This Pillar is the national emblem of India, presents a splendid representation of art during Ashoka's period, and the Asoka Wheel down the base adorns the Tricolor national flag.
The pillar also records the visit of Ashoka to Sarnath. The year of his visit is said to be around mid 3rd century BC. It is interesting to note that at one time, the Ashoka Pillar of Sarnath stood over 17 meters in height. Its capital with the four lions back to back that has been adopted as the official emblem of modern India can be seen in the museum at Sarnath. If you are in Sarnath, don't miss this pillar.
Buddha is ingrained in the spirit of India and Nepal. A spiritual philosopher and sage of all sages, Siddhartha Gautama Buddha was born in Lumbini, Nepal and spent his whole life in North India in search of his life’s motive. In his late 20’s, he witnessed ‘the four great signs’ in the form of an old man, a sick man and a corpse and a meditating ascetic. These four sights changed his whole vision of life and he renounced his material wealth for ultimate enlightenment.
He meditated as a monk and fulfilled his objective of gaining enlightenment in Bodhgaya. He continued the journey towards Sarnath near Varanasi where he preached his first sermon to the first five followers. He continued doing this for the rest of his life before he released himself from the consecutive cycles of birth and death in Kushinagar.fe.
The above mentioned sacred locations in India and Nepal have now become the prime Buddhist worship places the world over. Every believer of Buddha keeps it as a life’s mission to visit the Buddhist-Pilgrimage sites and follow the spiritual master to gain the merit of living on earth. To fulfill this purpose of life, the pilgrims visit Lumbini in Nepal (birth), Bodhgaya in Bihar (enlightenment), Sarnath (first-sermon) and Kushinagar (final mahaparinirvana) in Uttar Pradesh, India as a part of the Buddhist-Pilgrimage.
This fruitful journey of life brings pilgrims close to the Buddhist places of worship in India and Nepal. During this sacred journey, the believers can gain merit of travelling with the fellow Buddhists and monks to embrace the spirit of learning as established by Buddha.
Discover the places where Buddha realized his meaning of life with Buddhist-Pilgrimage. Suggested by Sakyamuni himself, this sacred journey of a lifetime brings the soulful motive of existence in life.
About Bhaja Caves Bhaja caves also share the same importance as those of the others in Maharashtra, including the Ajanta, Ellora and Elephanta. These are, believed to be built during the Mauryan rules, in the early Theravadin phase of Buddhism.
Location Bhaja Caves are located at a distance of 12 km from Lonavla, in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra.
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The caves, 18 in number, are beautifully sculptured with many images of different postures of Buddha, some animals and situations of some stories of the tales of Buddhism. There are some representations of Buddha, in symbolic terms too.
Cave 12th is a prayer hall, worth a watch, and represents a fantastic example of ancient Buddhist architecture. It's the biggest of all the caves, and the tilted vault is worth a interesting notice. The last cave is also a must see, due to the "Dancing couple" structure.
As usual with cave culture, there are many Viharas in Bhaja also, which, most probably, served as hostels for the learning Buddhist monks. The caves are also interesting for the fact that they are one of the oldest among all caves in India. There are stupas, a common feature to all the caves, also adds to the fact that these caves, at different places, were motivated by the same motifs. How to reach Air - Pune is the nearest airport at a distance of around 60-km from the Bhaja caves, while one can also opt for the Mumbai international / domestic airports.
Rail - Malavil is the nearest railway station, at a distance of 3-km from the Bhaja village. Malavil is also the first stoppage in the Lonavla, Pune railway route.
Road - The caves could be reached easily from Lonavla, which is 11 km from the caves.
The massive stupa at Sanchi with its intricately carved toranas (gateways) is noted to be a complete example of the early Buddhist stupa architecture in its extant form. Buddhist site in Sanchi is one of the world heritage sites at Unesco. Bhopal is the nearest airport to Sanchi (46 kms) and is well connected by rail and road with rest of the country.
Sanchi is quite famous for its Stupas, had many a name in the historical times, such as Kakanaya, Kakanava, Kakanadabota etc. The stupas in the place are simple irresistible and showcases the history of Buddhism in India, in a simple yet convincing manner. There is some Stupa built by Ashoka, which are special attractions of this place.
The serene landscapes and the beautifully erected Buddhist temples add to the beauty of the place. In the large hemispherical domes one can find Buddha's relics.
Location Sanchi fall sin the State Madhya Pradesh at a distance of 52 km from the state capital Bhopal and 10 km from Vidisha.
Attraction The Stupas - The huge gateways and the stories encrypted inside the large domes are definitely the most attractive lessons in the Sanchi Chapter of Buddhism. The sculptures and the murals in the Stupa teach the basic values of Buddhism. The presence of Lotus in large number showcases purity amidst sins. There are many other shapes that are exhibited brilliantly in stones, among them human, elephants, jataka tales' characters etc are prominent. There is a way around the Stupa to circumambulate it, which is another attraction of the structure.
The ASI museum - Archaeological Survey of India has a museum in Sanchi housing many antiquities related to Buddhism, especially the Ashokan Pillar, the lion Capital is quite beautiful and attracts every archaeology lover.
Leh is the district headquarter of Ladakh situated at an altitude of 3500 metres. Hemis, the largest of the gompas, founded in the 17th century, is the most accessible of all the monasteries in Ladakh. Other monasteries are Shey (15 kms. From Leh), Spituk (8 kms. From Leh), Thiksey (17 kms. From Leh). Leh is connected by flights from Delhi, Jammu and Chandigarh.
If you are in love, visit Leh, even if only with the Hills. This fantastic place in Ladakh has a dreamy landscape, and a cool weather, with some of the most colourful people in the world. An old school of Tibetan Buddhism, the rituals of the folk are as interesting as their handicrafts and behavior. And by interesting I mean, interesting, very interesting, for scholars and layman alike.
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Location The administrative capital of Ladakh, Leh, is situated at an altitude of 3505 m from the sea level and falls in Jammu and Kashmir. In the map you'll find it at the head, in northernmost part.
