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Itinerary:  The Buddhist trail

 

Tour Highlights

* UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Humayun's tomb
* Historic Old Delhi by cycle rickshaw
* Seven Sacred Points in Bodhgaya where Buddha attained Enlightenment
* Varanasi: Oldest living city in the world, a contemporary of Babylon, Thebes and Nineveh
* Sunrise Boat cruise on the holy Ganges
* Dharamsala: The Little Tibet
* Meet with High Lamas
* Offer a civara (robe) to the Buddha
* Enrol for a meditation course
* Participate in Chanting Ceremony
* Audience with His Holiness The Dalai Lama (Subject to his presence)

Overview

Home to some of the world's most influential religions and steadfastly anchored in a heritage of philosophy, religious mythology, yoga and meditation that goes back to over 5000 years, India is one of the world's leading cultural holiday destinations. You travel to the Navel of the Earth for the Buddhist devotee…Bodhgaya, where a troubled Prince Siddharta ultimately found peace. From here you head out to Varanasi, a city as old as Babylon and Nineveh. Uncover the mysteries of the Hindu faith amidst the burning ghats, antique temples and heritage of crafts amongst its twisting bazaar streets. A short excursion to nearby Sarnath where Buddha delivered his first sermon wraps up this exciting tour. From this spiritual arena, you fly to the erstwhile Islamic Mughal capital of Agra to marvel at the splendour of the world's greatest symbol of love-The Taj Mahal. Later visit Dharamsala (where Buddhism flourishes apace), India's 'Little Tibet' and home of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his people in exile.

Day 1 - Arrive Delhi

On arrival at the Indira Gandhi International airport, you will proceed for Immigration clearance after disembarking. Thereafter you will collect your baggage from the baggage carousel and walk your way to the Arrivals Lounge. You will be greeted by our company representative, with a placard bearing your name on it. He will assist you with your luggage and transfer you to the hotel in your private vehicle.

Delhi, Capital City of Independent India rewards the determined sightseer with more than a thousand monuments and structures of its two old capitals —including the present seat of Government, designed by the British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. Cosmopolitan hotels, shopping, and fine restaurants abound. Delhi also offers a glimpse into the real India: the labyrinthine street bazaars of Old Delhi, and the temples and monuments of India’s chequered colonial past. In the deepest sense, from Old Delhi’s Red Fort and the royal Jama Masjid mosque of Mughal Shahjahan , to New Delhi’s chic art galleries and nightclubs, Delhi is a profoundly Indian city.

If time permits, afternoon short sightseeing of Old and New Delhi. 

Overnight at hotel

 

Day 2 - Delhi / Gaya / Bodhgaya

Breakfast at hotel

Later transfer to airport in time to board flight to Gaya

Air India: AI 433 at 1320 hrs / 1450 hrs – Operates all days 

Meeting and assistance on arrival and transfer to Bodhgaya 

Arrive and check into your hotel 

Overnight at hotel

 

Day 3 - Bodhgaya

 After breakfast at hotel, leave to explore the Buddhist sites 

Mahabodhi Temple — Multi-hued flags flutter in the breeze…soft murmurs provide a foil to the sound of the gongs resonating through the air...

There are seven sacred star points at the Mahabodhi Temple where the Buddha spent a week each in contemplation after attaining Enlightenment

The Bodhi Tree (Bodhi Pallanka). It was after meditating under its sheltering branches for 49 days that the troubled prince emerged in a state of bliss on attaining Buddhahood. The tree it is believed is the fifth generation of the original; Vajrasana (Diamond Throne) donated by Emperor Ashoka is  the Pathavinabhi (the Navel of the Earth) for devotees; The  sculpted footprints near the railing mark the place where the Buddha stood in contemplation in front of this sacred space;

Animesh Lochana Chaitya marks the spot where he stood in silence contemplating the Bodhi Tree during the second week of his Enlightenment;

Cankamana (the Cloister Walk) figures stone carved lotuses representing his pacing while meditating.

Ratnaghara, is where in the fourth week a multi-hued light is said to have emanated from the deeply contemplative Buddha;

Ajapala Nigrodha Tree is where he meditated in the fifth week;

Muchalinda Lake with its statue of the contemplative Buddha marks the point where he was protected from a storm by Muchalinda (lord of serpents) in the sixth week;

Rajayatna Tree marks the place where the Buddha met two Burmese merchants, while meditating here in the seventh week; they became his disciples.

Overnight at hotel


Day 4 - Bodhgaya / Varanasi

 Breakfast at Hotel

Drive to Varanasi (about 4 hrs: 255 kms). Arrive and check into your hotel

Evening witness the enchanting Hindu prayer ceremony on the banks of the Ganges

During the ceremony, the devotees sway in seemingly-choreographed movements, worshiping the river goddess with incense, camphor, flowers and earthen lamps. Thousands of illuminated lamps are immersed in the waters of the holy Ganges and the floating lamps adding to the celestial atmospherics of the river at dusk.

