BUDDH IST PACKAGES FROM THE LAND OF SPIRITUALITIES AND INTENSE ASCETICISM
About Buddhism and its innovation:
it is the fourth largest religion of the world and is synonymous with many spiritual practices such as Zen, Meditation, and Mindfulness. The fact that Buddha attained enlightenment and spent most of his life in India means there are several Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India. Devotees and pilgrims from the world over head to these sites the year around and these make great tourist destinations for those who have an interest in the history of India. There are many places in India which is solely dedicated to Buddhist tourism, where travellers or tourists can explore the buddhist culture through Monasteries, cuisines, festivals, rituals and teachings. Even though there is very small population of Buddhists in India, but they are the pioneers we must say. India has numerous sites of importance to the Buddhist faith, such as Bodh Gaya, Sarnath, and Nalanda. Also, India has nurtured an image of being a protector of the persecuted through the presence of the Dalai Lama. Not just that there are many Himalayan border region which is solely dominated and knowns for some pre historic and ancient monasteries , art, culture, murals and what not. And with the help of other Buddhist countries buddhism based trips have started to flourish a lot. India is currently home to seven of the eight most significant Buddhist sites in the world, it receives less than one percent of global Buddhist tourism. Southeast Asian nations, such as Thailand and Indonesia, are the prime recipients of such tourism.
Buddhist tourism has elevated the promotions and triggered the interests of people across the nations too study ancient languages, like Pali, in which a number of Buddhist texts are written in. Entire schools of Buddhist thought, such as Nagarjuna Buddhism, remain largely unexplored in academic study, further expanding the scope for research to be encouraged and funded. The promotion of Buddhist tourism reminiscent of the ‘Incredible India’ campaign is required to popularize India’s association with the faith nationally and internationally. So today we have gathered a list of places where you must plan a trip and include all the majestic monasteries and iconic places to regain your spirituality in your bucket list.
Places to visit to explore Buddhism in India:
Sarnath, is just located just 12 km from the Hindu holy city of Varanasi. It is the site of the deer park where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma after his enlightenment. Sarnath is one of four holy Buddhist sites sanctioned by the Buddha himself for pilgrimage. The other three sites are: Lumbini (birth); Bodh Gaya (enlightenment); and Kushinagar (death). Gautam Buddha delivered his first sermon, taught four noble truths and eightfold path called Dhamma, and even formed a monastic community called Sangha. And you can witness some ancient old stupas and relics here. The other significant things to see here include the Ashok Pillar and learn its history with Turkish invasion and the National Emblem of India. There are several Buddhist monasteries here; thus, you will get a deep idea of Buddhist culture. You can also visit Sarnath Archeological Museum. The museum also houses some of the greatest treasures of Indian Buddhist art, including almost 300 images. How can you miss the iconic Bodhi Tree? Bodhi tree planted by Anagarika Dharmapala which was grown from a cutting of the Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya. It is located next to a Sri Lankan monastery. This place will leave you in awe with its deeper and divine culture and history.
The best time to explore Sarnath is between November to February, since the weather is relatively calm as compared to the other months. Since Summers are hot and harsh in Sarnath, sometimes the temperature rises up till 46 degrees Celsius. And this place experiences heavy showers during monsoon season, and this increases the humidity.
Bodh Gaya, famously known as the city of enlightenment. Since the 19th century, is a sacred place for Buddhistsall over the world, as this is where Prince Siddhartha became Buddha, the enlightened one. Bodh Gaya is the most visited one as it holds lots of religious significance. Bodh Gaya is as important to Buddhism as Jerusalem and Mecca are to the other great religions of the world. Buddhism has transformed the lives of millions of people around the world, especially in South East Asia, Central Asia, China, Tibet, Korea and Japan. It is the fourth most followed religion in the world and has around 495 million believers, constituting 7- 8% of the world’s population as of 2010. Did you know the fact, The current Bodhi Tree is a sapling of a tree from Sri Lanka, which was grown from the original Bodhi Tree of Bodh Gaya, actually said to be planted by Cunningham himself. There are seven sacred spots in the temple complex, where Buddha meditated for seven weeks after he had attained wisdom, are clearly marked with inscriptions, along with the Lotus Pond where Buddha meditated in the sixth week following his Enlightenment. There are so much history, logical points and realistic points related which we would have not known. If Buddhism tourism was not there. And our nation being so secular and versatile, has thankfully given us the freedom to explore, learn and know more about the cultures, traditions and rituals. It’s the pilgrimage for Buddha followers.