Attractions The Leh Palace - The 17th century palace closely resembles to that of Lhasa, both in architecture and styling. The top of the namgyal hill, and above the palace is the Victory tower, towered in the memory of victory over Kashmiri Balti army.
The Namgyal Tsempo gompa - Built by King Tashi Namgyal, this gompa, with a gold idol of Buddha and some rare artifacts of architectural splendour, this gompa , on Namgyal Tsemo peak is worth a visit, if only human eyes are still open.
Leh mosque - The mosque presents an amalgamation of Trkeyish and Indian architecture and a splendid monument in Green and white.
Excursions Spituk Gompa - At a distance of 8 km, this Gompa is one of the best Buddhism architectures of 15th century, most probably for the Buddhist monks' meditation and learning.
Dharamsala (Mcleodgani) is in Kangra District of the state of Himachal Pradesh. This hill station with a magnificent view of the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas is the seat of his holiness, the Dalai Lama.
About Dharamshala Dharamshala is also renowned for its beauty, elegance and charm that it expresses through the natural scenarios and the mystic ambience of religious associations. It the centre of preaching of the Tibetan religious Guru and Nobel peace prizewinner, the Dalai Lama.
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A hill station of the Kangra valley, it has obtained its name from the guesthouse for the religious travelers, called Dharamshala in Hindi. The town is divided into two parts, the Upper Dharamshala and the Lower Dharamshala.
Location Dharamshal, the small beautiful town of Himachal Pradesh falls in the Kngra valley, at a distance of 185 km from Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh. Attractions Himachal Pradesh is one of the most beautiful states in Northern India, Dharamshala is like a small piece of diamond, which multiplies its beauty manifold. The landscape is splendid, with green surroundings, swift rivers, and the mighty hill ranges, the small city is a perfect resting destination after some rush hours of journey. If one goes to Dharamshala the main attractions would be as follows.
The Kangara Art Museum - This museum houses some rare artifacts, miniature paintings and other cultural objects representing the richness of the past of this small town. Some of these belong to the 5th century, and the artifacts are quite well preserved.
The library of Tibetan arts works and archives is also a good place to visit, especially for the Scholars and the enthusiasts of ancient art and literature.
St. John's Church - The most exciting memorial building of the British Raj in this town is the St. John's Church, which also houses a memorial of Lord Elgin, the Viceroy who died in1963.
About Hemis Gompa This beautiful monastery, specially known for its colourful festival, is one of the best places to visit for the Buddhist pilgrims, while in Ladakh. Also known as the lone place for the compassionate person, Chang-Chub-Sam-Ling in local language, this Gompa belongs to the Brokpa order and quite unusually holds a majority of women inhabitants.
The hilly region of Hemis holds a distinct charm, and aura that is particular to Tibetan Buddhism in a natural and charismatic manner. The yearly festival or the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava, is the union meet for the Ladakhis, who buy n sell artifacts in the market held in the occasion. The mask dance, unique and showcasing the Tibetan routes, is a spectacular occasion to enjoy a colourful break of life.
Location Hemis is nearly 35 km, while the Gompa is nearly 45 km to the south of Leh, the capital of Ladakh, and on the southern bank of Indus river.
Attractions The Hemis Gompa is situated inside the Hemis National Park, that is, itself a fantastic way to experience the wildlife and natural beauty. The Monastery is beautifully coloured and decorated in Tibetan style, with a huge courtyard, it serves as the dance floor during the annual birth anniversary festival of Guru Padmasambhava. The festival is a must see for every visitor who wants to explore a new dimension of life.
The Gompa is 350 years old and is considered one of the wealthiest monasteries in Ladakh. The monastery is specially decorated on the occasion of the Tse Shoe festival in the Tibetan lunar month. The festival brings together people from all over Ladakh and Tibet, due to its serenity and specialty. The colourful and hand woven dresses, the filled up markets with different objects makes it a shopping worthy festival.
In the monastery, among many other antique objects, there is a structure of Buddha Shakyamuni, really exquisite and noteworthy. It is adorned with valuable gems and jewelry, making it an antique princely object.
Kanheri caves, perhaps, are the most easily reachable among all caves, and also the lonely one in the midst of a national park in India. The 109 caves are reachable through the Sanjay Gandhi national park, a good way to reach a religious destination. The place is splendid, considering the integration of lush greens and rare artistic examples, but is surprising to learn that once it was a thriving trade route, and home to a Buddhist university, well known to the world.
The Buddhist pilgrim's progress ends not far from the Borivali railway station, but more interestingly, for most, it is just a beginning of another journey, spiritual and deeply religious.
The stupa is the largest in the world, with a height of 104 ft, and attracts lots of Buddhist pilgrims from around the world. Excavated in 1998, the stupa is rare example of Buddhist architecture and archaelogical preservation. The stupa competes with that of Borobodur (103 ft) in Java, a world heritage site, of 103-m height. It is believed that the stupa has further immersed into earth after the famous 1934- earthquake before which, the height of this stupa was 123 ft. Huen Tsang has mentioned, in his travelogue, about this giant stupa. Some important aspects of Buddha's life are associated with Kesaria. It is known that he spent a night at this place before his Nirvana, and gave his begging -bowl to the people of Vaishali. Buddha also asked Lichhivis to return to Vaishali after his death and its believed that Lichhivis built this stupa.
Location : Kesaria is located at a distance of 110 Km from Patna, in the Champaran (east) district of Bihar. It is spread between Latitude: 22o54'N Longitude: 71o48'E
Attraction The stupa is believed to be of a height of 150 ft while the Borobodur is of 138. The striking similarity in the two is that both have six floors, and the diameter of the Kesaria stupa is equal to that of the width of the Borobodur. The stupa was built to commemorate the end-life of Lord Buddha, by Licchvis, as for the matter of fact Buddha held the Lichhvis high and also preached others to do so.
