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BUDDHIST STUDY TOUR

Study ToursMan's quest for peace and eternal bliss has been linked invariably with penance and self-inflicted suffering. Buddha claimed to have attained "nirvana" this way. His disciples, clad in saffron robes, sought to find their peace, likewise, under the ancient trees at Taxila; young devouts assimilated his teachings eagerly; master-craftsmen immortalized their homage to this man of peace in exquisitely-carved statues and figures, which they preserved in bell shaped mounds, called "stupas".

These relics remain preserved in their original form to this day. And they are fascinating, both to scholars of Buddhism and casual students of history. On this tour, you will visit:

The great centre of Buddhist learning at Taxila with its unique combination of Hellenistic and Oriental religious art... innumerable specimens of Buddhist art and sculpture including the famed Dharmarajika stupa which contained a relic of Buddha; and Gandhara, the ancient site in Peshawar Valley where Buddhism flourished for 900 years.

The Peshawar museum also contains the famous gold vessel with the holy relics of Buddha. Not faraway, at Charsadda, you will visit the ancient city of Pushkalawati.

The peace and serenity associated with Buddhist monks still pervades Takht-e-Bahi, an amazingly well-preserved Buddhist monastery, dating back to the 2nd-5th century AD, which is situated atop a 500-foot-high hill.

The tour also includes visits to the picturesque mountain region of Swat and Gilgit. Apart from their breath-taking natural beauty, they will hold you spellbound with their rich archaeological treasures.

Itinerary

Day 01 Islamabad
Day Free
Day 02
Rawalpindi/Islamabad
Visit the twin cities of Rawalpindi/lslamabad
Taxila/Peshawar/Takht-e-Bahi
Drive to Peshawar. Enroute visit Taxila Museum and the excavated sites of the Buddhist Universities at Sirkap and Jaulian.
Later, a brief stopover at the Buddhist monastery at Takht-e-Bahi near Peshawar. Visit the legendary Kissa Khawani Bazar, where time comes to a standstill over a cup of kawalocally brewed tea - at a roadside teashop. You simply marvel at the workmanship of a master craftsman busy at work. Buy handicrafts at throwaway prices.
Day 03 Gandhara the Mughals
Visit Peshawar Museum for a glimpse at the largest collection of Graeco-Buddhist Gandhara sculpture and the casket that carried the remains of Lord Buddha . Fly to Lahore, the garden city of,the grand Mughals which also retains the old grandeur of the British Raj period.
Day 04 Lahore
Visit Lahore Museum to see the fasting Buddha, the greatest masterpiece of Gandhara sculpture, along with some rare Mughal miniatures.
Day 05 Visit the 3-terraced, walled Shalimar Gardens, laid out in a charmingly typical Persian style of his age by Emperor Shah Jahan in the year 1642 with royal pavilions, a white marble waterfall, 3 lakes, over 400 fountains and sunken tanks amid a variety of trees arid roses and trimmed lawns.
Day 06 Visit Lahore Fort, built by the greatest of the Mughals, Emperor Akbar, with additional edifices by his three successors, Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb, specially the Shish Mahal -- the palace of Mirrors, whose walls and ceilings are adorned with intricate patterns of multi-coloured concave mirror chips, the Badshahi Mosque  one of the most majestic, and largest mosques of white marble domes and red-stone structure. Free for shopping.
Day 07 Karachi
Fly to Karachi, a bustling port city. Visit the white marble mausoleum of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the Father of Pakistan, the National Museum which has an extensive collection from the 5000 years old Indus Valley Civilization, besides the Gandhara and Mughal periods, and Dhobi Ghat, the open air laundry or enjoy crabbing tour on the Arabian Sea Coast.
Day 08 Moenjodaro
A day air trip to Moenjodaro, the excavated sites of 5000 years old city once on the banks of the Indus River with its well planned roads and buildings that also had the world's first most "modern" sewerage system.
Day 09 Departure for homeward destination. 

GANDHARAN CIVILIZATION TOUR 

This tour is designed to discover the hidden treasures of ancient history and the marvels of nature of the northern valleys of Pakistan. Over centuries, the land we now call Pakistan has been the cradle of many civilizations. Whilst Indus Valley civilizations (Harappa 7th millennium BC and Moejodaro 4th millennium BC) are the landmarks of human civilizations in the southern plains of Pakistan, the Gandhara Civilization (500 BC to 10th Century AD), an era devoted mainly to Buddhism, has been the centre of spiritual influence as well as art and architecture.
It was from here that Buddhism spread towards east as far as Japan and Korea. Despite the vagaries of centuries, Taxila and Swat Valley have preserved these heritages in art and craft. In addition to the museums of London, Delhi, Karachi, Srinager, etc, those at Taxila, Peshawar and Swat host the finest remains of the civilization. But the more intriguing is the visit of the archaeological sites spread all over Taxila, Swat and other parts of North West Frontier Province of Pakistan and the Gilgit-Baltistan that have been discovered in the twentieth century.
Driving on the Karakoram Highway, we can recapitulate the history by visiting petroglyphs that are found along the Indus, Gilgit and Hunza Rivers. These carvings bear not only the "guest books" of passing by traders and pilgrims but also depict the natural beliefs of fairy worshippers.
Along with the journey into the history, one enjoys the splendors of nature while traveling in the valleys of Swat, Indus, Gilgit and Hunza. From Dense pine forest to high passes, thundering rivers, picturesque valleys, terraced field, orchards, breath-taking gigantic peaks and shining glaciers form the salient features of nature. Typically colorful bazaars of Rawalpindi and Peshawar are the additional features of this trip.

