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Buddhist Pilgrimage Tour

Duration: 18 Nights / 19 Days
Destinations Covered : Delhi - Bagdogra - Darjeeling - Pemayangtse - Martham Village Resort -Martham - Rumtek - Martham - Gangtok - New Jalpaiguri - Varanasi - Bodhgaya - Rajgir - Nalanda - Patna - Vaishali - Kushinagar - Lumbini - Kapilvastu - Sravasti - Lucknow - Delhi

Himalayas of Darjeeling & Sikkim with the Buddha’s Footstep…

For someone for the west, India provides an authentic adventure - stimulating, absorbing, daunting, sometimes moving and shocking. Here is one of the world's great dramas; an ancient, vast and crowded land committed to the most formidably challenging exercise in mass democracy. It is a spectacle in which hope, pride, paradox and uncertainty mingle and struggle. It is conducted on the whole, and to India's credit in the open. The lasting memories of the land are hospitality, kindness, good humor and generosity. Here is a society of over a 1000 million people, growing by a million a month, divided and united by language, caste, religion and regional loyalties. It has often been described as a functioning anarchy; and it is in many ways an amiable one, of marvelous fluidity and tolerance. Indeed, the true Indian motif is not the Tajmahal, the elephant or the patient peasant behind the ox drawnplough. It is the crowd, the ocean of faces in the land of multitudes, endlessly stirring, pushing and moving. It is in this human circulation that one sees India's colour, variety, busyness, and, senses also its power, vitality and grandeur.

Day 01 Arrival / Delhi
Late night arrival. Meeting and assistance upon arrival as our representatives welcome you and escort you to your car.
Whilst the room keys and check-in is organized, our representative would introduce the tour to you and hand over the documents to you.
Welcome to India, or as we say ‘atithi devo bhava’ (the guest is an incarnation of God).
Overnight at hotel.

Day 02 Delhi / Bagdogra (9W 602 – 1010 / 1215 Hrs)
Bagdogra / Darjeeling (Drive)

After breakfast transfer to the airport to board your flight to Bagdogra
Meeting & assistance upon arrival and drive to Darjeeling. Enroute we stop at the Kurseong Tourist Centre for a refreshing cup of the famous Darjeeling tea.

This evening is at leisure. Darjeeling offers plenty of options for walking. Of special mention is the circular walk around the Observatory Hill for breathtaking scenes of natural beauty of the Himalayas and the city below. The shopping options of Darjeeling are revealed once you visit some of the curio shops along Nehru Road. All things Himalayan are sold here—‘thankas’ (paintings), brass statues, religious objects, jewellery, woodcarvings, woven fabrics, carpets etc. However, bargaining is the order of the day, so be prepare to jostle with the shopkeepers.

Overnight at hotel.

Day 03 Darjeeling
An early morning drive to Tiger Hill for a breathtaking dawn view over Kanchanjunga and other eastern Himalayan peaks is a fantastic experience. On your way back you may visit the Ghoom monastery, which is the oldest and the most famous monastery in Darjeeling. It enshrines an image of the Maitreya Buddha (the coming Buddha).

We would have an opportunity to ride on the exquisite Toy train from Ghoom to Darjeeling – a truly fascinating experience as the train clinges on to the hills

We return to our hotel; for breakfast following which we tour the city. Darjeeling has some very fascinating places of interest. The Botanical Gardens that contain a representative collection of Himalayan plants, flower and orchids. The hot houses are very interesting. The Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre established in 1959 to help rehabilitate Tibetan refugees who fled from Tibet produces superb carpets, woolens, wood carvings and leather work. You could walk through the workshops and observe the work in progress. The weaving and dyeing shops and the woodcarving shop are particularly interesting and the workers, very friendly - the women have very beautiful and expressive features. The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute set up to train mountaineers, also has a museum containing an interesting collection of historic mountaineering equipment, specimens of Himalayan flora and fauna and relief model of the Himalayas. Another must in Darjeeling is a visit to the Happy Valley Tea garden. Here tea is still produced by the ‘ orthodox’ method as opposed to the ‘curling, tearing and crushing’ (CTC) method adopted in the plains. The process is a fascinating one to observe with possibilities of lots of good pictures

Overnight at hotel.

Day 04 Darjeeling / Pemayangtse
After breakfast we drive to Pemayangtse with packed lunches. One reaches Pemayangtse only through one of the most incredibly beautiful journies in the world. The views afforded by the journey itself is worth the effort. We would have opportunities to stop a few times, walk through the countryside, enjoy the enchanting beauty of the place and interact with the natives through our guide.