The place is a reminiscent to the Buddha's last phase of life, his humanitarian approach towards all, independent of caste and creed. His simple and ethical principles also come into mind while one travels this huge Stupa, nearly twice as large as that of Sanchi.
Excavated in 1998, this place has become a global tourist attraction within a short span of time. The place exerts a spiritual effect on everybody and relieves the aesthetics. According to some archaeologists, this monument dates back to 200 AD to 750 AD, and is associated to some Raja Chakravarti. The circumference of this brick monument is nearly 1400 ft which, is a certificate of its bulky structure.
The excavation led to many significant findings such as Islamic coins, arrow heads, copper and terracotta items etc.
The landscape is also quite attractive and has a heartwarming effect on the tourists traveling to the city.
About Lalitagiri Lalitagiri is also a well-known tourist pilgrimage, especially for Buddhism, and draws hoards of pilgrims each year. It has a famous 1st century Buddhist complex and some of the best sculptures of that age.
The place itself is like an ancient village, with greenery and free spaces, mild forests and breezes blowing all the time. The ancient stupas, sculptures on them and the caves give it a look that fairly resembles to that ancient age.
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Location Lalitagiri is situated at a distance of 90 km from Bhubaneswar, in the state of Orissa. Geographically, it is pread between 20 Degree North latitude and 86 Degree East longitude.
Attractions The 1st century Complex is definitely a big pull for the pilgrims as well as archaeologists. The sculptures are also quite interesting, especially when it's known that these belong to the 1st century. There are several stupas in the hill range, and the Chaitya hills are also a major attraction for the tourists.
There is also a giant stupa on the top of the Pushpagiri hill, of Mahavira, that is considered a brilliant piece of Buddhist architecture. There are relics of Buddha sculptured on the cascades, which are interesting to learn the culture of that age, is another draw.
The recent excavations have made the place more popular due to the findings of many ancient sculptures and other items, which are important in archaeological sense. The structures are linked, by the arcgaologists, to the Gandhrva schoola of art.
Excursions Bhubaneswar : Bhubaneswar, the capital of Orissa is mere a 90 km away from Lalitagiri but a reasonably good place to visit as the road communication is quite good. It's a renowned Hindu pilgrimage with as many as 500 temples, architecturally brilliant and excellent for studying the architectural styles of 3rd Century. The Lingaraja temple, Kalinga Buddha Vihara, the Jaggannatha temple and the Mukteshwar temple is also a big attraction for the tourists. The place is also a shopping destination in Orissa.
The Ratnagiri and Udayagiri hills are nearby and offer an excellent addition for the Buddhist pilgrims to go through some other important ancient Buddhist remains and taste the ancient art sculptures.
About Rajgir Surrounded by five holy hills, the picturesque little town of Rajgir is important for Buddhists as well as Jains. Here the two rock-cut caves were the favourite retreats of the Buddha and it was on this hill that he preached two of his most famous sermons. The nearest airport is in Patna (115 kms) and the railhead is in Bhakhtiyarpur (54 kms). Rajgir is well connected by good roads to Patna, Gaya, Delhi and Kolkata (Calcutta).
Literally, Rajgir has got the name from Raj Griha meaning the abode of the king. The city was the capital of the mighty Magadha Empire during the period of Lord Buddha's lifetime. The city has hosted Lord Buddha during the reign of rule of Bimbisara who was overwhelmed, along with many citizens, by the charm and grace of Lord Buddha. Siddhartha, after his renouncement of luxurious life cane to Rajgir to seek the path of salvation. Rajgir is equally important for the Jain as well as Hindu pilgrims, for Lord Mahavira (the founder of Janism) resided here for some time and the place finds its reference in Hindu epic - Mahabharata. The historic sites of Rajgir associated with Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism attract pilgrims from all over world.
Facts About the City : State : Bihar, in east of India. Significance : A Buddhist, Jain and Hindu Pilgrimage Site Best time to visit - October to March
Tourist Attractions in Rajgir Shanti Stupa - This is an immence white structure situated on the top of the hill Ratnagiri and is the main Buddhist attraction at Rajgir. This houses four gold statues representing Buddha's birth, enlightenment, teaching and death.
Gridhakuta Hill - Gridhakuta Hill was the favourite place of Lord Buddha, where he delivered many discourses after he attained enlightenment. It was here that he gave two important sutras the Lotus Sutra and the Prajnaparamita.
Ancient Ruins - There are many sites including ruins of the ancient city, caves, and places associated with Ajatasatru and king Bimbisara can be seen here. Here one can see the Ajatasatru's fort built in 5th century BC where the emperor had imprisoned his father. The 1.5-km long outer wall was built by stone blocks.
Saptparni Cave - It was here, where the first Buddhist council was held after Buddha attained Nirvana. Also a Burmese temple, and a modern Japanese temple can be seen here.
How to reach Rajgir
Air - The nearest airport is at Gaya but Patna Airport, in the state capital, is better than Gaya in terms of infrastructure and connections.
Rail - Though Rajgir has a railway station, Gaya is a more convenient railway station, which is 78 km from Rajgir and connects all the major cities of India.
Road - Excellent motorable road network connects the town to some of the major cities of Bihar and India. Some of the major road distances are Patana-102 km, Nalanda - 12 km and Gaya - 34km.
Excursions : Nalanda - It is 15 km away and houses the ruins of the famous ancient Nalanda University founded in 5th century AD. Several monasteries and temples can be seen here.
: The first impression of the ancient Buddhism monuments while one enters Sarnath from Varanasi, this Chaukhandi was built to mark the meet of Lord Buddha with his five companions. Todar Mal added an octagonal tower to the structure to commemorate the arrival of Emperor Akbar to the city in 1588.
Ladakh is fascinating, proved again, by the beauty of another monastic village called Alchi, in the lower parts of Ladakh. The place is again a hilly terrain, with beautiful temples scattered in the midst of the hills, colorful flags waved off by the winds blowing haphazardly, and amidst all these interesting features, the simple and hard working people of Alchi, makes the place an intoxication for the vulnerable minded.
