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Buddhist Places of india
 
Buddhist Pilgrimge started after the death of Lord Buddha when disciples started to visit the places associated with the important aspects of Buddha's life. Lumbini, Bodh Gaya, Sarnath, and Kushinagar became the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites. These sites are visited by a large number of tourists from all over the world, specially the countries where Buddhism is widely followed today. The Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya is one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India. It may also be called the symbol of Buddhism in India. The temple is located right next to the Bodhi tree at the spot where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. The structure of the temple is very impressive with a 52 meter dome and beautiful statues, and panels depicting Buddhist themes.

The Bodhi tree is perhaps the most famous spot of Buddhist pilgrimage in the world. The spot where Lord Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment is now marked by a diamond throne, or Vajrasana. A gilded statue of Buddha is placed next to the site. The tree is believed to be a sapling from the Sri Bodhi tree in Sri Lanka, which in turn, is said to be sapling form the original Bodhi tree. The Bodhi complex has other structures that are important as Buddhist pilgrimage sites. These include the Chakramana or Jewel walk, the Animeshlochan Chaitya, the Tibetan monastery, and the Thai , Japanese and Bhutanese temples.

Rajgir is the ancient capital of the Marya kings. Lord Buddha started the second wheel of law from the Vultures peak in Rajgir and preached to his disciples here during the three rainy months. The Shanti stupa was constructed by the Buddha Sangh of Japan and it is an important Buddhist monument in India.

Nalanda used to be a famous University during the heydays of Buddhism in India. Great Buddhist thinkers like Nagarjuna, Dharmapala, and Padmasambhava were among the teachers of Nalanda. Lord Buddha is said to have delivered many sermons here. As many as ten thousand students were studying here when the Chinese scholar Hiuen Tsang visited India.

Vaishali is another famous Buddhist Pilgrimage site in India. This place was often visited by Lord Buddha. He delivered his last sermon at Kolhua, near Vaishali. A stone pillar erected by emperor Ashoka commemorates the last journey of Buddha.

Sarnath and Kushinagar are the other two sites counted among the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the world. Lord Buddha delivered his first preaching in the deer park at Sarnath. The Dhamek Stupa and the Ashokan pillar are the two major structures that can be seen here.

Kushinagar is revered by Buddhists from all over the world. It was here that Lord Buddha breathed his last. The cremation site is marked by the Muktabandhana stupa which is believed to house the relics of Lord Budddha. There are some other ruins of ancient monasteries and stupas in the complex.

The Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India are important for Indian tourism as they attract a large number of tourists every year.

LUMBINI:
One of the most important place of Buddhist pilgrimage is Lumbini, located near the Nepal-India border. This is where Gautam Buddha was born to a royal family in 556 B.C.E. Many auspicious signs accompanied the Buddha's birth, including the sprouting of the bodhi tree. The great Buddhist ruler Ashoka visited the site two centuries later, constructing a stupa (mound, usually of earth) and pillar in recognition. Although largely destroyed now, these remain important marks of the Buddha's birthplace.

BODHGAYA:
The Buddha attained enlightenment at the age of 29 in the town of Bodhgaya in India. After settling under a tree, the Buddha made the resolve not to move until he had achieved enlightenment. After three days and nights of profound meditation this goal was realised. The bodhi tree under which the Buddha sat has been destroyed both intentionally and naturally many times since this time of enlightenment. It has continued to re sprout and is visible today.

The Mahabodhi Temple marks Bodhgaya. The origins of the Temple are unclear. Some claim the Temple could have been built as early as the third century by Ashoka, others claim the Temple was built between the fifth and seventh centuries. A thriving Monastic Order continues in the area today, with three monasteries catering for locals and foreigners alike.

SARNATH:
At Sarnath in the Ganges Valley of India, the Buddha proclaimed the law of faith. It was here that he taught the keys aspects of Buddhism: the four noble truths, the eightfold path and the middle way philosophy. The Buddha encouraged followers to avoid extremes of austerity or pleasure. The remains of monasteries dating from the third century B.C.E. to the first century C.E. indicate a thriving monastic community.

SHRAVASTI:
Another of the most commonly visited places of Buddhist pilgrimage is Shravasti. It is here that the Buddha is said to have performed great miracles. One story tells of how on throwing down the seed of a mango, a great mango tree instantly arose. Another story tells of how the Buddha stood in the air, the lower part of his body engulfed in flames, with five hundred jets of water streaming from the top of his body.

SANKASHAYA:
In Sankashaya the Buddha descended from the Tushita Heaven. It is said that during the forty-first year of the Buddha's life, he went to the Tushita Heaven to teach Dharma to his mother, who had died shortly after the Buddha's death. Ashoka later built a Temple on the site. Today, little of the site's glory remains. This is the only important place of Buddhist pilgrimage where no temples, or monasteries exist today.

NALANDA:
Nalanda is important both because it was blessed with the presence of the Buddha, and because of the famous monastic university developed there. This university also named Nalanda (meaning 'insatiable in giving') played a central role in the development of Buddhism in India.


RAJGIR:
Rajgir is another place in the Ganges Valley where the Buddha walked and preached. Perhaps the most important event of the Buddha's visits to Rajgir was the conversion of two future disciples, Sariputra and Maudgalyayana. While Sariputra was credited with greater intelligence, Maudgalyayana wielded a greater power for miracles.