In the Footsteps of the Buddha

Arrive in Delhi. You will be met by our Peirce & Leslie colleague and escorted to your hotel.

After an early breakfast today, you will be escorted to the airport to board your flight to Varanasi. On arrival, you will be met by our Peirce & Leslie colleague and escorted to your hotel.

In the evening, you will head to the banks of the Holy Ganges to board your boat for a sail on the river. You will sail upstream, arriving at Dashashwamedh Ghat in time for the evening “aarti” (worship) ceremony, when priests perform the rituals to put the river gods to sleep and to ward off evil.

A visit to Varanasi is incomplete without a tour of the Ghats at sunrise. You will watch the activity from a boat, and as you drift down the river, you will see a panorama of life in a pilgrim town – people taking dips in the holy river, yogis practicing their art along the steps, mud wrestlers, women doing laundry and washing vessels, pilgrims worshipping at shrines and in the background, the constant sound of temple bells and chanting.

After the boat ride, you will explore the Old City, where you will get a fascinating insight into the rituals of Hinduism. This two-hour of walk will include a visit to Shri Kashi Vishwanath temple, one of the most revered pilgrimage sites for Hindus.

The special walk from the Panchganga Ghat up through the narrow lanes will also be a part of this tour. This ghat marks the confluence of five rivers – Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, Kirana, and Dhutpapa.

Return to your hotel for breakfast.

In the afternoon, you will visit Sarnath, which lies at a short distance from the main city. This is the place where The Buddha, in 500 BC, gave his first sermon after gaining enlightenment. Other than the Archaeological Park, which has the remains of the monastery that developed here, and the Sarnath Museum, the fairly new Buddhist temple is of interest. On the walls are paintings depicting the most significant episodes in the life of Buddha, from his birth as Prince Siddhartha to the time he gained enlightenment and became ‘The Buddha’!

You will take our signature curated walk “In the Footsteps of the Buddha” which ends with you chanting with the monks.

You will then return to your hotel.

Today’s drive takes you to Gaya (approximately 5.5 hours, excluding stops), the place where the Buddha attained enlightenment.

On arrival, check-in to your hotel.

The day’s tour begins with a visit to Mahabodhi Temple (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), founded by Emperor Ashoka in approximately 300 BC. This complex contains the Bodhi tree, under which the Buddha meditated and gained enlightenment.

Next, visit the Buddha statue near the Mahabodhi Temple. Known to be one of the tallest statues of Buddha in India, it was instated by the XIV Dalai Lama in 1989.

Then, drive to Sujata Garh (approximately 15 minutes – each way). This ancient stupa is believed to be the place where Gautama Siddhartha meditated following severe penance of fasting before he attained enlightenment.

You will also visit Niranjana River which is sacred for Hindus and Buddhists.

Drive to Patna (approximately 6 hours, excluding stops) this morning after breakfast. En route, visit Rajgir, the erstwhile capital of the ancient kingdom known as Magadha and Nalanda, an important Buddhist centre of academic excellence.

Visit the Vishwa Shanti Stupa, recesses in the stupa feature golden statues of Buddha in four stages of his life – birth, enlightenment, preaching and death.

Next, you will drive to Nalanda, which is a classic hub for Buddhism established in 5th century and also one of the oldest universities. You will also able to see some of the temples and monasteries depicting stunning Hindu and Buddhist images.

From here, you will continue your drive to Patna and will reach your hotel in the evening. 

After breakfast, visit the Patna Museum which contains a splendid collection of Mauryan and Gupta stone sculptures, some beautiful bronze Buddhist statuary, and a gallery of early-19th-century landscape paintings by Thomas and William Daniell.

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This morning, you will drive to Kushinagar (approximately 6 hours, excluding stops). En route, visit Vaishali, a pilgrimage site frequently visited by Buddha during his lifetime. You will also visit Kolhua, a large, hemispherical brick stupa guarded by a lion crouching atop a 2300-year-old Ashoka pillar.

You will reach Kushinagar by evening and check-in to your hotel

One of the four main pilgrimage sites marking Buddha’s life, Kushinagar is where Buddha died. Visit Ramabhar Stupa, where Buddha’s body is said to have been cremated. Monks and pilgrims can often be seen offering lotus flowers and meditating by the palm-tree-lined path that leads around the structure.

You will also visit the Mahaparinirvana Temple. The highlight of this temple is its serene 5th-century reclining Buddha that depicts Buddha on his deathbed in the paranirvana (nirvana after death) position.

The remainder of the day will be at leisure.

This morning’s drive takes you to Sunauli (approximately 2.5 hours, excluding stops); where you will cross over to enter Bhairawaha, a border town in Nepal.

In Bhairawaha, you will be met by our Peirce & Leslie colleague and together you will drive to Lumbini (approximately 1 hour, excluding stops).

