Crossing various states of India, this itinerary aims to introduce the places that are linked to the earthly life of Siddartha Gautama, but also those where the feelings and spirit of Buddhism are most alive. It is no coincidence that Varanasi, perhaps the holiest Hindu city in Hindu India, is the place where Buddha gave his first teaching, Sarnath: and from here, almost in an ideal journey back, we will visit the places of Enlightenment, in Bodhgaya, of Nirvana, in Kushinagar, and of birth, in Lumbini, entering Nepal. To complete this long spiritual journey, two important archaeological sites where the monks lived and from where the Buddhist teachings spread: Sanchi, in Madhya Pradesh, immense, marvelous and perhaps still little known, and finally the beautiful caves and Buddhist chapels of Ajanta and the cave temples of Ellora, in Maharashtra. The journey requires a good spirit of adaptation for the long journeys on roads that are not always in excellent condition and for the intensity of the visits. Upon request, it is possible to book an Italian-speaking Indian escort for the entire trip. The best time to make this trip is from October to March.

1st day ITALY – DELHI 

Departure from Italy with scheduled flight to Delhi.

Day 2 DELHI     

Arrival in Delhi, handling of entry and customs formalities. Meeting with the local guide and transfer to the hotel (rooms available from 12.00). The first settlement in the Delhi area dates back to the 9th century, with the mythical city of Indraprashtra, capital of the Pandavas, the Hindu heroes whose deeds are found in the epic poem of the Mahabharata. A period of feudalism followed with the rule of the Rajaputs, Muslim warrior aristocrats. Over the centuries seven cities were built which suffered several raids from the surrounding territories. Starting in 1526 Humayun and his able successors extended the empire beyond the borders of Delhi, giving rise to an attempt to reunify the country. The eighth city was built when Emperor Shah Jahan moved his capital from Agra to Delhi. The construction of the main monuments of the city dates back to this period. With the arrival of the British Calcutta was chosen as the capital and only in 1911 the capital was brought back to Delhi. On February 9, 1931, the British Viceroy inaugurated New Delhi to a design by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker. The new city included the government buildings, the building housing the National Museum, two churches and most of the residences that are part of the representative area. In 1947 Delhi became the capital of independent India. In the afternoon visit to the new city: the central districts where the government buildings are located On February 9, 1931, the British Viceroy inaugurated New Delhi to a design by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker. The new city included the government buildings, the building housing the National Museum, two churches and most of the residences that are part of the representative area. In 1947 Delhi became the capital of independent India. In the afternoon visit to the new city: the central districts where the government buildings are located On February 9, 1931, the British Viceroy inaugurated New Delhi to a design by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker. The new city included the government buildings, the building housing the National Museum, two churches and most of the residences that are part of the representative area. In 1947 Delhi became the capital of independent India. In the afternoon visit to the new city: the central districts where the government buildings are locatedthe India Gate , an arch erected in memory of the First World War, the Parliament Building  the Qutab Minar , one of the tallest stone towers in India, a symbol of Delhi, it was begun in 1199 by Qutab ud-din and carried forwarded by his successors If time permits visit a Sikh temple. Overnight at the hotel 


Breakfast. In due time, transfer to the airport and departure for  Varanasi , the “Holy City” par excellence of India. Transfer to the hotel and accommodation in the reserved rooms. Varansi owes its name to two tributaries of the Ganges: the Varuna, which flows north, and the tiny Asi, which flows south, between which the historical center of the city extends. Varanasi is the Hindu city par excellence, along its over 100 ghats pilgrims who come here from all over the country perform sacred ablutions and cremations. Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel and accommodation in the reserved rooms. Late afternoon drive along the Ghats to witness an Aarti Ceremony. Return to the hotel for overnight.

4th day VARANASI: excursion to Sarnath

At the first light of dawn,  boat trip on the Ganges river , to attend the ablutions of the faithful and the awakening of the sacred city. From the boat you can admire the spectacular Ghats (stairways) that descend to the river and on which the sacred processions take place. We also visit the  Vishwanath Temple in the heart of the old city. Return to the hotel for breakfast. Afternoon short trip to  Sarnath (km. 10): here Buddha gave his first sermon. Of great impact is the view of the gigantic stupa, in a large garden dotted with temples and monasteries, which also includes the Archaeological Museum (closed on Fridays), the first museum established in India, which preserves admirable finds from the Mauryan era (2nd century BC ). At the end of the visits, return to the hotel for an overnight stay.  


Breakfast. Departure in the morning for  Bodhgaya  (Km. 260; about 6 hours), in the Indian state of Bihar, where Siddhartha Gautama reached on foot following the course of the Nairanjana river: here sitting under the bodhi tree (a ficus orientale or pipal) he reaches complete enlightenment. Upon arrival, accommodation in the reserved rooms: according to the arrival time, in the evening it will be possible to make a first visit to the main temple, Mahabodhi. Overnight at the hotel.

