This book is a unique account of travels undertaken by the Buddhist heritage sites of India, whose ardour in this project has been that of a free lance travel journalist, amateur photographer, self-guided researcher on the history of Buddhist cultural legacy and a pilgrim. The book takes the tourist and the pilgrim from the better known sites of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to the interiors of Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, up to the precarious heights of Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh, and even across the borders to Nepal - covering the entire 'Dhamayatra' of the Buddhist circuit.
Over two thousand years ago the Great Buddha was born in the foothills of the Himalayas at Lumbini as the son of Suddhodana, king of the Sakya clan and queen Mahamaya. In his youth, he lived a life of affluence as a prince, but eventually all worldly pleasures seeking after the 'Noble Path' and the 'Eternal Truth' that leads to the 'salvation' of mankind and which is the very essence of Buddhism. A rich and dense fabric woven out of many strands, the book traces the life history Buddha in his footsteps, during the eighty years of his life, from his birth in Lumbini to his Mahaparinirvana in Kushinagar and all other important spots linked either with his life or with his teachings. At the same time, it picks up the threads of archaeological history of many of those sites which were built in the ancient period of Ashoka, were traversed by devoted and fearless Asian pilgrims and ambassadors, and were then rediscovered from centuries of oblivion by the colonial explorations and excavations.
The book is a delight for travelers and sightseers, venturing to isolated Buddhist sites in the mountains, perilously hanging from cliffs, resting on the banks of meandering rivers, buried deep inside ravines, or hiding away shyly in the caves of low hills.
Buddhist Heritage Sites of India offers an unforgettable kaleidoscope of awe-inspiring stupas, paintings and sculptures, and peopled by intriguing and inspiring figures, it manages to collate the complex and curious trajectories of an immense heritage.
About the Author:
Sunita Dwivedi, born in Kushinagar where the great Buddha attained Mahaparinirvama, is a keen photographer, avid traveler and a journalist by profession, having worked for over fifteen years in several dailies including The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Pioneer, Northern India patrika amongst others. She left a full time job in 1997 to pursue her passion of traveling and photography. Her dream to following the Buddha has taken her to China, Japan, Taiwan and other places. A post- graduate in English from Lucknow University, she completed her schooling from St Mary's Convent, Allahabad and graduation and Masters from Allahabad University. Since early childhood she was inspired by the 'Dying Buddha' in the Mahaparinirvana temple and the giant mound of the enigmatic Ramabhar stupa that lay just behind her house, to learn about the great Sage and his path to Salvation. The lonely, long, arduous and at times hazardous, journey to the Buddhist heritage sites in India took two years to complete. From Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh in the north to Andhra Pradesh in the south from Maharashtra in the west to UP and Bihar in the east and Sikkim and Arunachal in the northeast, she has journeyed alone, with no luggage except two cameras and a heavy tripod on foot, in rickshaw, trolley, bus, rail, chopper and plane. This is her first book.
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