Follow the trail of Buddhism as you explore the northeastern part of India, not far from Nepal. Land in Delhi before visiting Varanasi to witness the evening prayer ceremony. Float along the Ganges at sunrise as you observe Hindu pilgrims offer prayers on the ghats (stairs leading to the river) before purifying themselves in the river. Head to Bodhgaya to walk in the steps of Lord Buddha as you discover a circuit of holy bodhi trees and crucial sites linked to Buddhism in India.


  • Visit Lodhi Garden in Delhi before experiencing prayer ceremony in Varanasi
  • Float along the Ganges to observe a spectacle of events on the ghats at sunrise
  • See the key sights in Bodhgaya and learn about Buddihism's history in this region
  • Visit Rajgir to see its holy sites and Saptapari Cave, where Buddha attained Nirvana

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Delhi, Optional Visit to Lodhi Garden New Delhi
Day 2 Fly to Varanasi, Evening Aarti (Prayer Ceremony)  Varanasi
Day 3 Sunrise River Trip on the Ganges, Varanasi City Tour & Visit Sarnath Varanasi
Day 4 Transfer to Bodhgaya, Half-Day Sightseeing Tour Bodhgaya
Day 5 Free Day at Bodhgaya Bodhgaya
Day 6 Transfer to Patna Patna
Day 7 Fly to Delhi & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Delhi, Optional Visit to Lodhi Garden

Free Time in Delhi
Discover gardens, bazaars, and open spaces like Qutub Minar 

Welcome to India! Your guide will meet you at New Delhi International Airport, and you'll be given a traditional swagat (welcome) before driving to your hotel in Delhi. Once you've settled in, enjoy some free time exploring. India's capital is a huge and densely populated city where ancient culture meets modern life. Head to the winding alleyways of Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi, a vibrant bazaar full of spice shops, sweet vendors, and food carts. In New Delhi, explore Dilli Haat with handicrafts, food, and music, and Janpath Market with crafts, clothing, jewelry, brassware, and leather goods.

Later, you'll have the option to join a guided walk of Lodhi Garden in New Delhi. One of the city's most popular parks, this 90-acre (36 ha) scenic garden is home to 15th-century tombs, mosques, and bridges, as well as a wide variety of trees and birds. After a relaxing stroll, enjoy a cup of chai (sweet, strong milky tea) with locals at a tea shop in the center of the gardens. Delhi's iconic monument, India Gate, is nearby.

Day 2: Fly to Varanasi, Evening Aarti (Prayer Ceremony) 

Evening Aarti (Prayer Ceremony) in Varanasi
Get in touch with your spiritual side at a prayer ceremony in Varanasi

After breakfast, a driver will take you to the airport to board a flight to Varanasi. Upon arrival, a driver will meet you and take you to your hotel. Once settled in, you have the rest of the day to explore. Built in the 11th century on the banks of the Ganges River, Varanasi is widely regarded as the spiritual capital of India, a central place of pilgrimage, death, and mourning in the Hindu world. Thousands of pilgrims, sadhus (religious ascetics), and visitors crowd the streets and ghats (bathing stairs) of the Ganges. Wander Varanasi's narrow streets to gain insight into the life of the people and its surroundings.

In the evening, take a rickshaw ride to Dashashwamedh Ghat to witness the spectacular Ganga Aarti, a powerful spiritual ritual and prayer ceremony performed at dusk by several priests with the sound of bells, drums, cymbals, and Sanskrit mantras on the banks of the Ganges. It's an experience like no other that will connect you with the heart and soul of Varanasi and all the people who journey here to find spiritual meaning and healing.
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Day 3: Sunrise River Trip on the Ganges, Varanasi City Tour & Visit Sarnath

We arrive into the holy city of Varanasi by boat
Experience a sunrise in a whole new way along the Ghats

Every day, Hindu pilgrims and devotees in the thousands make their way to Varanasi's ghats (steps leading down to the river) to offer prayers, meditate, and purify themselves by taking a dip in the holy river. Just before dawn, take a boat trip on the Ganges to witness this amazing spectacle of events on the ghats. The boat ride takes you past several ghats of Varanasi, offering a glimpse of the city at its religious best. See life and death together, and perhaps even capture a glimpse of a Hindu cremation on the banks of the river as you float past.  