The landscape is more beautiful than can be expressed in words and literally makes everyone spell bound, especially if the person has a soft corner for the hills. It makes an elegant appeal through the Chos-Khor monastery, an inseparable part of Tibetan Buddhist culture. The clay art and the exotic paintings describing the life of Buddha is really worth a human notice, more so if one wants to experience the exuberance of the cold, high mountains. Location Alchi is located in the Leh district of Ladakh, situated in the northern part of India, in Jammu and Kashmir.
Attraction The monastic complex, also called Dukhang is special for the huge main hall inside it, the Dukhand walls are painted with many paintings, different mandalas of the Vajraadhatu, Buddhas four headed sculpture and goddesses and the donors sculptures.
At the back of the temple Buddhas four-headed sculpture flanked by four goddesses is a very interesting culpture to investigate the Buddhist art and religious beliefs.
The three storeyed Sumsteg, is also a definite destination for art lovers, due to the clay Bodhsattva, one of Maitreya, flanked by Avlokiteswara and Manjushree in the back wall of the temple. These Bodhisattvas are beautifully decorated and adorned with exotic dresses which makes them more attractive.
The gallery of the life of Buddha, referring to the Maitreya's Dhoti is also beautiful presentation of art and evokes religious devotion.
The Manjushree temple is attached to the translator's temple and the four Manjushree images seated on a common platform, surronded by images of gods and other animals.
Situated by the river Daya, Dhauli hill is an important Buddhist tourist destination, near Bhubaneswar, for the ancient sculptures and the extraordinary art forms that have been found here. The hills are also famous for the Kalinga war that is famous for the transformation of Ashoka, into Buddhism.
Ashoka, one of the foremost followers and patrons of Buddhism, was converted to Buddhism at this place, the signs of which are available abundantly. The place has beautiful landscapes and a charm that can affect the mind in a splendid way, to change it spiritual, and hence soothe from many cares of life.
Location : Situated at a distance of 8 km from Bhubaneswar, the hills rise high near river Daya, in the Khurda district of Orissa.
Attractions The peace pagoda remains at the top of the tourist choices for the delicate structure of the stupa and the monastery near it. The Saddharma Vihar monastery and the Shanti Stupa make the Buddhist pilgrim a special attraction, and a place to feel eternal peace of mind. Built by Buddha Sangha, in the early seventies, with the influence of Guruji Fuji, this stupa adds to the charm of an important Buddhist location.
Besides, there are many other sculptures to be seen in Dhauli. The main of the artifacts, ancient and archaeologically invaluable is the Ashokan edicts. These are specific due to the inscriptions, written on rock, some of them by Ashoka himself, and are rare pieces of art.
However, not only in Buddhism but also for Hinduism, Dhauili is a pilgrimage. The rock cut caves, small Hindu temples known to belong to the medieval age, A Shiva temple on top of hill are other attractions of this place.
Patna, ancient Pataliputra, is situated on the banks of the river Ganga. Lord Buddha came here when he had to cross the mighty river and the small town that stood on its banks, Pataligram. Patna is the major entry point for pilgrims wishing to travel in the footsteps of the Buddha. It is well connected by air, rail and road to Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai and Varanasi.
The capital of Bihar, Patna is a cherished destination for the Buddhist Pilgrims, for it's location amidst the surrounding places of Buddhist interest. Bihar, the name of the state has itself derived from the word Vihara meaning monasteries. Moreover, the place has seen a magnificently rich past, both in terms of culture and civilization. It was, in times of Mahabharata, the city of Pataliputra and in the times of rise of Buddhism, the empire of Ashoka. Pataliputra has witnessed its golden days during the reign of Mauryan and Gupta dynasties. Later on, with the preaching of Lord Buddha, the effect of Buddhism started to flourish and became prominent during the reign of Magadha dynasty. The region has been very important as a Buddhist centre of learning right from the beginning of Buddhism.. The city has been highly ranked in the travelogues of Megasthenes and Fa -Hien. The descriptions in these ancient travellers' travelogues reveal Patna's architectural grandeur and prosperity. The city was more flourished architecturally by King Ashoka, a great patronage of Buddhism, during 260-239BC. The city is also associated with the great Afghan leader Sher Shah Suri, who ruled over the region during the 16th century and contributed considerably to City-architecture for the city to regain it's lost grandeur.
Location Located, in the eastern India, Patna is in the northern side of the holy river Ganga and falls in the state of Bihar.
Attractions Patna offers lots of things for the enthusiasts of ancient art, culture and the religious minded. The Gol -Ghar for a fantastic view of the river Ganga, The museum for Maurya and Gupta period artifacts, The Harmandirji shrine for the Sikh devotees, The Khuda Baksh oriental library for Arabic literature experts, the Jalan museum for Chinese paintings are some of the places not to miss.
Excursions Nalanda - (Distance-90 km from Patna.) This place is famous for the ancient University of the World, especially the teaching methodologies and the learning system is highly appreciated. The Buddhist monastery found here presents the most exceptionally advanced examples of Buddhist artistry and religious progress.
India and Nepal are the repositories of rich Buddhist heritage. Here, Buddhism came into being and grew up as the fourth largest religion in the world. Around 2,600 years ago, Prince Siddhartha Gautama was born to the Sakya ruler Shudhodhana in Lumbini forest, at present which is in Nepal. Thereon, he lived in indulgence as a prince in Kapilavastu. But sooner, the material pleasures waned for Siddhartha and the search to end the inner sorrows began. Sooner, he renounced his material pleasures as an ascetic, started meditating and fulfilled his objective of achieving enlightenment in Bodhgaya. Next, the Buddha continued his walk towards Sarnath near Varanasi. Here, he preached his first sermon to the first five followers. Here, he laid the foundation of Buddhism that rested in preaching and uplifted millions of followers with his enlightening sermons. He continued doing this for the rest of his life till his Mahaparinirvana in Kushinagar that relieved him from the cycles of life and death.
