Dhamekh Stupa in Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh
Indian divinity and philosophy have given birth to many religions, out of which Buddhism is the finest flower that ever bloomed in the holy land of India. The divine ideologies of Gautam Buddha that broke the barrier of racism and redefining the belief of God made it immensely followed by the people from all parts of the world. For millions of Asians and for many Europeans and Americans, Buddhism conveys a sense of sacred feeling that emphasizes more on the social and cultural activities rather than reliance on the concept of God.
Prince Siddharta Gautama was born in 566 BC in Lumbini (Nepal) in the Sakya clan. He was brought up with all the luxury and affluence of a prince and was married to Yashodhara when he was 18 and had a son Rahul thereafter. But at the age of 29 he renounced all worldly happiness and pleasure to seek truth and embarked on the path of salvation. He attained his desired Nirvana in Bodh Gaya under the divine Bodhi tree and preached his first sermon in Sarnath.
The state Uttar Pradesh is blessed with holy footprints of Lord Buddha who moved from one place to another to enlighten people and pioneered a new era of divinity in India. The holy Buddhist destinations of Uttar Pradesh are:
Kapilavastu is the place where Lord Buddha spent his childhood. The ancient capital of Sakya clan ruled by Suddhodana, the father of Lord Buddha, Kapilavastu flourished the most when the holy soul of Gautama arrived. Now known as Piprahwa, it is at 110 km distance from Gorakhpur. The place holds a number of Buddhist heritage that will engulf you in the memory of the Lord. A large Stupa standing at the ancient site is said to store the bone relics of the Buddha.
Sarnath enjoys the extraordinary privilege of Lord Buddha delivering his first sermon after attaining enlightenment 2500 years ago. It is about 10 km from Varanasi and holds a number of Buddhist sites that include the famous Dhamekh Stupa, the seat of the holy 'Buddha'. You can also visit the ruins of Dharmajajika Stupa and Mulgandhakuti Temple, where Lord Buddha is said to have rested and meditated while in Sarnath. The Ashoka Pillar built by the emperor Ashoka is a must see in Sarnath. The Lion Capital on top of this pillar is now the National Emblem of India and stands apart for its excellent artistry and carvings.
Located at 55 km from Gorakhpur, Kushinagar is the place where the Lord Buddha uttered his last words Behold now, brethren, I exhort you, saying, decay is inherent in all component things! Work out your salvation with diligence! and left for the heaven. A temple dedicated to the event the Mahaparinirvana temple, stands testimony to the mournful demise. Among the various Stupas of Kushinagar, Rambhar Stupa needs your exploration for it is the place where Lord Buddha was supposedly cremated.
Located at a distance of 54 km from Allahabad, Kaushambi holds the divine reminiscence of Lord Buddha. Lord visited this place in the 6th and 9th years after attaining salvation. He delivered several sermons here and eventually, Kaushambi became the prime centre of learning for Buddhism. The ruins of Ashokan pillar, an old fort and Ghositaraman Monastery are all that will soak you in the divine memory of Lord Buddha.
Situated 134 km from Lucknow and 29 km from Balrampur, Sravasti, the capital of the ancient kingdom of Kosala, has the honour for sheltering Buddha for 24 rainy seasons in the Jetvana Gardens. It is sacred to Buddhists because it is here that Lord Buddha performed the Tirthika heretics.