Buddhist Pilgrimage Tour

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Buddhist Destination


FOUR SACRED BUDDHIST PLACES
BODHGAYA: after renouncing worldly ties, Siddhartha , a prince of the Sakes clan ,practised severe penance for six years , lived under the guidance of many a spiritual teacher, and eventually came to Uruvela, as Bodh Gaya was then know. While meditating under a Bodhi tree, Siddhartha gained enlightenment, came to be known as the Buddha, or the enlightened one and founded the religion, Buddhism.

Bodh Gaya is a home to dozens of monasteries maintained by various Buddhist countries. And the Mahabodhi temple as well as the adjoining Mahabodhi tree under the shade of which Buddha attained enlightenment, are important pilgrimage destinations.

MUST SEE
MAHABODHI TEMPLE

While the drive to Bodh Gaya, one of Buddhism holiest sites, is long and strenuous, the sprawling Mahabodhi temple complex, makes a definite impact on one thanks to the serenity of the centuries old shrine.
The elaborately caved Mahabodhi Temple, Buddhism holiest shrine and and a popural destination for nirvana seekers, marks the site where the prince-turned-recluse- turned- spiritual leader, Gautama Siddhartha, attained enlightenment some 2,500 years ago after intense meditation. From then on, he was known as the Buddha or the Enlightened one. the first temple was built b emperor ashoka in the the 3rd century BC, and it is said that Ashoka placed the ancient arch at the approach way to the temple. On the left, you will see one of the several footprint of the Buddha, and devotees believe these to be authentic impressions left behind by the Buddha. On the right stands one of the many stupas that can be seen on the temple grounds. The present temple dates back to the 5th or 6th century. It is one of the earliest Buddhist temples built entirely with bricks from the late Gupta period. The Mahabodhi temple was declared a word heritage site by UNESCO IN 2002.

A hush descends on visitors when they visit this imposing temple .monks sit cross legged at the foot of the enormous carved and gilded Buddha statue, reading holi scripts in a deep sonorous hum. The temple and the adjoining Mahabodhi tree - under the shade of which Buddha attained enlightenment - have long been pilgrimage destinations.

BODHI TREE
Also called the peepul , bo or tree of knowledge, the Bodhi tree (ficus religios) at the rear of the main temple was planted in the 19th century. The original tree died long time ago, and the current one is an offshoot of the one under which Buddha attained enlightenment. This tree has now been encircled by metal railings. Pilgrims and monks sit around the tree in the early hours of the morning, to chant and meditate.

VAJRASANA
A large rectangular area has been demarcated with a polished red sandstone under the Bodhi tree. This place, vajrasana, is covered with a golden canopy, and it is said that Buddha attained enlightenment while sitting here. Flowers decorate this place and an urn has been placed here to collect donations.

HOW TO REACH
By Air: Gaya airport, 12km away, is the closest airport. There are direct flights to this airport from Kolkata and Bangkok. Another airport at patna (140km away) gets regural flights from Ranchi, Lucknow, Chennai, Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai. One can go to Bodhgaya by bus or a taxi from the airport.

By Rail: Gaya is the nearest railhead and well connected by the Indian railway network with Patna, Varanasi, New Delhi, Kolkata and Puri, and other local destinations in Bihar.

By road: The Bihar state road transport corporation (BSRTC) runs bus service between Bodhgaya and Patna , and to Nalanda and Rajgir. Private bus service and taxies are also available.

VARANASI, SARNATH: A city still held in the coils of river ganga, is often called the city of lord shiva who will grant its inhabitants dharma (piety), artha (wealth), and kama (comfort of the senses). With a recorded history of about 3,000 years and an unrecorded one going back even further, this is one of the oldest cities in the world. One of the seven sacred places of india, people come to Varanasi for a variety of reasons- to immerse themselves in mysticism, or to study at the benaras hindu university, or to light the pyre of a close relative, or to find spiritual release, or to just sit and watch the ganges flow by.

Famous for its ruins of Buddhist stupas, Sarnath has gone down in history as the site of the Buddha first discourse. ItΓ’€™s the place where dhamma was preached for the first time and the Sangha was founded. Only 10km from Varanasi, the peace and quiet of Sarnath is in complete contrast to the hustle and bustle of Varanasi. With grass lending softness to the rocky remnants of the stupas strewn around, Sarnath is a must visit place for pilgrimage sites identified with the Buddha.

HOW TO REACH
BY AIR: There are direct flights to Varanasi, which is well connected by air to several cities in India such as New Delhi, Khajuraho, Bhubaneswar, Lucknow and Mumbai.

