Let Buddha guide you through India
THE faith tourism market is constantly growing with halal hotels springing up and Islamic tourism focusing on mosques and ancient architecture.
The Philippines also recently pushed religious tourism during the Easter celebrations to promote its historic churches and religious places of interest.
In fact, across Asia, faith tourism is emerging as a major industry as religion is already ingrained in everyday life across plenty of nations such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Bhutan, and Cambodia.
Now, India is attempting to attract tourists from other nations with sizeable Buddhist followers to increase foreign visitor numbers.
As part of the tourism push, India is organizing a Buddhist conclave every other year and creating a tour which will connect many significant Buddhist sites around the country.
Whether you practice Buddhism, are just keen to explore some of the most religiously significant sites in the world, or you’re simply planning a trip to India, there are some truly magnificent places you should see with strong Buddhist heritage.
In the northwestern state of Bihar is the city of Gaya.
Bodh Gaya holds religious significance as it is believed Buddha attained enlightenment under a Pipal tree here.
Just back from the Phalgu river, the city is the largest tourist attraction in the Bihar region, enticing millions of visitors each year.
The main attraction is the Maha Bodhi Temple also known as Vishal Buddha Mandir where a giant statue of a meditating Buddha can be seen.
From here you can travel west towards the city of Gorakhpur on the banks of the Rapti river in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
Just a little distance outside of the city is Kushinagar where it is believed Buddha attained Maharparinivana – considered the highest stage of salvation.
It is also here where Buddha passed away and was cremated. There now lays a stupa, also known as a dome-shaped temple where Buddha’s ashes are buried.
Stroll over to the Mahaparinivana temple to see the awesome giant Buddha statue laying on its right side.
The statue symbolizes the dying Buddha in his final days in “this world”.
Still within the northern region in India lays the ancient Kingdom of Sravasti, one of the most sacred Bushiest locations in India as Buddha spent most of his life in this location along with his disciples.
The region is full of old stupas, monasteries, and temples that hold religious significance for devotees, but are equally as beautiful for those who are not on a faith tour to admire.
This “land of the high passes” is found high up in the Jammu and Kashmir regions.
The mountain ranges extend from Kunlun to the Great Himalayas and while these escarpments are stunning in themselves, the age-old culture of Ladakh is something truly memorizing.
Along with ancient monuments, monasteries, oral literature, art forms, fairs and festivals, Ladakh is a significant site for marriages, births, and celebrations.
While there are plenty of religiously important places to visit in Ladakh, it is also worth visiting for the incredible views, mouth-watering food and adventuring to be had up in the mountains.