(Last Updated on : 29-03-2016)
Buddhist Pilgrimage Centres in India comprises of many destinations which are scattered in many parts of India like Ladakh, Leh District, Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Like Hinduism, Buddhism offers four pilgrimage destinations like Lumbini, the site where he attained Enlightenment, located in Nepal, Bodh Gaya, where he first preached at Varanasi, and where he achieved Parinirvana at Kusinagara.
Bod Gaya is one of the sacred destinations in eastern India for Buddhists and the Hindus. The Bodhi tree is located here, under which Buddha attained enlightenment. The pilgrims can also visit the Mahabodhi Temple that was built by emperor Ashoka.
The pilgrims come to Vaishali
to check out the exquisite monuments that have been built in the memory of Buddha. Ashokan pillars, Shanti Stupa and Buddha stupas are to be found here. Till date it remains an important Buddhist pilgrimage centre.
Patna is the modern capital of Bihar. This is the erstwhile Pataliputra. The Third Buddhist Council took place here. Apart from this the capital state of Bihar lies in close proximity with the other important Buddhist pilgrimage centres.
The beautiful Shanti Stupa adorns this place in Bihar. It is also steeped in legends involving the Buddha and his follower, King Bimbisara. Buddha had spent 12 years of his life at this place and the city has also witnessed the First Buddhist Council.
Vikramshila is more important as the learning centre for Buddhism. This is one of those learning centres where tantric Buddhism is taught. Located in the state of Bihar it was one of the most important centres for Buddhists.
Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh is one of the major Buddhist pilgrimage destinations in northern part of India. This is the place where Buddha delivered his first discourse. One of his friends also became his disciple and thus the Sangha started. The Sanchi stupa commemorates the visit of Buddha. It was built by Emperor Ashoka.
The oldest learning centre for Buddhism is in Nalanda, located now in Bihar. Chinese Buddhist pilgrims like Hiuen Tsang also visited this place. For archaeologists too this is an important site.
It is here that Gautama Buddha had spent his early years as a prince. He had also renounced the world at Kapilavastu. After attaining enlightenment he came back to his native city to deliver sermons.
One of the most important sermons in Buddhism is the Fire Sermon. At Gaya Buddha delivered this discourse. Hence it an important city, that had witnessed a vital Buddhist events. This place too is located in Bihar.
Don is a lesser-known place but the significance attached to it is huge. This Buddhist pilgrimage centre has been mentioned by Hiuen Tsang in his travelogue where he describes his visit to India. Mahaparinibbana Sutta, too, talks about the distribution of Buddha's ashes and the subsequent construction of the Stupa to enshrine the vessel. Such pilgrimage centre shows the popularity and the impact Buddha's teachings had on different sections of the society
Hajipur is a small town located near Patna. This place is significant as Buddha has delivered an important discourse here. Some ashes belonging to one of Buddha's disciples (Ananda) is also placed here. In ancient India the first village that one came across immediately after crossing Ganga River was Hajipur or Ukkacala.
Kesariya is located at a distance of 55 kilometres from the state of Vaishali, Bihar. This place is famous for the tallest Stupa of the world. However today only its ruins remain due to the Bihar earthquake in1934. Buddha's most renowned discourse, Kalama Sutta, was preached to the Kalama people when Buddha was staying in their town--Kessaputta or Kesariya.
Kusinara is the most sacred of all pilgrimage centres for the Buddhists because it is here where Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana. In ancient India, this place was known as Kushavati. It was an important centre of the Mallas located near Hiranyavati River.
Pragbodhi is a famous pilgrimage centre for the Buddhists. It is located near Gaya in Bihar. This site is actually a mountain where Tathagata practised austerities for 6 years. The name of the place literally means 'Prior to Enlightenment.' This place today has become an important centre for Buddhist people. These are one of the many places, which Gautama Buddha visited, and today the devotees flock in to witness this historic site. Pragbodhi is also known as Dhungeswara.
Sanchi is famous for its Great Stupa which is located at Sanchi Town in Raisen District
of the state of Madhya Pradesh
, India. It is 46 km north-east of Bhopal
. This place is famous as it is one of the oldest sculptures in India. It was originally commissioned by the Emperor Ashoka
in the third century.