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On Buddha’s Trail: From Birth to Nirvana

“A Buddha is a person who is completely free from all faults and mental obstructions.”

Buddhist Sites: From Lord Buddha’s birth place to place of Nirvana of Buddha


           There cannot be a more revered pilgrimage site for Buddhists than Lumbini, the birth place of Shakya Muni Buddha. Buddha, the prince of peace and non-violence, was born at Lumbini in 623 B.C. For centuries, pilgrims travelling from afar revered the spot at the Lumbini garden where Gautama Buddha was born, building stupas, monasteries and other types of monuments. The most notable and important is the stone pillar erected by Emperor Ashoka Maurya in the 3rd Century B.C., which authenticates the exact spot where Queen Maya Devi gave birth to the blessed one. Today, the site is being developed as a major international pilgrimage destination with the assistance of the nations with Buddhist populations. Lumbini has been listed in the World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
How to Reach:
Air: Nearest airport is Gautam Buddha Airport in Bhairawa (22km), which is well connected to Kathmandu
Road: Lumbini is well-connected to all neighbouring cities.
          Places to Visit:

Mayadevi Temple
Lokamani Cula Pagoda

Chinese Maitreya Temple 

Ashokan Pillar

          Where to Stay
Lumbini Hokke Hotel
Buddha Maya Garden
Hotel Basil
Hotel Lumbini Garden
Hotel Stupa
                   Once the capital city of the mighty Shakya clan, it was in Kapilvastu’s opulent environs that prince Siddharth (later Lord Buddha) spent most of his early childhood. Kapilvastu was the seat of King Shuddhodhana, the father of the enlightened one. The excavation at the site has been identified with the present day township of Piprahwa. One and a half kilometer away from Piprahwa lie the two excavated mounds. The bigger one, with a thick walled structure was supposedly King Shuddhodhana’s palace. The Second is identified as the ruins of Piprahwa Stupa, erected by Shakya rulers. While excavating this site an inscribed seal was discovered, which read ’Om Devaputra Vihare Kapilavastu Bhikku Sangas’ (This is the Devputra Vihara of the Kapilvastu Bhikshu Sangha). There also lies a small Sri Lankan monastery, the Mahendra Mahavihara in the vicinity of these ruins. Meandering their way through Kapilvastu, the devotees feel transferred thousands of years back to an era when young Prince Siddharth having been the pains of life, renounced all worldly riches and pleasures in the search of the path which leads to creation of suffering and salvation for which he proceeded to BodhGaya.
How to Reach:
Air: Nearest airport is Gorakhpur Airport (109km)
Rail: Nearest Railway station is Naugarh (22km)
Road: Kapilvastu is well connected with nearby towns Sonauli (48km), Lumbini (86km), Gorakhpur (104km).
          Places to Visit:

Salargarh Archaeological Site 
Garwariya Archaeological Site 

      Where to Stay
Rahi Motel
Sri Lankan Temple Dharamshala
The Royal Retreat
Satkar Hotel
          This region was one of the Buddha’s favourite places. Numerous Buddhist spots adorn this city which was the seat of the first republic of the world. Amrapali, the famous courtesan became the Buddha’s disciple. As the legend goes that after the Buddha accepted her invitation to dine with her she became an earnest follower and denoted her mango grove for the Buddhist monks. A stupa is the memory of Amrapali is situated in Vaishali. The other major tourist attractions is the Vishwa shanti Stupa of Vaishali built by Japanese Nichiren Buddhist sect Nipponzan-Myohoji.
How to Reach:
Air: Nearest airport of Patna Airport which is 56 km
Rail: Nearest Railway Station is Hajipur (35km) is well-connected with all major cities of India.
Road: Vaishali is well connected by road with Patna and neighbour districts of the state.
          Places to Visit:

Vishwa Shanti Stupa (World Peace Pagoda)
Koluha Stupa
Ashokan Pillar

Lichhavi Stupa
Abhishek Pushkarni

Vaishali Museum
          Where to Stay
Anamika Hotel
Piyush Hotel
Tourist Bungalow
Youth Hostel
          The ancient town in Bihar was once home to the world’s first university for higher learning. Nalanda is about 90km southeast of Patna. Nalanda means ‘giver of knowledge’.
                   Nalanda, the world’s first residential international university’s ruin still mesmerizes the visitors. The Chinese traveller Xuanzang (Heung Tsang) came and stayed there for five years to learn Buddhism. His narration gives a vivid description of the glorious learning center.   
How to Reach:
Air: Nearest airport is Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan Airport, Patna.
Rail: Nalanda is well-connected with all major cities of India.
Road: Nalanda is well connected with Patna and neighbour districts of the state.
          Places to Visit:
Ruins of Nalanda University
Hieun Tsang Memorial Hall
Nav Nalanda Mahaviahar
          Where to Stay
Hotel Diamond Plaza
Hotel Vandana
Hotel Ratnagiri
 The ancient city Rajgir existed even before the Buddha’s time and was the capital city of the great empire of Magadh. The city was fortified by stone wall that is till existing partly. The natural fortification by five hills and some of the caves believed to be Buddha’s favourite abode for mediation makes the region a point of reverence especially for the Buddhists. Rajgir is situated in Nalanda District. Buddhist scholar Buddhaghosha has mentioned that the city had 32 main gates and 64 minor gates. Its popularity declined once the of Patliputra was made the capital of Magadh.
How to Reach:
Air: Nearest Airport is in Gaya Airport (76km) and Patna Airport (100km)
Rail: Rajgir is connected with Patna, Varanasi, and New Delhi etc with Railway.
Road: Rajgir is well connected with Nalanda, Patna and other cities of the state.
          Places to Visit:

