BUDDHIST PILGRIMAGE – All the details of worthy places to be visited.
Lord Buddha has stated in Mahaparinibbana Sutta, delivered by him in Kushinagar that
- The place where he attained the enlightenment i.e. Buddhagaya
- The place where he delivered the first sermon i.e. Sarnath and
- The place where he entered into Mahaparinirvana i.e. Kushinagar. are places which can bring about feelings of religious awe & repentance & are therefore worthy places of pilgrimage for those who believe in Him
Lumbini : Lord Buddha was born at Lumbini, Nepal while his mother was on her way to parental home from Kapilvastu. Lumbini should be visited and seen by a person of devotion, Lumbini is the Mecca of every Buddhist, being one of the four holy places of Buddhism.
Buddha was born in Lumbini during the full moon day in the month of Baisakh in 623 B.C. he was born under a Sal tree (Shorea Robusta) when Maya Devi was going to her maternal town on the occasion of delivery. After birth Buddha took seven steps towards north and, looking in all directions, he declared that "I am the foremost of all creatures to cross the riddle of the ocean of the existence, this is my last birth and here after, I will not be born again".
This newly born Prince named Siddhartha had supernatural birth & signs, which indicated that the new born child will bring deliverance to the world. Ascetic (Rishis) warned the king that the boy might renounce the world anytime if he happen to come across: (1). The diseased, (2). The old man, (3). The dead body & (4). The ascetic.The king alarmed to hear this and married Prince Siddhartha at an early age and almost imprisoned him in pleasure palaces providing therein all kinds of enjoyments.
Lumbini is situated in Nepal about 22 kms from Bhairahawa of Nepal in the foot hills of Himalayas. 122 kms from Gorakhpur city in Uttar Pradesh . 181 Kms from Kushinagar of Uttar Pradesh and 240 kms from Sravasti of Uttar Pradesh of North India.
The place itself is interesting as a whole, the landscapes and the green forestry. However Maya Devi temple and the Stupas and the Pillar built by Ashoka are really worth a visit. Recently, several beautiful shrines have been constructed by devotees from all over the world. A visit to Lumbini is not only for spiritual enlightenment but also for solace and satisfaction that one gets in such a calm and peaceful place.
- Maya Devi Temple: Lumbini remained neglected for centuries. In 1895, Feuhrer, a famous German archaeologist, discovered the great pillar,further exploration and excavation of the surrounding area revealed the existence of a brick temple and a sandstone sculpture within the temple itself which represents the scenes of Buddha’s birth. On the south of the Maya Devi temple there is the famous sacred bathing pool known as Puskarni. It is believed that Maha Devi took a bath in this pool before the delivery. The temple is built gradually and is composed of many temples, one after the other. It is also found that there is possibility that an Ashoka Stupa existed in the place of temple.
- The Ashokan Pillar: The Ashokan Pillar, essentially erected by Ashoka (249 BC) visited Lumbini and erected an inscribed Ashokan Pillar on the spot of Buddha's birth. The inscription of the pillar (the oldest in Nepal) declares that Ashoka granted Lumbini tax-free status in honor of Buddha’s birth. It is 6m high and half of it is beneath the ground. It is behind the Maya Devi Temple, to the west of the temple. Emperor Ashoka erected many other pillars throughout India. The carved top of the pillar has never been found.
- The Buddhist Monastery:Its built in the way of the modern Buddhist temples of Nepal but is quite important in the purview of architecture of the walls. The middle hall contains some exquisite murals resembling the medieval periods'.
How to get there
- Kapilvastu:A holy destination related deeply with the life of a legend, Lord Buddha, eventually Kapilvastu is the place where Lord Buddha had lived the childhood and the days of teenage, in complete luxury. The capital of King Shuddhodhan, Kapilvastu still carries with it the mystic charm. It houses many sculptures of Buddhism, which present a landscape before that visitors that makes them feel calm, content. Kapilvastu carries the visitors away to the ancient days when Buddha was a small child, a prince. The place is situated 27 km south of Lumbini.
