Sometimes it's amongst landscapes you have never seen before, colours you didn’t know existed, and lives you didn’t know could be lived, that you find the answers and reasons you were looking for. A vacation, holiday, journey and travelling thus can sometimes give you answers to questions you didn’t even know you were asking. These are Buddhist places in India for a Buddhist Pilgrimage tour, a journey that will make you look inside, above and beyond, otherwise known as the Buddhist trail in India.
Here is the list of 21 Buddhist Places In India : The Buddhist Circuit
Known For : Mahabodhi Temple | Great Buddha Statue | Tibetan Refugee Market
Bodh Gaya is undoubtedly the centre of Buddhist places in India. Descendents of the Bodhi Tree, under which Buddha attained enlightenment can still be seen, having survived much from both nature and man. Equally fascinating are the Mahabodhi temple and an 80 feet tall statue of Lord Buddha. Other than these there are three monasteries and some organizations offering programmes and disciplines on Buddhist philosophy. Dhamma Bodhi Vipassana centre, in the area, also provides 10-day courses on Vipassana meditation beginning on the 1st and 16th of every month, and can have 80 students at a time.
Best Time : October to March
Known For : Chaukhandi Stupa | Ashoka Pillar, Sarnath | Thai Temple
Sarnath marks the beginning of Buddha’s sermons and preaching. It was in a deer park, in this very district that Buddha gave his first sermons, after enlightenment. Sarnath is one of the four sacred Buddhist places in India with structures such as Dhamekh Stupa and Chaukhandi Stupa that celebrate its historical significance.
Best Time : October to March
Known For : Library of Tibetan Works and Archives | Dharamshala Cricket Stadium | Dharamshala International Film Festival | St. John in the Wilderness Church | War Memorial
Dharamsala – Mcleodganj is home to all that you can ask from a Buddhist place in India. From a Vipassana meditation center, numerous Buddhist meditation centers and schools to Dalai Lama’s official residence and a grand monastery full of colors and chants. The Sikhara Dhamma provides 10-day meditation courses every fortnight from April through November and is blessed with immense natural beauty to offer you with the perfect backdrop to your calm, peaceful and spiritual experience. Do visit the Tsuglagkhang Complex and the Palpung Sherabling Monastic Seat.
Best Time : October to June
Known For : Sanchi Stupa | The Great Bowl | Ashok Pillar
Sanchi is almost synonymous to the Great Stupa here commissioned by Emperor Ashoka, the oldest stone monument in India. The Stupa is built over relics of Buddha and has some of the most exquisite carvings on its entrances and gates. You will also find some other pillars, temples, sculptures and monasteries in the area, making it an essential Buddhist place in India. A recent development here is the Sanchi University of Buddhist-Indic Studies, close to this world heritage site itself.
Best Time : July to March
Known For : Sela Pass | Tawang Monastery | Madhuri Lake
This largest monastery in India is popular as the rich, grand and colourful centre of spirituality and knowledge that it is. The locals know the monastery as Galden Namgey Lhatse which means ‘celestial paradise in a clear night’ and the monastery justifies this name in every sense. This is where Arunachal Pradesh derives most of its spirituality and culture from as this Buddhist place in India is considered one of the holiest. The monastery’s library fosters a huge collection of some of the most sacred and significant scriptures. It also houses a Centre for Buddhist India Cultural Studies, for the young monks.
Best Time : September to March
The Rumtek Monastery is one of the largest and most significant Buddhist places in India, perched on top of a hill in Sikkim 23 km from Gangtok. Originally called as the Dharma Chakra Centre, it belongs to the Kargyu sect of Buddhists who originated in Tibet in the 12th century. Verdant green mountains surround the monastery and thus serves as a visual treat besides being a focal point for spiritual solace. If you climb on top to the Rumtek Monastery, you can have a breathtaking view of the whole Gangtok town situated right opposite the hill. Besides this, the architecture of the monastery is one of the finest in the world.
Known For : The Ashoka pillar | Vishwa Shanti Stupa , Abhishek pushkarni (coronation tank) and Archeological museums | Buddha's stupa
Vaishali fosters significance as an important historical, cultural and religious Buddhist place in India. Buddha visited the city quite often and the second Buddhist council was held here. Buddha also came here in the fifth year of his enlightenment in the rains. Today, the city has some relic stupas and shrines. You will also find here, many beautiful Pillars of Ashoka.
Best Time : October to January
Mindrolling Monastery is a storehouse of knowledge and historical Buddhist place in India. Ngagyur Nyingma College is one of the most prominent Buddhist Indian institutes to study and practice Buddhism. The area also houses the Great Stupa, which is 60 mt tall and said to be the tallest Stupa in the world. Inside this sacred marvel are numerous shrine rooms, murals and relics.
Kushinagar is one of the four sacred Buddhist places in India as this is where at the age of 81, Buddha passed away. This is also the site of his last lesson where he said “All things must pass. Decay is inherent in all things”. The area houses the Rambhar Stupa which is said to have been built at the same place as where Buddha was cremated. There is also a Mahaparinirvana temple which holds a magnificent statue of Buddha in reclining position. Other than these, there are some temples, stupas, shrines and a museum here. It’s one of the most important Buddhist places in India.
