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.
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.