6th day BODHGAYA

Wake up at dawn to go to the  Mahabodhi Stupa , built by Ashoka, next to the sacred tree (a ficus orientale or pipal) under which Buddha received Enlightenment. The stupa is located in the center of a park dotted with other temples, which bear witness to the places where Buddha lived immediately after his enlightenment: we are in the heart of Buddhism. Return to the hotel for breakfast. We then continue with the visit of the many places related to the life of Buddha. Free time for individual activities, before returning to the hotel for an overnight stay. 

7th day BODHGAYA

After breakfast. Full day at leisure to individually visit the temples and monasteries found in the region.


Breakfast. The first stop of this day will be  Rajgir , which can be reached in about 2 hours, the ancient capital of Magadh, located in a particularly suggestive valley. The name Rajgir means “Real” and Buddha not only lived here, but taught several teachings, including the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras, on the subject of emptiness. The first council of Buddhist monks took place in Rajgir, six months after Buddha attained nirvana. Among the places of greatest interest are the Ajat Satru Fort and the Vishwa Shanti Stupa. After the visits, continue for 20 kilometers and reach  Nalanda, site of an ancient monastic university, built, according to tradition, by the Emperor Ashoka around the stupa which kept the relics of one of Buddha’s main disciples, Sariputra. In addition to the stupa, archaeological excavations have brought to light three temples and ten monasteries. It is believed that the university housed at least 10,000 students and that two hundred teaching courses were held there per day. Departure for Patna (km. 110; about 4 hours): upon arrival, accommodation in the reserved rooms. Overnight at the hotel.


Breakfast. Even today we will retrace the important stages of Buddha’s life. Departure from Patna for  Vaishali  (km. 60, about 2 hours), one of the places where Buddha lived most frequently and where he gave his last sermon, announcing that he would soon leave the earthly world. To commemorate this event, Emperor Ashoka had the famous Lion Pillar erected here  , a finely carved pillar carved from a single block of red sandstone and about 18 meters high. About a hundred years after the Buddha’s physical death, the second Buddhist council was held in Vaishali and since then Vaishali is still an important pilgrimage destination. Continuation to Kushanagar, stopping to visit the  Kesariya Stupa , 37 meters high, which represents a rare example of Buddhist architecture, which can be compared to the more famous Borobodur, located in Java (Indonesia). At the end we continue to Kushinagar: in total today we will have traveled 275 km. Upon arrival, accommodation in reserved rooms: Overnight.


Breakfast. Whole day dedicated to the visit of  Kushinagar , one of the most important stages of our trip. Kushinagar is the quiet village where the Buddha reached the end of his last journey at the age of 80: here he finally reaches Mahaparinirvana, freeing himself from the eternal cycle of reincarnation and leaving his great teachings to posterity. The  Muktabandhana Stupa , built by the Malla dynasty, commemorates his cremation site and preserves his relics. Overnight at the hotel.


Breakfast. Today’s route takes us to  Lumbini  (km. 175; 6 hours), whose name means “the enchanting”: after the “long” procedures for obtaining a visa, we enter Nepalese territory, in the plain of the Terai up to 20 km from the border with India. Since 1997 Lumbini has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site as a ” unique place and exceptional testimony of a cultural tradition and an extraordinary architecture illustrating significant stages in the history of humanity “. Here in the 6th century BC Queen Maya gave birth to Prince Siddhartha Gautama, who lived in Lumbini until he was 29 years old. Upon arrival, accommodation in reserved rooms: Overnight.


Breakfast. In the morning visit of Lumbini and its surroundings where there are Buddhist monasteries of all traditions. In 1996, in the so-called Sacred Garden, the stone that according to tradition marks the exact spot where Siddhartha Gautama was born was brought to light. In the afternoon our journey continues and we return to India to reach Sravasti (km. 185; about 7 hours): upon arrival, hotel accommodation. Overnight.


Breakfast. Morning dedicated to the visit of  Sravasti , former capital of the Kingdom of Kosala at the time of the Buddha and a place mentioned in the epic poem Mahabharata. It is believed that Buddha resided here for 25 monsoon rainy seasons and there are many ruins that can be visited, including a stupa erected on the site where Buddha performed several miracles. At the end of the visits departure for Lucknow, capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh, which can be reached in about 6 hours covering 175 km. The city was founded towards the end of the 13th century by feudal lords of the Delhi Sultan, and is full of interesting monuments. Overnight at the hotel.


