Buddhist Pilgrimage “An Awakening”
Buddhism is among the primitive and ancient religions of the world, thrived from 3rd century in India. Buddha circuit tour basically focusses on those destinations which are linked to the life and sermons of Buddha in a significant way. This sectors covers all the important Buddhist sites which have the significant influence from the life of Lord Buddha and has important place in all the Buddhist monks’ heart. The major place to be covered are Shravasti, Lumbini, Kushinagar, Nalanda, Rajgir, Bodhgaya and Sarnath (Varanasi).
Shravasti: Shravasti is a beautiful city situated at a distance of 175 km from Lucknow, and was one of the six largest cities during Gautam Buddha lifetime. Located near to Rapti River, it was once the capital city of Kosala Janpad. It is said that Gautam Buddha spent 24 vasant of his life in a monastery built by his followers at Anathapindika. Shravasti being a significant historical town has in store ample of temples, shrines, stupas, monasteries, viharas and other religious attractions filled with peace and spirituality to allure the visitors. Significant place to visit are Jetavana Monastery, Vibhuti Nath Temple, Vipassana Meditation Centre, Anathapindika Stupa, Sobhnath Temple.
Lumbini: Lumbini is a city in Nepal, is the birthplace of Lord Buddha. It is very famous among the Buddhist Tourists. One can visit Mayadevi Temple situated at Lumbini Park and take holy bath in Maya Devi pond next to the temple. Among the pilgrims was the Indian emperor Ashoka, who erected one of his commemorative inscribed Ashoka pillars there. One can also visit China Temple which is beautiful pagoda style temple with many prayer and meditation cells.
Kushinagar: Kushinagar, ancient times, it was known as Kushavati. It was here that Lord Buddha is said to have attained ‘Mahaparnirvana’, the freedom from the endless cycle of birth & rebirth. Many of the ruined Stupas & viharas here date back to 3rd century BCE 5th century CE when prosperity was at its peak. You can visit Nirvana Stupa, Nirvana Temple, Madhukar Shrine, and Ramabhar Stupa.
Nalanda: Nalanda (insatiable in giving), founded in the 3rd century BC. It was visited several times by Lord Buddha, & the monasteries date from the time of Emperor Ashoka. This greatest seat of learning flourished until 12th century & played a central role in development of Buddhism in India. Ruins of Great Ancient University have been excavated where once 2000 teachers & 10,000 students walked its portals. The ruins extend over a large area, consisting of sites of monasteries, Stupas & temples. In the museum nearby are deposited numerous sculptures & other antiquities recovered during excavations.
Rajgir: Rajgir, an ancient town, once the capital of the powerful state of Magadha, & closely associated with the life of Lord Buddha. The most important event of Buddha’s visit to Rajgir was the conversion of two future disciples, Sariputra & Maudgalyayana. Following their conversion, many wandering ascetics also became followers of the Buddha. He also converted the Mauryan King Bimbisara, one of his most celebrated followers, at the Griddhakuta Hill, where he delivered many of his Sermons as well. Thus Rajgir became an important centre of Buddhism as the fame of the Buddha spread throughout Magadha. It was also the scene of many attempts by Devadatta, Buddha’s cousin, to kill him over his ideological differences with Buddha. Rajgir is also an important place of pilgrimage for Hindus & Jains. Some of the popular Buddhist sites are Shanti Stupa, Veluvana Vihar, Karanda tank.
Sarnath: Sarnath; the site of the deer park where Gautama Buddha is said to have given his first sermon about the basic principles of Buddhism. It has been a premier centre for Buddhism & has a rich collection of ancient Buddhist relics & antiques comprising numerous Buddha & Bodhisattva images on display at the Archaeological Museum. One can visit Dhamekh Stupa, Thai Temple, Dharmarajika Stupa, and Ashoka Iron Pillar.
How to reach: One can start the journey from Delhi as it is one of the major International airports in India. Later, travel to Lucknow via flight or train to continue the journey.