Notes on geography for Map of Early Buddhism

Here we can put any discussion on the purely geographical side of the maps project.

  1. Kosala needs to extend further to the N-E. Remember, sakya was part of Kosala. So it needs to include Kapilavatthu and the other places in the region. We can add the sakyan republic as a much smaller region within Kosala.
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In addition to my uncertainty about accuracy of the locations for Rāmagāmaka, Cātuma and Amalakīvana mentioned elsewhere, I’m pretty sure the given coordinates for the following are wrong:

  • Āḷavī (the description says it lies between Sāvatthī and Rājagaha, but it’s been plotted in the middle of a triangle made of Sāvatthī, Kosambī and Madhurā)

  • Dakkhiṇāgiri (the description says it is a “district in India, the capital of which was Ujjeni. It also contained the city of Vedisa.” Both cities are far south west of where this has been plotted).

  • Dakkhiṇāpatha (given as the exact same location as Patiṭṭhāna).

  • Nāla / Nālaka / Nālika / Upatissagāma (located at the same place as Nāḷandā)


  • Jambugāma (the description says it is “probably a suburb of Campā”, however, this seems a bit off the mark as it appears to have been rightly plotted a good distance from Campā along the DN16 route).

  • Kāḷasilā (the description says it “was there that Moggallāna was murdered.” To the best of my knowledge there’s no real basis to believe that Moggallāna was murdered. If my understanding is correct, I’d feel reasonably apprehensive about replicating nonsense (if the primary target for this map are those new to the suttas, all I can say is that as I hack my way through this new territory it can be a bit frustrating to regularly encounter these kinds of fabrications)).

On certain things I’m quite a fan of order, and if it is acceptable, I’d care to:

  • group the different location categories into separate layers (by the way, my best guess is that the “‘Leafy tree’ symbol” is a blade of wheat).

  • Alphabetise at least the cities and towns.

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It occurs to me that the ? icon is perfect for marking places who’s location is uncertain. Maybe that was obvious to you, but I just realized it!

I guess it was considered more of a colony than an extension of the Koliyan region. Still, i would regard it as uncertain.

Catuma is a Sakyan village, Amalikavana is the grove/monastery nearby. Maybe just shift them away from Kapilavatthu a little.

The full entry in DPPN for dakkhinagiri is hopelessly confused. It says it encompasses Ujjeni and Vidisa, which are far to the west of Rajagaha, and a little south. But it is also on the road from Savatthi (N/W) and Rajagaha (!). And it’s past the hills south of Rajagaha.

There’s obviously a lot of confusion, and no reason why such a generic name should not be used in different ways. I think we should dismiss the “on the road from savatthi to rajagaha” part. And Ujjeni is the capital of Avanti, not Dakkhinagiri. (although the two are sometimes conflated, they may well have been separate at some times and distinct at others.) We also know that monks returned to rajagaha after wandering in the dakkhinagiri. So let’s assume it was a vaguely defined area to the S/W of Rajagaha, including Vidisa.

I have adjusted this in line with the location in DPPN (roughly 30 leagues from savatthi, 12 from benares, on the way to Rajagaha.) But it is still uncertain.

Acc. to DPPN says it is between Assaka and alaka, but that’s not what the text says. It says bavari came from Kosala to the Dakkhinapatha, then stayed in Asska region, at Alaka. It seems to me that here Dakkhinapatha simply means “the southern regions”.

This is correct, these are alternate names.

Good spot, this must be a mistake.

This is one of the most precise points in the map: you can still see the black rock! But you’re right, we should remove the Moggallana’s death stuff. The descriptions are taken from the Dictionary of Pali Proper Names. A couple of years ago I went through the whole (huge!) text and removed all entries to later texts, and commentarial additions such as this. Or at least, that was my intention. Obviously I missed this one, and it should be removed.

As for reordering things, please go ahead.

Oh, right. Well, feel free to replace it if you think there’s a better one. We can, of course, upload our own icons if we want.

Regarding making changes, I’d be happier if you just deleted stuff rather than trying to save everything. These things rapidly become bloated and unworkable. While it may be obvious to you what is what, others, including myself, won’t be so clear. Best to just delete anything you think is wrong, make the corrections. We can always redo things later if you make a mistake.

In that case I’d probably favour merging the two.


In all honesty, I’m not hugely fussed about icons (although, the more I look at the map the more I can clearly see the wisdom of icon use), I was just saying what I thought the Leafy tree’ symbol was. Nevertheless, mostly for light relief I did start playing with them and I have to admit I think I’ve got a bit muddled. This is the logic I tried to follow within the Temples & Features layer, but I’m not sure I was entirely consistent:

  1. Tree = grove, forest, park.
  2. Dhamma wheel = monastery, hermitage.
  3. Worshipping dude = shrine.
  4. Mountain = mountain, cave.
  5. Water = water

Groves and monasteries seem to overlap quite a bit so there was some confusion there and I was simply flummoxed by Ekapuṇḍarīka and Gomagga. In any case, all icons can very easily and quickly be replaced in the .kml file using the “replace all” function. However…

Not, to the best of my understanding, if there is a wish to use the .kml file. Custom icons are only preserved with .kmz files.

