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Maps of Ancient Buddhist Asia

A series of maps illustrating points of interest in the Life of the Buddha, the surroundings he taught in, and the development of Buddhism throughout Asia.

In this section there are 30+ maps of places in Ancient Asia to help as a reference for those interested in understanding the geography and history presented in Buddhist texts and history. A number of them have been prepared especially for this section, and others accompany particular texts and translations that are presented elsewhere on this website. The intention is to add to this section as and when the need arises. I have included modern place names in some of the maps so as to help orientate the reader, who may not be familiar with the geography of Asia. I have also annotated the maps to give sources and further relevant information that could not be included elsewhere.

I have now given a a number of talks based on these maps, and then made videos out of them, including additional information and photographs, etc. where relevant. They can be accessed on YouTube:

  1. The Early Life of the Buddha
  2. The Last Year of the Buddha’s Life
  3. Asoka and the Missions
  4. The Spread of Buddhism through Asia
  5. Representing the Buddha

My main sources for information in compiling the maps, besides the traditional Texts, Commentaries and Chronicles, have been the following:

Many other books have incidental information, including the various annotated translations I have consulted during the course of this work. I am particularly grateful to Bhante S. Dhammika for checking the maps through for me and making many useful suggestions and corrections, which has helped improve them considerably.

Ānandajoti Bhikkhu
August 2012




The Growth of the Buddha Sāsana
(12 Maps)

Growth of Buddhism

Jambudīpe Boddhakalā Paraṁparā
Indian Buddhist Art Schools
(6 Maps)

Indian Buddhist Art Schools


During Lord Buddha’s Time

Tathāgatassa Pure Cāritaṁ
The Buddha’s Early Career

The Realised One’s Early Career

Tathāgatassa Vassā
The Realised One’s Rains Retreats

The Realised One’s Rains Retreats

Tathāgatassa Pacchimā Cārikā
The Realised One’s Last Tour

The Realised One’s Last Tour

The Distribution of the Relics

The Distribution of the Relics

Cattāri Saṁvejanīyāni Ṭhānāni
The Four Places that Produce Enthusiasm

The Four Places that Produce Enthusiasm

Bāvarissa Māṇavacārikā Jambudīpe
Bāvarī’s Students’ Walk across Ancient India

Bāvarī’s Students’ Walk across Ancient India

Soḷasa Mahājanapadā
The 16 Great States

The Sixteen Great States

Pañca Mahānadī
The Five Great Rivers

The Five Great Rivers

Anotattasaro ca Sinerupabbato ca
Mount Neru and Lake Anotatta

Mount Neru and Lake Anotatta


During King Asoka’s Time

Jambudīpaṁ: Buddhato Asokassa
India: From the Buddha to Asoka

The Expansion of Magadha

Pesanakāle Laṅkādīpe
Lanka at the time of the Missions

Lanka at the time of the Missions

Northern Black Polished Ware
(7th-2nd centuries BC)

Northern Black Polished Ware

Asokassa Lipiyo
Asoka’s Edicts

Asoka’s Edicts

Asokassa Pesanā
Asoka’s Missions

Asoka’s Missions

Dharmapadāni Āyatanāni
Where the Dhammapada-s were found

Where the various versions of the Dhammapada-s were found


Travels along the Silk Roads

Chinese Pilgrims to
Central Asia, India and SE Asia
(3 Maps)

Chinese Pilgrims


Note that these maps are approximate only. They have been made from satellite photographs, but the terrain, needless to say, has changed a great deal since Lord Buddha’s time. I still hope, however, that they give students a better idea of the lands where the Buddha lived and taught.


There is also this google map produced by Sutta Central called
Buddha’s India

For those who are interested in maps as a source of understanding history I would recommend
World History Maps
by Thomas Lessman, well-made maps which cover most periods of time.