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   Buddhist-circuit

The eastern region in Uttar Pradesh is often described as `the cradle of Buddhism'. Uttar Pradesh has the distinction of having in its folds places associated with Buddha's life. This circuit called the Buddhist circuit is dotted with monuments and relics, legends and history that epitomise the birth, decline and finally the resurrection of Buddhism.

Places which are described as `the cradle of Buddhism'


Sarnath
Kushinagar
Piprahwa
Sankisa
Shravasti
Kaushambhi

Sarnath

Situated 10 km from Varanasi is the site where Buddha gave his first sermon to five disciples, preaching the middle path for attaining 'Nirvana'. Realising the sanctity of the site, emperor Ashoka, in the 3rd century B.C. built some of the finest monuments and legacies. It is visited by lakhs of tourists every year.

Main Festivals

Buddha Purnima (May)
Kartik Purnima (Oct-Nov)

How to reach

By Air

The nearest airport is at Babatpur which is30 km away. Commercial flights connect Varanasi to Kathmandu, Delhi, Agra and Mumbai.

By Train

Sarnath is well connected by train to other destinations of the state.

By Road

Sarnath, 10 km from Varanasi and is well connected by road to other destinations of the state. Taxis, Auto-rickshaws (rates negotiable) and Local Buses are available for local transport.

Places of Interest

Chaukhandi Stupa

'Choukhandi' stupa, raised by Mughal emperor Akbar in 1555 A.D., is believed to be the place where Buddha met his five disciples. It is a lofty mound of brick - work whose square edifice is surrounded by an octagonal tower. Originally said to be built by Emperor Ashoka.

Dhamek Stupa

The 34 m high 'Dhamek' stupa stands as a remarkable structure. This is believed to be the spot where Buddha preached his first sermon. It is the most remarkable structure of Sarnath, cylindrical in shape is 28 m in diameter at the base and 43.6 m in height, built party of stone and partly of brick. The stone facing the lower part is adorned with delicate floral carvings of Gupta origin.

Mulagandha Kuti Vihar

This modern temple has been erected by the Mahabodhi Society. It has excellent Frescoes made by Kosetsu Nosu, Japan's foremost painter and is a rich repository of Buddhist literature. The ancient Mulagandha Kuti Temple is among the brick ruins of Sarnath. A 'Bodhi' tree growing on the campus is believed to be the offspring of one under which Buddha had attained enlightenment.

Sarnath Museum

Sarnath yielded a rich collection of Buddhist sculptures comprising numerous Buddha and Bodhisattva images. Considered amongst the finest specimens of Buddhist art, these have been housed at the museum, adjacent to the site. The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm, and closed on Fridays. Apart from the above the other objects of Interest at Sarnath are the Dharmrajika Stupa, magnificent Lion capital, India's National Emblem at Sarnath Museum, the Saddharmachakra Vihar's at excavated ruins.

Kaushambhi

Kaushambhi was the capital of 'Vatsa janpad' ruled by 'Udyana' during the time of Buddha. The ruins of an ancient fort are testimony to its antiquity. It was when Lord Buddha visited this city that Kaushambi attained true prominence. He came in the 6th and 9th years after his enlightenment and delivered several sermons, elevating it to a centre of learning for Buddhists. A large number of architectural relics and ruins, sculptures and figurines, coins and other finds highlight the reverence the city held for devout in times gone by. The site also yielded a large number of punch marked and cast coins along with unique terracotta sculptures which can be viewed in the Allahabad museum. Kaushambi is 54 km from Allahabad which is the nearest rail/road terminal. Nearest domestic airport is at Varanasi.

Shravasti or Sravasti

Shravasti or Sravasti is intimately associated with the life of Buddha. The town located near the Rapti River in northeastern Uttar Pradesh is said to be have been founded by the mythological king Sravast. In Buddhist times (6th century BC-6th century AD), Shravasti was capital of the kingdom of Kosala and was important both as a prosperous trading centre and for its religious associations. Buddha is believed to have spent 24 monsoons in the city. It is said that Buddha sat on a lotus with a thousand petals and multiplied his image a million times. A divine sight that silenced his critics. Age-old stupas, majestic monasteries and several temples near the village of Sahet-Mahet, highlight Buddha's association with Shravasti. . The city has been identified with the twin villages of Saheth and Maheth northwest of Balrampur. Today it is surrounded by a great rampart of earth and brick. Excavation has been undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India. Jain devotee visit Sravasti, during the month of kartik(Oct - Nov) the bithday of Lord Sambhavnath, when a largeJjain mela is held. Buddha Purnima the day of the birth of Lord Buddha is celebrated at all Buddhist temples at Shravasti in a big way. The air/rail terminal is at Lucknow (134 km). Rail travel is possible up to Balrampur from where one can reach Shravasti by bus or car (29 km away).

