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Monuments of peace and harmony, pagodas in India are places for individuals to come together, irrespective of their backgrounds. A spiritual journey to these Buddhist stupas spread across India will take you on the ultimate soul-searching experience of your lifetime. By Upasana Singh

1. Global Vipassana Pagoda, Maharashtra

The meditation dome hall of the Global Vipassana Pagoda is the largest in the world, with a capacity to seat around 8,000 vipassana meditators. The purpose of the pagoda’s mission is to share information about vipassana (literally meaning special-seeing) and to spread Gautama Buddha’s teachings. The peaceful atmosphere of the pagoda that shines bright gold during the day must be witnessed by people who wish to meditate and transform their lives.

 

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Getting There

With its traditional Burmese design, the pagoda is located near Gorai, north-west of Mumbai, and is 42 km away from Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. You can also take a cab from the Borivali Railway Station. Various vipassana medication courses are held for free at the Dhamma Pattana meditation centre, part of the Global Vipassana Pagoda. Depending upon the course, students stay within the premises to get the most out of the spiritual experience. However, if you wish to go to the pagoda only for a day visit, you can stay at the family-friendly Radisson Mumbai Goregaon.

2. Darjeeling Peace Pagoda, West Bengal

Designed to inspire peace and provide a place for people to unite, the Peace Pagoda in Darjeeling houses four avatars of Buddha including Maitreya Buddha. The foundation stone of the pagoda was laid in 1972 and ever since then, it has attracted visitors from different parts of the world. From the top of the pagoda, one can witness breathtaking views of the green landscape and the Kanchenjunga range.

 

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Getting There

You can pay a visit to the sacred shrine at any time of the year as it is open every day from 04:30 am to 07:00 pm. Located in the Jalapahar hill area, the peace pagoda is about a 10-minute car drive away from Darjeeling town. With its modern cottage-inspired wood interiors and incredible views of the hills, you can choose to stay at the Summit Hermon Hotel & Spa that is only 600-m away from the spiritual site.

3. Vishwa Shanti Stupa, Bihar

Rajgir is an ancient city in the Nalanda district of Bihar. The first capital of the Magadha kingdom, that eventually evolved into the Mauryan Empire, is known to be one of the favourite spots of Gautama Buddha and Lord Mahavira. Situated atop the Rajgir hills, this is the place where Buddha preached the Lotus Sutra. Inspired by the Japanese style of architecture and made of marble, it also comprises of four golden statues of Buddha with each representing stages of his life—birth, enlightenment, preaching, and death.

 

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Getting There

The Nipponzan Myohoji temple near the stupa is also worth a visit. Bus services and cabs are available for hire from all major cities. If you are travelling by air, the pagoda is about three hours away from Patna airport. Visitors have to take a seven-minute ropeway ride to the stupa that is open from 09:00 am to 07:00 pm. To continue to experience the authentic Japanese-style features, you can stay at the Indo Hokke hotel located at the Virayatan Road in Rajgir.

4. Golden Pagoda, Arunachal Pradesh

The Golden Pagoda of Namsai at Tengapani is a sight to behold. Built in the Burmese style of architecture, its majestic golden structure is set amidst the lush green landscape of the Namsai district. Within the pagoda, a gilded statue of Buddha modelled on the Kala Buddha of the Nalanda archive can be seen. Adjacent to the temple, there is also a library, a monastery, and a centre for cultural research of the Tai Khamti-Singpho tribes.

 

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Getting There

The best time to visit is during the Kathina festival that celebrates the ceremony of Loi-Krathong. On the last day of the festival, floating lamps are released into the Mungchalinda Buddha pond. Travellers can reach via road from the nearest railway station—the New Tinsukia Junction or the Dibrugarh airport in Assam. Choose to stay at the beautiful cottages of the Golden Pagoda Eco Resort that is located in the vicinity of this temple of peace and tranquillity.

5. Vishwa Shanti Stupa, Ladakh

One of the seven peace pagodas in India, the white-domed Vishwa Shanti Stupa is located in the Leh district of Ladakh. At its base, it houses the relics of Buddha that were enshrined by the fourteenth Dalai Lama. The first level of the stupa features the central relief of ‘Dharmachakra’ (Wheel of Dharma) with deers on each side. Depicting the turning Wheel of Dharma, a central golden figure of Buddha sits on a platform.

 

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Getting There

The stupa is a major tourist attraction as it commemorates 2,500 years of Buddhism and symbolises the relationship between the people of Japan and Ladakh. Open for visitors between 05:00 am to 09:00 pm, we would suggest you take this trip during sunrise or sunset to make the most of the beautiful panoramic views of the mountains. You can reach the stupa by road or on foot by walking a series of 500 steep steps to the hilltop. Several guesthouses such as the Yangpehel Guest House and the Laksdup Guest House are located near the Shanti Stupa.

Related: Find Inner Peace By Following This Buddhist Circuit In India After The Lockdown