For those intending to visit the holy palaces of Buddhism, it should be remembered that the Buddhist sites can be divided into three categories:-
A. The Shrines directly associated with the four principal -
Events in the Buddha’s life :
1. Lumbini (Rummindei, Nepal) the birthplace of the Buddha :
2. Buddhagaya (Bodh-Gaya, Bihar) - where the Buddha attained enlightenment.
3. Isipatana (Sarnath, near Varanasi - [formerly Benares], Uttar Pradesh) - where the Buddha preached his first sermon, the Dhamma-cakkappavattana Sutta.
4. Kusinara (Kusinagara, Uttar Pradesh) - where the Buddha passed away.
B. Other sites hallowed by the Buddha’s presence -
1. Rajgaha (Rajgir, Bihar, 80 kilometres from BodhGaya) the capital of ancient Magadha, it contained the Veluvanarama (the Bamboo Grove) and the Sattapanni Cave where the 1st Council met after the Buddha’s demise to determine the canonical texts.
2. Savatthi (Sahet-Mahet, Uttar Pradesh) the capital of ancient Kosala, it contained the Jetavana Vihara (donated by Anathapiùèika) where the Buddha spent twenty-four Vassa (annual Rains) retreats; also, the Ananda Bodhi, a sapling from the tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment, planted, according to tradition, by the Buddha himself.
3. Nalanda (Bihar, 55 miles from Patna - Pataliputta, the capital of the Mauryan Empire where the 3rd Council met in 246 B.C.) was visited by the Buddha shortly before his demise. It achieved prominence in the 5th century A.D. with the erection of the world-famous Buddhist university. This was revived in 1961 as “a Magadh Institute of Post-Graduate Studies and Research in Pali and allied language and Buddhist learning” and is known as the Nava Nalanda Mahavihara.
4. Kapilavatthu (Padaria, Nepal, 10 miles from Rummindei) the capital of King Suddhodana (the father of the Buddha) and the Sakyan clan, a dependency of Kosala.
5. Vesali (Vaishali, Bihar) visited by the Buddha on numerous occasions, it was the scene of the 2nd Council 100 years after his decease.
6. Kosambi, (Kosam, Uttar Pradesh) the Buddha spent the Vassa retreat here at the Ghositarama but it was principally associated with his personal attendent, Ananda, who delivered numerous suttas at this locality.
C. Finally, there are outstanding sites whose monuments can still be seen -
1. Sanchi (Madhya Pradesh) is the site of the most magnificently restored Asokan stupas and gateways on which are depicted scences from the Jatakas (relating to the previous lives of the Buddha) and the (last) life of the Buddha.
2. Amaravati and Nagarjunakonda (Andhra Pradesh) also comprise the remains of stupas and images of the Buddha.
3. Finally, there are the caves housing viharas and frescoes at Ajanta, Ellora, Bedsa, Bhaja, Junnar, Karla, Kanheri, Mahakel and Nasik (Maharastra), Bagh (Madhya Pradesh) Udayagiri, and Khandhagiri (Orissa) and Barabar and Nagarjuna Hills (Bihar), etc.