To understand the essence of Buddhism, a visit to Kaushambi is a must. Blessed by the sermons of the Lord Buddha after his enlightenment, Kaushambi is among the Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India. Though in ruins now yet losing none of its serenity, the modest town of Uttar Pradesh was formerly one of the capitals of the grandest kingdoms as well as among the most affluent cities of ancient India. The great patron of Buddhism, Empire Ashoka immortalized the holy center of learning with an Ashokan Pillar. Also found in the excavation are monasteries, numerous sculptures, figurines, coins, punch-marked, cast coins, terra-cotta sculptures, etc.
After the Buddha attained his enlightenment, he delivered his sermons in various cities and towns to spread the Dhamma (dharma). In the 6th year of the Lord Buddha’s enlightenment, he arrived at Kaushambi, the capital of ‘Vatsa Janpad’ under the reign of King Udayana. For the following years, the Buddha delivered numerous sermons and the city became one of the respected learning centers for Buddhists. To date, Kaushambi remains one of the significant cities that has contributed to the history of Buddhism.
Places to Visit in Kaushambi
Built on the orders of the Mauryan kingdom’s great emperor and the devout patron of Buddhism, Ashoka, the pillar is one of the symbols of Buddhism. Though in ruins now, the pillar is a glorious remnant of the Mauryan Empire as well as the great teachings of Buddhism.
The sacred remnant of the teachings of the Buddha, Ghoshitram Monastery is believed to be one of the earliest learning centers of Buddhism. Excavated from ruins, the monastery is one of the most significant places to visit in Kaushambi. As mentioned in early Buddhist literature, the monastery was built by one of the leading bankers of Kaushambi, Ghosita, who was the treasurer of King Udayana (6th century BC).
Discovered in the archaeological excavations in the year 1861, the Udyan Fort is one of the prominent attractions of Buddhism. According to the findings of the Archaeological Department, this fort was built in 6th Century BC. 4 miles length & about 30 to 35 feet height, the fort pits are visible beside the boundary wall as a defense against the attack.
Ma Sheetla Temple
Situated on the banks of river Ganga, Ma Sheetla Temple is known as one of the major Shaktipeeth of ‘seat of the goddess’ of 51 Shaktipeeths in India. The Goddess’s shrine is visited by pilgrims of all faiths. An annual fair in the temple is the best time to pay homage.
Digambar Jain Temple
One of the major pilgrimage sites for Jains, Digambar Jain Temple is dedicated to Lord Padma Prabhu (the 6th Tirthankara) and was built in the late 1800s. The shrine worships various idols of Lord Padma Prabhu alongside his foot impressions. It is believed to be a sacred site to get close to the divine.
Bhagwan Padmaprabhu Temple
The sixth Tirthankara of Jainism is said to have addressed in Prabhas Giri where the Bhagwan Padmaprabhu Temple is situated. His teachings inspire the Jain devotees to visit and pay their respects. Also, according to Hindu Mythology, it is here that Lord Krishna spent the last days of his life.
There are many other prominent temples and holy shrines dedicated by pilgrims from all over the globe.
How to Reach Kaushambi?
By Air: The nearest airport to reach Kaushambi is in Varanasi. The Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport in Varanasi is at a distance of 190 km. It can be easily reached by a private vehicle, cab, or buses.
By Train: The closest railway station is Allahabad, approximately 50 km from Kaushambi. Buses, private vehicles as well as hired cabs ply the route.
By Bus: Regular bus service is available for Kaushambi from Allahabad and other cities. Moreover, private taxis are also available to get to the city.