The above mentioned locations that uphold the Buddhist traditions are present in the neighbouring countries of India and Nepal and have become the major Buddhist Pilgrimagelocations worldwide. Seen with great regard by every Buddhist in the world, these pilgrimage places are suggested by the Buddha himself in his Mahaparinibbana Sutta, to gain merit of life on earth.
According to this sermon, every Buddhist follower should visit Lumbini in Nepal (birth), Bodhgaya (enlightenment), Sarnath (first-sermon) and Kushinagar (final mahaparinirvana) in India to learn to be like Buddha and practice the life based on middle path. In addition to the above mentioned sites, pilgrims can also visit the Sravasti where Buddha spent the largest amount of rainy retreat. During Buddha’s life, Sravasti is known to be his favoured site. Rajgir or Rajgriha was also the favourite place of Buddha and the Vulture peak here was the site for many of his sermons.
Sankassa is the place where Buddha descended to earth from Tusita heaven (after teaching his mother the Abhidhamma in heaven.) Vaishali is another privileged Buddhist destination known for many Buddha’s miracles. Here, he received a bowl of honey from a monkey.
A Buddhist pilgrimage through such religious sites not only takes a pilgrim closer to Buddha in life, but also inspires him to follow the footsteps of the master.
At a distance of only 10-km from the famous Hindu pilgrimage Varanasi, after attaining Enlightenment the Buddha went to Sarnath.
Lord Buddha had visited Sarnath looking for his five companions who abandoned him in Rajgir while they deviated from the viewpoint of Lord Buddha on self-mortification.
Here in the Deer Park, he delivered his first sermon, set in motion the Wheel of Law (Maha-Dharmachakra Pravartan). The Emperor Ashoka (c 304 - 232 BC), who spread the Buddha's message of love and compassion throughout his vast empire, visited Sarnath around 234 BC, and erected a stupa here. Several Buddhist structures were raised at Sarnath between the 3rd century BC and the 11th century AD, and today it presents the most expansive ruins amongst places on the Buddhist trail. The ruins, the museum and temple are all within walking distance.
At a distance of 10 km from Sarnath, Varanasi, called 'Kashi' in the scriptures and popularly known as "Benaras", is said to be the oldest living city in the world with a glorious history that goes back to thousands of years. Varanasi is a revered Hindu pilgrimage, well known for the pristine Ghats, bathe rituals and the numerous temples. The golden temple, with stunning golden towers does attract majority of the pilgrims and is definitely an attraction.
Junnar caves are also an important destination for the Buddhist pilgrims, not very far from Mumbai, these caves are situated in Aurangabad district, and are well known to the tourists, especially the Buddhist pilgrims around the world. There are many caves in the hill ranges, all-important in the archaeological point of view.
There are three groups of caves in the hills, the Tulija Lena, and the Ganesh lena being prominent. The place is surrounded by lush greens, which makes the place more attractive and a dear one among all Buddhist destinations.
The Karla Caves are the other important caves in the Buddhist pilgrimage destinations, visited by many devotees every year. The place is more known due to the Chaitya, intricate sculptures and pillars with artistic architecture. The hill caves are tough to get in, as usual, and presents another chapter of spread of Buddhism and its flourishing days during the golden era of Buddhism. These caves were built in the 2nd century BC, but some of the architecture is still intact and preserved in scientificl manner, which makes detailed research of the art forms possible for the archaeologists.
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Location These caves are easily reachable by road, lie near the Puna-Mumbai road, at a distance of 20 km from Lonavla, a hill station and 40 km from Pune, a fast-growing industrial city of Maharashtra.
Attractions The caves are beautifully decorated with many animals and different forms of human life, artistically expressed through the sculptures cut out of rock. The Chatya hall is worth a detailed watch for its architecture and engineering skills. The rooftop is built of Teakwood and amazingly, its still in perfect condition. The pillars are also sculptured, and the one with four lions at the top has been honoured as the national emblem. The expressions of all these sculptures are splendid, and they successfully represent a flourishing era of Buddhism.
There is a stone stupa, magnificent in view, which makes the caves more important both in architectural and tourist point of view. The stupa is placed under an umbrella, to give it a royal look. There are delicate carvings of structures of men, women and elephants, resembling to some of the old Buddhist tales. There are 37 pillars with carvings of affluent men and women, on elephants, yet bowing to the almighty Lord Buddha.
Another intrinsic beauty of these caves is its "hide n seek" with the sunshine. The sunshine coming in through the windows and falls exactly on the shrine, making it a miraculous view and a temple of solemnity.
The roof has been beautifully wood-worked to make the caves a rare example of beauty. Surprisingly, woodwork is not a common feature in Buddhist sculpture and art, and hence it shows effect of other cultures that assimilated with the Buddhist art, to give it a refreshingly new look.
The pillars are also linked to the Ashoka who, had built many structures to spread Buddhism, and are great examples of architecture and art.
Once upon a time, over twenty five centuries ago, Kapilavastu, the capital of the Sakyas was in a festive mood. Mahamaya, the chief queen of King Suddhodana, had a dream in which a magnificent white elephant with a lotus in his trunk appeared and entered her side. The sixty four Brahman soothsayers who were invited to interpret the queen's dream prophesied that she would give birth to an illustrious son who would either be a world conqueror or a world renouncer.
Siddhartha Gautama, who was after enlightenment given the title of 'Buddha', was born a prince into the warrior caste (Shakya clan) in 563 BCE. On the birth of the child, named Siddhartha, the astrologers predicted to his father Suddhodana : "The child, on attaining manhood, will become either a universal monarch (Chakravarti), or abandoning house and home, will assume the role of a monk and become a Buddha, a perfectly enlightened soul, for the salvation of mankind". He was married at the age of 16. At the age of 29 years he left home and started wandering as a beggar and ascetic. After about six years he spent some time in Bodh Gaya. Sitting under the Bo or fig tree (Pipal, Ficus religiosa), meditating, he was tempted by the demon Mara with all the desires of the world. Resisting these temptations, he received enlightenment.
