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BuddhaHome: The REAL Home of Buddha

Buddhism is a quite popular religion in South-east Asia and has a wide number of followers all across the world. From Singapore to Cambodia extending to Japan, one can find various forms of Buddhism influenced by the local cultures. But as you will delve into the history of its origination, you will find that Buddhism has its roots in India. BuddhaHome delves into those regions where Buddhism originated and from thereon flourished worldwide.

 

Gautam Buddha whose teachings form the basis of the foundation of Buddhism spent all his life in India. From his place of birth to the place where he spent his adulthood days, followed by the places he traveled to spread his knowledge and where he attained Nirvana, all these lie in India and we call this region as the BuddhaHome region.

Let’s Discover BuddhaHome

Gautam Buddha was born in the beautiful grove of Lumbini which lies close to the Indo-Nepal border while his mother was traveling to her father’s city Devadaha and was named Siddhartha. Being born to the Shakya king, Siddhartha led a princely life filled with all the luxuries. He spent the first 29 years of his life in Kapilvastu, located in Uttar Pradesh, India. The sufferings in the world moved him and he decided to find an answer to them. Thus, Gautam Buddha left his life of luxury to find the real meaning of life.

 

Curious to learn, Gautam Buddha wandered through the regions of Northern India and met numerous teachers who could help him to find his answers. But, none of the teachings satisfied him. As such, he decided to find the answers himself. Legend says that it was while meditating under the Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya that he attained supreme knowledge.

Buddha traveled to spread his learning

After attaining enlightenment in Bodh Gaya, Gautam Buddha traveled to various regions to spread his learning. From Bodh Gaya, near Uruvela, he traveled to Benaras (Varanasi) and Isipatthana (Sarnath), and thereon he went to Rajagraha (Rajgir).

According to Pali Tipitaka, Buddha traveled through the cities of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to profess his teachings. It is stated that he used to travel for the nine months of the year and took rest only in the three months of the rainy season. It was even difficult for his disciples to know where he was. The long journey he commenced is stated to cover a region that sums to the radius of 300 sq. km. corresponding to around 200,000 sq. km.

 

If we try to locate his traveled areas, it can be assumed that in the north, he did not go farther than the foothills of the Himalayas as the dense forests were impenetrable. In the south, he went up to the Ganges watershed. In the east, Gautam Buddha traveled till Kajangala (present-day Kankjol which is 18 km south of Rajmahal) and in the west, the farthest he went was Mathura. The prominent regions that he traveled in this area were Savatthi (Shravasti), Vesali (Vaishali),  SankassaNalanda, Rajagraha (Rajgir), and Kosambi (Kaushambi). Some other lesser-known sites blessed by his presence are PatnaChampapuri, and Ayodhya.

Our Goal

Buddha traveled for 45 years, spreading his knowledge and teachings. It was at the age of eighty that he breathed his last in Kushinagar and attained nirvana. The places where Buddha traveled and lived hold prime importance in Buddhism. BuddhaHome wishes to revive these lost pages of Buddhist history and connect you with the rich secrets that behold the blessings of Buddha.

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Buddhism: The Buddha’s Way of Life

With around 520 million followers, Buddhism is the fourth largest faith in the world. Though Buddhism originated in India, the people of the Asian subcontinent vastly practice it and it has been attracting the West as well. One of the major reasons for the popularity of Buddhism is its simple and uncomplicated approach to life. The Buddha’s way of life encompasses a philosophy that is based on reason and compassion.

Buddhism- History

Gautam Buddha was born in Lumbini situated at Indo-Nepal Border in around 600 BCE. He was born to the Shakya ruler and enjoyed a life of all comforts. At the birth of Gautam, the saints made a prophecy. It predicted that Gautam Buddha will either become the strongest monarch who will rule the world, or he will leave all the worldly pleasures to seek enlightenment. Siddhartha, as he was named, spent the first phase of his life in Kapilvastu (in present-day Uttar Pradesh, India), as the prince of the Shakya kingdom. Though he was born to the Kshatriya (warrior) clan, he was against war and fights. He sought peace among humans and nature.