Overnight at hotel


Day 5 - Varanasi

 At sunrise take a boat ride to explore the activities at the Ghats (River Side Steps). A sunrise boat ride is the highlight of a trip to Varanasi, when the temples along the river front are bathed in soft light. The people of the city trickle out of the labyrinthine lanes and head for the ghats at dawn to wash clothes, perform yoga, offer flowers and incense to the river and take a ritual dip.

After breakfast explore the Ghats, narrow lanes and temples by foot.

Afternoon explore Sarnath a sacred site for Buddhists worldwide, for this is where Gautama Buddha came back after attaining Enlightenment to share his new found faith with his disciples. We will get to see Buddhist pilgrims and monks from all over the world here.


Overnight at Hotel


Day 6 - Varanasi / Agra

 Morning transfer to airport in time to board flight to Agra 

AI 406 at 1220 hrs / 1315 hrs – Operates only on Mondays / Wednesdays / Saturdays

Meeting and assistance on arrival and transfer to your hotel 
The quintessence of the grand Mughal era, reigns to this day in the public mind as the embodiment of royal grace, imposing architecture and power. Agra, more than being a city, is a synonym for the Taj Mahal - one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Agra is the home of this fabulous mausoleum built by the Mughal emperor Shahjehan in memory of Mumtaz Mahal, his beloved empress; the Taj Mahal  is often described as a ‘dream in marble’.
Later visit Taj Mahal at sunset
Overnight at hotel

Day 7 - Agra / Delhi

 Early morning visit Taj Mahal at sunrise 

After breakfast visit Agra Fort and drive to Delhi (200 Kms, 4.5 hrs) 

Arrive and check into your hotel 

Overnight at hotel


Day 8 - Delhi / Dharamsala

 Today morning transfer to airport for flight to Dharamsala

Air India : AI 9813 at 0945 hrs / 1135 hrs – Operates on Mondays / Tuesdays / Wednesdays / Thursdays / Sundays

Or

Spice Jet: SG 2382 at 1045 hrs / 1210 hrs – Operates all day

Meeting and assistance on arrival and transfer to hotel 

Dharamsala is known for its scenic beauty, calmness and serenity. It has high pine trees, tea gardens and timber yielding trees. The mountains enfold three sides of the town and the valley stretches to the south. There is a beautiful resort in Dharamsala, which stands on the spur of the Dharamsala range.  Dharamsala is now the seat of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. After the Chinese conquest of his country, Dharamsala is evocative of the imperial days in places like Mcleod Ganj and Forsythe Ganj. Dharamsala is the headquarters of the Kangra district. It became the capital in 1852 and is 125 years old.

Originally home of the semi-nomadic Gaddi tribe, McLeodganj is today the residence of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. This mid 19th century place was developed as a British Garrison. The place was developed as an important administrative point for the whole Kangra valley. Today the place has developed as headquarters of the exiled Tibetan Government. The impressive monastery has larger than life size images of Buddha, Padmasambhava and Avaloketeshwara. 

Overnight at hotel

 

Day 9 - Dharamsala

 In morning visit the Tibetan monastery at Mcleodganj 

Mcleodganj has been transformed into a Tibetan township and is the residence of the Dalai Lama. Here an entire cultural tradition is being nurtured at the school of Tibetan studies with its rare manuscripts and ancient texts. It is now a magnet for scholars, pilgrims and tourists.  The Tibetan Institute for the Performing Arts and a handicrafts center add to the ambience. Visitors enjoy roaming through the bazaar and bargaining for handmade carpets and handicrafts, ranging from prayer wheels to Tangkhas (Buddhist painted scrolls mounted on silk) The aroma of delicious Tibetan food fills the air. A giant prayer wheel dominates the main street and a large statue of Lord Buddha looks serenely on as monks chant prayers in the monastery. 

Audience with His Holiness The Dalai Lama at his centre in the morning (subject to his presence in the town)

Later visit Norbulingka Institute 

The Norbulingka Institute is becoming a major centre for Buddhist teaching and practical working. Named after the summer residence built by the seventh Dalai Lama in 1754, in response to a threat to the survival of Tibetan Buddhism’s cultural heritage. The Central Tibetan Administration began work on the centre in 1988; there are over 100 students painting tangkhas and engaged in a variety of crafts. 

Overnight at Hotel


Day 10 - Dharamsala / Delhi / Departure

 Transfer to airport in time to board flight to Delhi

Air India : AI 9814 at 1200 hrs / 1355 hrs – Operates on Mondays / Tuesdays / Wednesdays / Thursdays / Sundays

Or 
Spice Jet: SG 2384 at 1230 hrs / 1415 hrs – Operates all days
Meeting and assistance on arrival and transfer to international airport in time for onward travel

Note

Taj Mahal is closed on Friday

October to June

 

TOFTThe Hotels covered in this Itinerary are:
Trident Gurgaon / Oberoi Gurgaon
Lotus Nikko Bodhgaya
Suryauday Haveli / Taj Nadesar Palace
ITC Mughal Agra / The Oberoi Amarvilas
Clouds End Villa

Trident Gurgaon

 Trident Gurgaon is a five star hotel for business as well as leisure travelers. It is conveniently located and is about 15 minutes drive from the International airport on the Delhi to Jaipur highway. 25 minutes drive from downtown New Delhi. Set in seven acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, the hotel has an imposing yet serene presence, a resort-like ambience. It is characterised by domes, long walkways, inner courtyards, reflection pools and fountains. The hotel has 136 rooms, which include a Presidential suite and six Executive suites, overlooking the garden, courtyards and pools.


