From the earlier times Buddhist nuns have played an important part in the growth of Buddhism. Their monastic discipline is similar to that of the monks. At one time India had several Buddhist nunneries.
Arya Kshema Dharma Gathering is a nun ordination programme whereby Buddhists nuns are imparted education and training in meditation. The event is marked by religious discourses, prayer sessions, debate sessions, as well as special meditative practices.
In this specially designed package, we, apart from participating in the Arya Kshema Dharma Gathering in Bodhgaya, shall visit the awe-inspiring millennia old stupas and monasteries, centuries old temples and monuments full of intense spiritual activities in the most important ancient Buddhist sites in the country.
The tour begins in Delhi and also features visits to the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra.
3 Hours Before Flight Time
With over 5,000 years of history encompassing the most wonderful ancient history in the world, few countries boast as much as India for historical sites, peerless treasures, and mystical intrigue.
Arrival at the International airport in Delhi where you will be received by our representative with traditional Namaste and garland. You will be transferred to the pre-booked hotel. Rest of time will be spent in leisure, overnight stay at hotel.
Morning drive from Delhi to Agra which is located 180 km away and it will take approx 04 hour to reach Agra, the city of Taj. After arriving at Agra we will head for sightseeing of the city visiting world beating landmark Taj Mahal and much-acclaimed Agra Fort.
Taj Mahal, synonymous with beauty and elegance, is one such site which is not to be missed even in the most perfunctory of tours. Built by the fifth Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century, this mausoleum of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, is the crowning glory of Mughal architecture.
Taj Mahal, world’s most famous symbol to royal love was built to immortalize the name of Mumtaz Mahal who Mumtaz died in 1631 in childbirth at the age of 39.
Poetically described as “a tender elegy in marble”, Taj Mahal, a blend of Indian, Persian and Turkish architectural designs, was the result of the labour of over 12, 000 workers, over a period of 22 years.
Later after visiting Taj Mahal we will move forward to the magnificent Agra Fort which consists of a wide array of fairytale halls, palaces, buildings, pavilions and serene gardens which were inhabited the Mughal rulers, their family, courtiers and staff in the bygone era. Commissioned by the greatest Mughal Akbar in 1565, the Agra fort was completed by 1573 and is also known as Red Fort thanks to the red sandstone fabric of its rampart walls
Leave by road for the important Buddhist site of Saniska which is 150 km away. Saniska occupies a place of prominence in the history of Buddhism and is associated with several legends and myths related to the Buddha. Tradition has it that after preaching Abhidhamma to his mother Mayadevi and other divinities in the Tayatiinsa (Heaven) the Buddha descended from the Sineru mountain to earth at Sankisa.
Saniska finds mention in the in the travelogues of Fa-hsien and Hiuen Tsang who had visited the place in the fifth and seventh centuries AD respectively. Saniska was known to Huen Tsang as Kapittha.
After arriving at Saniska head for the sightseeing tour of the place where you would be able to visit its main attraction the Buddha Temple located on the exact spot where the Buddha returned to the earth after his descent from the Tayatiinsa (Heaven). Enshrined in the Buddha temple is an image of the Buddha. After exploring the Buddha Temple proceed to the Maya Devi Temple sculpted with mythological scenes from Buddhism. A trip to Saniska is incomplete without having a glimpse of the ruins of Ashokan Pillar. What sets this Ashokan pillar from others is the presence of elephants on the top of the pillar in place of lions which are placed with other Ashokan pillars.
We will spend the night in Saniska.
Be prepared for a long 400 km drive from Sankisa to Sravasti. After completing a journey of 8 hours we will reach Sravasti where you will be transferred to the hotel.
Full-day sightseeing tour of Sravasti and Kapilavastu where you would be able to see different Buddhist attractions of the places.
After breakfast we will proceed to explore Sahet, Jetavana monastery, Shobhnath temple and Anathapindika stupa.
Donated to Buddha by his devotee Anathapindika, Jetavana Monastery in Sravasti is the place where the Buddha spent 19 rainy seasons of his life. Here you will visit Anandabodhi tree, Anandakuti (Annads’s hut) and Gandhakuti(Buddha’s hut).
