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Ajanta Ellora Caves
 

Buddhist Pilgrimage and Cave tour

Tour Duration : 11 Nights / 12 Days
Places Covered: Delhi - Gaya - Bodhgaya - Nalanda - Rajgir - Gaya - Varanasi - Delhi - Agra - Jaipur - Mumbai – Aurangabad
Buddhist Pilgrimage and Cave Tour is a great way to revisit the rich Buddhist era of glory etched in the temples, caves, stupas and other important Buddhist structures. The journey of discovery begins aboard the Mahaparinirvana Express and returns back to the Delhi for two incredible tour extensions. The immediate tour extension takes them through the iconic royal cities of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Towards the end, the tour takes a turn towards the Buddhist heritage caves in Ajanta and Ellora that have survived the ravages of time and became a specimen of ancient tempera art based on the paintings inspired by Buddha and his life. Some of them are even inspired by the Jataka Tales.
Day 1. Delhi - Gaya (990 km) (Mahaparinirvana Train Tour)

17:30 hrs - Assemble at the Delhi Safdurjung Railway Station and board the Mahaparinirvana Express Train after Traditional Welcome.

19:00 hrs -Depart aboard the incredible Buddhist train for Gaya.

20:00 hrs - Dinner on-board and overnight stay as you journey on this special train.
Day 2. Gaya – Bodhgaya (16 km) (Mahaparinirvana Train Tour)

06:30 hrs – Get ready early morning with tea, wash, change and breakfast on board for a tryst with the site where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment.

08:30 hrs – Upon arrival at Gaya, disembark the train and assemble for boarding the coaches for road journey towards Bodhgaya sightseeing including the sites associated with Lord Buddha and his enlightenment including Mahabodhi Temple, Bodhi Tree, Niranjana River, etc.

12:30 hrs – Check in at hotel for lunch and relax till tea time.

16:00 hrs – After tea, proceed for a city tour visiting Thai Temple, Japanese Temple and Buddha Statue.

19:30 hrs – Return to Hotel for Dinner and overnight.
Day 3. Bodhgaya – Nalanda – Rajgir – Gaya – Varanasi (Mahaparinirvana train Tour)

05:30 hrs – Begin Buddhist Pilgrimage and Cave Tour with early morning tea & breakfast followed by checkout from the Hotel for a visit to Rajgir and Nalanda.

07:00 hrs – Departure by coach for Rajgir (85 Km)

09:30 hrs – Arrive Rajgir and begin sightseeing via a visit to Bimbisara Jail, Gridhakut hill, and Venuvan Vihara, where Lord Buddha himself stayed many times and preached his enlightening sermons.

12:30 hrs – Proceed for lunch at a Restaurant in Rajgir.

13:30 hrs – After lunch, move ahead towards Nalanda for visiting the ruins of world famous University of the ancient times.

17:00 hrs – Depart back to Gaya Railway Station.

19:00 hrs - Arrive at Gaya Railway Station and board the Mahaparinirvana Express Buddhist train in the evening.

20:00 hrs – Dinner on-board. Departure from Gaya at 23:30 hrs to Varanasi (220 Km) by train.
Day 4. Arrive Varanasi (Mahaparinirvana Train Tour)

05:00 hrs - Early morning tea on-board and arrival at Varanasi. Disembark the train and board the coaches.

06:00 hrs – 08:30 hrs – Check in the hotel upon arrival and have morning meal.

08:30 hrs – Departure for Sarnath (10 Km) and visit Dhamekh Stupa, Sarnath Museum, The Ashokan Pillar and Mulgandha Kuti Vihara, associated with Lord Buddha’s first sermon and establishment of Buddhism.

12:30 hrs – After lunch in hotel, relax during the free time in Varanasi.

17:00 hrs - Visit the iconic attractions of River Ganges Ghats and continue Boat ride (with required safety procedure adhered), Evening Aarti. Return to the hotel for overnight.
Day 5. Varanasi – Delhi

Breakfast at hotel. Proceed for city tour of Varanasi via a visit to Bharat Mata Temple, Tulsi Manas and the sprawling campus of Banaras Hindu University etc. (If time permits)

In the afternoon, transfer to the airport to board connecting flight for Delhi and continue the Buddhist Pilgrimage and Cave Tour. On arrival, transfer to the hotel. Later begin a tour through New Delhi including a visit to Qutub Minar. Constructed in Indo Islamic style, this monument symbolizes the first remarkable architectural structure of Muslim rule in India and is one of the important icons of the city. Humayun’s Tomb, the other important icon of the city started the trends of tombs in India. Based on the Chaharbagh Mughal garden style with pathways and water channels, this proportionate Mughal structure is believed to be an inspiration behind Taj Mahal. Continue exploring modern marvels of New Delhi designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens via visiting India Gate, a gateway memorial to commemorate the death of 70,000 Indian soldiers killed during World War I and the Third Anglo-Afghan War. Continue discovering marvels of Lutyens Delhi via a drive past President and Parliament House.