Vishwa Shanti Stupa, Rajgir
Maniyar Math
Giridh Kuta Hill

Ruins of Ajatshatru Fort



Where to Stay

Indo-Hokke Hotel
Rajgir Residency
Hotel Tathagat Vihar
Hotel Siddartha
          The Bodhi tree, under which the Buddha attained enlightenment, has become the magnet for tourists all over the world. The Mahabodhi temple built beside the holy tree is a World Heritage Site declared by UNESCO since 2002. There are magnificent monasteries built by various countries in the ethnic architectural styles are example of rich heritage aesthetics. Bodhgaya radiates with multi-cultural spiritual ambience.
                                                Buddha first travelled Gaya while he was still searching the truth. He mediate with severe penance of fasting in search of enlightenment in the Dungeshwari Mountain Cave. Kuoadol is another very interesting site with remains of monastery and Buddha sculpture along with other rock cut sculptures at the hill base. The Phalgu River in Gaya is an extra ordinary site as the water flows under the sandy river path without any visible water. The sacred river is popular ritual site for the Hindu pilgrims.
How to Reach:
Air: Gaya International Airport is well-connected with major cities like Delhi, Kathmandu of Nepal and Paro of Bhutan
Rail: Gaya is connected by direct rail link to cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Patna etc
Road: Gaya is well connected with capital Patna and other district of the state.
          Places to Visit:

Great Buddha Statue of Bodh Gaya

Mahabodhi Temple

Temple of Bhutan, Bodh Gaya
Temple of Japan, Bodh Gaya
Temple of Tibet, Bodh Gaya
Temple of Thailand, Bodh Gaya

          Where to Stay

Hotel Ajatshatru, Gaya
Heritage Inn, Gaya
Hotel Sujata, Bodh Gaya
Lotus Nikko Hotel, Bodh Gaya
Royal Residency, Bodh Gaya
About 10 km from the city of Varanasi, Sarnath is the place where more than 2,500 years ago Buddha delivered his first sermon after attaining enlightenment. An imposing conical structure,  34 meters in height, called Dhamek stupa signifies the “seat of the holy Buddha” There are also the ruins of Dharmarajika Stupa, besides the original Mulgandhakuti Temple, which according to Hieun Tsang was about 61 meter high. That’s the place where Buddha rested and meditated in Sarnath. After converting to Buddhism, Emperor Ashoka visited Sarnath in 273-232 B.C. and erected a smooth glistening stone pillar here, to mark the foundation of the Buddhist Sangha. The Lion Capital on the top of the pillar is now India’s National Emblem. Then there is a Chaukhandi Stupa, which was a terraced temple during the Gupta period. All there stupas- Dharmarajika, Chaukhandi and Dhamek are outstanding in their architectural features. A journey to Sarnath would be incomplete without a visit to the library at Mugandh Kuti Vihara, which houses some amazing frescoes done by the Koset Nosu. The Sarnath Museum, no far from the site, also houses some of the finest specimens of Buddhist sculpture.
How to Reach:
Air: The nearest airport is Varanasi International Airport: 30 km
Rail: Sarnath is directly connected by Varanasi by local trains and directly connected to the other cites like Lucknow and Gorakhpur.
Road: Sarnath, 10 km from Varanasi, is well connected by road to other destinations of the state.
          Places to Visit:

