Based on the simple principles of truth, non-violence and detachment from the materialistic pleasures, Buddhism has slowly but surely gained immense popularity among the masses. Travellers brimming with religious fervour seek the fragrance of Buddha’s profound teachings and in their quest for inner bliss set afoot on the holy land of India. The best way to embark on a Buddhist pilgrimage tour in India is by getting on IRCTC’s special Buddhist Circuit Tourist Train. A train that not only covers the essential Buddhist travel destinations but also offers an experience beyond everyday. But first, let’s take a look at these must-visit Buddhist Travel Destinations in India and Nepal.
Bodhgaya: An integral part of the rich Buddhist legacy, Bodhgaya is the 2500-year old birthplace of Buddhism. A place suspended in time, it is dotted with archaic Buddhist temples cocooned in peace and offering a tranquil ambiance for meditation, chanting and praying. A Buddhist pilgrimage tour of Bodhgaya must include a visit to the holy sites of the Mahabodhi Temple, Thai Temple, Japanese Temple and the Buddha Statue.
Rajgir & Nalanda: A scenic hill-town, Rajgir was well-known as a destination for the congregation of spiritual leaders and scholars during Lord Buddha’s life. According to a legend, Lord Buddha spent several seasons in this quaint town, meditating and preaching. Some of Rajgir’s biggest tourist attractions include Bimbisara Jail, Gridhakut hill and Venuvan.
Bringing together the grandeur and glory of ancient ruins is a quiet hamlet near Rajgir, Nalanda. A renowned centre of learning, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Nalanda encompasses 11 monasteries and 6 illustrious temples. To catch a glimpse of its enriching history, one must visit the world-famous Nalanda University & Nalanda Museum.
Sarnath: A spiritual town in Uttar Pradesh, Sarnath with its unusual Buddhist stupas, excavated sites, museums and beautiful temples is a historian’s delight. For those undertaking a Buddhist pilgrimage, it offers exciting sites like Dhamekh Stupa, Sarnath Museum, Ashokan Pillar and Mulgandha Kuti Vihar.
Varanasi: Nestled on the banks of the holy Ganga, the sacred city of Varanasi or Benares is revered greatly not only by the followers of Buddhism but also Hindus; making it India’s spiritual capital. Take a dip in the mystic waters of River Ganga or attend an evening Aarti at Ganga Ghat for a mesmerizing experience in the spectacular city of lights.
Lumbini: Located in present-day Nepal, Lumbini is where Siddhartha Gautama was born. Whether you want to study ancient Buddhist scriptures, practice yoga and mindfulness, embark on a trek or learn more about Buddhism and inner peace, Lumbini is the place to be. The prime tourist attraction of the area is the Maya Devi Temple that marks the spot where Buddha was born to Queen Mayadevi and the Ashokan Pillar.
Kushinagar: One of India’s most significant archaeological sites, Kushinagar is a repository of Buddhist sculptures, banners, statues, seals and lots more. The Mahaparinirvan Temple housing a 6 m-long idol of Lord Buddha in a reclining posture attracts devotees from far and wide. Other noteworthy Buddhist travel destinations are Rambhar Stupa and the Mata Kutir Temple.
Sravasti: Lord Buddha’s favoured monsoon retreat, the picturesque town of Sravasti is also the birthplace of Tirthankar – the founder of Jainism. The place’s divine atmosphere can be felt even more deeply at the holy sites of Jetvana Vihara, Pakki Kuti & Sehat Mahet.
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