From Siddarth to Shakyamuni and finally the Buddha or the Enlightened one - an incredible transformation of a prince to an enlightened teacher, who walked the earth more than 2500 years ago. Upon seeing the misery, sorrow, pain, and death, in the prime of his youth, princes. Siddarth decided to discover their causes and means of overcoming their occurrence .Thus renouncing worldly pleasures and leaving home and family behind , he traveled from places to places until finally attaining enlightenment by fixed meditation under the Bodhi tree. He then preached the truth he discovered, and exhorted his disciples to follow the eight fold path for the cessation of the endless cycle of birth and rebirth. This is an endeavor to lay open before the viewer, the life and teaching of the Buddha and the influence of the Buddhism all across India and beyond its frontiers.
110 kms from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, Kapilavastu (Piprahwa) on the Gorakhpur Gonda loop-line with Naugarh (35 Kms.) is the nearest railway station. The capital city of the Sakya clan, and one of the earliest republics, it was in Kapilavastu's opulent environs, that the holy soul of prince Siddharth (Gautam Buddha) spent his childhood. Here he saw sorrow and pain, disease and death. Then, finally when he saw a radiant happy Sadhu who had conquered all these, he decided to renounce all worldly riches and pleasures to seek truth and embark on the path of salvation. The place holds significant value for Buddhist pilgrims and has several Stupas. The archaeological excavations have revealed stone caskets containing relics believed to be that of Buddha's.
Bodhgaya, in the state of Bihar, reckoned as the most important Buddhist pilgrimage center, is the place where Lord Sakyamuni
(Gautam Buddha) entered into meditation after being moved by the sufferings of
mankind. The giant Bodhi Tree (Peepal)
that we see today is believed to have grown from the original Bodhi Tree under which, sitting on the raised platform, Prince Siddharth meditated and imally attained Nirvana. Then there is Chaukramana, the Jewel Walk, where it is believed that the Buddha strolled while in deep thought. The magnificent Maha Bodhi temple in Bodhgaya is an architectural amalgamation of many cultures. The temple bears the stamp of the architecture of the Gupta Dynasty and subsequent ages. On the walls of the temple, one sees Buddha carved in different aspects, and in the sanctum sanctorum, a colossal Buddha, is seen touching the ground, which has mythological significance in the Buddhist lores. The temple carries inscriptions recording the visits of pilgrims from Sri Lanka, China and Mayanmar in the 7th and 10th Centuries A.D. Hieun Tsang, the Chinese traveler, also visited the temple in the 7th Century. Other Places of Interest Adjacent to the Mahabodhi temple is the Shaivite Monastery that has a cluster of four temples. Surrounded by enchanting greenery and marked by architectural marvels, these temples have several samadhis (commemorative stones) in their vicinity.
Just across are a number of cells, meant for residential purposes of monks. Not far from the Shaivite Monastery is the Jagannath Temple which is dedicated to Lord Shiva and has the statue of the deity, carved in glistening black stone. Finally, a visit to the Bodhgaya Archaeological Museum is a. must for a religious art lover as it initiates one into the age of Buddha's centered art forms. The Buddhist sculpture collection from 1st Century B.C. to 11th Century A.D. is housed here at one place. Reflected through several art forms, it is more like a treasure house of artistic expression. Bodhgaya is 245 kms from Varanasi and 178 kms from Patna via Rajgir and Nalanda.
Sarnath, about 10 kms from the holy city of Varanasi, is the blessed locale where more than 2,500 years ago Buddha chose to deliver his first sermon, after attaining Nirvana. The five disciples who had followed him were surprised to see the mesmerizing glowing countenance of Buddha, who convinced them and delivered his first sermon before them, now termed Dharamachakra Pravartan. This set in motion the great Buddhist tradition of the Sangha, for popularizing the teachings of the great ascetic, worldwide. Gautam Buddha with his five disciples formed the first Sangha alongwith Yasa of Varanasi and his 54 friends. The beginning of the celebrated Mantra, 'Buddham Sharanam Gachhami', owes its origin to Sarnath. The three Jewels "I go for refuge to the Buddha, I go for refuge to the Wheel of Law, I go for refuge to the Sangha" first laid down here, have remained unchanged ever since. Hence rightly, every Buddhist Pilgrim after Bodhgaya, endeavors to be blessed with a visit to Sarnath in his life time.
