Varanasi-Morning-Arti-1

MAGICAL DIVINE EXPERIENCE

TOUR CODE                NGS SH08 – MAGICAL DIVINE EXPERIENCE Sacred UPBihar Pilgrimage Tour

DURATION                  09 NIGHTS / 10 DAYS

PLACES COVERED      MATHURA, AYODHAYA, NAMISHARNAYAM, AYODHAYA, VARANASI

 

DAY 01:             ARRIVE DELHI – AGRA VIA MATHURA Sacred UPBihar Pilgrimage Tour

Pick up from Delhi airport and drive to Agra via Mathura and Vrindavan. Mathura it is one of the seven great cities and is considered one of the holiest cities in India. Lakhs of pilgrims come here every year to visit the Dwarikadhish temple and Vishramgaht. Also visit Vrindavan (District Mathura) – situated at a distance of 9.6 km. from Mathura. There are about 4, 000 temples, ghats and sarovars in Vrindavan. Govind Dev temple is a treat, built by Raja Man Sing of Jaipur in 1500 AD. In front of this is the grand temple of Rangnath built of white stone in the Dravidian style. Other famous temples are Behariji temple, Radhavallabh temple, Radharaman temple, Gopinath temple, Shahji temple, Ashta Sakhi temple etc. Continue drive to Agra (another one hour) Arrive Agra by evening and check into hotel. Overnight at hotel.

DAY 02            :           DRIVE FROM AGRA TO LUCKNOW (APPROX 9 HRS VIA) NAMISHARNAYAM

Visit Taj Mahal, the monument of everlasting love. But there are many more things to see in Agra! The royal Mughal has, in addition to the legendary Taj, many magnificent monuments that epitomize the high point of the Mughal architectural achievement. Not even Delhi, the seat of kings and emperors for over a thousand years, can boast such a heritage of architectural and cultural splendor from the golden age of the Great Mughals. Tajmahal stands serene and perfect in its garden of cypresses and reflecting pools on the banks of the River Yamuna. It’s pure white marble shimmers silver in the moonlight, glows softly pink at dawn, and at close of day reflects the fiery tints of the setting sun. The Taj, in all its timeless beauty, was built by Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal who died giving birth to their 14th child. This monument was fashioned by 20,000 skilled workers to make the emperor’s dream a reality. It took 22 years to complete — a symbol of eternal love where Shah Jahan, too, lies buried, re-united at last with his beloved Mumtaz.  After this drive to Lucknow via Namisharnayam. Naimisharanya -It was at this place that for establishing Dharma on the earth, the Gods requested Maharshi Dadhichi to give his bones for preparing a weapon to kill the Demon Vrittrasur. Naimisharnaya was a centre of spiritual development. It was the place of penance of 88, 000 sages or Rishis. There are 30, 000 pilgrim centers here. It is said that a person performing penance here is sure to get ‘Siddhi’ (Divine Power). There are many places of pilgrimage (Tirth) in vicinity. Continue to drive by evening. Arrive by late evening and check into hotel. Overnight at hotel.

DAY 03:              LUCKNOW – AYODHAYA (135 KMS)

A.M. Local sightseeing of Lucknow visit Bara Imambara and Chhota Imambara. Both are imposing monuments with great historical significance. Explore the city and the attractions it holds, Lucknow is an interesting place with great things to offer. The structures in the city showcase the fine blend of Indo-Islamic and colonial era. Visit some sites like: Dilkusha Garden, Shah Najaf, Ram Krishna Math, Moti Mahal, La Martiniere, Chattra Manzil,  By Afternoon proceed to Ayodhaya. Arrive and check into hotel. Overnight at hotel.

DAY 04:              AYODHAYA – ALLAHABAD (5hrs)

Explore Ayodhaya.  AYODHAYA – six miles from Faizabad station Ayodhya is the birth place of Lord Rama. The most sacred place of Hindu pilgrimage at the banks of river Sarayu. Janmasthan, the place where Lord Rama was born is an important spot. There was a beautiful temple. Now a disputed site as Mughal King Babar destroyed this temple in 1520 A.D.  and built a mosque on the site.  Hanuman Garh (or Gadi) is another important place of worship. P.M. drive to Allahabad. Arrive by evening and check into hotel. Overnight at hotel.

