There are four principal Buddhist pilgrimage sites where most of the buddhist temples and shrines are located. The most important of these are located primarily in the Ganges Valley of India.
Buddhism spread to Andhra Pradesh and surrounding areas in the third and second centuries BC. This fact is proved by stupas and other Buddhist structures in various parts of Andhra Pradesh. From Vijayapuri or 'Sriparvata' and Amaravati, Buddhism spread to the Far East including China and Japan and to Srilanka. There are dozens of Buddhist sites in Andhra Pradesh.
Bihar has been the ultimate pilgrimage for the Buddhists. It was in Bodh Gaya (Bihar) where Lord Buddha became enlightened. The prime Buddhist pilgrimages/sites of Bihar include Vaishali (where Lord Buddha preached many a times and announced his impending nirvana), Bodhgaya, where Buddha attained enlightenment (nirvana) and Nalanda, which developed as a great center of Buddhist learning.
The state of Maharashtra in India is dotted with numerous Buddhist caves. Along with Buddhism, these caves are also closely associated with other religions such as Hinduism and Jainism. Some of these Buddhist cave in Maharashtra are Ajanta, Ellora, Junnar, Karle, Kanheri and Bhaja. Of all the Buddhist caves in Maharashtra, Ajanta and Ellora caves are most famous and World heritage sites as they represent one of the masterpieces of sculpture and paintings.
Modern day Orissa (ancient Kalinga) came to be associated with Buddhism when Ashoka invaded the land. In fact, the great King Ashoka did a lot to spread Buddhism in and around Orissa (Kalinga of that time) by starting a new era of art, education, peace and learning. Present day Orissa has inherited the Buddhist heritage, which was nurtured during the ancient Kalinga. One gets mesmerized by the remains of the Buddhist monuments and heritage in Orissa.
There are numerous sites in Uttar Pradesh that are associated with Lord Buddha and Buddhism religion. In fact, Uttar Pradesh along with modern Bihar formed the hub of early Buddhism. It was from these parts that Buddhism spread to other parts of the World. Some of the prominent Buddhist sites in Uttar Pradesh/UP are Sarnath, Kausambi, Sravasti, Kushinagar and Mathura.
The town of Dharamsala is situated in Himachal Pradesh, on the high slopes in the upper reaches of Kangra Valley. With the Dhauladhar Mountains serving as its backdrop, the town presents a picturesque sight.
In the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal lies Lumbini, the birthplace of Prince Siddhartha Gautama, who was later to become the Buddha. Queen Maya Devi of the Sakya clan was on her way to her parental home when she gave birth to the prince under a tree.
Bodh Gaya is where Siddhartha Gautama became the Buddha as he sat in meditation on the diamond seat under the Bodhi (Ficus Religiosa) tree.
It was in the Deer Park at Sarnath that the Buddha gave his first significant sermons on the Middle Way, the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path to his five fellow seekers who became the first monks of the order.
The Buddha died in a Saal forest in Kushinagar and attained mahaparinirvana at the age of 80.
The town of McLeodganj is situated in Himachal Pradesh, India. The town dates back to the mid 19th century when it was established as a British garrison. Mcleodganj was initially the home of the semi-nomadic Gaddi tribe.
Pilak is situated in the state of Tripura, surrounded by flourishing green valley speckled with paddy fields. It lies at a distance of approximately 100 km from the capital city of Agartala.
Sanchi is situated in the state of Madhya Pradesh in India. It lies at a distance of approximately 52 km from the capital city of Bhopal and 10 km from Vidisha. The major attractions of Sanchi include a number of Buddhist stupas, monasteries, temples and pillars.
Buddhist sites are associated with Buddhist structures, events and Buddhist personalities. Read more on Buddhist pilgrimage places/sites.