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Religious Places In India
Prime Travels offers Cultural and Pilgrimage tour packages for all religions.
BUDDHIST SITE IN INDIA
From the Siddharth to Sakyamuni and finally to the Buddha or the Enlightened one - an incredible transformation of a prince to an enlightened teacher, who walked the earth more than 2500 years ago. Now you go on the holy Buddha's trail aboard the train. The trail which the chinese pilgrim Fa-hian treaded in the fourth century A.D. which Hieum Tsang walked three centuries later, today beckons you . You can travel to Kushinagar, Sarnath, Rajgir, Nalanda & Bodhgaya. Although a little off the railway route are some more important Buddhist Sites like Dharamshala, Tawang, Leh, Nagarjunakonda, Amravati and magnificent Ajanta Ellora Caves.
10 Kms from Varanasi, Sarnath is the ancient city where the Buddha preached his first sermon. The spot is today marked by the majestic Dhamek Stupa. The nearby Choukhandi Stupa is said to mark the place where the Buddha met his five disciples . The Sarnath Museum is home to some of the finest ancient Buddhist sculptural arts. Other attractions include the celebrated Ashoka Pillar and the Mulgandha Kuti Vihara built by the Mahabodhi Society.
10 Kms from Rajgir, its sprawling excavations tell the story of a once flourishing Buddhist University & Monastery. Established in the fifth century B.C, it consisted of 300 apartments and eight monastic buildings. Some as many as 6 storeys high. And one capped with an 80 feet high copper image of the Buddha.
Nestling on the banks of river Phalgu, the holy city of Bodhgary is dominated by the elegant spire of the Mahabodhi Temple. At the rear of the temple is the cynosure of every Buddhist pilgrim, the Bodhi Tree- an offspring of the original tree where the Buddha attained enlightenment. The Animesh Lochana Temple marks the spot where the Buddha stood and gazed upon the Bodhi Tree in gratitude .Chaukramana - the raised platform marks the place where the Buddha paced in meditation. Numerous Monasteries, temples and shrines founded by different Buddhist nations make Bodhgaya the most important pilgrimage site of international Buddhism. These include the Gelugpa Tibetan Temple, the Karmapa Tibetan Monastery, the Daijokyo Japanese Temple, the Thai temple and Monastery and the Indosan Nipponji temple amongst others.
Tawang Monestary is situated at a height of 3400 metres in the far west of the northeastern state of Arunanchal Pradesh, is one of the largest monasteries in India. The present monastery was built at the site of an ancient monastery in the 17th century. The VIth Dalai Lama was born near here. Tawang stands isolated from the rest of the world with its community of 500 lamas peacefully performing their daily rituals. The main attraction are a gigantic 10 metre gilded statue of the Buddha . Though difficult to reach Tawang continues to attract pilgrims and scholars.
To visit Tawang Indians need a inner Line Permit and foreigners a restricted area permit. Both are easily available from the office of the resident commissioner, Arunachal Pradesh, New Delhi. The nearest railway stations are at Siluguri, 114 Kms and New Jalpaiguri, 126 Kms from Gangtok .Most trains travel to Guwahati via New Jalpaiguri.
The massive stupa at Sanchi with its intricately carved toranas is noted to be the most complete example of the early Buddhist stupa in its extant form. The gateways are an example of both architecture and sculpture. The Jataka stories about Buddha's earlier incarnations form the main subject matter in the sculpted architraves. The figure of Yakshi reaching out for a branch as shown in the corner of an architrave is one of the most captivating images of Sanchi. The Sanchi Museum has a small collection of sculptures from the site which include the Ashoka lion capital, a yakshi and a Buddha in red sandstone .Sanchi lies on the rail route between Delhi and Bhopal and there are regular bus service from Sanchi to Bhopal. Sanchi lies on the rail route between Delhi & Bhopal , and there is regular bus service from Sanchi to Bhopal .
Upper Dharamsala or Mcleodganj is in Kangra district of Himanchal Pradesh .This hill station with its magnificent view of the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas is the seat of his holiness, the XIVth Dalai Lama's temple , Namgyal monastery .It houses giant statues of the Buddha. The town witnesses the numerous monks in their flowing maroon robes ,the Tibetan street shops, Tibetan women in their traditional clothes walking past serenely turning their prayer wheels.
Dharamsala is well connected by road from Pathankot , Chandigarh, Shimla and Shimla and Manali. From the railway stain at Pathankot there are overnight trains to Delhi.
Dharamsala is well connected by road to Pathankot, Chandigarh, Manali and Simla.
Amravati , the ancient Dhanyakataka , is about 38 kms from Vijayawada,and can also be reached via Guntur,35 kms away. An emissary of Emperor Ashoka, who went to propagate Buddhism in the region, laid the foundation of the great stupa at Amravati. It was a brick built circular vedica and platforms projecting in four cardinal directions. Much of the vast Archeological findings from the site, magnificent sculpted medallions and railings are now exhibited in the British Museum & National Museum, Delhi. There is also a small Archeological Museum on the site containing some of the finds from this area.
Situated at an altitude of 3500 metres, Leh is the headquarters of the Ladhak district and is surrounded by snow covered himalayas. The famous Buddhist Gompas (monasteries ) are perched in this mountainous region. Hemis, the largest of these Gompas , founded in the 17th Century, has an excellent library and is famous for housing the largest tangkha in India. Visitors flock here during the annual festival in the months of June -July.Other Gompas like Shey, Spituk, Thikse are also easily accessible .Stok Gompa and Stok Palace Museum are must for visitors to Leh. Leh is connected by flights from Srinagar and Delhi. Alchi has one of the most beautiful monasteries in the Himalayan region with 70 kms road journey from Leh is well worth the effort.
The Srinagar - Leh highway is open from June to October.
Buddhist religion spread to Sri Lanka and Burma from the bustling Bay of Bengal ports of the Andhra Coast. One of India's richest Buddhist Sites, Nagarjunakonda, ancient Sri Parvata, now lies almost entirely under the Nagarjunasagar Dam. The monasteries and chaityas were reconstructed on top of a hill caller Nagarjunakonda which rises from the middle of the Lake. The island takes it name from the Buddhist monk , Nagarjuna, who lived around the turn of the 2nd century AD. Nagarjunakonda is about 150 kms southeast of Hyderabad, the state capital of Andhra Pradesth .There is a regular ferry service to Nagarjunakonda.
AJANTA & ELLORA
Situated in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, Ajanta has acquired world renown for its famed paintings. The caves of Ajanta provided the canvas for innumerable paintings, not by Buddhist monks as commonly believed, but by highly trained members of guilds of artists under monastic and royal patronage. The paintings at Ajanta flow into one another, forming a kaleidoscope of colour and motion. Although the Jataka tales form the main theme of the paintings, also depicted are scenes from contemporary courtly life. In the Ajanta paintings there is a brilliant union between sacred and secular art. A visit to Ajanta is incomplete without visiting the nearby Ellora. Starting from the 7th century AD, Ellora carried on the great legacy of Ajanta and was subject to Buddhist and later Hindu & Jain influences. The sculptures at Ellora are massive in form. There are twelve Buddhist caves in all. Aurangabad provides the base for visiting the caves of Ajanta, 100 kms away.
Aurangabad provides a base for visiting the caves of Ajanta, 100 kms away and Ellora, 30 kms away.
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