Dhamekh Stupa bears particular significance at Sarnath as it signifies the "seat of the holy Buddha", as he proclaimed his faith. It is about 34mtrs. In height and including the foundations, it can be measured upto 42mtrs. Besides Dhamekh Stupa, Sarnath also has the ruins of Dharmajajika Stupa and that of the original Mulgandha-kuti Temple, which according to Hieun Tsang was about 61mtrs. High. Buddha is said to have rested and meditated here while in
Emperor Ashoka (273-232 B.C.), converted to Buddhism visited Sarnath. Asmooth glistening stone pillar, called the Ashoka Pillar commemorates his visit and laid the foundation of the Buddhist Sangha here. The Lion Capital on top of this pillar is now the National Emblem of India. The Chaukhandi Stupa was originally a terraced temple during the Gupta period (4th to 6th Centuries). However in 1588 A.D., Govardhan, the son of Raja Todarmal, built an octagonal tower to commemorate the visit of Humayun-father of Akbar. Govardhan later went on to become the Governor under Akbar's rule. Similarly Akbar, the great Mughal Emperor who revered all religions alike, raised the after the Kalinga war and also Chaukhandi Stupa in 1555 A.D.
Kaushambi, in Uttar Pradesh, was visited by Buddha in the 6th and 9th years after his enlightenment. He delivered several sermons here, elevating it to a center of learning for Buddhists. Today one can see the ruins of an Ashokan Pillar, an old fort and the Ghositaram Monastery. The archaeological excavations here have yielded a large number of sculptures and figurines, coins, punch-marked and cast coins and terra-cotta sculptures which show the reverence the city was held in by the devout, in times gone by. All these religious finds of historical and archaeological importance can be viewed at the Allahabad Museum.
Kushinagar, (Kushinara of Yore), is a revered place for Buddhist pilgrims, 55 kms away from Gorakhpur. It was here that the Tathagata, the reciter of truth, breathed his last with the last words, "behold now, brethren, I exhort you, saying , decay is inherent in all component things ! Work out your salvation with diligence !". A temple dedicated to the event - the Mahaparinirvana temple today stands amidst a serene 'sal' grove ...... as if still reminiscing the great demise. The huge statue of the Reclining Buddha, excavated in 1876 at the temple, is one of the most momentous of all sights for the devout. It was brought from Mathura by a devout monk, Haribala, during the reign of King Kumara Gupta in the 5th Century A.D. The whole of Kushinagar, since the Mahaparinirvana of Gautam Buddha, was turned into a memorial site with stupas including the relic stupa-Mukutbandhana and Gupta period Chaitayas and Viharas, built by the devout kings. The Chinese travelers Fa Hien, Hieun Tsang and T. Ising. Visited Kushinagar during different centuries and recorded a graphic account of the place which later fell to bad times, due to lack of patronage. These recordings provided the vital clues for excavations done centuries later by Sir Alexander Cunningham.
The visiting sites of Kushinagar fall in three categories : The Mahaparinirvana Temple, commemorating the place of the great decease with a reclining statue of Lord Buddha, Mata Kunwar Shrine contains a 10th Century blue schist image of Buddha and; Rambhar Stupa, which is supposedly the spot where Lord Buddha was cremated and his relics divided into eight equal parts. Apart from this, a Chinese Temple, a Buddhist Temple, a Tibetan Temple and the Indo-Japan-Srilanka Buddhist Center hold significant religious value for pilgrims.
Ajanta & Ellora
The Ajanta caves consist of 30 Caves including the unfinished ones, dating back from 200 BC to 250 AD. These caves are situated 104 kms from Aurangabad and 52 kms from Jalgaon Railway Station. The caves are cut from the volcanic lava of the Deccan in the forest ravines of the Sahyadri Hills and are set in beautiful sylvan surroundings.