You can walk around the historical ghats such as Harischandra Ghat and Dashwamedha Ghat and learn the typical rituals of the Hindu religion. After breakfast, leave for a city tour. Set out to see more of Varanasi and visit famous monuments like Sankat Mochan Temple, Bharat Mata Temple, Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple, and finally, Banaras Hindu University. If time allows, you can also visit the Durga Temple (Monkey Temple) and Tulasi Manas Temple.

After lunch, continue your spiritual exploration in Sarnath, where the Buddha is believed to have founded Buddhism when he gave his first sermon in 528 BCE. This is also where Emperor Ashoka, also known as Ashoka the Great, built monasteries and stupas (places of burial) during his reign of the Maurya Empire from 268 to 232 BCE. Visit Deer Park, where Gautama Buddha gave his first teachings, followed by the Sarnath Museum to see the historical objects and sculptures found on the site.

Day 4: Transfer to Bodhgaya, Half-Day Sightseeing Tour

The famous Bodhi Tree in Bodhgaya
The famous Bodhi Tree in Bodhgaya

This morning, a driver will be waiting to take you on the six-hour drive to Bodhgaya. Upon arrival, check into your hotel, then head out on a sightseeing tour. Bodhgaya is famous as the place where the Buddha attained enlightenment while sitting under a Bodhi tree, and remains one of the most important Buddhist sites in the world. Start with a visit to the Mahabodhi Temple, constructed by the Emporer Asoka back in the third century BCE, then see the ancient Maha-Bodhi Tree itself, whose spreading branches still attract pilgrims and offerings.

Continue to another prominent site in the area, known as Sujata. Located just east of Bodhgaya, across the Niranjana River, this Buddhist stupa was built to commemorate a local tribal woman from Uruvela said to have fed the starving Buddha. After a full day of sightseeing, you'll return to your hotel in the afternoon. 

Day 5: Free Day at Bodhgaya

Free Day at Bodhgaya
Sunrise over the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya

Rise early for meditation and prayers this morning. Afterward, the remainder of the day is free to explore. Stay in a spiritual mood by visiting Animeshlochana Chaitya, where Lord Buddha spent his second week of enlightenment. Discover the circuit of Bodhi trees, including the Ratnachankramana, the Ratnagaraha, the Ajapala Nigrodha Tree, and the Rajyatna Tree. Finish the circuit with some reflection at Muchhalinda Pond, explore different monasteries built by many Buddhist countries around the city, or stop by Shaivite Monastery and the famous Jagannath Temple.

Day 6: Transfer to Patna

View of the Griddhakuta Peak
See monks make the journey to worship at Griddhakuta Peak

Check out of your hotel this morning and join your driver for the transfer north to Patna, with many stops along the way. One detour is at Rajgir, an ancient city in the northeast Indian state of Bihar. Surrounded by hills, it's known for its holy sites, and the remains of the Cyclopean Wall, which encircled the city centuries ago, still stand in the center. Close by, explore Venu Vana Park, once home to a monastery built for Lord Buddha as a gift. Nearby there are hot springs believed to have medicinal properties.

You can also take a guided excursion to Saptapari Cave, or Sattaparnaguha Cave, located on a hill where the first Buddhist council was held immediately after Buddha attained Nirvana. Later, stop and see Nalanda, where you'll observe the ruins of the ancient monastic university, before reaching Gridhakuta (Vulture Peak), which was the Buddha's favorite retreat. Upon arrival at Patna, check in to your hotel. You'll have the evening free to explore and have dinner at your leisure.

Day 7: Fly to Delhi & Depart

Farewell India!

Today your adventures in India draw to a close. Transfer to the airport in Patna to board your flight to Delhi. Upon arrival in Delhi, board your onward flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of Highlights of Buddhist India: Varanasi & Bodhgaya - 7 Days
Map of Highlights of Buddhist India: Varanasi & Bodhgaya - 7 Days