Vaishali (Buddhist Pilgrimages )
About Vaishali: The historical significance of Vaishali begins with the Licchavi rulers, of whose state it was the capital. It is said to be one of the first of examples of a republic, and is generally believed to be a great ancient metropolis, although a great deal of detail is not available on the early history of the place. It is also the land where Amrapali, the great courtesan who appears in numerous Indian folktales hails from. Lord Mahavira, the founder of Buddhism, was born here. This was also the first place the Lord Gautama Buddha came to upon leaving Kapivastu, and stayed for five years.
Geographical Information : Vaishali is located in Bihar, India, approximately 55 km away from Patna, the state capital. The summers are hot and humid, and the winters may get a little cold in the evening. The region is consumed by monsoons from August till October. The best time to visit would be between the months of October and February.
Buddhism in Vaishali : With respect to Buddhist history, this place holds great importance. Not only did the Buddha spend his first five years outside of princely luxury here, but he continued to frequent it in the years that followed. In the fifth year after his Enlightenment, Vaishali was suffering from drought and as a result there were many deaths. The Buddha was invited to possibly end the suffering of the people, and it is believed that the moment he arrived in the city, a thunderstorm erupted and torrential rains followed. This, and other incidences, such as a monkey offering the Buddha a bowl of honey, soon convinced the population of the Enlightened One’s gravity, and a mass induction of eighty four thousand people into the Buddhist sangha was conducted in the week that the Buddha stayed there. What adds to the largeness of this occurrence is the fact that it was the first time women were inducted into the sangha, starting with the Buddha’s maternal aunt. Vaishali was also where the Buddha, in addition to many influential sermons delivered previously, delivered his last one ever. He went on to announce that he would be leaving his earthly body within three months and attain mahaparinirvana. It also happens to be the site of the Second Buddhist Council, conducted by king Kalasoka in 383 BCE.
Country : India
State : Bihar
Location : 55 kilometers from Patna, the state capital of Bihar.
Climate : Tropical; Summer - April to June - Hot; Winter - November to February - Cold
Best Time to Visit : October, November and April.
Significance : The Buddha preached His last sermon at Vaishali.
Language : English, Hindi, and Magadhi(regional language).
Buddhist Festivals : The Buddha Jayanti in the month of April/May.
Other Festivals : The Mahavira Jayanti, a Jain festival. Holi, Deepawali and Dussehra for the Hindus.
Tourist Attraction in Vaishali:
Ashokan Pillar : one of the best preserved ones still surviving, perhaps the only one in such pristine a state; the pillar is roughly 18.5 m in height and made of a single slab of red sandstone, with a single Asiatic lion at the top.
Vishwa Shanti Stupa : built in alliance with the Japanese Buddhist arm, it is also called the pillar of peace, and is the highest one in the world.
Buddha Stupas : the Buddha Stupa 1 was to serve as holding places for one seventh of the remains of the Buddha’s ashes. Originally made of brick and not very prominent, it was enlarged on four occasions by the following rulers.
Kutagarasala Vihara :this was the monastery where the Buddha resided during his numerous visits to Vaishali, and the remains of an ancient pond can also be seen here. The Ashokan Stupa is located inside this monastery.
Places of interest near Vaishali:
Rajgir : about a 100 km from Vaishali, this was where the first Buddhist council was held after the Buddha attained mahaparinirvana.
Patna: capital of the Magadha Empire and at the time named Pataliputra, Patna is around 50 km from Vaishali, and also happens to be the site of the third Buddhist council.
Kesaria:called Kesaputta at the time of the Buddha, Kesaria is the home of the 104-feet stupa, which was even taller before, scaling a height of 123 feet, before an earthquake caused the base to sink into the ground. It was built by the Licchavis, like most of the noteworthy architecture in the area.
How to reach Vaishali:
Airways : the nearest airport is at Patna, at a distance of roughly 50 km, and private taxis are available from here. Public transport is the most connected for intra/intercity travel.
Railways : the nearest railway station is Hazipur, at an approximate distance of 30 km. Taxis are available, but public or state buses may serve as a better option for some.
Roadways : regular buses services connecting one to all parts of the city and other cities are available. Taxis are also an option. Private buses are available from Mithapur, which is around 3 hours away from Vaishali.