Buddhist monuments

images/buddha monuments

Between the 5th century BC and 12th century AD, Buddhism proved to be dynamic system of beliefs being renowned and accepted not only in India but also in countries like China, Japan, Bhutan, Vietnam, Tibet, Combodia, Ceylon, Burma, Sri Lanka etc. Having its genesis in India, Buddhism has its adherents all cross the globe. Devotees and tourists flock to India in hordes to pay a visit to the significant Buddhist sites that remain scattered all over the country.

Buddhist monuments in India are a big draw for tourists and pilgrims from all over. States like Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Orissa are replete with Buddhist sites. These monuments are firstly significant pilgrimages for devotees and secondly they are also a window to Buddhist art and architecture in India.

Maha Bodhi Temple (Bodhgaya, Bihar)
Lying at a distance of 105 km from state capital Patna, Bodhgaya is one of the major centres of Buddhist learning and pilgrimage. The Maha Bodhi Temple and the Bodhi Tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment are the cynosure of all eyes here. The temple dates back to the 3rd century BCE and houses a gilded image of Lord Buddha which is a must see for all. The dome of the temple is 52 metres tall. The walls are embellished with friezes that depict scenes from Lord Buddha's life.

Sanchi Stupa (Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh)
Sanchi is strewn with numerous Buddhist stupas, temples and pillars. The Great Stupa I was erected by Mauryan emperor Ashoka who became a follower of Buddhism after what he experienced in the battle of Kalinga. The stupa was built during the 3rd century BC. There were eight stupas at Sanchi in all. Out of the total, however, only three stand today. The remains of pillars at Sanchi have also much significance and bear proclamations from emperor Ashoka.

Dhamek Stupa & Ashoka Pillar (Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh)
The Dhamek Stupa at Sarnath in Bihar is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in India. The 31.3 metre tall stupa is the spot where Lord Buddha delivered his first discourse in 528 BCE after he got enlightened. Sarnath is held in high regard by the Buddhist community all across the globe. Besides, Sarnath is also home to the Chaukhandi Stupa and the all renowned Ashoka Pillar.

Amravati Stupa (Amravati, Andhra Pradesh)
Erected during the 2nd century BCE, the Amravati Stupa (also popular as Mahachaitya Stupa) has the distinction of being the largest (95 feet high) in India. The stupa lay into a state of oblivion until a British archaeologist Colonel Collin Mackenzie rediscovered it in 1797. Amravati, the erstwhile capital of the Satavahana Rulers, is also visited for attractions like the Amareswara Temple, Potala and Dharanikota. Scholars also connect Amravati with the origin of many Tantric teachings.

Langudi (Jajpur, Orissa)
Langudi in the state of Orissa is considered to be one of the most prominent Buddhist sites in India. Orissa (erstwhile Kalinga) is the site that turned Ashoka into a Buddhist. Excavations have revealed a number of Buddhist stupas and sculptures at Langudi.

Shanti Stupa (Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir)
The Shanti Stupa in Leh, capital of Ladakh, was built to commemorate the 2,500 years of Buddhism. The stupa was inaugurated by Dalai Lama himself. It is situated atop a hill affording stunning views of the locales. Leh is dotted all over with numerous ancient Buddhist monasteries and is a famous Buddhist site.

The list of Buddhist monuments in India seems to be endless. With millions of adherents worldwide, Buddhism is one of the major faiths in the world. Tourists and devotees keep flocking to the Buddhist sites all over India year after year. To gain an insight into the history and teachings of Buddhism, one must visit the sites that have played a crucial role in the spread and development of Buddhism.

Other popular Buddhist monuments are as follows:
Bharhut Stupa, Madhya Pradesh
Pitalkhora, Maharashtra
Hirapur, Orissa
Animesh lochan Chaitya, Bihar
Ratnakar, Bihar
Itanagar Buddhist Temple, Arunachal Pradesh
Dharmarajika Stupa, Uttar Pradesh