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Buddhist Pilgrimage in North India

From Siddharth to Sakyamuni and finally to the Buddha or the Enlightened one, it has been an incredible transformation of a prince to an enlightened teacher, who walked on the earth more than 2500 years ago. Upon seeing sorrow, misery, pain and death, prince Siddharth decided to discover their causes and means of overcoming their occurrences. Thus renouncing worldly pleasures and leaving home and family behind, he traveled from place to place until he finally attained enlightenment by meditating under the Bodhi Tree. Then, he preached the truth he discovered, and exhorted his disciples to follow the Eight Fold Path for the cessation of the endless cycle of birth and re-birth. There are several major sights and schools of Buddhist learning in North India which reflects the life and teachings of the Buddha and the influence of Buddhism. Some of these famous Buddhist Places in North India are Kapilavastu,

North India Buddhist Pilgrimage

Kaushambi, Kushinagar, Lumbini, Sankisa, Sarnath, Sravasti, Tabo.

Kapilavastu (Piprahwa)
Kapilavastu is situated about 110 kms. from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. Kapilavastu was the capital city of the Sakya clan, and one of the earliest republics. In Kapilvastu, the prince Siddharth (Gautam Buddha) spent his childhood. Here he saw sorrow, pain, disease and death. Then, finally when he saw the Sadhu who had conquered all these, he decided to renounce all worldly riches and pleasures to seek truth and embark on the path of salvation. This place holds significant value for Buddhist pilgrims and has several Stupas. The archaeological excavations done here have revealed stone caskets that contains the relics of Buddha.

Kaushambi is situated about 54 kms. from Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh. Kaushambi was visited by Buddha in the 6th and 9th year after his enlightenment. He delivered several sermons here, elevating it to a centre of learning for Buddhists. Today one can see the ruins of an Ashokan Pillar, an old fort and the Ghositaram Monastery. The archaeological excavations which were done here have yielded a large number of sculptures, figures, coins, punch-marked and cast coins and terracotta sculptures which show the importance of the city in the olden days.

Kushinagar is situated about 55 kms. away from Gorakhpur and a revered place for Buddhist pilgrims. Kushinagar or Kushinara of Yore is the place where the Lord Buddha died, at the age of 80 and was cremated and achieved the state of Parinirvana. The last rites were performed with all the honour that is due to a universal monarch (Chakravartin), as he was held in reverence by all people. The kings of eight Indian states of the Gangetic basin came for the funeral rites and divided his ashes in eight parts. Each king carried these back to his kingdom and built a ‘Stupa’ over the mortal remains of Lord Buddha. The main tourist attraction in Kushinagar is the Mahaparinirvana temple, containing the reclining statue of Lord Buddha. This temple is dedicated to the Lord Buddha where he attained Parinirvana. The statue of Buddha was excavated in 1876 at the temple, and one of the most momentous sight for the devotees.


Lumbini is only a few kilometers across the Indian border in Nepal. It is a small town in the Terai region, situated south of the foothills of the Churia Range. Lumbini is the most important site for the followers of Lord Budha and those interested in Buddhism. The Lord Buddha was born in Lumbini, around 544 BC. His mother was on her way to her father’s house when he was born at a small place where she had halted. Emperor Ashoka visited Lumbini in 259 BC to worship at the 


place where the Buddha was born. In order to identify the place with Lord Buddha, he erected a giant pillar which is the only proof that Lord Buddha was born here.

Sanchi is an important Buddhist pilgrimage center of India. Sanchi is situated about 68 km. north of Bhopal on a hill rising from the plains. This hill is topped by some of the oldest and most interesting Buddhist shrines in the country. The imposing hilltop site offers commanding views of the surrounding countryside. Sanchi is a peaceful town crowned by a group of stupas and abandoned monasteries that are one of the most important Buddhist sites in India. Sanchi is known for the famous stupa, built by the Emperor Ashoka.

Sankisa is situated in central Uttar Pradesh. It is believed to be the place where Buddha, along with Brahma and Devraj Indra descended after giving sermons to his mother in heaven. At the place where he descends, stands a temple with a statue of the Buddha. Sankisa is also known for the temple dedicated to Bisari Devi, a colossal Shiva Linga and an excavated Ashokan Elephant Pillar. A large fair is also held in Sankisa in the month of Shravan (July-August).


Sarnath, a world famous Buddhist site is situated about 10 kms. from Varanasi. After attaining enlightenment at Bodhgaya, Lord Buddha went to Sarnath. In Sarnath, the stream of the Buddha's teaching first flowed. At this place, the Buddha encountered the five men who had been his companions of earlier austerities. Here in the Deer Park, he delivered his first sermon, or in religious language, set in motion the Wheel of Law (Maha-Dharmachakra Pravartan) in Buddhism. The Emperor Ashoka, who spread the Buddha's message of love and compassion throughout his vast empire, visited Sarnath around 234 BC, and erected magnificent stupas and structures. Sarnath became one of the great centres of Buddhism.



Sravasti was an important city at the time of Buddha. Buddha lived and preached at the monastery of Jetavana in Sravasti. He also performed some miracles here to convince the non-believers about the truth of his religion. After his death, the monastery enjoyed royal patronage, particularly from Ashoka and it remained active until the 11th century. The remains of the city and monastery are around the current villages of Maheth and Seth which are no more than half a kilometer apart. Maheth on the banks of the Achiravati river consists of an earthern embankment and the ruins of two stupas and temples. Seth contains the remains of the Jetavana monastery.


Tabo was founded in 996 AD. by the initiative of the great teacher Rinchensang Po, also known as Mahaguru Ratnabhadra. In June-July 1996, Tabo celebrated millennium of its glorious existence. Tabo is often known as the Ajanta of the Himalayas, due to its breathtaking murals and stucco images. Here, the art of religion and deep faith was also born. The Tabo Monastery at a height of 3050 meters is a complex that holds 9 temples, 23 chortens, a monks chamber and an extension that houses the nuns chamber. This core is bounded by an earthen wall and covers an area of 6300 square meters. The contemporary monastic structures are located near the monastery. On the sheer cliff-face above the enclave are a series of caves which were used as dwelling units by the monks and includes an assembly hall. The dim traces of the paintings that once adorned the rock face are visible on the caves.


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