Buddhist Heritage Tours

Buddhism came to the ancient lands now known as Pakistan 250 years before the birth of Christ. It had been growing in India for over 200 years, when Emperor Ashoka accepted the Dharma and started spreading it far and wide. At the western edge of the Mauryan empire, local converts built Buddhist places of worship and learning all over the Indus Valley, from Sindh, to the Gandhara kingdom centered in Punjab and Peshawar, and the kingdom of Uddiyana in the mountain valleys of Swat. Taxila and Mohen-jo-daro are two ancient sites that had flourished long before the arrival of Buddhism, and became further famous for the university and monasteries that were constructed there in the 2nd century BCE. With the rise of the Kushan empire from the 1st century AD onwards, Emperor Kanishka was renowned as a great benefactor of Buddhism, convening a great Buddhist council in Kashmir. Under the Kushans’ patronage, Buddhism traveled over the silk roads that connected east, west, and south Asia and spread north to central Asia, eventually reaching China. The Gandharan Greco-Buddhist art and architecture that blossomed during this time is celebrated for its beautiful synthesis of Greek and South Asian influences. Buddhism thrived in these areas into the 8th century after the arrival of Islam, before slowly declining as locals converted to the new religion. However, legend has it that it was also during this time that the Buddhist master Padmasambhava was born in Uddiyana, to later found the Vajrayana branch of Buddhism in Tibet.

In these itineraries you will be able to immerse in this thousand year old history through the ancient heritage sites of worship and routes where Buddhist monks traveled to seek knowledge. As the sites are spread all over Pakistan, we have designed trips that focus on a particular region, as well as one that takes you to all the important heritage sites. All the itineraries include the UNESCO world heritage sites Taxila and Takht-i-bahi, as well as historical Buddhist sites of the Gandhara civilization.

Tours at a glance

6-Day Gandhara Civilization

The 6-day Gandhara Civilization tour focuses on the area that was once ruled by the Kushan empire (between Taxila and Peshawar), and the kingdom of Uddiyana (Swat). The Sanskrit name Uddiyana means garden or orchard, which is still true of the beautiful green valleys of Swat today. This trip will have extensive coverage of ancient monasteries, stupas, and Buddha sculptures dating from the 2nd century BCE to 8th century AD in Swat Valley. 

Day-1    Islamabad           Excursion of Islamabad, depending on arrival time of international flight

Day-2    Peshawar            Rani gat, Takht-i-bahi, Kaarkhano bazaar Peshawar

Day-3    Swat                     Butkara monastery, Jahanabad Buddha, Swat Museum

Day-4    Swat                     Gumbatona stupa, Amlok dara stupa, Tokar-dara Stupa, Nemogram Monestary, Ghalegay buddha

Day-5    Islamabad           Taxila, Mankiala Stupa 

Day-6    Islamabad           End of the Tour

8-Day Indus and Gandhara

The 8-day Indus and Gandhara tour will take you on a whirlwind cultural trip through important heritage sites from the Indus Valley and Gandhara civilizations. Featuring 5 UNESCO world heritage sites–Mohen-jo-daro, Lahore Fort, Rohtas Fort, Taxila, Takht-i-bahi; historical architecture of Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim importance; as well as natural wonders including the second largest salt mine in the world and Swat Valley, the “Garden of Buddhism,” visitors can gain a sense of the rich multi-religious cultures of Pakistan while focusing prominently on its Buddhist heritage.

Day-1    Karachi                Mohatta Palace, Clifton Beach, Tooba Masjid, Karachi Museum

Day-2    Sukkar                 Mohen-jo-daro, Sukkar, Rohri

Day-3    Lahore                 Evening food tour of Lahore

Day-4    Lahore                 Fasting Buddha in Lahore Museum, Lahore fort, Badshahi Mosque, Wazir Khan Mosque, Shahi Hammam

Day-5    Islamabad           Rohtas Fort, Katas Raj Temple, Khewra Mines

Day-6    Peshawar            Rani gat, Takht-i-bahi, Kaarkhano bazaar

Day-7    Swat                      Amlok Dara Stupa, Ghalegay Buddha, Butkara Monastery, Jahanabad Buddha, Swat Museum

Day-8    Islamabad           End of the Tour

10-Day Silk Road Buddhist Trail

The 10-day Silk Road Buddhist Trail reconstructs the routes taken by Buddhist monks from China, including Fa-Hsien, Sung-Yun, and Hsuan-Tsang, who crossed the perilous Pamir Mountain Ranges to seek scriptures from India. Starting from the northernmost town on the KKH highway, try to imagine the strength and stamina of these monks traveling by foot through the forbidding snow-capped mountains. You will see the rock carvings along the way with inscriptions in ancient languages and sculptures of the Buddha, that attest to this history. The route will pass through the famous valleys of Hunza, Skardu, and Swat, before arriving in the historical sites of the Gandhara civilization, including the UNESCO sites Taxila and Takht-i-bahi.

