Ramabhar Stupa,Kushinagar Lord Buddha’s Cremation site

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Ramabhar Stupa Kushinagar Lord Buddha’s Cremation site .

It is said that Lord Buddha died at the age of Eighty One years, on a full moon night . It is believed that  Lord  Buddha’s complexion became prodigiously brilliant both on eve of his Enlightenment and Nirvana. After the Mid night,Lord Buddha called up his disciples thrice, and asked if there were any confusions remaining with regard to the Buddhist doctrine. Receiving silence as reply, Buddha gave the famous advice “impermanence is inherent in all things. Work out your own salvation with diligence”. After this last sermon Lord Buddha entered Mahaparinirvana through meditation, the monks spent the rest of the night discussing the Dhamma. Over the next few days, the Mallas made elaborate preparations for the cremation of the Buddha’s body, and then on the seventh day the body was taken out of the town to the Makuta Bandhana Shrine and cremated.

Ramabhar Stupa , the Cremation site of Lord Buddha, Kushinagar

Ramabhar Stupa , the Cremation site of Lord Buddha, Kushinagar

It is said that the pyre was not burnt until Mahakashyapa, the great disciple of Lord Buddha, arrived and when he stepped into the cremation ground, the pyre burnt automatically. Surprisingly, only the skull bone, teeth and the inner and outer burial garment remained after the cremation,  the holy relics had to be divided into eight folds and eight great Stupas were built to house them. These relics were yet again subdivided, when Emperor Ashoka decided to build 84,000 Stupas,  the relics are contained in many Stupas.

Buddhist Monk at Ramabhar Stupa , Kushinagar

Buddhist MonkatRamabhar Stupa ,Kushinagar

Hirannavati River , near Ramabhar Stupa
Bank of Hirannavati River  near Ramabhar Stupa

Ramabhar Stupa, measuring a height of 49 feet, is the place where the Lord Buddha was cremated. This Stupa is mentioned as Mukut-Bandhan Vihar in ancient Buddhist transcripts.

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Matha Kuar Shrine, Kushinagar

Matha Kuar Shrine – by the side of the road is  a colossal statue of Buddha locally called Matha Kuar.  The statue measures 3.05 meter in height and this carved out one block of blue stone of Gaya region to represent Gautam  Buddha seated under the Bodhi Tree in a pose known as the Bhumsparsva Mudra   which symbolically expresses the supreme moment in the  Gautam’s  life just before his enlightenment to  become the Buddha , when He called upon the earth to bear witness to the pities performed by him in his previous birth.

Blue Stone Lord Buddha statue Bhumi Sparsh Mudra

Blue Stone Lord Buddha statue Bhumi Sparsh Mudra

During Buddha’s lifetime, Kushinara ( Kushinagar), as it was then called, was a small town in the kingdom of the Mallas, surrounded by a thick forest cover. It remained forgotten until the late nineteenth century, when archaeologists rediscovered the site, and began excavations.

The inscription at the base of statue is dates back to the 10th or 11th Century A.D. The name of the Stupa implies the “dead prince”. The statue was found by the Archaeologist Carlleyle in late 1870s, as broken pieces, after the statue  being restored the temple was built by Myanmar pilgrims in 1927 to shelter the statue.

 

Information on stone plate

Information on Stone Plate

This place is  is also believed to be the one where Lord Buddha delivered his last sermon.

 

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Shanti Stupa, Leh , Ladakh

Shanti Stupa is situated at a height of 4267 meters overlooking the Leh city, it gives a panoramic view of surrounding snow capped mountains . Situated at a distance of about 5 km drive able road from the Leh city or one can reach here by climbing 500 steps . The location of Shanti Stupa is such that it is visible from all over Leh city.

It is built as a two level structure, a flight of stairs leads to the first level where a Dharmchakra (as in white strip of Indian national flag) with two deer on each side, features a central image of Lord Buddha in golden colour sitting on a platform turning the Dharmchakra wheel, the second level depicting  the birth of Buddha, defeating of devils in meditation and death of Buddha along with many small images of meditating Buddha, all embossed in vibrant colours.