About Ladakh If its the peace, tranquility and ancient culture that attracts you the most, Ladakh is the place to head for. It has successfully retained its ancient cultural heritage and still untouched by the waves of modernism. The inhabitants are simple and always wear a charming smile on their faces despite the trying climatic conditions. As far as tourist facilities are concerned, Ladakh is as advanced as any other destination in the world. Ask For Ladakh Travel Detail
Where is it located? Ladakh spreads across an area of 3,500 meter high plain, sloping down gently from the face of bare mountains and around terraced fields to the flood plains of the Indus river.
What is so special about Ladakh? The century old culture of Ladakh can be viewed in its ancient monuments, monasteries, oral literature, art forms, fairs and festivals. It is a place where all occasions- marriage, birth, harvesting or even the flowering of plants are marked by feasting, dancing and the singing of folk songs.
What tourist attractions does it offers?
Shey Palace and Monastery It crowns a knoll and reflected in a mirror-still lake located at its base. A two-storey high, gilded Maitreya Buddha image resides in the monastery.
Thiksey Monastery Exhibiting a fine example of the Ladakhi architecture, this Gompa is situated on the top of the hill and part of Gelukpa order. The monastery complex contains numerous stupas, statues, thankas, wall paintings, swords and a large pillar engraved with the Buddha's teachings.
Hemis Monastery Hemis takes its name from the world famous Buddhist Gompa situated here. The combination of exotic wildlife, culture, art, and natural splendor makes Hemis a perfect travel destination.
Stok Palace and Monastery Stok Palace 10 kms from Leh has the only museum of Ladakh, which houses one of the most precious belongings of the earlier royal families. In its many halls, displays include rare precious stones, old Thanks, Queens jeweler, arms & armory and the Royal Crown of the King.
About Nalanda Built on a hallowed site where the Buddha had often stayed, Nalanda is one of the world's oldest living cities. The Buddhist University of Nalanda, once the most prestigious center of learning in Asia, was built here. The evocative ruins of its monasteries and temples still convey a vivid impression of the serene and ordered life of contemplation and learning that prevailed here. Nalanda is located 14 kms. from Rajgir.
Nalanda is located in the eastern Indian state of Bihar. It is well known as the ancient centre of learning which has the remains of the great Nalanda University and several monasteries and temples. Both Lord Buddha and Mahavira visited this place and it remained a renowned learning centre till 12th century. Kings of Gupta, Kushan and Palva dynasties were the chief patrons of the centre, who built several monasteries and temples. The famous Chinese traveller Hieun Tsang studied here and his documents provide details about the university.
Facts About the City : State : Bihar, in east of India. Significance : A Buddhist Site Famous For: Being the largest and oldest university of ancient time. Best time to visit - October to March
Tourist Attractions in Nalanda Nalanda university - The university was established in the 5th century BC and was one of the oldest Universities of the world. The ruins of the university is spread over an area of 14 hectares land with a number of temples and monasteries built by the contemporary kings.
Nalanda Museum - It was established in 1971 and houses many ancient manuscripts and Buddhist statues. The museum also contains several objects like coins, pottery, inscriptions of Maurya and Gupta period.
Surya Mandir - This famous temple is dedicated to the Sun God and has a number of statues of Hindu and Buddhist deities.
Hieun Tsang Memorial Hall - The famous Chinese traveller who came to India in the 5th century AD and stayed in Nalanda for 12 years as a student and a teacher and studied the social and political conditions. The memorial hall was built in his memory.
Ratnagiri is another pilgrimage related to Buddhism, near Udaigiri and Khandigiri caves, and has many significant Buddhist sculptures scattered around in the hill range. The excavations have revealed the relation of this place with the Gupta Dynasty, and this dates back to 6th Century AD. The huge monastery that has been excavated is thought to be of Mahayana sect, showing that Buddhism spread through these areas in the later part, especially due to the influence of the great kings such as Ashoka and those of the Gupta dynasty. There are also some other pieces of Buddhist origin in this place including the monastery, stupas, chaityas etc.
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Not only a religious pace, Ratnagiri was also a great place of learning for the Budhism of Tantric cult, known as Vajrayana. The Kalchakrayana also had flourished considerably in this place, as evident from the Tibetan Buddhist texts.
Location Located in Jajpur district of Orissa, Ratnagiri lies at a distance of 100 km from Bhubaneswar, encompassed by rivers in all the directions. The rivers namely, Mahanadi, Brahmani, Kimiria and Birupa cover Ratnagiri from all directions.
Attractions The stupas The stupas are unsurpassable scenery as there are many small stupas around the big one, which makes the circumambulation nearly an impossible task. Various donors who, accordingly differentiated in materials, structure and constructions had donated these stupas.
These stupas, numerous and in varieties, portray a vivid picture of Buddhism in ancient India, in its fully bloomed phase. Moreover, they represent the only site with monolithic stupas in such dense manner, also due to the helping hand of the villagers who added stupas from the nearby places into the site.
About Rumtek Monastery Rumtek 24 kms. from Gangtok in Sikkim, is the seat of his holiness, the XVIth Gyawla Karmapa, the head of the Karma Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery Pemagyantse is 140 kms. West of Gangtok. The nearest airport to Gangtok is at Bagdogra (124 kms.) and the nearest railhead is at Siliguri (114 kms.) and New Jalpaiguri (126 kms.).
Rumtek is a famous monastery, all over the world, especially among the Tibetan Buddhists, and is situated near Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. Originally called the Dharma Chakra Centre, it includes a beautiful shrine temple and a monastery for the monks. The 16th Karmapa built the monastery. The place got an existence in the Buddhist pilgrimage map, especially after Chinese habitation in Tibet and subsequent relocations of some Tibetan religious gurus to Sikkim.
The new monastery was completed in 1966, in four years time, the foundation stone of which was laid by the King of Sikkim. Thus, it is obvious that the Buddhists consider the place as highly pristine.
