Apart from the stupas, caves are the main architectural Buddhist remains of the bygone era. Explore these rock-cut monasteries of Buddhism sprinkled in various parts of India. The 11 days and 10 nights tour package takes you to spiritual journey of different caves which served as the dwelling places of the Buddhist monks in ancient times.
Welcome to India. Arrival at 0615 at the International airport in Mumbai, the most international and forward looking city in India. You will be received by our representative with traditional Namaste and garland at the airport and will be transferred to the pre-booked hotel.
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.
After spending some time in leisure we will proceed to the Elephanta, a beautiful little island off Mumbai. The 7th century rock cut caves of Elephanta, in the same style as those of Ellora, are famous for their sculpture. The piece de resistance of the sculpture of the Elephanta caves is the colossal Trimurti figure of Lord Shiva. The rock cut temple of Shiva contains a fine series of deep and huge reliefs depicting different aspects of Lord Shiva.
Earlier known as Gharapuri (fortress city), Elephanta island is an hour-long voyage from Mumbai by ferry in the mighty Arabian sea. The caves are closed on Mondays
After returning from Elephanta island we will explore the Gateway of India, Mumbai’s most recognisable landmark. Though completed in 1924 the yellow basalt monument was supposed to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to India in 1911.
After this enjoy the walk along the Marine Drive also known as Queen’s Necklace. This winding promenade along the sea is very popular with the strollers. It is time to head towards Mani Bhavan, which one served as the residence of Mahatma Gandhi. Mani Bhavan is home to a pictorial gallery, a 20,000 volume research library, and personal items of Mahatma Gandhi.
Our Mumbai sightseeing also includes visit to the Hanging Gardens and Kamla Nehru Park. Also called Pherozshah Mehta gardens they were laid out in 1881 on top of a reservoir, supplying water to Mumbai. A special highlight of the gardens is the presence of the hedges cut into animal shapes.
Laid out in 1952 on the slopes of Malabar Hill the Kamla Nehru Park offers panoramic sunset views over the Arabian Sea.
It is now time to visit the wonderful Prince of Wales museum (Chhatrapati Shivaji Vastu Sanghralaya) is designed in the Indo-saracenic style and is regarded as one of India’s best museums. Named after King George V who as Prince of Wales laid its foundation stone in 1905, the eclectic museum is a treasure-trove of artefacts and sculpture belonging to the different periods of history. Exhibits of the museum include a peerless collection of miniature paintings. It is open on all days except Mondays.
Overnight stay in Mumbai
After breakfast we will head towards Kanheri Caves.
Five miles from Borivali railway station Kanheri is home to 112 rock cut Buddhist caves which are believed to have been dwellings of the Buddhist monks for nearly a thousand years, from 1st century BC. Each cave features a small single room and a small verandah. Cave 3 is home to a large chaitya hall.
After visiting the Kanheri Caves we will head to explore the wonder of Mahakali Caves which is a set of 19 dwellings and monastic structures for Buddhist monks created between 1st century BCE and 6th century AD.
Chiseled out of a solid black basalt rock, Mahakali Caves, also known as Kondivite Caves, provide a rare opportunity to contemplate the monastic life in ancient India. Cave number 9, the largest of the Caves, houses a chaitya.
Overnight stay in Mumbai
After breakfast we will journey back in time by visiting the Kondana Caves, Karla Caves and Bedse Caves. Lying at a distance of 15 kilometers from Karjat, Kondana Caves, 16 in number, are known for their stupa, chaitya and vihara. During an earthquake in the early 1900s, stupas, front entrance and floor of the caves suffered serious damage.
After marveling at the Kondana Caves we will head towards Karla which is home to awe-inspiring Buddhist caves dating back to 2nd century BC. The most striking highlight of these caves is the presence of a deep apsidal chaitya hall cut in solid rock which is hailed as the largest in India. Chaitya is a sacred spot or shrine indigenous to Buddhism. Made in the first century BC, the chaitya of Karla is cut 124 feet deep into the rock. Karla cave is much developed in size and splendour when compared to other caves of that period.
The columns of the chaitya are ornately carved and each of them is set a square stepped plinth. Each of 37 pillars sports a group of horses and elephants with riders to support the roof. The Karla caves have three entrances and splendid relief panels of dampati couples with small carved gable-ends above. The large windows let light into the hall.
23 km from Lonavala, the group of Bedse Caves is one of the finest examples of Buddhist rock-cut architecture, dating back to the 1st century B.C. A trip these Caves, nestled in the lush green surroundings, will allow you to soak in the sacred Buddhist energy in an ambience of peace and tranquility.