                                                                                           Shanti Stupa Leh

A white dome Stupa (Chorten) built on a Changspa, a steep  hill, opposite the Leh Palace different in architecture  from the Ladhakhi style gives a magnificent view at sunrise and sunset, it looks more beautiful at night illuminated in the white light. It was built by the Ladakh and Japanese Buddhists, Ladakhis offered voluntary labor, construction started in 1983 and it was inaugurated in August 1991 by His Holiness The Dalai Lama. It was built to promote world peace and prosperity and to commemorate the 2500 years of Buddhism.

 

Shanti Stupa view from Leh – Khardong-la Highway

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Alchi Monastery , Ladakh

Alchi monastery is situated on a low land unlike the other monasteries which are constructed on  high lands or hilocks it is situated on a down stream 70 kms from Leh about 6 km from the main Leh Srinagar Highway on the banks of Indus river in the Alchi village at a height of 3100 meters from sea , it is one of the oldest well preserved dates back to about 1000 years, main attraction is thousands of minature paintings of lord Budha on a wall three large clay images of Budha in bright colours, past 500 years no religious activity has taken place here it is looked after by a monk from the Likir monastery.  The monasteries of this period did not belong to any of the established Tibetan schools, they were initially brought under the control of the Kadampa  Sect . When the condition of the monasteries deteriorated, they were mostly taken over by the Gelukpa Sect .

Wooden carvings at main entrance , Alchi monastry

Alchi is part of three villages the other two villages are Mangdu and Sumnda Chun . It was built between 958 AD – 1055AD by the great translator Guru Rinchen Zangpo, assembly hall and the main temple is three storied are built in Kashmiri style, Manjushri is the third temple , there is a huge statue of lord Budha , walls of temple have the oldest preserved paintings of that time and reflects the Hindu and Budhist artistic and spritual details, there were 108 monasteries built in the trans Himalyan region to spread  Vajrayana Budhism from Tibet also known as Lamaism , Kashmiri artists were engaged to create sculptures and paintings .

Manjushri Temple, also called ‘Jampe Lhakhang‘, is built around the four central images of Manjushri (seated back to back) seen on a common platform each of the four images is single-headed with four arms that are adorned with a sword, a book on top of a lotus, a bow and an arrow. Each wall in the shrine is dedicated to a Buddha image. Manjushri is depicted on the main wall, seated on a lion throne; the side walls have images of Amitabha  on the right and Aksharabhya on the left. The images are set around the central image of Manjushri in a niche in the wall. Manjushri is adorned with jewellery (pearls and other moulded forms) and a crown made of a flower band. In the base of the throne on which the Manjushri image is deified, is a depiction of ‘Seven Jewels’ and ‘Eight Suspicious Symbols’ (flanked by lions) enclosed in a square frame that is distinctive. The top of the throne frame has Makara mountings.

Alchi Monasrty , Information display

This village is very fertile and it is all green with apricot trees on both side of road. This region had influence of Islam , Hinduism and Budhism because it falls on the route to Turkestan of China but its isolation helped the village and gompa to keep their cultural traditions safe from the outer influnces. The effect of Tibetian culture can be seen here , there are five shrines in the Choskor temple complex.

Green fertile land at Alchi Village

Alchi , ages old Chortens

These chortens are decorated gateways known locally as Kakani Chorten  are considered unique to Alchi with historical link to other monuments. More chortens were added between the 13th and 14th centuries. In the Alchi complex, there are also three other chortens, which have ancient paintings .

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Matho Gompa , Monastery, Leh Ladakh

Matho Monasteryis  located in village Matho about 26 Km from Leh City on Leh – Manali road just opposite the Thiksey Monastery on the banks of Indus river , founded by Lama Dugpa Dorjee in 16th centenary belongs to Sakya Order only one in Ladakh, it is famous for its 400 years old Thankas which were brought from Tibet. Inside the Lhakhang all the wall murals were painted in 1977 and are very colorfully done.