 

While worldly pleasures were the pride of kings, Siddhartha didn’t find any contentment in them. Highly displeased, he left his home at the age of 29 to seek true happiness. The sufferings of the world moved young Siddhartha and thus he decided to find the solution for them. On his path of discovery, Siddhartha met numerous philosophers and ascetics. Their knowledge did not seem to provide him the right answers. Siddhartha disapproved the concept of harming oneself to attain knowledge. Thus, he took the middle path to find the true meaning of life. He meditated under the Bodhi Tree (in Bodh Gaya, Bihar). It was after four weeks of continuous meditation, that he gained enlightenment (true knowledge) and came to be known as Buddha, the enlightened one.

Spread of Buddhism​

Upon gaining enlightenment, Buddha decided to spread his knowledge to the world which could reduce the suffering of the people. He traveled to various regions of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, propagating his learning. Several extracts state that Buddha traveled through the nine months of the year and rested for the three months of the rainy seasons. Influenced by his teachings and calm demeanor, many people started following him and became his disciples.

Buddha spent his whole life teaching people and preaching true knowledge. He attained Nirvana, at the age of eighty. It was after his death, that his disciples formulated the knowledge into Buddhist teachings which became the foundation of Buddhism.

Buddhist Teachings

Buddha believed that attachment was the cause of suffering and to overcome the sufferings one should restrain from worldly desires. These teachings include:

Buddha believed meditation can lead to the development of the spirit of universal love. Hence, he professed that to reach nirvana, one must lead a simple life devoid of hatred and discrimination. 

 

“May I be happy, may my relations be happy, may all living animals be happy”- Gautam Buddha

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Vesak Day Singapore 2020 Celebrations

Vesak Day in Singapore is one of the grandest festivals in the country and the world. Buddhists in Singapore and all over the world celebrate the auspicious day as one of the greatest days of Buddhism. It is believed to be a time of joy, peace, and reflection. Celebrated as one of the holiest days for Buddhists, Vesak day marks the birth, enlightenment (Nirvana), and death (Parinirvana) of the Buddha.

 

Vesak Day Singapore is celebrated on the 15th day of the fourth month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar and this year, it falls on 7 May 2020.

Singapore’s Vesak Day Celebrations

On Vesak Day, Singapore is in a festive mood. Celebrations in Singapore begin early in the dawn and last till the late hours of the day.

Flags and flowers adore the temples on this special day. Devotees arrive early to the temples.  Ceremonial rituals like hoisting the Buddhist flag and bathing of the Lord Buddha are attended by all. The ceremonies at the temples comprise ancient monastic rituals. Monks chant the hymns of the holy Buddha, Dharma (his teachings), and Sangha (his disciples).

Lord Buddha preached to his disciples and the world that the only way to pay homage to Him is by following his teachings. As such, Buddha’s followers practice his sermons of peace, harmony and love to honor him and his life. Hence, Vesak Day is celebrated with good deeds, simple festivities, and harmonious rituals.

The day celebrations end with festivities. Processions line up the streets with devotees paying their gratitude to the holy day.

Buddhist Rituals on Vesak Day Singapore

On the day of Vesak, traditional Buddhist rituals make the day special. The hoisting of the Buddhist flag and the ‘bathing’ the Buddha are organized in the various Buddhist temples. The hosting of the Buddhist flag is a symbol of faith and peace and marks the day as the holy day for Buddhism.

Vesak is the day of Birth of Buddha, as such, on this day, the monks bathe the statue of infant Siddhartha. Thereafter, they worship it with flowers.  To perform the Bathing Buddha Ritual, the monks scoop water from the holy basin in the temples and poured over the statue. The ritual is in remembrance of the legend that the lord on his birth was showered with the waters of nine dragons. Born as Siddhartha Gautama before he became the Buddha, the lord was a royal prince pampered with pleasures before he gave it up all to attain salvation.

 

On this day, most of the Buddhist temples in Singapore are decked up for the occasion. But if you want to enjoy a festive experience, you must head to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, Siong Lim Temple, or Thian Hock Keng Temple.

