Cultural Tour in North India (August 2024): Bodh Gaya – Nalanda – Varanasi – Sarnath – Khajuraho – Agra – Delhi

The Hellenic-Indian Society for Culture and Development and the Athens Center for Indian and Indo-Hellenic Studies organize a cultural tour with Indologist professor Dr. Dimitrios Vasiliadis in northern India. The trip includes some of the most sacred sites for Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains, designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. The schedule and details of the trip are given below:


The tour will take place in two groups one longer and one shorter: 1st group’s departure is Tuesday 13 August and the return is Wednesday 4 September. 2nd group’s departure is Sunday 18th August and the return is Sunday 1st September. The two groups will share the Basic Tour, but the 1st group will visit some extra locations (Rishikesh-Haridwar-Dehradun and Jaipur)

Duration of the tour:

The basic tour takes 15 days (13 nights in India plus 2 days of international travel).
The longer tour takes 23 days (21 nights in India plus 2 days of international travel).

Main tour

Additional tour

Main stations of the tour:

UTTARAKHAND: Rishikesh and Haridwar are situated on the river Ganges’ banks and are pilgrimage towns for Hindus, with numerous temples and ashrams. Rishikesh is known as the “World Capital of Yoga.” Dehradun is located on the foothills of the Himalayas and is noted for its picturesque landscape and as a notable academic and research hub.

BIHAR: Bodh Gaya, where the Buddha attained enlightenment and Buddhahood. The Peace Stupa in Rajgir and the famous Buddhist University of Nalanda flourished in the ancient kingdom of Magadha.

UTTAR PRADESH: Varanasi, the capital of Hinduism, and Sarnath, the deer park where the Buddha gave his first sermon.

MADHYA PRADESH: Khajuraho, a group of ancient temples famous for their decoration with erotic sculptures.

UTTAR PRADESH: Agra, the city is mostly visited for the beautiful Taj Mahal, but there are many more grand monuments worth seeing when you travel to this historic city.

DELHI is the capital of India.

RAJASTHAN: Jaipur is also known as the Pink City due to the dominant color scheme of its buildings in the old city. Jaipur is a popular tourist destination in India, forming a part of the west Golden Triangle tourist circuit along with Delhi and Agra.


The program and the dates are indicative and may change according to the availability of tickets and the weather conditions in our routes. Follow our website for updates. 

Day 1-2: Athens – Delhi – Bodh Gaya

Departure from Athens International Airport. Arrival in Delhi early the next morning. Direct transfer from the international airport (Terminal T3) to the domestic airport (Terminal T2) and departure to Gaya. Arrival in Gaya. Transfer to a hotel and overnight in Bodh Gaya. (Total 3 nights in Bodh Gaya)

Day 3: Bodh Gaya

Morning and afternoon meditation under the Buddha Enlightened Tree at Mahabodhi Temple. Tour of monasteries, giant Buddha statue, Visit to Sujata Kuti. Visit to Bodh Gaya museum.

Day 4: Bodh Gaya – Nalanda – Rajgir – Bodh Gaya

Early morning departure after breakfast for the ancient Buddhist university of Nalanda (74 km – 2 hours). Visit to the archaeological site and the building built in memory of the Chinese explorer Hiuen Tsang. Departure for Rajgir (37 km – 1.10 hours). Visit Venu Vana Kalandakanivapa Park, where the Buddha lived, and a cable car ride to the World Peace Stupa. Departure for Bodh-Gaya (70 km – 2 hours). Visit Dungeshwari (12 km – 45 minutes), the cave where the Buddha practiced for 7 years before his enlightenment. Arrival and overnight in Bodh Gaya.

Day 5: Bodh Gaya – Varanasi

Morning meditation under the Enlightened Buddha tree at Mahabodhi Temple. Departure at noon for Gaya and board the train to Varanasi (222 km 3 hours 42 minutes). Arrive in Varanasi and transfer to the hotel, rest, afternoon walk and boat on the Ganges. Overnight at a hotel in Varanasi. (Total 3 nights in Varanasi).

Day 6: Varanasi

Visiting the sights of the City:

Banaras Hindu University, Viswanatha New Temple, Sampurnanad Sanskrit University, J. Krishnamurti Foundation and Study Center at Raj Ghat, Annie Besant Residence at Theosophical Society, Mother India Temple, Nepal Temple, Birthplace and Temples of Jain Tirthankara Parshvanath and Suparshvanath, Ananda Mai Ma Ashram, home of Tulsidas, Kinara Ram Ashram, Lolarka Kund (ancient sun worship, fertility well), old city, Manikarnika Ghat (cremation), Manikarnika Kund, Dashasvamedh Ghat, Chet Singh Ghat (historical palace), Harishcandra Ghat (cremation), Tulsi Ghat, Assi Ghat, Kedar Ghat and temple,

Morning Ganges aarti at Assi Ghat, Evening Ganges aarti at Dashasvamedh Ghat.

Day 7: Varanasi-Sarnath

After breakfast, a full-day excursion to the holy Buddhist pilgrimage site of Sarnath (10 km northeast of Varanasi) where the Buddha gave his first teaching. On the way to Sarnath, we will stop at the Christian cemetery and visit the grave of the Indologist Dimitris Galanos (1760-1833).