- Air: Bhairahwa is the nearest airport, 22 kms , well connected to Kathmandu airport. At present, about 22 international airlines connect Nepal to various other destinations in Asia and the Middle East.
- Rail: Gorakhpur, In India, is the nearest railhead, 122 km from Lumbini.
- Road: Good motorable roads connect Bhairahwa to Lumbini, and also other important cities of Nepal. India border is 22 kms.
At a distance of only 10-km from the famous Hindu pilgrimage Varanasi, after attaining Enlightenment the Buddha went to Sarnath.
Lord Buddha had visited Sarnath looking for his five companions who abandoned him in Rajgir while they deviated from the viewpoint of Lord Buddha on self-mortification.
Here in the Deer Park, he delivered his first sermon, set in motion the Wheel of Law (Maha-Dharmachakra Pravartan). The Emperor Ashoka (c 304 - 232 BC), who spread the Buddha's message of love and compassion throughout his vast empire, visited Sarnath around 234 BC, and erected a stupa here. Several Buddhist structures were raised at Sarnath between the 3rd century BC and the 11th century AD, and today it presents the most expansive ruins amongst places on the Buddhist trail. The ruins, the museum and temple are all within walking distance.
How to reach:
- Dhamekha Stupa: The stupa is the most impressive structure in Sarnath. Built around 500AD the excavations have revealed that some earlier construction was present at the site. The stupa is a place where one can see the devoted Buddhists circumambulating the structure, Ashoka might have built the stupa to earmark the Dharmachakrapravartana to five ascetics.
- Chaukhandi: The first impression of the ancient Buddhism monuments while one enters Sarnath from Varanasi, this Chaukhandi was built to mark the meet of Lord Buddha with his five companions. Todar Mal added an octagonal tower to the structure to commemorate the arrival of Emperor Akbar to the city in 1588.
- Asokan Pillar: This Pillar is the national emblem of India, presents a splendid representation of art during Ashoka's period, and the Asoka Wheel down the base adorns the Tricolor national flag.
- The pillar also records the visit of Ashoka to Sarnath. The year of his visit is said to be around mid 3rd century BC. It is interesting to note that at one time, the Ashoka Pillar of Sarnath stood over 17 meters in height. Its capital with the four lions back to back that has been adopted as the official emblem of modern India can be seen in the museum at Sarnath. If you are in Sarnath, don't miss this pillar.
- The Monasteries - The Buddhist temple built only in 1931, claims to have Buddha's original relics. Moreover, the temple houses some of the most interesting mural paintings depicting the story of Buddha's life.
- The Digambar Jain temple: Associated to Shreyanshnath, a Jain Tirthankar, this temple famous among the Jain community and good for visualizing some interesting paintings and sculptures depicting the life of Lord Mahavira.
- Varanasi: At a distance of 10 km from Sarnath, Varanasi, called 'Kashi' in the scriptures and popularly known as "Benaras", is said to be the oldest living city in the world with a glorious history that goes back to thousands of years. Varanasi is a revered Hindu pilgrimage, well known for the pristine Ghats, bathe rituals and the numerous temples. The golden temple, with stunning golden towers does attract majority of the pilgrims and is definitely an attraction.
- Ramnagar: If you belong to history, do visit this place, 14 km. from Varanasi. This fort and its museum are the repository of the history of the kings of Benaras. Built in the 18th century Ramnagar fort has carved balconies, open courtyards and picturesque pavilions. The Vidya Mandir museum, inside the darbar hall has a wide range of old armours, antique clocks, medieval costumes, gold & silver palanquins, silver Howdahs & jewellery on display.
- Chunar Fort: Associated with one of the greatest leaders Sher Shah Suri, the fort is also famous for the fact that Saint Bhatrihari had taken "samadhi" inside the Fort.
For Sarnath, Varanasi is very convenient centre regarding Air, Rail and Road facilities.
- Air: The nearest Airport is 22 kms from Varanasi and 29 kms from Sarnath. Varanasi is connected with Delhi, Agra, Khajuraho, Kolkata, Mumbai, Lucknow, Bhuvaneshwar and kathmandu with direct flights.