Offerings and Good Deeds

As per Lord Buddha’s teachings, good deeds truly honor the Lord. As such people spend the day doing good deeds. Devotees believe that performing worthy deeds on the day will increase the blessings.

Buddhists in Singapore and all over the world on the day make donations to charity, distribute gifts and food to poor and needy, release the captured animals, organize blood donation camps, take vegetarian food, etc. to honor the Lord. Devotees also spend their hours chanting mantras and reading the sermons of the Buddha.

Candlelight Processions on Vesak

As daylight ends, candlelight street processions mark the dusky evenings. Attend the most popular procession organized at Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery location on Bright Hill Road.

 

The statues of Lord Buddha are illuminated while many of the Buddhist devotees practice a bowing ritual for repentance, blessings, and world peace. It is a two-hour-long ritual called ‘three-step, one-bow’ which includes stepping on stairs on knees and taking a bow at every third step.

 

Vesak Day in Singapore is a true celebration of Buddha and his teachings. Devotees celebrate Buddha’s great life and teachings and earn divine blessings with worthy deeds.

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LUMBINI: The Birthplace of Gautam Buddha

According to Mahaparinirvana Sutra (one of the most influential Buddhist Scriptures), Gautam Buddha advised his followers that they can find inner peace by visiting the places where he was born, gained enlightenment, taught and attained NirvanaLumbini (Buddha birthplace) is one of the locations where the journey of Lord Buddha started. Go through the blog and find why this place is famous as a Buddhist Pilgrimage site.

History

Among the eight most important pilgrimage sites of Buddhism, counts Lumbini as well. It is the place where Lord Buddha was born in 563 B.C. The holiest spot is situated in the Rupandehi District of Nepal (close to the border of India) that became one of the prime sites of Buddhist Pilgrimage. It plays a key role in the life of Siddhartha Gautam (Gautam Buddha). The meaning of the word Lumbini is “the lovely”. Living up to its literal meaning, the place is a beautiful pilgrimage site for Buddhists; visitors can experience the serenity and spiritual growth here. UNESCO declared it as a World Heritage Site in the year 1997.

Places to visit in Lumbini

Without a doubt, Lumbini is an important site for Buddhism and history lovers but what makes the spot ‘the most visited site’? Well, the answer is its old temples, various monuments, monasteries, etc., which attract pilgrims from all corners of the world. Here, you can witness 64 archaeological sites of which the important ones are:

Bodhi Tree

Bodhi Tree is the tree under which Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment. Though the original descendant of the tree is in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, its saplings were taken to other important Buddhist sites. One such Bodhi Tree lies in Lumbini too. Pilgrims visit the holy tree and make wishes by tying flags around it.

Ashokan Pillar

Buddhism became quite popular during the rule of King Ashoka. He adopted Buddhism as a symbol of peace and harmony. He built the Ashoka Pillar to mark his respect for Gautam Buddha and Buddhism. This pillar is the oldest structure compared to the rest of the Ashoka Pillars and is located inside the Maya Devi temple.

Mayadevi Temple

It is an ancient temple which is located next to a sacred garden. It is also a popular UNESCO World Heritage Site and the birthplace of Gautama Buddha.

Ancient Bathing Pond

Mayadevi pond or Puskarini is a place where Mayadevi (Buddha’s mother) used to bathe. Also, according to some sources, the first bathing of Gautam was done in this pond only.

How to reach Lumbini?

Being the birthplace of Buddha, Lumbini is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site. Pilgrims visit the sacred Buddhist site all through the year, especially during the Vesak day. People flock the place to witness the Vesak celebrations. The place is easily accessible through various modes of travel.

 

Air: The Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu is the nearest international airport to the site. From here you can take a bus or hire a taxi to Lumbini. Otherwise, you can even fly from here to Bhairawa Airport which is 26 km from the place. You can also fly to Gorakhpur Airport which is 100 km from the place.

 

Rail: To reach Buddha’s birthplace, you can take a train to Gorakhpur station from where you can take a bus or hire a taxi.

 

Road: The pilgrimage site is well connected to the major cities of India as well as Nepal. Buses ply between Kathmandu, Bhairawaha, Gorakhpur, Varanasi as well as Sanauli.  As such you can take a bus ride or even drive yourself to the place.

