There is no evidence, nor is it considered likely by any mainstream scholar, that Jesus of Nazareth ever left the immediate environs of Judea, Galilee and Transjordan during his adult years. Jesus’ evident awareness of Greek culture is easily explained by the proximity of the cosmopolitan market town of Sepphoris an hour’s walk from Nazareth, where as a carpenter Jesus like his adopted father Joseph could have been expected to travel for work frequently.
Nikolai Notovitch (1858 – after 1916)
The primary claim that Jesus visited India was made in 1894 book by a Crimean Jewish writer Nikolai Notovitch, an adventurer with a colourful life in Asia as a pretend aristocrat, spy and journalist, and whose exact end is unknown. His book was quickly exposed as a hoax by scholars of Buddhism and Tibetology who examined Notovitch’s supposed sources and found them entirely fabricated.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835 – 1908)
The secondary claim that Jesus visited India was made by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the “messiah” of the Ahmaddiya muslim movement, in Jesus in India in 1899. Ahmad’s sources for this claim were largely taken from various mentions of the Josaphat legend in Arabic sources. The legend of Josaphat and Barlaam is a Christian retelling of elements of the life of Buddha as a Christian saint, which later transferred into Arabic tradition as a Muslim saint.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad further identified the grave of a holy man in Srinagar, Kashmir as the grave of Jesus. The grave in question, the Roza Bal shrine in backstreet of Srinagar, contains the bodies of a muslim holy man and an earlier grave which scholars generally consider to be a Hindu or Buddhist holy man repurposed as Kashmir was islamized. Ownership and religious identity of the grave had been disputed by local courts and the name Yuzasaf (an Urdu spelling of Josaphat) attached to it. This does not however mean that the Roza Bal is a site competing with the Parinirvana Stupa Buddhist temple in Kushinagar, India, as the grave of Gautama Buddha. It is more likely that the attachment of the name Yuzasaf indicates only the resting place of a local minor bodhisattva, or a later Hindu holy man.