The best time to visit Bodh Gaya is between December – February, which is the winter season. The temperatures remain between 28°C and drop to around 4°C. Visiting temples and other places is most enjoyable during this season. Summer season can be very harsh as the temperature remains between 45°C to 47°C. The summer is therefore not the right time to be in Bodhgaya for visitors. It’s not advisable since its not so pleasant. The monsoon starts in June and pours till the month of August. The weather is quite pleasant during this time of the year and one can visit Bodh Gaya during the monsoon. You can witness lots of greenery and freshness around the city. Especially when you are a monsoon lover.
Shravasti, it's one of the ancient cities as Buddhist pilgrimage destination in Uttar Pradesh. Not many have known it, that's what makes it a hidden gem too. It is this place where Buddha confounded his pupils with profound teachings and principles of Buddhism. One of the major Buddhist destinations in India. You can get to learn a lot about the preachings and teachings of Buddha here. In terms of locations its not exactly in Uttar pradesh, its 190 kms far from there. From seeking enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in Gaya, Bihar to preaching his principles of Dharma in Sarnath, Lord Buddha’s journey can be traced in many parts of India. Originating in India, Buddhism has always attracted many devotees who visit these holy lands to seek blessings of Lord Buddha. You can explore lots of old Buddhist monuments here. Where Buddha shared his knowledge with his disciples. The Ananda Bodhi Tree is one of the major attractions. Also did you know that this place is also home to one of the oldest jain temple of India? Yes, Shobhnath temple. It is believed that it was the birthplace of a Jain saint, Sambhavnath. Not just that, learn about historic Gupta period of history too. So this place is a call for all the religious as well as history lovers. Make sure to include Anathapindika & Angulimala Stupas, Jetavana Monastery, and Anandabodhi Tree in your itinerary.
The best time to visit is November-March, which is the official winter season. Temperatures during this season range from 22°C in the daytime to 15°C in the night. Some winters are way colder than others and temperatures may drop down even further to 10°C. This is the best time to visit the city as the climate is cool, rather cold and you will not get tired easily. Summers can be tiring and brutal since the temperatures can go up higher to 45°C. So its not advisable to move out and explore during this season. July to October which is the monsoon season is also considered a good time too! Temperatures during this time range from 30°C In the daytime to 24°C in the night. This season is much cooler and is a recommended time to visit Shravasti; all you need to do is carry a raincoat or an umbrella. Humidity is still high during the season, but rainfall is moderate. This is the second best season to come to Shravasti.
Kushinagar, is a place where Lord Buddha attained Nirvana. This place is really famous for numerous monasteries and relics of olden days. Many devotees flock to this place every year from all over the globe to explore it more deeply. The much explored site of this beautiful town is Mahaparinirvana Stupa which is positioned above the location where Gautam Buddha is finally resting. So Plan your trip accordingly. You can visit many other places such as Indo - japan Srilanka Temple and you can truly witness the beauty of the Atago Isshin World Buddhist Cultural Association, how much efforts they put to establish this beauty. Chinese Temple, It is a blend of Vietnamese and Chinese structural design. Not only this, the temple has a majestic statue of Lord Buddha. Wat Thai Temple attracts the travelers with its fabulous architectural beauty. Matha Kuar Shrine houses a statue of Buddha which is believed to have been constructed of a single stone. One must pay a visit to this temple while on a trip to Kushinagar. It is well connected with all the main destinations of India by excellent motorable roads, by railways and by airways so its greatly accessible.
