Choice of standard, first class, deluxe & luxury hotels with private bath/shower.
American breakfast daily.
Assistance by an ACTC representative at airport and hotels.
Local English speaking guide for each sightseeing tour.
Baggage handling and porterage.
Day to Day Program:
DAY 1 – DELHI
Arrive in India’s bustling capital city. You will be greeted with a traditional Indian welcome and escorted to the hotel. New Delhi reflects the legacy the British left behind. The division between New and Old Delhi is the segregation between the capitals of the British and Mughals.
DAY 2 – DELHI / AGRA
Travel by train to Agra. To the lover of art and travelers seeking the wonders of India, Agra is the sublime destination. Visit Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal, poetry in marble and a symbol of eternal love.
DAY 3 – AGRA / FATEHPUR SIKRI / VARANASI
Travel overland to Fatehpur Sikri, once an imperial capital frozen in time, constructed by Akbar the Great around 1570. Retunr to Agra to embark on an overnight train ride to Varanasi.
DAY 4 – VARANASI / SARNATH EXCURSION
Varanasi cannot be described but can only be experienced. This holy Hindu city is crowded with temples and its labyrinth of streets with their throngs of people is exciting and enticing. Afternoon visit Sarnath, where Lord Buddha preached his first sermon, after attaining enlightenment. Here he revealed the eight-fold path, the Buddhist doctrine.
DAY 5 – VARANASI / BODHGAYA
Early morning, enjoy a boat ride on the river Ganges, to see Hindus absolving themselves of sin and pay homage to the Sun god. Travel overland to Bodhgaya, serene and quiet this tiny village, holiest amongst Buddhist sites is where Prince Siddhartha attained enlightenment and became Lord Buddha.
DAY 6 – BODHGAYA
Visit Mahabodhi Stupa and the Bodhi Tree under which Shakyamuni Buddha attained enlightenment some 2,540 years ago. The Mahabodhi Temple stands east to the Bodhi Tree. Chankaramana marks the sacred spot of Buddha’s meditative perambulation during the third week after attaining enlightenment.
DAY 7 – BODHGAYA / NALANDA / RAJGIR / PATNA
Travel overland to Patna, en route visiting Nalanda, ruins of the ancient university. Lord Vardhamana Mahavir and Buddha, in the 6th century visited this place. It is believed to be the birth place of Sariputra, one of Buddha’s chief disciples. The University of Nalanda was founded in the 5th century by the Gupta emperors. Nalanda became famous throught the east as a centre of Buddhist theology and educational activities. Its importance as a monastic university continued till the end of the 12th century. Continue to Rajgir, sacred to the memory of the founder of Buddhism and Jainism. Lord Buddha spent many months here during the rainy season, meditating also preaching on Griddhkuta, the ‘Hill of the Vultures’. It was in Rajgir Buddha delivered some of his famous sermons and converted King Bimbisara and countless to Buddhism. Once a great city, today, Rajgir is a village but vestiges of a legendary and historical past remain. Later drive to Patna, Bihar’s capital.
DAY 8 – PATNA / VAISHALI / KUSHINAGAR
Travel overland to Kushinagar, en route visiting Vaishali. Five years after enlightenment, Buddha went to Vaishali. He preached the Ratna Sutra, converting eighty-four thousand people. Continue to Kushinagar.
DAY 9 – KUSHINAGAR
Buddha passed away here. A temple dedicated to the event, Mahaparinirvana temple stands amidst a serene sal grove. The reclining Buddha statue was excavated in 1876, thus, Kushinagar became a memorial with stupas including the stupa Mukutbadhana, Chaitayas and Viharas, built by Gupta kings. Chinese travelers, Fa Hien, Hieun Tsang and T. Ising on visiting Kushinagar, recorded an account of this place, later fell to bad times due to lack of patronage. These recordings provided vital clues for excavations carried out by Sir Alexander Cunningham.
DAY 10 – PATNA / LUMBINI
Travel overland to Lumbini, birthplace of Buddha, a Mecca to Buddhists. It is stated in the Parinibbana Sutta that Buddha identified four places of future pilgrimage: the sites of his birth, enlightenment, first discourse and death. Visit the old monasteries, Mayadevi Temple (Buddha’s mother), Ashoka Pillar and stupas.
DAY 11 – SRAVASTI
Travel overland to Sravasti, capital of the ancient kingdom of Kosala. Tour the city, believed to be founded by the mythological King Sravast, old stupas, monasteries and several temples. It is believed Buddha performed some miracles. Visit the famous Anand Bodhi, planted by Buddha’s main disciple Anand.
DAY 12 – SRAVASTI / LUCKNOW
Travel overland to Lucknow located in what was historically known as the Awadh region, a multicultural city. Courtly manners, beautiful gardens, poetry, music and fine cuisine patronized by the Persian loving Shia Nawabs are well known amongst Indians. Lucknow is popularly known as the City of Nawabs or the Golden City of the East, Shiraz-i-Hind or Constantinople of India.
DAY 13 – LUCKNOW
The Residency is a group of buildings built in 1800 AD by Nawab Saadat Ali Khan. It was home to the British Resident General, a representative in the Nawab’s court. The Residency became famous during the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny or First War of Indian Independence. Bara Imambara or Asafi Imambara is a shrine built by Asaf-ud-daulah, Nawab of Lucknow, in 1784. Bara means big built by Shia Muslims for the purpose of Azadari. Rumi Darwaza was built by Nawab Asaf-ud-daula in 1784 and is one of the most grandiose architecture in India. It is similar in design to a gateway in ancient Constantinople therefore, also called the ‘Turkish gateway.’ Kaiserbagh Palace Complex was built between 1848 and 1850 by Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, who ruled from 1847 to 1856. Remarkable for its architectural excellence the Kaiserbagh Palace proffers Hindu umbrellas, ionic columns, Moorish minarets, lanterns, banisters and pediments.
DAY 14 – DELHI
Tour the Red Fort with its Pearl Mosque and exquisite audience halls, Jama Masjid, Mahatma Gandhi Memorial at Raj Ghat, Ashoka Pillar and Chandni Chowk Bazaar, once the shopping arcade of Mughal royalty. Drive along Rajpath to photograph the Parliament House, President’s Palace, India Gate, Birla Mandir, Qutab Minar and ruins of the Hindu temples destroyed during the Qutabshahi period.
DAY 15 – DELHI / FLIGHT BACK HOME
Return home filled with memories of Buddha’s path and the historic cities of Lucknow, Agra and Delhi.