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India's 3 Most Important Buddhist Sites

For enlightenment with your travels, visit three of the holiest sites in Buddhist tradition

For a full pilgrimage to India\’s Buddhist sites, also visit the Buddha\’s birthplace in Lumbini, Nepal.
Even if you don’t subscribe to the teachings of the Buddha, following in the footsteps of millions of annual tourists yields critical insight into India’s culture and history. Along the way, you’ll see beautiful architecture and fascinating museums.

Mahabodhi Temple, at Bodh Gaya in Bihar State, is where, some 2,500 years ago, following a six-year pilgrimage, Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha) supposedly achieved enlightenment—as legend has it, under a Bodhi tree—and earned his title of the Buddha. The name means Great Awakening Temple.

In the state of Uttar Pradesh, Sarnath Deer Park, and specifically the 500 BC stupa in the park, is where the Buddha first taught the dharma, or philosophies of Buddhism. An archaeological museum onsite houses a 5th-century sculpture of the Buddha. Just steps away is the 1931 Mulagandhakuti Vihara Temple, a popular place for worship.

The Buddha gave his last sermon and died at Kushinagar (Uttar Pradesh), achieving the highest state of being in Buddhist teaching, parinirvana, or nirvana after death. The site has several ancient Buddhist temples as well as a stupa where a vessel thought to contain the Buddha’s ashes was found.

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