Day-1   Passu                Sost bazaar, valleys along KKH, Passu cones

Day-2   Karimabad      Passu glacier, Hussaini bridge, Attabad lake, Hunza Sacred Rocks, Ganesh, Baltit Fort

Day-3   Gilgit                 Altit fort, duiker view point, karimabad tourist street

Day-4   Skardu             Gilgit Bazaar, Kargah naala buddha, Nangaparbat view point, Shangrila lake

Day-5   Khaplu             Kharpocho fort, Khaplu fort, Satpara lake, Manthal Buddha rock

Day-6   Islamabad       Excursion of capital: Faisal mosque, Islamabad monument, Margala hills

Day-7   Peshawar        Rani gat, Takht-i-bahi, Kaarkhano bazaar

Day-8   Swat                 Amlok dara stupa, Ghalegay buddha, Butkara monastery, Jahanabad Buddha, Swat Museum

Day-9   Islamabad       Buddhist sites near Barikot, Taxila

Day-10  Islamabad           End of Tour

11-Day Absolute Buddhist Heritage

The 11-day Absolute Buddhist Heritage tour will give you the chance to visit all the important historical Buddhist sites in Pakistan in one single trip. Starting from Karachi, and ending in Islamabad, you will be able to visit the stupas at UNESCO world heritage sites Mohen-jo-Daro, Taxila, Takht-i-bahi, as well as various places in Swat, witness the monasteries, art, and architecture of the Gandhara civilization, as well as the Buddhist rock carvings along the Silk Road.

Day-1    Karachi           Buddhist sculptures in Karachi Museum, excursion of Karachi

Day-2    Sukkar            Mohen-jo-daro (Indus civilization and Buddhist stupa)

Day-3    Islamabad      Evening tour of Islamabad

Day-4    Peshawar       Rani gat, Takht-i-bahi, Kaarkhano bazaar

Day-5    Swat                Amlok dara stupa, Ghalegay buddha, Butkara monastery, Jahanabad Buddha, Swat Museum

Day-6    Islamabad      Buddhist sites near Barikot, Taxila, night excursion of the Capital

Day-7    Skardu            Manthal Buddha rock

Day-8    Hunza             Kargah naala buddha, Nangaparbat view point

Day-9   Hunza              Hunza Sacred Rocks, Baltit Fort, Ganesh settlement, Altit Fort

Day-10  Islamabad           Karakoram Highway drive back to Islamabad

Day-11  Islamabad           End of Tour

Booking:

  1. 2-16 persons per group (can be multiple groups), costs will vary depending on the number of person per transport, dates, and exchange rates.
  2. We can customize and combine itineraries according to your interests, please contact us to discuss feasibility.
  3. Operating season: 1st Nov to 28th Feb
  4. After signing up, booking will be complete with payment of 50% advance fee, to be paid 30 days before start of trip.

Cost [for groups of 2-16 person]

Please contact us on either of our contact details provided mentioning your group size dates and telling us your willingness to any of the above given itineraries, we will than send you a price for your trip within 24 hours.

Services

Includes:

  • All road transportation by mini bus/car
  • All night stays in hotels (will have wifi, hot water from tap, plush rooms, room service, restaurants in hotel), 2 persons per room (additional charges if you want to stay in your own room)
  • Professional tour guide accompanying throughout your trip
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner, drinking water, fresh local fruits depending on season
  • Tickets to historical monuments listed in the itinerary

Does not include:

  • Travel insurance
  • Visa to Pakistan (we will help provide supporting documents)
  • Tips for guides

Refund policy:

  1. For cancellations 15 days or more prior to start of trip, you will be refunded half of the advance payment.
  2. No refunds if you cancel within 2 weeks of tour start date.

We can also adjust the itinerary according to your schedule and interests. Please contact us to talk more.