The best time to explore Kushinagar is October-March, the winter season in India. The winter season in Kushinagar starts at the end of October and lasts until March. Temperatures during this time range from 25°C in the morning and afternoon time to 10°C in the night, sometimes even lower. This is the best time to visit Kushinagar due to its cold and absolutely pleasant climate; sightseeing becomes easier in this season. Summers are not at all advisable to explore the city. Since the Temperatures during this season range from 45°C in the day time with hot winds blowing to 32°C in the night; although the temperature is lower, the heat still remains even in the night. Monsoon is from July to September, The city receives heavy rainfall, especially during the peak months of monsoon and the atmosphere is rather humid. The climate is pleasant and cool and is apt for going sightseeing.
Rajgir is in the Nalanda District in the state of Bihar. It is the destination where Gautam Buddha is believed to have given many sermons and Lord Mahavir had lived here for some time. One can also explore Buddhist monks meditating at a site known as Vultures Peak. The knowledge of Buddha was written in this place and it also serves as the place for the first Buddhist Council. It is also a home to various Hindu and Jain temples. There are so much buddhist history, roots and teachings related from this place, which makes it very significant and a must trip to be made. You can explore some of the places namely Vishwa Shanti Stupa, it is Constructed by the Japanese atop the Ratnagiri hill at an elevation of 400 m above sea level, Vishwa Shanti Stupa is a main attraction of Rajgir. It is flocked by many tourists from different parts of the world. Planning a day trip to Griddhakuta, Gautam Buddha gave many lessons after attaining enlightenment. How can you miss the site of holiness during the period of Gautam Buddha named as Pippala Cave. Add up Shanti Stupa, Gridhakuta Hill, Jivaka Avan Gardens and Ajatshatru Fort in your itinerary.
The best time to explore Rajgir is October to February which is the winter season. During the winter season, the temperature ranges between 8 to 10 degrees Celsius. The pleasing and cool weather during this time is perfect to be here. March - June which is the official summer season The weather remains extremely hot during this season. The temperatures range between 24 to 42 degrees Celsius, it’s not recommended to explore or go out during these months. July - September, is the official monsoon season. There is a moderate amount of rainfall during the monsoon season.
Vaishali, is the home of two main religions of India which are Buddhism and Jainism. There are various places of Buddhist interest encompassing Ananda Stupa, Kutagarasala Vihara and relic Stupa. Moreover, heaps of Jains throng to this place every year as the place is said to be the home of Bhagwan Mahavira. Lord Buddha had also spent some time here and it was here that he given his last sermon before he passed away. So tis place has lot of religious significance too. To honor the trips by Lord Buddha, King Ashoka built renowned lion pillar in Vaishali. Who doesn’t know Ashokan pillar? It is One of the renowned destinations of Vaishali, lakhs of tourists throng to this holy site to commemorate. Kundalpur, Known to be the hometown of Lord Mahavira where the stayed for 22 years. Abhishek Pushkarn also known as Coronation Pond contains the ashes of Gautam Buddha. Also, apart from that this place is a home for Hindu shrine too named, Bawan Pokhar Temple. Vaishali can be accessed easily through cars and buses, so you can easily plan your trip without any hassle.
The best time to explore Vaishali, October-March the winter season. Nights are more chilly. Days are very pleasant enough to explore and roam around. the moment the sun sets since the temperature falls abruptly and the heat of the day disappears and temperatures go down below 0.7 degrees. March-June is summer season, During the hot season Vaishali experiences dust storms and thunder storms and these could reach high velocities upwards of 60kmph. Vaishali does experience the hot winds thats why its not advisable to explore during these months. June-September, is the monsoon season. Vaishali may receive up to around 214 cm rain annually if nature favours. Monsoon may start as early as May or as late as the second week of July.