- Rail: Varanasi is a major station in Broad gauge network, Varanasi Cantt. and Mughal Sarai (16 km, one of the main railway stations of Varanasi) are the important rail junctions, that link Varanasi with all major cities of India.
- Road: Well-laid motorable roads connect Sarnath with Varanasi and other important cities.
Kushinagar is another principal centre of Buddhism, worth a sincere admiration, is the place where Lord Buddha passed away at this place near the Hiranyavati River and was cremated at the Ramabhar stupa. It was once a celebrated center of the Malla kingdom. Many of its stupas and viharas date back to 230 BC-AD 413. when its prosperity was at the peak. In 543 BC, on a full moon night of Magh the legend delivered lecture to his Sangha and declared that he is going to leave the mortal world soon enough.
The excavations led by general Cunningham has revealed some antique artifacts and structures related to all sects of Buddhism. Kushinagar also expresses the common thread of all sects of Buddhism through its magnificent Viharas, Chaityas, temples and Tibetan monasteries. In ancient times, the town was also known as Kushinara and Kasia.
Kushinagar is situated at a distance of 53 km west of Gorakhpur, in Uttar Pradesh, in the northern part of India.
Attractions: Nirvana Stupa and temple - This stupa made of bricks, excavated by Carlleyl in 1867, stands at a height of 2.74 meter. The excavations leading to the finding of the copper vessel and the Brahmi inscription on it proving the matter that Buddhas ashes were buried in the pace, made this place a suddenly important destination for all Buddhists devotees. Besides, the huge reclining statue of Buddha in the temple is also very attractive.
Mahaparinirvana temple - This is more than 6 meters long statue of reclining Buddha. The image was unearthed during the excavations of 1876. Carved from Chunar sandstone, the statue represents the dying Buddha reclining on his right side.
- Wat Thai temple: The unique temple, built to celebrate the victory of King Bhumibol's great accession of the throne, and the subsequent Golden Jubilee, is worth a watch, especially because of the innumerable trees that were planted here.Besides, there's the Chinese temple, the Meditation Park and an International Buddha trust, and the Birla temple to add charm to roaming around in the city.
- Ramabhar Stupa: About 1.5 km away from Mahaparinirvana Temple, this large Stupa rises to a height of 49 ft. It marks the site where the Lord Buddha was cremated. In ancient Buddhist texts, this Stupa has been referred to as 'Mukut-Bandhan Vihar'.
- Japanese temple: A beautiful eight metals statue of the Buddha, which was brought from from Japan, can be visited here.
How to get there
- Gorakhpur - Gorakhpur is an important Hindu destination, due to the numerous temples, including the Gorakhnath temple, the Vishnu temple, gita Vatika, Gita press, and the Arogya Mandir. Besides, there are important institutions of other religions such as the Imambara. The planetarium and the circuit house are also worth a visit.
- Lumbini - This immensely important Buddhist pilgrimage, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, is in Nepal, at a distance of 122 km from Gorakhpur, houses some of the most important artifacts of literature and art related to the life of Lord Buddha.
- Air: Gorakhpur is the nearest airport, at a distance of 44 kms from the place. Kasia airstrip-5 Kms, Amausi airport Lucknow-252 Kms, Babatpur Airport in Varanasi-286 Kms.
- Rail: The nearest railway station, a convenient one, is Gorakhpur, which is linked to important railway stations.
- Road: The national highway numbered 28 connects the place with other important destinations of the state.
A place where Lord Buddha left his foot steps nearly 2500 years ago while travelling in the quest of enlightenment, situated by the river Phalgu, Bodhgaya is one of the most important and sacred Buddhist pilgrimage center in the world. It was here under a banyan tree, the Bodhi Tree, Gautama attained supreme knowledge to become Buddha,the Enlightened One. The serenity of the atmosphere remains in the subconscious soul of any visitor who takes the village as a pilgrimage that the Lord himself had chosen for meditation.