Shobhnath Temple: Jain devotees from around the world are drawn to Sravasti to visit Shobhnath Temple. After paying a visit to the shrine head towards the Anathapindika Stupa, a sacred site for the Buddhists.
After completing sightseeing of Sravasti we will drive to Kapilavastu which is 130 km away. A three hour drive will take us to Kapilavastu upon reaching which you will be transferred to the hotel.
Afternoon sightseeing of Kapilavastu includes visit to the quaint village of Piprahwa which has been identified by some scholars with Kapilavastu, the Shakya capital of Kapilavastu where the Buddha spent the first 29 years of his life before setting out on the path of enlightenment. The Buddha was the son of Shakya king Suddhodhana. A stupa excavated at the site bears testimony to the presence of a Devaputra monastery. Discovery of two mounds at a short distance from the village have been identified with the palace of Suddhodhana.
Overnight stay in the hotel in Kapilavastu
Morning drive from Kapilavastu to Kushinagar which is located 150 km away and it will take approx 3.5 hour to reach Kushinagar where the Buddha breathed his last, the event known in the Buddhist tradition as paranibbana (Mahaparinirvana).
Half day sightseeing tour of Kushinagar includes visits to Mahaparinirvana Temple, Kushinagar museum, Ramabhar Stupa and Sun Temple.
The Mahaparinirvana Temple is home to a 6.10 meter long fifth century AD statue of the reclining Buddha. The idol is made of the sandstone of Chunar, about 25 miles south-west of Varanasi. The inscriptions say that relics of the Buddha were deposited here.
An invaluable introduction to the presence of Buddhism in ancient times Kushinagar museum is a repository of the antiquities retrieved from the excavations in the area. The stucco image of the Buddha belonging to the Gandhara school of art is one of the major highlights of the museum.
1.5 km away from Mahaparinirvana Temple, the Ramabhar Stupa marks the exact spot where the Buddha was cremated. Rising to a height of 15 meters, the Stupa, situated in the serene environs, is referred to as ‘Mukut-Bandhan Chaitya’ in ancient Buddhist texts.
Sun Temple: An absolute must see in Kushinagar, the Sun temple belonging to the Gupta period enshrines the black stone statue of the Sun God.
Overnight stay in Kushinagar
Morning drive from Kushinagar to Vaishali which is located 230 km away and it will take approx 4.5 hour to reach Vaishali. After reaching Vaishali you will be transferred to the hotel.
It was at Vaishali that the Buddha spent the last rainy season (Vassa) of life. The place played host to the Second Buddhist Council which was held 100 years after Buddha’s death. Needless to say Vaishali’s association with the Buddha’s life as well as Buddhism is deep.
Afternoon sightseeing of Vaishali include visit to Buddha Stupa-I, Buddha Stupa-II and Ashokan Pillar. The mortal remains of the Buddha are enshrined in both the stupas.
A trip to Vaishali is incomplete without having a glimpse of the Ashokan Pillar of Vaishali. Built by Ashoka in the 3rd century BC, the 18.3 m high pillar is a fine specimen of the Indian architecture and art in ancient times.
Overnight stay in Vaishali
We will have morning drive to Rajgir. On the way we will visit Nalanda known for the ruins of the world famous Buddhist monastery which served as a great centre of learning in the ancient India.
Established in 5th century AD during the Gupta period the University of Nalanda was the Buddhism’s most famous teaching centre which attracted students and pilgrims from far-off countries including China and south-East Asia. The renowned Chinese traveller Hiuen-Tsang who visited India in the 7th century AD and studied at the University describes Nalanda as full of intellectual activity.
After exploring Nalanda University Complex we will proceed to Rajgir where you will be transferred to the pre-booked hotel
Overnight stay in Rajgir
Griddhakuta or Vulture’s Peak, Bimbisara’s Jail and World Peace Pagoda are some of the attractions which are included in the full day sightseeing tour of Rajgir.
