Ajanta and Ellora are spectacular examples of Buddhist art and architecture in the Indian subcontinent. But for followers of Buddha, there are other sacred places too linked for eternity with the great soul. Some of these holy spots are part of the so-called ‘Buddhist Circuit’.
The five places in the circuit are –
(a) Lumbini in Nepal – the birthplace of Lord Buddha
(b) Bodhgaya in Bihar – where Prince Siddhartha became Buddha after attaining nirvana
(c) Sarnath near Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh – where the Buddha gave his first sermon and established the first sangha
(d) Shravasti in district Bahraich in Uttar Pradesh – Buddha’s favourite retreat in the monsoons
(e) Kushinagar near Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh – where the Buddha left his mortal body
If access to these routes and absence of infrastructural facilities have been inhibiting you from getting on the Buddhist trail, it is time to shed such inhibitions. The Buddhist circuit itinerary can be chalked to comprehensively cover all these places. Begin with experiencing enlightenment at Bodhgaya.
The pipal tree – popularly referred to as the Bodhi tree in the Mahabodhi temple, is believed to be of the same lineage as the original Bodhi tree that witnessed Siddhartha Gautama’s transformation as the Buddha.
Nalanda showcases the spiritual as well as the academic approach of this ancient Buddhist University. The architecture is evident of the integrity between ecology and mankind indicating a holistic approach to pedagogy.
Sarnath, Kushinagar and Lumbini are next in line. The massive Dhameka stupa in Sarnath refers to Dharma Chakra, indicating the Buddha’s first sermon on setting the wheel of law in motion.
The lion pillar – a symbol of modern India can also be traced to Sarnath. The circuit is completed at Shravasti. Do check out the stories about the miracles the Buddha performed here.
So get set go … for the Buddha beckons …