Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India

Buddhism offers four major sites of pilgrimage: the Buddha’s birthplace at Lumbini, the site where he attained Enlightenment Bodh Gaya, where he first preached at Benaras, and where he achieved Parinirvana at Kusinagara.

Some Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India are listed below:

  • Bodh Gaya, Bihar – The site of the enlightenment of Gautama Buddha (Shaka-muni)
  • Sarnath, outside Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh – The site of the first sermon
  • Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh – the site of the Buddha’s paranibbana
  • The fourth, Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha, is now in southern Nepal.
  • Patna, Bihar – Formerly known as Pataliputra, it was the seat of the Mauryan empire and a significant Buddhist centre
  • Rajgir, Bihar – Formerly known as Rajagaha, it was the capital of Magadha, ruled by King Bimbisara, one of the most prominent monarchs and supporters during the lifetime of the Buddha
  • Nalanda, Bihar – Site of an ancient Buddhist university, destroyed by Bakhtiyar Khalji during Islamic attacks
  • Sravasti, Uttar Pradesh – Formerly known as Savatthi, it was the capital of Kosala, ruled by King Pasenadi, one of the most prominent monarchs and supporters during the lifetime of the Buddha
  • Vaishali, Bihar – Seat of a republican state of the Lichchavis, prominent supporters of the Buddha. Site of the Second Buddhist Council

The name of Bihar is derived from vihara, meaning monastery, such was the association of the area with Buddhism. In addition to these sites which were visited by the Buddha, other sites in India have become notable

  • Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh – Site of a large stupa built by Ashoka, it also stored the relics of Sariputra and Mahamoggallana, the two chief disciples of the Buddha; reputedly the place from which Mahinda set out to proselytise Sri Lanka.
  • Ajanta and Ellora, Maharashtra – the site of intricate cave paintings depicting Buddhism
  • Nagarjunakonda, Bavikonda, Thotlakonda, Salihundam, Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh, Ratnagiri, Odisha,
  • Lalitgiri, Odisha and Udayagiri, Odisha – former sites of Buddhist education

 

There are a proliferation of Tibetan Buddhist sites in India

  • Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh
  • Rumtek, Sikkim
  • Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh
  • Tabo Monastery
  • Leh, Ladakh
  • Namdroling Monastery, Bylakuppe, Near Mysore, Karnataka