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KAPILVASTU: Childhood Home of Buddha

Kapilvastu is a prime Buddhist pilgrimage site for Buddhists all over the world because Siddharth Gautam spent the initial 29 years of his life, here. While strolling through the lanes of the city, the devotees feel they are taken back to the time when young Siddharth played with his cousins and lived a normal life. It was here that while growing up Siddhartha Gautam chose the path of suffering and discover the truth of life.

History

Legend says that the philosopher Kapila granted permission to the sons of Ikshvaku, the ruler of a Northern state, to build the city of Kapilvastu. They built the city in the memory of Rishi Kapila. The Rishi is estimated to have lived in the sixth century and is considered to be one of the early masters of the Samkhya School of Hindu philosophy. Hence, his philosophy deeply influenced Lord Buddha who grew on the same land.

 

Kapilvastu was the capital of the Shakya state which was located at the foothills of Himalayas. It is now a district in Uttar Pradesh, situated near Aligarhwa on the Indo-Nepal border. Owing to its rich Buddhist history, the place is a Buddhist pilgrimage center of international significance.

Places to visit in Kapilvastu

Kapilvastu is a land of stories, filled with history, faith, and culture. A heritage site, Kapilvastu holds over two hundred archaeological sites. The must-visit places in and around the sacred site are:

Piprahwa Stupa

Several archaeological expeditions suggest that Piprahwa is the burial site of a portion of the Buddha’s ashes. The place has a stupa with inscriptions on it. Along with it, you will also find some ruins of Buddhist monasteries here.

Tilaurakot Fort

The excavations at Tilaurkot, the city of three pillars, reveal a fortress. Several studies state that it is the site where Lord Buddha spent twenty-nine years of his life. Pilgrims from around the world visit the site to pay homage to Buddha and begin on a new spiritual journey.

Tilaurakot Museum

A small museum in Kapilvastu displays the artifacts (objects) uncovered during archaeological excavations. It houses items like coins and utensils and attracts tourists from around the globe.

Samay Mai Temple, Tilaurakot

The Samay Mai Temple complex houses the statue of the Goddess of Time: Samay Mai. Devotees visit the temple and offer elephant statues to the goddess when their wishes are granted.

Salargarh Archaeological Site

This site is located to the east of Piprahwa. It is the place where a monastery of the Kushan period was discovered. A small stupa marks the site, to reach it you will have to take a descending flight of steps.

How to reach Kapilvastu?

Kapilvastu is situated at a distance of 20 km from Siddharth Nagar in Uttar Pradesh. You can reach Siddharth Nagar district easily via rail or road from major cities like Delhi, Gorakhpur, Basti, and Lucknow.

 

By Air: The nearest airport to Kapilvastu is Mahayogi Gorakhnath Airport at Gorakhpur. Siddharth Nagar is around 95 km from the airport. Taxis, as well as buses, are available from the airport to the site.

 

By Train: The nearest railway station to Kapilvastu is the Naugarh station which is at a distance of 22 km from the city. Rails from all the major cities like Gorakhpur, Delhi, Lucknow, and Mumbai connect to the station.

 

By Road: Uttar Pradesh has a great network of roads as well. You can reach Kapilvastu via road either by taking a can or bus. The city is at a distance of 74 km from Lumbini in Nepal, 104 km from Gorakhpur, and 157 km from Kushinagar in India.

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BODH GAYA: The Site of Buddha’s Enlightenment

Bodh Gaya, one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites, is the place of supreme serenity. The small town located in the state of Bihar is that blessed land where Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment. Adorned with beautiful Buddhist architecture and filled with the stories of Buddha, the place is a sacred land stepping on which you will feel relaxed and poised.

History

Gautam Buddha left his life of comforts to attain supreme knowledge. He tried various forms of asceticism while wandering around six years in search of true knowledge. However, he could not find the answers he was looking for. So, he sat under a banyan tree and meditated to get all the answers he was looking for. It was after four weeks of continuous meditation that he gained enlightenment and became Buddha, “the enlightened one”. The tree under which he sat is the Bodhi tree located in Uruvela (presently known as Bodh Gaya). Since then, Buddha’s followers visit the serene city of Bodh Gaya to seek his blessings and it has attained much popularity. In the 3rd Century BCE, King Asoka, a Mauryan ruler, built a shrine to mark the place. Later, it was replaced by the Mahabodhi Temple during the 2nd century.