Before you check-in to your hotel, visit the Maya Devi Temple, the birthplace of the Buddha. In the adjoining sacred garden you’ll find the pillar of Ashoka, ancient ruins of stupas, and maroon- and saffron-robed monks congregating under a sprawling Bodhi (peepal) tree decorated with prayer flags.

Later, check-in to your hotel.

After breakfast this morning, you will visit the different monasteries of Lumbini. You will also visit the World Peace Pagoda, one of the world's greatest stupas. The shining golden statue at the pagoda depicts the Buddha, in the posture he assumed when he was born.

Take an excursion to Tilaurakot or Kapilavastu (approximately 1.15 hours, excluding stops), where Buddha spent the first 29 years of his life.

After breakfast, you will drive to Bhairawaha airport (approximately 1 hour, excluding stops) to board your flight to Kathmandu.

On arrival, you will drive straight to Boudhanath (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). The 36-meter-high stupa is the largest in the Kathmandu Valley and one of the largest in South Asia. With countless monasteries surrounding it, Boudhanath is the center of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal.

Later, you will check-in to your hotel.

In the evening, you will visit a local workshop or art school to learn an age-old Tibetan art-form of Thangka painting. Work closely with the artist and nurture your understanding of the iconography, techniques and materials involved in the process of creating this splendid work of art.

This morning, you will be escorted to Kathmandu airport in time to board your flight to your Delhi.

On arrival, you will be met by our Peirce & Leslie colleague and escorted to a hotel nearby where room(s) will be reserved for ‘wash-and-change’.

Early this evening, you will be escorted to the airport to board your flight to your Colombo. On arrival, you will be met by our Peirce & Leslie colleague and escorted to your hotel.

After breakfast this morning, you will drive to Sigiriya (approximately 4.5 hours, excluding stops).

On arrival, check-in to your hotel.

In the afternoon, you will visit Pidurangula Rock, 2 km away from Sigiriya and offers amazing views of Sigiriya from its wide summit.

Take an excursion to Anuradhapura, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (approximately 1.5 hours, excluding stops).

Anuradhapura consists of more than a dozen archaeological sites. The most significant of the sites are the 3 largest man-made stupas in Sri Lanka, which were at one time the second largest man-made structures in the world after the pyramids of Egypt. Also of immense significance is the Sri Maha Bodhi Tree, which is a sacred fig tree, said to be the southern branch from the historical Bodhi Tree – Sri Maha Bodhi at Bodh Gaya in India (under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment).

In the afternoon, visit the Sigiriya Rock Fortress (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). This large stone and ancient rock fortress was rediscovered by the British in 1831.

You will then return to your hotel and the evening will be at leisure.

After breakfast, you will drive to Kandy (approximately 3 hours, excluding stops) once the capital of the venerated 16th century Kandyan Kings who fiercely and successfully defended their kingdom against Portuguese and Dutch invaders for 300 years.

En route, you will visit the magical cave temples of Dambulla (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). 

On arrival in Kandy, you will check-in to your hotel.

In the evening, you will visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha. The temple houses one of the most sacred relics of Buddhism – a tooth of Buddha collected from his funeral pyre.

After breakfast, you will drive to Kandy (approximately 3 hours, excluding stops) once the capital of the venerated 16th century Kandyan Kings who fiercely and successfully defended their kingdom against Portuguese and Dutch invaders for 300 years.

En route, you will visit the magical cave temples of Dambulla (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). 

On arrival in Kandy, you will check-in to your hotel.

In the evening, you will visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha. The temple houses one of the most sacred relics of Buddhism – a tooth of Buddha collected from his funeral pyre.

This morning, you will explore a Bhikkuni monastery in the outskirts of Kandy and learn the history of Buddhist nuns starting from the first; Mahapajapati Gotami. Afterwards you will meet with a Bhikkuni (Buddhist nun) who will describe the ordained life.

After lunch, you will visit the Three Temple Loop of Kandy. Three of the most ancient temples in the Central Highlands (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) are within easy distance from Gampola – a 30-minute drive from Kandy.


The Embekke, Lankatilaka and Galadeniya are a short distance from each other and sometimes referred to as the ‘three-temple loop’. The temples serve living testimony to Sri Lanka’s Buddhist heritage, history and exceptional craftsmanship. Each temple holds a considerable amount of historical information of the ancient kingdom, carved mostly in stone.

Should you have the energy for one more, we highly recommend Galengoda temple, hidden away up a steep hill in the same vicinity.

This morning after breakfast, you will be met by our Peirce & Leslie colleague in the lobby of your hotel and escorted to Colombo airport (approximately 3.5 hours, excluding stops) in time, to board your flight to your Onward Destination.