Sarnath and Shravasti | India Tourist Spots | Places to Visit in India
Two famous Buddhism Tourism Places to Visit in India
After renouncing his wife and family, his kingdom and all worldly pleasures, Prince Siddhartha roamed around in search of the Eternal Truth; this truth he realised at Bodhgaya in Bihar, while sitting under the Bodhi Tree. After achieving this Ultimate Truth, he continued to reflect over his realisation for seven more weeks at the same spot, till he felt a necessity to share his findings with fellow beings. Thus he began looking around for his five fellow ascetics, who had earlier associated with him for some time. Finally, he could overtake them at Varanasi, but they were stunned at the sea change in his captivating countenance. The Buddha was able to convince them and thus delivered his maiden sermon in their presence elaborating on his convictions, which later came to known as the Middle Path. In this way, we find that though Buddha found the Realisation at Bodhgaya, but the foundation of Buddhism was laid in Uttar Pradesh. Buddha spent the next 45 years of his life roaming in various parts of the Gangetic Plains, out of which a significant part of his time was spent in Uttar Pradesh, offering sermons to believers and atheists alike, to try to reduce the sufferings of human existence. Ultimately, the end of his physical life came at Kushinagar again in Uttar Pradesh.
A few of these holy Buddhist sites are –
History is embedded in every brick and broken idol of Sarnath, situated nearly nine kms away from Varanasi. Lord Buddha preached his first sermon here in the Deer Park, and set in motion the wheel of Dharma. With the passage of time and on account of depredations of the invaders, this place had once become a mound, hiding in its bosom the glorious history of its majestic past, but now it is a beautiful tourist spot with charming parks and gardens around it. Sarnath has a fascination of its own, for here are blended history with grandeur and folklore with tradition. As one goes around, galleries of the Sarnath Museum, witnessing the idols of Lord Buddha in different poses and postures, one is at once transported into the dim recesses of the past, when Prince Siddhartha, tormented by the woes and sufferings of human life, set out in search of that Eternal Truth, the realisation of which alone could enable man to break the shackles of this transitory existence. The majestic Dhamekh Stupa standing near the ruins, is solid, sacred, and imposing. The Lion Capital of the Ashoka Pillar, found in this area is kept in the Sarnath Museum. The ruins of Sarnath cover an extensive area. Temples, Stupas and monasteries belong to different periods of construction, the earliest going back to Ashoka. Close to the Dhamekh Stupa stands the new Vihara, or monastery built by the Mahabodhi Society. It contains Buddhist Relics from various places. There are also Chinese, Jain, Burmese, and Tibetan temples. A rare collection of Buddhist Literature can be seen at the Mahabodhi Society.
Places of Interest: Chaukhandi Stupa, Dharamrajika Stupa, ruins of temples and monasteries in the excavated area, Main Shrine, Dhamekh Stupa, Mulgandha Kuti Vihara, Chinese, Jain, Burmese and Tibetan temples, besides the Archaeological Museum.
Shravasti was the capital of ancient kingdom of Kosala. In Buddhist sacred lore, it is described to be one of the eight sanctified spots, which a believer should visit. Lord Buddha performed his greatest miracle here and spent 24 rainy seasons for preaching his doctrines. Here the Buddha convinced the skeptics and disarmed the doubters. In a contest of miraculous feats with the Tirthikas before King Prasenjit and the assembled audience, the Blessed One took his seat on a thousand petalled lotus and multiplied himself a million fold. Fire and water gushed out of his body and the unbelievers were confounded.
Shravasti is today in ruins and wilderness, but in the days of the Buddha, it was an active centre of Buddhism. It was here that the merchant Anathapindika paid a fabulous price in gold to build a large monastery for the Master in the garden of Prince Jeta.
The Shravasti miracle and the story of the purchase and presentation of the monastery are favourite themes in early Buddhist art. Today, the glorious Buddhist sites are known by the name Saheth-Maheth, though the region has been notified by the state government as a district by the original name.
Places of Interest: Jetavana Vihar, ruins of Sangharam, Kaushambi Kuti, Maha-Mulgandha Kuti and stupas, Anand Bodhi Tree, ruins of the ancient city of Shravasti and modern Chinese and Burmese Temples.