Article | Blog | Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, Ministry of Culture, Government of India


Buddhist Heritage Sites in India

By : Buddhist Heritage Sites in India

May 19, 2022

Every civilization and nation is molded through its culture, traditions, and intellect. India is known worldwide for its diverse cultural heritage that constitutes its building blocks. The advent of Buddhism in the 6th Century BCE is one such phrase that has not only shaped the spiritual history of India but also its intellectual culture. Siddhartha Gautam, who later came to be known as Gautama Buddha, was the son of a ruler of the Sakya clan. Upon confrontation with the plight of the common people in his kingdom, Siddhartha decided to renounce his wealth and comfort and adopted the life of an ascetic.

Stone Sculpture of Buddha

Heritage Sites associated with Buddha’s Life

Purnima or the full moon night of Vaisakh is an important event associated with the life of Buddha. He was born and attained enlightenment and parinirvana all on Purnima. While his teachings have been propagated across the globe, there are four geographical locations that are given utmost reverence – Lumbini (his birthplace), Bodh Gaya (where he attained enlightenment), Sarnath (delivered his first sermon), and Kushinagar (where he attained mahaparinirvana).

  • Lumbini (Nepal)

    One of the most important pilgrimage sites, Lumbini is the birthplace of Gautama Buddha. Emperor Ashoka built the Ashokan Pillar here upon his visit. The pillar’s inions testify to the historical significance of the place and document its importance as Buddha’s birthplace. A World Heritage Site, the complex includes the Shakya Tank, the remains of Maya Devi Temple, and the Ashokan Pillar. It also contains various stupas (memorial shrines) and viharas (residential monasteries) and Maya Devi pond. The museum within the complex displays artefacts from the Mauryan and Kushana periods.

Lumbini, the Birthplace of Gautam Buddha
  • Bodh Gaya (Bihar)

    Bodh Gaya, a small town in Bihar, India, reverberates with rich cultural heritage. Birthplace of Buddhism and the place where Buddha attained enlightenment, Bodh Gaya not only attracts Buddhist pilgrims but people from across the world to admire the marvelous Maha Bodhi Temple and the hallowed Bodhi Tree. The Maha Bodhi temple is one of the few remaining brick structures that also make it an architectural marvel of late-Gupta period. The Bodhi Tree which is currently planted in the west of the temple complex was supposedly planted by Emperor Ashoka. The tree resonates with the overall tranquil environment of the complex and conveys a sense of calm and peace. Apart from the main temple and the Bodhi tree, there are numerous structures and stupas associated with the life of Buddha and a Lotus Pond that is located just outside the enclosure. The temple complex was included in the World Heritage Site list in the year 2002.

Hon'ble Prime Minister at Maha Bodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya
Buddhist Monks at Sarnath
Statue of Buddha at Mahaparinirvana Temple, Kushinagar

To know more about Buddhist Heritage Sites in India, click here.