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Mahaparinirvan Express India Buddhist Train Guide


India, Bihar, Bodh Gaya, Giant seated Buddha statue seen from pathway leading up to the base.
Religious Images/UIG/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

The Mahaparinirvan Express is a special tourist train that takes passengers on a spiritual tour through Buddhist India, where Buddhism originated more than 2,500 years ago.

The train gets its name from the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, which contains the Buddha's final explanation of his teachings. Its sacred journey includes visits to the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites of Lumbini (where the Buddha was born), Bodhgaya (where he became enlightened), Varanasi (where he first preached), and Kusinagar (where he passed away and achieved nirvana).

Mahaparinirvan Express Features:

The Mahaparinirvan Express is operated by Indian Railways using carriages from a Rajdhani Express train. This is a fully air conditioned train offering three different classes of travel (first class, two tier, and three tier). It's far from opulent, unlike India's luxury tourist trains, but then again pilgrimages aren't normally associated with luxury! Passengers are greeted with garlands, provided with luggage assistance, and given a welcome gift of a Buddhist guidebook. Security guards are present on the train, and tours are fully guided.

Mahaparinirvan Express Route and Itinerary:

The train departs from Delhi usually one to two times per month, depending on the season. It has the following itinerary:
  • Day One - Delhi (afternoon departure from Safdarjang Railway Station)
  • Day Two - Gaya (visit Bodhgaya temples)
  • Day Three - Rajgir and Nalanda
  • Day Four - Varanasi (visit Sarnath, and the holy Ganges river for the evening aarti). The tallest statue of Lord Buddha in India is in Sarnath.
  • Day Five - Gorakhpur (visit Khusinagar)
  • Day Six - Gorakhpur (day trip to Lumbini in Nepal)
  • Day Seven - Gonda (visit Sravasti)
  • Day Eight - Agra (visit the Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri) and return to Delhi by 6 p.m.

Mahaparinirvan Express Journey Duration:

The total journey runs for seven nights/eight days. However, it's possible to travel only on selected parts of the route as long as your reservation is for a minimum three nights.

Mahaparinirvan Express Cost and Classes of Travel:

The fare in a first class air conditioned compartment (1AC) is $160 per person, per night. Two tiered air conditioned class (2AC) costs $130 per person, per night. Three tiered air conditioned class (3AC) costs $110 per person, per night. If you're unsure about what the different classes of travel mean, this guide to accommodations on Indian Railways trains provides an explanation.

The cost includes the train journey, food, road transfers by air conditioned vehicle, sightseeing, Darshan to visit holy places, hotel stay in air conditioned rooms, and entrance fees.

Mahaparinirvan Express Reservations:

You can make a reservation for travel on the Mahaparinirvan Express by visiting the Indian Railways Catering & Tourism Corporation's Rail Tourism website or at Indian Railways booking offices.

More information is available on the website, or from Indian Railways by emailing tourticket@irctc.co.in or phoning (91-11) 2370-1100/2370-1174.

Mahaparinirvan Express Information:

As the journey includes a day trip to Nepal, those who aren't Indian nationals will need a Nepali visa. This can easily be obtained at the border. Two passport sized photographs are required. Foreign tourists with Indian visas must make sure that these are double or multiple entry visas, so that return to India will be allowed.

Mahaparinirvan Express Odisha Special:

If you're interested in visiting additional places associated with the Buddha, Indian Railways has added a new service, the Mahaparinirvan Express Odisha Special. This tour includes pilgrimage sites in Orissa (Odisha), as well as important sites in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

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