Sapataparni cave, Ajatsatru fort, Gridhrakuta peak and Venuvana. Nalanda near Rajgir is another ancient archaeological site renowned for the world's oldest university and a center for Buddhist learning.
Continue Buddhist Monasteries Tour with a visit to impressive Buddhist temples in the region. Archaeological Museum is also not to be missed for the rare collections in Rajgir. Later, proceed for Bodhgaya. On arrival in Bodhgaya, check into the hotel for Overnight stay.
Day 7, Bodhgaya - Varanasi
Bodhgaya is one of the holiest Buddhist pilgrimage centres. Lord Buddha himself in Mahaparnirvana Sutta mentioned Bodhgaya as a part of four fold pilgrimage. Here Gautama attained enlightenment and became Buddha under the "Bodhi" tree.
Morning visit the Mahabodhi temple built by Ashoka the Great in 3rd Century BC and other revered attractions in the temple complex. Visit sacred Bodhi tree, Animesh Lochana Chaitya, Chankramana and Muchalinda Lake as a part of Buddhist monastery tour. Pay respects to the numerous monasteries in Bodhgaya as well. Later proceed for Varanasi by surface. On arrival, check into hotel for overnight stay.
Day 8, Varanasi - Kushinagar
Begin early morning in this spiritual city through a boat ride on river Ganges and witness the beautiful sunrise and rituals on the banks of this worshipped river. After breakfast, continue excursion to Sarnath, the principle centre of Buddhism. It was here around 530 B.C that Buddha preached his first sermon after gaining enlightenment and turned the wheel of law.
Afternoon, continue drive to Kushinagar - the place where Buddha passed into Parinirvana. On arrival, check into hotel for overnight stay.
Day 9,Kushinagar - Lumbini - Sravasti
After breakfast, begin the day with sightseeing of Kushinagar. Visit Ramabhar stupa marking the spot of Lord Buddha's cremation. Pay respects to Nirvana Temple enshrining the 6.10 meter long statue of Lord Buddha in reclining posture. Also visit Matha Kuar Temple enshrining the large recumbent figure of Buddha in Bhumi Sparsh Mudra.
In afternoon, proceed for Sravasti. Enroute visit Lumbini, the site of Lord Buddha's birth. An ancient shrine with an image representing the nativity of Buddha is still preserved. Visit Mayadevi Temple, Pushakarini Pond and Ashokan Pillar during Lumbini tour as the ancient repositories of Buddhist heritage of the region. Continue the drive to Sravasti. On arrival check into hotel for overnight stay.
Day 10, Sravasti - Lucknow - Delhi - Departure
On tenth day of Buddhist Monasteries Tour, begin morning with a visit to the ruins of Jetavana Monastery in Sravasti (Sahet-Mahet). This was an ancient capital of the Kingdom of Kosala and is still an active centre for Buddhism. After sightseeing, proceed to Lucknow city tour. On arrival in Lucknow, transfer to Airport to connect Flight for Delhi. Transfer from Delhi Domestic Airport to International Airport to connect flight back home.
Tourists can also take pleasure in availing the extension tour to Mcleodganj, the little Lhasa of India famous for its string of Tibetan monasteries. This hill station in upper reaches of Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh is also a home to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
Day 11, Delhi
On arrival in Delhi, check in the hotel for overnight stay.
Day 12, Delhi - Dharmshala - Mcleodganj
After light breakfast, begin the drive to Mcleodganj (481 km / 9 hr). On arrival, check in at the hotel.
Day 12. Mcleodganj
Famous worldwide as little Lhasa and a home town for His Holiness XIV Dalai Lama, Mcleodganj is dotted with a number of monasteries and is influenced by the Tibetan culture. Visit the Namgyal Monastery known for a Buddhist temple and center of attraction lies in its tantric practices dedicated to Kalachakra, Yamantaka, Chakrasamvara, etc. There are various stupas, temples, monastery for the tourists to explore in Tsuglagkhang monastery, next to Namgyal. Also there are bookshops, cafe and a museum that too serve the tourists. Continue Buddhist Monasteries tour with a visit to Dipo Rsechokling Monastry and the Gaden Choeling Nunnery. Also visit the Tibetan Handicraft centre.
In afternoon, visit the museum displaying some rare Thangka paintings, statues of deities and article used in Buddhist rituals.
Overnight in hotel.
Day 13. Mcleodganj
Day is free at leisure. However, if you want to indulge in local sightseeing then visit Bhagsu Waterfalls and Triund Hills.
Overnight in Mcleodganj.
Day 14. Mcleodganj - Delhi
Drive to Delhi this morning (9 hr drive). On arrival, check in at hotel.
DEPARTURE (Breakfast), Free for own activities. transfer in time to Airport for flight to onward destination.