Uttar Pradesh is one state which represents the true spirit of India. It is a beautiful collection of architectural marvels, breathtaking ancient temples, and food haven for foodies. Home to a plethora of religions, it houses numerous temples, churches, mosques and monasteries which attract tourists from far and wide making it one of the most significant pilgrimage destination centers in India. UP is considered extremely important hub for Buddhists from all walks of life hailing from various places since it has two of the four most important pilgrimage destinations.
Here are some of the 05 most famous Buddhist places in Uttar Pradesh:
Rediscovered in the year 1835 after being ruined by invaders, Sarnath plays one of the most crucial parts in the Buddhist pilgrimage circuit. Located at a distance of 12km from the holy city of Varanasi, Sarnath is the same place where Lord Buddha delivered his first discourse post achieving his enlightenment, to his 5 disciples. This holy event is referred to as ‘the turning of the wheel of dharma’ which also marks the event of the creation of the community of monks or popularly known as Sangha. This first sermon by Buddha given to his 5 disciples is called the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. Buddha is also said to have spent his first rainy season after enlightenment in Sarnath itself. Sarnath is dotted with several ancient Buddhist structures which one can explore, like the Dhamekh Stupa which is the place from where he had given his enlightenment teachings to his disciples making it one of the most auspicious Buddhist pilgrimage sites. The Mulagandhakuti Vihara present here marks the place where Lord Buddha had spent his first rainy season. You can also visit the famous Ashoka pillar here which has interesting carvings engraved on it making it of national importance. Sarnath is among one of the most highly revered Buddhist pilgrimage destinations in the world.
An international Buddhist pilgrimage destination, with visitors from mostly Asian countries, Kushinagar is the place where Lord Buddha had attained his Parinirvana after taking his last breath. One can visit this place if you are looking for some peace of mind and a calming atmosphere. It is said that Lord Buddha had made his way and travelled all the way to Kushinagar to spend his final days there. One of the prime site which is a must visit for Buddhists as well as visitors from anywhere, is the Ramabhar stupa, marking the cremation site of Lord Buddha where he had attained his salvation. People visit this mound of stupa to offer their prayers and to witness the carefully preserved remnants of history. Other one of the most visited sites is the Parinirvana temple where you can get a glimpse of one of the most stunning and awe-inspiring Buddha structure which is 6 metres long and in a reclining position. Other important Buddhist sites of pilgrimage here include the Watt Thai temple, which ranks on top for being one of the most frequently visited temples in Kushinagar.
Shravasti is one of the ancient cities in India which holds immense significance in the life of Lord Buddha. Located on the fertile Gangetic plains it is believed that Lord Buddha had spent his 24 monsoon days here. The city is complete with age-old temples, ancient stupas and towering Viharas, all these facts point in the direction of the presence of Buddhism here. Along with being a prosperous religious center, Shravasti was and still remains a prime pilgrimage and religious centre. It is believed that Buddha had spent most of his ascetic and monastic life in Shravasti itself making it a pristine Buddhist pilgrimage destination. Another important destination in Shravasti is the site of Jetavana Monastery where the days are engulfed in calming meditation and soothing Chantings. This place is a major attraction for Buddhists from Thailand, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Tibet, China and even Sri Lanka who flock here to pay respect to their one true spiritual leader.
Sankassa was an ancient city and was extremely prominent due to Lord Buddha. As per Buddhist sources, this place lies at a distance of 30 leagues from Shravasti. Present here are some of the ancient and age-old constructions which were done by Ashoka, these structures include the famous Ashokan pillar apart from stupas and temples which commemorate Buddha’s visit. These temples exist today as well which attract numerous Buddhist pilgrims and devotees from all over the world. Although currently, only the ruins of these temples and stupas exist still it attracts tourists and Buddhism followers from far and wide who visit here to offer their respect to Lord Buddha. The relevance of Sankassa lies in the fact that this was the place where Buddha has returned back to earth after his Mahaparinirvana. You can visit the famous Sankassa elephant here which was excavated and is now placed under a protective roof, which is symbolic of the presence of Mauryas here. One can visit here and see for themselves the lush greenery and the ancient history presented here.
Being one of the most important and religiously affluent ancient cities in India, Kaushambi to this day being visited by people who are one a Buddhist pilgrimage. Established in the Vedic period, Kaushambi holds immense relevance due to it mention in the Tripitaka it is said that Buddha had visited this place a number of times, where he stopped and rested in several locations. The age of the city dates back to the Mahabharata times making it incredibly precious and People have a number of Buddhist places and sites to visit here like the stupas, temples and monasteries. Lord Buddha had spent his 6th and 9th year post his enlightenment in this place delivering sermons and offering his discourses. During the time of Lord Buddha Kaushambi was an extremely prosperous and wealthy city making it filled with magnificent wonders? A visit here will evoke your senses and will also paint you a picture of ancient India.