By Rail: Varanasi is a major railway junction and is well connected with all important cities of india. Quite a few major trains halt/arrive/depart from Varanasi.

By road: Varanasi is very well connected by a network of roadand road transport to all major towns of uttar Pradesh and surrounding areas. NH-2, NH-7 and NH-29 connect Varanasi to various cities of the country, by motorable, all-weather roads.

KUSHINAGAR: kushinagar or kushinara (as it was called during the Buddha life time ) is a small town, 53km west of gorakpur . its at kushinagar that the Buddha attained mahaparinirwana , a final liberation from cycle of life and death. During the Buddha life time, kushinagar was the capital of malls one of the 16 janpadas (kingdoms). It reminded an important city till the 12th century, after which it went into complete oblivion. A large stupa was excavated here in 1876. In the detailed excavation that followed, the statue of a reclining Buddha was found. Now kushinagar is one of the four most revered Buddhist pilgrimages, other being lumbini where the Buddha was born, Bodhgaya where he found enlightenment and sar nath where the preached his first sermon.

Mahaparinirvana stupa : the nirvana stupa is a brickwork stupa, situated in a garden and stands at a height of 1.74m. it wasexcavated in 1867. A copper vessel, excavated from this site stated in ancient brahmi that the Buddha remains had been deposited here.

Nirvana temple: the nirvana temple houses a statue of a reclining buddha, over 6m long, which was excavated in 1876. The statue was carved from chunar sandstone and represents the dying Buddha, reclining on his right side. An inscription below dates the statue to the 5th century AD.

Ramabhar stupa: a kilometre away fram the nirvana stupa, ramabhar stupa marks the place where the Buddha was cremated. The stupa has circular plinth, 47.24m in diameter, that rests on a circural plinth, 47.24m in diameter, making it almost double of the main stupa. Other important attractions are a Japanese temple the kushinagar museum, which displays finds from excavations at this site, a Japanese garden for children , Buddhist temples of Myanmar, china and Thailand, and a meditation park near the main nirvana temple.

HOW TO REACH:
By air:the nearest airport from kushinagar is Varanasi (215km away), which is connected with new delhi, Kolkata, lucknow and patna.

By rail:the nearest railhead is Gorakhpur, which is an important station in uttar Pradesh. A good network of railways connects Gorakhpur with major indian cities like new delhi , kochi and Mumbai.

By road:a good network of roads connects kushinagar to other cities of uttar Pradesh, like Gorakhpur (51km), sravasti (250km), sarnath (266km), and agra (680 km).

IMPORTANT BUDDHIST DESTINATIONS
AJANTA CAVES:
Located 99km away from Aurangabad, the Ajanta caves were built during the gupta period, between the 2nd and 1st century BC. The caves of Ajanta are all Buddhist and are famous for their magnificent paintings. The cave paintings initially suffered some deterioration but they have been now been carefully preserved. The caves are about a 3 hour drive from Aurangabad, an hourly bus service is available from Aurangabad to the nearby town of jalgoan via Ajanta.

AMARAVATI is the de facto capital city of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The planned city is located on the southern banks of the Krishna river in Guntur district, within the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region. The word "Amaravati" derives its name from the historical Amaravathi Temple town, the ancient capital of the Telugu Rulers of the Satavahana dynasty. The foundation stone was laid on 22 October 2015, at Uddandarayunipalem area by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. The metropolitan area of Guntur and Vijayawada are the major conurbations of Amaravati.

BARABAR CAVES : The Barabar Caves are the oldest surviving rock-cut caves in India, mostly dating from the Maurya Empire(322Γ’€“185 BCE), some with Ashokan inscriptions, located in the Makhdumpur region of Jehanabad district, Bihar,India, 24 km (15 mi) north of Gaya.

These caves are situated in the twin hills of Barabar (four caves) and Nagarjuni (three caves); caves of the 1.6 km (0.99 mi)-distant Nagarjuni Hill are sometimes singled out as the Nagarjuni Caves. These rock-cut chambers date back to the 3rd century BCE, Maurya period,of Ashoka (reigned 273Γ’€“232 BCE) and his grandson, Dasharatha Maurya. Though Buddhists themselves, they allowed various Jain sects to flourish under a policy of religious tolerance.

The caves were used by ascetics from the Ajivika sect founded by Makkhali Gosala, a contemporary of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, and of Mahavira, the last and 24th Tirthankara ofJainism. Also present at the site are several rock-cut Buddhist and Hindu sculptures.

Most caves at Barabar consist of two chambers, carved entirely out of granite, with a highly polished internal surface and exciting echo effect. The first chamber was meant for worshippers to congregate in a large rectangular hall, and the second, a small, circular, domed chamber for worship. This inner chamber probably had a small stupa-like structure, at some point, though they are now empty.

