Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Buddhist Destinations in India :

Bodhgaya

Introduction
Buddh Statue, BodhgayaThe exotic town of Bodhgaya is the place where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. The 2500-year-old religion of Buddhism has its adherents distributed all over the world. Devotees and tourists flock to Bodhgaya from far and wide to gain an insight into the teachings and doctrines of Buddhism. While at Bodhgaya, one can easily observe that peace and spirituality pervades all over the place. The Bodhi Tree under which Buddha gained enlightenment or Nirvana is the cynosure of all eyes here. Even followers from countries like Burma, Sri Lanka, China, Bhutan, Tibet and Japan have established numerous monastic settlements here. These settlements have heightened the spiritual charm of the place all the more. The surroundings are calm and are a perfect haven for those who are in search of peace and tranquility.


Mahabodhi Temple : The Mahabodhi Temple at Bodhgaya is the biggest draw for tourists. It is the site where Lord Buddha attained Nirvana. He sat under a peepal tree, which is popular as the Bodhi Tree, and did not move until he got his queries answered and realised that he had gained enlightenment. Under the tree, one can notice the red sandstone slab where Lord Buddha is believed to have sit and meditated. The temple displays exquisite carvings and also bears a gilded image of Buddha.

                                       

» Bodhi Sarovar : At Bodhgaya, you can visit a number sacred sites that give an account of the where, when and how Lord Buddha meditated and got enlightened. One of these is the Bodhi Sarovar where Buddha is said to have a bath before he sat to meditate under the Bodhi Tree.

» Chankaramana or the Jewel Walk : The Jewel Walk is yet another significant site here. It is the place where Buddha reflected deeply on whether or not he should reveal the knowledge to the world. Here, you can also see a Tibetan Monastery that houses a large dharma chakra or the 'Wheel of Law'.

BUDDHIST MONUMENTS

Sanchi

Introduction
SanchiWhether a Buddhist by faith or not, Sanchi is a name that perhaps everyone must have heard of. Though Buddhism had its genesis in India, its message and philosophies reached far and wide. And today this system of beliefs has its adherents across the globe. Devotees, tourists, researchers and historians flock to Sanchi year after year to gain an insight into the way of life called Buddhism. Sanchi is an accumulation of Buddhist stupas, monasteries, temples and pillars. The site is mainly known for the stupa that was built by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka during the 3rd century BC. During the succeeding years that followed, more stupas, monasteries and temples were erected here. However, with the decline of Buddhism, Sanchi went into a state of oblivion. It was only in the year 1818 that a British officer rediscovered the site. Between 1912 and 1919, Sanchi was carefully restored to its present status by Sir John Marshall.
Ashoka's Stupa : The Ashoka's stupa at Sanchi is the cynosure of all eyes. The stupa was erected by the Buddhist emperor Ashoka during the 3rd century BC. King Ashoka had a change of heart after the gory scene in the battle of Kalinga and thus converted into a Buddhist. He later built a number of pillars and stupas. Originally, there were eight stupas at Sanchi. Unfortunately, only three stand today.

» ASI Museum : The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Museum is yet another big draw for tourists here. The museum displays numerous antiquities belonging to the Mauryan Period. The artifacts displayed also include a number of metal objects that were used by Buddhist monks in the past. Ancient sculptures dating back between the 3rd and the 1st century BC can also be viewed here.
                                               

» Toranas or Gateways : Erected in 35 BC, the four toranas or gateways are fine representation of the early Buddhist art. The gateways depict scenes from the life of Buddha. Some of the symbols on the toranas include Lord Buddha's birth, his being enlightened under the Bodhi Tree and even his footprints.


» Ashokan Pillars : Sanchi is replete with Buddhist pillars and remains of pillars. All the pillars bear Some important proclamations made by emperor Ashoka. For instant, the pillar lying close to the Southern Gateway comes along with a warning against schism in the Buddhist community.

Besides exploring the ancient Buddhist art at Sanchi, you can also visit the nearby sites like Vidisha (12 km) and Udaigiri (13 km). These two sites are known for their ancient architectural legacy and are important historical site