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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Kushinagar, Maha Parinirvana of Lord Buddha

The Kushinagar was founded by the Kusha the son of Lord Ram of epic Ramayana the king of Ayodhya , it was then known as Kushavati. It is located on the banks of river Hiranayavati , this place was also a capital of Malla Kings during the Lord Buddha’s time. This place can be reached from Varanasi or Gorakhpur by road

Lord Buddha prior to his death spent his days many times as most of the Malla’s Kings were his admirers.

Lord Buddha decided to spent his last days at Kushinagar because of many reasons (a) It was the proper venue for preaching of the Mahá-Sudassana Sutta  (b) Subahadra  a 120 year-old Brahmin who, after getting attracted to Buddha’s speech, expressed his desire to join the Sangha, and is believed to be the last monk to be ordained by the Buddha and became  an Arahant  (c) Brahaman Dona lived here who was respected a lot, sorted the dispute of distribution of relics after Lords cremation .

Mahaparinivana temple and Stupa

Mahaparinivana temple and Stupa

According to a late tradition, one-eighth of the Buddha’s relics were deposited in a cairn in Kushinara  by the Mallas Travelling in stages via Pava where he ate his last meal, offered by the blacksmith Cunda, he reached the final resting-place at the Saala grove by the bank of river Hiranyawati  in Kushinagar, it was  the full moon day   (Vaisakh Purnima) in 543 BC. He told Ananda   to prepare a bed for him with its head turned towards the north between two Saal trees The Buddha was lying on his right side  with his head to the north when he breathed his last, his body was taken into the town by the northern gate and out through the eastern gate , After the cremation, the relics were divided into eight equal portions by the Brahmin Dona, who distributed them to eight clans. (1) King Ajatasattu of Magadha (2) The Licchavis of Veshali (3) The Sakyans of Kapilavatthu (4) The Bulians of Allakappa (5)  The Koliyans of Ramagama (6) The Mallas of Pava (7) The Brahman of Vethadipa (8) The Mallas of Kushinagar , the Urn was kept by the Dona himself ,by the time  the Mayurans of Pipphalavana  arrived the distribution was done so they took the ashes , these people on their way to respective place raised eight Stupas for the relics, a ninth for the Urn, and a tenth for the ashes.

Lord Buddha's Ashes were distributed under this tree

Lord Buddha’s Ashes were distributed under this tree

The place of lord Buddha’s death,  became one of the four holy places declared by the Buddha to be  places of pilgrimage for the pious.

The significance of this region is also due to being Link – route  of ancient highways, among them were important highways Ayodhya – Janakpur (Bihar), Rajgrih – Vaishali – Shrawasti, Maharshi Valmiki’s Ashram, Ashoka, the great Mauryas, Pillars routes, passing through this district.

The remains of the Parinirvana Stupa and Parinirvana Temple, when rediscovered, were covered in a 40 foot high mound of bricks surrounded by a dense thorny forest ,  around 1861–1862 it was suggested the site to be that of Gautama Buddha’s decease. Although no decisive evidence was found to prove  supposition that the site known at  Matha  Kuar Ka Kot  was Kushinara , a series of monastic seals with the Sanskrit legend Mahaparinivane caturdiso Bhiksumghah were taken to show that by the late Gupta period the site was understood to be that of the Buddha’s last breathed  .

Lord Buddha breathed his last at this place

Lord Buddha breathed his last at this place

Kushinagar was a capital city of the Malla kingdom of ancient India . Many of the ruined stupas and viharas at Kushinagar date back to 3rd century BC to the 5th century AD when  prosperity was at its peak.

This region was an ideal ‘Meditation Place’ for sages, saints hermits and Mahatamas who were attracted by its pious. tranquil and charming natural surroundings.  Archeological excavation has yielded rich collection of antiquities. Artistic artifacts and statues of various gods and goddesses.

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Bet Dwarka Temple , Gujarat

Bet Dwarka an island  is situated next to the shores of Okha which is about 29 km from Dwarka,  in the Gulf of Kutch , also known as Bet Shankhodhara and Ramandeep , It was a residence of Lord Krishna while Dwarka was his ruling / political seat , the name Bet Dwarka came from the incident of Lord Krishan’s  childhood friend   Sudama meet him and gave Bhet (Gift) of Tandul-Poha  (Rice).