DHARAMSHALA: Dharamshala is a city in the upper reaches of the Kangra Valley and is surrounded by dense coniferous forest consisting mainly of stately Deodar cedar trees. The suburbs include McLeodGanj, Bhagsunath, Dharamkot, Naddi, ForsythGanj, Kotwali Bazaar (the main market), Kaccheri Adda (government offices such as the court, police, post, etc.), Dari, Ramnagar, Sidhpur, and Sidhbari (where the Karmapa is based).

The village of McLeodGanj, lying in the upper reaches, is known worldwide for the presence of the Dalai Lama. On 29 April 1959, the 14th Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso) established the Tibetan exile administration in the north Indian hill station of Mussoorie. In May 1960, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) was moved to Dharamshala.

Dharamshala is the centre of the Tibetan exile world in India. Following the 1959 Tibetan uprising there was an influx of Tibetan refugees who followed the 14th Dalai Lama. His presence and the Tibetan population have made Dharamshala a popular destination for Indian and foreign tourists, including students studying Tibet.

One of the main attractions of Dharamshala is Triund hill. Jewel of Dharamshala, Triund is a one-day trek at the upper reaches of McLeod Ganj, about 9 km from McLeod Ganj

DUNGESHWARI : Located around River Phalgu, Dungeshwari Caves are a 15-kilometer drive away from Bodh Gaya. The cave-like structure is surrounded by several shrines and stupas. A visit to this spot is a good break from the city as the drive till Dungeshwari is scenic and pleasant . The legend behind the Dungeshwari Hills says that it was this cave where Lord Buddha stayed for almost 6 years before he headed to the city of Bodh Gaya for seeking enlightenment.

This fairly nondescript cave in the Pragbodhi Hills northeast of Bodhgaya is where Buddha is said to have spent seven years living as an ascetic, almost dying from starvation in the process. There's not much to see but getting here is fun; either on a motorbike tour or on foot.

HEMIS GOMPA:Hemis gompa is supposed to be the most important and wealthiest of all the gompas and it is also the oldest. It has the largest collection of thankas, Buddhist scroll paintings which are displayed to the public only once in 12 years. The main attraction is the hemis festival which is held in honour of guru padmasambhava birth anniversary during summer and has highly choreographed cham dances. Every 12 years, the thangka, the largest in the world, is displayed. Sacred masked dances performed by the lamas of hemis monastery.are are enactment of the magical feats of padmasambhava in his services to the cause of Buddhism in his eight different manifestations. It house silver chortens stupped with precious and semi-precious stones. It also has an impressive libarary of Tibetan stylebooks, numerous thangkas and frescoes including the famous wheel of life. According to a lore, in the earlier days the basement housed kitchens where lamas prepared tea for the visitors who savoured it lolling on the steps leading to it. The monastery and its apporoach road is dotted with a number of siachen rose bushes.

ELLORA CAVES :The world famous caves of ellora are situated at a distance of about 34km from Aurangabad. There are 34 caves at ellora -12 buddhist , 17 hindu and five jain- which are famous for their sculpture. The caves are cut into a hillside running from north to south. It is through that Buddhist caves were constructed around 600 to 800 AD, the hindu caves were built around 900 AD and the jain caves were completed by 1000 AD. Ellora is connected by a regular bus service to Aurangabad and the trip takes around 45 minutes.

GURPA IN BIHAR : A small village, Gurpa in Bihar forms part of Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India that are of great significance. After the Buddha's death he was succeeded by Maha Kassapa. It is believed that while Maha Kassapa was enroute to his favourite hill resort Kukkutapadagiri, he realized that his life was nearing its end.

During his journey, he had to encounter rocks that hindered his journey. He struck all the rocks with his staff, which opened up and paved his way. When he reached the hilltop, rocks formed a cavity, entering which he went into deep meditation. But the rocks around him closed off. It is believed in Buddhism India that when Maitreya or the Future Buddha will appear in the world, he will first visit Kukkutapadagiri, raise Maha Kassapa and get the Buddha's robes from him. Then, he will begin his new dispensation. This sacred mountain is now called Gurpa where many Hindu and Buddhist shrines and their relics can be sighted near the cave.

A steep path takes you to the base of a cliff with a narrow crack, which when entered takes you to another cave, where Asanga spent his life in meditation. Fabulous views from the hilltop and a calm atmosphere make it perfect for meditation.

