Located in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Kushinagar is one of the world’s most sacred sites of Buddhism. Kushinagar’s claim to fame lies in being the place where Buddha breathed his last, the event known in the Buddhist tradition as paranibbana (Mahaparinirvana) which is considered to have taken place in 483 BC.
Kushinagar has an antiquity of centuries. Buddha himself declared Kushinagar as one of the four most sacred places. However, unlike Sravasti, Champa, Rajagraha, Saketa, Kausambi and Varanasi, Kusinagar was not an important city during Buddha’s time. This can be ascertained form Buddha’s disciple Ananda’s regret that his master chose to die in so small town as Kusinagar which was visited by Buddha several times before his death.
Buddha’s Mahaparinirvana came at the age of eighty. After spending the last rainy season of life near the city of Vaishali, he and his followers reached the town of Pava where he took a meal at the house of his lay disciple, Cunda. Soon after he was attacked by blood dysentery but he continued his journey till he reached the outskirts of Kushinagar town where he laid himself down under a sal tree and that night he attained Mahaparinirvana.
After paying homage to the remains of the Buddha, his sorrowing followers cremated his body. His relics were distributed among various claimants including the Magadhan ruler Ajatashatru.
The Mahaparinirvana Temple is home to a 6.10 meter long fifth century AD statue of the reclining Buddha. The idol is made of the sandstone of Chunar, about 25 miles south-west of Varanasi.
Discovered by Carlyl in 1876, the huge brickwork Nirvana Stupa stands behind the Mahaparinirvana Temple at a height of 2.74 meters. A copper vessel bearing an inscription in Brahmi script states that Buddha’s relics had been placed here.
1.5 km away from Mahaparinirvana Temple, the Ramabhar Stupa marks the spot where the Buddha was cremated. Rising to a height of 15 meters, the Stupa is referred to as ‘Mukut-Bandhan Chaitya’ in ancient Buddhist texts.
Other places of attractions in and around Kushinagar are Japanese Temple, Chinese Temple, Kushawati Temple and Kushinagar Museum.
How to Reach Kushinagar
Air: Nearest major airport to Kushinagar is at Varanasi which is connected by flights from major cities in India. Varanasi is 260 km away from Kushinagar. Other airports close to Kushinagar and are at Gorakhpur and Lucknow which are 53 km and 252 km away respectively from Kushinagar.
Rail: Kushinagar does not have a Railway Station. The nearest railheads are at Deoria and Gorakhpur which are 35 km and 53 km away from Kushinagar. Gorakhpur railway station is well connected by rail with all the major railway stations in India.
Road: Situated on National Highway No. 28, Kushinagar is well connected with important places in Uttar Pradesh by frequent bus services.