Day 1: Arrive Mumbai
On arrival at Mumbai airport assistance & transfer to hotel (check in/out time 12pm).
Mumbai is disciplined by no time frame neither day nor night. Dazzling shopping arcades, exciting sport activity, nightclubs & discotheques, theatre, music & gourmet restaurants offers visitors a heady mix of all this and more. Rest time free for personal activities. Overnight at hotel.
Day 2: Mumbai
Breakfast at hotel. City tour of Mumbai. Drive via Marine Drive one of the most beautifully laid boulevards in the city to reach Gateway of India. Board a ferry from here to reach Elephanta Caves (Monday closed). A flight of 100 steps takes you to the top of the hill where caves are located. Afterwards cruise back to Gateway of India and then city tour. Drive pass CST & Parliament House. Visit Dhobhi Ghat to see the city famous open air laundry in action. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalay, a grade I Heritage Building of the city counted amongst one of the most prominent museums of India. The complex exhibits a myriad collection of ancient artefacts, artwork and sculptors of the country which give a unique insight into our past. Overnight at hotel.
Day 3: Mumbai - Aurangabad (flight)
Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to airport to board the flight for Aurangabad.
Arrival transfer to hotel. Later visit Bibi ka Maqbara built in 1678 is a sons loving tribute to his mother, Panchakki which discharged water on the wheel to power the flourmill and grind grain for the pilgrims & Aurangabad Caves artificial caves that were dug out of soft rock during the 6th & 7th century.
Day 4: Aurangabad
Breakfast at hotel. Excursion to Ajanta (Monday closed). The Buddhist Caves of Ajanta were discovered by the British officers in 1819 while hunting tiger. Ajanta Caves were first mentioned in the writings of the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang who visited India between AD 629 and 645. The Caves at Ajanta are older than those at Ellora which date from about 200 BC to 650 AD. Thirty beautiful Buddhist Caves with mesmerizing sculptures and paintings depicting Buddha`s life as well the lives of the Buddha in his previous births. Five of these Caves are Chaityas (Place of worship) while the other twenty-five are Viharas (monasteries). Ajanta Caves are divided in two categories based on two schools of Buddhist thought - Hinayana Caves and Mahayana Caves. Drive back to Aurangabad for overnight stay.
Day 5: Aurangabad - Ellora (36km)/ Delhi (flight)
Breakfast at hotel. Excursion to visit the Ellora Caves (Tuesday closed), a UNESCO World Heritage Site from about 200 BC. to 650 AD. There are 34 monasteries and temples at Ellora, belonging to the three different religions Buddhism, Hinduism & Jainism. Grishneshwar Temple one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines mentioned in the Shiva Purana. On way back visit Daulatabad Fort one of the most powerful forts of the medieval Deccan.
Transfer to airport to board flight for Delhi. Arrival transfer to hotel.
Day 6: Delhi
Breakfast at hotel. City tour of Delhi. In Old Delhi visit the majestic Red Fort (closed on Monday) the residence of the Mughal emperor for nearly 200 years until 1857. Jama Masjid one of the largest mosques in the world built by Shah Jahan. Cycle Rickshaw ride in Chandni chowk & Khari Baoli Spice Market a busy shopping area with markets full of spices, dried fruit, silver jewelry and vivid saris, while the narrow side streets are crowded with tiny shops selling essential oils, stationery and traditional Indian sweets. Raj Gath the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi where he was cremated after his assassination.
In New Delhi visit Humayun Tomb the first garden-tomb in Indian subcontinent and an early example of Mughal architecture commissioned by Humayun`s first wife Empress Bega Begum in 1569-70. Qutab Minar a 73-metres tall minaret that forms part of the Qutb complex a fine examples of Afghan architecture. Lotus Temple a Bahai House of Worship notable for its flowerlike shape. Also drive pass President House, Parliament & India Gate etc. Overnight at hotel.
Day 7: Delhi - Bodhgaya (flight)
Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to airport to board flight for Gaya.
Arrival transfer to hotel. Visit Mahabodhi Temple an UNESCO World Heritage Site. This 54mts tall temple has been renovated over the years. It enshrines a large golden Buddha, and is encompassed by an ancient railing, dating back to 100 BC. Bodhi Tree where Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment, and the Vajrasana where Buddha sat. Also visit Great Buddha Statue, Tibetan Monastery housing the Maitreya Buddha (future Buddha), Burmese Temple, Chinese Temple and Monastery, Buddhist Monastery of Bhutan, Thai Temple and Monastery, and many more.
