Buddhism is a religion that is soon becoming a way of life for people across the globe. It was in India that King Siddhartha attained enlightenment and became the Buddha.
It is no surprise that India is home to some of the most pious and popular pilgrimage sites for Buddhists. If you are looking for tranquility and a state of complete calm, here are some Buddhist pilgrimage sites that you must definitely visit:
It was in Gaya that Buddha attained his enlightenment under a peepal tree. Needless to say, this is one of the most popular Buddhist pilgrimage destinations. Chinese, Thai, and Sri Lankan followers of Buddhism have built several monasteries here.
Located about 100kms from the capital city of Bihar, Patna, Gaya offers places of interest such as the Maha Bodhi Temple that is known for its large Buddhist meditation temple, at the Maha Bodhi Temple. The other attractions include the peepal tree that Buddha himself meditated under and the Jewel Walk where he is known to have come for strolls regularly.
Sarnath was popularized by King Ashoka after he began to follow the path of peace offered by Buddhism. The transformation occurred after the gruesome Kalinga war. It was then that he constructed several Buddhist Stupas including the Chaukhandi Stupa which is the first monument that will see when you enter this place. Buddha delivered his first sermon speaking of the four noble truths at the Dhamek stupa which is located here.
In addition to that, this Buddhist pilgrimage site located 11 kms from Varanasi offers attractions like the Sarnath Museum and the Mulagandha Kuti Vihar among others.
Khushinagar is another extremely important Buddhist pilgrimage site that came to light around the 1861 when excavations revealed several Buddhist Stupas. This town is located about 53 kms from Gorakhpur and is the site where the Buddha attained the highest state of Salvation or the Mahaparinivana. One of the major attractions in Kushinagar is the 50 feet tall Buddha Statue where he was cremated. In addition to that, the Mahanirvana temple with the 6 meter long reclining statue of the Buddha and a black stone Buddha image that dates back to the 10th century are preserved. The Eight metal statue of Lord Buddha can be found in the Japanese Watt Thai temple. You will also find beautiful Chinese temple that is built in pure complete Chinese architectural style in Khushinagar.
Kapilavastu is located on the Indo-Nepal border. This is the birth place of the Buddha, making it extremely significant for followers. There are several stupas and stone caskets that were uncovered during the excavations conducted here. These excavations also revealed various items that are believed to have belonged to the Buddha. The Stupa Complex in Kapilavastu contains inscriptions of Kanishka from the Kushana Dynasty. Another major attraction is the Palace Site which is where Prince Gautam lived a large portion of his life.
Located in Uttar Pradesh, this town is where Buddha is believed to have descended after delivering sermons to his mother who was in heaven. There are some beautiful ruins and monasteries that can be found in Sankisa. This is also the site where the Elephant pillar constructed by King Asoka and the Bisari Devi temple can be found. Inscriptions dating as far back as the Mahayana age can be found in the Maya Devi Temple. You also have Hindu religious sites such as the massive Shiva Linga. Each year, the Shravan Mela is held in Sankisa for the Hindu devotees.
This is the city where Lord Buddha lived and preached with his disciples for 24 years. It is home to many monasteries, temples and ancient stupas. The site where Buddha lived for 24 years is called Sahet and is a major tourist attraction. Another important spot of interest is the World Peace Bell that was built by Japanese Buddhists.
This region in Jammu and Kashmir is also a major Budddhist pilgrimage site along with being one of the most beautiful trekking spots in the world. There are several fairs and festivals dedicated to Buddhism that are held here each year. You can also visit the Thiksey Monastery, Shey, Lamayuru, Diskit Monastery, Spituk, Lamayuru and Phyang.
Sikkim is home to about 200 monasteries that were constructed by the Kagyu and Nyingma order. The lifestyle and culture of Sikkim have been influenced heavily by Buddhism. While Buddha never lived or preached in Sikkim, his teachings have had a major influence. The most popular Buddhist destinations in this area include Ralong, Rumtek, Pemayangtse, Tashiding, Phodang and Tsuk-La-Khang.
While these are the major Buddish destinations, Tawang Monastry in Arunachal Pradesh, Khushalnagar in Karnataka, Nalanda, Dharmshala, Palpung Sherabling Monastery in Himanchal and Tabo Monastery are among the other well known Buddhist destinations in India.