The Age Of Buddha Important Cites In Uttar Pradesh



Sarnath

About 10 km. from the holy city of Varanasi, Sarnath is the place where more than 2,500 years ago Buddha delivered his first sermon after attaining enlightenment. An imposing conical structure, 34 meters in height, called Dhamek stupa signifies the “seat of the holy Buddha.” There are also the ruins of Dharmarajika Stupa, besides the original Mulgandhakuti Temple, which according to Hieun Tsang was about 61 mtr. high. That’s the place where Buddha rested and meditated in Sarnath. After converting to Buddhism, Emperor Ashoka visited Sarnath in 273-232 B.C. and erected a smooth glistening stone pillar here, to mark the foundation of the Buddhist Sangha. The Lion Capital on top of this pillar is now India’s National Emblem. Then there is the Chaukhandi Stupa, which was a terraced temple during the Gupta period (4th to 6th century) All three stupas– Dharmarajika, Chaukhandi and Dhamek are outstanding in their architectural features. A journey to Sarnath would be incomplete without a visit to the library at Mugandh Kuti Vihara, which houses some amazing frescoes done by Koset Nosu. The Sarnath Museum, not far from the site, also houses some of the finest specimens of Buddhist sculpture.

 

Sravasti

After attaining Enlightenment Lord Buddha was constantly mobile spreading his message of humanity, Universal brotherhood and salvation amongst the different segments of the society. This service to humanity would stop for a brief period in the monsoons. This period too, however, would be used by Lord Buddha to meditate and preach, on choosing an ambient place. It was during this process that Lord Buddha turned towards Shravasti, 134km. from Lucknow. The town played host to Lord Buddha for 27 years and was his annual rainy season retreat. Believed to be founded by the mythological King Sravast (hence names after him), the site holds ruins of many ancient Stupas, majestic monasteries and beautiful temples. This place also has an Anand Bodhi tree, an offspring of the original bodhi tree, planted by Buddha’s main disciple Anand.

The site of Mahet is spread over an area of 400 acres. The two main attractions here are the Pakki Kuti and the Kachchi Kuti while Sahet, spread over an area of 32 acres and a little distance away from Mahet, it was here that Anathpindak, a wealthy merchant, constructed the Jetavana Vihar. The remants of several temples, Stupas and Viharas have been found here. Like wise the huge World Peace Bell is another attraction, which was established with the help of the Japanese. The motive was to convey the message of humanity of Lord Buddha through the bell’s toll. There are also the Thai-Sri Lankan-MyanmarChinese-Korean Buddhist Temples, the Shobhnath Temple, Swarna Gandha Kuti, the Ananda Bodhi Tree and the Angulimal Cave here.

 

Sankisa

Sankisa is identified with the present village of Basantpur in Farrukhabad district of Uttar Pradesh. Situated on the banks of river Kali, Sankisa is most easily accessible from Agra which is 175 km away on the Agra-Mainpuri road. The nearest railhead is Pakhna which is 11.5 km away. Sankisa is the place where the Buddha descended from heaven along with Lord Brahma and Devraj Indra after giving a discourse to his mother, Mayadevi. Emperor Ashoka erected an elephant pillar here to mark this holy spot.

 

Kaushambi

In his bid to spread his message Lord Buddha also visited Kaushambi, 60km. from Allahabad, counted one amongst the most prosperous cities of those times. It was the Capital city of the then Vatsa Janpada, with Udayan as the king. This place is believed to have been visited by Lord Buddha in the 6th and 9th year after attaining enlightenment. He delivered several sermons here, elevating it to a centre of higher learning for the Buddhists. Excavations have revealed ruins of an Ashokan Pillar, an old fort and the Ghositaram Monastery, besides a huge number of sculptures and figurines, cast coins and terracotta, objects.

 

Kushinagar

Kushinagar, is one of the principal centre of Buddhist pilgrimage, is the place where Lord Buddha left his corporeal self and attained Mahaparinirvana. The credit for bringing this ancient site to light goes to General A. Cunningham and A.C.I. Carlyl, who, after excavating the site in 1861, Later, between 1904 and 1912, several excavations conducted by the Archaeological Survey of India at Kushinagar confirmed its identity. The monuments of Kushinagar are situated in three distinct groups comprising the main site of the Nirvana Temple, the central stupa and surrounding monasteries, the Mathakuar shrine to the southwest, and the Ramabhar Stupa a kilometer to the east.

Nirvana Stupa is a huge brickwork stupa, exposed by Carlyl in 1876, which stands at a height of 2.74 mtr. A copper vessel was unearthed at this site. It bore an inscription in ancient Brahmi, which stated that Lord Buddha’s remains had been deposited here. Mathakuar shrine lies about 400 yards from the Parinirvana stupa. A black stone image of the Buddha in the bhumi sparsha mudra was recovered here. The last sermon by Lord Buddha was given here. Ramabhar Stupa is a large stupa which rises to a height of 49 ft. It marks the site where the Lord Buddha was cremated. In ancient Buddhist texts this stupa has been referred to as Mukut-Bandhan Vihar.

 


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