15 Buddhist Sites in India That Will Inspire You

India is a land of rich history and culture, and it is also home to many important Buddhist sites. If you are planning a Buddhist-themed vacation this summer, here are a few places you should consider visiting:

Mahabodhi Temple Complex, Bodh Gaya, Bihar
  1. Bodh Gaya: This is the most important Buddhist pilgrimage site in the world, as it is the place where the Buddha attained enlightenment. The town of Bodh Gaya is located in the state of Bihar, and it is home to many important Buddhist temples and monasteries.

Places to visit :

  • Mahabodhi Temple Complex (Bodhi Tree and Vajrasana)
  • Bodhi Tree
  • Animesh Lochana Chaitya
  • Great Buddha Statue

2. Sarnath: One of the holiest Buddhist sites in the world, Sarnath is famous as the place where Gautama Buddha delivered his first sermon. From then to the 12th century CE – nearly 1,700 years – it remained a centre of great learning, a place of pilgrimage and a vihara (monastery) for monks and scholars.

Places to visit :

  • Dhamek Stupa
  • Mulagandha Kuti Vihar
  • Ashoka Pillar
  • Chaukhandi Stupa
  • Archaeological Museum, Sarnath

3. Kushinagar: This is the place where the Buddha passed away. Kushinagar is located in the state of Uttar Pradesh, and it is home to the Mahaparinirvana Temple, which is a large Buddhist temple complex.

Places to visit :

  • Mahaparinirvana Temple (Nirvana Stupa)
  • Ramabhar Stupa
  • Matha Kuar Shrine
  • Kushinagar Museum

4. Rajgir: This is the place where the Buddha spent many years teaching and meditating. Rajgir is located in the state of Bihar, and it is home to many important Buddhist temples and monasteries.

Places to visit :

  • Vulture’s Peak (Griddhakuta Hill)
  • Ajatshatru Fort
  • Cyclopean Wall
  • Venu Vana (Bamboo Grove)
  • Jivaka’s Mango Grove
The Famous Ghora Katora in Rajgir
5. Nalanda

Nalanda University

This was once a great center of learning for Buddhist monks. Nalanda is located in the state of Bihar, and it is home to the ruins of a large Buddhist university.

Trivia : In the 1190s the university was destroyed by troop of invaders led by Turko-Afghan military general Bakhtiyar Khilji, who sought to extinguish the Buddhist centre of knowledge during his conquest of northern and eastern India.

Places to visit :

  • Nalanda University Ruins Archaeological Complex
  • Nalanda Multimedia Museum
  • Hiuen Tsang Memorial Hall
  • Nava Nalanda Mahavihara (modern Buddhist center)

6. Vaishali: Vaishali is a great Buddhist pilgrimage and also the birthplace of Lord Mahavira. It is said that the Buddha visited this place thrice and spent quite a long time here. The Buddha also delivered his last sermon at Vaishali and announced his Nirvana here. After his death, Vaishali also held the second Buddhist Council.

Places to visit :

  • Vishwa Shanti Stupa
  • Ashokan Pillar
  • Relic Stupa
  • Kutagarasala Vihara

7. Shravasti : Shravasti is a town in Shravasti district in Indian State of Uttar Pradesh. It was the capital of the ancient Indian kingdom of Kosala and the place where the Buddha lived most after his enlightenment. It is near the Rapti river in the northeastern part of Uttar Pradesh India, close to the Nepalese border. 

Places to visit :

  • Jetavana Monastery
  • Ananda Bodhi Tree
  • Saheth-Maheth Archaeological Site
  • Angulimala’s Stupa

8. Kausambi: During Buddha’s time Kaushambi was one of the six most important and prosperous towns of India. It was a nerve center of ancient Indian communications as the principal routes from north to south and east to west met at the city. It was a terminus of river traffic and an important emporium of Madhyadesa.