Shravasti at a glance
Area 2019 sq km
Population 10220 (1991 census)
Altitude 185 m above sea level
Season October - February / March
Clothing  
Summer Cottons
Winter Woolens
Language Hindi, English
Festivals Buddh Purnima Mela (April-May) and Jain Mela
Local Transport Private Taxis, Taxi, Tonga, Ekka
STD Code 05250


Places of Interest

Maheth

This covers an area of about 400 acres, and has been identified with the remains of the city proper. Excavations have exposed the massive gates of the city, ramparts and also the ruins of other structures which testify to the prosperity of ancient Sravasti. The Sobhanath Temple is located here. Pakki Kuti and Kacchi Kuti were probably Buddhist shrines before they were converted into Brahmanical temples.

Sobhanath Temple

Believed to be the birthplace of Jain Tirthankar Sambhavnath. It is revered by Jain pilgrims.

Saheth

Saheth, covers an area of 32 acres, and lies about a quarter of a mile to the southwest of Maheth. This was the site of the Jetavana monastery. Jetavana Monastery was erected in a garden outside the walls of the city and presented to the Buddha by a wealthy banker, Anathapinaka. It became an important place of pilgrimage, adorned with numerous shrines, stupas and monasteries. The stupas belong mostly to the Kushana period, while the temples are in the Gupta style. The remains date from the Mauryan era (3rd century BC ) to the 12th century AD. One of the earliest stupas. probably dating to the 3rd century BC contained relics of the Buddha. A colossal statue of the Buddha was also found here which is now preserved in the Indian Museum, Calcutta . The Emperor Ashoka visited Jetavana, and the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen- Tsang mentions two Ashokan pillars at Sravasti.

Other important Buddhist monasteries were the Rajakarama and the Purvarama. An exquisite garden here has the famous 'Anandabodhi' tree - an offspring of one said to be planted by Buddha's main disciple Ananda. Swarnagandha Kuti is also worth visiting.

Places of Interest around Shravasti

Devi Patan Temple

28 Km. One of the most important Shaktipeeth in the entire region, it is revered by Hindu devotees of India and Nepal.

Kushinagar

Kushinagar, one of the principal centre of Buddhist pilgrimage, is the place where Lord Buddha left his corporeal self and attained Mahaparinirvana. The credit for bringing this ancient site to light goes to General A. Cunningham and A.C.I. Carlyl, who, after excavating the site in 1861, established its antiquity for the first time. Later, between 1904 and 1912, several excavations conducted by the Archaeological Survey of India at Kushinagar confirmed its identity. The monuments of Kushinagar are situated in three distinct groups comprising the main site of the Nirvana Temple, the central stupa and surrounding monasteries, the Mathakuar shrine to the southwest, and the Ramabhar Stupa a kilometer to the east.

.
Kushinagar at a glance
Area 6 sq km
Population 28.9 Lac.(2001 census)
Altitude 400 m above sea level
Season October-April
Clothing  
Summer Light cotton
Winters Woollen
LanguageHindi, English
Local Transport Cycle-rickshaw
STD Code <05564/td>
Important Festival Buddh Poornima (April - May)


How to reach

By Train

Nearest railway station is Gorakhpur : 51 km, which is the headquarters of Northeastern Railways and linked to important destinations. Kushinagar does not has a Railway Station, one has to go to Gorakhpur from where Kushinagar can be reached by road.

By Road

Situated on National Highway No. 28, with frequent bus services, Kushinagar is well connected with other parts of the state.

      Distance from Kushinagar to :
Gorakhpur 51 km
Lumbini 173 km
Kapilastu 148 km
Sravasti 254 km
Sarnath 266 km.

Places of Interest

Nirvana Stupa

This huge brickwork stupa, exposed by Carlyl in 1876, stands at a height of 2.74 m. A copper vessel was unearthed at this site. It bore an inscription in ancient Brahmi, which stated that Lord Buddha's remains had been deposited here.

Nirvana Temple

This houses the over 6 m long statue of reclining Buddha. The image was unearthed during the excavations of 1876. Carved from Chunar sandstone, the statue represents the dying Buddha reclining on his right side. An inscription below dates the statue to the fifth century AD.

Mathakuar Shrine

This shrine lies about 400 yards from the Parinirvana stupa. A black stone image of the Buddha in the bhumi sparsha mudra was recovered here. The last sermon by Lord Buddha was given here.

Ramabhar Stupa

Chaukhandi Stupa

About 1 km away, this large stupa rises to a height of 49 ft. It marks the site where the Lord Buddha was cremated. In ancient Buddhist texts this stupa has been referred to as Mukut-Bandhan Vihar.

Chinese Temple

Here the special attraction is a beautiful statue of Lord Buddha.

