Pilgrimage sites

Doctrines and rituals

Visiting the sacred sites of Buddhism counts as a ritual act and is described as a pilgrimage. Originally there were eight such sites, the places where Prince Siddhartha was born (Lumbini), where he became the Buddha (Bodhgaya), where he gave his first sermon (Sarnath), and where he attained complete nirvana (Kushinagara),as well as four places where he performed miracles (Shravasti, Rajagriha, Sankassa, and Vaishali).

Over time, the pilgrimage sites grew in number. They were no longer only associated with the Buddha’s relics – which were distributed across the entire Indian subcontinent – but also with those of other important Buddhist figures, along with sacred texts and events from Siddhartha Gautama’s earlier lives (tales of rebirth). A pilgrimage is believed to bring merit and to help one progress on the path to salvation.