Sankasya is a holy site which is located in Uttar Pradesh. Also known as Sankassa, Sankissa, Sankasia, it is one of the ancient cities of India. From Farrukhabad, a pilgrim has to undertake a journey of about 47km’s to reach Sankasya. Sankasya is one of the most visited pilgrimage sites in India. It is significant, since, threads of Buddhism are fastened with the place.
The history of Sankasya
Legend has it that Gautama Buddha ascended Tavatimsa, and spent three months there. Gautama Buddha preached the Abhidhamma Pitaka in Tavatimsa; teaching his mothers the sermons of Abhidhamma before descending to earth. It is believed that Buddha, Brahma, and Devraj Indra descended upon the village of Sankasya, which gives the place its holy status. Buddhist legend depicts that Gautama Buddha came down to earth accompanied by Brahma and Sacra in three ladders. The right ladder was of gold for the gods; the left one was of silver for Lord Brahma, and the middle was one of jewels for Gautama Buddha. This particular incident forms a popular motif in Buddhist art.
It is believed that the site of the holy city gate of Sankasya is one of the unchangeable spots of the world. After the preaching of Abhidhamma, all Buddhas descend to the world of men at that particular spot.
This place was visited by the Chinese pilgrim Hiouen Thsang and Fa Hien. Apparently, they found three ladders built of brick and stone by the ancients. They were built to commemorate the descent of Gautama Buddha. Buddha’s descent was commemorated further by building of a shrine on the spot where his right foot touched the ground first at Sankasya.
It is said that Buddha went to Jetavana from Sankasya.
Sankasya is also famous because Lord Ashoka, one of the greatest monarchs of India who followed Buddhism, built a Pillar of Ashoka in the city. The elephant capital survives from it. He also built a temple and a stupa to mark the descent of Buddha. In Sankasya, there is a temple dedicated to Visahari Devi. Visahari Devi is a name given to the mother of Gautama Buddha.
The month of July-August or Shravan is one of hustle and bustle in Sankasya as a large fair known as Savan mela is held.
In 1842, this place was discovered by Alexander Cunningham. Later, Sir Anagarika Dharmapala of Sri Lanka visited it on a spiritual quest. In 1957, a Buddhist school named as Wijesoma Widyalaya was started for poor people by Pandita Madabawita Wijesoma Thero of Sri Lanka.
What to see in Sankasya
The famous Ashokan pillar is one the main attractions in Sankasya. Unfortunately it is in rumbled now, and much of the elephant’s face is missing, but it still holds much significance for a pilgrim. The base of the pillar has still somewhat survived the ravages of time as the pilgrims can still admire the impeccably carved bodhi and lotus leaves.
Most of the tourists or pilgrims visit Sankasya to see the place where Gautama Buddha performed the miracle. Some key points that you must know:
- The temple of Bisaridevi is another major attraction. It is located on a sacred stupa. A huge shiva linga can also be found here.
- There are temples in Sankasya which offers accommodation for travelers.
- The nearest airport from Sankisa is Agra.
- The nearest rail station from Sankisa, about 11 km’s away is Pakhna station.
- Farukabad is situated 47 km’s away from Sankisa and pilgrims can travel by road from Farukabad which is well connected to Delhi and Agra.