I’ve always had a special interest in archaeology and ancient Indian history, coupled with my interest in Buddhism. I’m planning a trip to some of the key locations trailed by Buddha, and also some other locations which are of Buddhist interest.
This will also include a visit to the Nalanda, the Ajanta caves.
Here is a rough itinerary of my trip which will be covered in a period of 7-10 days.
Sarnath – Here is where the Buddha preached his first sermon in the Deer Park, contains the most impressive remains.
Bodhgaya – As the place of the Buddha’s Enlightenment, Bodhgaya is the spiritual home of Buhddhists. Bodhgaya situated near the river Niranjana, is one of the holiest Buddhist pilgrimage centres since it was here that Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree.
Rajgir – or Rajagriha as it was known in the past (literally, the abode of kings) is surrounded by the meandering river Banganga and 5 hills. During the lifetime of the Buddha this was the capital of the powerful Magadhan kingdom, ruled by the virtuous King Bimbisara. The hills and caves surrounding Rajagriha were home to spiritual teachers, ranging from the materialism of the early Charavaka school to the metaphysics of Upanishadic philosophers.
Nalanda – Nalanda was the most renowned university in ancient India. It derived its name from Na-alam-da, meaning Insatiable in Giving, one of the names by which the Lord Buddha was known.
Kushinagar – Kushinagar is where the Buddha finally attained Mahaparmirvana. Amongst the ruins are the Mukutbandhan Stupa and a beautiful statue of the reclining Buddha enroute visiting Vaishali.
Lumbini – the birthplace of the Buddha, was located in 1890 after being untraced for 1,500 years.
Sravasti – the capital of the ancient kingdom of Kosala, has the honor for sheltering Buddha for 24 rainy seasons in the Jetvana Gardens. The city believed to be founded by the mythological king Sravast, has age-old stupas, majestic monasteries and several temples. Buddha is said to have performed some miracles here.
Ajanta Caves – Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra, are rock-cut cave monuments dating from the 1st and 2nd centuries B.C. During the Gupta period (5th and 6th centuries A.D.), many more richly decorated caves were added to the original group. The paintings and sculptures of Ajanta are considered masterpieces of Buddhist religious art.