Day 8: Bodhgaya - Patna (180km)
Breakfast at hotel. Drive to Patna via visiting Rajgir, a spiritual town with natural serenity amongst the dense forests, mysterious caves and springs. Rajgir houses many religious shrine dedicated to Buddhism & Jainism. Both lord Buddha and Lord Mahavir have said to spent time here giving it huge spiritual and religious importance. One can visit various ruins, temples and sites here and also spend some time indulging in its refreshing calmness. Among notable places in the area are the tranquil Vulture`s Peak (Gijjhakuta), where the Buddha meditated, and the Sattapanni Cave, where the First Council was organized after the Buddha`s passing.
Next drive to visit Nalanda, established in the 5th century CE was an ancient Mahavihara, a revered Buddhist monastery which also served as a renowned center of learning, in the ancient kingdom of Magadha. The ancient university of Nalanda obtained significant fame, prestige and relevance during ancient times, and rose to legendary status due to its contribution to the emergence of India as a great power around the fourth century. At its peak the school attracted scholars and students from near and far, with some traveling from Tibet, China, Korea, and Central Asia.
Continue drive to Patna check in & overnight at hotel.
Day 9: Patna - Kushinagar (260km)
Breakfast at hotel. Drive to Kushinagar, enroute visit Vaishali a city of great importance in Buddhist history. King Ashoka became a great follower of Buddhism after the massacre of Kalinga and erected one of his famous Ashokan pillar to memorialize the last sermon of Lord Buddha that took place here. There is a life like figure of a lion flawlessly engraved, at the top of the pillar facing north, believed to be the direction of Lord Buddha`s last voyage. There is a brick stupa and a pond known as Ramkund next to the pole which sums up to make a sanctified spot for Buddhists. Vishwa Shanti Stupa a 125ft, tall peace pagoda which was built by the Buddh Vihar society in collaboration with Japanese government was excavated in 1969. And Museum which houses the artifacts found during excavation. Next stop to visit Kesariya Stupa. Initially constructed as a mud stupa, it gained its present structure in the Maurya, Sunga and Kushana period. The stupa dates between 200 AD and 750 AD and may have been associated with the 4th-century ruler, Raja Chakravarti. Kesariya Stupa is 104 feet high. Huien Tsang mentions having seen the grand Stupa in Kia-shi-po-lo (Kesariya) but it was deserted and overgrown. The Kesariya stupa was discovered in 1958 during an excavation.
Continue drive to Kushinagar check in at hotel.
Day 10: Kushinagar - Lumbini (160km)
Breakfast at hotel. Drive till Sonauli border from here our Nepal vehicle will take you to Lumbini. Arrive Lumbini check in at hotel.
Day 11: Lumbini
Breakfast at hotel. Prince Siddhartha Gautama was born in Lumbini, Nepal. What is considered the exact location of the birth is identified by a stone slab in the inner sanctum of the Maya Devi Temple, named after Siddhartha`s mother. The oldest monument at Lumbini is the Ashoka Pillar, which marks it as the birthplace of the Buddha. A little south of the pillar is the spring-fed rectangular Puskarni pond, where Maya Devi is believed to have bathed before giving birth. The Sacred Garden beyond the Maya Devi compound hosts some 40 monasteries from Asian Buddhist nations. At the end of a beautiful canal and tree-lined avenue is the majestic World Peace Pagoda, built by the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Order. Today, the Lumbini Sacred Garden is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a symbol of world peace. Visit Maya Devi Temple, Ashokan Pillar, Chinese Maitreya Temple, Myanmar Golden Temple, Shanti stupa & Great Drigung Kagyud lotus Stupa and more.
Day 12: Lumbini - Shravasti (160km)
Breakfast at hotel. Drive till Sonauli border from here your Indian driver will take you to Sravasti.
On arrival check in at hotel. Lord Buddha spent 25 rain retreats at Shravasti. Three-fourths of the Buddha`s discourses, including the well-known Lovingkindness Discourse, were given at Jetavana Vihara here, donated by the Buddha`s great lay disciple Anathapindika. The ruins at Saheth and Maheth are believed to be the site of ancient Shravasti. Maheth was the city-proper while the Jetavana monastery was at Saheth. Of the ancient Shravasti, the city walls are still standing. Within these, the remains of 3 ancient buildings can be visited: Angulimalas stupa, Anathapindika`s stupa, and an old temple dedicated to a Jain Tirthankara. Outside of Shravasti is located the stupa where the Twin Miracle took place. The site of Jetavana monastery is the main pilgrim destination, with meditation and chanting mainly done at the Gandhakuti (Buddha`s hut) and the Anandabodhi tree. Thailand, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Tibet, and China have built Buddhist monasteries in Shravasti.
Day 13: Shravasti - Varanasi (315km)
Breakfast at hotel. Drive to Varanasi check in at hotel.