GHOSRAWAN, BIHAR : Ghosrawan is a village located near the town of Bihar Sharif in Bihar, India. It is in close proximity to the ancient sites of Pavapuri and Nalanda. It is notable for its Buddhist ruins including a Buddhist stone inscription. An Aashapuri Maharani temple is also nearby.
The village of Ghosrawan has a huge statue of Lord Buddha which is some ten feet tall. The statue of Lord Buddha stands in the outskirt of village and is made of shiny black stone and is well carved. Other than the huge statue of Lord Buddha, there is another temple in the village which houses numerous statues of Lord Buddha and other Bodhisattvas. Many of them are worshiped by Hindus and are besmeared in vermilion and have lost their original charm.

Recently, there has been effort to revitalize Buddhist statues all across the region so that all such statues which are originally of Lord Buddha or of Bodhisattvas should be recovered.

There is a small museum near Ghosrawan, which is putting an effort to save the Buddhist heritage in the region. The museum, which is open between 10 AM Γ’€“ 5 PM except on Monday, is an excellent example preservation of heritage.

Near to Ghosrawan is Pawapuri, located at a distance of five kilometers. Pawapuri was the birth place of Lord Mahavira and a popular pilgrim destination for Jaias. Pawapuri houses an exquisite marble temple in the middle of a lotus pond. Another attraction at the place is a Jalmandir situated in a rectangular island.

JETHIAN, BIHAR: A small village known as Lativana in earlier times, Jethian is located quiet close to the town of Rajgir in Bihar, India. As per history, post delivering His first and second sermons at Sarnath, the Buddha came back to Bodh Gaya. Here, He not only preached but also proselytized three Kassapa brothers along with their 1000 followers. Following this, He went to Gaya and delivered His fire sermon. After this, the Buddha decided to head towards Rajgir and meet king Bimbisara. When King Bimbisara came to know that the great Buddha was on His way to meet him, he came out of the city along with his men to greet the Buddha. The meeting point of the two great men was a small village which we today know as Jethian (Lativana, Palm Grove then). Later, in the history, sometime in the 7th century, Jethian became home to the renowned saint, Jayasena who taught the famous Chinese traveller, Hieun Tsang for around 2 years at this place.

Buddhist attractions here include remains of a stupa constructed over Supatittha Cetiya. The remains comprise a grassy mound with a tank next to it. This was the place where the Buddha resided while in Jethian. There is also a huge statue of the Buddha next to the mound. Moving further from this site, you will reach the Sarvodaya School where there is yet another statue of the Buddha along with one of Padmapani.

Another attraction worthseeing in Jethian is a large cave known as Rajpind which is located 3 kms away on the north side of the Chandu Hill. This is believed to be the same cave reference of which is found in the Tipitaka. The cave is dark inside and provides shelter to a large number of pigeons. Because of this, it is believed that it is Kapotakandra,

KESARIA STUPA : Kesariya Stupa is a Buddhist stupa in Kesariya, located at a distance of 110 kilometres (68 mi) from Patna, in the Champaran (east) district of Bihar, India. Kesaria Stupa has a circumference of almost 1,400 feet (430 m) and raises to a height of about 104 feet (32 m).[1]

KAUSHAMBI : Kaushambi is 60-KM. from Allahabad, Kaushambi has been an important Buddhist seat. When Lord Buddha traversed widely to convey the message of universal brotherhood and humanity, His sojourn here also glorified Kaushambi. Lord Buddha visited this place in the 6 th and 9 th year after attaining the enlightenment

It is believed that the legendary Hastinapur was destroyed by the flood of the river Ganga. Thereafter the Chandravanshi kings of Kuru dynasty made Kaushambi their capital. Twenty-two of their descendants are side to have ruled from here. During the time of lord Buddha, Kaushmbi was the capital of the famous Vatsa kingdom,ruled by King Udayan. It was also known as Kosam. Vatsa Desha etc.

A large number of architectural relics and ruins, sculptures and figurines, coins and other finds highlight the importance of the city during ancient times, The site has also yielded a large number of punch marked and cast coins and unique terracotta articles which are preserved in the museum of the ancient History department oh Allahabad University and Allahabad Museum.

Kaushambi is also an important place for Jain devotees. The sixth Tirthankar, Lord Padma Parbhu, was born here. Besides, Lord Mahavir Swami sojourned and meditated here for a considerable period. It has also been associated with Khwaja Kark Saha, Saint Maluk Dasji & Navga Saints.

ACCESSIBILITY
BY AIR:
Nearest airports: Bamrauli, Allahabad- 40km, Babatpur,Varanasi-200km., Amausi, Lucknow-260KM

BY RAIL: Nearest railway station is Bharwari-15km, but convenient rail connections are available from Allahabad-50km, which is well connected with all major station

BY ROAD: UPSRTC bus service connects Kaushambi with neighboring towns. Some important road distances are: Allahabad-60km, Fatehpur-75km, Kanpur-150km, Varanasi-185km, Sarnath-190km, Lucknow -260km.

