Lumbini in Nepal, the birthplace of Buddha, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Gautam Buddha was born as Prince Siddharta, son of King Suddhodana of the Sakya clan and his wife Queen Maya Devi. The birthplace is commemorated through the Maya Devi Temple, which is surrounded by many ancient ruins, including an Ashokan Pillar.
Lumbini is a major pilgrimage centre for Buddhists from across the globe. It is about 10 hours’ journey by road from Kathmandu. The nearest airport is at Bhairahawa from where Lumbini is another half an hour drive.
Prince Siddhartha left his home as an ascetic to search for an answer to what led people to suffer and die. While meditating under a Peepal tree in a forest near the Hindu shrine of Gaya, he gained enlightenment. Prince Siddharta became known as the Buddha, the tree as Bodhi Tree, and the place as Bodh Gaya.
The Mahabodhi Temple complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located in Bihar, India. Besides the Bodhi Tree, the temple complex contains many sites associated with the Buddha. Bodh Gaya is about 15 km from Gaya, the nearest airport and railway station.
Buddha Purnima is celebrated on the full moon day of the Indian lunar month of Vaisakh. According to many, Buddha also attained his enlightenment on this day. In many south-east Asian countries, Buddha Purnima is known as Vesak.
Bodh Gaya is home to a number of monasteries and temples built by various Buddhist sects of India as well as south-east Asian countries. The Thai monastery is known for its architecture.
From Bodh Gaya, Buddha travelled to Sarnath, about 15km by road from the spiritual city of Varanasi, where he delivered his first sermon to five disciples. Dhamek Stupa is said to mark the spot where the first sermon was delivered.
This stupa is said to mark the spot where the Buddha met his first disciples.
Vaishali, the former capital of the Licchavi clan, is about 30km from Patna, the nearest airport. It was here that Buddha delivered his last sermon and stated his intention to prepare for his nirvana (death).
The stupa marks the place where Buddha is said to have laid down and attained nirvana. According to historical records, the stupa was renovated and expanded during the Gupta period. The buildings received a grand makeover in 1957 as part of 2500th death anniversary of Buddha. Kushinagar is a little over 50km from Gorakhpur, the nearest airport.
The 6.1 meter long reclining statue of Buddha on a stone couch. Buddha lies on his right side with his head to the north. It is said that Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang mentioned this statue in his writings in 637 CE. Try to catch the play of sunlight on the face of the image at dawn and dusk.
This simple stupa marks the place where Buddha was cremated. The relics were initially divided into eight (some say 10) portions and distributed among as many groups. Kushinagar is a little over 170km from Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha in Nepal. The nearest transport hub including airport is Gorakhpur, about 55km away by road.
Also known as the Golden Pagoda, the resplendent Myanmar Buddhist Temple is a photographer’s delight.