Famous Buddhist Sites of India

If you are on a Buddhist tour to India, you would most probably like to have information on all the Buddhist sites of the country, be it cities or individual temple monastery or even museums. You would also like to plan out a best possible travel plan for yourself depending upon your budget and time.

A lesser time and budget would require you to plan out more meticulously so that each and every moment of your trip is as fruitful as you would like it to be while a long duration of visit would give you an opportunity to explore even the relatively unknown Buddhist sites. But, long or short, whatever be your time period, for planning out your trip, you would require information on the Buddhist sites of the country in detail – where are they located and how to visit them?

Let’s give you information on some of these sites which you can visit on your trip. For anyone desirous of exploring Buddhism in India, it is inevitable to leave out the most important sacred sites – Bodhgaya, Sarnath and Kushinagar. Starting off with Bodhgaya, it is the place of enlightenment or the place where the prince Siddharth became ‘aware’ and came to be known as the Buddha.

The Mahabodhi complex here, with the Mahabodhi temple and bodhi tree under which Siddhartha attained enlightenment, is a world heritage site and immensely revered by Buddhists all over the world. A number of monasteries have been established by monks and government of different countries in this small town of Bodhgaya. Amongst them are the Chinese temple and monastery, the Thai monastery and Buddhist monastery of Bhutanese.

Bodhgaya is located in the state of Bihar which is also home to a number of other Buddhist sites. You can either reach Gaya (close to Bodhgaya) or Patna and explore the rest of the destination from thereon. Rajgir, Nalanda, Vaishali are few of the other sites which you can pay a visit to while visiting Bodhgaya.

Uttar Pradesh is the state where the second sacred site, Sarnath, is located. After attaining enlightenment in Bodhgaya, Lord Buddha moved to Sarnath and gave his first preaching to five ascetic friends who had earlier accompanied him in his wanderings. The Dhamekh stupa, the Dharamrajika stupa, the Ashokan Pillar are few of the attractions for you here. The first of these marks the spot where Lord Buddha gave out his sermon while the second one was erected by Indian emperor Ashoka to enshrine the relics of the Buddha.

Kushinagar, the third sacred site where the Buddha is believed to have achieved mahaparinirvana, is also located in Uttar Pradesh.
The Mahaparinirvana temple and the Nirvana stupa are the highlights here. Varanasi can serve as the nearest airport to reach both Sarnath and Kushinagar. While Sarnath is pretty close to Varanasi, Kushinagar is more than 250 km away. If you are travelling by train, Gorakhpur, approximately 53 km away, is the closest one to reach Kushinagar. While in Uttar Pradesh, you can also explore other Buddhist sites like Sravasti, Kaushambi and Sankisa.

States of Jammu Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh with their number of monasteries are also worth visiting for Buddhist tourists. It is not as if the entire state is influenced by Buddhism, but a certain area definitely is. In Jammu Kashmir, the Ladakh region and in Himachal Pradesh, the Lahaul Spiti region are where you can see the influence of Buddhism most. Himachal Pradesh is also home to the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama and his followers. Post Chinese invasion of Tibet way back in 1950s, the Dalai Lama and his followers made Mc Leodganj in Himachal their home. You can get a glimpse of Tibetan Buddhism by paying a visit to Mc Leodganj. The famous monasteries of the state include the Tabo, Kye, Dhakar and Shashur. As for the famous monasteries in Jammu Kashmir are concerned, they include Hemis, Spituk, Lamayuru, Thiksey and Alchi.

Manali can be used to reached both Lahaul Spiti region in Himachal Pradesh and Leh-Ladakh in Jammu Kashmir. Which time of the year you are visiting is also important since the route from Manali is only open between June to November depending upon climatic conditions. Before making the trip, it is advisable to find out the latest situation of the route. Leh has an aiport which is connected to Delhi by daily flights.

Like the ones mentioned above, there are a number of other sites that can be visited in India. You just need to make a bit of research and the number of Buddhist sites you will come across will be completely to your satisfaction.