Attractions in Sarnath:

Archaeological site and museum, Dhamekh Stupa, Ashoka’s pillar, deer park, Chaukhandi Stupa. Buddhist monasteries and temples (Mulagandhakuti Vihara, Japan, Tibet, Thailand, China). Tibet Institute of Advanced Studies. Temple and birthplace of Shreyansanath, eleventh Tirthankara of Jainism.

Day 8: Varanasi – Khajuraho

After breakfast, we continue the tour in Varanasi.

In the afternoon transfer to the train station. Depart at 17:45 by train to Khajuraho (Bundelkhand Link Express 21108, 451 km. 11.35 hrs). Overnight on the train in 3tiers A/C cabins.

Day 9 Kazuracho

Early morning arrival at 05:20 in Katzouracho and transfer to the hotel. Rest and full-day tour to the complex of Hindu and Jain temples of Khajuraho, where we will admire the architecture and erotic sculptures made in the 10th century AD. Of the 25 temples saved from the destruction, the Kandariya Mahadeva Temple is decorated with an abundance of intricately detailed sculptures, showing us the expressiveness of ancient Indian art. Overnight at a hotel in Katzouracho.

Day 10: Khajuraho – Agra

Morning walk to the temples of Katzuracho. Departure at 14:50 by train to Agra (Khajuraho-Hajrat Nizamuddin VB train 22469, 451 km 6.05 hours). Arrive in Agra at 20.55 and transfer to the hotel. Overnight at a hotel in Agra. (Total 2 nights in Agra).

Day 11: Agra

Day visit to Taj Mahal. Overnight at a hotel in Agra.

Day 12: Agra – New Delhi

Depart at 10:00 AM by train for New Delhi (12617 MANGLADWEEP EXP). Arrive in New Delhi at 13.35 and transfer to the hotel. Afternoon walk and shopping in Delhi. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 13: Delhi

Visit the sights of Delhi (National Museum, Humayun’s Tomb, Lotus Temple, India Gate, Gandhi Samadhi). Afternoon shopping and overnight stay in Delhi.

Day 14: Delhi

Free day to visit the central market and shop in Delhi.

Day 15: Delhi – Athens

Early morning transfer to the airport. Departure for Athens. End of Trip.


Accommodation in double rooms in 4 or 3-star hotels with an additional charge for single rooms. Hotels will be selected after extensive research in their category and according to existing availability without splitting the group into different hotels. The hotels listed below indicate our first choice due to their location and services. The selection of hotels may change according to availability and offers on the day of booking.

Bodh Gaya (3 nights): Hotel Anand International, 4 stars facilities (central location)
Varanasi (3 nights): Diamond Hotel, 4 stars facilities (central location)
Khajuraho (1 night): Hotel Isabel Palace, 3 stars facilities (pleasant stay)
Agra (2 nights): Royale Sarovar Portico, 4 stars facilities (pleasant stay)
Delhi (3 Nights): ibis New Delhi Aerocity 3 stars facilities (near metro and international airport) or Red Maple Hotel, 3 stars (sightseeing and market)

Services included in the tour package:

Hotels –  Double rooms in 3-star hotels or monasteries with an extra charge for single rooms. Hotels will be selected after extensive research into their category and according to availability.

Meals – Daily breakfast in hotels. Dinner can be included in hotels at an additional cost for those who want it. There are many good restaurants in big cities, but indigestions in India always need special attention.

Transportation – Domestic airplanes and trains will be used for long distances. Tempo and cars will be used for shorter distances and wherever a train is unavailable.

Communication – wi-fi will be available for free or at a reasonable charge in most hotels. Indian sim cards are available with a presentation of the required documents.

Boating– Boating in the Ganges in Varanasi for an hour.

Lectures and Seminars – Lectures by local teachers and monks in ashrams and monasteries. Introductory seminars on Indian culture by Dr. Dimitrios Vassiliadis.

Cultural Programs – To be advised later which folk programs will be available.


  1. Sound physical condition.
  2. Medical Tests: Ask your doctor if you can travel to India. No special vaccines are required.
  3. Modest comfortable clothing, shoes for walking, raincoat.
  4. Simple living and basic knowledge and understanding of Indian culture.
  5. Non-vegetarian food and alcohol are strictly forbidden in holy places.
  6. Shoes and photography are not allowed inside many temples.


The exact cost will be adjusted by the transportation, hotel and service prices we shall face (including international airfare). Hotel prices will be based on double room rates, single occupancy and dinner at hotels (if preferred) will be charged separately. 


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Recommended Videos:

Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya (UNESCO/NHK)

Nalanda University Ruins (World Travel Guides )

Rajgir – An ancient city of Bihar (Bihar Tourism)

Varanasi (Benares) (Ludwig Bispink)

Sarnath (Bodhisattva)

Khajuraho Group of Monuments (UNESCO/NHK)

Taj Mahal (UNESCO/NHK)

Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi (UNESCO/NHK)

Lotus Temple, Delhi (Institution of Civil Engineers )