DAY 05:              ALLAHABAD – CHITRAKOOT (135 KMS) Sacred UPBihar Pilgrimage Tour

Allahabad is among the largest cities in Uttar Pradesh. Hindu mythology has it that for the Prakrishta Yaina, Lord Brahma, the creator God of the Trinity, chose a land on earth, on which the three rivers would flow in to a quiet confluence. Brahma also referred to it as `Tirth Raj’ or the `king of all pilgrimage centers’. Allahabad stands at the confluence of two of India’s holiest rivers, the Ganga and the Yamuna. Visit Sangam, as the confluence is called, is the venue of many sacred fairs and rituals, and attracts thousands of pilgrims throughout the year. This number swells to millions during the world-famous Kumbh Mela. A third mythical Saraswati river, believed to flow underground towards the Sangam, gives the confluence its other name ‘Triveni’. Emperor Akbar founded this city in 1575 and called it by name of `Illahabas’, which has now become modern Allahabad.

It is the focal point of three different rivers Yamuna, Ganga and Saraswati (mythological) and is revered to be one of the holiest places in India for Hindus. A visit here and a dip on the point of confluence is said to rid you of the karmic cycle of birth and rebirth along with flushing away your sins. You can easily identify and spot the two different rivers since the Yamuna is brownish in color and Ganga is greenish in color while the presence of Saraswati River can be only felt underwater.

Shankar Viman Mandapam – Located in the banks of the Triveni Sangam, it is the only Temple in the city which is built in south Indian style. The architecture of the temple reflects the Dravidian style and has four storeys showcasing the shrines of different gods and goddesses on each floor. Flowers and sweets are available outside the temple to serve as offerings to the deity inside the mandir. If you are on a temple touring of the city then this temple should not be missed out on since it is surrounded by a number of other temples.

Lalita Devi Mandir – This famous and prominent temple is considered as one of the Shakti Peeth temples in India. It is revered to be important because it is believed that Bhagwati Lalita Devi appeared in this very place after Sita’s fingers had fallen on the river bank of Yamuna. It is the focal point of thousands of devotees across the nation and is among one of the most ancient temples in the city. Although the whole temple is bustling with life throughout the day, one can still experience peace of mind and calmness while there.

Allahabad Museum – This national level museum is the prime research center for archeologists, historians and other academicians. The collection present in the rock art gallery dates back to 14,000 to 2,000bc and is of the prehistoric era. Apart from the attractive displays the museum also utilizes the use of the solar power system becoming the very first museum in the country which is self-reliant in generating power. Every visitor must go to this place once and take a look at our roots. Khusro Bagh- Listed as the Indian Site of National Importance, the Bagh is a large walled garden and the burial complex for a number of Mughal prince and princesses. The tomb present inside the Bagh showcases exquisite Mughal architecture complete with detailed designing. This sandstone structure is a sight to behold for every traveler visiting there. Experience the Mughal era, like never before and take with you memories for a lifetime. Minto Park  Located along the bank of River Yamuna this is the site where, in 1858, Earl Canning read out the declaration of Queen Victoria’s proclamation. The result of this proclamation was the complete transfer of control of India from east India Company to the British Government. One should visit this park and see for themselves how far we have Come Post Independence. After this drive to Chitrakoot. Arrive and check into hotel. Rest of the time at leisure. Overnight at hotel.

DAY 06:          CHITRAKOOT – VARANASI (270 kms)

After early breakfast local sightseeing of Chitrakook covering Ram Ghat  which is a long stretch of steps made on the bank of Mandakini River,  Hanuman Dhara s a great shrine dedicated to Lord Hanuman, in one of the wooded hills of Chitrakoot. Kamadgiri a forested mountain, is of prime religious importance in Chitrakoot District. As per legends, Lord Brahma performed havan here, with 108 fire pits, before creating the universe  Gupt Godavari located at a distance of 19 km south of Ram Ghat. As per the legend, the Godavari River emerging as a perennial stream from the rocks deep inside this cave, flows down to another cave below and then disappears. P.M. drive for Varanasi. Arrive by late evening and check into hotel.

