Buddhist train tour India, Mahaparinirvan pilgrimage train
Mahaparinirvan Express Buddhist Special Train is a special tourist train for Buddhists who want to vist Buddhism's holiest places in India.
The train is named after 'Mahaparinirvana Sutra' which is an explanation of the teachings of Lord Buddha. The train goes to all the most holy sites of Buddhism - Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Gautam Buddha, where he was born in the year 623 BC, that is about 2650 years ago; Bodhgaya, the place where Lord Buddha attained enlightened; Saranath in Varanasi or Benares, the place where Lord Buddha first preached and Kusinagar where Lord Buddha died and attained nirvana.
The Mahaparinirvan Express is a fully air conditioned train and has three different classes of travel first class, two tier class and three tier class. The first class can accomodate 18 passengers, two-tier AC can take 92 passengers and the three-tier class can take 256 passengers for a total of 366 passengers per trip. The Mahaparinirvan Express is not a luxury train like the Maharajah express but is meant for the Buddhist pilgrims who want to go to the holy places of Buddha. Tourist Buddhist pilgrims on the train are regularly taken out to hotels to freshen up and sometimes even given hotel rooms for overnight stay.
The Mahaparinirvan Express fare will be vary according to the class and approximately ranges from Rs.15,000 ($ 250) to Rs.60,000 ($1,000) for the full 8 day tour and Includes travel, food, sightseeing with a tour guide, entrance fees at the various places and accommodation on double bedrooms for 2, for single occupancy you have to pay extra. The personnel on the train are very courteous and knowledgeable about Buddhism and can answer questions of the pilgrims who are visiting the holy lands of Buddhism. Each passenger is given a guide book about the Buddhist holy places in India. Majority of the passengers on the Mahaparinirvan Express train are from China, Thailand, Taiwan, Sri Lanka and other Buddhist Countries.
India's Buddhist Tourist Train Mahaparinirvan Express Schedule and Route
At present the Mahaparinirvana Express has only one schedule with the train departing from Delhi and returning back to Delhi on the 8th day. Soon it is expected that there will be new Mahaparinirvan Express Services from Chennai Madras for the benefit of Buddhist Pilgrims from Sri Lanka.
The Chennai Mahaparinirvana Express will be a 21 days and 20 nights tour that will cover many more places than the present Delhi Mahaparinirvan Express. Recently the Mahaparinirvan Express Odisha Special train has been introduced. This tour includes pilgrimage sites in Orissa or Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar States and includes important Buddhist sites Ratnagiri, Dhaulagiri, Udayagiri, Khandagiri and Langudi. All these places are important holy places of Buddhism with many Stupas, the domed temples of Buddhism.
Route of Mahaparinirvan Express Train: Delhi - Gaya - Bodhgaya - Nalanda - Varanasi - Sarnath - Gorakhpur - Kushinagar - Lumbini (Nepal) - Sravasti -Agra - Delhi
Schedule of Mahaparinirvan Express Train: The Mahaparinirvan Express Train is not a daily service, but starts from Delhi Safdarjang Railway Station on pre-set dates announced in advance by the Indian Railways.
Departure from Delhi Safdarjang Railway Station at 3 pm
Gaya or Bodhgaya the Place where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. Visit Mahabodhi temple.
Rajgir and Nalanda: Rajgir city was the capital of the Magadha Empire during the life time of Lord Buddha. Buddha delivered many sermons in Rajgir. Visit to important holy places for Buddism in Rajgir: Viswa Shanti Stupa or peace pagoda where you can see four gold statues representing Buddha's birth, enlightenment, teaching and death. The Gridhakuta Hill, Bihar where Lord Buddha delivered many sermons after he achieved enlightenment. Ajatasatru's fort built in 5th century BC and in it Bimbisara's jail, where King Bimbisara was imprisoned by his son Ajatashatru and executed in 491 BC. You can also view part of the ruins of the ancient Cyclopean Wall of Raggir which was part of a 25 Mile (40km) wall that surrounded ancient Rajgir. Saptparni Cave, where the first Buddhist council was held after Buddha attained Nirvana.
Nalanda: Visit ancient Nalanda University founded in 5th century AD as one of the first universities of the world.
Varanasi and Saranath: Sarnath is 8Miles (13Km) from Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh, India and the place where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon. The holy Mantra 'Buddham Sharanam Gachhami' originated in Sarnath. Lord Buddha before his death proclaimed Sarnath together with Lumbini, Bodh Gaya and Kushinagar as the most holy Buddhist places. Visits in Sarnath includes the tallest statue of Lord Buddha in India standing at 80 feet high in the Thai Buddha Vihar or Mrigdayavan Mahavihar Society. Other visits: Dhamek stupa, Sarnath Museum, Ashoka Pillar and Mulgandha Kuti Vihar.
Gorakhpur: By buses to Kushinagar village 33 Miles (53 km) from Gorakhpur. Kushinagar is where Lord Buddha attained Maha Parinirvan, the ultimate state of Nirvana by which he attained freedom from the cycles of death and rebirth. Vists in Kushinagar to Mahaparinirvan Temple, Rambhar stupa, Mata Kutir temple.
Lumbini in Nepal, the Birthplace of Lord Buddha. By bus from Gorakhpur to Lumbini across the border and back same day to Gorakhpur . Visit in Lumbini to Maya devi temple, Ashokan Pillar & Pushkarni lake (Visas: Indian nationals do not need visa for Nepal but other nationalities please check for Nepali visa requirements and multiple entry visas for India)
Gonda: For visit to Sravasti. By buses from Gonda Railway station to Sravasti to visit Jetvana Vihar,Pakki Kuti & Sehat Maher Thai temple
Agra: to visit the Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri and return to Delhi by 6 p.m.
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