Buddhist tour of India and Nepal covers the major archaeological sites related with Buddha. The monasteries, votive stupas and Emperor Ashoka’s column with inscriptions kept the sites related with Buddha intact with strong evidences. Four major sites of the tour covers are: Sarnath (where he gave his first sermon), Bodhgaya (place of enlightenment), Kushinagar (the site of Buddha’s Mahaparinirvana) and Lumbini (Buddha’s birthplace). Beside the above sites, the tour also covers huge monastery complexes and relic stupas with residence of Buddha were found in Shravasti, Vaishali Rajgir and Kapilavastu.
Buddhist circuit tour of Nepal and India starts from the typical Indian city of Varanasi. Flights to Varanasi can be easily connected from your hometown. We will drive to Nepal through Sunauli border exploring the cultural and heritage sites along the way. In Nepal visit Lumbini and drive to Pokhara or Kathmandu. The tour is 12 days but it could be customized within 6 days with fly in and out from Varanasi airport or with more days exploring Nepal.
Day 01: Arrive Varanasi airport. Pick up and transfer to hotel.
Day 02:Varanasi Tour and visit Sarnath
Morning boat ride to watch Ghats (cremation grounds) during the sunrise and back from breakfast. In the afternoon, drive to Sarnath – the place where Buddha gave his first sermon.
Day 03: Drive 255 km / 6 hrs to Bodhgaya.
The 180 ft tall Mahabodhi temple built first by Ashoka and later renovated around the 5 - 6 th century is the most important emblem of Buddhism to commemorate Buddha's enlightenment. The temple complex has Bodhi tree and the stone slab that marks the exact place where Buddha sat in Vajrasana (diamond throne). The temple complex also marks the six weeks he spent after the enlightenment and different incidents happened during the period before he walked to Sarnath.
Day 04: Explore Bodhgaya | visit Pragbodhhi cave
Explore the monastic zones and surrounding places. There is an option of driving to Dhungeshwari cave, also known as Mahakala cave (Pragbodhhi cave in Buddhist scriptures). This is where Buddha carried on ascetic practice before accepting the rice pudding from the village women Suata. Visit Sujata Stupa on the way.
Day 05: Drive to Patna | Visit Gidharkuta hill and Nalanda university ruins
Drive to Rajgir 70 km / 2.5 hrs and visit the Gidharkuta hill known as vulture peak. This was Buddha’s favorite retreat. Buddha frequently visited the site and taught some of the Sutras at the place. Also visit king Bimbisara’s jail, the Jivika’s hospital and Venuvana (bamboo groove) donated by king Bimbisara to Buddha to build a monastery.
Drive 12 km to Nalanda university ruins and drive further 100 km to Patna for overnight stay.
Day 06: Kushinagar via Vaishali
Drive 34 km to Vaishali. This is where there is one of the Buddha relic Stupa out of the first 8. The site of huge monastic complex with Stupa dedicated Ananda (Buddha’s disciple) and Ashoka pillar indicates Buddha’s frequent visit at the site. From Vaishali, drive 215 km / 51/2 hrs to Kushinagar. Visit the temple of Mahaparinirvana and the site where Buddha was cremated (Rambhar Stupa)
Day 07: Drive to Shravasti
Drive from Kushinagar to Shravasti 200 km / 5 hrs and tour around the archaeological sites within Jetavana. The ruins of Gandhakuti (where Buddha spent 22 monsoons, the most of the time after enlightenment) and the Bodhi tree are the highlights.
Day 08:Drive to Lumbini, Nepal
Drive 180 km / 5 hrs to Sunauli border. Visit the Buddha relic Stupa of Indian side of Kapilavastu on the way. After immigration formalities, drive another 26 km / 40 mints to Lumbini the birthplace of Buddha.
Day 09: Visit Tilaurakot palace and Kudan monastery ruin
Explore the archeological sites of Kapilavastu palace where Buddha spent 29 years as prince Siddhartha, the Nigrodharma monastery ruin where Buddha stayed while visiting his father after enlightenment. In the late afternoon, visit the 2 X 6 km area of the monastic zone, world peace pagoda and the Mayadevi temple with marker stone marking the exact birthplace of Buddha.
Day 10: Drive 300 km / 8 hrs back to Kathmandu.
Day 11: Buddhist tour of Kathmandu.
Buddhism was sheltered and flourished in the hidden valley of Kathmandu after the 12th century. The Himalayan foothills have always been the cave resorts for Siddhas and sages. The most important Buddhist sites around Kathmandu are : meditation caves Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) at Pharping, Namo Buddha stupa (Bodhisattwa sacrificed himself to feed hungry tigress and her six cubs), Boudhanath and Swayambhunath stupas and Patan, the oldest existing Buddhist city in the world.
Day 12: Drive to the airport for final departure.
Buddhist pilgrimage w/ us:
Visit Bodhgaya, Lumbini and other Buddhist pilgrimage sites of India and Nepal just in one week.
Combine your Buddhist tour with Bhutan. Experience the warm hospitality, culture and unsurpassed nature of a Buddhist land and hike to Guru Rinpoche's Tiger's Nest (Taktsang monastery).
Visit Pokahra 'the natural capital' of Nepal with its astounding setting of beautiful lakes with lush hills offering panoramic views of the Himalaya including three 8,000 m peaks.
While in Kathmandu
The verdant hills around Kathmandu provide good hiking. Shivapuri National Park, Nagarkot and Dhulikhel are famous hiking in the outskirt of Kathmandu.