Buddhist pilgrimage sites

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The most important places in Buddhism are located in the Gangetic plains of Northern India and Southern Nepal, in the area between New Delhi and Rajgir. This is the area where Gautama Buddha lived and taught, and the main sites connected to his life are now important places of pilgrimage for both Buddhists and Hindus. However, many countries that are or were predominantly Buddhist have shrines and places which can be visited as a pilgrimage.

Pilgrims, Tsurphu Gompa, Tibet, 1993

Sites associated with Buddha's life[edit]

Four main pilgrimage sites listed by Buddha himself[edit]

Gautama Buddha himself had identified the following four sites most worthy of pilgrimage for his followers, observing that these would produce a feeling of spiritual urgency:[1]

The Eight Great Places of pilgrimage[edit]

In addition the four sites mentioned earlier (Lumbini, Bodh Gaya, Sarnath and Kushinagar), the Buddhist texts later written by Buddha's followers also mention four more sacred sites where a certain miraculous event is reported to have occurred, thus completing the list of "Attha-mahathanani" (Pali for "The Eight Great Places") in India:

  • Rajgir: Place of the subduing of Nalagiri, the angry elephant, through friendliness. Rajgir was another major city of ancient India.
  • Vaishali: Place of receiving an offering of honey from a monkey. Vaishali was the capital of the Vajjian Republic of ancient India.
  • Nalanda: Center of Buddhist learning, the Nalanda Mahavihar; important for its Mahayana Philosophy.
  • Sravasti: Place of the Twin Miracle, showing his supernatural abilities in performance of miracles. Sravasti is also the place where Buddha spent the largest amount of time, being a major city in ancient India.
  • Sankassa: Place of the descending to earth from Tavatimsa heaven (after a stay of 3 months teaching his mother the Abhidhamma).

The Eight Great Places in Buddhism (Four Great Places are plotted in red.)

Other sites related to Buddha's travels[edit]

Some other pilgrimage places in India and Nepal connected to the life of Gautama Buddha are mostly located in the Gangetic plain.

Alphabetically by states[edit]

Please help expand this incomplete list.

Chronologically by routes[edit]

In the order of places traveled by Buddha. Please help expand this incomplete list.

Other pilgrimage places by country[edit]

Other famous places for Buddhist pilgrimage in various countries include:

Punakha DzongChimi Lhakhang Temple Kyichu Lhakhang Kurje Lhakhang Gangtey Monastery Gomphu Kora (Gom Kora) Chagri Dorjeden Monastery Dzongdrakha Monastry Phajoding Monastery

Elderly pilgrim, Tsurphu Gompa, Tibet, 1993

Erdene Zuu Monastery Gandantegchinlen Monastery Zayiin Gegeen Monastery Gandantegchinlen Khiid Monastery Amarbayasgalant Khiid Shankh Monastery

Pohyonsa Anguksa Jangansa

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Buddha mentions these four pilgrimage sites in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta. See, for instance, Thanissaro (1998)[1] and Vajira & Story (1998)[2].
  2. ^ a b Dhamma patthana, dhamma.org.
  3. ^ a b Aastha Pugdal Pagoda at Kumaspur (Kamas Nigam in Sonepat, SDBST.

External links[edit]

  • Virtual Tour of Buddhist Pilgrimage Sites on Google Map (Interactive 360° View available on certain sites)
  • Buddhist Pilgrimage (e-book - the eight major Buddhist sites in India)
  • Buddhist Pilgrimage in India and Sri Lanka
  • "Buddhist Pilgrimage". Asia. Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved 2011-04-03.
  • Why do Buddhists go on Pilgrimage? Buddhism for Beginners