Matho Gompa Monastery

The right entrance wall shows a White Mahakal , to the left of this is a painting of the Four Headed Sarvavid the guardian aspect of Vairocana (the Teaching Buddha). The wall murals on the left side of the Lhakhang depict various lamas of the Sakya sect while the right wall shows the various manifestations of Sakyamuni. The central panel of the right wall depicts Tilopa, Naropa, Marpa and Mila Ras-pa, The central statue  is Sakyamuni, surrounding the statue are numerous small Buddha statues .

Matho Gompa Monastery Leh

Inside the Dukhang are two rows of seats for the lamas and a throne seat reserved for the Rimpoche,  behind the throne seat are, from the left, the thousand-armed form of Avalokitesvara (a Buddhist deity similar to the Hindu god Shiva and believed to be reincarnated in the Dalai Lama), Maitreya (the Future Buddha of Compassion), Sakyamuni and a blessing Buddha.  behind the throne seat are, from the left, the thousand-armed form of Avalokitesvara (a Buddhist deity analogous to the Hindu god Shiva and believed to be reincarnated in the Dalai Lama), Maitreya (the Future Buddha of Compassion), Sakyamuni and a blessing Buddha. left side of the Dukhang shows various Sakya lamas and the Four Headed Sarvavid. The right wall depicts the four-armed manifestation of Avalokitesvara, a blue Sakyamuni and two Sakya lamasThe Gokhang, in which meditation takes place, is ascribed great spiritual power as it is the room in which Matho’s order prays and enters into a trance. The oracle’s special clothing is hung in this room and the Gokhang also contains old weapons and Thankas, masks and statues. There is an old tradition,  a representative of every family from Matho village brings a small bowl of maize grain from the first harvest to this room.

Ladies are not permitted in this area.

The Matho Monastery hosts the Matho Nagrang Festival, an annual event. The festival takes place on the 14th and 15th day of the first month of the Tibetan calendar.

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Stakna Gompa , Monastery Leh, Ladakh

Stakna Gompa , monastery is situated at 25 km from Leh city in the Indus valley surrounded by beautiful snow-capped mountains. Stakna   means “Tiger’s Nose”   is built about 500 years ago on the summit of an isolated high rock looks like a tiger nose ,  in the middle of the Indus river on the left bank . It is a small monastery belongs to  the red-hat sect of Buddhism , it has several sister monasteries, including three in the Zanskar valley namely Mud and Kharu and those of Stakrimo, Bardan and Sani in Zanskar.

Stakna Gompa Monastery Leh

Stakna Monastery of Leh Ladakh is establised by Chosje Jamyang Palkar, the great scholar saint of Bhutan . The central image inside the monastery is that of the sacred Arya Avalokitesvara from Kamrup (Assam). This monastery is a visual display of the religious and cultural heritage of India and Buddhism.

 

The Gompa consists of the head Lama’s private apartment, a Dukhang (main temple and assembly hall) and the rooms of the Lamas and their attendants. the Dukhang or main assembly hall, which contains a silver gilted chorten, seven feet high, erected by the present head Lama in the 1950s. The chorten contains a statue of the Buddha and various Buddhist texts. smaller subshrines retain 400-year-old sandalwood statues.

Images in Stakna Gompa

 

One of the beautiful Idol at Stakna

 

Wall painting in Stakna Gompa

From the roof of monastery one can have beautiful views of upstream and downstream of Indus river and valley , bare slopes of Ladakh range in the North , snow-capped peaks and ridges of Zanskar range in the south .

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Tak Thok Gompa, Monastery, Shakti, Ladakh

Tak Thok Gompa Monastery is located at about 46 km from Leh in Shakti village ,  The name Tak Thok in Ladakhi means “Rock Roof” . The monastery was founded around the mid-16th century during the reign of Tshewang Namgyal on a mountainside around a cave in which Padmasambhava is said to have meditated in the 8th century.  Inside the Dukhang, are the statues of Maitreya (the Future Buddha or Buddha of Compassion), Padmasambhava and Dorje Takposal (a manifestation of Padmasambhava). Takthok Monastery also houses the Kandshur, the 108 volumes of Buddha’s teachings.  Behind this image is a small locked door leading to the small cave where Padme Sambhava is supposed to have lived and meditated for three years. This cave is not open to the public. The low roof of the Gompa is the stone of the cliff.