There is a magnificent Mahabodhi temple and the Tree from the original sapling still stands in the temple premises. The temple is an architectural amalgamation of many centuries, cultures and heritages. While its architecture has a distinct stamp of the Gupta era, it has later ages inscriptions describing visits of pilgrims from Sri Lanka, Myanmar and China between 7th and 10th century AD. It is perhaps still the same temple Hieuen Tsang visited in 7th century.
At a distance of 17 kms from Gaya, this highly revered pilgrimage is in Bihar. From the capital, Patna, it is 105 km away.
- Mahabodhi temple: The temple is an immense attraction to the Buddhists, and stands near the Maha Bodhi tree under which Tathagat, or Gautama attained enlightenment. The total height of the temple is 170 ft. Its basement is 48 square feet and it rises in the form of a slender Pyramid till it reaches its neck, which is cylindrical in shape. It is a must visit not only due to its importance but also for the architecture and the art objects. The Shiva Lingam inside the temple was installed on 9th century beginning, is a splendid piece of sculpture.
- Mahabodhi Tree: The tree is considered holy since Lord Buddha attained enlightenment under it , it is probably the fifth succession of the original tree. Anyone, who likes an ambience of serenity, would understand this place's surroundings to be perfectly weathered for meditation.
- Vajrasana: The stone platform, where Lord Buddha sat in meditation while he attained enlightenment is known as Vajrasana. The place is restricted for any tourist activity on it; however, even the sight doesn't fail to excite the spirituality of the watcher.
How to reach
- Rajgir: Rajgir (80 kms) was the capital of the mighty Magadhas, described in Mahabharata, during the 6th century BC. It is one of the most important tourist places in India. Being located in a valley, Rajgir is a very scenic place. The attractions include the Ajatshatru fort, Shanti Stupa, Venu van, Karanda tank, Sonbhandar caves, Bhimbisar jail, Gridhkuta and hot water springs and the forestry. There is an aerial ropeway for adding charm to the tour.
- Nalanda: 96 kms from Bodhgaya, The place where an ancient university, famous all over the world existed, which is 62 km from Bodhgaya and 90 km south of Patna. In this first residential international university of the world, 2,000 teachers and 10,000 monks students from all over the Buddhist world lived and studied here. Nalanda is a place to understand the cultural richness of India during 5th century AD. The excavations have revealed some very interesting facts regarding the ancient university, and the artifacts obtained are naturally a must for every visitor.
- Gaya: Gaya is a Hindu pilgrimage place. Gaya is 102 ms rom Patna and 17 kms from Bodhagaya Bihar. Gaya is one of the most sacred Hindu destinations. The Vishnu temple is the central pilgrimage centre and people believe it has been constructed on the footprints of Lord Vishnu. Hindus believe that if a person's last rites are performed in Gaya, the soul attains Moksha, so thousands come here to offer the last rites and funerary offerings for their ancestors, every year. Main attraction is Vishnupad temple.
- Air: Patna Airport is the nearest at a distance of 112 km. The nearest international airport is at Gaya 7 Kms. Air India , Jet airways, Kingfisher and Indigo connect Patna to Calcutta, Bombay, Delhi, Ranchi, Lucknow and various other cities.
- Rail : Gaya (16 km) is the nearest railhead.
- Road : Well connected by roads to Gaya (17 kms), Nalanda (96 kms), Rajgir (80 kms), Patna (105 km), Varanasi (243 km), Calcutta (493 kms)
India Nepal Buddhist Tour
RBH 01 BUDDHIST PILGRIMAGE TOUR (06 NIGHTS / 07 DAYS)
Day 01: Upon arrival in Kathmandu, meet & greet in the airport; transfer to Hotel. Overnight in Hotel at
Day 02: Breakfast in hotel. Sightseeing tour to Swoyambhunath, Boudhanath and Kapan Monastery and drive
further to Dhulikhel. Overnight in Hotel at Dhulikhel.