Absolutely! I had it in mind that you would go ahead and delete what you didn’t think relevant to keep, but I must concede this thought is less effective when kept only in my mind. In any case, I’ve come up with an alternative that should satisfy my tendency towards caution over messing up someone else’s belongings and the broader concern of keeping things straightforward. Before fiddling and at various points during I downloaded the .kml, so should someone think, “hey, it was better how it was before!”, it can be easily restored.

Lastly, I went through the ‘…placenamesall.kml’ Ayya Vimala posted and felt that a number of locations could be reasonably safely added to the map (see the list below for double checking/editing purposes) and, further, identified entries that I myself felt unsure about adding (and in a number of instances simply didn’t feel it was worth it - particularly around Rājagaha which has become terribly cluttered) but do have information that could help marker plotting.


Aggāḷave Cetiye / Aggālavacetiya
Andhavana (one ‘gāvuta’ south of Sāvatthī)
Ānandacetiya / Ānande Cetiye
Udena Cetiya / Udenacetiya
Upavatta / Upavattana
kaṇḍakīvana / Kantakīvana / Tikantakī
Kappāsika Vanasaṇḍa / Kappāsiya Vanasaṇḍa
Kalandagāma / Kalanda / Kalaṇḍaka
Cāpāla Cetiya / Cāpālacetiya
Maghadevaambavana / Makhādevaambavana
Nigrodhārāma (two entries: Kapilavatthu entry plotted, Rājagaha entry unplotted)
Pālileyya / Pārileyya / Pārileyyaka
Rakkhita / Rakkhitavanasaṇḍa
Baliharaṇa / Baliharana
Mallikāya ārāma / Mallikārāma
Veḷuvana (Kajaṅgalā)
Sattamba / Sattambaka
Siṁsapāvana (Āḷavī)
Siṁsapāvana (Setavyā)

Not added but easily to concievably plottable:

Ambatittha / Ambatitthā / Ambatiṭṭha
Uttara / Uttaraka
Kaṇṇakujja / Kaṇṇagocchaka / Kaṇṇagotta
Kassapakārāma / Kassapārāma
Kuṇḍadhānavana / Kuṇḍiṭṭhāna / Kuṇḍikā / Kuṇḍiyā / Kuṇhāna
Gomatakakandarā / Gomatakandarā / Gomatakaṇḍarā
Gosiṅgasālavanadāya (listed twice, once near Nādikā, once near Vesāli)
Ṭaṅkitama / Taṅkitama
Taṇḍulapālidvārāya / Taṇḍu­la­pālid­vāra / Tandulapāladvāra
Tindukkhānu / Tindukkhānuparibbājakārāma
Nagaraka / Naṅgaraka
Naḷeru­puci­man­da / Naḷeru­puci­man­da­ / Nalerupucimaṇḍa
Paṭiyāloka / Patiyāloka
Papāte Pabbate / Papātapabbata
Pāvārikambavana (listed twice, once near Kosambī, once near Nāḷandā)
Mahāvana (listed three times, once near Vesāli, once near Kapilavatthu, once near Uruvelakappa)
Medāḷupa / Medatalumpa
Laṭṭhivana / Latthivana / Latthivanuyyāna
Pajjanika / Sajjanela
Sappasoṇḍikapabbhāra / Sappasoṇḍika
Salaḷāgāra / Salalaghara
Sāmuga / Sāpūga
Siṁsapāvana / Sīsapāvane
Suppatiṭṭha Cetiya / Supatiṭṭhacetiya
Sumāgadhā / Sumāgavā
Setakaṇṇika / Setakannika
Senānigama / Senānīnigama



Dear @aminah,

Anumodana and mudita! Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!:heart_eyes:

in mettā,


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Indeed! I’m busy travelling for a couple of days, will get back soon.

Perth = Sagga, eh? I guess this is a pedagogical trick to make heaven seem less desirable; very skillful!


of course it’s not, i’ve seen people park on lawns there

perhaps Aciravati river could be plotted, it flows just to the north of Savatthi, being now named Western Rapti

it’s mentioned in the Bahitika sutta (MN 88) as a place of conversation between Ven Ananda and King Pasenadi

also Neranjara river now Nilanjan/Lilajan flowing to the east of Uruvela

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Nice. When I went through the places list, I decided to set aside the rivers as didn’t quite know how Ven. Sujato envisaged dealing with them and how it tied into his intention to remove the modern political data (if modern stuff can be removed, I wonder if new (old) info can be added).