Japanese Temple

A beautiful Ashta Dhatu (eight metals) statue of Lord Buddha which came from Japan can be seen here.

Kushinagar Museum

The Buddha Museum contains finds from excavations at the site. Timings : 10:30 am. to 4:30 pm. Weekly off: Monday.

Other places of interest include Pawanagar (Fazilnagar) and the Sun Temple at Turkpatti.

Places of Interest around Kushinagar

Gorakhpur

51 km. At Gorakhpur is the Rahul Sankrtyayan Museum, which has an excellent collection of thanka paintings and relics of the Buddha. Water Sports Complex at Ramgarhtal Planetarium and the Gorakhnath Temple in the city are also well worth a visit.

Lumbini

Situated in Nepal at a distance of 122 km from Gorakhpur, Lumbini is the birthplace of Lord Buddha. Buses ply till the border from where the remaining 26 km has to be covered by private vehicles.

Kapilvastu or Piprahwa

Kapilvastu or Piprahwa has an important place in the life of Buddha. Kapilvastu was the ancient capital of the Sakya clan whose ruler was the father of the Buddha, for which reason the Buddha is also referred to as the Sakyamuni. The Sakya domain was one of the sixteen independent principalities of the 6th century BC. Prince Gautam, as the Buddha was then known, left his palace in Kapilvastu at the age of 29, and revisited it 12 years later, long after he had attained enlightenment. Today, Kapilvastu Comprises of Several villages, chief among them being Piprahwa and Ganvaria. A large stupa stands at the ancient site which is said to have housed the bone relics of the Buddha. The presence of these relics are testified by an ancient Brahmi inscription discovered at Piprahwa. The ruins of the palace are spread over a large area. Identified today with ancient Kapilvastu, modem Piprahwa lies at a distance of 20 km from Siddharthnagar. Piprahwa lies between two important Buddhist destinations - Lumbini (birth place of Buddha in Nepal) and Srawasti (where Buddha spent 27 monsoons). The travelling time by road between Lumbini to Piprahwa is about six hours. The ruins of the old city from where Buddhism started has several stupas. From the main stupa have been recovered stone caskets containing relics believed to be that of the Buddha. Kapilvastu Buddha Mahotsava (29 Dec. to 31 Dec.) is celebrated with great enthusiasm. A fair is also organised at udhpoornima.

     Kapilvastu or Piprahwa at a glance
Area 06 sq km
Population 3900 (2001 census)
Altitude 100 m above sea level
Season October-April
Clothing  
Summer Cottons
Winter Woolens
Language Hindi, English
Local Transport Tempo/Tonga/Rickshaw
STD Code 05544

How to reach

By Train

The nearest railway station Naugarh on the Gonda-Gorakhpur loop line is 23 km away. Also Siddharth Nagar (Naugarh) railway station is 20 km away from Kapilvastu.

By Road

Taxis and buses are available to reach Piprahwa which is 110 km away from Gorakhpur.

     Distance from Kapilvastu to :
Gorakhpur 97 km
Kushinagar 148 km
Varanasi 312 km
Lumbini 86 km
Sravasti 147 km
Lucknow 308 km

Places of Interest

Stupa Complex

This is the main archaeological site which was discovered during excavations in 1973-74. The seals and inscriptions over the lid of the pot discovered read "Om Deoputra Vihare Kapilvastu Bhikschu Mahasanghasa" and "Om Deoputra Vihare Kapilvastu Bhikschu Sanghasa". The title Deoputra refers to Kanishka, a great patron of Buddhism who built the biggest Vihara at Kapilvastu and renovated the main stupa here.

Palace Site

Excavations carried out by Dr. K.M. Srivastava indicated the ruins of the palace of King Shuddhodhan, the father of Prince Gautam (Lord Buddha). It is said to be the place where Lord Buddha spent the first 29 years of his life.

Lumbini

86 km., situated across the border in Nepal, Lumbini is the birthplace of Lord Buddha. Buses ply till the border from where the remaining 26 km has to be covered by private vehicles.

Sankisa

Sankisa is located in the present day Basantpur village, which is situated in the ruins of an ancient fort. About 500 yards from the village, in a sacred spot, is a temple dedicated to Bisari Devi, which stands on a stupa. An Ashoka Elephant Pillar has been excavated from close to the stupa. Near the pillar, on a platform stands a temple with a statue of the Buddha. It is believed that Buddha along with Brahma and Devraj Indra descended on this spot after giving sermon to his mother in heaven. From then on this site has become important for Buddhist pilgrims. Hiuen Tsang and other Chinese travellers also mention Sankisa in their travelogues.

How to Reach:

Nearest civil airport is Agra (207 km away)
Sankisa is 10 km away from Pakhna railway station
Sankisa is 45 km away from Farrukhabad, a road/rail terminal







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