This monastery stands out not only because of its geography but also due to its generosity in the colour, glitter and sparkle that it adds to spirituality. The grand gold statues of Lord Buddha, ornamented with the richest tints and cultures are awe-inspiring. The area is also home to the second largest population of Tibetans in India, giving it a distinct Tibetan cultural influence. You can also buy some traditional Tibetan products here.
Known For : Pangong Lake | Magnetic Hill | Leh Palace
Along with dreamy sceneries and landscapes, Leh houses some of the most distinct and colourful Buddhist places in India. The area has numerous monasteries, most of which are the richest, largest and oldest imprints of Buddhism in India. The more known ones include Hemis Monastery, Phyang Monastery, Thiksey Monastery and Lamayuru Monastery. During the tourist season, one can stay at Hemis Monastery and participate in the Hemis Spiritual Retreat run by the monks. Another thing that you must not miss is the Hemis Festival in June-July which hosts a masked dance which will leave you spellbound.
Best Time : Jun to Sep
Known For : Venuvana | Japanese Stupa | Vulture's Peak or Griddhakuta
Rajgir is known as one of Buddha’s favourite places where he gave two of his most famous sermons. The Saptparni cave here housed the first Buddhist council while the Gridhakuta hill was where Budha gave the Lotus Sutra and the Prajnaparamita, two of his important sutras. An equally enchanting sight here is the white Shanti Stupa which has four gold statues of Buddha.
Best Time : October to March
Known For : Chandratal Lake | Key Monastery | Kunzum Pass
Spiti, other than landscapes which are unique and breathtaking, has some monasteries that foster immense color, culture, artworks, scriptures, and statues for a fascinating experience ornamented with these spiritual and cultural treasure. The Tabo Monastery has numerous meditation caves, where one can spend some time celebrating silence and have an experience like no other.
Best Time : Mid May to Mid Oct
This Vipassana meditation centre in Chennai is a recent centre with huge capacity and hundreds of individual meditation cells. The 10-day courses are held twice every month. The setup, brimming with natural lush green beauty of the area provides a perfect and peaceful experience. Courses for children are also available here.
Shravasti is a well-known place as it happens to be a very famous Buddhist place in India. Located around 330km from Lucknow, this place is termed to be the ancient capital of the Koshal kingdom. You will find the famous Stupas known as “Kachhi Kuti” and “Pakki Kuti” as this very place. It also houses the monastery where Lord Buddha stayed for several years.
The Stupa of Sariputra contains the bones of one of the two chief disciples of Gautam Buddha. Sariputra became a celebrated Arhat after he was able to attain salvation following Buddha's footsteps. The stupa is of pyramidal shape and is imposing in size, surrounded by pillared structures, typical to Buddhist structures. Seven layers of construction explain its colossal size, making it a sight to behold.
The Key Monastery is a famous Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the Lahaul and Spiti District of India. Located at an altitude of 4,166 metres above the sea level, the monastery is very close to the Spiti River in the Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh in India. Also known as the Kye Monastery, this Buddhist place in India is believed to have been founded by Dromton, who was a student of the famous teacher Atisha in the 11th century.
At a grand elevation of 8,000 feet, the Yiga Choeling or old Ghoom Monastery is the oldest Tibetan Buddhist Monastery of Darjeeling. Established in 1850 by Lama Sherab Gyatso, this shrine is part of the Yellow Hat sect known as Gelupka who worship the 'Coming Buddha' or 'Maitreyi Buddha'. A 15-foot high statue of Maitreyi Buddha is seen in the central hall, made entirely of clay brought from Tibet. This statue was installed during the tenure of the second head of the monastery Lama Domo Geshe Rinpoche. One can also find many rare Buddhist manuscripts within the premises. Visitors are treated to a beautiful view of the majestic Kanchenjunga outside the monastery. Prayer flags are flown by the resident monks in typical Tibetan tradition.
Ajanta caves are Buddhist places in India which depict the culture and their stories through various sculptures and paintings. It also takes you to the world of Jatakas. The Ajanta caves are a set of 30 rock-cut Buddhist caves that date back to the period between 2nd century BC and 650 CE. sculpture. The basic designs of the caves are called 'Chaityagrihas' & 'viharas.' 29 caves. Figurines of Lord Buddha and scenes from the traditional Jataka tales are the mainstays of this place.
Bojjannakonda is a small group of six rock-cut caves that dates back to 4th Century AD when Buddhism was flourishing in the region. The caves have beautifully carved statues of Gautam Buddha which draw tourists and believers for its aesthetic and religious importance. The caves nearby also have stupas where Buddhist monks would meditate. The area comes under the maintenance of the Archaeological Survey of India. It gives insights into the practise of Buddhism in Visakhapatnam. The stone stairway leading to the caves is well maintained and secured with railings, although it is not much of a climb.
These caves depict an early phase of the Buddhist architecture. The characteristic features of these early temples were two establishments, each self-contained and consisting of a prayer hall (chaitya) and a monastery (vihara), which contained accommodation for the monks.
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Buddhism is the world's fourth-largest religion with more than 500 million followers. All Buddhist believe in peace, and that is what makes them more special. Visiting these Buddhist places will enlighten up your mind.