They were discovered accidentally by a British Captain, John Smith in 1819, while on a hunting expedition. Ajanta provides a unique combination of architecture, sculpture and paintings. Two basic types of monastic Buddhist architecture are preserved at Ajanta, the Chaitya or prayer hall (Cave Nos. 9,10,19,26 & 29) and Vihara or monastery (remaining 25 Caves). These caves suggest a well defined form of architecture, broadly resolving into two phases with a time gap of about 4 Centuries from each other. In the Hinayana Phase are included two Chaitya Halls (Cave Nos. 9&10) and 4 Viharas (Cave Nos. 8, 12, 13 & 15A). In the Mahayana Phase are included 3 Chaityas (Cave nos. 19 & 26 and 29 being incomplete) and 11 exquisite Viharas (Cave Nos. 1,2,4,6,7,11,15,17 and 20 to 24).
The Ajanta sculptures of the Mahayana Phase establish a formal religious imagery. While the Hinayana monuments at the site are virtually devoid of carvings, Cave l, is one of the finest monasteries and the interior paintings here, are among the greatest at Ajanta. Graciously posed Bodhisatvas namely Padmapani and Vajrapani with elaborate headdresses flank the antechamber doorway.
The walls on the side of the antechamber depict the assault and temptation by Mara and the miracle at Sravasti. Scenes from the Jataka tales such as Shibi Jataka, Samkhpala Jataka, Mahajanka Jataka, and Champeyya Jataka are depicted in the walls of the cave. Cave 2, monastery repeats the basic scheme of Cave 1, and is also remarkable for its painted ceiling. The paintings include, variety of designs, scrollwork, geometric patterns, miniature seated Buddha's, dream of the Buddha's mother, Maya and the birth of the Buddha, procession of female devotees carrying offerings and scenes from the Hamsa Jataka and Vidhurapandita Jataka. Caves 4 & 6 are Viharas or Monasteries of architectural interest.
Cave 9, 10, 12 & 15A, are Chaitya Halls of the Hinayana period. Cave 10 is among the first excavations at the site and is one of the most impressive early Buddhist Chaitya Halls in Western India dating back to the 2nd Century BC. This cave contains both the earlier and later groups of paintings. Scenes from the Sama Jataka and Chhaddanta Jataka are depicted. Cave 12 has lost its facade, with the result that the interior square hall is now exposed. In cave 15A only portions of the front wall survive. Cave 14, 15 & 16, are Viharas belonging to the Mahayana Phase. Cave 14 was planned on a large scale, but was never finished. The verandah of cave 15 has mostly fallen. Above the doorway is a stupa sheltered by a canopy of serpent hoods. Buddha images appear in the shrine and on the rear wall of the hall.
Cave 16 is one of the finest monasteries at Ajanta. Within the hall on the left wall is an illustration of the conversion of Nanda, Buddha's cousin. Other paintings include the miracle of Sravasti, elephant procession, Buddha begging for alms from his wife and son, Gautam's first meditation, scenes from the Hasti Jataka and Maha Ummagga Jataka. Cave 17, a vihara preserves the greatest number of wall-paintings which includes a row of eight Buddha's, a much damaged panel of Indra flying through the clouds accompanied by his troupe of celestial dancers, Apsaras and Musicians, Buddha subduing Nalagiri, the furious elephant sent by his jealous cousin, Devadatta and scenes from various Jataka tales such as the Chhaddanta Jataka, Mahamapi Jataka, Vessantara Jataka, Sutasoma Jataka, Matiposaka Jataka, Sama Jataka, Ruru Jataka and Nigrodhamriga Jataka. Cave 19, is a perfectly executed rock-cut Chaitya. Cave 20 is a small monastery in which the antechamber protrudes into the hall and there are no columns. Caves 21 to 24 represent the last examples of work at Ajanta. They are all in different stages of completion. Cave 26 is a Chaitya Hall larger than that of Cave 19, but is otherwise similar in its arrangements and decorative scheme.