Overnight at Hotel / Resort

Day 05 Pemayangtse
The views of snow capped Himalayan range is unbelievable. One has to just draw the curtains of one’s bedroom and lo behold! You could almost touch the range. Even the shadows of the great peaks are clearly visible. Sunrise here is soul stirring! The reflections of the rising Sun on the snow capped peaks is magical and cannot be duplicated in words. We also visit the Pemayangtse monastery, which is the second oldest monastery in Sikkim and belongs to the Tantric –Nyingma—Pa sect established by an Indian teacher. The sects monasteries are characterised by a prominent image of the teacher along with two female consorts, and this monastery is the head of all others in Sikkim. The sect followers wear red caps. We would also visit the peaceful and tranquil Khechipalri Lake.

Overnight at Hotel Norbu Gang Resort

Day 06 Pemayangtse / Village Resort
Morning, a spectacular journey, mostly down hill on undulating roads with hair pin bends caressing the mighty Himalayas, through tremendous landscapes of terraced fields on the slopes of the Himalayas, swiftly flowing Teesta river down the valley and wild banana plantations as well as through quaint Sikkimese villages bring us to Martham

Upon arrival, check into the Martam Village Resort. Described as 'paradise on earth', a holiday in Martam Village Resort is a unique experience. Situated in the breathtaking and tranquil countryside of East Sikkim in the foot hills of the mighty Himalayas, the resort overlooks a beautiful valley of rice terraced fields, bounded by forest covered hills. The accommodation is ethnic in seven thatched cottages built in traditional Sikkimese style to blend with the surrounding villages. The cottages have twin bedded rooms with large picture window framing the countryside. Each room has attached bath room with all modern western facilities. The attractive and excellent restaurant has a cosy dinning hall and bar serving delicious cuisines, including local Sikkimese food and drinks. One can also experience the traditional herbal bath, watch folk dances of Sikkim and visit the witch doctor. Being next to nowhere, but for nature, Martam Village Resort is the perfect location for visitors who love nature or adventure and for those seeking peace and relaxation. It would be a wonderful idea to visit some ethnic Sikkimese villages untouched by civilisation and enjoy the fabled Sikkimese hospitality.

Evening at leisure for nature walks or visits to nearby Himalayan villages untouched by modern times.

Overnight at Resort

Day 07 Martham / Rumtek / Martham
Today, we visit the world famous Rumtek The original monastery was built by a ruler of Sikkim. However, a new monastery replicating the former one was built in the 16th century. Thus, though the monastery is new, it enshrines all that is best in traditional Tibetan monastic architecture. When seen in the clear light of Sikkim, this magnificent building with its red pillars, brilliantly painted fretwork and superbly glowing murals glitters like a jewel set in the green hills.

Overnight at Resort

Day 08 Martham/ Gangtok / Martham
A leisurely breakfast and then a full day excursion of Gangtok. The 24 km drive is in itself a fantastic drive through paradise. Changing vistas of mountains unfold at every bend and there are delighted vignettes of the hamlets and fields of the people of rural Sikkim.

The capital of the Sikkim State, Gangtok occupies the West Side of a long ridge flanking the Ranipool River. The scenery is spectacular and there are excellent views of the entire Kanchanjunga range from many points in the vicinity. We first visit the Tsuk - la - Khang chapel. It is the Buddhist principal place of worship and assembly and the repository of a large collection of scriptures. It is a beautiful and impressive building, its interior covered with murals. Lavishly decorated altars hold images of the Buddha, bodhisattavas, and tantric deities. There are also several interesting wooden carvings. The Namgyalk Institute of Tibetology. Established in the 1958 this unique monastery built in a traditional style promotes research on the language and traditions of Tibet, as well as on Mahayana Buddhism. Next week we visit the Orchid Sanctuary close to the Institute. Enclosed by a peaceful forest, the orchid sanctuary has a majority of 454 species of orchids found in Sikkim a kilometre away is a huge white chorten with a golden apex. Next to it is a monastery for young lamas with a shrine containing a huge image of an Indian teacher of Buddhism in Tibet. The Institute of Cottage Industries specialises in producing hand-woven carpets, blankets, shawls, Leapcha weaves, patterned decorative paper and Choktse tables, exquisitely carved in relief.

Overnight at Resort

Day 09 Martham / New Jalpaiguri
New Jalpaiguri / Varanasi (North Eastern Express – 2000/ 0700* Hrs)

Morning is at leisure for your independent activities.
Afternoon transfer to New Jalpaiguri train station to board your overnight train to Varanasi

Overnight: Two Tier Air-Conditioned Sleeper Accommodation.

Day 10 Arrival Varanasi
Arrive to world's oldest city known as Varanasi. Many others prefer the anglicized Benares. Revered by Hindus, Buddhists and Jain alike, Varanasi is considered the holiest city in all of India.
Indians will make a pilgrimage to Varanasi in their lifetime than any other place.
After wash & change we will visit several temples and the Hindu University at Benares. First stop would be the Bharat Mata (temple of Mother India). Inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi, it features a huge marble map of India on the ground floor. Next up, the Durga Temple. Known for its bright red color and the playful, if sometimes aggressive, monkeys that run amok there, the Durga Temple is one of the most imposing architectural monuments in Varanasi.