Tak Thok gompa, Monastery, Shakti village, Leh Ladakh

Most of the gompa consists of rooms hollowed out of the stone cliff by nature or man,  the wooden front of the gompa is only a front for the cave , called Duphug ( Tu-Phuk) Lhakhang, is a popular pilgrimage. Buddhists visit to be blessed by dubchu, the sacred water that drips from its ceiling even in winter, when the valley freezes over. The main treasure is an incomplete set of 29 volumes – the title pages lettered in solid silver of excellent craftsmanship and text in pure gold.  Tak-Thok’s Lamas  have developed texts to ward off evil spirits, epidemics and curses. They perform birth and death rites, recite prayers for longevity and wealth, even make astrological predictions.

One of the images in Tak Thok gompa Shakti, Leh Ladakh

The Rimpoche or head lama of Tak Thok is from Tibet and is extremely highly regarded by Ladakhis.

Mystic dances are performed by the lamas in the guise of various divinities and legendary characters. They perform the mystic dances as prescribes the protocol, consecrating and destroying the votive offerings ‘Stor-ma‘ in closing of the propitious performance , on the 9th and 10th day of the sixth month of the Tibetan calendar.

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Namgyal Tsemo Gompa, Monastery, Leh, Ladakh

The Namgyal Tsemo Gompa of Ladakh was founded by King Tashi Namgyal in the early 15th century, around the year 1430. This fort was once the royal residence of the Namgyal dynasty and is flanked by some temples built in veneration of the guardian deities , these temples are still standing today, unlike the fort which is almost in ruins , temples are visited everyday by a monk who opens the doors to light the butter-filled lamps every morning and evening in adoration of the deities. This is the time one can visit the Gompa.

Namgyal Tsemo Gompa, Monastery, Leh Ladakh

The palace also called Lechen Palkhar‘  is situated on a hill. Above the palace on the highest point of Namgyal hill stands the victory tower it was built to commemorate Ladakh’s victory over the Balti Kashmir armies in the early 16th century, Dards bodies are placed under the image of Mahakala, the guardian deity to stop further invasion of Dards. At the back of the fort there are remains of much older fort , according to locals it is a Dard Castle which was built much before the Tibetan rulers came to Ladakh.

It boasts of a rich collection of some ancient manuscripts and wall paintings. One of the most treasured possessions of the monastery is a three-story high solid gold idol of Maitrieya Buddha (future Buddha, also known as the laughing Buddha). Namgyal Tsemo Monastery of Leh, Ladakh also houses a statue of Avaloketesvara and Manjushri, approximately one story high.

Gold statue of Lord Buddha at Namgyal Tsemo Gompa

In the gloomy interior, one can just make out murals of “Shakyamuni” (the historical Buddha) and Tsongkha-pa, founder of the Gelug-pa sect. The veiled central deity itself sports a shiny phallus, believed to cure infertility in women. It also enshrines nearly 10 feet high of statues of Manjushri and Avaloketesvara. The  view of Leh city and valley from the top is worth spending time .

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Shey Gompa , Monastery Palace, Leh , Ladakh

Shey is on Leh Manali road , located near Thikse monastery on a hillock about 15 kms from Leh. Large number of rock carvings, stupas and monastries are on this road , it has also the biggest Chorten field with hundreds of various size of shrines scattered across the desert land scape . Shey Palace and Gompa complex was built in around  1650 AD by the King Deldon Namgyal used it as a summer retreat by the kings of Ladakh, it is in ruins now. Shey Monastery was built in the memory of his father Singay Namgyal within the palace complex .

It is famous for the giant statue of Shakyamuni Budha second largest in Ladakh made of Copper with gold plating. Dogras of Jammu invaded Leh in 1834 Namgyal King abandoend Shey and made Stok acrossed the Indus river as their permanent residence.

