Places Associated with Buddha’s Life and Buddhism

Astamahasthanas are eight great holy places associated with the life of Buddha.  These include four pilgrimage sites related to the life of Gautama Buddha viz. Lumbini, Bodhgaya, Sarnath and Kushinagara and four other sites viz. Sravasti, Sankasya, Rajgir and Vaishali.


Lumbini is currently located in Kapilavastu district of Nepal. It is birth place of Buddha. At the time of birth of Buddha, Lumbini was a part of Shakya Janapada, which was a republic.


It is located in Bihar on the bank of river Neranjana {this river was known as Uruwela at that time}. It is known for place of enlightment of Buddha.


Sarnath {also known as Mrigadava, Migadaya, Rishipattana, Isipatana} is the deer park where Gautama Buddha delivered his first sermon or Dhammachakraparivartan Sutra. At the time of Buddha, it was a part of Kashi Janapada.


Kushinara or Kushinagara is located in Kushinagar district of Uttar Pradesh. It is the site of Buddha’s death and mahaparinirvana. At the time of Buddha’s death, it was a capital of Malla janapada.


Sravasti was located in Uttar Pradesh around area of Balrampur in modern Uttar Pradesh. It is closely asscoiated with the life of Buddha because Buddha had spent 24 Chaturmasas {implies 24 years because one year as only one Chaturmasa between Ashadha to Kartika}. Thus, we can say that most of monastic life of Buddha was spent in Shravasti. In Buddha’s times, Shravasti was capital of Kosala Kingdom. Shravasti is also birthplace of Jaina Tirthankar Sambhavanath, and thus is important for Jains also.


It’s current location is Farrukhabad district of Uttar Pradesh. It has some faiths of Buddhism that Buddha after is death descended from heaven here.


Rajgir was the early capital of Magadh Janapada, which was ruled by Bimbisara during Buddha’s time. After the great departure (Mahabhinishkramana), Buddha had first gone to Rajgir. He started begging alms over there and living life of an ascetic. King Bimbisara had offered Buddha his throne which he turned down.


At the time of Buddha, Vaishali was in Vajji Janapada.  After leaving Kapilavastu for renunciation, he came to Vaishali first and had his spiritual training from Allara and Udaka.

Other places of importance in Buddhism


Amarawati in Andhrapradesh’s Guntur district  is also known as Dhanyakataka or Dharanikota  and was the site of a great Buddhist Stupa built in pre-Mauryan times, ruled by Satavahana kings.


Nagarjunkonda is near Nagarjun Sagar in Andhra Pradesh. Once, it was home to more than 30 Buddhist Viharas (Buddhist universities and monasteries), attracting students from as far as China, Gandhara, Bengal and Sri Lanka. Nagarjunkonda was one the largest and most important Buddhist centers in South India from the second centuary BC until the third century AD. It was named after Nagarjuna, a renowned Buddhist scholar and philosopher, who had migrated here from Amaravati to propagate and spread the Buddha’s message of universal peach and brotherhood. Remains were discovered in 1926 by archaeologist AR Saraswati in 1926.

Ajanta Caves

Ajanta Caves are 31 rock cut caves from 2nd to 8th century AD, located in Aurangabad. The first caves called Chaityas were created during Satavahana Dynasty. Cave No. 1 has the painting of Padmapani and Vajrapani. Painted narratives of the Jataka tales are depicted on the walls.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is located in Cambodia. The temple complex was built by Suryavarman II and it was first devoted to Vishnu and later to Buddhist.

Bodh Gaya

Bodh Gaya was known as Bodhimanda, Uruvela, Sambodhi, Vajrasana and Mahabodhi till 18th century when Bodh Gaya name became popular. It has the Mahabodhi temple and Bodhi tree. It became Unesco world heritage site in 2002.

Bodhi Tree

It’s a Pipal Tree (Ficus Religiosa) and known as Bo in Sri Lanka. Located in Bodh Gaya. Under this tree Gautama attained enlightment. The current tree is a descendent of the original tree. There are other Bodhi trees as well viz. Anandabodhi tree in Sravasti and the Bodhi tree (Bo) or also known as Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi planted in 288 BC in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka and both of them have been propagated from the original tree. It is also known as oldest living Human Planted tree in the world with a known planting date.


Borobudur is located in Indonesia and comprises six square platforms topped by three circular platforms, and is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. It’s a world Heritage site. There are 3 Buddhist temples which are known as Borobudur Temple Compounds.

Bamyan Caves

They are located in Afghanistan and have statues represented the classic blended style of Gandhara art of 6th century, They were the  largest examples of standing Buddha carvings in the world, before they were blown by dyanamite by Taliban in 2001.

Ellora Caves

Ellora Caves represent Buddhist, jain and Hindu Rock cut temples built by Rastrakuta Kings. Earliest Buddhist cave is Cave 6; most caves of Buddhism are Viharas. Cave number 10 is a Chaitya hall also known as Chandrashala or Vishwkarma Cave and also known as carpenter’s cave. At heart of this cave is a 15 ft statue of Buddha seated in a preaching pose.

Pushpagiri University

Lalitgiri, Ratnagiri and Udayagiri are the part of the Puspagiri University which flourished till 11th century in Odisha. They lie atop the Langudi hills in Jajpur and Cuttak of Orissa.

Vikramshila, Odantapuri and Somapapuri

Vikramshila. Odantapuri & Somapapuri were the Buddhist Viharas founded by Palas.


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