Ferry from Okha port to Bet Dwarka

After crossing the 5 km creek by a ferry one is to walk about 10 minutes to reach the temple.

It is believed that Lord Krishna stayed at Bet Dwarka with his wife to save himself from scorching heat. The temple has a huge statue of the Lord Krishna platted in gold. The Temple’s shikhar is in one straight  line with Sharda shakti temple and  Devki ji (Krishna’s mother) temple sikhar It is also the seat of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. it is said that Bet Dwarka is the holiest pilgrimage place for the Vaishnav’s Hindus . Bet Dwarka now is abode of 20 Vishnu temples, 23 shiv temples, including well known Dhingeshvara , Nilkantheshwar, Abhaya , Dhara shakti peeths along with other 14 Devi temples. Nine Hanuman temples including well known Hanuman Dandi

Main entrance Lord Krishna Temple Bet Dwarka Beyond this gate photography is prohibited inside

The lane in which this temple is , flooded by small shops  selling shells, rosary beads , old coins , photos ,  idols of Lord Krishna, local crafts and refreshments . 500 year old temple is built by Shri Vallabhacharya, it enshrines an idol of gold believed to be made by Lord Krishna ‘s wife Rukmini , tradition is to  present the Brahmins here with donations of rice.

 Lord Buddha also stayed in Bet Dwarka,  there is a Stupa and on one of the chajja ( Gallery) in the main temple there is an image of Lord Buddha . Bet Dwarka has glorious history as Meera Bai  of Chittor , arrived from Rajasthan and  merged with the graceful image of Lord Krishna. Nana Saheb Peshava ( leader of 1857 war with British forces ) spent the last years of his life in Bet Dwarka.

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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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Spituk Gompa , Monastery, Leh, Ladakh

Spituk Gompa, monastery  is located at a distance of 8 km from the town of Leh ,  is perched on a high hill overlooking the Indus river. The name “Spituk”, meaning exemplary, a translator, Rinchen Zangpo, said that an exemplary religious community would develop here, thus give the name Spituk for the monastery. It was founded by Od-de, the elder brother of Lha Lama Changchub Od in the 11th Century.

Spituk Gompa , Monastery, Leh, Ladakh

It was originally established as Kadampa school  after some time the monastery started functioning under Dharmaraja Takspa Bum – Lde Lama Lhawang Lotus  and introduced order of Tsongkhapa (Gelukpa), today the monastery functions under the Gelukpa order . Three  monasteries , Stok, Sankar and Saboo are the branches of Spituk Gompa all these monasteries are the successive reincarnations of Skyabsje Bakula Rinpoche.

Spituk Gompa Monastery Ladakh

Dukhang  the assembly hall is the main attraction of the gompa housing a high throne, reserved for Dalai Lama. The Chapel features images of  two chief disciples of Tsong-kha-pa and Lord Buddha.The large statue of Shakyamuni draws the first glance of the visitors. To the left of Shakyamuni is the statue of Guru Padmasambhava and to the right is the statue of the goddess Tara. The Gonkhang is the largest temple of the monastery and is dedicated to Kali Mata or Mahakala ,  in this temple there is a Six-Armed form of Mahakala, the White Guardian, the Brother and Sister, Khyitra on his dog and the Goddess on her horse.

Spituk Gompa has one of the fine collection of exquisite antiques such as ancient masks, thankas, antique arms and many more. Huge image of Lord Buddha and Amitayus which is about a finger high in length in the Gompa is very stunning.

Stupa at Spituk Gompa, Monastery Ladakh

Annual festival, known as the Spituk festival, is held here from 17th to 19th days of the eleventh month. There is another shrine, higher up the hill, known as the Mahakal Temple, dedicated to the deity of Vajrabhairava. It has a frightening face, which is unveiled only during the annual festival in January.