Situated 134 kms from Lucknow and 29 kms from Balrampur, Sravasti, the capital of the ancient kingdom of Kosala, has the honor for sheltering Buddha for 24 rainy seasons in the Jetvana Gardens. The city believed to be founded by the mythological king Sravast, has age-old stupas, majestic monasteries and several temples. Buddha is said to have performed some miracles here. This holy place also has the famous Anand Bodhi tree, an offspring of the one, said to have been planted by Buddha's main disciple Anand
Vaishali, believed to be the first republic of the world, having an elected body of representatives, holds special significance for Buddhist devotees. At Kolhua, Lord Buddha delivered his last sermon, hinting at his impending departure from the mortal world. Later, Emperor Ashoka erected a huge pillar to commemorate the spot of the last sermon. Vaishali was also the center of the 2nd Buddhist Council congregation, held after 100 years of Buddha's Parinirvana to discuss the ten points of Vinaya, the rule of conduct under dispute. At the excavated archaeological site of Raja Vishal Ka Garh is an ancient parliament house, which indicates that this republic flourished in the 6th Century B.C. Vaishali is famous for Amrapali, the beautiful dancer and courtesan of Vaishali, who offered Buddha a mango orchard and impressed by his teachings became a nun (Bhikshu) in turn. The excavations carried out in Vaishali have brought to light Buddha Stupa (4th Century B.C.) and II, built in brick with a casket containing part of the ashes of Buddha. Other sites of historical importance in Vaishali include Chaumukhi Mahadeva, a lingam carved with four faces of Lord Shiva; the Bhawan Pakhar Temple, where a large number of Hindu deities are enshrined at one place and are worshipped together; Coronation Tank where the Lichhavi Kings were anointed before being crowned and; the Vaishali Museum which has a small collection of regional handicrafts. Also worth a visit is Kundupur, 4 kms from here which is the birthplace of Lord Mahavira (6th Century B.C.) who spent 22 years of his initial years here.
Sankisa lies in central Uttar Pradesh, 47 km from Farrukhabad. It is believed to be the place where Buddha, along with Bramha and Devraj Indra descended after giving sermons to his mother in heaven. At the spot of descent stands a temple with a statue of Buddha. The place is also known for a temple dedicated to Bisari Devi and an excavated Ashokan elephant pillar. There is also colossal Shiva Linga here A large fair is held at Sankisa in the month of Sravan (July -August).
Sanchi is a serene hill crowned by a group of stupas, monasteries, temples and pillars dating from 3rd century BC to 12th century AD. The glory that was Sanchi, an ancient place of pilgrimage, can still be experienced in its complex structures where many Buddhist legends found expression in the rich sculpture. The Buddha is not represented through figures at Sanchi, but through symbols, as was the tradition in the early period of Buddhism. The lotus represents the Buddha's birth, the tree signifies his enlightenment, the wheel represents his nirvana or salvation
The footprints and the throne denote the Buddha's presence. Sanchi was virtually forgotten after the 13th Century until 1818, when General Taylor, a British Officer rediscovered it, half buried and well preserved. Later in 1912, Sir John Marshal, Director General of Archeology ordered the restoration work at the site. Some of the important monuments in Sanchi are: - The Great Stupa No.1- 36.5mts in diameter and 16.4 mts high it is one of the oldest stone structures in India. With a massive hemispherical dome, the stupa stands majestically. The paved procession path around it has become smooth by centuries of pilgrim's visit. Built originally as an earthen stupa by the Emperor Ashoka, it was rebuilt in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. The last of the additions to this remarkable stupa are the elaborate and richly carved four gateways or Toranas. The first of the four gateways to be erected was the one at the Southern Entrance, followed, in chronological order by the Northern, the Eastern and the Western Gateways. The Southern Gateway: Reveals the birth of Gautum in a series of dramatically rich carvings. The southern Gateway: crowned by a wheel of law, illustrates the