Places to visit :

  • Ghositarama Monastery
  • Shringaverapura
  • Kausambi Museum
  • Parihar Vihara

9. Ajanta Caves: These caves contain beautiful Buddhist paintings and sculptures. The Ajanta Caves are located in the state of Maharashtra, and they are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Places to visit :

  • Ancient rock-cut Buddhist caves with intricate paintings and sculptures.
Buddhism in Ellora Caves

10. Ellora Caves: These caves contain Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain temples and sculptures. The Ellora Caves are located in the state of Maharashtra, and they are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Places to visit :

  • Cave temples featuring Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain art and architecture.

11. Dharamshala: This is a Tibetan Buddhist community in the foothills of the Himalayas. Dharamshala is home to the Dalai Lama, and it is a popular destination for Buddhist pilgrims and tourists.

Places to visit :

  • Tsuglagkhang Complex (Dalai Lama’s residence)
  • Namgyal Monastery
  • Gyuto Monastery
  • Norbulingka Institute
Dalai Lama

12. McLeod Ganj: This is a suburb of Dharamshala that is home to many Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and temples. McLeod Ganj is a popular destination for Buddhist pilgrims and tourists.

Places to visit :

  • Dalai Lama Temple Complex
  • Tibetan Museum
  • Bhagsu Waterfall and Temple
13. Tawang Monastery
Tawang Monastery, Aranachal Pradesh

This is one of the largest and most important monasteries in India. Tawang Monastery is located in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, and it is a popular destination for Buddhist pilgrims and tourists.

Places to visit :

  • Largest monastery in India and an important center of Tibetan Buddhism.

Here are some other most prominent monasteries of India:

Elephanta Caves at Elephanta Island

14. Elephanta Caves in Maharashtra : There are two types of monuments at Elephanta: Buddhist caves and the caves built by the followers of Pashupata cult (a Shaivite Hindu school). Some of the rock-cut caves which appear to be very simple now have been interpreted by scholars as having once been Buddhist cells.

 The remains of the Buddhists Stupas in Elephanta probably belongs to the early phase of Buddhism dating 2nd century BC. There are many Buddhist stupas around the cave 7 in Elephanta.  

Places to visit :

  • Cave temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, with some Buddhist influences.

15. Buddha Jayanti Park : In Delhi, the capital of India, there is a park called Buddha Jayanti Park, which is incredibly lovely and well-kept with large, lush gardens. Since its establishment, the park has succeeded in becoming quite well-liked by both residents and visitors. To commemorate Gautam Buddha’s 2500th birth anniversary, Buddha Jayanti Park, also known as Buddha Jayanti Smarak Park, was established.

Places to visit :

  • Commemorative park with a large Buddha statue and serene ambiance

Here is a list of prominent Stupas in India that you can visit : Most prominent stupas in India

A trip to Buddhist places in India can be a transformative experience. By visiting the places where the Buddha lived, taught, and meditated, you can gain a deeper understanding of his teachings and how they can apply to your own life. You may also find that your perspective on the world changes as you witness the beauty and peace of these sacred sites.

Here are some specific ways in which a trip to Buddhist places in India can transform your life:

  • Increase your understanding of Buddhism: By visiting Buddhist places in India, you can learn more about the history, teachings, and practices of Buddhism. This can help you to develop a deeper understanding of this ancient religion and how it can benefit your own life.
  • Gain a sense of peace and tranquility: The Buddhist places in India are often located in beautiful and peaceful settings. Spending time in these places can help you to relax, de-stress, and find inner peace.
  • Develop a stronger sense of compassion: The Buddha taught that compassion is the foundation of all good qualities. By visiting Buddhist places in India, you can be inspired to develop greater compassion for yourself and others.
  • Make new friends: You may meet other people who are interested in Buddhism when you visit these places. These relationships can provide you with support and encouragement as you continue to learn about Buddhism and apply its teachings to your own life.

If you are interested in learning more about Buddhism or in finding inner peace and tranquility, we encourage you to consider taking a trip to Buddhist places in India. It could be a life-changing experience.

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