Important Buddhist Places in India
Sanchi is a town located 49 km from Bhopal, is the place of historical and religious importance and it is designed and architect as the style of Buddhist art and architecture. One of the oldest stone structures in India, the Great Stupa at Sanchi is an important Buddhist monument, which stands proud as an icon of Sanchi, built by Emperor Ashoka to honour Lord Buddha is listed among the world heritage sites by UNESCO. It is a hemispherical brick structure; the Stupa is surrounded by four gateways called Toranas, each representing love, trust, courage and peace. These gateways are beautifully sculptured and crafted.
The Stupa was crowned with chatra as it is built over the relics of the Buddha. It is around 37 meters in diameter and over 16 meters high. Lush gardens surround the stupa. Other important monuments in Sanchi include Chetiyagiri Vihara, Ashoka Pillar, Archaeological Museum, Buddhist monasteries, viharas and temples, Gupta Temple etc.
Ajanta & Ellora Caves
Located in the heart of the Sahyadri hills near Aurangabad, Maharashtra, are the most beautiful rock-cut caves of India, the Ajanta and Ellora caves, both listed as World Heritage Sites. Built during the Gupta period these caves were carved using simplest of tools-the hammer and chisel, yet the beauty of these caves remains unmatched to any modern architectural wonder. Ajanta caves are a set of twenty nine caves together in the shape of a horseshoe. The walls of the caves are adorned with stunning murals and frescos illustrating many stories from famous Jataka Tales. The incarnation of Gautam Buddha has also been portrayed and besides there are many such legends which are portrayed there. The caves truly displays art, history and heritage.
Ellora caves are one of the fines masterpieces of rock cut architecture in the world. Ellora cages and known all over the world for Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples with murals on their walls carved from a cliff rock between 6th and 8th century. There are a total of 34 caves which are either Buddhist Viharas or Chaityas or Hindu, Jain temples. Among the 34 caves, 12 are dedicated to Buddhism, located in the south, 17 dedicated to Hinduism, among them the most significant cave is the great cave 16 of Kailasha. Located centrally and 5 dedicated to Jainism, in the north.
Nagarjunakonda & Amravati
Nagarjunakonda is named after the renowned Buddhist Monk Nagarjuna (the famous Buddhist scholar and the contriver of Mahayana Buddhism) who imparted his summons over here and Konda meaning Hills in Kannad. The place is one of important Buddhist centres for learning. The place is flaunted with Stone Age tools, Buddhist Stupa, Statues, Pillars, Monasteries, Waterfalls, Forest and Museum.
Nagarjunakonda is an ancient pilgrimage centre with a number of Buddhist monuments which are thousand years old. The place is situation in Indian State of Andhra Pradesh in Guntur District. The biggest attraction here is a very ancient stupa which is known for magnificent carved pillars. There is a museum by the name of this place putting on sight the archaeological items from other Buddhist destinations including relic-caskets, a gold necklace, bone-relics and gold flowers.
Tawang Monastery – Arunachal Pradesh
Tawang is located in remote corner of Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh with Bhutan on its East. It is a beautiful place which had a long association with Tibet and it is inhabited by Monpa people. The main attraction in this town is the Tawang Monastery. The monastery is located at the Tawang River valley, at an elevation of about 10,000 feet, which gives a brilliant panoramic view of the entire Tawang River Valley with a view of mighty snow-capped mountains and lush green trees. Tawang Monastery is known as Galden Namgey Lhatse which means ‘celestial paradise in clear night.’ Built like a large mansion, is triple storied with a large assembly hall, ten other functional structures and with 65 residential quarters for students, Lamas and monks. Torgya is a major festivity celebrated here, which is so colourful and attracts a lot of people.
Tabo Monastery – Lahaul-Spiti (Himachal Pradesh)
Tabo is a secluded village in remote Lahaul and Spiti region of Himachal Pradesh. The town is famous for Tabo Monastry, built in 996 A.D. by Rinchen Zangpo. The monastery is a functional Buddhist education centre in Himalayan Region. Tabo Monastery consists of nine temples and is a custondian of Buddhist history and culture, as it houses a number of religious books, paintings, sculptures and manuscripts. Tabo Monastery plays a vital role in preserving Indo-Tibetan Buddhist culture.
Key Monastery – Lahaul-Spiti (Himachal Pradesh)
Located on hilltop at 4,166 metres above sea level, close to the Spiti River, Spiti is known as Little Tibet. Key Monastery is a wonderful example of the monastic architecture, also known for its ancient murals, rare thangkas, valuable manuscripts, stucco images, unique wind instruments and ancient weapons. There is an image of Gautam Buddha in meditation position. Chham (mask dance) by monks are very popular and an integral part of festivities.
Ghoom Monastery – Darjeeling (West Bengal)
This monastery is situated just opposite the War Memorial, approximately 8 km from Darjeeling. The Monastery has also preserved some of the rare handwritten Buddhist manuscripts. Here a beautiful statue of the Maitriyia Buddha is established.
Namdroling Monastery – Mysore
Namdroling Monastery is the largest teaching centre of Nyingmapa, a lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Famously referred to as the Golden Temple, the golden statues have earned the monastery the name — Golden Temple.The statue of Buddha is 60ft high while those of Guru Padmasambhava and Buddha Amitayus are 58 ft. The placards that are put up near the entrance say that inside the statues are sacred scriptures and small clay stupas, which symbolise the body, speech and mind of the Buddhas.