Buddhism offers major sites of pilgrimage across northern India that memorialize Buddha’s spiritual journey towards enlightenment with Buddhist temples and monasteries. Lumbini, Nepal, was Buddha’s place of birth and where, as Prince Siddhartha Gautama, he became a religious wanderer, searching for the meaning of life. In Rajagaha he became a beggar, and learned how to achieve serenity through meditation. Still unable to find life’s meaning, he arrived at Bodh Gaya where, while sitting under a Bodhi tree, he attained ‘enlightenment’ and became Buddha (the awakened). Buddha shared his understanding with others, travelling to Sarnath and teaching there – his teachings were known as the Dharma. In the fifth year of his travels, he spent the rainy season in Vesali, and went on to spend a further 19 years of rainy seasons at a monastery in Savatthi. Buddha reached Parinirvana (the end of his earthly life) at the age of 80, while in Kushinagar.
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