Location and configuration Situated at a distance of 24 km from Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, and at an altitude of 5800 ft, the Rumtek monastery is one of the best locations for a quite and peaceful atmosphere. The whole set is composed of the main shrine-temple, the monastery, a retreat centre, a monastic college (Shedra), a nuns' hostel, some stupas, a protectors shrine, other establishments for the community and other religious institutions.
(Sikkim is a northeastern state, with the second highest literacy rate in the country.)
Attractions Besides the luxuriously sprawling green landscape, and a mild weather, smiling people, traditions that touch the conscience and the beautiful monastery, there is some important Buddhist institutions in the place.
How to reach
Air - Bagdogra, in West Bengal is the nearest Airport, at a distance of 124 km. Helicopter Service: To cover the civil flights, there is daily helicopter service available which fly between Bagdogra and Gangtok.
Rail - Siliguri (114 km) or New Jalpaiguri (NJP/ 125 km) could serve well for Rumtek.
Road - Sikkim is well connected through good concrete roads with Guwahati, Besides, regular bus service is available from Bagdogra, Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Calcutta.
Buddha once said there is a Buddha in everyone; just one needs to identify him within to become awakened and enlightened. ‘Walk for Enlightenment Tour’ gives a pilgrim an opportunity to go back to the important sites of Buddha’s life and live the life like our master. By embracing the simple lifestyle, we walk through the temples, stupas, monasteries and villages that hold great importance in shaping the Buddha to understand the lord in a better way.
‘Walk for Enlightenment Tour’ is an attempt of taking you back to the life of the Buddha, to be like our spiritual master and attain awakening of life.
Day 01 : Arrive Bodhgaya Day 02 : Bodhgaya Day 03 : Bodhgaya - Rajgir- Nalanda- Bodhgaya (90 km / 2 hrs) Day 4 : Bodhgaya - Varanasi (255 km / 5 hrs) Day 5 : Varanasi - Sarnath Day 06 : Varanasi - Kushinagar (175 km / 4.5 hrs) Day 07 : Kushinagar Day 08 : Kushinagar - Lumbini (180 km / 5 hrs) Day 09 : Lumbini - Kathmandu (Flight) Day 10 : Kathmandu - Out
The little village of Piprahwa is a very important Buddhist pilgrimage since Lord Buddha had spent his first twenty-nine years of life in this region. Excavations by archaeological survey of India have revealed the relation of this place to the Kushan period. An excavated stupa bears text that proves the existence of an ancient monastery named Devaputra in this place. Two mounds have also been excavated at only a little distance (1.5 km) from this village which, is considered to be the ruins of King Suddhodhana's palace.
Kapilavastu was the capital of the Shakya kingdom, and Buddha was born to king Shuddhodhana of this clan. He grew up amidst luxury and shunned away from miseries of life. But one day he broke out the luxurious entrapment of his father and set out for a journey to his father's kingdom. The miseries and the care of the people affected spiritual minded Buddha and he decided to find a way out to end these miserable conditions of human life. That led to the birth of one of the world's greatest religions known as Buddhism.
The place is important to visualise the pre meditation, princely days of the Lord who had contributed much to humanity by giving up his own luxury and princely status. Location : The city is located 27 km south of Lumbini, in Siddharthnagar district of Uttar Pradesh between Lumbini and Saraswati. The place is now known as Piprahwa. Nepal is not far from the place.
Attractions The village has a mystic charm, the magic of which can be felt through devoted mind and dedication. However, even for mere archaeological reasons, there are many stupas scattered around the place, built by Ashoka and the Gupta Kings. The symbols left behind by the Sakya dynasty is clearly visible here; moreover, there are relics of Lord Buddha himself.
The city also looks very pristine and could soothe the mind of the traveller due to its mesmerising effects.
About Pemayangtse Rumtek 24 kms. from Gangtok in Sikkim, is the seat of his holiness, the XVIth Gyawla Karmapa, the head of the Karma Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery Pemagyantse is 140 kms. West of Gangtok. The nearest airport to Gangtok is at Bagdogra (124 kms.) and the nearest railhead is at Siliguri (114 kms.) and New Jalpaiguri (126 kms.).
The town houses one of the oldest monasteries, with the same name, Pemayangtse, and has suddenly become a popular destination for the Buddhist pilgrims, especially the Tibetans. In Pemayangtse, one can realize that India is a much more diversified country than what is perceived. The landscapes are, in a way, quite vibrant. Adding to that are the colourful flags, the green surroundings and simple cultured people that make Pemayangtse a virtual heaven on earth. Everything that is attached with this place automatically creates a magical effect on the eyes, be it the paintings, or the sprawling green landscapes, or the pure oxygen that you take in, in every breath.
There are signs of the ancient capital of Sikkim, some of which have been restored with government funding, are really attractive and worth a definite visit while in Sikkim. And even if you stay at a hotel room, do open the windows to see the splendid orchids, butterflies and the cherry trees spread around.
Location The monastery: The monastery: One of the oldest monasteries in Sikkim, it was built by Lhatsun Chempo, a revered Lama, and falls in the southwestern region of Sikkim. The place is 140 km, on road, from Gangtok. The monastery stands tall, at 6840 ft, and describes a story of religion and faith that runs through the blood of pure monks. The matter of fact is that it was built mainly for the purest of monks, but later on it started serving the whole community. The Kanchen Junga is at the background, think, it is the best place to be, especially during the sunrise and sunset hours.
Attraction The monastery houses some of the ancient antique idols, scriptures and sculptures that should attract every spiritually motivated pilgrim to this sacred land. The top floor of the monastery is splendidly built, with magnificent sculptures and delicately decorated painting works. More than that, the monastery has its own style of expressing the religious values, with a charming look and fantastic artistic vibrations.
The most noticeable aspect one sees, in these monasteries is the similarity of these with the Tibetan monasteries, due to the fact that these are basically built and nurtured by Tibetans (after they relocated from Tibet).
