Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh
|• Type||Nagar Palika|
|• D.M.||S. Rajalingam|
|• A.D.M||Bindhvasani Rai|
|• MP||Vijay Kumar Dubey (BJP)|
|Time zone||UTC+5:30 (IST)|
|Buddha's Holy Sites|
Kushinagar is a town in the Kushinagar district in Uttar Pradesh, India. It is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site, where Buddhists believe Gautam Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana after his death. It is an international Buddhist pilgrimage centre.
According to one theory, Kushinagar was the 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 Kushavati 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.
According to 2011 Indian Census, Kushinagar had a total population of 22,214, of which 11,502 were males and 10,712 were females. Population within the age group of 0 to 6 years was 2,897. The total number of literates in Kushinagar was 15,150, which constituted 68.2% of the population with male literacy of 73.3% and female literacy of 62.7%. The effective literacy rate of 7+ population of Kushinagar was 78.4%, of which male literacy rate was 84.5% and female literacy rate was 71.9%. The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes population was 1,117 (5.03%) and 531 (2.39%) respectively. Kushinagar had 3462 households in 2011.
The present Kushinagar is identified with Kusavati (in the pre-Buddha period) and Kushinara (in the post-Buddha period). Kushinara was the capital of Mallas which was one of the sixteen mahajanpads of the 6th century BCE. Since then, it remained an integral part of the erstwhile empires of Maurya, Shunga, Kushana, Gupta, Harsha, and Pala dynasties.
In the medieval period, Kushinagar had passed under the suzerainty of Kultury Kings. Kushinara continued to be a living city till the 12th century CE and was thereafter lost into oblivion. Padrauna is believed to be ruled over by a Rajput adventurer, Madan Singh, in the 15th century CE.
However, modern Kushinagar came into prominence in the 19th century with archaeological 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 1904–1905, 1905-1906 and 1906–1907, 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 part of the district of Deoria. On 13 May 1994, it came into being as a new district of Uttar Pradesh.
In 1896, Waddell suggested that the site of the death and parinirvana of Gautama Buddha was in the region of Rampurva. However, according to the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, the Buddha made his journey to Kushinagar, died there, and this is where he was cremated. It is believed that during his last day he walked into the groves of trees near the city and rejoiced at the blossoms of sala trees (Shorea robusta) before laying himself to rest.
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 rulers of the Gupta Empire (fourth to seventh century) 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 fled to escape the invading Muslim army, after which the site decayed during the Islamic rule in India that followed. The British archaeologist Alexander Cunningham rediscovered Kushinagara in the 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.
Kushinagar is a nagar palika situated at 53 km east from Gorakhpur on the National Highway-28, lying between latitude 26°45´N and 83°24´E. Gorakhpur is the main railway terminus for Kushinagar while air strip of UP Civil Aviation is situated in Kasia, 2 km away from Kushinagar, currently being developed as an International Airport by Uttar Pradesh Government and Government of India. The Kushinagar Airport was officially inaugurated on 20th October 2021.
The reclining Nirvana statue of the Buddha is inside the Parinirvana Stupa. The statue is 6.10 metres long and is made of monolith red sandstone. 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 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, 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.
A colossal statue of 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 dateable to the 10th or 11th century CE.
The Government of Uttar Pradesh has proposed the Kushinagar-Sarnath Buddha Expressway to connect Buddhist pilgrimage towns. The expressway will be around 200 km long and will reduce the travel time between the towns from seven hours to one and a half hours.
Kushinagar comes under Kushinagar Lok Sabha constituency for Indian general elections. The Member of Parliament from this constituency is Vijay Kumar Dubey of Bharatiya Janata Party 2014 Indian general elections who was re-elected in the 2019 Indian general election.
As of 2019, the Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Kushinagar Assembly constituency is Rajnikant Mani Tripathi of Bharatiya Janata Party.