Breakfast. Departure early in the morning to reach  Sankisa  (km. 200; 5 hours), a small village already known in antiquity so much so that the Chinese traveler Huen Tsang mentioned it in his travel diary, describing it as a particularly quiet and pleasant place to visit. Numerous remains have come to light from archaeological excavations, but Sankisa remains linked to the legend according to which Buddha arrives here together with Brahma and the god Indra. At the end continue to Agra (km. 190 which is completed in about 4 hours): accommodation in hotel, overnight stay.

15th day AGRA

Breakfast. The oldest part of the city still retains its medieval appearance with narrow and crowded streets flanked by numerous picturesque shops. The low one-story houses of whitewashed bricks constitute the essential housing fabric. Founded in 1501, Agra experienced its period of maximum development and splendor under Emperor Akbar and his successors who embellished it with mausoleums, forts and mosques. The city stands on the right bank of the Yamuna River, in the center is the Red Fort, the Taj Mahal to the southeast, the old city to the north and the more modern portion of the city to the southwest. Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel and accommodation in the reserved rooms. In the afternoon visit the most famous monument of India, the  Taj Mahal (closed on Fridays), one of the seven wonders of the world that stands in the middle of a lush garden. Its beauty transcends all description. Built by the Mughal Emperor Shahjehan in 1631 in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died while giving birth to her 14th child after 17 years of marriage. To erect the monument, precious stones of all kinds, pearls, corals were collected and 20.00 of the best craftsmen were called from all over the kingdom, who took 22 years to complete this masterpiece. Then follows the visit of the  Red Fort, built in red sandstone by the Yamuna River by Emperor Akbar and later expanded. The colossal double walls of the fort rise over 20m. high and measure 2.5 km. in circumference. At the end return to the hotel: Overnight.

Day 16 AGRA – BHOPAL  

Breakfast. Transfer to the railway station and departure at 08.45 am by Shatabdi Express train to Bhopal , the state capital of Madhya Pradesh, founded in 1723. Expected arrival at 14.05 pm. Meeting with the local guide and visit of the city, which rises 523 meters above sea level in a panoramic position, surrounded by three lakes: the  Taj-ul-Masjid mosque , the  Tribal Habitat Museum  (closed on Mondays and national holidays). If possible we will take a ride in a tonga, a horse-drawn cart, decorated in typical Bhopal style, along the banks of the lake. At the end transfer to the hotel: Overnight.

Day 17 BHOPAL: Excursion to Sanchi and Bhimbetka  

First coercion. In the morning excursion to  Sanchi , where some of the oldest Buddhist structures in all of India are found, such as stupas, temples and monasteries, some of which date back to the 3rd century BC. BC We will visit three important Stupas, Ashoka Pillar and Gupta Temple. Stop at the archaeological museum which contains several sculptures found in the surrounding area. In the afternoon, another excursion will lead us to the discovery of  Bhimbetka,  a mesolithic site with more than 1000 caves: the visit itinerary winds for about 4 km. and allows you to visit a hundred caves, all of different sizes and decorated inside with interesting wall paintings, representing hunting scenes, battles and daily life. Return to the hotel in Bhopal (km. 46): Overnight.


Breakfast. Transfer to the airport and departure with scheduled flight to Delhi: upon arrival, connection with a flight to  Aurangabad , in the State of Maharashtra, where the arrival is expected in the afternoon. Aurangabad owes its moment of glory and its name to the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, the last of the six Great Mughals. He established his capital here, where, to try to surpass the Taj Mahal built by his father, Shah Jehan, for his Empress, he erected a tomb called “Bibi Ka Maqbara” in memory of his wife. Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel and accommodation in the reserved rooms: Overnight.

Day 19 AURANGABAD: Ajanta caves  

Breakfast. Day dedicated to an excursion to visit the beautiful  Ajanta caves  (closed on Mondays), located about 105 km away. from the city. The site was accidentally rediscovered by the British military in 1819 during a hunting expedition: 29 caves presumably dug into the rock in a period ranging from 200 BC to 650 AD and finely decorated inside with paintings and sculptures. A real treasure of incalculable value. Visiting the entire site takes at least 5 hours and we recommend leaving early in the morning to avoid the hottest hours of the day. Return to Aurangabad and free time for relaxation or individual visits. Overnight at the hotel.


Breakfast. Morning dedicated to the excursion to the  Ellora caves, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On a rocky hill, 34 rock temples and monasteries were excavated between 600 and the year 1000. 12 are of the Buddhist-Mahayana type, 17 are Hindu and 5 are Jain: among these the Kailasa temple, a true mountain-temple,  perhaps the more beautiful than India, which precisely imitates Mount Kailasa, home of Shiva. In the afternoon, transfer to the airport for an hour flight to Mumbai. Transfer to the hotel for dinner: rooms available until the return to the airport for the boarding formalities for the return flight to Italy.


Departure in the early hours of the morning for Italy.

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