Shey Palace Leh , Ladakh

It is famous for the giant statue of Shakyamuni Budha second largest in Ladakh made of Copper with gold plating. Dogras of Jammu invaded Leh in 1834 Namgyal King abandoend Shey and made Stok acrossed the Indus river as their permanent residence.Sahakyamuni Budha statue is 12 meters in height the wall behind has the immage of Sariputra and Maudgalyayana the two disciples of Lord Budha, walls around the statue are painted with images, this statue in the monastry is in three levels , the lowest level shows the sole pointing upwards, murals of Shambunath on middle floor are  in different postures of Budha, the upper dark floor is having butter lamps that burns eternally at altar. Number of wall paintings are displayed on the upper floor , lower flower is has a library and murals of Budha in various hand gestures ( mudras).the temple is constructed in such a way to allow lots of sun light to falls on the walls directly because of this the murals look bright.

Some distance from the palace is a small shrine built by Sengge Namgyal it houses Sakyamuni large statue in sitting position , here murals and images are similar to the palace shrine it also depicts the 16 Arhats the original deciples of the Budha along with the teachers Padmasambhava , Atisa and Tson-Ka-Pa , carvings are seen on rocks on road to the palace they are of Dhyani Budha one near the palace and other four near the chorten .  All these were crafted by the sculptor from Nepal Sanga Zargar Wanduk and few others their decedents are still living in a village called Chilling.

The official residence (phatong) Lama of the monastery is at the edge of valley and there is a beautiful sight of Indus valley.

There are two  festivals held here every year. The first festival is held at Shey Palace on the 26th and 27th day of the first month of the Tibeten Calander which falls in July or August month  This festival is called “Shey Doo Lhoo” to mark the beginning of the sowing season. The two day monastic celebration is marked by special rituals performed by the monks in the main monastery.  Villagers throng to the monastery in large numbers in a spirit of celebration . The second festival is called the “Shey Rupla” that marks the harvesting season. On this occasion farmers offer the first fruits of the corn at the monastery. A dance called the “Rhupla dance” is performed by two men in tiger costumes. Other forms of folk dances are also performed.

There is a belief that women without children offer special prayers here to Buddha seeking blessings to beget children.

Shey Chortens

Close to the palace is the funeral ground. The dead are carried in a chair after due rites are performed at home. The body is placed on a chair then carried to the funeral ground in a procession of Lamas and the common people of the village. The chair is then laid in a “tubular walled oven”, as prayers are chanted. The ashes are later scattered in the river.

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Tallest Statue of Lord Buddha,Sarnath,India

Sarnath  is about 10 kms. from Varanasi also is the place where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon to five of  his companions( Kaundinya, Bashpa, Bhadrika, Mahanaman and Ashvajit ) in 500 B.C. The place has a number of Stupas (hemispherical domes) and monasteries. In the early days of  Buddhism, Stupas were built to honor important events including Gautam’s enlightenment to become Buddha .

The Tallest Statue of Lord Buddha at Sarnath India

The Tallest Statue of Lord Buddha at Sarnath India

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eighty feet tall statue of the Lord Buddha, which is the world’s tallest  statue after the ones demolished in Afganistan’s Bamiyan valley . It took 14 years to construct this statue. The work on the statue was started in 1997 and it was unveiled in 2011. This standing statue of Lord Buddha is located in the premises of  Thai Buddha Vihar in Sarnath also known as  Mrigdayavan Mahavihar Society.. The construction of statue is said to have started as a gesture to protest the destruction of Buddhist statues in many parts of the world.

 

Statue of Lord Buddha at Sarnath

Statue of Lord Buddha at Sarnath

Located in the garden of the Thai Temple in Sarnath, the statue consists of  845 stones blocks  each about two feet wide and three feet high and the head alone is 15 feet tall, There is a beautiful garden around the statue . Built in Gandhar style, the statue is  placed on a Lotus symbolising the spread of religion from India to other parts of the world with the message of love and peace , The octagonal pedestal have engravings depicting four important Buddhist religious places, including Dhammek Stupa, Bodh Gaya and Lumbini . The total cost of construction was contributed by a number of Buddhist and non-Buddhist devotees across the world

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