Itinerary

Day 01 Arrival Islamabad Reception and transfer to hotel, PM Sightseeing
Day 02 Islamabad-Peshawar Enroute Visit Taxila Museum and transfer to Peshawar
Day 03 Peshawar Sightseeing of Peshawar.
Day 04 Peshawar-Swat Transfer to Swat. Enroute visit Takht Bhai site.
Day 05 Swat Sightseeing of Swat.
Day 06 Swat-Besham Drive to Besham over Shangla Pass.
Day 07 Besham-Gilgit Continue drive to Gilgit. Enroute visit rock carvings at Shatial, Chilas and Alam Bridge. 
Day 08 Gilgit Sightseeing of Gilgit and visit rock inscriptions Danyore Village and Konodas and Buddha image at Kargah. 
Day 09 Gilgit-Hunza Drive to Hunza and visit Altit and Baltit Forts.
Day 10 Hunza Reserved for optional exploration or rest.
Day 11 Hunza-Gulmit Full day excursion of Khunjerab Pass and back to Gulmit.
Day 12 Gulmit-Gilgit Return back to Gilgit.
Day 13 Gilgit-Islamabad Fly or drive back to Islamabad.
Day 14 Islamabad Fly home.   

GANDHARA-BUDDHISM IN ANCIENT PAKISTAN

Pakistan is the land which attracted Alexander the great from Macedonia in 326 B.C., with whom the influence of Greek culture came to this part of the world. During the 2nd century B.C., it was here that Buddhism was adopted as the state religion which flourished and prevailed here for over 1000 years, starting from 2nd century B.C., until 10th century A.D. During this time Taxila, Swat and Charsaddah (old Pushkalavati) became three important centres for culture, trade and learning. Hundreds of monasteries and stupas were built together with Greek and Kushan towns such as Sirkap and Sirsukh both in Taxila. It was from these centres that a unique art of sculpture originated which is known as Gandhara Art all over the world. Today the Gandhara Sculptures occupy a prominent place in the museums of England, France, Germany, USA, Japan, Korea, China, India and Afghanistan together with many private collections world over, as well as in the museums of Pakistan.
Nevertheless, the zenith of this Gandhara Art is one and only "Fasting Buddha" now on display in Lahore Museum, Lahore. Finally, the light of Islam penetrated in this part of the world as early as 7th century AD. from the west with the Arabs and during the 10th century AD from the north with the Turks. Islam replaced the early way of life of worshipping idols and introduced new philosophy of faith in one God. With Islam in came a new culture in this land from Arabia and Central Asia. Hence, a new type of architecture, hitherto unknown in this area, was introduced. Tens of thousands of Mosques, Madrassahs, tombs and gardens were created by the Muslim rulers all over the Sub-Continent. The new style of Islamic architecture prevailed and matured in this land for over a thousand years. The most important contribution of the Muslim rulers to this land, however, is a new language ‘Urdu’ which became the national language of Pakistan since its independence in 1947. Buddhism is just one aspect of the legacy of Gandhara. It was the seat of inspiration and learning that created an expansion of Buddhism throughout the region in the first millennium AD. The great Mauryan king, who had embraced Buddhism, established his capital as the center of spiritual enlightenment.  It was from here that Buddhism spread to the eastern regions through the northern valleys of Karakoram, the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush. The vivid heritage of its golden period is preserved not only in the form of ancient artifacts and monuments, but it can also be observed in the daily life of its people. While visiting the historic cities of Taxila, Peshawar, Swat and many other places one can relive in the glorious period of Gandhara. 

Itinerary
Day 01 Arrival in Islamabad then to Pakistan Manument, Folklore Heritage Museum.
Day 02 Drive to Taxila and then to Peshawar.
Day 03 Exploring Peshawar, Peshawar Museum.
Day 04 Drive to Saidu Sharif, Swat via Takht Bhai and exploring Butkarra Stupa.
Day 05 Drive to Jahanabad exploring the Bhuddha ruins and back to Saidu Sharif.
Day 06 Drive to Besham via Shangla Pass.
Day 07 Drive to Gilgit, exploring the city.
Day 08 Drive to Skardu explore the city.
Day 9 Drive to Khaplu, exploring the village.
Day 10 Drive to Hushe valley exploring it and then back to Khaplu
Day 11 Drive to Shigar valley and exploring it then to Skardu.
Day 12 Exploring Kharpocho Fort and Satpara Dam.
Day 13 Drive to Gilgit and visti Kargah to see Lord Bhudha's curved on a mountain side.
Day 14 Drive to Karimabad, Hunza and visit Baltit Fort museum.
Day 15 Drive to Doiker, Altit village to visit Altit Fort.
Day 16 Drive to Burith Lake than Passu then to Gulmit.
Day 17 Free day in Gulmit to explore the panoramic views of village and Peaks.
Day 18 Drive Back to Gilgit.
Day 19 Drive to Besham or Flight to Islamabad.
Day 20 Drive to Islamabad or exploring the twin city.
Day 21 Drop to Air port for departure from Pakistan.

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