In the Rigveda, the city of Varanasi is called Kasi or Kashi, “The Luminous one.”  Varanasi is the cradle of human civilisation where shoots of education, literature and culture were born. The famous Indian poets and religious reformers like Kabir and Tulsi Das spent a large part of their lives here. The city of Varanasi is especially famous for its “ghats”, banks covered with stone steps that allow Hindu devotees to go down to the river to offer pujas and ablutions. Bathing in the Ganges is a very important ritual for Hindus, more particularly for specific castes on specific ghats. The most well-known Ghat is Manikarnika, where non-stop cremations happen. The most important temple of the city is the “Kashi Vishvanatha”or the “Golden Temple”. Non-Hindus are forbidden to enter this temple.  The renowned Banaras Hindu University, founded by Madan Mohan Malaviya in 1916 attracts students from all over India. The city is also famous for its embroidered silk saris with zardosi and brocade work, for glass beads, woodwork and most of all Banaras sweets and the famous banarasi“paan” ( betel )! Sacred UPBihar Pilgrimage Tour

Day 07:             VARANASI

Early morning we can go for boat ride at river Ganges, view activities in the city revolves around the holy river. Life on the banks of the Ganga begins before dawn when thousands of pilgrims -men, women and children, come down to the river to wait for the rising sun. Gradually the sun rises, and the river mists slowly lift to reveal the magnificent buildings that have a solemnity unmatched by any city in the world.  Soon after the sunrise, the city’s great amphitheatre of Ghats burst into activity. In the charged holistic atmosphere of the morning venerable Brahmins (known as Pandas) recite passages from sacred texts, priests dispense holy ashes to pilgrims to mark their foreheads in veneration of the gods. Boatmen, flower seller, shrill- voiced sellers selling sweetmeats and knick knacks, sacred bulls and cows roam around. You can witness all these activities during boat ride.  Return to hotel for breakfast.  After breakfast we start the city tour covering Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple. The Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple Is located by the River Assi and was made in the 1900s by the freedom fighter Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya. It is devoted to Lord Rama and Hanuman, next we visit Golden Temple (Kashi Vishwanath). The Golden Temple Is dedicated to Lord Shiva and built by Ahalya Bai of Indore in 1780. 800 kg of gold plating on the Tower provided by Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Lahore. The temple situated on the western Bank of the holy river Ganga, the holiest of Shiva temples, followed by visit to Kal Bhairav Temple which is one of the ancient temples of Lord Shiva that can be found in Varanasi. This temple has a strong link with the history and culture of the city. Kal Bhairav Temple is the fierce form of Lord Shiva. The deity is portrayed as a man wearing garlands made with human skull. It is said that the death itself is afraid of this form of Lord Shiva. Mrityunjay Mahadev Mandir – This temple is dedicated to the Lord Shiva and situated on the way from Daranagar to Kalbhairav temple. There is an ancient well which has much Religious importance and It is believed that  water is curable to several diseases. The temple opens early in the morning at 4.00 am and closed late night at 12.00 pm. Arti timings are at 5.30 am, 6.30 pm and 11.30 pm.  Continue the trip and visit BHU and Durga temple, which is also known as Monkey temple (because of the présence of huge number of monkeys), situated in the Durga Kund, Varanasi. The temple is dedicated to the Goddess Durga. It was built in the 18th century. Durga temple was constructed by a Bengali Maharani in the north Indian Style with multi tiered shikhara. An attractive pond known as the Durga Kund is made on the right side of the temple which really increases the beauty of the temple. The pond has stone stairs at all sides as well as there is watch pillar at each corner of the pond. Sacred UPBihar Pilgrimage Tour

P.M. visit Sarnath approximately 10km (6.2ml) from Varanasi City. Lord Buddha chose Sarnath to deliver his first sermon, in a Deer Park, after his enlightenment. Hence it was here he established his sangha or first disciples to promote his new doctrine. It makes Sarnath one  of the most venerated Buddhist places. Besides Buddhism, Sarnath is also connected with Jainism.  Shreyansanath, the Eleventh Tirthankara of Jainism was born in Singhpur, a village approximately one kilometre away from the site. Sarnath is one of the 4 most sacred places for Buddhists where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon to his five disciples after enlightenment in Bodhgaya.It is here that the first Sangha was created. The other three important sites being Lumbini, the site of birth; Bodhgaya, the site of enlightenment; and Kushinagar, the site of Nirvana of Lord Buddha. The main attractions in Sarnath are the Deer Park, the Chaukhandi Stupa, the place where Lord Buddha first met his 5 disciples, Dhammek Stupa (Dhamekha Stupa), the place where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon. Mulagandhakuti Vihara, the place where Lord Buddha had spent his first rainy season. You can see the Ashoka Pillar (Ashokan Lion Pillar), which was found amidst the ruins, and is re-structured from the remnants of the real Ashoka Pillar. It is kept in the Archeological museum which also treasures the most beautiful statues of Buddha. Sacred UPBihar Pilgrimage Tour