Later drive to Junnar and check in at hotel. Overnight stay in a hotel in Junnar
In the morning we will proceed for sightseeing of Junnar Caves.
The Junnar region is famous for some 200 rock-cut temples belonging to the Hinayana phase of Buddhism. Created from 3rd century BC to 3rd century AD, these caves are spread over four hills and divided into three groups- Lenyadri, Tuljalena and Ganeshlena. Fine specimens of ancient Buddhist rock cut architecture. Of the 27 caves in the Lenyadri caves, cave 7 is the most impressive.
Be prepared for a 230 km drive from Junnar to Aurangabad. After reaching Aurangabad you will be transferred to the hotel.
Founded by Aurangzeb, the sixth Mughal Emperor, to conquer the last remaining Sultanates of Deccan, Aurangabad in Maharashtra is a fine specimen of India’s rich culture. Apart from being a travel destination on its own right, Aurangabad is convenient base to explore the World Heritage sites of the Ajanta and Ellora caves.
Overnight stay in Aurangabad
We will undertake a 104 Km morning drive to Ajanta Caves for sightseeing. The world famous site of Ajanta is home to some 29 rock-hewn Buddhist caves which were excavated into the scarp of a cliff of a hillside set in the valley of the Waghora River. Of these four are Chaityas and the rest viharas (monasteries). These caves were constructed from the 2nd century BC to 7th century AD.
The spectacular sculpture and lovely paintings with which the Ajanta caves adorned make them one of the most splendid monuments of ancient India. The murals depict scene from the life of the Buddha and from the Jatakas.
Among the many works of genius of Ajanta, the statue of Avlokitsvara Padmapani in the pose called tribhanga is something that defies imagination.
After visiting the Ajanta caves we will proceed to Ghatotkach caves situated 18 km to west of Ajantha. Excavated in the fifth century AD by a minister in the Vakatak kingdom which ruled over large parts at that time, these caves were dwellings of the monks belonging to the Mahayana form of Buddhism. We will return to Aurangabad where we will spend the night in a hotel.
After breakfast we will drive 29 Km to reach Ellora Caves whose claim to world fame lies in the magnificent 34 rock-cut caves dating from back to sometime between the 5th and 8th centuries AD. Out of the 34 caves, 12 are Buddhist. Of these the 11 caves are all viharas except the Visvakarma which is a chaitya hall enshrining a stupa adorned with a massive figure of Buddha in a seated position with two attendants on both sides. The crowning jewel of the Ellora is the Kailasanath Temple chiseled out from a single rock and is an awesome achievement of the architects and artists. Its carvings are among the finest sculptures of India.
After exploring the Ellora Caves we will make a 40 km drive to Pithalkora Caves where you will have to ascend the steep steps to visit the 14 rock-cut cave temples dating back to the third century BC making them one of the earliest specimens of Indian rock-cut architecture.
In the afternoon we will embark on the sightseeing tour of Aurangabad by visiitn the Daulatabad fort built by the Yadava dynasty in 1187. Known as Deogiri, it was renamed Daulatabad by the Tughlaq ruler Mohd-bin-Tughlaq who shifted his capital from Delhi to this place for a short period in the fourteenth century A.D. after exploring the fort head towards the Bibi-ka-Maqbara, the mausoleum of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb’s wife Rabia Durrani. Modelled on the Agra’s Taj Mahal, the mausoleum is a must visit place in Aurangabad. The mausoleum was built by Aurangzeb’s eldest son Azam Khan in 1679 as a mausoleum for his mother Dilras Banu Begum who was posthumously called Rabia-ud-Daurani.
With its four minarets flanking a central onion-domed tomb, the monument is built on a high square platform, which is approached by a flight of steps from the three sides.
Also known as the “Black Taj Mahal” and “Taj of the Deccan”, Bibi Ka Maqbara is set amid large landscaped gardens and surrounded by high walls.
Overnight stay in Aurangabad
Morning drive from Aurangabad to NASHIK which is located 190 km away and it will take some 2 hours 50 minutes to reach NASHIK. After arriving at NASHIK we will be transferred to the hotel.
Located on the banks of the Godavari river, Nashik is one of the holiest cities in India. It is at its exuberant best when it plays host to the Kumbh Mela, one of the largest religious congregations in the world, every 12 years. The Kumbh Mela attracts millions of devotes who take holy dip in the waters of Godavari to cleanse themselves of the sins.