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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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Rizong Gompa, Monastery, Leh, Ladakh

 The Rizong Gompa  is also known as the Yuma Changchubling  is situated at a distance of about 73 km from the Leh town. It  was established by the great Lama Tsultim Nima in the year 1831. It belongs to the Gelukpa Order , there are about 40 monks live here , follow a strict rule of not to have anything on their person, except for religious robes and books. The monastery is also called “the paradise for meditation” and is noted for its extremely strict rules and standards.

Rizong Gompa, Monastery, Ladakh

The Monastery was built in 1831 along with many shrines within it  for which the villagers  provided voluntary labour and donations  during construction  at a place known as Ri-rdzong since the place had adequate water supply and fuel availability.  the monastery has three large chambers. In two of these chambers idols of  Lord Buddha have been consecrated, the third chamber is having a Stupa  There are three group of people in here , first group is Lamas( Monks) , second group is Chomos and third group is of ordinary residents  the duties of each group and their interrelationships are well defined.

The nunnery, located about 2 km from the monastery, is called the “Jelichun Nunnery” or Chulichan (Chomoling)   the young nuns who are more educated  took to religious curriculum of meditation and Tibetan philosophy, while the older nuns toiled on the fields  The nuns are also trained in spinning, oil extraction from Apricot  nuts and milking cows.

Entrance Rizong Gompa, Monastery Ladakh

The Monastery has the distinct reputation of upholding “the Vinaya rules in strict sense of the term”, so much so that the Lamas of this monastery do not indulge in performances of mask dances or with undue rites and rituals.

The monastery has the distinction of having two incarnate , Lama Tsultim Nima and his son Sras Rinpoche , the former is the head of the monastery, and the latter is the Abbot  of ‘rgyud-smad Dratsang‘. The Abbott will be elevated to the rank of Dga-ldan Khirpa, the chief of all Tibeten scholastics, after completing a term of two years .

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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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Sarnath, Isipatana, Varanasi

Situated at about 10 kms. from Varanasi ( one of the oldest inhabited city in the world) is Sarnath was also known as Isipatana during the Mauryan Period , here Lord Gautam Buddha gave his first sermon  after he attained the enlightenment                         ( Bodhisattva ) at Bodhgaya , he came here to join five of his former companions ( Kaundinya, Bashpa, Bhadrika, Mahanaman and Ashvajit)  to teach them the Dharma , before reaching Sarnath he had to use his yoga powers to cross the river Ganges as he had nothing to pay for to travel by boat, upon hearing this the Mauryan King Bimbisara abolished the toll for Ascetics .

Dhamek Stupa , Sarnath, Place of first sermon by Lord Buddha

Dhamek Stupa , Sarnath, Place of first sermon by Lord Buddha

 

The first sermon Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta  Lord Buddha gave to  five monks on a Full Moon day of Asalah and spend his first rainy season here , the Sangha after the joining of Yasa and his friends grew to 60 in numbers , Lord Buddha directed them to travel alone in all direction  to spread his teachings .

Remains of aprox.18x18 sq. mtr temple , Lord Buddha meditation site

Remains of aprox.18×18 sq. mtr temple , Lord Buddha meditation site Molgandha Kuti

Several Monks stayed and learned about Buddhism centenaries after Lord Buddha , In second Centenary BC, twelve thousand monks were present under the Chief Monk  Dhammasena at the foundation ceremony of Maha Thupa at Anuradhapur , when Chinese traveler Xuanzang visited he saw  fifteen hundred monks studying the Hinayana at the Vihara where there was life size  statue of Lord Buddha turning the wheel of Law , in third centenary Varanasi was a flourishing rich city where King and merchants were wealthy it was at its peak in sixth and seventh centenary , the Chinese traveler Xuan Zang recorded 30 monasteries and  three thousand monks living at Sarnath .

Sarnath was the major center of learning of  Sammatiya School of Buddhism the early Buddhist School , the Vajrayana Buddhism was practiced  as the images of Tara and Heruka are discovered here , along with Buddhist images the Hindu Gods Lord Shiva and Lord Bhrama are also discovered , there is also a Jain temple near the stupa.

In 12th centenary the Turkish Muslim invaders plundered the buildings , this place was rediscovered by British archaeologist   Alaxander Cunninghum in mid 19th centenary.

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