Kushinagar is also known as Kasia or Kasinara. It represents a grand end to the story of this Great Teacher. Buddha passed away here, near the Hiranyavati river, and was cremated where the Ramabhar stupa is located. It was once a celebrated centre of the Malla kingdom. Many of its stupas and viharas date back to the period 230 B.C.-413 A.D. when its prosperity was at the peak. Ashoka added grandeur to this place by getting the magnificent statue of Buddha carved on a single piece of red sandstone.
To visit Kushinagar, Gorakhpur is the convenient railway junction.
Gorakhpur has good linkages with Lumbini, Sarnath and Sravasti. It is a comfortable one and a half hour ride by road. Once in Kushinagar, it appears that time has come to a complete halt. This sleepy town, with its quietness and unassuming beauty, absorbs visitors into a contemplative mood.
With the decline of Buddhism even Kushinagar lost its importance and suffered much neglect. It was only in the last century that Lord Alexander Cunningham excavated many important remnants of the main site such as the Maths Kua and Ramabhar stupa. Today, people from the world over visit Kushinagar. Many national and international societies and groups have rushed to this small town to set up their centres pushing up the land prices three times in one year.
The main site has the Mahaparinirvana temple, with its world famous reclining statue of Buddha. The 20 feet long statue is seated on a brick platform. Ruins of as many as eight monasteries are around the main site. These monasteries have witnessed the rise and fall of a number of dynasties and the spread of Buddhism. Ruins of two monasteries Mahapari ni rvana-Vihara and Makutabandhara-Vihara are especially famous. The Makutabandha Stupa is believed to have been built by Malla kings to preserve the relics of the Buddha. Through the centuries, monuments and shrines of various types grew around these ancient sites.
Walk into the wonder mini city of Wat Thai Kushinara developed by the Thais. Built on an area of about 10 acres, it houses small huts, a school, a library and hospitals. In the miniature gardens, lotus ponds and nurseries, all in typical oriental style, residents learn the love of nature ó the true gospel of Buddhism. Hundreds of Thaipeople come down every year to perform various kinds of services. Rich and poor alike, with heads clean shaved, they dress in saffron clothes, live in modest huts and eatfrom banana leaves.
All holy sites are along one straight long road. Towards the east several temples of various Buddhist countries have come up. The procession organized by Burmese temple every year on Buddha Purnima day is attended by thousands of people. Other attractions are the Indo-Japanese Sri Lankan Centre for Cultural Association, meditation centre and Archaeological museum. Nature lovers can take a trip to the Tamkuhi forest area, which also has a forest rest house for night stay.
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