There are 7 Shanti Stupas in India which are situated in places like Ladakh, Delhi, Darjeeling, Rajgir, Bhubaneswar, Wardha, and Vaishali. I visited the Shanti Stupa in Rajgir, Bihar.
This peace pagoda stands atop the Ratnagiri hill and is one of the most visited places in Bihar. The stunning beauty of this Shanti Stupa has made it a mesmerizing tourist attraction. The hill is around 8 km from Rajgir station, and you can visit it between 9:00 am to 7:15 pm.
I was with my friend. We reached the base of the hill at 1 pm and found an energetic crowd going to visit the pagoda. Although it was February, the weather was a little hot because of the sunny day.
The iconic pagoda is at an altitude of 400m, making it one of the world’s highest situated Shanti Stupas. There are two ways to reach the hill top- ropeway and staircase. The ropeway is adventurous and the easiest of the two.
But if you are like me, who always chooses the hardest paths expecting the most fun, you will take the staircase.
There was a long queue for the ropeway, and we didn’t want to wait (lack of patience!). Also, we thought taking the stairs would be an excellent exercise for the body. So, we went for the twisting staircase.
We were already tired because of not having a proper sleep the night before, and now we had to climb a 400m hill (Please God, show some mercy).
The climb was difficult, but as we got higher, the scene below was getting mind-blowing. Also, I felt an internal motivation to finish the climb and reach the top. Actually, I like to challenge myself, and going to the Rajgir Shanti Stupa by stairs was a great challenge.
There were shops along the way selling water and food to the tired climbers. But we already had everything in our bags. Ah, the bags! How can I forget the 100 kg bags we were carrying all the way to the top. They made the journey somewhat more arduous (more than it sounds).
Halfway on the hill, I felt dizzy and realized I could get unconscious. So, I sat down in the shade, took deep breaths, and drank water. Once I felt rejuvenated, I continued the climb.
I repeated this until the top. It took us half an hour to reach the hilltop. But believe me, it was as amusing as a roller coaster ride.
Once I reached the top, I felt proud of myself. I managed it without getting fainted. Yay! The view from the top was really stunning. There were shops for food, toys, books, statues, etc.
People were happily buying different things as a souvenir. Some were taking photographs. Monkeys were looking for food. Leaves of trees were dancing with the cold wind. The scene was remarkable at the top.
Then we visited the Shanti Stupa, which was built in 1969 as a symbol of peace and prosperity. I took many trips around the stupa and closely observed the beauty of the place.
The pagoda is made of marble and has four golden statues of Buddha mounted on it, representing four stages of life- birth, enlightenment, preaching, and death. The design of the stupa is really splendid. The white marble felt cool and soothing to my bare feet.
Finding such a soothing place after a hard climb was highly satisfying. I sat for half an hour on the floor and meditated for 10 minutes. The environment was peaceful, and it had a strong positive vibe that made my body and mind calm and relaxed. There was a strange smile on my face.
I don’t remember when I had a similar experience in the past, but I know one thing, climbing the Ratnagiri hill was completely worth it.
You will also find a Buddhist temple situated beside the Shanti Stupa, called Nipponzan Myohoji. I don’t have any pics of the temple because photography was forbidden. But let me tell you, it was magnificent.
One person was beating a drum at regular intervals and chanting a Buddhist mantra, which sent chills down my spine. There were photographs depicting major historical happenings related to the stupa. The level of peace in the temple was damn high.
We took some photographs and explored the top. After spending 3 hours, we decided to take the ropeway for the down journey. We had already experienced the staircase; now, it was time to taste the other.
The ropeway climb cost 40 rupees, but the experience was invaluable. It was the first time I climbed on a ropeway. As the carrier was advancing, there were small turbulences that made me fearful initially, but then it became normal. And, I have to admit, the scene below was incredible.
After reaching the base, I looked back at the top to see where I was just a few minutes ago. The Shanti Stupa in Rajgir is one of the best places I have visited. The peace, positivity, and satisfaction I got from this tour will never be forgotten.