The university, which occupies a large piece of land at the southern end of town, is also home to the New Vishwanatha Temple. The New Temple is modern in design and open to Hindus and non-Hindus alike.
Evening, we visit the ghats of Varanasi to witness the performance of Ganges Aarti. We enjoy a special evening cruise on the Ganges. See the Hindu devotees performing the "Puja" with lighted lamps. The view is very mesmerizing and the ambience is spectacular in the backdrop of the beating of cymbals and bells as well as the incessant chantings. Later return to the hotel

Day 11: Varanasi
Also known as Kashi. A scared city of north india famous for temples, ghats and ganges aarti. Tourist from each corner of the world come here to see the rituals and pilgrimage sites. Boat ride in gange is incredible experience. Overnight stay at hotel.

Day 12: Varanasi / Bodhgaya
This morning we will drive to Bodhgaya.
Upon arrival check in to Royal Residency

Bodhgaya - As the place of the Buddha's Enlightenment, Bodhgaya is the spiritual home of Buhddhists. Bodhgaya situated near the river Niranjana, is one of the holiest Buddhist pilgrimage centres since it was here that Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. Later visit Mahabodhi Temple, Niranjana River, Sujata Village.

Overnight at Hotel Royal Residency (Best in Town)

Day 13: Bodhgaya / Rajgir / Nalanda / Patna
After breakfast drive to Patna enroute we visit Nalanda & Rajgir.
Rajgir -The picturesque Rajgir, or Rajagriha as it was known in the past (literally, the abode of kings) is surrounded by the meandering river Banganga and 5 hills. During the lifetime of the Buddha this was the capital of the powerful Magadhan kingdom, ruled by the virtuous King Bimbisara. The hills and caves surrounding Rajagriha were home to spiritual teachers, ranging from the materialism of the early Charavaka school to the metaphysics of Upanishadic philosophers. Like many others in search of truth, Prince Siddhartha, after he renounced his royal heritage came to this city to seek the path of vation. Nalanda -Nalanda was the most renowned university in ancient India. It derived its name from Na-alam-da, meaning Insatiable in Giving, one of the names by which the Lord Buddha was known. From here we continue our drive to Patna.
Upon arrival in Patna check in to hotel Maurya Patna

Overnight at Maurya Patna (Best in Town)

Day 14: Patna / Vaishali / Kushinagar
After breakfast drive to Kushinagar where the Buddha finally attained Mahaparmirvana. Amongst the ruins are the Mukutbandhan Stupa and a beautiful statue of the reclining Buddha enroute visiting Vaishali.
Upon arrival in Kushinagar check in to hotel Royal Residency

Overnight at Royal Residency (Best in Town)

Day 15: Kushinagar / Lumbini
After breakfast visit the Mahaparinirvana Temple & Stupas.

We drive to Lumbini upon arrival check in to Hokke hotel.
Lumbini - the birthplace of the Buddha, was located in 1890 after being untraced for 1,500 years. Evening sightseeing tour of Lumbini including a visit to the birth Place of Lord Buddha

Overnight at Hokke Lumbini (Best in Town)

Day 16: Lumbini / Kapilvastu / Sravasti
After breakfast drive to Sravasti enroute visiting Kapilvastu - the capital of the ancient kingdom of Kosala, has the honour for sheltering Buddha for 24 rainy seasons in the Jetvana Gardens. The city believed to be founded by the mythological king Sravast, has age-old stupas, majestic monasteries and several temples. Buddha is said to have performed some miracles here. In Sravasti visit Saheth - Maheth & Jetvan.
Upon arrival check in to hotel Lotus Nikko

Overnight at Lotus Nikko (Best In Town)

Day 17 Sravasti / Lucknow
After breakfast we will proceed to the tour of Saravasti & visit Saheth & Maheth
After the tour we will drive to Lucknow

Upon arrival check into hotel & after some rest city tour of Lucknow covers Imambara, Rumi Darwaza and other historical monuments. Overnight st Lucknow hotel.

Day 18: Lucknow / Delhi
Morning transfer to the airport to board your flight to Delhi

Meeting and assistance upon arrival and transfer to hotel.
Rest of the day is at leisure for your independent activities Delhi today is truly the melting pot of India, and the main gateway to one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Your Hotel in Delhi is a Downtown Hotel - The Connaught Place is the heart and pulse of New Delhi. This Hotel will give you an opportunity to view the busy streets and bazaars of the capital of India. In other words, you will 'feel' India. Overnight stay will be at delhi.

Day 19: Delhi / Departure
Transfer to the International airport to board your flight back home.

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