KARLA CAVES:The Karla Caves or Karle Caves or Karla Cells are a complex of ancient Indian Buddhist rock-cut cave shrines located in Karli near Lonavala, Maharashtra. The shrines were developed over the period Γ’€“ from the 2nd century BC to the 5th century AD. The oldest of the cave shrines is believed to date back to 160 BC, having arisen near a major ancient trade route, running eastward from the Arabian Sea into the Deccan. Many traders and Satvahana rulers made grants for construction of these caves. Karli's location in Maharashtra places it in a region that marks the division between North India and South India. Buddhists, having become identified with commerce and manufacturing through their early association with traders, tended to locate their monastic establishments in natural geographic formations close to major trade routes so as to provide lodging houses for travelling traders. Today, the cave complex is a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India.

KUSHINAGAR: Kushinagar or kushinara (as it was called during the Buddha life time ) is a small town, 53km west of gorakpur. its at kushinagar, that the Buddha attained mahaparinirwana , a final liberation from cycle of life and death. During the Buddha life time, kushinagar was the capital of malls one of the 16 janpadas (kingdoms). It reminded an important city till the 12th century, after which it went into complete oblivion. A large stupa was excavated here in 1876. In the detailed excavation that followed, the statue of a reclining Buddha was found. Now kushinagar is one of the four most revered Buddhist pilgrimages, other being lumbini where the Buddha was born, Bodhgaya where he found enlightenment and Sarnath where the preached his first sermon.

NIRVANA STUPA: The nirvana stupa is a brickwork stupa, situated in a garden and stands at a height of 1.74m. it wasexcavated in 1867. A copper vessel, excavated from this site stated in ancient brahmi that the Buddha remains had been deposited here.

NIRVANA TEMPLE: The nirvana temple houses a statue of a reclining buddha, over 6m long, which was excavated in 1876. The statue was carved from chunar sandstone and represents the dying Buddha, reclining on his right side. An inscription below dates the statue to the 5th century AD.

RAMABHAR STUPA: A kilometre away from the nirvana stupa, ramabhar stupa marks the place where the Buddha was cremated. The stupa has circular plinth, 47.24m in diameter that rests on a circular plinth, 47.24m in diameter, making it almost double of the main stupa. Other important attractions are a Japanese temple the kushinagar museum, which displays finds from excavations at this site, a Japanese garden for children, Buddhist temples of Myanmar, china and Thailand, and a meditation park near the main nirvana temple.

HOW TO REACH:
By air:
the nearest airport from Kushinagar is Varanasi (215km away), which is connected with New Delhi & Kolkata.

By rail: the nearest railhead is Gorakhpur, which is an important station in uttar Pradesh. A good network of railways connects Gorakhpur with major indian cities like new Delhi , kochi and Mumbai.

By road : a good network of roads connects kushinagar to other cities of uttar Pradesh, like Gorakhpur (51km), sravasti (250km), sarnath (266km), and agra (680 km).

KAPILVASTU:The little village of Piprahwa is a very important Buddhist pilgrimage since Lord Buddha had spent his first twenty-nine years of life in this region. Excavations by archaeological survey of India have revealed the relation of this place to the Kushan period. An excavated stupa bears text that proves the existence of an ancient monastery named Devaputra in this place. Two mounds have also been excavated at only a little distance (1.5 km) from this village which, is considered to be the ruins of King Suddhodhana's palace.

LADAKH/LEH: Leh is situated at 3,505m above sea level, leh is the most beautiful and the most common entry point into the ladakh region. The place has a number beautiful monasteries and historical monuments that are the biggest draw for visitors. The rugged terrain with snow covered mountains under the clean blue Γ’€“ sky form a stunning picture. Leh is an ideal place for trekking and mountaineering. ItΓ’€™s a beautiful trekking trails and majestic mountains invite an intrepid traveller to explore the barren beauty that leh scattered in and around leh. A land filled with maroon robed monks wearing hip glares will prove to be a revaletion. Unadulterated communion with nature and the sound of silence is a catalyst.

HOW TO REACH:
By air:
Air India at jet Airways operates flights from Delhi to Leh and shuttle services to Srinagar, Jammu and Chandigarh. Regular flights operate from Delhi to leh and between leh to Jammu, twice a week and once a week from Srinagar.