Places to visit in Bodh Gaya

Being one of the prime Buddhist locations, Bodh Gaya houses some of the most important sites that you must visit.

Mahabodhi Temple

To mark Buddha’s place of enlightenment, King Asoka created a shrine. Over time, the shrine was modified, and later on, it was replaced by the beautiful Mahabodhi temple. Numerous Buddhist sculptures adorn the temple which rises to a height of 170 ft. Four pillars surround the temple structure which has chatras at the top. The inner sanctum has a huge image of Buddha in bhumiparsha mudra (touching the ground pose). Owing to its beauty and rich history, the temple comes in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.

The Bodhi Tree

Gautam Buddha gained enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree. The tree holds great significance for Buddhists and has been preserved for the pilgrims that come here to seek blessings. The tree that stands at the place currently is the fifth descendant of the original Bodhi tree. It lies in the Mahabodhi temple complex and stands to the west of the temple.

Vajrasana

Near the Bodhi Tree, sits a diamond throne, called Vajrasana. The throne is created over a stone with a canopy and is supported by four pillars. It represents the seat of enlightenment. Studies state that King Ashoka placed the seat to mark the place of Buddha’s enlightenment.

Besides, the above-mentioned places there are many other monasteries, temples, and places related to Buddha that you can visit. These include the 80ft Buddha Statue, Sujata Garh, Archaeological museum, Burmese temple, Chinese, Thai and Tibetan Monasteries, International Buddhist House & Japanese temple, etc.

How to reach Bodh Gaya?

Bodh Gaya is a small town located in the north-eastern state of Bihar. Being a popular Buddhist Pilgrimage place, you can reach it easily via any mode of transport: air, rail, or road.

 

Air: Gaya Airport is the nearest airport to Bodh Gaya (7 km). It is an international airport that brings in pilgrims to the place from around the world.

 

Rail: You can reach the place easily via rail as well. The Gaya railway station is 17kms from the site. The Bihar Tourism Board has also started “Wonder on Wheel”, a special caravan service between Patna, the capital of Bihar, and  Bodh Gaya.

 

Road: The place is well connected through road to various other cities of Bihar and prominent Buddhist places like Rajgir, Nalanda, and Varanasi. Buses regularly ply from Patna to Bodh Gaya twice a day. Also, you can opt for chartered tours via buses or taxis.

 

Please note that to enter Bodh Gaya via private vehicle, you will require a special permit, otherwise you can go for e-rickshaws that are noiseless. It is done to maintain the peacefulness of the place.

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KUSHINAGAR: Place Chosen by Buddha for Parinirvana

Kushinagar is one of the most prominent Buddhist pilgrimage sites. It was the place where Gautam Buddha, breathed his last, as such it is considered as one of the holiest places in Buddhism. As soon as you step on the sacred land of Kushinagar, you will be moved by the peacefulness of the place and the captivating Buddhist architecture.

Places to visit in Kushinagar

Kushinagar houses some of the beautiful Buddhist architectures that will immediately capture your attention. King Asoka built a pilgrimage site at the place to mark Buddha’s place of Parinirvana which was further beautified by the rulers of the place. Kushinagar has a lot to offer to its visitors.

Parinirvana Stupa

Parinirvana stupa houses the 6.10 meters long reclining Nirvana statue of lord buddha. The statue is placed on a large pedestal and represents Gautam Buddha attaining Parinirvana.

Ramabhar Stupa

Also known as Mukutbandhan-Chaitya, Ramabhar stupa, is one of the prime attractions of Kushinagar. It is the place where Gautam Buddha attained Parinirvana (final enlightenment) and is situated about 1.5 km east from the Parinirvana stupa, surrounded by lush greenery.

MathaKuar Shrine

MathaKuar shrine contains a huge statue of Buddha sitting under the Bodhi Tree in Bhumisparsh Mudra (touching the ground pose). The statue is said to be carved out of a single stone.

