Gautama Buddha, the great spiritual teacher, and philosopher on his life’s journey visited a lot of places which are now well-known pilgrimages.
The important places of the Lord Buddha circuit are, his birthplace Lumbini in Nepal, Bodh Gaya in Bihar where he attended enlightenment, Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh where he first preached his teachings after attaining enlightenment, Vaishali in Bihar where he gave his last speech, Rajgir in Bihar, his favorite summer retreat where he spent 12 years preaching his beliefs, Shravasti in Uttar Pradesh, his favorite monsoon retreat where he performed his first miracle and Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh, where he breathed his last.
But there lies an equally important place associated with the life of Lord Buddha which remained hidden from the limelight for a long time, Itkhori of Jharkhand.
Story Of Lord Gautama Buddha In Itkhori
Ithkori is located in the Chatra District of Jharkhand at the confluence of the river Mahane and Baska. It is believed that after abandoning his royal kingdom, Buddha spent a few days here before he made his journey to Bodh Gaya.
Meanwhile, his aunt made a visit to convince him to return to his kingdom Kapilavastu but failed. While returning back with heavy hearts, she uttered the word ‘Iti Khoyi’ which in Pali means ‘I have lost him’ and that is how the place got its name as Itkhori.
Last Journey Of Bodhisattva
According to Buddhism, Bodhisattva is any person who is on the journey to attain Buddhahood or Buddhatta. Itkori is the place where Gautama Buddha used to meditate and made his last journey of Bodhisattva. He then traveled to Bodh Gaya where he finally attained enlightenment.
The Heritage of Itkhori
Itkhori is a place rich in historical and archaeological abundance. The sculptures found in the region are a fusion of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. The artworks found here are mostly made up of black and yellow sandstone.
Itkhori – A Blend Of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism
The region is also a highly auspicious religious site of Hinduism and Jainism. The Bhadrakali temple located in Itkhori has its own spiritual importance. The Lord Shiva temple standing adjacent to the Bhadrakali temple is known for its Shiva lingam that has 1008 lingams carved in it.
The place is also believed to be the birthplace of the 10th Jain Tirthankara Shitalanatha. Footprints of him have also been found here which makes it an important pilgrimage of Jainism. The second-largest temple dedicated to Shitalanatha is also located in Itkori.
The excavation conducted by the archaeologist has unveiled 417 statues of Lord Buddha, Buddha stupas, antiques belonging to Jainism, idols of Lord Vishnu, Goddess Uma, Goddess Maheshwari, etc, which belongs to the period between 2nd century to the 12th-century.
All of the sculptures found are preserved in the Bhadrakali Museum, which is another must-visit place of the region.
The Budha Stupa
The Blackstone Buddha stupa from the Pala period, found in the premises of the Bhadrakali temple in Ithkhori, has 1008 images of Bodhisattvas and 4 principles i.e the truth of suffering (Dukkha), the truth of the origin of suffering (Samudāya), the truth of the cessation of suffering (Nirodha), and the truth of the path to the cessation of suffering (Magga) of Buddha carved in it.
The height of the stupa is 15 ft but only 5 ft lies above the ground. A statue of Lord Buddha has also been installed near the stupa.
According to many tales, it is believed that Lord Rama, Goddess Sita, and Lord Laxman has spent a few days of their exile here. It is also believed that King Yudhisthir had spent a few days in the region during his Agyatvas exile.
Earlier, Itkhori was one of the worst affected regions by the Maoist activities but now, it is free of any such disturbance. The government of Jharkhand is trying its best to turn the place into an important heritage of the Buddha circuit.