Buddhist Circuit Tour: Mahaparinirvan Express

Buddha Circuit train tour

By Ashish Arora on May 16, 2013

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Buddha Circuit train tour

Have you ever thought of boarding a train and being in it for a week, except getting down each day to see a peaceful tourist place and get in the train again for all night journey towards the next destination? As I was working with the publicity department of a hotels and hospitality company, they made it compulsory for me to go on this tour.

In fact, they thought it was important for me to see their resorts in Odisha to help myself in writing their ad copies. And my leaves for Varanasi, my hometown, were cancelled for this reason in the last week of January, 2013. This was an official tour – Buddhist Circuit Tour – with a few of our hospitality company colleagues,tour agencies people, journalists, filmmakers, photographers and models among others.


Buddha Circuit train tour

On an afternoon in early January this year, we reached a Delhi station, where the Mahaparinirvan Express, an IRCTC Buddhist Circuit Tourist Train, was waiting to be our board for a week now. moreover, the inauguration of the journey saw the station decorated with flowers, refreshments for the guests and a few known and unknown government people visiting the venue.

The train for Buddhist circuit journey was organized by IRCTC in association with our hospitality company. Finally, we boarded the train and took our special First AC cabins. This was a special train with First AC, First AC Coupe and AC two Tier. We did not know much about itinerary but we had a black fabric kit bag with all the required documentations.

Buddhist Circuit train route and itinerary

So, the journey begins here and the itinerary is as below:

Day: Destination

1: Delhi (Boarding)

2: Gaya – Bodhgaya

3: Nalanda – Rajgir – Gaya

4: Bhubaneswar – Jajpur – Bhubaneshwar

5: Varanasi – Sarnath – Varanasi

6: Gorakhpur – Kushinagar

7: Lumbini – Gorakhpur

8: Agra – Delhi (Destination)

Mahaparinirvan Express train tour

We would be going to get breakfast, lunch and dinner in the train in similar way as in Rajdhani Express. As per tour planning, when we are at some destination at the time of a meal, we would get food there only. There are well-maintained bathrooms and toilets in the train.

Train would run all-night towards the station close to the next Buddhist destination. Further, from the next station, buses would take us to the next destination. Nights would be spent in the train. And we would have late-night singing sessions before going to sleep. Meanwhile, we would make many friends with the strangers soon.

Here we go… on Buddha Circuit train tour

Day 1

We headed from Delhi towards Gaya in Bihar via Varanasi, where we would reach next day. The train would stop there for some time, waiting for signals. When we started from Delhi weather was cold, would be cold in Varanasi too. And we would be still having our jackets and woolen on.

Day 2

When we reached Gaya, where the weather was moderately cold. However, we were still in warm cloths. The buses took us to the Bodhgaya destination, and in night we were again in the train in Gaya to set for the next destination.

Day 3

Next day, buses took us to Nalanda and Rajgir destinations. And in same manner as yesterday, we were again in train in the night. Then, next day we would be reaching Odisha, where weather would be too hot.

The journey continues…

Day 4

We had a grand welcome by locals of Bhubaneshwar. Here, the buses picked us up to ride towards the Buddhist circuit complex of Ratnagiri, Pushpagiri, Dhauligiri, Udayagiri and Lalitgiri in Jajpur district. We were in train in the night. Of course, we did not need woolens here.

Day 5

It’s again cold now as we reached Varanasi, from here buses would take the Buddha circuit travelers to Sarnath. However I would skip this as I have visited Sarnath many times, so I would spend some time at my home in Varanasi. In night, I would join the train again when others are already on board.

Day 6

This is Gorakhpur, and the buses would take us to Kushinagar, the places where Gautam Buddha attained Parinirvana (as per Buddhism beliefs) after his death. We would stay in a hotel tonight after all past night spent in train during the tour. We enjoyed a bonfire dance and singing till late night before we went to bed.

Keep enjoying travel…

Day 7

Buses picked up from the hotel to take us to Nepal border, which we would cross after completing some border formalities. So, we would enter Nepal to visit Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautama, who became Buddha after enlightenment. After this visit, buses would take us to Gorakhpur station and we would be in train again.

Day 8

We reached Agra in evening to visit the Taj Mahal. Though Agra doesn’t have Buddhist significance yet the itinerary of this tour helps you have a look of a wonder of the world – Taj Mahal. Here we spent sometime and have a photo-session. We would be in train again to reach Delhi in a few hours.

So, Buddha Circuit Tour with Mahaparinirvan Express, the IRCTC Buddhist Circuit Tourist Train, ends as we reach Delhi. Furthermore, we were privileged to get on board for free of cost as it was a special tour. If you want to have this tour, you must be ready pay a good chunk of money.

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