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Kushinagar

A small dusty town in the eastern part of Uttar Pradesh, Kushinagar is the place where Lord Gautam Buddha breathed his last. The religious significance of Kushinagar can be perceived by the fact that a large number of followers visit this place everyday. This is also the place where Lord Buddha preached his last sermon and said, All things must pass. Decay is inherent in all things.

Kushinagar was an important centre under Mauryan King Ashoka, a great Buddhist follower. Most of the religious structures here were constructed between 3rd century BC and 5th century AD. For a long time Kushinagar remained lost in the jungles and was unknown to the world till 19th century when the British rediscovered it in 1880. Extensive excavations have indicated the presence of a large number monks here as late as 11th century AD. A majority of tourists come to Kushinagar during Buddha Purnima to celebrate the birthday of Lord Buddha.

The place has a tropical climate with extreme temperatures during summers and winters. Winter days are pleasant with dry weather and clear sky.

Sightseeing:

Nirvana Temple:

The Nirvana temple though a single-room structure is a major attraction in Kushinagar. The temple has been raised on a platform and topped by a superstructure confirming to the traditional style of architecture followed by Buddhism. A world famous 6-m-long statue of reclining Buddha lies here. The statue, carved out of sandstone, was discovered by a British archaeologist in 1876 during an excavation. There is a small stone railing that surrounds the statue and shows devotees mourning the death of Lord Buddha. The statue of Buddha dates back to 5th century AD according to an inscription that was found in Kushinagar. The statue was brought from Mathura to Kushinagar by Haribala, a Buddhist monk, during the period of Gupta Empire.

Ramabhar Stupa:

The Ramabhar Stupa or Mukutabandhana stupa is situated at a distance of around one kilometre from Nirvana Temple. This 14.9 metre high brick stupa is built on the same spot where Lord Buddha was cremated in 483 BC. According to the legend, the stupa was built by the Malla kings who ruled the region when Buddha died.

Nirvana Stupa:

The stupa made of bricks was discovered by some British archaeologists during an excavation carried out in 1876. It is located behind the Nirvana Temple and subsequent excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India led to the discovery of a copper vessel containing the remains of Lord Buddha. There is an inscription on the vessel informing that the ashes of Lord Buddha had been interred in this place. Apart from the copper vessel, cowries, a gold chain, and precious stones were also unearthed from this place.

Mathakuar Shrine:

The place where Lord Buddha preached his last sermon before his death. It is certainly one of the more interesting sites in Kushinagar. The site is located near the Nirvana Stupa and the excavations unearthed a black-stone statue of Lord Buddha in the bhumi sparsha mudra (the pose of Buddha where he touches the earth with his fingers).

Chinese Temple:

The Chinese Temple is a colourful structure and houses a beautiful statue of Lord Buddha that attracts a large number of tourists. The temple has been reopened as International Meditation Centre.

Japanese Temple:

A statue of Lord Buddha made of Ashta Dhatu (eight metals) is installed in this temple. The statue has been brought from Japan.

Kushinagar Museum:

The Archaeological Museum or the Kushinagar Museum has a good collection of objects excavated from various stupas and monasteries in Kushinagar and places around it. The museum is located not far away from the Indo-Japan-Sri Lankan Buddhist Centre and you can see many artefacts that include statues and carved panels displayed here.

Excursions From Kushinagar:

Gorakhpur:
Situated 50 kilometres away from Kushinagar, Gorakhpur is the most convenient base for the travellers going to Kushinagar. The place is the headquarter of North Eastern Railway Zone of Indian Railways and is also a main transit point for the overland journey to Nepal from India. Gorakhnath Temple in the city is its main pilgrimage and tourist centre from which it also derives its name. Dedicated to the Sage Gorakhnath, the temple complex has a number of shrines. Geeta Press, the largest publisher of Hindu religious literature is also situated in Gorakhpur. Other attractions include Golghar, the main shopping centre of the city and Indira Children’s Park..

Kapilavastu (Piprahwa):
Kapilvastu, once the capital of Shkya clan, is identified as the modern day Piprahwa in Siddharthnagar district (Gorakhpur). There is a stupa that once contained the relics of Buddha. Here one can also find the ruins of the place where Buddha completed his first 29 years of life.

Lumbini:
Considered as the birthplace of Lord Buddha, Lumbini is situated 250 kilometres south-west of Kathmandu. The main attractions here are the broken Ashokan Pillar, remnants of an old monastery, and images of Buddha’s mother Maya Devi.

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