Author Topic: Explore the Buddhist trail  (Read 3727 times)

Jessie Fong

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Explore the Buddhist trail
« on: February 01, 2014, 12:29:52 AM »

A trip on Mahaparinirvan Express
By Harish Nambiar, Economic Times

The spectre of a kitschy image-led Hinduism pancaked in a simplistic, neo-conservative politics has been haunting India's latest election. The country's ancient history, always an enigma wrapped in undercared for manuscripts in nearly undecipherable languages, has however caught the interest of a few who grew up in Independent India and are past its median age of 25.
So, when the Railways started a train that would explore the Buddhist trail, I booked a seat. And it was with great expectation that I boarded the Mahaparinirvan Express early October from Delhi's Safdarjung station, marigold garland of the IRCTC (a corporate impostor spinoff of the Railways) in hand, while liveried bearers insisted on carrying my unwieldy backpack aboard.

The train had only 31 passengers, but 10 air-conditioned coaches were hauled throughout the week-long trip for them. It is one of the early bird gifts of the first tender and tentative public-private partnerships in newly opened economies; a nightmare for a CEO in chase of profits.

Another of those gifts was that we had an unusually qualified guide throughout the trip. RB Singh, a 74-year-old retired senior official of the tourism ministry, had an MA in Pali from the Nava Nalanda Mahavihara in 1963. The university was created to give modern, aspirational shape to the powerful symbolic meaning the ancient Nalanda had for newly Independent India.

Convenience of pilgrimage to these holy sites:

first stop — Bodh Gaya
next stop was Sarnath
then Lumbini in Nepal
Then to Kushinagar

Would you not want to take a ride on this Express?

Tenzin Malgyur

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Re: Explore the Buddhist trail
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2014, 06:41:55 AM »
This sounds like a very luxurious and grand way to travel to the four holy sites that Lord Buddha have stepped on. I would say that the passengers on the Mahaparinirvan Express are pampered and so well taken care of as opposed to the way Lord Buddha walked to all these places.
I would like to go on the Mahaparinirvan Express to visit the four important holy sites of Buddhism guided by a qualified and experienced tour guide whose main intention is not to bring pilgrims on a shopping spree. After all, I feel that we should spend most of our pilgrimage time to meditate, do prayers and contemplate on the significance of these four sites. (Bodhgaya-the site where Siddhata Gautama attained enlightenment, Sarnath, where Lord Buddha first turned the dharma wheel, Lumbini-the site that Buddha was born into this world for the last time and Kushinagar where Lord Buddha passed away.)


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Re: Explore the Buddhist trail
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2014, 10:48:34 AM »
Wow ! Thank you for this reminder. I saw a brochure on this many years back and totally forgot about it. This write up got me into checking out more details of the trip and I will share some more info here with others who may be interested. The most exciting thing for me is the thought of being able to cover so many important Buddhist pilgrimage sites (fulfilling Buddha's advice)  in just 8days ! It is certainly worth exploring this train trail.

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.

Travelling by train in India and Nepal can be very interesting because the trail brings you along the country side of these places where one also gets to see the way people live, experience the local culture and enjoy the scenery. The best deal is of course visiting all the holy places and tracing the path the Buddha took !

Freyr Aesiragnorak

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Re: Explore the Buddhist trail
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2014, 03:08:31 PM »
Wow! now this would be a great way to travel....I know I'm a buddhist and all but i'm still addicted to feeling comfortable when i travel. On the other hand I do agree with Tenzin Malgyur. They should have longer stays at each place so one can really practice and make offerings at all the sites.

metta girl

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Re: Explore the Buddhist trail
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2014, 05:05:37 PM »
Really is interesting, will definitely like to book a seat for this.It will be great to travel to all four holy places at one trip and with a very qualified tour guide will surely ensure that everything will be well planned and taken care .If possible will love to bring the whole  family together on this pilgrimage.


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Re: Explore the Buddhist trail
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2014, 05:46:25 PM »
This Mahaparinirvan Express could have come sooner but it has taken so long to manifest! Can you imagine how its availability would have made a huge difference to the spread of Buddhism? So many people would have benefited from going on the pilgrimage of these holy sites through this mode of transportation!
I definitely would go on this express train!


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Re: Explore the Buddhist trail
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2014, 01:23:36 AM »
This is interesting! I would definitely look forward to go on this Mahaparinirvan Express for a pilgrimage! Thank you, Jessie Fong, for sharing this information!