Chinese Temple

Chinese Temple is another temple dedicated to Lord Buddha. It has a beautiful Vietnamese and Chinese architecture.

Indo-Japan-Sri Lanka Temple

The temple is a beautiful marvel that portrays the glory of Buddhism. It has the popular eight metal alloy statue of Gautam Buddha which was brought here from Japan. The temple is a specimen of the contribution of Buddhist followers from different lands.

Wat Thai Temple

Located amidst beautiful scenery, Wat Thai Temple dedicated to Gautam Buddha is a sight to behold. Its beautiful architecture attracts visitors from around the world.

Besides the above-mentioned places, there are several other sites like the Sun Temple, Archaeological Museum, Meditation Park that you can visit.

Buddh Purnima Festival

On the occasion of Buddha’s Birthday also known as the Vesak Day, a month-long fair is held in Kushinagar. During this period, not only Buddhist pilgrims but also the people from nearby regions that are Hindu dominant participate in various ceremonies and perform Puja.

How to reach in Kushinagar?

Kushinagar is located in the north-eastern region of Uttar Pradesh. Being a prime pilgrimage location, it is easily accessible via various means of travel.

 

Air: Varanasi airport is the nearest to Kushinagar. It is well connected with other regions. Upon reaching the airport you can take a bus or private taxi to Kushinagar.

 

Rail: Gorakhpur railway station located 30 miles from Kushinagar is the nearest railway station to the site.

 

Road: The area is well-developed and is connected to all the prime locations of Uttar Pradesh. Hence, you can reach Kushinagar via road quite easily by hiring a taxi or taking a bus ride.

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VAISHALI: Trace Back the stories of Buddhism

Vaishali or the ancient city of Vesali located on the banks of the Gandak river in the state of Bihar beholds a rich history. Being the capital of the renowned kingdom of Lichchavi, it was a prosperous city, besides it has a strong connection with Buddhism and Jainism as well. Let’s know why Vaishali is important for Buddhism and is considered as a prime Buddhist pilgrimage site.

History

As per the great epic Ramayana, Vaishali is said to get its name from its brave ruler King Vishal. It is also known as the land of Ambapali (Amrapali), an Indian courtesan. However, Vaishali is majorly associated with Buddhism and Jainism. Besides being the place of birth of Lord Mahavir, the last Jain Tirthankara, legends state it to be one of the favorite places of Gautam Buddha. As such, Gautam Buddha visited it frequently while spreading his knowledge. It was in Vaishali that Gautam buddha established the first Bhikshuni Sangha. Also, it was the place where he preached his last sermon and announced his approaching Parinirvana.

 

Legend says that after Gautam Buddha announced his Pariniravana and set off to Kushinagar, many of his disciples started following him to Kushinagar to bid him farewell. He tried to stop them by giving them his alms bowl as a memory. But when they refused to pause, he stopped them by creating an illusion of a river. Also, there is folklore related to the place wherein it is said that once when Gautam Buddha came to Vaishali, some monkeys dug up a tank for him to ensure his comfortable stay and also offered him a bowl of honey.

Places to visit in Vaishali

At Vaishali, you will find several Buddhist pilgrimage sites.

Buddha’s Stupa

Buddha’s body relics were divided into eight parts of which one was received by the Lichchavis. These relics were then preserved in stone caskets that were placed in the stupas. These stupas are named as Stupa 1 and Stupa 2 according to their discovery during the excavation of the site. Though these stupas are currently in ruins, they are still visited by pilgrims and are highly revered.

The Ashoka Pillar

At Kolhua, the place where Buddha gave his last sermon and announced his approaching parinirvana stands a large pillar which was erected by Ashoka to mark the site. On the pillar stands a life-size figure of a Lion facing the north which is believed to be the direction of Buddha’s last journey. Besides, the pillar is a stupa and a pond which are also revered by Buddhists.

 

Abhishek Pushkarini (Coronation Tank)

Abhishek Puskkarini or the Coronation Tank is the sacred tank of Vaishali whose water is said to be holy. It is said that the water of the tank was used for the coronation of the kings of Vaishali. Even the elected representatives used to bath with the water to seek blessings.