miracle associated with the Buddha as told in the Jataka tales. The Eastern Gateway, depicts the young prince, Gautam, leaving his father's place, renouncing worldly life to seek enlightenment .The inner face of the right pillar portrays the dream of Maya, the mother of Buddha, when she conceived him. The Western Gateway depicts the Seven incarnations of the Buddha, four represented by trees and three by stupas; the Buddha preaching his first sermon at the Deer Park, Sarnath and the Chhaddanta Jataka tale. Stupa No. 2, dating back to the 2nd Century BC, stands at the very edge of the hill and its most striking feature is the stone balustrade that surrounds it. Stupa No.3 situated northeast of the Great Stupa is where the relics of Sariputra and Mahamogalana, the two famous disciples of the Buddha were found in its inner most chambers. The hemispherical dome is crowned, as a mark of its special religious significance, with an umbrella of polished stone. It has only one gateway. This structure belongs to the period between 150-140 BC. Ashoka Pillar, with its four lion head stump, erected during the 3rd Century BC, is situated close to the Southern Gateway of the Great Stupa. Though, similar to the intricately carved pillar in Sarnath, the lions did not support a "Wheel of Law" (Dharmachakra). A unique feature of this pillar is its brilliant polish. The Gupta Temple (4th Century AD), in ruins now, is one of the earliest known examples of temple architecture in India. It consists of a simple flat roofed chamber with a pillared porch in front. Temple 18, a Chaitya Hall, situated in front of the Southern Gateway of the Great Stupa is comparatively recent (around 7th Century A.D.) resembles the rock-cut Chaitya halls at Karla Caves in Maharashtra. The Monastery and Temple 45, built between the 7th and 11th Centuries, show more developed styles of architecture. On the ornamental doorway here, one can see the image of Buddha with an oval Halo. The Great Bowl, carved out of one block of stone, contained food that was distributed amongst the monks of Sanchi. The Archaeological Survey of India Museum, situated at the entrance to the monument, exhibits findings and remains of the excavated site. Among these are caskets, pottery, and parts of gateways, lion capital of the Ashokan Pillar and images.
The recent findings from excavations and the identifications of a number of sites with Buddhist remains open up a new vista in the field of Buddhist Tourism in Orissa. Dhauli hill on the bank of the river Daya is a littleaway from the main road to Puri/Konark from Bhubaneswar. Ashoka changed his mind in favor of spiritual conquests in preference to war exploits after the Kalinga war which was fought here in the 3rd century B.C. This place motivated the Kalinga Nippon-Buddha Sangha to establish a peace pagoda or Shanti Stupa at Dhauli along with the construction of a monastery called Saddharma Vihar Lalitagiri, the earliest Buddhist complex of 1st century A.D. has a huge brick monastery, the remains of a Chaitya hall, a number of votive stupas and a renovated stone stupa at the apex of a small rugged sand stone hill dominates the rural greenery around. At Ratnagiri, excavations revealed the establishment of a Buddhist center from the time of Narasimha Gupta Baladitya (first half of the sixth century A.D.). At Udaygiri excavations brought to light a sprawling complex of brick monastery with a number of Buddhist sculptures. Infact the entire area is found located at the foothills of a large hill acting as the backdrop of the area.
A Gompa was founded in 996 AD. (A Tibetan year of the fire Ape) and the initiative is said to belong to the great teacher Rinchensang Po also known as Mahaguru Ratnabhadra. In June -July 1996, Tabo celebrated a millennium of its glorious existence. With breathtaking murals and stucco images, Tabo is often called "The Ajanta of the Himalayas". And here is art that above all, is born of religion and deep faith. The Tabo monastery at a height of 3050mts is a complex that holds 9 temples, 23 chortens a monks chamber and an extension that houses the nun s chamber. This core area bounded by an earthen wall and encloses an area of 6300sq.m. Just short of the complex are the contemporary monastic structures .On the sheer cliff face above the enclave are a series of cave which were used as dwelling units by the monks. And includes an assembly hall. Here again, dim traces of the painting that once adorned the rock face are visible.
90 kms south of Patna, literally means the place that confers the lotus. It was one of the oldest universities of the world. It has nine million books, ten thousand students, two thousand teachers and was a center of great learning which reached its zenith between 5th and 12th Century A.D. Both Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavira visited this place. Emperor Ashoka built a Vihara, while Emperor Harshvardhan donated a 26 mtr. High copper image of Buddha and Emperor Kumar Gupta built a college of fine arts. In 1951, an International Center for Buddhist Studies was established in Nalanda. Nava Nalanda Vihar, 2 kms from here, is a similar institution.
