Kushinagar

About Kushinagar

Kushinagar, Kusinagar or Kusinara is a town and a Nagar Panchayat in the Kushinagar district of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh located around NH-28, and is 52 km east of Gorakhpur city. The Government of Uttar Pradesh has proposed Kushinagar-Sarnath Buddha Expressway to connect Buddhist pilgrimage towns. The expressway will be around 200 km long and wil reduce the distance from both town from Seven hours to one and half hours. The expressway will also promote easy accessibility from other East UP towns to proposed AIIMS near Gorakhpur. It is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site, where Buddhists believe Gautama Buddha attained Parinirvana after his death. Outside India, it is an International Buddhist Pilgrimage Centre. The followers of Buddhism, especially from Asian countries, wish to visit this place at least once in their lifetime.

Etymology

According to one theory, Kushwati was capital of Kosala Kingdom and according to Ramayana it was built by King Kush, son of Rama, protagonist of the epic Ramayana. While according to Buddhist tradition Kushawati was named prior to the king Kush. The naming of Kushwati is believed to be due to abundance of Kush grass found in this region.

History

The present Kushinagar is identified with Kushawati( in pre-Buddha period ) and Kushinara (in Buddha period). Kushinara was the capital of Mallas which was one of the sixteen mahajanpads of the 6th Century B.C. Since then, it remained an integral part of the erstwhile empires of Maurya, Shunga, Kushana, Gupta and Harsha dynasties.

In medieval period, Kushinagar had passed under the suzerainty of Kultury Kings. Kushinara continued to be a living city till the 12th Century A.D. and was thereafter lost into oblivion. Padrauna is believed to be ruled over by a Rajput adventurer, Madan Singh in the 15th century A.D.

However, modern Kushinagar came into prominence in the 19th Century with archeological excavations carried out by Alexander Cunningham, the first Archeological Surveyor of India and later followed by C.L. Carlleyle who exposed the main stupa and also discovered a 6.10 meters long statue of reclining Buddha in 1876. Excavations continued in the early twentieth century under J. Ph. Vogel. He conducted archaeological campaigns in 1904-5, 1905-6 and 1906-7, uncovering a wealth of Buddhist materials.

Chandra Swami, a Burmese Monk, came to India in 1903 and made “Mahaparinirvana Temple” into a living shrine.

After independence, Kushinagar remained the part of district Deoria. On 13 May 1994, it came into being as a new district of Uttar Pradesh.

Location of Gautama Buddha’s death and parinirvana

In 1896, Waddell suggested that the site of the death and parinirvana of Gautama Buddha was in the region of Rampurva. However, according to Maha-parinirvana Sutta, the Buddha made his journey to Kushinagar, died there and wherein he was cremated. Modern scholarship, based on archaeological evidence, believes that the Buddha died in Kushinagar, close to the modern Kasia (Uttar Pradesh).

Ashoka built a stupa and pilgrimage site to mark Buddha’s parinirvana in Kushinagara. The Hindu kings of Gupta dynasty period (4th to 7th century CE) helped greatly enlarge the Nirvana stupa and Kushinagar site, building a temple with reclining Buddha. This site was abandoned by Buddhist monks around 1200 CE, who flee to escape the invading Muslim army, after which the site decayed over the Islamic rule in India that followed. The British archaeologist Alexander Cunningham rediscovered Kushinagara in late 19th-century and his colleague A. C. L. Carlleyle unearthed the 1,500 year old Buddha image. The site has since then become an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists.Archaeological evidence from the 3rd century BCE suggests that the Kushinagara site was an ancient pilgrimage site.

Geography

Kushinagar is situated at 53 km east from Gorakhpur on the National Highway -28, lies between latitude 26° 45´ N and 83° 24´ E. Gorakhpur is the main railway terminus for Kushinagar while air strip of U.P. Civil Aviation is available in Kasia, 5 km. from Kushinagar.

Map

How to Get There

By road

Buses between Gorakhpur and Kushinagar are frequent and take around 1 and a half hour. One can hire a private car mostly indica or indigo from gorakhpur railway station to Kushinagar that generally takes an hour and a bit comfortable in compare to the crowded buses on the route. One should bargain with the drivers before booking the car.

