Buddhist Pilgrimage Train Mahaparinirvan Express : A Travel Guide
The Mahaparinirvan Express is a special Buddhist Pilgrimage Train. The train follows a spiritual tour of the Centres of Buddhism. The train gets its name from the Mahaparinirvana sutra. In this particular teaching, Buddha tells his followers that they can attain merit and a noble rebirth by going on pilgrimage to the place where he was born (Lumbini), gained enlightenment (Bodhgaya), first taught (Sarnath), and attained Nirvana (Kushinagar).
Buddhism originated in India around 2500 years back. The Mahaparinirvan tour is a rich reminiscence of the Buddhist legacy. The divine life of Lord Buddha from his birth in royal family, his life of difficulties, his austere practices, attainment of enlightenment, passing on the knowledge to followers and the attaining of eternal bliss has been covered. This initiative by India Railways is a spiritual luxury. The train offers an 8 -day and 7- night journey in complete comfort. Started in 2002, the train offers journeys between the months of September to March. The train is a luxury and the journey one of the blessed travels..
The Mahaparinirvan Train is a special train. The Mahaparinirvan Express is operated by Indian railways. The train uses carriages from a Rajdhani Express train. The train is a fully air conditioned offering three different classes of travel (first class, two tier and three tier). There are toilets with showers on the train. The tour has enough breaks where the travelers are taken to hotels to freshen up and for brief rest or at times overnight stay. There is an onboard hygienic kitchen car facility and passengers are served lavish hot meals. Packaged drinking water and tea/coffee Service is available. As this train is targeted for pilgrimage tourist, the luxuries are limited yet a very comfortable journey.
Mahaparinirvan Express starts its journey from Delhi. The first stop is Bodhgaya where pilgrims pay reverence to the Mahabodhi Temple, Niranjana River, Thai Temple, Japanese Temple and Buddha Statue. In Rajgir/Nalanda, tourists visit the Bimbisara Jail, Gridhkut Hill, Nalanda University and Nalanda Museum. Sarnath is the holy site of the Dhamek Stupa and Ashoka Pillar, pay your respects. In Kushinagar, visit Mahaparinirvana Temple, Rambhar Stupa and Matakutir Temple. The next stop is Lumbini where pilgrims can tour Mayadevi Temple and Ashoka Pillar. Next the train proceeds to Shravasti where one must visit the Jetvana Vihara and Pakki Kuti. The tour ends with the last stop being Agra where you view the breathtaking Taj Mahal.
The Mahaparinirvan Express covers the tour in 8 days and 7 nights. The tour starts from Delhi and ends there. The stops of the journey are associated with Buddhist religion.
The current cost and classes of travel in Mahaparinirvan Express are mentioned here. They are subject to change as per as Indian Railways. The fare in a first class air-conditioned compartment (1AC) is 165 USD per person, per night. Two tiered air-conditioned class (2AC) costs 135 USD per person, per night. Three tiered air-conditioned class (3AC) costs 115 USD per person, per night. There is also a 1AC Coupe that accommodates only two passengers traveling together. The cost includes the train journey, food, road transfers by air conditioned vehicle, sightseeing, monument entrance fees, tour escort, insurance, and hotel stay in air-conditioned rooms where required.
The Mahaparinirvan Express includes a day trip to Nepal. The mountainous country shares boundaries with India. Visas for Nepal are a mandate for the visitors. Indian Nationals do not need visa. Foreign visitors in India need a Visa for Nepal. Their Indian Visa should also have double or multiple entry visas, so that their return to India will be permitted.