Vishwa Shanti Stupa

Besides, the Coronation Tank stands a 125 feet high, beautiful white stupa resembling the serenity of Buddhism. Also known as the World Peace Pagoda, the Shanti stupa was built by the Buddh Vihar Society with the help of the Japanese Government. It is said that some portion of Buddha’s relics were preserved in the foundation and the Chhatra of the Stupa.

Kutagrasala Vihara

Kutagrasala Vihara is a monastery constructed at the place where Buddha often stayed while visiting Vaishali. The monastery is double-storeyed and at the ground lies Ananda Stupa that enshrines the remains of Buddha’s disciple Ananda.

How to reach Vaishali?

Vaishali being a major pilgrimage site with rich history receives travelers from around the world; as such the transportation system is well developed. You can reach the place via:

 

Air: The nearest airport to Vaishali is Patna which is around 38 km away. From there, you can take a taxi or hop on a bus to reach the site.

 

Rail: Hajipur Railway Station is the nearest station to Vaishali. Take a bus or taxi to reach the site or you can also opt for auto rickshaws as well.

 

Road: Being a prominent pilgrimage site, Vaishali is well connected to other surrounding cities. You can easily reach the place through your private vehicle or by taking a bus or taxi.

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SANKASSA: Site where Buddha descended from Heaven

Located at the north bank of the Ikkhumati river also known as Kalinadi, Sankassa presently called Sankisa Basantapur is one of the important Buddhist sites in India but is rarely visited by the pilgrims owing to its rough terrain. However, with Buddhism being revived in India, the place has once again come into prominence. It consists of some of the major instances of the Buddha period, hence if you wish to experience some of the marvels of Buddha, then do head to the beautiful Buddhist Pilgrimage site- Sankassa.

History

The ancient city of Sankassa finds its mention in numerous Buddhist tales. Legend says that it was the place where Gautam Buddha set his foot upon returning from heaven after preaching the Abhidhamma Pitaka in Tavatimsa and performing the Twin Miracle under the Gadamba Tree. When his descent was announced, many people came to visit him. Upon Buddha’s descent, Sakka (the ruler of Tavatimsa heaven also known as the God of the Devas) laid three ladders. The first one was a ladder of Gold for the Gods, the second one was the ladder of silver for Maha Brahma and his aides and in the middle was the ladder of jewels meant for Buddha.

Legend says that while Gautam Buddha was descending from heaven one could clearly view the nine Brahma worlds and the hell.

Places to visit in Sankassa

Impressed by the simplicity of Buddhism, King Ashoka became a devoted follower of Buddhism after the bloodshed he saw in the Kalinga war. He built shrines and temples at the places where Buddha went. Sankassa was also built by him where he installed one of his pillars, got constructed a shrine and a temple. However, due to uneasy access, Sankassa was found quite later and most of its architecture is in ruins. But efforts are being made to revive the site that has a strong connection with Buddhism.

The Elephant Capital

Ashoka installed one of his pillars at Sankassa which had an elephant on the top. The elephant symbolizes the white elephant that Buddha’s mother saw in her dream upon conceiving Siddhartha Gautam. Today, only the elephant capital remains that you can find on a large pavilion protected by an iron fence.

Vishari Devi Temple

Ashoka also built a temple at Sankassa known as Vishari Devi temple. The temple is dedicated to Buddha’s mother. Beautiful sculptures of the Mahayana time adorn the temple making it an attractive sight.

The Three Ladders

It is said that when Buddha descended from heaven he placed his right foot first on the ground. In this place, a shrine was constructed of which only the ruins remain. At the place, you will find three ladders made of brick and stone that represent the three ladders laid by Sakka for the descent of Buddha.

How to reach Sankassa?

Sankassa currently known as Sankissa Basantpur is a village located at a distance of 47 km from Farrukhabad district in Uttar Pradesh. You can reach the place via the following ways:

 

Air: Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport (Lucknow Airport) is the nearest International airport to Sankassa. It is well connected to places around the world and brings in Buddhist Pilgrims from various regions.  The airport is 245 km from Sankissa. Agra airport is the nearest domestic airport to Sankassa located 207 km away. From the airport, you can take buses or private taxis to reach the site.

