Arrive and check in at the hotel in Varanasi by 12 noon. We start the day with a visit to Sarnath, where Gautama the Buddha gave his first sermon. This momentous and historic event has been depicted in exquisite sculptures of the Buddha and other monuments at Sarnath.
The day starts early with Mangala Arati at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple – one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, said to have been consecrated by Shiva himself. After Arati, we will venture to the Vishalakshi Temple, one of the Shakti Sthalas, as well as the Annapoorni Temple. Later in the day, we visit the Manikarnika Ghat – the most sacred cremation spot in Varanasi, which is at the core of the spiritual process that thrives in the city. A boat ride in the sacred Ganga followed by participation in the evening arati from the boat are some of the highlights of the day.
We visit places of tremendous spiritual significance, including Kalabhairava Temple, the powerful guardian deity of Varanasi and Mahamrityunjaya Temple where it is believed that one can win over death. After that, the day is free to explore the city on your own and visit its various temples, ghats and market places. Varanasi features a variety of cultural delights, including exquisite silk weaves and unique cuisines. We will be happy to suggest a number of interesting places you can visit. While arrangements will be made for your breakfast and dinner, you can explore and enjoy the unique Varanasi cuisines for lunch on your own.
We journey to Bodhgaya, also known as Gaya. Since that glorious full-moon night of Gautama’s enlightenment 2500 years ago, Bodhgaya has been visited by countless seekers to imbibe the essence of this space. Bodhgaya is famous for the 1500-year-old Mahabodhi Temple. It stands next to the legendary Bodhi tree and the Vajrasana, or Diamond Throne, which marks the exact spot where the Buddha attained enlightenment.
The program culminates in Gaya with Guru Pooja, an offering of gratitude to the great beings of the past who have made available the powerful possibility of self-transformation. The departure begins from 6:00 a.m. and hotel check-out time is 11:00 a.m.