Encounters with Buddha
04 – 20 November 2023
Encounters with Buddha 4-20 November 2023 Led by Dr Sarah Shaw
It is said Buddha invited his followers to make pilgrimages to four sacred places – the locations of his birth at Lumbini, his enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, his first sermon at Sarnath and his death at Kushinagar. Retrace and explore the heritage of art, sculpture, architecture and storytelling inspired by his teachings, amongst the Indian landscapes in which they emerged.
Dr Sarah Shaw
Sarah Shaw is a member of the Faculty of and a fellow of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies. She is a lecturer, writer and teacher, and author of Jatakas: Birth Stories of the Bodhisatta (Penguin Classic Series) alongside many other books on mindfulness, meditation and Buddhist storytelling.
- Benares: the hub of Indian religious life for millennia, a centre for worship, burial and celebration
- Bodh Gaya: the centre of the Buddhist world, as the scene of the Buddha’s awakening and release from the endless cycle of birth and death
- Kushinagar: the ancient archaeological site of the Buddha’s departure from a human body and entrance into nirvana
- Delhi: the modern capital of India, home to the museum that contains some of the greatest treasures of Indic and Buddhist civilisation.
- Sanchi: one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world, showing the full magnificence of Mauryan and Guptan art
Day 1 : To Delhi
Departure London Heathrow airport for Delhi by British Airways flight BA 257 at 19:15. (Regional flight departures possible please contact us for details).
Day 2 : Delhi
Arrive in Delhi at 08:20, meeting, assistance on arrival and transfer to The Claridge’s Hotel for 02 nights.
Spend the morning at leisure, or venture out to explore Delhi – a melting pot of diverse Indian religions and cultures, and the perfect starting point to any religious and spiritual tour of India. In the afternoon visit Majnu ka Tila, the Tibetan community in North Delhi with its Buddhist monasteries, temples, Tibetan cafes and shops. B
Day 3 : Delhi
Morning enjoy sightseeing of dynamic New Delhi including the visit to impressive Humayun’s Tomb, Qutab Minar and the India Gate. Also drive past the Parliament Buildings & President’s House.
Afternoon enjoy sightseeing tour of old Delhi including an exhilarating cycle rickshaw ride to the Jama Masjid through the bustling Chandni Chowk and its back roads, which were the centre of the city Shah Jehanabad in the Mughal times. Finally continue onto the Raj Ghat- Mahatma Gandhi’s cremation site B
Day 4 : To Lumbini
Morning transfer to the airport to board your Indigo flight 6E2334 at 08:55 to Gorakhpur. Arrive Gorakhpur at 09:50. Meeting assistance on arrival and drive to Lumbini (approximately 04 hours driving time). Check-in at The Buddha Maya Garden Hotel for 2 nights (Standard Rooms).
(Located 22km west of Siddhartha Nagar (Bhairawa), Lumbini was the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama in the 7th century BC. During the years following the Buddha's lifetime, this was a teeming monastic complex and a major place of pilgrimage, but the site was lost to history until the discovery in 1896 of an inscribed pillars left behind by the Buddhist emperor Ashoka, amidst a sea of monastery ruins.) B
Day 5 : Lumbini
Morning proceed for day sightseeing of the world heritage site of Lumbini visit the birth place of the Buddha and the site where the Ashok Pillar carries the inscription where the Buddha was born. Then visit Mayadevi temple devoted to the mother of the Buddha which houses a stone picture of giving birth through her side whilst leaning against a tree branch that had lowered itself to support her. Visit the ancient ruins and modern temples built by all the Buddhist nations of the world. B
Day 6 : To Kushinagar
Morning drive to Kushinagar (approximately 04 to 05 hours driving time). Check-in at The Imperial Hotel for 02 nights.
(Kushinagar and Kasia Bazar is a town and a historical place located in the north-eastern marginal area of Uttar Pradesh. The name “Kasia Bazar” has been changed to Kushinagar and after that “Kasia Bazar” has officially become a municipality with the name “Kushinagar”.
