Uttar Pradesh is the land where thousands of years ago Gautam Buddha spent a large part of his life at. This is the place where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment, travelled widely to spread his message and in the end attained mahaparinirvan here. Thus, the term Buddhist Circuit came up, the Circuit has grand stupas, ancient monasteries, where one can hear Buddhist chants of sacred Buddhist Mantras.
One can also see many Buddhist pilgrims and monks who come here for meditation and worship throughout the year. The Buddhist circuit consist of 5 places which hold a major significance towards Buddhism, there is Kapilvastu where prince Siddharth grew up as a child, Sarnath where he held his first public discourse, Kaushambi where he delivered his many sermons, then there is Sravasti which was his favourite monsoon retreat, Kushinagar where he attained Mahaparinirvana and Sankisa where he descended after addressing his mother to heaven. One must visit all these places to get an insight of Lord Buddha’s life.
This city was once the capital of the Mighty Shakya clan. It was here where Prince Siddhartha (later Lord Buddha) spent most of his early Childhood. Kapilvastu was also the seat of King Suddhodhana, the Father of the enlightened one. There are many excavation sites here. While wandering in Kapilvastu one can feel transferred thousands of years back to the era where the young Prince Siddharatha after having to see the pains of life, renounced all wordly riches and pleasures and went In search of a path of salvation.
Sarnath is the place 10 kms away from Varanasi, where more than 2500 years ago Lord Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining enlightenment. This place has many historical sites like Dhamek Stupa which is known as” The seat of Lord Buddha” from where he gave his teachings, Mulgandh Kuti Vihara, Chaukhandi Stupa and Dharmarajika stupa. There is also a pillar which was established by Emperor Ashoka in 273-232 B.C. which is the foundation of Buddhist Sangha and the Lion Capital atop of this pillar is now India’s National Emblem.
The town of Sravasti about 15 km from Bahraich and it played a host to Lord Buddha for 27 years as it was his annual rainy season retreat. This place is said to be founded by the King Sravast. This place has many well preserved stupas, monasteries and beautiful temples. Sravasti also has an Anand Bodhi tree which is an offspring of the original Bodhi tree, which was planted by Lord Buddha main Disciple.
This place is 60 kms away from Allahabad and it is believed to be the place where Lord Buddha delivered many sermons here making it a centre of higher learning for the Buddhist. It is said to be one of the most prosperous cities of those times. Excavations have revealed ruins of an Ashokan Pillar, an old fort and the Ghositarama Monastery apart from a large number of sculptures, figurines, cast coins and terracotta objects.
Sankisa is the place where it is said that Lord Buddha descended here after giving a sermon to his mother in heaven and Emperor Ashoka erected a pillar here with an elephant capital to mark this holy spot. This elephant is said to be the representation of the white elephant which Lord Buddha’s mother dreamt at the time of conception of Siddhartha. This place is identified with Basantpur village on the bank of Kali River in the Farrukhabad district.
The city of Kushinagar is 50 km from Gorakhpur where Lord Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana. This place has a uniquely designed Mahaparinirvana temple has a huge statue of the reclining Budhha which was excavated in 1879. It was here where Lord Buddha gave his last sermon. The excavations have revealed the presence of a large community of monks living here as late as 11th century A.D.