Day 03: Breakfast in hotel. Dhulikhel – Namobuddha - Dhulikhel visiting ancient monastery
Drive back to Kathmand with the sightseeing of Patan city (Vihara, Jana Bahal, Mahabouddha, Hiranya Varna Mahavihar, Rudra Varna Mahavihar). Overnight in Hotel at Kathmandu.
Day 04: After breakfast drive to Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha. Overnight in hotel at Lumbini.
Day 05: Breakfast in hotel.
Full day sightseeing of Kapilbastu - Buddhist temples, monastery and religious activities. Overnight in hotel at Lumbini.
Day 06: After breakfast visit Tilaulakot. Fly back to Kathmandu. Sightseeing of Asura Cave and other Buddhist
Monastery in south of Kathmandu. Overnight in hotel at Kathmandu.
Day 07: Free till the departure time. Transfer to the airport to board the flight to the onward destination.
RBH 02 BUDDHIST TEMPLES AND SITES - STUDY TOUR (08 NIGHTS /09 DAYS)
Day 01: Journey to Varanasi.
Arrive Varanasi in the morning. Check into hotel. Later visit Sarnath about 10 kms from the holy city of Varanasi - is the blessed locale where more than 2500 years ago Buddha choose to deliver his first sermon. Overnight in Hotel at Varanasi.
Day 02: Varanasi
Varanasi : The eternal city is one of the most important Pilgrim sites in India and also a major Tourist Attraction, situated on the banks of the sacred Ganges.The name Varanasi derived from two rivers. The Varuna and Assi. It is a Great Centre of learning and Civilization. It is also known as Kashi and Banaras.
Early morning boat ride on the river Ganges to see the sunrise and the bathing Ghats of an ancient Hindu city. Thereafter visiting Bharat Mata Temple, Banaras Hindu University, Kasi Vishwanath Temple. Return to hotel for breakfast and bath. Overnight in Hotel at Varanasi.
Day 03: Varanasi - Bodhgaya
Morning drive to Bodhgaya (247 kms / 6 hrs). Check into hotel. Evening attend prayer in Mahabodhi Temple. Overnight in Hotel at Bodhgaya.
Day 04: Bodhgaya
Full day free to explore various Buddhist temples. Visit Great Buddha Statue, Niranjana River, Sujata Temple etc. Overnight in Hotel at Bodhgaya.
Day 05: Bodhgaya - Rajgir - Nalanda - Patna
Morning leave for Rajgir (74 kms / 2 hrs).Visit Rajgir the Vulture Hill, World Peace Stupa, Bamboo's Garden. Then continue to Nalanda (18 kms) to visit the ruins of world oldest University. It was one of the oldest Universities of the World & International Centre for Buddist Studies. Thereafter drive to Patna (76 kms / 2 hrs), on arrival check in at hotel. Overnight at Patna.
Day 06: Patna - Vaishali - Kushinagar
Early morning drive to Kushinagar (approx 253 kms / 7 hrs) with packed lunch enroute visiting Vaishali. On arrival check-in at hotel. Afternoon visit Mahaparinirwana Temple (where Buddha took his last breathe) and Rambhar Stupa (cremation site of lord Buddha) and Japan Temple. Overnight at Kushinagar.
Day 07: Kushinagar / Lumbini
After breakfast drive (170 kms / approx 04 hrs drive) to Lumbini (in Nepal). While going to Lumbini, stop at India/Nepal border for Visa/Immigration formalities. Later check-in at Hotel. Visit Lumbini, the Birth place of Lord Buddha. Overnight in hotel at Lumbini.
Day 08: Lumbini / Sravasti - Overnight train to Delhi
Morning after breakfast drive to Kapilvastu (10 kms) and the continue to Sravasti (150 kms). On arrival check in at hotel. Afternoon visit Sahet Mahet (Capital of ancient kingdom of Kosala, Jetawana Gardens Buddhist temples. Later transfer to Balarampur railway station 19 Km from Sravasti to connect overnight train to Delhi
Day 09: Delhi - Transfer to onward destination
Arrive Delhi and transfer to international airport to connect flight for onward destination.