Gautam Buddha was born in Lumbini, now a part of Nepal but he toured through India and inspired millions to follow in his footsteps. From commoners to Emperors, people saw the wisdom in his teachings. At one time Buddhism reigned supreme in the land and left behind a rich legacy for us to admire. Today, millions of Buddhist devotees from all over the world follow in the footsteps of Buddha, retracing his journey, as well as visiting some of the most famous spots known for Buddhist art and culture. NamasteIndiaTrip brings you the footsteps of Buddha tour spread over 17 days and 16 nights taking you across Nepal and select destinations in India.
Day 01: Mumbai Arrival
A warm welcome awaits you on arrival in Mumbai where our NamasteIndiaTrip tour guide escorts you to your hotel for the overnight stay. You could explore Mumbai by night if you are so inclined.
Day 02: Mumbai Excursions
Breakfast on vada pav, Sev Usal or any of the popular breakfast dishes and set out on a boat ride that will take you to the magnificent Elephanta Caves on the Elephanta Island. The caves date back to the 8th century and are a wonderful collection of wall art as well as temples carved into the rocky mountainside. Return to Mumbai and go on a city tour starting with the Gateway of India followed by a visit to the Towers of Silence or the Parsi cemetery. Walk along the Marine Drive and then the Colaba Causeway after which you get a glimpse of laundry workers at the Dhobi Ghat and then proceed to Malabar Hills and its picturesque Hanging Gardens. The city tour also includes visit to Mani Bhavan, a museum dedicated to the works of Gandhiji. Then you can go shopping in the bustling Crawford market and traverse Fort area to pick up something from the hundreds of street stalls.
Day 03: Aurangabad
Breakfast over the group leaves for the railway station and boards the early morning train that will take you to Aurangabad. Check into the hotel, freshen up and then set out for a short trip to the local places such as the Daulatabad Fort, the Aurangabad caves and the famous Bibi ka Maqbara. Spend the evening exploring Aurangabad at your leisure.
Day 04: Ellora Caves
Set out early for Ellora Caves where you will see the works of Hindu, Jain and Buddhists spanning two Centuries. The rock-cut temples and monasteries number 34 and the Kailas temple in the cave is the most magnificent of all. It takes all day to explore the spread out caves and you return to your room, tired but happy.
Day 05: Jalgaon – Bhopal
Today, after breakfast we set out for a visit to the Aurangabad caves northeast of the city. These caves date from the 2nd century BC to 7th century AD and are purely Buddhist in nature. The 30 caves present a wonderful collection of wall paintings, sculpture and architecture that will leave you entranced. The visit over we board a train at Jalgaon that will take the group to Bhopal. Arrive late at around midnight and check into your hotel for the overnight stay.
Day 06: Bhopal – Agra
Fresh after breakfast we set out to explore the Buddhist sites around Bhopal starting with Sanchi Stupa that sits on a hill with monasteries and temples around it. The monuments date from the 3rd century BC to 12th century AD. The stupa is the oldest stone structure and is said to have been built by Emperor Ashoka. There is a lot of history connected with this site that fascinates tourists and makes it one of the most visited Buddhist pilgrimage sites. In the afternoon the group boards a train for Agra where you check into your hotel on arrival. Explore Agra’s bazaars in the evening and sample its street food.
Day 07: Agra – Varanasi
After breakfast, you visit the fabulous Taj Mahal, one of the wonders of the world, followed by a visit to Agra fort. The Fort encompasses a magnificent collection of fountains, courtyards and remains of palaces. Later, you check out and board a train for Varanasi.
Day 08: Varanasi Excursions
Besides being one of the holiest of Hindu cities, Varanasi is also an important Buddhist destination. You proceed to Sarnath, which is where Buddha is said to have delivered his first sermon after enlightenment. The area has an aura of peace and you can feel the spirituality here. After this the group proceeds to visit temples of Varanasi such as the famous Vishwanath temple, the Tulsi Manas temple and others. In the evening you find yourself by the banks of the Ganges to watch evening aarti, a fascinating sight as thousands of “diyas” are lit and floated on the waters. Return to your hotel for a well-deserved rest.
Day 09: Varanasi – Bodhgaya
You arrive in Varanasi, one of the oldest living cities of the world, and are taken directly to the Ghats alongside the Ganges where you can observe people engaged in bathing and in holy rituals. After this brief sightseeing trip, the group boards a coach for the 242 km drive to Bodhgaya. Check into your hotel on arrival.
Day 10: Bodhgaya Excursions
Set out in the morning to explore Bodhgaya, considered one of the most important Buddhist destinations. This is where Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment while sitting under a Peepul tree. It is said the same tree still exists in the precincts of the Mahabodhi Temple. After the temple visit you go on to the Bodhgaya Archaeological Museum that showcases Buddhist relics dating back to the 1st century BC. On your return you stop at the Jagannath temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Stay overnight.
Day 11: Bodhgaya – Patna
Following breakfast, you board the coach for the 109 km drive to Patna, another important Buddhist destination. On the way we stop at Gridhakuta Hills and then again at Rajgir. Buddha spent many years here and converted King Bimbisar who gifted Venuvan Vihar to him. The first Buddhist council was held here. There is a ropeway that connects to the Shanti stupa and other monasteries on the hills. Gridhakuta is where Buddha sat continuously for three months and delivered inspirational sermons. A peace pagoda marks the spot. From here we proceed to Nalanda, the site of one of the oldest universities in the world now in ruins. Proceed to Patna and have lunch in the city. The afternoon is spent in visiting the Har Mandir Sahib, Golghar and the Patna Museum famed for its collection of Buddhist and Mauryan sculptures.
Day 12: Patna – Kushinagar
Board a coach post breakfast for the 253 km drive to Kushinagar. Kushinagar is where the Lord Buddha was cremated. We visit the Maha Parinirvana Temple where you admire the recumbent status of the Buddha and then return to the hotel for rest.
Day 13: Kushinagar – Shravasti (Balrampur)
Breakfast on typical local cuisine and then set out for Balrampur, a distance of 216 km that takes over 5 hours and check into your hotel on arrival. Later you visit Sahet Mahet. This is a collection of stupas, Viharas and temples. The Buddha spent 24 Chaturmas (4 holy months) in this place.
Day 14: Shravasti – Lumbini
In the morning you board the waiting coach for the 197 km drive to Lumbini in Nepal, the birthplace of Lord Buddha. On arrival check into your room and set out to explore the surroundings in the evening.
Day 15: Lumbini – Kathmandu
We set out on an early morning tour of Lumbini and visit the Sacred Garden, Maya Devi Temple (with a spot marking the exact place where Buddha was born), Pushkarini Pond where his mother bathed, Myanmar temple and the China Temple. Later in the afternoon, the group boards a flight for Kathmandu. Explore the streets of this beautiful mountain capital of Nepal and admire the wonderful scenery in the evening.
Day 16: Kathmandu Sightseeing
Set out after breakfast on a sightseeing tour of Kathmandu. We visit the famous Pashupatinath temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Then we go on to the Tibetan Handicrafts Center at Jawalakhel and watch carpets taking shape in the hands of craftsmen. Later in the afternoon, we visit Swayambhunath, the oldest Buddhist shrine from where you can see the entire Kathmandu valley. Next on the list are the Kathmandu Durbar Square and the Old Royal Palace. A visit to Kasthamandap temple said to be built from the wood of a single tree rounds of the trip.
Day 17: Kathmandu Departure
Breakfast over our tour guide assists you with the onward departure. The NamasteIndiaTrip footsteps of Buddha tour ends here.