In the evening, experience the Hindu ritual “Aarti”. Aarti refers to the songs sung in praise of the deity, combined with the offering of the lamps. Hindus in India worship the river Ganges as goddess. Every evening in Varanasi, aarti is performed at the Dashashwamedh ghat. We can reach the Ghat through intricate labyrinths and watch it by the Ghat or from the waterfront sitting in a boat. The atmosphere is majestic, resonant with the sound of bells, drums, cymbals etc. It is beautiful to watch the precise choreography involving rituals performed by several priests. Return to hotel and overnight in Varanasi.Sacred UPBihar Pilgrimage Tour

DAY 08:               VARANASI – BODHGAYA (210 KMS 5HRS)

After breakfast we leave for Bodhgaya. Arrive and check into hotel.  Bodhgaya is one of the holiest Buddhist pilgrimage centres in the state of Bihar. It was here that Gautama attained enlightenment and became Buddha under the “Bodhi” tree. Bodh Gaya is the most holy place for Buddhists. Situated by the bank of river Neranjana the place was then known as Uruwela.  King Ashoka was the first to build The Mahabodhi temple here, but was destroyed later by the Turk invaders. The present pyramidal temple was built during the Gupta Period.  Visit The temple complex that contains the Mahabodhi Temple with the Vajrasana Throne also known as the “Diamond Throne”- donated by Emperor Ashoka; the holy Bodhi tree; the Lotus Pond which contains a beautiful statue of meditating Lord Buddha sitting on a snake coil protected by its hood, is associated with the myth that during his 5th week of meditation, a huge storm broke out, hence to protect the Lord from it the snake king Muchalinda protected him by his hood. Another attraction is Animesh Lochan Chaitya- where Lord Buddha spent 7 days after his enlightenment looking at the Bodhi tree. Bodhgaya also has a number of monasteries, established by Buddhists of Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Japan, Thailand, etc.   Also visit Sujatakuti and, if weather permits, the Pragbodhi cave (also known as Mahakala cave) where the Buddha practiced extreme austerities. Overnight at hotel.Sacred UPBihar Pilgrimage Tour

 

DAY 09:                   BODHGAYA-RAJGIR (75 KMS 2HRS)

After breakfast, proceed to Rajgir. Rajgir is a place of great significance for Buddhists as well as Jains. Lord Buddha spent several months meditating and preaching at the Gridhra-kuta and it is also the site where Lord Buddha expounded the precepts of his Lotus Sutra and the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra. It is the place where he mastered a threatening elephant sent with an intention to kill the Lord. It is also said, it was the Lord’s monsoon retreat for 12 years. He also delivered some of his famous sermons and initiated king Bimbisara of Magadha and countless others to Buddhism. On Vaibhar hills is the Saptparni cave where the First Buddhist Council was held, which compiled the teachings of Lord Buddha in its authentic form, after his death. Sightseeing at Rajgir covers the Shanti Stupa, Hot Springs, Gridhakuta Hill, Bimbisara Jail and other Jain and Buddhist monuments. Overnight in Rajgir.Sacred UPBihar Pilgrimage Tour

 

DAY 10:                   RAJGIR-NALANDA-PATNA | 110 KMS/ 3 HRS

After breakfast, proceed to Nalanda (20 km); a great centre of learning in ancient time. Though Emperor Ashoka built a temple here dedicated to Shariputra, chief disciple of Lord Buddha, it was Kumaragupta of Gupta dynasty who founded the Nalanda Mahavihara (University), after which it came to be known as centre for learning. After the Gupta period, the Kushanas, the Palas patronised this university. King Harsha, the emperor of Kanujj was the last patron. This oldest residential university was known among scholars and students who travelled from different parts of Sri Lanka, Tibet, China, Korea and Central Asia. It is said that the university hosted about 1,500 teachers and scholars, and about 10,000 students, in its peak years. The Institute engaged in imparting education and knowledge about philosophy, politics, law, science, and arts. Famous Chinese traveller, Hiuen Tsang was also a student at this reputed university. Hence it was one of the greatest monastic universities of the ancient world, dating from the 3rd century BCE to the 13th century CE, engaged in the organized transmission of knowledge over an uninterrupted period of 800 years. The fame of the university declined after the rule of the Pala Dynasty and was ruined by the Turk and Mughal invaders. Visit the ruins of the Nalanda University Archaeological Complex and the Nalanda Archaeological Museum.  Continue to Patna airport to fly back home. Sacred UPBihar Pilgrimage Tour

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