Overnight in Delhi.
Day 6. Delhi – Agra

After breakfast at hotel, begin exploring Old side of Delhi via visiting Rajghat pay respect to the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi at his cremation site. Drive past Red Fort, the epitome of mightiness and splendour of Mughal era. Built by Shah Jehan, the fourth Mughal emperor, this fort was and still is a symbol of power and elegance. Built in red sandstone, this fort is close to two other prominent attractions of Old Delhi - Chandni Chowk, the perpetually congested avenue-heading and Jama Masjid, illustrating the architectural aesthetics of Shah Jehan. In the afternoon, drive to Agra (203 Km / 04 Hrs), the second city illustrating the gems of Mughal heritage.

On arrival, transfer to hotel for overnight in Agra.
Day 7. Agra – Fatehpur Sikri – Jaipur (232Km / Approx. drive time 05 hours)

Begin this morning with a visit to the most beautiful building in the world, Taj Mahal during the Agra city tour. Built by Shah Jahan in 1633 in memory of his queen Mumtaz Mahal and enshrine her mortal remains, this remains one of the most iconic attractions of Mughal India. The remarkable features of Taj Mahal is its perfectly proportioned symmetry etched in white marble; exhibiting the calligraphy, inlay art and filigree work of the celebrated craftsmen. (Taj Mahal remains closed on all Fridays) Later visit the Agra fort, another world heritage site in the city featuring a medieval Mughal fort illustrating the Mughal Fort architecture featuring private halls (Diwan-e-Khaas) and public audiences (Diwan-e-Aam) and other palaces.

After lunch in Agra, leave the city by surface for Jaipur. Enroute visit Fatehpur Sikri.

This elegant city was Emperor Akbar’s tribute to the Sufi saint, Sheikh Salim Chisti who prophesized the birth of three sons to the heirless Emperor. Akbar was too overwhelmed with this miracle and hence decided to dedicate a city in honour of the saint. He even named his son Salim, who later became famous as Jahangir. But soon after 15 years, the city was abandoned due to scarcity of water. But still, the city of victory exudes charm, glory and splendour of the Mughal architectural era.

The remarkably well-preserved, graceful buildings within the medieval city complex including Jama Masjid, tomb of Salim Chisti, Panch Mahal Palace and other palaces evoke fascination regarding the Mughal era during the height of its power.

Continue overland journey to Jaipur. On arrival, check into the hotel for overnight in Jaipur.
Day 8. In Jaipur

After breakfast, visit to Amber Fort, a medieval sandstone fort transports a tourist to the elaborate era of Rajputana glory. The rugged, time-ravaged walls on the outer side of the fort have preserved and safeguarded a pristine paradise reflecting the epitome of Rajputana kingdom. Precious stones and mirrors embedded into plaster lend a surreal look to the interiors of the palace. The most prominent attractions of Amber Fort are Jag Mandir or the Hall of Victory, Sheesh Mahal, Diwan-e-Aam and Diwan-e-Khaas. Enroute Amber Fort, enjoy a brief photography stop at Hawa Mahal - the Palace of Winds.

Afternoon begin the city tour with a visit to the City Palace, the former Royal residence where still Jaipur’s royal family resides. A part of it is converted into museum and is a great way to revisit the chivalrous and brave heritage of Rajput kings. Armoury Museum in City Palace complex hosts an amazing display of weaponry pistols, blunderbusses, swords, daggers, rifles, flintlocks, etc that were used by royal kings during the wars. Later visit the Jantar Mantar, the largest stone and marble crafted observatory in the world. Situated near the gate of the city palace, the observatory has 17 large instruments, many of them still in working condition. Overnight in Jaipur.
Day 9. Jaipur - Mumbai

After breakfast, transfer to the airport and board connecting flight for Mumbai (Available domestic flight). On arrival in Mumbai, transfer to hotel. In the noon, begin city tour of Mumbai including a visit to Prince of Wales Museum, Gateway of India, Hanging Garden, Dhobi Ghats and Mani Bhawan etc. Dinner and Overnight in Mumbai.
Day 10. Mumbai - Aurangabad

After breakfast, transfer to the airport to board the connecting flight for Aurangabad during Buddhist Pilgrimage and Cave Tour to discover the Buddhist heritage caves in Ajanta and Ellora. (Indian Airlines or Jet Airways). On arrival in Aurangabad, transfer to the hotel for overnight.
Day 11. Aurangabad

Begin morning with an excursion to Ajanta Caves. Ajanta is an awesome cave complex entirely based on Buddhism. Recognized by UNESCO as world heritage sites, this cave complex comprises of ancient chaitya-grihas and monasteries showcasing paintings as old as 2nd century BC. The paintings are heavily influenced by Buddha and his life, previous Bodhisattvas and the Jatakas tales. Technique in which these paintings are made is Tempera technique. (Ajanta caves remain closed on every Monday).

In the afternoon post lunch, begin an exciting excursion to Ellora Caves, another world heritage cave complex based on Buddhist, Jain and Hindu cave temples of the 9th Century A.D. Kailash Temple, hewn out of a single rock, carved with life size figures of gods and goddesses, is a wonder. (Ellora caves remain closed on every Tuesday).
Day 12. Departure from Aurangabad

After breakfast, transfer to airport to connect flight for onward destination.
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