The most important places of pilgrimage in Buddhism are located the
Gangetic plains of Northern Indiaand Southern Nepal, in the area between New Delhiand Rajgir. This is the area where Gautama Buddhalived and taught, and the main sites connected to his life are now important places of pilgrimage for both Buddhistsand Hindus. However, many countries that are or were predominantly Buddhist have shrines and places which can be visited as a pilgrimage.
Places where Buddha lived
Four main pilgrimage sites
Gautama Buddhais said to have identified four sites most worthy of pilgrimage for his followers, saying that they would produce a feeling of spiritual urgency. These are: [The Buddha mentions these four pilgrimage sites in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta. See, for instance, Thanissaro (1998) [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.16.5-6.than.html#pilgrim] and Vajira & Story (1998) [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.16.1-6.vaji.html#t-42] .]
Lumbini: birth place (in Nepal)
Bodh Gaya: the place of his Enlightenment (in the current Mahabodhi Temple).
Sarnath: (formally Isipathana) where he delivered his first teaching.
Kusinara: (now Kusinagar, India) where he died ( Parinirvana).
The Eight Great Places
In the later commentarial tradition, four other sites are also raised to a special status because Buddha had performed a certain miracle there. These four places, partly through the inclusion in this list of commentarial origin, became important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in ancient India, as the Attha-mahathanani (
Palifor 'The Eight Great Places'). It is important to note, however, that some of these events do not occur in the Tipitakaand are thus purely commentarial.
The first four of the Eight Great Places are identical to the places mentioned by Buddha:
KusinaraThe last four are places where a certain miraculous event is reported to have occurred:
Sravasti: Place of the Twin Miracle, showing his supernatural abilities in performance of miracles. Sravasti is also the place where Buddha spent the largest amount of time, being a major city in ancient India.
Rajgir: Place of the subduing of Nalagiri, the angry elephant, through friendliness. Rajgir was another major city of ancient India.
Sankasia: Place of the descending to earth from Tusitaheaven (after a stay of 3 months teaching his mother the Abhidhamma).
Vaishali: Place of receiving an offering of honey from a monkey. Vaishali was the capital of the Vajjian Republicof ancient India.
Some other pilgrimage places in India and Nepal connected to the life of
Gautama Buddhaare: Pataliputta, Nalanda, Gaya, Kapilavastu, Kosambi, Varanasi, Kesariya, Devadaha, Pavaand Mathura. All these places are located in the Gangetic plain.
A few influential historical Buddhist pilgrims are:
Ashoka the Great(250 BCE)
Liu Songand Tang pilgrim monks Faxian(399–412 CE), Xuanzang(630–646 CE), and I Ching (673–687 CE)
Sillamonk Hyecho(723–727 CE)
*The Tibetan monk
Dharmaswamin( Chag Lotsawa) (1235 CE)
*The Sri Lankan national
Other pilgrimage places
Other famous places for Buddhist pilgrimage in various countries include:
Afghanistan: the Bamiyan Buddhas.
Cambodia: Angkor Wat, Silver Pagoda.
China: Yungang Grottoes, Longmen Grottoes. The Four Sacred Mountains
India: Sanchi, Ellora, Ajanta.
Japan: Kyoto, Nara.
Laos: Luang Prabang.
Myanmar: Bagan, Sagaing Hill, Mandalay Hill, Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, Shwedagon Pagoda.
Nepal: Boudnanath Stupa, Swayambhunath.
Sri Lanka: Polonnaruwa, Temple of the Tooth( Kandy), Anuradhapura, Sri Pada.
South Korea: Three Jewel Temples
Thailand: Sukhothai, Ayutthaya, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Doi Suthep, Phra Pathom Chedi, Phra Buddha Chinnarat.
Tibet: Potala Palace, Mount Kailash, Lake Nam-tso.
* [http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/buddhistpilgrimage.pdf Buddhist Pilgrimage] (e-book - the eight major Buddhist sites in India)
* [http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/pilgrim/places.htm Buddhist Pilgrimage in India]
* [http://www.uq.net.au/slsoc/bsq/bud_arc.htm The Buddhist Archaeology of India]
* [http://www.vwsp.eu/tathagata/budh-pilgrim/index.htm How to be a buddhist pilgrim] Theory & Practice
* [http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/pilgrim/places.htm Buddhist Pilgrimage in Sri Lanka]
* [http://www.buddhistpilgrimage.info/ Information on Buddhist Pilgrimage]
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