Famous Buddhist Temples in India

Buddhism is the world’s fourth largest religion that is based on the original teachings of Gautam Buddha. Buddhism is an Indian religion and there are a lot of temples dedicated to Lord Buddha in the country.

Other than India, this religion is also practiced in many parts of East and South-East Asia with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population.

The followers of Buddhism are known as Buddhists. In this article, some Famous Buddhist Temples in India have been listed along with a basic insight on each of these temples.

Buddhist Temples in India

Here is the list of most popular buddhist temples in India:

  1. Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya, Bihar

Mahabodhi Temple

The Mahabodhi Temple is one of the most famous Buddhist Temple all over the world which marks the location where Gautam Buddha achieved enlightenment. Mahabodhi Temple itself means The Great Awakening Temple in literal form. This Buddhist temple, also known as Mahabodhi Mahavihar, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has a descendant of the Bodhi Tree under which Buddha gained enlightenment. In fact, the temple was actually built directly to the east of the same Bodhi tree.

The Mahabodhi Temple is a major pilgrimage destination for Hindus and Buddhists for more than two thousand years. Mahabodhi temple complex has two large straight-sided shikhara towers, with the largest over 55 meters (180 feet) in height.

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  1. Sarnath Temple, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

Sarnath Temple

Sarnath, also referred to as Isipatana, is one of the four places of Buddhist pilgrimage. It is the same place where Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining enlightenment, in which he explained the four noble truths and the related teachings (also known as Buddha’s Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta). In the Deer Park in Sarnath Gautama Buddha first taught about Dharma and the Buddhist Sangha came into existence.

There are many more incidents related to Buddha that concerns the Sarnath. Sarnath is also a major center of the Sammatiya school of Buddhism, one of the early Buddhist schools.

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  1. Parinirvana Temple, Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh

Parinirvana Temple

Parinirvana Stupa is a very famous Buddhist temple located in Kushinagar which is believed to be the place where Gautam Buddha died in 487 BCE. Buddha got severely sick and reached at this palce in Kushinagar where he decreed his last disciple and uttered his last words to the sangha before dying and attaining Parinirvana. Earlier there was only a Parinirvana Stupa and the temple was constructed later. Several caityas and stupas was built by Maurya king Ashoka in 260 BCE in the city of Kushinagar.

There is an image of Reclining Buddha inside the temple in which Buddha is lying on the right side on a stone couch with the head to the north. The temple with the adjoining stupa was discovered, excavated and restored only as late as March 1877.

  1. Sanchi Stupa, Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh

Sanchi Stupa

There are many Buddhist monuments and temples at the Sanchi which makes it one of the most popular architectural destination of Buddhists. These monuments and temples are as old as the Maurya Empire period (3rd century BCE), continuing with the Gupta Empire period (5th century CE), and ending around the 12th century CE. The main monument here, known as the Great Stupa (or Stupa No. 1) is the oldest and the largest monument in Sanchi.

The Great Stupa was built originally under the Mauryas and many additions were made to it later by the Shungas and the Satavahanas. The original construction work of this stupa was overseen by Ashoka whose wife belonged to Sanchi.

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  1. Golden Pagoda, Namsai, Arunachal Pradesh

Golden Pagoda

The Golden Pagoda of Namsai, also known as Kongmu Kham, is a Buddhist temple in Burmese-style located in the Namsai District of Arunachal Pradesh. The temple is known for its Kathina festival participated and celebrated mainly by the Thai Buddhist monks. The ceremony of Loi-Krathong, is the most attractive part of this festival seen on its last day in which floating lamps are raised from the Mungchalinda Buddha pond.

The World Tripiṭaka Foundation has decided to develop this temple as the first international Tripiṭaka centre in India.

  1. Wat Thai Temple, Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh

Wat Thai Temple

The Wat Thai Kushinara Chalermaraj Temple, more commonly called as Wat Thai Temple, is a Buddhist temple built by the disciples of the Buddha from Thailand. It is a Thai-Buddhist architectural style temple that sprawls over an area of ten acres. The temple was built on the occasion of golden jubilee of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s accession to the throne. The temple began constructing in 1999 and was completed by 2001. Construction of the temple began with a ceremony inaugurated by the supreme Patriarch of the Kingdom of Thailand, Somdej Phra Yansangvara.

The temple was originally constructed to serve as a forest monastery located in between dense forests. It is one of the most mesmerizing and popular Buddhist temples that attracts tourists from all over the country and world.

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  1. Red Maitreya Temple, Leh, Ladakh

Red Maitreya Temple

The Red Maitreya temple (called as Byams pa dmar po) is a Buddhist temple located in Leh built by king Tragspa Bumde. The temple was damaged during the Dogra invasion of in the 1840s but was restored soon after. Inside the temple, there is a statue of Buddha along with excellent divider paintings.

These paintings portray pictures of Buddha, Mahakala and Avalokiteshvara and that tells the history of Buddhism religion. However, these divider paintings was painted over with whitewash at the time and temple has now given the temple, a red-and-white look. The temple also has a picture of the temple’s originator and productive manufacturer, Tashi Namgyal.

  1. Namdroling Monastery Golden Temple, Mysore, Karnataka

Namdroling Monastery Golden Temple

The Namdroling Nyingmapa Monastery located in Mysore is the largest teaching center of the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism in the world. The temple, also known as Thegchog Namdrol Shedrub Dargye Ling) is the home to a sangha community of over five thousand lamas.

The monastery also has a junior high school named Yeshe Wodsal Sherab Raldri Ling, a religious college and a hospital. Initial structure of the temple was made of bamboo and was carved into the jungle granted by the Indian government to Tibetan exiles. Full name of this monastery is Thegchog Namdrol Shedrub Dargyeling, and it is one of the six great Nyingmapa Mother monasteries. The monastery was established by the 11th throne-holder of the Palyul lineage, Drubwang Padma Norbu Rinpoche in 1963.

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