Evening attend Holy Ganga Aarti, a magical ritual held every evening at sunset on the banks of the Holy Ganges. The entire Ghat gets illuminated with a divine light that can be felt strongly. The magnificent ritual involves huge brass lamps lit with oil and the priests chant the holy mantras that reverberate in the entire location. The entire Ghat gets illuminated with a divine light that can be felt strongly. The magnificent ritual involves huge brass lamps lit with oil and the priests chant the holy mantras that reverberate in the entire location. Overnight at hotel.
Day 14: Varanasi
Breakfast at hotel. Early morning boat ride & Ghat visit along the Ganges and catch the scene of devotees bathing and praying in the sacred water.
Later city tour visit Banaras Hindu University. With 5.3 sq kms campus and 30,000 residing students it is the largest residential university in the continent. Bharat Mata Temple built in 1936 houses a relief map of undivided India, carved out of marble. Tulsi Manas Mandir one of the most famous temples in Varanasi. The temple has beautiful images of Lord Rama, Mother Sita, Lakshman and Lord Hanuman. The walls of temple are adorned with verses from Ramcharitmanas, the Hindi version of the epic Ramayana. Continue to Sarnath, it was here Lord Buddha preached his first sermon after attaining the Enlightenment at Bodh Gaya. The great Dhamekh Stupa and glistening pillar established by Emperor Ashoka in 273-232 B.C. stand testimony to the importance the place enjoyed at that time.
If time permit visit Ram Nagar Fort located on the eastern bank of River Ganga. The Fort includes an eccentric museum boasting a royal collection of vintage cars, swords, palanquins, ivory works, an old weaponry section and an extremely unusual astrological clock. Overnight at hotel.
Day 15: Varanasi - Khajuraho (flight)
Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to airport to board afternoon flight to Khajuraho.
Arrival transfer to hotel, check in. Visit well maintained UNESCO World Heritage Site, exploring eastern, western & southern group of temples adorned by erotic and sensuous carvings. The architecture of these temples depict the erotic forms of love, the carvings on the walls display passion in the most sensuous yet aesthetic ways. Built between 950 to 1050 AD by Chandela dynasty the temples of Khajuraho are India`s unique gift to the world, representing, as they do, a paean to life, to love, to joy, perfect in execution and sublime in expression. Of the 85 original temples, 22 have survived till today to constitute one of the world`s great artistic wonders.
Day 16: Khajuraho - Bhopal (380km)
Breakfast at hotel. Drive to Bhopal enroute visit beautiful Jain temples at Sagar. There is an idol of lord Mahaveerji in standing posture made up of 9 tons of brass. Next stop to visit Sanchi a serene hill crowned by a group of stupas, monasteries, temples and pillars dating from 3rd BCE to 12th CE. Sanchi Stupa, a UNESCO world heritage site is home to the relics of Buddha and his followers. Built by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE, it is a remarkable specimen of Buddhist art and architecture. Sanchi`s uniqueness lies in the fact that Buddha isn`t represented by figures but through symbols. Next visit Udayagiri Caves, early Hindu ritual site, extensively carved and reworked under the command of Chandragupta II, Emperor of the Gupta Empire, in the late 4th & 5th CE. Udayagiri has a series of rock-shelters and petroglyphs, ruined buildings, inscriptions, water systems, fortifications and habitation mounds, all of which have been only partially excavated.
Arrive Bhopal check in & overnight at hotel.
Day 17: Bhopal
Breakfast at hotel. Excursion to visit Bhimbetka rock shelters an archaeological site dating back to the Paleolithic age inhabited by the homo erectus more than 100,000 years ago. Bhimbetka is a world heritage site and houses one of the oldest cave paintings in the world, a must-visit site for all history enthusiasts. Next visit Bhojpur an incomplete 11th CE Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The construction was abandoned for unknown reasons, with the architectural plans engraved on the surrounding rocks. It houses a 7.5 feet high lingam in its sanctum, considered to be one of the finest examples of temple architecture in the region.
Drive back to Bhopal and city tour of Bhopal famous for the pair of artificial Upper & Lower Lake that split the city. Towards the north of the lakes lie the intriguing old town with rustic mosques, bustling bazaars, serpentine alleys and exquisite havelis. To its south is the new town with swanky infrastructure, shopping complexes and wide roads. The city will catch your attention through its breathtakingly beautiful havelis and museums as well as Nawabi food. Visit two historic mosques the Jama Masjid a classic Islamic architecture with two tall minarets & Moti Masjid an architectural marvel. Only Muslim can enter Taj-Ul-Masjid a stunning and elegant architecture with enormous domes, a spectacular hallway and elegant minarets. Also visit arts center in Bharat Bhawan a centre of performing arts, a unique institution with an unparalleled and impactful architecture. Overnight at hotel.
Day 18: Bhopal - Mumbai/Delhi (flight)
Breakfast at hotel. As per flight schedule transfer to airport to board flight for Mumbai/Delhi. From Mumbai/Delhi board connecting flight for onward destination.
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