Kushinagar (or Kusinagar or Kusinara) is one of the most sacred places of pilgrimage for followers of the Buddha as it is the place that the Buddha attained Parinirvana or passing away. It is located 52 kms from Gorakhpur in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh next to a rural town named Kasia. The Buddha’s last days are described in the Pali text called the Parinirvana Sutra.
After years of preaching, the Buddha reached the village of Kushinagar in the Kingdom of the Mallas on the further side of the Hiranyavati river. He realised his end was fast approaching. He requested Ananda his faithful companion to prepare a bed for him between two sal trees with its head turned towards the North. When Ananda realised the reason he was grief stricken as he had served the Buddha for 20 years. The Buddha consoled him by explaining the decay of the human body and the transitory nature of life. He was 81 years of age around this time. The Mallas of Kushinagar were informed of his impending death as desired by the Buddha. The Buddha advised all the monks not to grieve and exhorted them to understand the illusory nature of existence and strive for liberation. It was the full moon of the month of Vaisakha and the year was somewhere between 487 and 483 BC. Buddha then passed into meditational absorptions and entered Maha Parinirvana (the great passing away). Some South Eastern countries believe that the Buddha passed away in 544-543 BC. The Body of the great Master lay in state for six days. Anuruddha a cousin and close disciple of the Buddha made preparations for the funeral. On the seventh day the body was honoured with perfumes and garlands and was taken to the sacred shrine of the Mallas, Mukutbandhana Chaitya. Buddha’s senior most and close disciple Maha Kassapa performed the ceremony and with all due honour the body of the great Master was cremated. The Mallas then collected the ashes as relics along with the skull bone, teeth and inner and outer shrouds. The relics were then divided into eight parts which were distributed to the representatives of the eight other kingdoms of ancient Northern India. When Emperor Ashoka decided to build 84000 Stupas these relics were again subdivided and today they are enshrined in Stupas across Asia.
Places of Interest
This temple has a 6.10m long statue carved from Chunar sandstone of the reclining Buddha. It represents the dying Buddha reclining on his right side. An inscription below dates the statue to the fifth century.
It is a huge brickwork Stupa with a height of 2.74m. A copper vessel unearthed at this site bore an inscription in ancient Brahmi stating that Lord Buddha’s remains had been deposited here.
Watthai Temple is a huge temple complex built in the typical Thai Buddhist style of architecture.
From the Nirvana Stupa at a distance of 400 yards is the Mathakuar shrine. Excavations here showed a stone image of Lord Buddha in the Bhumi Sparsha Mudra(Earth touching posture) under the Bodhi tree. At the base of the statue the inscription dates it to 10th– 11th century. Ruins of a monastery have also been discovered adjacent to this shrine.
This Stupa at a height of 15mts is about 1.5 kms away from the Maha Parinirvana temple. The Buddha was cremated at this site. The ancient Buddhist texts have referred to this Stupa as Mukut Bandhan Chaitya.
A beautiful statue of Lord Buddha graces this temple.
The temple has a beautiful eight metal (Ashta Dhatu) statue of Lord Buddha brought from Japan.
Government Buddha Museum
All finds from the site excavations at Kushinagar is contained in the Buddha Museum. It is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm and the weekly off is Monday.
Other Places of Interest are Sri Lankan temple, Burmese temple, Birla Hindu Buddha temple, Korean temple, Shiva temple, Ram-Janki temple and Meditation Park.
. Hotel Nekko Lotus, (3 Star) Ph.: (05564) 273025-26
. International Guest House. Ph.: (05564) 273082
. Birla Hindu Buddha Dharmshala. Ph.: (05564) 273090
. Burmese Dharamshala Ph.: (05564) 273105
. Hotel Royal Residency, (3 Star) Ph.: (05564) 273011-15
. Hotel The Imperial, (3 Star) Ph.: (05564) 273096-97
. Linshon Chinese Rest House Ph.: (05564) 273093
UP Tourism Accommodation
Pathik Niwas (UPSTDC), Kushinagar.
Ph. 05564 – 273045, 273046, Fax: 05564 – 273045 e-mail.: firstname.lastname@example.org
How To Reach
Kasia airstrip-5 Km, Gorakhpur Airport-46 Km, Chaudhary Charan Singh Airport, Lucknow-252 Km, Babatpur Airport, Varanasi-286 Km.
The Nearest railway stations are Deoria-35 Km and Gorakhpur- 53 km, which are linked with important destinations. Kushinagar does not have a Railway Station, one has to go up to Gorakhpur by train and from there reach Kushinagar by road.
Situated on National Highway No. 28, with frequent bus services, Kushinagar is well connected with other parts of the state. Some major road distances are: Gorakhpur-53 km, Lumbini (Nepal)-170 km, Kapilastu-157 km, Sravasti-253 km, Sarnath 274 km.
Kushinagar was once a celebrated center of the Malla Kingdom. The excavations carried out by archaeologists revealed some antique artifacts and structures related to all sects of Buddhism. Through its magnificent Chaityas, temples, Viharas and monasteries it expresses the common thread of all sects of Buddhism. Since it is the place of Buddha’s passing away, people come from all over the world with great reverence, love and devotion and pay homage to the Buddha to help them transcend suffering and attain the ultimate goal of life namely enlightenment and bliss.