Sunita Dwivedi's presentation... is well researched and full of information for a traveller as well as a pilgrim... It is like the Bodhi tree reflecting the spiritual ambience and the sound of the mind.' -PROFESSOR LOKESH CHANDRA PRESIDENT, INDIAN COUNCIL FOR CULTURAL RELATIONS
Author, traveller and researcher Sunita Dwivedi recounts in this book the captivating tales of her travels to the Buddhist heritage sites of India. Taking on this arduous yet spiritually gratifying journey, she leaves no stone unturned in bringing us closer to the antiquities and mysteries of the ancient Buddhist sites-including the archaeological history of those built under the patronage of Asoka the Great, traversed by the devoted and fearless Chinese pilgrims and ambassadors, forgotten over time and rediscovered after centuries by colonial explorations and excavations.
A delight for travellers and sightseers venturing into isolated Buddhist cultural geography, her wanderings traverse the length and breadth of the country-from the better known in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to the more interior ones in Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh and even across the border into Lumbini and Tilaurakot in Nepal; from West Bengal and Odisha in the east to Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra in the west; and through Madhya Pradesh finally to the south of India.
Offering an unforgettable kaleidoscope of awe-inspiring stupas, monasteries, paintings and sculptures, Buddhist Heritage Sites of India is a collation of complex and curious trajectories of a heritage that not only belongs to India but also to the world at large.
Sunita Dwivedi hails from Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh, where the Great Buddha attained mahaparinirvana. She began her career as a journalist, working for several dailies, including The Times of India and Hindustan Times. In 1997, she left her full-time job to pursue her passion for travelling and photography on the Silk Road through Asia and Europe.
She has authored three historiographical travelogues-Buddhist Heritage Sites of India (2006), covering the ancient monastic settlements associated with the life of the Buddha; In Quest of the Buddha: A Journey on the Silk Road (2009), based on her journeys in China; and Buddha in Central Asia: A Travelogue (2014), narrating her many sojourns in Afghanistan and Central Asian republics.
Our kind teacher, the Buddha Sakyamuni, advised that in times to come, people interested in his teachings should be told about the places associated with the major events of his life. They should be told that here the Awakened One was born, here he found enlightenment, here he turned the Wheel of Dharma, and here he finally passed into peace. Consistent with the teachings of causality, we believe that expressing respect and admiration for the qualities and achievements of the Buddha through such practices as pilgrimage, circumambulation and making offerings, contributes to our ability to gain such accomplishments ourselves. Indeed, the Buddha went on to say that those people who had faith in his deeds, and maintain an awareness of their own, would travel to higher states.
Therefore, it is a great pleasure for me to know that Sunita Dwivedi, herself inspired by growing up within sight of the monuments to the Buddha's Mahaparinirvana at Kushinagar, has researched and visited the great array of Buddhist sacred sites in India where she has photographed and then written about what she found. The result is this book, Buddhist Heritage Sites of India, which, I am confident, will serve other pilgrims and interested individuals well as a guide and source of inspiration.
With the right motivation, any journey to or around a spiritual place becomes a pilgrimage. Therefore, I pray that all who follow this author's guidance and visit the sacred places she has described, will do so not only concerned for their own benefit, but with a wish that by doing so they may contribute to the welfare of all sentient beings.
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