Experience a spiritual pilgrimage with this Buddhist pilgrimage to Sarnath, the site where Buddha held his first sermon, with a visit to many other temples in the area. You'll be picked up from your hotel in Varanasi before the journey to Sarang Nath Temple. Dedicated to the Lord Shiva, this temple was believed to have been in the middle of a forest of deers. Hear about the incredible legend on how this temple was named, and how it has thus evolved. Your next visit is to a Japanese temple, which is also in Sarnath. Within the temple is a wooden reclining Buddha, carved out of sandalwood, with more statues within the temple itself. In keeping with this exploration of Buddhist culture's diversity, the next stops are at a Chinese temple, Burmese temple, and a Thai temple. All of these different nationalities have temples in this sacred area, but all are dedicated to Buddhism, giving you a great inside look into how each aspect is similar yet different from one another. You then head to Mulagandha Kuti Vihar. As it is relatively new, this temple's architecture stands in contrast to the style of the other temples in the area. It sits amidst the brick ruins of Ancient Sarnath, and is distinctly from a more modern, yet still traditional era. You get to visit two stupas, the Dhamek Stupa, and the Chaukhandi Stupa. These mound-like structures hold relics and remains of Buddhist monks and nuns, and it is said that after Buddha's own parinirvana, his remains are cremated with the ashes divided under eight stupas. This is followed by a trip to the Sarnath Archaeological Museum where a veritable treasure trove of Buddhist relics and priceless artifacts are held. This wealth had been recovered from the first sermon at the forest of deer. You can spend some time in the Buddha Park afterwards, meditating and considering everything you've just learned in your journey, before you are taken back to your hotel in Varanasi.
Varanasi is such an incredibly vibrant city that it's like a maze of cultures and color. What better way to truly experience it than with a traditional tuk tuk ride? You'll meet your guide at Godowlia Chowk, where you'll then ride on a tuk tuk and explore the city. You'll visit the famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, Jantar Mantar, which is an incredible equinoctial sundial in the city, Dashashwamedh Ghat, the main ghat or rivermouth of the sacred Ganga River, and Amrit Rao Peshwa Haveli, found in one of the oldest parts of the city and rich in history. You'll also be able to visit the Tomb of Lal Khan and visit the Lal Bahadur Shastri Home, both of which tell the story of some of the most famous historic figures of the city. You'll go on to see spiritual and architectural sites such as the St. Thomas Church and Baba Kinaram Ashram, before seeing the Ramnagar Bridge and finally, the incredible fortress that is the Ramnagar Fort, one of the most important historical structures within the city. Riding on a tuk tuk is a unique and enjoyable way to experience the culture of the city!