Rajgir , meaning " the Royal Palace" (Raja Griha) lies 12 kms south of Patna. Rajgir is a site of great sanctity and significance for Buddhists. The Gridhakuta Hill, in Rajgir, was the seat from where Buddha delivered many of his sermons. It was here that the teachings of Buddha were recorded in writing for the first time. An aerial ropeway takes visitors up the hill where the Japanese have built a beautiful Stupa. Many sites of. Historical and archaeological significance surrounds the holy city of Rajgir. Bimbisara Jail reminds one of the devoted Mauryan King Bimbisara (5th-6th Century B.C.) who, being a Buddhist, chose this as a place to spend his last days. From here he could see Buddha climbing up the Grihakuta Hill to do his meditation. Ajatashatru's Fort is another place of tourist attraction. The sculpture, which depicts the 'Parinirvana' or the 'great cessation' of Buddha, is another monument of artistic and historical importance. It shows the Buddha lying on his right side with the right forearm resting under his head to commemorate the final salvation or Mukti, of the great founder of the Buddhist Faith. Other prominent sites of importance at Rajgir include Saptdhara, the hot springs which supposedly have healing powers; Venuvan Vihara, the residence built by the king Bimbisara for Buddha; Jivaka's Mango grove, residence of an ardent Buddhist follower, Jivak who was a surgeon; and the Karanda Tank, bathing site of Lord Buddha. Also the first Buddhist Council was convened here, at the Saptaparni Cave, after the Mahaparinirvana of Buddha. Patna lies 102 kms from here and 34 kms from here is Gaya.
Sikkim is situated in the Eastern Himalayas, along the borders of Bhutan (East). Tibet (North), Nepal (West) and West Bengal (South). Its capital, Gangtok has a lot to see, specially the Research Institute of Tibetology, a World center for the study of Buddhist philosophy& religion and has a rare collection of Thankas, statues and over 200 Buddhist icons. 24kms away, you approach the Rumtek Monastery which houses among the most unique art objects in the world. 3 kms from Gangtok is the Enchey Monastery built almost 200 years ago and was blessed by the great tantric master Lama Druptab Karpa.
Not very far from Bomdila in Arunachal Pradesh lies the Tawang Headquarters, a beautiful district in the center of which emerges the walled and fortified Tawang Monastery. The monastery overlooks the valley and is surrounded by mountains which seem to be guarding the valley and its inhabitants. Over 500 Lamas live in its 65 residential buildings. One can witness a superb collection of ancient scriptures, images, Thankas and a 8mtr. High gilded image of Buddha.The monastery is locally known as Gompa, like any other and is believed to be 400 years old.
Popularly known as "Hermit Kingdom". Ladakh is a land of snow carved peaks ,translucent Lakes ,barren terrain and mystic culture .Quite like Tibet it has a great Buddhist tradition which is evident from the high monk to people ratio of 1:8.It has about 13 major Gompas (monasteries) of which HEMIS is considered the Gompa Of Gompas.It has the patronage of the Royal Family. It is the most important monastery of Ladakh with a concealed entrance, a huge courtyard flanked by two big temples. In the month of June, the famous "Hemis festival" is held, when a large numbers of tourist visit it. Alchi ,a little village 70 km from Leh in Jammu & Kashmir ,is known as a jewel among the religious sites in Ladakh. Abandoned centuries ago this monastery is lovingly maintained by the monks at Likir, the nearest functioning Gompa. It is popularly known as Chos-kar (religious enclave) and comprises of 5 temples which are perhaps the richest in their collection of painting s and images in the Du -Khang (the Assembly Hall), and the three storied Sum-Tsek. Its murals dating back to the 11th and 12th Centuries, pre date the Tibetan style of painting which is found in all other Gompas. Some of them are the reminiscent of the painting of the far off Ajanta Caves and are presumed to be the almost the sole survivor of the Buddhist style, currently in Kashmir during the first millenium AD.
