The religion of Buddhism took birth in India and spread all over the world. This pious religion was founded by Gautam Buddha, as he sat in penance to achieve enlightenment. Being the motherland of Buddhism, India has a lot of wondrous Buddhist spots or sites that you should visit once in your lifetime. This highly sacred places are areas of great worship and history and have played a crucial role in the life of Lord Buddha. These places are also popular pilgrimage spots, and you will always find it crowded with tourists and pilgrims.
Here are some of the most famous Buddhist sites in India and Nepal that should be in your bucket list.
Lumbini is located in Nepal and is said to be the birthplace of Gautam Buddha. With such a historical event attached to the city, it is not surprising to see that Lumbini is always flocked with tourists and Buddhist pilgrims. This pious city one of the most important places for pilgrims.
This little town is mainly known for its iconic Maya Devi Temple, wherein Siddharta Gautama. This was the very first place where the enchanting cries of baby Gautama echoed through the walls. The temple is quite regal, and you must visit it to feel the air of serenity and peace here.
Lumbini is also brimming with well-landscaped gardens with aesthetic sculptures. These gardens are great places to just sit, stroll, or even have an idyllic picnic. After a little stroll, visit the pillar that marks the visit of Emperor Ashoka from India. It is quite a historic event and a changing point in the emperor’s life.
Finally, wind up your trip with a visit to the Shanti Stupa, Pokhara. This pagoda is also called the peace pagoda. The pagoda is located atop a hill and paints quite a pretty picture in white.
One of the most important and holy Buddhist pilgrimage sites has to be the Bodh Gaya in Bihar. This is the place where The Prince became Enlightened. Bodh Gaya is the place where Buddha became The Buddha, and the world found a new religion.
Bodh Gaya is a wonderful little town, wherein you will feel as if the time as stopped. It is always flocked by monks and pilgrims who come here to meditate. One of the main attraction here is the Mahabodhi Temple, which also houses the all-important Bodhi Tree. It was under this tree that Buddha achieved enlightenment. It is from this place that the religion of Buddhism started spreading. In the current times, you will find many monks and tourists sitting under this stunning tree and meditating with full devotion.
The city of Bodh Gaya has other shrines as well that you can visit, to make your pilgrimage even more memorable and holy.
The famous city of Sarnath is located in Uttar Pradesh and is only 13 km away from Varanasi. Sarnath is the place where Gautam Buddha preached his first sermon, making Sarnath quite iconic. The first Sangha was also formed right here in Sarnath. Over the years, Sarnath became hugely popular in the world of Buddhism, and more and more people started coming here to join the Sangha. It became one of the most important centres of Buddhism.
To start your Sarnath pilgrimage, first, visit the Deer Park. This is the place where Buddha first taught. You will find their landmark stupas here, that denotes the formation of Buddhism. These stupas make the place even more religious and spiritual. Just walk through the place, and try and visualise Buddha sitting atop a rock and giving his first sermon.
After Deer Park, visit the famous Ashoka Pillar. This pillar is made of iron but till date, it has shown no signs of rust or erosion. The pillar once carried the Lion Capital, which became the National Emblem of India. The Lion Capital now rests in the Sarnath museum.
You can also visit the Sarnath museum, to view some old Buddhist artefacts. There are some relics as well, and you can try and weave the past through these artefacts and relics.
Another important stop during your Buddhist pilgrimage, Kushinagar is the place where Buddha died. It is at this very town that he achieved Parinirvana and left his earthly body. It is also the place where he gave his last sermon.
Kushinagar looks like a city that is completely devoted to Buddha. From the moment you reach here, you will find a lot of shrines and monasteries that are dedicated to Buddha. You might also be able to feel the presence of Buddha as you walk through the lanes. It feels as if he still resides in this town, and somewhere he is still preaching.
Some of the places that you must visit here are Parinirvana Stupa, the Ramabhar Stupa and Nirvana Chaitya among many others.
The iconic site of Nalanda was home to the stunning Nalanda University. This was the first Mahayana school of Buddhism and caused ripples around the world. People from all around the world came here to learn about Buddhism at this University. Once an intimidating structure, now lies in ruins. You can walk through this place, and try to imagine how life must have been when this school was at its full grandeur.
The famous town of Dharamshala has become quite an important Buddhist sites in India over the years. Located in the picturesque state of Himachal Pradesh, this aesthetic little town is home to the Dalai Lama.
The little town of Dharamshala is laden with Buddhist relics, colourful prayer flags, and beautiful stupas that makes it quite alluring. You will find red, yellow and blue prayer flags adorning the roofs of the houses, and wonderful stupas marking your way,
The Shanti Stupas is the most famous stupa in Dharamshala.
The beauty of Dharamshala is further enhanced by its scenic setting. It is surrounded by snow-covered mountains, green valleys and little pagodas. The locals are also extremely hospitable, and you will feel the warmth of their smiles in your bones.
This city holds a special mention in the life of Lord Buddha. He visited this city about 24 times in this lifetime, making it quite an important Buddhist pilgrimage site. After he achieved enlightenment, one would often find Lord Buddha at Shravasti.
The city now has some marvellous monasteries and stupas. Make sure to visit the Anathapindika and Angulimala Stupas and the Jetavana Monastery,
Ajanta And Ellora
The famous caves of Maharashtra are quite a popular Buddhist tourist attraction. The caves of Ajanta and Ellora are quite marvellous and are adorned with Buddhist sculptures, intricate carvings and ancient paintings. The sculptures are magnificent and so lifelike. You will be left marvelling at the artists’ talent and skills. These caves are must-visit for anyone who is looking to witness the grandeur of skilled artists and sculptures. Do hire a guide to get a wholesome experience at the Ajanta and Ellora Caves.
The little cit of Rajgir is known to be the home of The Vulture Peak, which was Lord Buddha’s favourite spot. This was the place from where he preached many of this sermons. Rajgir is also filled with some beautiful Buddha sculptures, monasteries, and stupas that will enchant and captivate you.
You see the Shanti Stupa here, the Jivakameavan Gardens and the Gridhakuta Hill. to wind up your journey, you also visit the famous Ajatshatru Fort.
There are many more beautiful Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India and Nepal. However, these are some of the most regal, stunning, and sacred sites. You must visit at least some of these places at least once to know more about this sacred religion and the life of the Great Lord Buddha. All of these places also have an innate sense of calmness and tranquillity in their air, which will make you feel healed from within.