I reckon it’d be great to include rivers, not least because they can help with territory definition. Perhaps they can be added via the “Draw a line” tool.

i think keeping modern day toponyms intact helps in obtaining spatial and visual perspective on the ancient locations within present geographical context, makes the ancient political geography more illustrative

Ain’t nuffin’ to do with me, I just plot markers and look at long lists. You’ll have to pursue that point with the venerable sir.

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Yes, I agree it would be nice to simply rename the existing rivers, mountains, and the like.

The only problem would come if they had shifted. This might be the case in smaller rivers, although in point of fact I don’t know of any such instances that affect Early Buddhist geography.

If we are not sure yet how to make these changes in the map itself, we could start by making a list of such features with their ancient and modern names.

(In the back of my mind I’m thinking of the Sarasvati river and its problematic identification. But that’s a problem for the Vedic scholars!)

Notwithstanding the preferences and technical hurdles discussion, I added a test river layer (plotting the Aciravatī) to see what folks think of the ‘draw a line’ (perhaps interim) solution to adding rivers.

Yeah, it’s not very nice, sorry. The river is there, we just need a way to label it. If that’s not possible in this interface, I think it would be best to just leave it and implement it later.

Having said which, the rest of the map is looking great, congrats!

With so many things on the board, it looks pretty cluttered. Normally Google Maps is pretty clever about increasing the details as you zoom in. It looks like that requires more sophisticated coding, I guess you have to determine what level of importance each feature is. Anyway, something to think of for the future.

Apart from the rivers/physical topography question, are you pretty happy with what’s there? I thought I might invite a couple of knowledgeable people to review the data and offer any suggestions.

I wouldn’t disagree, but a test is a test.

I would agree, but the one downside is that by that alone you’d loose the available DPPN information. What I decided to do instead is just add the determinable rivers as water features to the ‘features’ layer and keep the icons out of the way of other markers.

I added:

Godhāvarī (which, btw, suggests the estimation of the Dakkhiṇāpatha region might be a bit off - I have left it unchanged.)

To add to the list of not plotted things in the above post, these are the rivers for which there is at least some given geographical information: Kakutthā, Vetaraṇi, Sappinī, Sallavatī, Hiraññavatī.

I would strongly agree.

It’s a reasonable unanswerable question from my point of view, I know I’m going on guess work, who can be completely happy about that? Nevertheless, on the basis of the established acceptable margin of error, I did feel it reasonable to add Medatalumpa and Nagaraka (incidentally, if MN89 is the only source of information the DPPN is relying on, I’m not sure there’s any reason to believe Nagaraka is necessarily in Sākya, but still…).

Based on what wikipedia has to say, I think Māhissati might need to be moved to the river (again, I’ve left it unchanged).

Lastly, looking at the info, there are two things that I’ve been increasingly itching to add, but again as we know, I lean towards caution:

  1. The unplotted towns on the Verañja - Soreyya - Saṅkassa - Kaṇṇakujja - Payāgatiṭṭha - Benares route.
  2. Bhaggā country and it’s capital Suṁsumāragiri.

So with this, I’ve probably reached the limit of my ability to do anything more, and will thus leave it alone for the big kids to play with.

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Okay, that sounds fine.

Yes, I’ve done this now, I’ve shifted it to Maheshwar. It’s telling that the conflicting identifications of such a major city are based on authorities that are a century or more old. Have no excavations been done since then? (rhetorical question!)

I’d suggest put these in with a question mark icon.

Yeah, I don’t know.

That’s what I wanted to know. You’ve done a great job, this is much better than I had hoped. I spoke with @Vimala just now, and we’ll look at ways to integrate the map on SC. Meanwhile I’ll contact a few people and see if they want to check these details.

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placing here a link to the map for convenience of access


Righto, I did this going by the detail in the Verañja description that the Buddha crossed “the Ganges at Payāgapatitthāna”. I then just used the measurement between Payāgatiṭṭha and Benares to plot the four other towns in the direction of Madhurā (it seemed reasonable to think that the route might be a bit of an extension of the road from Verañjā to Madhurā mentioned in the same description).

You might want to double check the description bits I copied over for Sankassa and Kannakujja to see that they are in line with your editing preferences (these towns weren’t included in the original list - I should also point out that this is true of a few other locations, but I’m afraid I didn’t think to keep track of them. As a rule, if it was anything more than very basic descriptive details , unless it had a sutta of vinaya reference I didn’t copy & paste it).

Thanks for inviting me to work on this. I look forward to seeing what happens next.


I’m going over the map to incorporate embedded maps in the dictionary. I was wondering if we can add some text for Nādikā:,85.256652