Sarnath, located just 10km from Varanasi, is the site where Buddha preached his first sermon after attaining enlightenment 2,500 years ago and is therefore an important site of pilgrimage for Buddhists. The Dharmarajka and the Dhamekh Stupas lie on the spot where he first espoused the Buddhist teachings. The nearby Ashoka Pillar and monastery housed some 1,500 monks at its height before destruction by Muslim armies. Rediscovered by British archaeologists in the 19th century, it has been restored and is now one of Buddhism's holiest sites.
Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya
Located in Bihar Province on the plains of the Ganges, Bodh Gaya is one of the most important Buddhist sites in the world as the place where the Buddha attained enlightenment in 531 BC. Thousands of Buddhist pilgrims flock to the Mahabodhi temple, built in the 6th century AD on the site of the original temple built in the 3rd century BC. One of the oldest Buddhist brick temples in India, Mahabodhi is topped by a 50 metre spire. Other items of interest here are 25 metre high statue of Buddha and the giant Bodhi tree which is supposed to be the direct descendant of the Bodhi tree under which the Buddha achieved supreme insight.
Lumbini - the Birthplace of the Lord Buddha
Lumbini was the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, the Lord Buddha, in 623 BC and has been a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists for thousands of years. The Indian Emperor Ashoka visited and built a commemorative pillar which can still be seen today. Numerous temple complexes have been built here over the years.