Standing Buddha, Sarnath

Chaukhandi Stupa

Dhamek Stupa

Where to Stay
Forest Rest House, Sarnath
Mahabodhi Society Dharamshala, Sarnath
Jain Dharamshala, Sarnath
Rathi Tourist Bungalow
Hotel Golden Buddha
          After attaining Enlightenment Lord Buddha was constantly mobile spreading his message of humanity, Universal Brotherhood and salvation amongst the different segments of the society. The service to humanity would stop for a brief period in the monsoons. This period too, however, would be used by Lord Buddha to mediate and preach, on choosing an ambient place. It was during this process that Lord Buddha turned towards Sravasti, 134km from Lucknow. The town played host to Lord Buddha for 27 years and was his annual rainy season retreat. Believed to be founded by the mythological King Sravast (hence name after him), the site holds ruins of many ancient Stupas, majestic monasteries and beautiful temples. This place also has an Anand Bodhi tree, an offspring of the original bodhi tree, planted by main disciple Anand. The site of Mahet is spread over an area of 400 acres. The two main attractions here are the Pakki Kuti and the Kachchi Kuti while Sahet, spread over and area of 32 acres and a little distance away from Mahet, it was here that Anathpindak, a wealthy merchant, constructed the Jetavana Vihar. The remnants of several temples, Stupas and Viharas have been found here. Likewise the huge World Peace Bell is another attraction, which was established with the help of the Japanese. The motive was to convey the message of humanity of Lord Buddha through the bell’s toll. There are also the Thai-Sri Lanka-Myanmar- Chinese- Korean Buddhist Temples, the Shobhnath Temple, Swarna Gandha Kuti, the Ananda Bodhi Tree and the Angulimal Cave here.
How to Reach:
Air: Nearest airport is Lucknow Airport (176km), from where Sravasti reached by rail upto Balrampur via Gonda.
Rail: Nearest Railway station is Balrampur (17km).
Road: Bus services are available from all major neighboring centers.
          Places to Visit:

Thai Monastery 
Maheth Kachhchi Kuti 
Maheth Pakki Kuti

Eight Stupas of Sravasti
World Peace Bell

      Where to Stay
Tourist Bungalow, Sravasti
Burmese Temple Rest House
Chinese Temple Rest House
Jain Dharamshala
          In his bid to spread his message Lord Buddha also visited Kaushambi, 60km from Allahabad, counted one amongst the most prosperous cities of those times. It was the capital of the then Vatsa Janpada, with Udayan as the king. This place is believes to have been visited by Lord Buddha in the 6th and 9th years after attaining enlightenment. He delivered several sermons here, elevating it to a centre of higher learning for the Buddhists. Excavations have revealed ruins of Ashokan Pillar, an old fort and the Goshita Ram Monastery, besides a huge number of sculptures and figurines, cast coins and terracotta, objects.
How to Reach:
Air: Nearest airport is Allahabad Airport (40km)
Rail: Nearest Railway station is Bahrwari (15km) but convenient is Allahabad (40km) which is well-connected with all major cities of India.
Road: Kaushambi is well connected with Allahbad, Kanpur, Varanasi, Sarnath, Lucknow and other major cities of the state.
          Places to Visit:

Ashokan Pillar

       Where to Stay

Jain Dharamshala, Kaushambi
Sri Lanka Buddha Vihar, Kaushambi
          Kushinagar, is one of the principal centre of Buddhist pilgrimage, is the place where Lord Buddha left his corporeal self and attained Mahaparinirvana. The credit for bringing this ancient to light goes to General A. Cunningham and A.C.I. Carlyl, who, after excavating the sites in 1861, Later, between 1904 and 1912, several excavation conducted by the Archeological survey of India as Kushinagar confirmed its identity.
                   The monuments of Kushinagar are situated in three distinct groups comprising the main site of the Nirvana Temple, the central stupa and surrounding monasteries, the Mathakuar shrine to the southwest, and the Ramabhar Stupa a kilometer to the east.
How to Reach:
Air: Gorakhpur Airport is 46 km and Lucknow Airport is 252 km.
Rail: The nearest railway station is Deoria (35 km) whereas Gorakhpur is 53km.
Road: Kushinagar is well connected with other parts of the state.
          Places to Visit:
Mahaparinirvana Temple
Ramabhar Stupa

Myanmar Temple, Kushinagar
Thai Temple, Kushinagar


          Where to Stay
Pathik Niwas, Kushinagar
Hotel Nekko Lotus
International Guest House
Birla Hindu Buddha Dharamshala
Burmese Dharamshala
Other suggested Buddhist Place
          Patna, which in the ancient times was known as Patliputra, is the capital of Bihar. The city is among the world’s oldest capital cities with unbroken history of many centuries as imperial metropolis and enjoyed the status of the entire empire of Magadh during the Golden age of India. The history and heritage of modern-day Patna go back well over two millennia. The city of Patna is a very fertile stretch of land along the bank of river Ganga. Today it is known as the Gateway of Buddhist and Jain circuits.
How to Reach:
Air: Patna is well-connected with airways. There are direct flights to Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai, Ranchi etc
Rail: Patna is well-connected with all major cities of India. All important trains have stoppages here.
Road: All weather motorable roads connect Patna with rest of Bihar. There are regular inter-state and intra-state bus services.
          Places to Visit:

Buddha Smriti Park, Patna
Golghar, Patna

Patna Museum
Kumrahar, Patna 

          Where to Stay
Kautilya Vihar, Patna
Hotel Patliputra Ashok
Hotel Samrat International
Hotel Maurya
Hotel Chanakya
Suggested Itinerary:
Delhi – Agra – Allahabad – Varanasi – Bodhgaya – Rajgir –Patna- Nalanda – Vaishali – Kushinagar – Lumbini – Kapilvastu – Sravasti – Lucknow – Delhi

“It is better to travel well than to arrive” – Buddha


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