India is a magnificent country that is home to multiple cultures and religions, existing in harmony for centuries. All these different cultures have had an immense impact on our values and beliefs, as well as the beauty and the aesthetics of the country in its whole. A huge part of India’s vibrancy and uniqueness comes from these cultures that have such a major historical and cultural significance. One of these religions is Buddhism and its mark can be seen in various beautiful monuments called stupas that house valuable Buddhist relics and teachings and spread them to the people. These stupas are also exquisite pieces of architecture that deserve to be admired for their sheer beauty and glory. Spread throughout the country and with thousands of tourists flocking to them every year, these stupas are a great tourist spot for you if you are interested in history and India’s cultural heritage. Those also wanting to enjoy a serene and beautiful location filled with art and peace can visit here.
All You Need to Know About Stupas
Predominantly a hemispherical architecture, stupas are marvelous Buddhist structures that are not only home to the important relics but also act as a spiritual zone for people where people can come to meditate and find the peace and harmony within their soul. It promotes love, peace, beauty and celebrates the joy of life. If you are a spiritual person who finds happiness in ancient preaching’s and lessons of truth as well as history, then you should definitely visit these glorious structures once in your lifetime. Stupas are also representative of Buddhist art and architecture that flourished immensely under the rule of King Ashoka. Therefore you will notice that none of the stupas are identical to each other. Although they are all important places of religious and historical teachings, one should also visit the stupas to appreciate the brilliant architecture and artwork that can be seen on the walls of the stupas. They have exquisite sculptures and scriptures that is a true representation of the history and culture and thus a great way for you to be initiated into Buddhism and its values and principles. The multiple stupas around the country trace the several historical changes and developments that can be identified through the artistic evolutions and structural changes that are characteristic to certain corresponding historical periods. Therefore if you are a history buff who loves learning about Buddhist culture then you must visit the stupas. Moreover, a trip to the stupas is also ideal for art lovers and avid photographers who yearn to see beauty everywhere.
The 6 Best Buddhist Stupas in India That You Should Visit
Among the several stupas that are scattered across the country, in order to truly understand and experience the glory, significance and magnificence of stupas, you should visit these six stupas that will truly leave you awestruck. They are the most culturally and historically important structures which will help you to learn about the Buddhist culture and teachings in the best possible way.
6 Best Buddhist Stupas in India
- Mahabodhi Stupa, Bodh Gaya
- Sanchi Stupa, Madhya Pradesh
- Shanti Stupa, Leh
- Dhamekh Stupa, Sarnath
- Kesaria Stupa, Bihar
- Maha Stupa, Thotlakunda
1. Mahabodhi Stupa, Bodh Gaya
Renowned for being the location where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment, this stupa is probably the most important structure in the entirety of Buddhist religion. The stupa is home to the Shakyamuni Buddha statue which is significant for the mudra of touching the earth. The famous Bodhi tree is near this stupa and the walls surrounding the stupa illustrate the diorama tracing from 150 BC to 700 AD. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
2. Sanchi Stupa, Madhya Pradesh
Another extremely significant stupa, this is famous for being the oldest structure made by stone in India. Constructed during the reign of Emperor Ashoka, the Sanchi stupa honors and protects the relics of Buddha. This stupa also houses the very famous Ashokan pillar made of sandstone.
3. Shanti Stupa, Leh
One of the most popular tourist attractions in the Leh and Ladakh region, this stupa was founded by the Nichiren sect that falls under Japanese Buddhism. The stupa has spectacular sculptures and artwork illustrating deer and also Lord Buddha’s journey and life story. You have to climb 500 steps to reach the monument and it offers a grand view of the entire mountainous region which is truly magical.
4. Dhamekh Stupa, Sarnath
This enormous and magnificent structure in Sarnath is one of the best representations of Buddhist art and architecture with carvings and paintings of humans, birds, flowers and several Brahmi scriptures and inscriptions. This structure was also commissioned under the reign of the Ashokan Empire.
5. Kesaria Stupa, Bihar
Renowned for being the largest and tallest Buddhist stupa in the world, it said to be built during the 200 to 750 AD to honor Lord Buddha’s teachings when he visited Kesaria to preach the Kesaputtiya Suttas. This structure has influences of several dynasties like the Mauryas, Lichchavis and even Kushans. It is also believed that legendary Chinese travelers Fa Hien and Huen Sang had been to this place.
6. Maha Stupa, Thotlakunda
Situated at the Thotlakunda Buddhist complex, this stupa is part of a massive Buddhist archaeological site that is also home to several excavations of universities, monasteries, royal baths, viharas, chaityas, drainage systems and more that represents and illustrates major Buddhist culture and heritage in that place. It is also famous for ancient brick architecture and is said to be more than 2000 years old.
Experience a Journey to the Past
If you are interested in exploring the glorious past and understanding the valuable cultural and historical importance of the Buddhist religion in India, then you must visit these stupas as they are best way to learn about the values and teachings that are ascribed to Lord Buddha. Even after thousands of years, these monuments have been preserved to protect the marvelous preaching’s that the past has to share with us and also to experience the architectural beauty that was unique of the times and thus not possible to appreciate in any other way. Visit these stupas to undertake a spiritual journey that will leave you feeling enriched.
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