|Type||Religious and historical monument.|
|Location||Nagpur, Maharashtra, India|
|Construction started||July 1978|
|Inaugurated||18 December 2001|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Sheo Dan Mal|
Deekshabhoomi (Marathi: दीक्षाभूमि) is a sacred monument of Buddhism at the place where the architect of the Indian Constitution, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, went back to Buddhism along with his about 500,000 followers on 14 October 1956. Ambedkar's return to Buddhism is still an important matter for many in India.
Deekshabhoomi is situated in Nagpur, Maharashtra, a location regarded as a pilgrimage center of Buddhism in India. Millions of pilgrims visit Deekshabhoomi every year, especially on Dhamma Chakra Pravartan Din (Mass Conversion Ceremony Day) and 14 October, the memorial day when Dr. Ambedkar converted to Buddhism here. Now, the biggest stupa in Asia is erected in his memory at this divine point.
Deeksha literally means 'act of ordaining', Bhoomi means the 'ground'. So, literally Deekshabhoomi means the ground where people got ordained as Buddhist.This religious mass conversion at one place was first ever in the history. Deekshabhoomi is one of the two places of great importance in the life of Dr.Ambedkar, another being Chaitya Bhoomi at Mumbai.
Ambedkar had already declared in 1935 that although he was born as a Hindu he would not die as one, as conversion was the solution to abandon the caste system. After this declaration, he extensively studied the doctrines of all the major religions to choose Buddhism for himself and his followers.
Buddhism was 2,550 years old in 1956, so it was notable year for global celebration and 14 October was the traditional date of conversion of greatest Buddhist King, Ashoka Maurya, the celebration of Ashok Vijaya Dashmi. He selected Nagpur for his conversion ceremony, as he explained in his speech at that occasion, because Nagpur was the homeland of Nag people who embraced Buddhism, supported it with great efforts in its early period and propagated it throughout India. Ground near the Ramdaspeth area in Nagpur was selected for the ceremony. On 14 October 1956, Ambedkar and his wife took the oath of Three Jewels and Five Precepts from the Burmese monk Mahasthavir Chandramani from Kushinagar. Ambedkar then gave the oath of Three Jewels, five precepts, and 22 Vows to his thousands of followers. In this way, Nagpur became the birthplace of Neo Buddhist movement.
Ambedkar died on 6 December 1956, one and a half months after the Deeksha ceremony. However, this ceremonial conversion continued after his death, converting 15-20 million by March 1959. After his death Dr. Ambedkar Smarak Samiti (Dr. Ambedkar Memorial committee) was organized for the management of Deekshabhoomi. The committee decided to build a Stupa at the place as a monument of that ceremony and a mass conversion of people to Buddhism.
Deekshabhoomi is spread over four acres of significant land in the city. The stupa was designed by architect Sheo Dan Mal. In 1968, construction started with residential houses for monks, later on P/G College. Construction of the stupa started in July 1978, but it took a long time to finish. The stupa was inaugurated on 18 December 2001 by the President of India K. R. Narayanan.
It comprises a large two storied hemispherical buildings along with gates resembling a Sanchi gate. Five thousand monks can stay in each storey. The design of the stupa at Deekshabhoomi is based on the architecture of the world famous stupa of Sanchi. But unlike the stupa of Sanchi, Deekshabhoomi stupa is completely hollow inside. It is the largest hollow stupa among all Buddhist stupas in the world. The inner circular hall is spread across 4000 square feet with granites, marbles and Dholpur sandstone used in its construction. On the ground floor, there is a 211 x 211 feet large square hall. At the center of this hall, an image of Buddha is placed. This image was donated to Deekshabhoomi by Thai students studying at university of Nagpur. There is also a library and a photo exhibition of the events in the lives of Gautama Buddha and Dr. Ambedkar.
Above the hall, there is a hollow dome. This dome is surrounded by a veranda. On all four sides of the dome, fountains are placed. Above the dome, there is a small slab and a little decorative umbrella. The stupa has doors facing four directions. The doors open in large arcs, which are decorated with Ashok Chakras, and statues of horses, elephants, and lions.
Vihar and the Bodhi Tree
In front of the stupa, on the right hand side, there is a Buddha Vihara with a bronze image of lord Buddha.
Besides the Vihara, there is the Bodhi Tree, which is a sacred fig tree. This Bodhi Tree was planted at Deekshabhoomi from three branches of the Bodhi Tree at Anuradhapuram in Sri Lanka. Bhadant Anand Kausalyayan had brought these branches from Sri Lanka as a memorial of Buddha's enlightenment.
Deekshabhoomi is famous for its architectural beauty and historical importance. It is also one of the main centers of tourism in India. It is a prominent place of tourism for domestic and foreign tourists. Every year, thousands of tourists visit Deekshabhoomi, especially on the anniversary of the conversion ceremony. On Dhamma Chakra Pravartan Din, thousands of Compact Cassettes of Ambedkar, Ambedkar movement and Buddha songs are sold at Deekshabhoomi. The books of few crore rupees in different languages are sold in a single day, this makes Deekshabhoomi unique place in the world. Foreign tourists come mainly from the Buddhist countries such as Japan and Thailand.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Deekshabhoomi.|
- Special issue of Lokrajya, the publication of Govt. of Maharashtra on silver jubilee of 1956 ceremony.
- Deeksha, Special issue of Daily Sakaal in October 2005
- "दीक्षाभूमी'चा भूखंड आवळेबाबूंच्या संघर्षाचे फलित