Kushinagar has its own cultural and historical importance. It belongs to the Great Lord Buddha, founder of Buddhism, who delivered his last sermon, attained “Mahaparinirvana” and was cremated at Ramabhar, and is also associated with Lord Mahavir, 24th tirthankar of Jain Sect, founder of Jainism. It is believed that Lord Mahavrir passed away or attained Parinirvana at Pawa. B
Day 7 : Kushinagar
After breakfast sightseeing of Kushinagar visiting ancient stupas, modern temples, and the spectacular reclining Buddha statue commemorating the Buddha’s death and cremation. Rest of the day at leisure. B
Day 8 : To Patna
After breakfast drive to Patna (approximately 04 to 05 hours driving time). Stopping en route at Vaishali where Lord Buddha preached his last sermon. The excavations carried out in Vaishali have brought to light Buddhist stupas built in brick with a casket containing part of the Buddha’s ashes. Also visit the 3rd century pillar erected by Emperor Ashoka to commemorate the site of the Buddha’s last sermon. Check-in at The Maurya Hotel for 02 nights. B
Day 9 : To Rajgir
Morning drive to Rajgir (approximately 03 hours driving time), stopping en route at the 5th century Buddhist university of Nalanda, home to revered Buddhist scholars like Nagarjuna and Shantideva, visit the archaeological museum which houses the Nalanda University seal, sculptures and other remains found on the site. Continue driving to Rajgir. Check-in at The Indo Hokke Hotel for 02 nights. B
Day 10 : Rajgir
Morning visit Griddhkuta “Hill of Vultures- Buddha is thought to have preached the Lotus sutra on this rock outcrop. There are some faint remains of a 1500-year-old stupa, some prayer flags and a small shrine where Buddhist pilgrims come to pray. Get here by walking down from the Vishwa Shanti Stupa and detouring for a 10-minute walk uphill along a processional way built by King Bimbisara 2500 years ago. Rest of the day at leisure. B
Day 11 : To Bodhgaya
orning after breakfast drive to Bodhgaya (approximately 03 hours driving time). Check-in at The Imperial Hotel for 02 nights (Deluxe Room).
(Bodh Gaya is considered one of the holiest sites for Buddhists from across the world. Located approximately 8 miles from Gaya, Bodh Gaya is the place where Buddha attained enlightenment. The focal point here is the Mahabodhi Temple and its soaring pyramid-shaped spire. Enclosed in the stone railing is the Bodhi Tree under which Buddha meditated and reached enlightenment. The place was severely damaged by Muslim invaders in the 12th century, but restored by Burmese kings in the 14th century. As Buddhism moved away from India, the temple sites were left to ruin until the late 19th century when again, Burmese Buddhists excavated and restored the temples. A visit here will never fail to move one, with a constant seem of Buddhist pilgrims who surround the temple with their lulling chants. From November to February many of the exiled Tibetans congregate at this time, forming a huge canvas city next to the Gelugpa monastery)
Evening visit magnificent UNESCO World Heritage-listed Mahabodhi Temple, marking the hallowed ground where Buddha attained enlightenment and formulated his philosophy, forms the spiritual heart of Bodhgaya. Sit under the Bodhi tree of enlightenment, absorb the atmosphere of this pilgrimage town and Buddhists from all over world. B
Day 12 : Bodhgaya
After breakfast embark on sightseeing of Bodhgaya visit great Buddha Statue and many modern monasteries and temples.
Afternoon at leisure or optional visit to Mahakala Caves where Buddha is believed to have spent many years of penance practising severe self-denial. A short climb leads to a Tibetan monastery and small shrine within a cave. This site sees far less tourists. B
Day 13 : To Varanasi
Morning at leisure. Afternoon transfer to Gaya railway station to board HWH -LKO Express Train at 14:50 to Varanasi. Arrive Varanasi station at 19:00. Meeting assistance on arrival and transfer to The Taj Ganges for 2 nights. B
Day 14 : Excursion to Sarnath
Today we will drive 15km to spend some time at Sarnath, the deer park where the Buddha gave his first sermon, with its huge brick stupa. Evening enjoy a rikshaw ride up to the ghat and see the aarti prayer rituals on the banks of the Ganges. B
Day 15 : Varanasi
Wake up early today for a magical sunrise boat ride on the Ganges, and see the faithful perform their morning devotions amongst hundreds of temples and shrines. Morning we will explore the temples and winding alleyways of the old city. Rest of the day at leisure. B
Day 16 : To Delhi
After breakfast transfer to Varanasi airport to board Indigo flight 6E423 at 12:55 to Delhi. Arrive in Delhi at 14:30. Meeting assistance on arrival and transfer to your hotel. Check-in at The Pullman Hotel Delhi Aerocity for 1 night. B
Day 17 : Departure for UK
Morning transfer to international airport to board your flight home with British Airways flight BA 256 at 10:25. Arrive London Heathrow at 15:40. B
|Price per person
|Single room supplement|
- International flights British Airways.
- Internal flights as mentioned.
- Accommodation as per the itinerary in sharing 01- double/ twin room .
- Daily breakfast.
- Services of our English-speaking representative for all arrival and departure transfers to assist you at the airports.
- All transfers and sightseeing by a chauffeur driven private Mini Coach.
- Services of Dr Sarah Shaw as accompanying Trip Scholar.
- Services of English-speaking guide during sightseeing as specified in the itinerary.
- Entrance fees to all monuments during sightseeing as specified in your itinerary.
- Complimentary mineral water whilst driving.
- 100% protection of your payment by our ATOL & ABTA Licenses.
- Tips & Gratuities
- Visa (India & Nepal)
- Any expenses of a personal nature like laundry, telephone calls and beverages.
- Camera fees at monuments and other places of interest.
- Travel Insurance
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