A history lover’s guide to the most beautiful Buddhist Stupas in India

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Photo of A history lover’s guide to the most beautiful Buddhist Stupas in India by anshul akhoury

The Buddhist trail is one of the most popular travel itineraries in India. Every year, visitors from all around the world explore these primary sights related to the rise of Buddhism in India. The religion having a worldwide recognition has its roots hidden in different corners of India. From Bodh Gaya where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment to places where he and his disciples went to preach the lessons of this religion, you’ll find a glorious Buddhist Stupa dedicated to spread the message of world peace and love.

These stupas, old and new are known for the lovely designs. Some of them listed below are the most beautiful ones.

World Peace Pagoda, Rajgir

After attaining enlightenment, Lord Buddha spent his days meditating on the mountains of Rajgir. Today, a beautiful Buddhist stupa stands on this hill along with a majestic Japanese Temple in the adjacent. The journey to this stupa is only possible through an adventurous 20 minute ride on a chair car.

Photo of A history lover’s guide to the most beautiful Buddhist Stupas in India 1/1 by anshul akhoury

Traveling Tips – Rajgir is part of the Buddhist trail that starts from Bodh Gaya and goes all the way to Nepal. If you have less time in hand, you can also explore Sarnath, Bodh Gaya, Rajgir and Nalanda in one go.

Stay – Rajgir is filled with stay options in every budget range. You will also find government rest-house along with luxury resorts here.

Apart from these, you can also visit a number of different stupas with history attached to Buddhism. Some of the important ones are World Peace Pagoda of Vaishali, Shanti Stupa of Darjeeling, Ramabhar Stupa of Kushinagar, Namgyalma Stupa of Dharamshala, Clement Town Stupa of Dehradun and Amaravati Stupa.

Dhamek Stupa, Sarnath

One of the oldest relics of Buddhism, Dhamek stupa is located at a distance of 13 kms from Varanasi. This stupa was constructed by Emperor Asoka. And while a part of it is ruined, its height and diameter is still something that will put you in awe.

Traveling Tips – Sarnath is best combined with a trip to Varanasi. This way you are able to experience cultures of two worlds in one trip.

Stay – Varanasi is filled with cheap guest houses, hostels and AirBnbs. You can choose something ideal for your travel needs but don’t forget to double check for the reviews as cheating in the name of hotels is very common here.

Shanti Stupa, Leh

Shanti Stupa is probably the most glorious Buddhist structure. Located in the scenic city of Leh, the top of the stupa offers encompassing views of Leh and the nearby villages. The views of sunrise and sunset from the top of Shanti Stupa are something which is not to be missed during your visit.

Traveling Tips – While Shanti Stupa is the part of Leh’s travel itinerary, you can ditch your car and climb 600 stairs leading to the top.

Stay – You can stay in Leh where you’ll find hotels and guest houses depending on your needs and budget.

The Great Sanchi Stupa

The stupa located at Sanchi is one of the best preserved Buddhist structures in India. Located at a distance of some 40 kms from Bhopal, this stupa was constructed over the relics of Lord Buddha by King Asoka.

Traveling Tips – Keeping Bhopal as your base will also help you explore the Old City, Bhimbetka cave and Mandu.

Stay – Bhopal has a number of stay options ranging from Budget and luxury. If you are looking for a royal retreat then you can also plan a holiday at Jehanuma Palace.

Do Drul Chorten, Gangtok

This huge Buddhist complex is located near the research institute of Tibetology. This beautiful structure is Biggest Buddhist stupa in the North East India.

Traveling Tips – This stupa can be visited during your day trip of Gangtok’s sightseeing.

Stay – Gangtok is filled with cheap guest houses, hostels and AirBnbs. You can also skip the crowded Gangtok and stay at the Paragliding village for a more scenic vacation experience.

Maha Stupa, Thotalakonda

Located at a distance of 15 kms form Vishakapatnam City, this gorgeous stupa sits on the top of a hill overlooking the sea. This stupa has ancient brick work architecture. Today, it serves as a destination for the Buddhist monks who come here to meditate and spend some time in peace.

Tips to visit – Mix this trip with other stupas in Vishakhapatnam mentioned below.

Bavikonda Stupa –Visakhapatnam

Vishakhapatnam is bestowed with beautiful ancient stupas which are still considered a fine example of craftsmanship. Like Maha Stupa, Bavikonda too is located on the top of a hill. A number of ancient Buddhist relics like pottery, coins and statues have been excavated here by The ASI. Bavikonda, Thotlakonda, Pavurallakonda and Bojjannakonda are four Buddhists heritage sites in UNESCO’s list.

Stay – Vishakhapatnam has several stay options ranging from budget guest houses to resorts.

Dhauli Stupa, Bhubaneshwar

Dhauligiri or Dhauli marked the rise of Buddhism in other parts of the world. It is said that Ashoka renounced violence after witnessing the massive bloodshed post the battle between Mauryan and Kalinga’s army. He took the path of enlightenment and peace. He started preaching the lessons of Buddhism in the world. Dhauli stupa overlooks the battleground and the Dhauli river which acquired a reddish texture because of bloodshed.

Traveling Tips – Adding Dhauli to a basic Odisha trip will take you across Puri, Konark and Bhubaneshwar.

Stay – You can either stay in Puri and visit Dhauli on a day trip of Bhubaneshwar. You can also keep Bhubaneshwar as your base and explore other temples and important tourist sites.

Kesaria Stupa, Champaran

This lesser known stupa is located in Bihar and is believed to be the biggest Buddhist stupa in the world. While in a ruined state, it doesn’t stop the visitors from mixing this trip with a tour of Vaishali and Bodh Gaya.

Stay – You can either keep your base in Bodh Gaya or Patna, as this place has lack of stay options.

Apart from these, you can also visit a number of different stupas with history attached to Buddhism. Some of the important ones are World Peace Pagoda of Vaishali, Shanti Stupa of Darjeeling, Ramabhar Stupa of Kushinagar, Namgyalma Stupa of Dharamshala, Clement Town Stupa of Dehradun and Amaravati Stupa.

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