Oberoi Gurgaon

 Located in Gurgaon- a suburb of Delhi and close to the Delhi airport, The Oberoi, describes itself as a "jewel box". And the minimalist glass structure certainly contains a gem or two - many of which are reflected in the 36,000 square foot pool at the front of the hotel. Its lavish guest rooms include large marble bathrooms with freestanding bathtubs, and its 15 suites are some of the largest in the city. Featuring the most spacious accommodation in any business hotel, the 202 guest rooms and suites are planned with a host of innovative features. The rooms feature landscape windows that bathe every room with abundant daylight offering a view of the serene reflection pools and landscaped gardens. 


Lotus Nikko Bodhgaya

The comfortable and simply designed hotel is located near the Mahabodhi Temple and offers 46 rooms and suites.There is also a multi cuisine restaurant. The best hotel in town


Suryauday Haveli

Suryauday Haveli on Shivala Ghats has recently been renovated as a boutique hotel in Varanasi, located right on the river Ganges. Built by the Royal Family of Nepal in the 20th century as a retreat for the aged, it is now been painstakingly put together again to provide the best accommodation experience in Varanasi. Suryodaya Haveli comprises of 14 rooms, which includes a master river facing suite. Some of the rooms are river facing

The hotel restaurant does not have a fixed menu and their traditional Maharaj (Hindu Cook) will surprise you with delectable food from across the Indian sub-continent. Each day comprises of new culinary surprises. The hotel serves vegetarian food.

 

Taj Nadesar Palace

Nestled in the heart of this bustling city, amongst mango orchards, marigold and jasmine fields lies Taj Nadesar Palace. The 10 suites at Nadesar palace are exquisitely scaled yet intimate. Four-poster beds draped in endless lotus pink tulle and bath-tubs on tranquil white marble are reminiscent of an age gone by. Carefully restored interiors are fitted with amenities. The hotel has a small restaurant and a spa. Residents can use the facilities of the nearby Taj Gateway hotel as well.


ITC Mughal Agra

 Sprawled over 35 acres of luxurious gardens, and in close proximity to the Taj Mahal, ITC Mughal, a luxury hotel in Agra is a fitting tribute to the great Mughal builders of the past. The only Indian hotel to have won the prestigious Aga Khan Award for its excellent representation of Mughal architecture, it now boasts of a brand new accommodation wing - the 'Khwab Mahal' - Palace of Dreams. This luxury hotel in Agra comprises of 233 opulent rooms and suites, recreating a paradise for the contemporary Mogul- full of splendor and perfection which was the hallmark of the Mughal Dynasty


The Oberoi Amarvilas

Enjoy the luxury of your own private view of the greatest monument to love. Wake up to the glorious sight of the Taj, bathed by the first rays of dawn. Watch her sparkle by day as the sun shines on her architectural perfection. Allow yourself to be swept away by her romance at dusk. Let the nights be filled with the magic of the Taj by moonlight.

The Oberoi Amarvilas is located 600 meters from the Taj Mahal and all rooms, suites, lobby, bar and lounge offer breathtaking views of the monument. Built in a style inspired by Moorish and Mughal architecture, the resort is a splendid display of terraced lawns, fountains, reflection pools and pavilions with rich interiors that take you back to an era of Emperors and Princes. An interlude at The Oberoi Amarvilas is truly unforgettable

 

Clouds End Villa

 Clouds End Villa - Stay at 'Clouds End Villa' a sprawling 9 acre property with its own step field, gardens and forests. It is partly the residence of the Raja of Lambagraon-Kangra who personally manages the property. This old fashioned bungalow with an annex was built during the British period. It has uninterrupted view of the Kangra Valley and has  7 rooms to rent. There is a charming walk through a forest path to Macleodganj, where you can visit the headquarters of H.H. the Dalai Lama. Cloud End was recommended in the Tatlers Travel guide 1993 as one of  the 50 best small hotels in its category. 


Map of India

Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive Delhi
Day 2 - Delhi / Gaya / Bodhgaya
Day 3 - Bodhgaya
Day 4 - Bodhgaya / Varanasi
Day 5 - Varanasi
Day 6 - Varanasi / Agra
Day 7 - Agra / Delhi
Day 8 - Delhi / Dharamsala
Day 9 - Dharamsala
Day 10 - Dharamsala / Delhi / Departure
Special Offer
Tour Price for two persons travelling together staying in one room.
Land Arrangements US Dollar 1885 Per Person Plus Internal flight US Dollar 700**
Upgrade to Luxury hotels in Delhi, Varanasi & Agra for additional US Dollar 1010 per person.

** Dynamic Airfares: These fares are a non-static advance purchase fare which keeps changing on daily basis as they depend upon demand and supply ratio. Any increase will be additional to the above cost. Seat availability is subject at time of bookings

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