The well-known Buddhist site of Griddhakuta Hill is deservedly an attraction in Rajgir not to be missed. During the rainy season the Buddha used to climb up to his mountain retreat atop the Griddhakuta Hill and deliver sermons to his disciples. The brilliant shine of the Shanti Stupa (Peace Pagoda), built on the top of the hill by the Buddha Sangha of Japan in 1965, is a feast for the eyes. Though you can reach the hill by following a bridle path, it would be an experience of a lifetime to use the aerial single-person chairlift. A ride on the chairlift commands a panoramic view of the hills of Rajgir and some Jain temples dotting the landscape.
The spot marks the site where King Bimbisara, the founder of Haryanka Dynasty of Magadha, was imprisoned by his son Ajatashatru who later murdered his father.
Overnight stay in Rajgir
Morning drive from Rajgir to Bodh Gaya which is located 75 km away and it will take approx 1.5 hour to reach Bodh Gaya. After reaching Bodh Gaya we will head towards Mahbodhi temple and several monasteries and temples of various Buddhist traditions including Thai Temple the Gelugpa Tibetan Monastery. These have been built in their national style by foreign Buddhist communities.
The spiritually important 170 feet UNESCO listed Mahabodhi Temple is one of the oldest shrines in India. Its art and architecture has been described in glowing terms by the 7th century Chinese traveler Huien Tsang. In all probability the main tower of the temple was built in the sixth century AD.
Overnight stay in Bodhgaya
Today you will participate in the inauguration ceremony of the Arya Kshema Dharma Gathering
Overnight stay in Bodhgaya
Today you will once again participate in the Arya Kshema Dharma Gathering. This event continues till Dec 13, 2017. Prior permission is necessary for admission to the programme. Those interested can also apply for participation in the full programmes.
Overnight stay in Bodhgaya
Early morning drive from Bodhgaya to Varanasi which is located 260 km away and it will take approx 5.2 hour to reach Varanasi. After reaching Varanasi you will be transferred to the hotel.
In the afternoon we will proceed towards Sarnath, located 10km north of Varanasi, is a Buddhist attraction not to be missed. It was at Sarnath where the Buddha delivered his first sermon after the attainment of enlightenment in Bodh Gaya from where he journeyed to Sarnath to preach his first sermon to those five ascetics who were his disciples but had left him in disgust when they found that the Buddha became convinced that rigorous self mortification is not the way to obtain final bliss.
Dhamekh Stupa and Ashokan Pillar are the main attractions in Sarnath.
In the evening we will proceed towards the Dasaswamedh Ghat, the most famous of the several ghats on the banks of Ganges River in Varanasi. It is fascinating to see the aarti (prayer ceremony). An evening stroll through the local market will be a unique experience.
Overnight stay in Varanasi
Begin your day by enjoying a wonderful sunrise boat ride along bathing Ghats of the Ganges to have a glimpse of temples and the age-old rituals performed by thousands of devotees who throng here to take holy dip in the waters to cleanse themselves of the sins.
We will return to the hotel for breakfast. After having breakfast we will go for city tour of Varanasi that include visit to the Sankat Mochan temple and the Bharat Mata temple. After making excursion to these sites you will have a 130 km drive to Allahabad where you will be transferred to the hotel for overnight stay.
Early in the morning we will leave for Kaushambi, which is 50 km away.
Kaushambi was a thriving centre of Buddhism in ancient times and was one of the six greatest cities during Buddha’s time besides serving as the capital of the Vamsa. Kaushambi which was visited by the Buddha several times finds mention in the accounts of seventh century Chinese scholar and traveler Huen Tsang who records that the place was home to 10 monasteries when he visited it. The archaeological excavations have led to the discovery of the remains of the Ghositarama monastery which played host to the Buddha during his stay in the city.
After exploring the remnants of the Buddhist past we will return to Allahabad to board Seemanchal Express which departs Allahabad at 1155 hrs to reach Delhi at 2100 hrs. After arriving at Delhi you will be transferred to the hotel.
Overnight stay in Delhi
Your inspiring Arya Kshema Dharma Gathering tour is nearing its end. After spending your morning in leisure you will drive to the airport for your onward departure.