 

Rail: Pakhna railway station is the nearest station to Sankassa. It is 12 km from the site.

 

Road: Uttar Pradesh is well-connected via road. You can reach Sankassa by taking a bus ride or booking a taxi.

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SHRAVASTI: Witness to Buddha’s Miracles

An ancient city located in the Gangetic plains of Northern India, Shravasti (or Sravasti) is revered as a Buddhist pilgrimage in India site due to its close association with the life of Gautam Buddha. According to Buddhist history, Shravasti was one of the ‘Eight Great Places’ or ‘Atthamahathanani’ where Lord Buddha delivered sermons and performed miracles during the course of his monastic life.

History

Located on the banks of river Rapti or Aciravati as it was known back then, Shravasti was the capital of the kingdom of Kosala. It was known to be the sixth-largest city at the time and was prosperous due to its abundant agriculture. Gautam Buddha arrived at the site on the invitation of Anathapindika, an influential merchant who was also a disciple of Lord Buddha. As per historical data, Buddha spent 24 rainy seasons in Shravasti where he stayed at the Jetavana monastery to spread the knowledge he attained through nirvana.

Deur Kothar- Ancient Site at Shravasti

Of all the things Shravasti is known for, the most significant one has to be the Twin Miracles performed by Buddha. According to the legend, Buddha silenced his critics by displaying his psychic powers by emitting water and fire from his body. With the conclusion of this miracle, Gautam Buddha gained respect even from his harshest critics and the city of Shravasti got its name written permanently in history.

Places to Visit in Shravasti

Sanchi is a land with a rich history. It has numerous interesting sights that proudly tell its past glory. It is a popular Buddhist destination housing some of the most famous structures dedicated to Gautam Buddha. However, with the rule of Mughals, the place lost its lustre and vanished in history until its rediscovery in the 19th Century. Declared as the World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Sanchi attracts travelers and pilgrims from around the world.

Jetavana Mahavihara

Perhaps the place that holds most significance for Buddhist pilgrims in Shravasti is the Jetavana monastery. It is spread over four hundred acres of land and houses Gandhakuti which are known to be the Buddha’s quarters. The Anandabodhi tree under which Buddha delivered sermons is also located within the Jetavana complex. The tree is considered holy as it was planted from the same bodhi tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment. 

 

The Miracle Stupa

Constructed in 2004, the Miracle stupa was erected to commemorate the twin miracles of Buddha. A short distance away from the new structure are the ruins of the old stupa that marks the spot of the miracles.

Stupa of Angulimala

This stupa is dedicated to the merciless robber Angulimala whose life turned around after meeting Buddha. He gave up his violent ways and led the righteous life of a Buddhist monk until his death. The Angulimala stupa reminds us that all forms of violence can be overcome by the peaceful teachings of Lord Buddha.

Shobnath Temple

This Jain temple is regarded as one of the most important places of pilgrimage within the Jain community. Marking the birthplace of the third Tirthankara Shobnath, the temple offers insights into early Jain architecture and history.

Amongst other places of significance in Shravasti, the ruins at Orajhar, The World Peace Bell, Kachchi Kuti, and Pakki Kuti at Mahet are also worth a visit.

How to reach Shravasti?

Modern-day Shravasti is a district within the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Located 175 kilometers from the state capital Lucknow, travelers can easily reach Shravasti using the many means of available transport.

 

By Air: The nearest airport is located in Lucknow which is well connected to all the major cities of India. It also offers international flights from Bangkok, Dubai, and Muscat.

 

By Rail: The city of Gonda has the nearest (50 Km) railway station from Shravasti. With regular trains from New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and other cities within Uttar Pradesh the railway station offers seamless connectivity to Shravasti.

 

By Road: The vast network of National and State highways in Uttar Pradesh ensures that Shravasti is well connected if you decide to travel by road. Buses from the state-owned transport corporation or private operators can drop you off at the Gonda Bus Station from where Shravasti is a short taxi ride away.