The physical and spiritual legacy of the Buddha is a source of inspiration for hundreds of millions of people around the world. One of the richest ways to experience it is to visit World Heritage monuments and landscapes in the Buddhist heartland of South Asia.
Buddhism, which looks beyond material desires to eternal truths—including compassion for all beings—has been integrated by diverse cultures around the world for 2,500 years. From its heartland in northern India, early Theravada Buddhism traveled in the 3rd century BCE to Sri Lanka and other parts of Southeast Asia, where it still thrives. In the First millennium CE, Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism spread to Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, China, Tibet, Korea and finally to Japan and northern Asia, where it combined with other traditions.
Today, Buddhism flourishes around the world, with nearly 500 million practitioners seeking the truth and enlightenment that the Buddha attained. Although the truth and benefits of Buddhism are only found through spiritual practice or dharma, Buddhist World Heritage sites across Asia allow devotees and laypeople to experience masterful expressions of Buddhist devotion, and help to nourish its ideals in our hearts and minds.