At an altitude of more than 6000 ft, life becomes more interesting, and for the mind, it becomes more spiritual than on the sea levels.
About Vaishali : It was here that the Buddha announced the approaching of his Mahaparinirvana. During one of his visits here, the Buddha was offered a bowl of honey by a monkey. This incident is mentioned as one of the eight great events in his life. Vaishali is 60 kms. From Patna, connected by the 5.5 kms. Long Mahatma Gandhi Bridge.
This city hosted Lord Buddha five years after he had attained enlightenment. The mass induction of people into Buddhism after the Lord had shown some extraordinary and divine presentations of his spiritual superiority is the major reason for the popularity of this place.
On arrival of the Lord, the then rulers, the Lichhvis offered a grand welcome to the Lord who denied all luxury offered to him. The magnificence of his personality and the pristine values immediately started showing effect on the citizens and it is believed that at that period of time eighty four thousand people had adopted Buddhism.
Vaishali is also important for the matter that here, for the first time, women were inducted into the Sangha. Gautam's (Buddha's childhood name) foster mother Mahaprajapati Gautami had also joined the order at Vaishali with other 500 Sakya-women.
Facts About the City : State : Bihar, in east of India. Significance : A Buddhist, Jain and Hindu Pilgrimage Site Best time to visit - October to March
Tourist Attractions in Vaishali Ashokan Pillar - The magnificent ashokan pillar with a lion adorning its top is a definite crowd-puller. This 18.3 m high pillar is made of a single piece of red sandstone and is a major attraction to the tourists.
Fort Vishal - Fort Vishal is a one kilometer long fort and is known to be the part of the oldest democracy of the world which had housed the parliament of those times.
Museum - The museum houses a rich collection of antiquities discovered from various sites in Vaishali.
Bawan Pokhar Temple - This is an old temple built in the Pala period. It is situated in the bank of a tank known as Bawan Pokhar and houses beautiful images of several Hindu gods.
About Tabo Tabo is located at a height of 3050 metres in the magnificently isolated Spiti Velly of Himachal Pradesh. Founded in 96 AD by the great scholar, Richen Zangpo, as an institution for advanced learning, Tabo is seasonally accessible by road via Manali and Shimla.
Tabo is another important tourist place in the Buddhist pilgrimage list, situated in Himachal Pradsesh. The place is more famous for the ancient monastery, believed to be built before the Alchi monastery, which has considerable similarity in terms of Kashmiri Art paintings, which might be due to their originality, and being routed to Tibetan Buddhism principles. The monastery is also important for being an interesting place to study the growth and flourish of Tibetan art during the 11th to 20th century.
Himachal Pradesh, in itself, is a very attractive and soothing experience, adding to the goodwill of this monastery. The monastery preserves some of the most ancient murals that are worth a close examination for any archaeologist.
Location Tabo, situated at an altitude of 3050 m, proudly spreads it charms in the Spiti valley, in the Lahauyl and Spiti valleys of Himachal Pradesh.
Attractions The monastery has preserved some of the most antique paintings, especially the murals, which date back to 11th century, food for thought for both archaeologists and the religious monks. The iconoclastic attacks and the roughness of rough time overshadowed, these paintings are preserved in such a beautiful manner that they hardly seem to belong to the starting of the 11th century.
The monastery has nine structures, the most famous of these being the Duwang Lakhang. Besides these, there is the four-faced magnificent Buddha idol, the amitay Buddha in seated position, a stucco idol of Bodhisttva Maitreya, and the huge Chaitya hall is really one of the finest examples of Buddhist sculpture and architecture.
About Udaigiri Udaigiri is an important Buddhist pilgrimage in the state of Orissa, special due to its caves, which house some of the most antique and architecturally important sculptures of Buddhist origins. Not very far from Bhubaneswar, the place was a flourishing learning centre of Buddhism, and still represents its rich history through the ruins of the ancient monasteries, stupas and other Buddhist items found in the place. Besides, this place is also considered holy by the Jains. Attractions : Archaeological excavations : The archaeological excavations have been successful in discovering some important Buddhist items such as the huge brick monastery, housing many ancient Buddhist sculptures. The recently found huge monastery has been a matter of discussion for the Buddhist pilgrims around the world.
The main sculptures of Udaigiri that has been excavated include some Buddha sculptures in the meditating position while some Bodhisattva figures has also been found.
The hill behind the excavated places serves as perfect background and makes the site more interesting. The hill is full of inscriptions and rock cut sculptures which, also attracts lots of tourists.
Location : The city is in the 20 km to the Northeast of Cuttack and is 100 km from Bhubaneswar.
About Tawang The Tawang monastery is one of the largest Buddhist monasteries in India. The 6th Dalai Lama was born here. The main attractions are the gigantic Io-metre gilded Buddha statue,a large collection of priceless manuscripts, books and tangkhas, which depict Buddha and the tutelary deities in different poses. Foreign visitors require a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) to enter Arunachal Pradesh to visit Tawang. Further details regarding RAP may be obtained from the nearest Indian Embassy or Indiatourism offices.
One more interesting monastery in India's basket, the Tawang monastery is a well known monastery in Northeastern part of India, and the effect of nearby Tibetan Buddhism is clearly visible here. The geographical region was a matter of major political dispute between India and China, after Indian independence in 1947.
The place is a beautifully landscaped hill station in the Arunachal Pradesh State in the northeastern part of India. The Gelukpa sect is predominantly found in the region, which closely resembles other Tibetan sects.
Location In the map you will find Tawang inserted in the extended Arunachal Pradesh into an are in between Bhutan and Tibet. Geographically Tawang City is in the district with the same name, 180 km from Bomdilla, in Arunachal Pradesh.
Attractions The Galden Namgyal Lhatse, or the Tawang monastery was founded by Merak Lama Lodre Gyamtso in the 1860-61. At an altitude of 10,000 ft, over a hilltop, the Tawang monastery is one of the best examples of religious architecture, especially those of Buddhism.