On this tour you visit the major sites associated with the life and teachings of the Buddha. You start at Sarnath, where the Buddha preached his first sermon and then continue to Bodh Gaya where he gained enlightenment. You continue to Rajgir, where he came to meditate during the monsoons; the ancient university site of Nalanda, where he preached; Vaishali, where he gave his last sermon; and Kushinagar, where, lying on a bed under two trees, he died.
Day 1 - Bodh Gaya
Situated 10 km north of Varanasi, it was in Sarnath that Gautama the Buddha preached his first sermon 2500 years ago. The Archeological Museum is worth a visit to view unique Buddha masterpieces. In the afternoon drive from Varanasi to Bodh Gaya. It was here that Prince Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment beneath a bodhi tree and so became the Buddha. On this sacred spot now stands the majestic Mahabodhi Temple.
Day 2 - Bodh Gaya
Bodh Gaya is not so much a town as a true Buddhist working centre surrounded by farmland and rural villages. The main site is the famous Mahabodhi temple built at the spot where Buddha became enlightened. During the last century, Bodhgaya has been rejuvenated by overseas Buddhists, who have built an array of monasteries, temples and shrines. They attract pilgrims to study, meditate and absorb the ambience.
Day 3 - Patna
Today you follow a trail of ancient and modern Buddhist sites by visiting the many shrines and temples at Rajgir, and the extensive ruins of nearby Nalanda, one of the ancient world's first universities. You end the day in Patna, the capital of Bihar. The western part of the city still boasts gracious mansions and administrative buildings, while the area to the east includes the crowded, dusty old city with its bazaars and old mosques.
Day 4 - Kushinagar
From Patna you continue to Kushinagar, stopping en route to visit Vaishali. This is where the Buddha preached his last sermon and announced his approaching Nirvana. Kushinagar is celebrated as the place where the Buddha died and was cremated, and passed into nirvana. A modern temple, with a large "Reclining Buddha" statue, has been built to commemorate this, and various monuments relating to Buddha's last days on earth can be seen.
Day 5 - Varanasi
From Kushinagar you return to Varanasi where your tour ends. Alternatively can you continue to the Nepalese border town of Lumbini, the place where the Buddha was born, and end at Kathmandu.