Dating back to the 2nd Century BC, the monuments at Karla are at a distance of 11 km from Lonavala and just off the Mumbai-Pune road. The magnificent Chaitya hall at Karla is the largest (124ft x 46.5ft x 45ft) and most evolved example of its class. Three important features of the interior of the hall are columns or pillars, the roof vault and the great sun windows. There are 37 columns in all, of which 30 have interesting capitals showing prosperous men and women riding elephants and horses yet bowing in humility to the Great Buddha. The vaulted roof has wooden supports. This is the only place in India where 2000-year-old woodwork can be seen. At the far end of the hall stands a stupa, above which is held an umbrella, a symbol of royalty. The whole system of lighting depends on the enormous sun windows through which cleverly diffused light with its light and shadows gives a great sense of solemnity.
Situated 42 Kms north of Mumbai, near Borivili, the kanheri caves were once protected by a dense jungle. The Caves are set in the heart of the Borivili National Park. There are 109 caves dating from 1st century BC to 9th Century AD, each connected with a flight os steps. The most important one is the Cave No.3 of the 6th century which has the last of the excavated Chaitya Hall of the Hinayana Order. It has 34 pillars and is like a colonnaded hall 28 mtrs.x13 mtr. in dimension. The encircle a 5mtrs. high Dagoba or stupa and have carvings depicting elephants kneeling and worshipping the stupa. The other important caves are, Cave 11, Durbar Hall or the Assembly Hall with a statue of the Buddha occupying the central place as in the case of idols in Hindu temples and also a number of cells for Buddhist monks. Cave 34 is a dark cell and has paintings of the Buddha on the ceiling. Cave 41 has, besides other sculptures, a figure of the eleven headed Avalokieshvara. Cave 67 is a big cell, with the figure of Avalokiteshwara as savior flanked by two female figures in the verandah. There are also images of the Buddha depicting the miracle of Sravasti
The birth place of the Maratha chieftain Chhatrapati Shivaji, is 177 kms from Mumbai on the Mumbai-Aurangabad route. The hills surrounding the plains of Junnar are honeycombed with a cluster of Buddhist caves, which are divided into three distinct groups, which are divided into three distinct groups. These caves belongs to the period 2nd Century BC to 3rd century AD. 5 Kms to the west are the TULIJA lENA Group which has a circular dome ceiling in the Chaitya Hall (Cave No. 3.). The second group of caves are located 1.5 Kms south of the town, towards the Manmodi Hills. It has a well preserved facade. The third group, Ganesh Lena Group is located 4 kms south of Junnar. There are a large number of small cells and viharas in the group, the principal being the Chaitya cave No. 6 and the vihara now known as the Ganesh Lena.
Bhaja has 18 caves belonging to the 2nd century B.C. Cave No. 12 is the largest and has a fine stilted vault. The last cave to the south has a excellent sculptures including that of the famous 'Dancing Couple'. Bhaja caves are located 12 kms from Lonavala and can be reached by an uphill climb of half-hour from the Malavali Railway Station on the Mumbai-Lonavala-Pune section of the central Railway.
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Nagarjuna Sagar, earlier called vijaypuri in ancient times, is an important Buddhist site located 150 kms from Hydrabad in Andhra Pradesh. It is named after the Buddhist saint acharya Nagarjuna and reveals one of the most outstanding Buddhist civilizations of the 3rd Century A.D. a replica of the excavated site has been created and carefully preserved on an island known as Nagarjuna Konda. The excavations have brought to light the Mahachaitya, the most sacred of the Stupas. An inscription in the Brahmi characters states that the relics of Buddha lie within the Mahachaitya while others have revealed the existence of a Vihara and also an Aswamedha (sacrificial alter), besides tools from the Paleolithic and Neolithic ages.
Basic Inclusions of the package :
- Assisted transfers from airport to hotel and back
- Accommodation in hotels (as per the category selected)
- Daily Breakfast Buffet
- City tour + Drives by private car
- An English / Language speaking well mannered guide during sightseeing trips
- All currently applicable taxes
- Any meal unless mentioned above, personal expenses like telephone /laundry bills etc.
- Entrance fees and still camera or video camera charges at various monuments and museums.
- Tips and gratuities to drivers, guides, and bellboys at hotels
- Departure taxes or Visa handling fees (A Visa is required to visit India)
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