By air

Runway situated in kasia hardly 2 Km from Kushinagar is still non functional and construction work is going on and will be functional in the near future . One can get a direct flight from Delhi to Gorakhpur twice or thrice weekly and further hire a car or take a bus to kushinagar.

By Train

Gorakhpur is the nearest railway station which is well connected to almost all the major cities in India by train.

Get Around

Cycle rickshaw and auto rickshaws are commonly available but one should roam around by walk as all the holy places are close enough to hotels.

Sightseeing

Parinirvana Stupa

The reclining Nirvana statue of the Buddha is inside the Parinirvana Stupa. Statue is 6.10 metres long and is made of monolith red – sand stone. It represents the “Dying Buddha” reclining on his right side with his face towards the west. It is placed on a large brick-pedestal with stone-posts at the corners.

Nirvana Chaitya (Main Stupa)

Nirvana Chaitya is located just behind the Main Parinirvana Temple. It was excavated by Carlleyle in the year 1876. During excavations, a copper-plate was found, which contained the text of the “Nidana-Sutra” which concluded the statement that plate had been deposited in the “Nirvana-Chaitya” by one Haribala, who also installed the great Nirvana Statue of Buddha in the temple front.

Ramabhar Stupa Ramabhar Stupa, also called a Mukutbandhan-Chaitya, is the cremation -place of Buddha. This Site is 1.5 km east of the main Nirvana Temple on the Kushinagar-Deoria road.

Matha Kuar Shrine A Colossal statue of Lord Buddha is installed, which is carved out of one block which represents Buddha seated under the “Bodhi Tree” in a pose known as ” Bhumi Sparsh Mudra ” (Earth touching attitude). The inscription at the base of statue is datable to the 10th or 11th Century A.D.

Other major places

  • Indo-Japan-Sri Lanka Temple: Indo-Japan-Sri Lanka temple is a marvel of Buddhist architectural grandeur of modern times.
  • Wat Thai Temple: It is a huge complex built in a typical Thai-Buddhist architectural fashion.
  • Ruins & Brick Structures: These are located around the main Nirvana Temple and Main Stupa. These are the remains of various monasteries of different sizes constructed from time to time in the ancient period.
  • Several museums, meditation parks and several other temples based on architecture of various eastern countries.

Best Time to Visit

One of the main pilgrimage centers for Buddhists, Kushinagar is a beautiful place located in Uttar Pradesh. The place is believed to be the final resting place of Gautam Buddha. Kushinagar is visited by Buddhist pilgrims all throughout the year. The best time to visit the place is from November to March when the weather is favorable. It is perfect for exploring the temples and gardens of the place.

Summer season in Kushinagar (March-May)
The temperature ranges between 20°C and 40°C during the summer season. As the weather remains hot during the entire season, it is best to avoid this season for a visit to Kushinagar.

Monsoon season in Kushinagar (July-September)
Kushinagar receives heavy rainfall during the monsoon season. The place experiences heavy rainfall at this time. The weather remains wet and humid which is not ideal for sightseeing.

Winter season in Kushinagar (November-February)

The best time to visit Kushinagar is from November to February. The weather remains mild and pleasant during the winter season. It is the perfect season to explore the place and visit its attractions like Chinese Temple, Devraha Temple, Nirvana Stupa, Sun Temple and Ramabhar Stupa.

Do

Soak up the peaceful atmosphere, conducive to meditation and reflection.

Eat

  • Yama Cafe
  • Restaurant at Pathik Niwas”

Eating at the local dhabas may be unhygienic, but one should find a clean place to try local makes, both veg and non-veg.

Sleep

Budget

  • Tibetan Monastery: both donation and by payment available

Mid range

  • Pathik Niwas: Uttar Pradesh tourism

Get out

One can get a bus from Kasia bus stand to Gorakhpur which is well connected to all the majors cities by train and have direct flights to Delhi.

Respect

  • Wear clothing that expresses respect for the sacred nature of the site.
  • Circumambulate the stupas and other sacred objects in a clockwise direction.
  • Preserve the peace and tranquillity.
  • Do not climb onto statues or other sacred objects.

Locals here are very friendly and helpful in nature, but be careful of the frauds (very rare to be found)