By road:the Srinagar to leh road remains open from early June to November and ordinary bus services are available. The manali- leh road remains open from mid-June to early October. Taxis are also available at leh manali and Srinagar Γ’€“ 18 hours on the road for a distance of 480km

LUMBINI (NEPAL): Lumbini is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the Rupandehi District of Nepal. It is the place where, according to Buddhist tradition, Queen Mayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama in 563 BCE. Gautama, who achieved Enlightenment some time around 528 BCE, became the Gautama Buddha and founded Buddhism. Lumbini is one of many magnets for pilgrimage that sprang up in places pivotal to the life of Gautama Buddha.
Maya devi Temple: The ancient Mayadevi Temple, Lumbini, Nepal.
Lumbini has a number of temples, including the Mayadevi Temple and several others which are still under repairing. Many monuments, monasteries and a museum, the Lumbini International Research Institute, are also within the holy site. Also there is the Puskarini, or Holy Pond, where the Buddha's mother took the ritual dip prior to his birth and where he had his first bath. At other sites near Lumbini, earlier Buddhas were, according to tradition, born, then achieved ultimate Enlightenment and finally relinquished their earthly forms.

NALANDA: Nalanda was an acclaimed Mahavihara, a large Buddhist monastery in the ancient kingdom of Magadha (modern-day Bihar) in India. The site is located about 95 kilometres (59 mi) southeast of Patna near the town of Bihar Sharif, and was a centre of learning from the seventh century BCE to c.?1200 CE. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The highly formalized methods of Vedic learning helped inspire the establishment of large teaching institutions such as Taxila, Nalanda, and Vikramashila which are often characterised as India's early universities. Nalanda flourished under the patronage of the Gupta Empire in the 5th and 6th centuries and later under Harsha, the emperor of Kannauj. The liberal cultural traditions inherited from the Gupta age resulted in a period of growth and prosperity until the ninth century. The subsequent centuries were a time of gradual decline, a period during which the tantric developments of Buddhism became most pronounced in eastern India under the Pala Empire.
At its peak, the school attracted scholars and students from near and far with some travelling all the way from Tibet, China, Korea, and Central Asia.[15] Archaeological evidence also notes contact with the Shailendra dynasty of Indonesia, one of whose kings built a monastery in the complex.
Much of our knowledge of Nalanda comes from the writings of pilgrim monks from East Asia such as Xuanzang and Yijing who travelled to the Mahavihara in the 7th century. Vincent Smith remarked that "a detailed history of Nalanda would be a history of Mahayanist Buddhism". Many of the names listed by Xuanzang in his travelogue as products of Nalanda are the names of those who developed the philosophy of Mahayana. All students at Nalanda studied Mahayana as well as the texts of the eighteen (Hinayana) sects of Buddhism. Their curriculum also included other subjects such as the Vedas, logic, Sanskrit grammar, medicine and Samkhya.
Nalanda was very likely ransacked and destroyed by an army of the Mamluk Dynasty of the Muslim Delhi Sultanate under Bakhtiyar Khilji in c.?1200 CE. While some sources note that the Mahavihara continued to function in a makeshift fashion for a while longer, it was eventually abandoned and forgotten until the 19th century when the site was surveyed and preliminary excavations were conducted by the Archaeological Survey of India. Systematic excavations commenced in 1915 which unearthed eleven monasteries and six brick temples neatly arranged on grounds 12 hectares (30 acres) in area. A trove of sculptures, coins, seals, and inscriptions have also been discovered in the ruins many of which are on display in the Nalanda Archaeological Museum situated nearby. Nalanda is now a notable tourist destination and a part of the Buddhist tourism circuit.

NAGARJUNAKONDA: Nagarjunakonda (meaning Nagarjuna Hill) is a historical Buddhist town, now an island located near Nagarjuna Sagarin Nalgonda district, Andhra Pradesh, India. It is 160 km west side of another important historic site Amaravathi. It is one of India's richest Buddhist sites, known in the ancient times as Sri Parvata. It now lies almost entirely under the Nagarjunasagar Dam. It is named after Nagarjuna, a southern Indian master of Mahayana Buddhism who lived in the 2nd century AD, who is believed to have been responsible for the Buddhist activity in the area. The site was once the location of many Buddhist universities and monasteries, attracting students from as far as China, Gandhara, Bengal and Sri Lanka. The Buddhist archaeological sites there were submerged, and had to later be dug up and transferred to higher land on the hill, which had become an island.

RUMTEK : Rumtek Monastery also called the Dharmachakra Centre, is agompa located in the Indian state of Sikkim near the capital Gangtok. It is a focal point for the sectarian tensions within the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism that characterize the Karmapa controversy.