It is believed that Lord Rama, hero of the Ramayana, spent in Nashik the major part of his 14-year exile to which he was sent by his father Dasaratha, the king of Koshala. Kala Rama Temple, Someshwar Temple, Muktidham temple , Sundar Narayan Temple, Kapaleshwar Temple , Sundarnarayan Temple, Bhakti Dham, Shree Ved Temple and Navshya Ganpati are the famous sacred shrines in Nashik which provide devotees a chance to soak in the spiritual energy.
In the afternoon we will head for sightseeing of Pandavleni Caves, loated at a distance of 8 km from Nashik. Hiselled into the hills Pandavleni is a group of 24 caves dating back to the period between the 2nd century BCE and the 2nd century AD. Of these Cave 18, a chaityagrha, is the most impressive. One of the well known tourist attractions of Maharashtra, these magnificent Buddhist rock-cut caves are known for profusion of ornate carvings of the highest order. These caves received the patronage of various rulers inducing those belonging to the Satavahana dynasty.
Overnight stay in Nashik
We will have a morning drive to Mumbai airport, which is about 180 km from Nashik, to board flight for Bhopal. After reaching Bhopal you will be transferred to the pre-booked hotel.
Overnight stay in Bhopal
In the morning we will proceed for an excursion to the sites of Sanchi and Bhimbetka caves. After a drive of 50 km we will reach Sanchi where the Buddhist remains are among the finest relics of Buddhism dating from 3nd century BC. The Great stupa at Sanchi is hailed as the crowning achievement of early north Indian sculpture.
Built by the greatest Mauryan ruler Ashoka, the Sanchi stupa is a massive hemisphere of about 120 feet in diameter. Towards the end of the 1st century BC four glorious gateways (torana) were added at the four cardinal points. The stupa was enlarged to twice its original size in the 2nd century AD. Lesser stupas and monastic buildings surround the great stupa.
The Sanchi gateways, carved with great skill, are more remarkable for their carved ornamentation than their architecture. You will also find an Ashokan pillar, located in the vicinity of the Southern gateway of the Great Stupa.
Emphatially not to be missed while you are in Sanchi is the Fifth century AD Gupta Temple. It is quite interesting that Sanchi, being a centre of Buddhism, is home to a Hindu temple.
After visiting Sanchi, we will proceed to the Bhimbetka rock caves which house one of the most important examples of prehistoric rock art in the world. The red-and-black prehistoric paintings recall the antics of ancient dancers and hunters, sticklike in the company of tigers and charging bulls.
Overnight in Bhopal
Morning drive to Bhopal airport to board flight for BHUBANESWAR where you will be transferred to the hotel.
In the afternoon we will visit the twin hills of Kumargiri-Kumarigiri known as Khandagiri and Udaigiri caves which served as the dwellings of the Jain ascetics in ancient India. Built in the latter half of the 1st century B.C. by Jaina King Kharevala, these caves are ornately embellished with exquisite carvings. Of these Rani Gumpha (Queen’s cave) is the largest.
Overnight stay in Bhubaneswar
We will have a morning excursion to Pipli and Dhauli. The village of Pipli 20 km from Bhubaneswar, is known for its exquisite appliqué work. Here you will find shops exhibiting appliqué handbags, dress materials, pillow covers, cushion covers, and umbrellas.
Thereafter we will visit Dhauli Hill on the top of which is the shining white-domed Shanti Stupa (Peace Pagoda). Dhauli is famous for the 3rd century BC rock edicts erected by Ashoka, the great Mauryan Emperor. It was at Dhauli that battle of Kalinga was fought by the Daya river leading to the conquest of the former by Ashoka, who, overwhelmed by the massacre of the people, decided to embrace Buddhism an even that took place eight years after his coronation.
Later we will drive to the Bhubaneswar airport to board flight for Kolkata from where you will take flight for your onward departure.
- The rooms at the hotel are on base category basis.
- Twin rooms at the hotel is subject to availability at the time of check-in
- The prices are subject to change at the time of booking as per the change in exchange rates, government taxes, and supplier rates etc.
- Accommodation on twin sharing basis as per itinerary
- All meals as per itinerary
- 01 Chinese speaking guide as per itinerary
- Entrance fees of monuments as per itinerary
- Exclusive A.C vehicle for the group travelling together throughout the tour
- Any personal expenses, airfare, visa fee and insurance fee.
- Tips to guide/driver.
- Anything that is not mentioned in the cost inclusions.