Key Monastery in Spiti Valley, one of the most popular places to visit in Spiti valley, located in the Kaza region. Overlooking the Spiti River at an altitude of 4112 m, Key Monastery is one of the biggest gompas known for the stunning Buddha shrine, ancient books, manuscripts, and murals. Founded by Dromton, a famous disciple of teacher Atisha in the 11th century, the monastery used to house about 350 lamas at one time. The monastery is famous for its architecture called Pasada style. Pasada style is characterised by two or more stories and often plays the role of a fort-monastery. The monastery is spread over three floors – underground, ground and first floor. Underground is mainly utilized for storage; ground floor is used as assembly hall, called Du-Khang. The ground floor also has small rooms for monks. The rooms with murals called Tangyur which Is a must see. This monastery appears like a fortress. The scenic landscape which forms the backdrop for Key Monastery is also a factor in the large number of tourists making a beeline for the remote monastery. Surrounded by snow capped mountains and glaciers, the beauty of the valley is breathtaking.
The best time to visit a key monastery is, The temperature in Spiti Valley in June ranges between 0 and 15 degree celsius which makes it perfect for sightseeing and outdoor activities. Also these months are the best for all the riders out there. From the journey to this wonderland since the road conditions on Kinnaur-Spiti road remains mostly good during April and May month.Monsoon is also not a good time to visit the valley as, during this season, the rainy weather in Lahaul Spiti makes traveling quite difficult. The roads become quite muddy, and the waterfalls are also on full flow. Temperature in Spiti Valley in December ranges from -1 to -5 and at night it may drop to -30 degrees as well. Thats why due to the extreme temperature in Lahaul Spiti, it is not recommended to travel to the valley in winter.
Dalai Lama Temple Complex, in Dharamshala. This temple is also called as Tsuglagkhang Temple. Dalai Lama visits this temple twice or thrice every year to preach and bless. Thats why, the temple gets its name as Dalai Lama Temple. This temple is famous for providing religious teachings. The most important feature of this temple is the morning ritual. There are many large statues of Buddha, Avaloktwshwara, Pamasambhava and others. You can also find numerous ancient books related to the religion. People visit this temple for meditating and rituals. Try to visit this temple during morning time. The atmosphere is much calmer, peaceful and you can hear all the chants with an empty mind. The temple is open from 8 am to 8 pm. you can find a statue of Buddha sitting on a carved pedestal. Pilgrims walk around the statue in clockwise direction as they rotate the prayer wheels. There is a large hall inside the temple for people to meditate. You can sit and meditate here, it will give you a very relaxing and calming effect on your mind. you need to purchase a ticket to watch the teaching, if you plan to visit the temple especially when Dalai Lama visits the temple.
The best time to visit the city is from September to June. The winter starts in October and ends in March. The temperature goes low very rapidly after that since it is surrounded by snow capped Himalayan ranges, it creates a very picturesque backdrop making it very post card worthy. Summer is pleasant, vegetation will be lush and it is the best time to visit the place. Monsoon starts in July and ends in August. The place receives very heavy rainfall, which can cause hurdles in transportation, making it difficult for the travellers to roam around. And also its in the mountains so there are high chances of landslides and avalanches during rainfall. Hence, it is not advisable.
Local food to try in buddhist culture or Buddhist cuisine you must try:
Traditional Buddhist cuisine is simple and features a staple (rice, congee or noodles) with vegetables that are stir-fried, braised or cooked in broth.
Mushroom noodle soup, It’s also called luohanmian, as luohan means Arhat, or one who has achieved nirvana. the dish is made with a mushroom broth and the thin noodles are topped with generous portions of assorted mushrooms as well as other green vegetables and vegetarian “chicken” made of bean curd.
Vegetarian ox stripe and Vegetarian hairy crab meat and roe. This dish is made with eggs as the main ingredient by stir-frying the egg yolk and white separately with ginger, sugar, rice vinegar and yellow wine. Mushrooms and soy products are often deep-fried first to achieve their meaty texture.