RAJGIR:: Rajgir (originally known as Girivraj) is a city and a notified area in Nalanda district in the Indian state of Bihar. The city of Rajgir (ancient Rajag?ha; Pali: Rajagaha; Hindi: was the first capital of the kingdom of Magadha, a state that would eventually evolve into the Mauryan Empire. Its date of origin is unknown, although ceramics dating to about 1000 BC have been found in the city. This area is also notable in Jainism and Buddhism[3] as one of the favorite places for Lord Mahavira and Gautama Buddha and the well known "Atanatiya" conference was held at Vulture's Peak mountain.

Rajgir is connected to Patna via Bakhtiarpur by rail and road. Bakhtiarpur lies midway between Patna and Mokameh. Road access is by NH 30A to Bakhtiarpur and NH 31 towards south to reach Bihar Sharif. From Mokameh NH 31 to Bihar Sharif. From there, NH 82 will leads to Rajgir. Rajgir is around 100 KM from both Patna and Mokameh. It is located in a green valley surrounded by rocky hills, Rajgir hills. A daily Indian Railways train Shramjeevi Expressconnects Rajgir with the Indian capital New Delhi.

RATNAGIRI : Ratnagiri was once the site of a mahavihara, or major Buddhist monastery, in the Brahmani and Birupa river valley inJajpur district of Odisha, India. It is close to other Buddhist sites in the area, including Pushpagiri, Lalitgiri and Udayagiri.
Ratnagiri monastery in Jaipur district of Odisha crowning flat hill-top is affording a panoramic view of the surrounding might have been chosen for the seclusion for the serene and calm atmosphere necessary for monastic life and meditation studies.
Excavation conducted by Archaeological Survey of India during 1960's yielded the remains of an impressive Stupa (Stupa 1) surrounded by a large number of votive Stupas of varying dimensions, two quadrangular monasteries (Monasteries 1 and 2), a single-winged huge monastery with beautiful carved doorjamb and lintel, spacious open courtyard, cells and verandah facing the courtyard with spacious sanctum enshrining colossal Buddha. The existence of temple with curvilinear tower is only one of its kind discovered in Odisha.

From the impressive remains and large number of sculptures, discovered during excavation, it is clear that the Buddhist establishment of Ratnagiri, dating from circa 5th century CE witnessed a phenomenal growth in religion and architecture till the 13th century CE. Large number of stone sculptures, few bronze and brass image of Buddha and Buddhist pantheon recovered during excavations tend to prove that Ratnagiri was a great Tantric center of Buddhism comparable to that of Nalanda in Bihar.

SANCHI :Sanchi is a Buddhist complex, famous for its Great Stupa, on a hilltop at Sanchi Town in Raisen District of the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. It is 46 kilometres (29 mi) north-east of Bhopal, capital of Madhya Pradesh. The Great Stupa at Sanchi is one of the oldest stone structures in India and was originally commissioned by the emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE. Its nucleus was a simple hemispherical brick structure built over the relics of the Buddha. It was crowned by the chatra, a parasol-like structure symbolising high rank, which was intended to honour and shelter the relics. The original construction work of this stupa was overseen by Ashoka, whose wife Devi was the daughter of a merchant of nearby Vidisha. Sanchi was also her birthplace as well as the venue of her and Ashoka's wedding. In the 1st century BCE, four elaborately carved toranas (ornamental gateways) and a balustrade encircling the entire structure were added. The Sanchi Stupa built during Mauryan period was made of bricks. The complex flourished until the 11th century.
Sanchi is the center of a region with a number of stupas including Satdhara (17 km from Sanchi, 40 stupas, the Relics of Sariputra and Mahamoggallana, now enshrined in the new Vihara, were unearthed there), Morel Khurd (on a fortified hilltop with 60 stupas), Andher (17 km NE of Vidisha), Mawas, Sonari etc. all within a few miles of Sanchi.[3] Sachin to Vidisha.

