While India is a majority Hindu nation (which regards the Buddha and Buddhism as a part of that tradition) and the "largest democracy in the world," it also has a sizable Muslim population of more than 100 million. And it was the Muslims who built the iconic Taj Mahal as a dedication of love from an emperor to his deceased beloved. The amazing architecture mimics an Islamic vision of [a] heaven. This effect is hard to appreciate unless one visits and does so in the morning before it opens. The area frequently experiences a morning fog, giving the glimmering appearance of the minarets and dome at first light the illusion of floating on a cloud. This special effect would not seem to be an accident and may explain why it was built in out of the way Agra. It is a world heritage site and is equally impressive seen from above and due to its interior.
Jainism: an extreme Buddhist school?
Every Buddhist pilgrim to India should see Rajgir with its ancient hot springs and modern gondola that climbs up to a Japanese temple high on a neighboring hill. (And what trip to India would be complete without seeing the jewel of Islam that is the Taj Mahal and the site of the Buddha's enlightenment?) After all throughout Asia, India, not Israel, is the "holy land." The historical Buddha spent a great deal of time in Rajgir meditating, preaching, and establishing the Dharma far from his ancestral kingdom of the Shakya Clan, just as other buddhas (and, interestingly, other mahaviras) had done in the distant past. MORE PHOTOS
- Buddhist Circuit map (adventures.worldnomads.com)