SRAVASTIShravasti (IAST: Sravasti; Pali: Savatthi) was a city of ancient India and one of the six largest cities in India during Gautama Buddha's lifetime. The city was located in the fertile Gangetic plains in the present-day district of the same name, Shravasti, that belongs to Devipatan Division of Uttar Pradesh near Balrampur, some 170 kilometres (106 mi) north-east of Lucknow. Earlier, it was a part of the Bahraich district, but the latter was split due to administrative reasons.
Shravasti is located near the West Rapti River and is closely associated with the life of Gautama Buddha, who is believed to have spent 24 Chaturmases here. Age-old stupas, majestic viharas and several temples near the village of "Sahet-Mahet" establish Buddha's association with Shravasti. It is said that the Vedic period king, Shravasta, founded this town.
Shravasti was the capital of the Kosala Kingdom during 6th century BCE to 6th century CE. This prosperous trading centre was well known for its religious associations. Sobhanath temple is believed to be the birthplace of the Tirthankara Sambhavanath in Jainism, making Shravasti an important Centre for Jains as well. According to Nagarjuna, the city had a population of 900,000 in 5th century BCE and it even overshadowed Magadha's capital,Rajgir.
As mentioned in the 'Bruhatkalpa' and various Kalpas of the fourteenth century, the name of the city was Mahid. There are subsequent mentions showing that the name of this city was Sahet-Mahet. It is also mentioned that a vast fort covered this city in which there were many temples with idols of Devkulikas.
Today a great rampart of earth and brick surrounds this city. During excavation in 'Sahet-Mahet' near Shravasti City, many ancient idols and inscriptions were found. They are now kept in museums at Mathura and Lucknow. At present, the archaeological department of the Indian Government is excavating the site to perform allied research.Jetavana monastery was a famous monastery close to Shravasti.

SANKISA : Sankassa (also Sankasia, Sankissa and Sankasya) was an ancient city in India. The city came into prominence at the time of Gautama Buddha. According to a Buddhist source, it was thirty leagues from Savatthi. After the Gautama Buddha's Mahaparinirvana (passing away) king Ashoka developed this place and installed one of his famous Pillars of Ashoka in the city, from which the elephant capital survives. He also built a stupa and a temple commemorating the visit of the Buddha. This temple exist even today and the ruins of the stupa are also present as a temple of Vishari Devi. It is said that the name Visahari Devi is given to the mother of the Buddha.

Descent of the Buddha from the Trayastrimsa Heaven at Sankisa.

Currently it has ruins of old monasteries and Buddhist monuments. It is rarely visited by pilgrims since it is difficult to go to, and there are not many facilities. After a long time Alexander Cunningham (British) discovered the place in 1842. Eighty-seven years later Sir Anagarika Dharmapala (Sri Lanka) came here on spiritual quest. In 1957 Panditha Madabawita Wijesoma Thero (Sri Lanka) came to 'Sankisa' for few years and started a Buddhist school (Wijesoma Widyalaya) for poor people.
Sankissa is now identified with Sankissa Basantapura on the north bank of the Ikkhumati river (Kalinadi), betweenKampil and Kannauj, twenty-three miles west of Fatehgarh, twenty-five south of Kaimganj and forty-five north of Kannauj in Farrukhabad district of Uttar Pradesh state of India.

TAWANG:Tawang is a town situated at an elevation of approximately 3,048 metres (10,000 ft) to the east of Bhutan. The area is administered by the Arunachal Pradesh of Republic of India and is claimed by People's Republic of China as a part of South Tibet, under Cona County of Shannan, Tibet. The town once served as the district headquarters of West Kameng district, and became the district headquarters of Tawang district when it was formed from West Kameng.

UDAYAGIRI AND KHANDAGIRI:Udayagiri and Khandagiri, apair of twin hills that once housed a thriving population of jain ascetics, has a fasciascinating array of caves. Though the relatively modern jain temple atop khandagiri evokes little aesthetic interest, the time worn steps, hewn out of stone, give a fascinating overview of ancient enclaves. Some of them have only a couple of pillars while others have remnants of more elaborate decoration. These hills, located 8km from Bhubaneswar, served as jain monasteries from the 2nd century AD.

VAISHALI, BIHAR: Which has been reduced to a small, dusty town today, has great historical significance. Historical records indicate that after the cremation of lord Buddha by the mallas of kushinagar, his ashes were divided among the six heads of state- Ajatashatru of Magadha, the sakyas of kapilavastu, buils of alikappa, koliyas of ramagrama, Brahmins, of vethadipa and lichchhavis of vaishali Γ’€“ and the two mallas of kushinagar and pawa. The lichchhavis received 1/8th of his ashes and they buried it in vaishali under the mud stupa which was letter enlarged by the mauryas. Vaishali is also the birthplace of lord mahavira, the founder of Jainism, and is an important religious destination for the jains as well.

HOW TO REACH:
By air:
The nearest airport from vaishali is patna airport- patna being the capital of bihar. Regular flights operate between patna and important cities like lucknow, Varanasi, new delhi Kolkata and others.

By rail:The nearest railhead is hajipur, 35km from Vaishali , Hajipur is well connected to other cities of India like Varanasi, Mumbai, New delhi.

By road:The Bihar state road transport corporation (BSRTC) runs bus service between Bodhgaya and Vaishali. Private bus service and taxies are also available.