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Kushinagar, Sravasti

India Buddhism BookingKushinagar : One of the four major pilgrimage destinations of the Buddhist, Kushinagar (Kusinagar or Kusinara) is a small rural town of Uttar Pradesh located some 52 km from Gorakhpur, in northern India. Known earlier as Kushavati (Jatakas), Kushinagar was a celebrated center of the ancient Malla kingdom and is the place where the Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana (the great passing away), and was cremated. The religious significance of Kushinagar can be perceived by the fact that a large number of followers visit this place everyday. This is also the place where Lord Buddha preached his last sermon and said, /"All things must pass. Decay is inherent in all things".

KushinagarThe Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana at the age of 80 on the full moon of the month of Vaisakha (April-May) and as per his direction the Mallas of Kusinara were informed of his impending death, and they came to pay respects to him. For the next six days the body of the Shakyamuni’s was laid in state and preparations were made for his funeral under the direction of Anirudha a cousin and follower of the Buddha. On the seventh day, after honoring the body with perfumes and garlands, it was taken to the Mukutbandhana Chaitya, the sacred shrine of the Mallas where under the guidance of Mahakashyapa, the Buddha was cremated with due honor.

India Buddhism BookingFollowing the cremation, the relics of the Grand Master - skull bone, teeth and inner and outer shrouds were collected and distributed among the representatives of the eight Kingdoms, which constituted ancient northern India. These relics were again subdivided after King Ashoka decided to build 84,000 stupas. Today these relics are enshrined in various stupas scattered al over Asia.

Being an important Buddhist site, Kushinagar had a lot of monasteries and stupas that were dedicated to the Buddha. Most of these religious structures were constructed between 3rd century BC and 5th century AD. For a long time Kushinagar remained lost in the jungles and was unknown to the world till 19th century when the British rediscovered it in 1880. Recent excavations have revealed that a monastic tradition had flourished here for a long time. The remains of ten different monasteries dating from the fourth to the eleventh centuries have been found. Excavations have shown that the original Buddha temple consisted of an oblong hall and antechamber with its entrance facing the west. Large number of bricks with carved surfaces found among the rubbish indicated that the temple had a barrel-vaulted roof not unlike that on the modern temple. The excavations have also unveiled the Matha Kuar and Ramabhar stupa. Most of these monastries and stupas are now enclosed in a park, in the midst of which stands a modern shrine housing a large recumbent figure of the Buddha. The temple known as the Mahaparinirvana Temple was built by the Government of India in 1956 to commemorate the 2,500th year of the Buddha Mahaparinivana or 2500 BE (Buddhist Era). Inside this temple, one can see the famous Reclining Buddha image lying on its right side with the head to the north. The statue is 6.1 m long and rests on a stone couch. On the front of the couch are three sculptures, believed to represent Ven. Ananda near the feet, Ven. Subhadda at the middle and Ven. Dabba Malla at the corner. At the centre is an inscription dating to 5th century AD, which states the statue was "a gift of the monk Haribala of the Mahavihara and was fashioned by Dinna". This 1500-year old reclining Buddha image was executed out of one block of red sandstone brought in from Mathura. It was discovered in 1876 in a dilapidated condition and the scattered fragments were successfully pieced together. Behind this shrine is a large stupa dating from the Gupta age. The Burmese restored this early in this century. Not far away is the Rambhar Stupa, one of the most important landmark of Kushinagar. The stupa is said to have been built on the same spot where Lord Buddha was cremated in 483 BC. Mathakuar Shrine is the place where Lord Buddha had given his last sermon.

India Buddhism BookingSince Kushinagar is a much-frequented pilgrimage site often, visited by tourists from East Asia and South East Asia- regions where Buddhism is the dominant religion, the Chinese, Sri Lankan, Thai, and Japanese Buddhists have constructed many temples. While a former Chinese temple has been reopened as an international meditation centre, the Tibetan Buddhists have built a small monastery with stupas in the Tibetan style beside it. There is also a museum that houses objects found during the excavation of Kushinagar.

A majority of tourists come to Kushinagar during Buddha Purnima to celebrate the birthday of Lord Buddha. The place has a tropical climate with extreme temperatures during summers and winters. Winter days are pleasant with dry weather and clear sky.

SarvastiSarvasti : Located in the fertile Gangetic plains in the present day’s Gonda district of Uttar Pradesh, Sravasti or Savatthi was the town that has the honor for sheltering Buddha for 25 rainy seasons in the Jetvana Gardens. The capital of the Kosala Mahajanapada, Sravasti was one of the biggest towns in the Gangetic plains during the Buddha's lifetime. It is here that the Buddha is said to performed the only miracle of his life in response to a challenge from six non-believers. According to the legend, the Lord confounded his critics by making them witness a miraculous million-fold self-manifestation seated on a thousand-petalled lotus, as fire and water emanated from his body.

India Buddhism BookingThe city founded by king Sarvast has age-old stupas, majestic monasteries and several temples. However, it is more popularly known as the place from where the Buddha started his preaching and expounded a major part of the Tripitakas At Sarvasti tourists can visit the Jetavana Garden where the famous Anand Bodhi tree, an offspring of the one, said to have been planted by Buddha's main disciple Anand is located. Also located within the precincts of the garden are the ruins of Anandakuti and Gandhakuti. It was here that the Lord stayed during his many visits to Jetavana Vihara.

A magnificent, seven-storied vihara, said to have been built by Sudatta or Anathapindika (the incomparable alms giver) who was a disciple of the Buddha is also located nearby as are the Sri Lanka, Chinese, Myanmarese (Burmese) and Thai monasteries and temples. Also worth seeing is the park with a large bell donated by Japanese pilgrims. Pakki Kuti said to be Angulimala's Stupa and Kachchi Kuti, identified as Sudatta's Stupa is the other attractions of Sarvasti.

India Buddhism BookingBesides being an important Buddhist pilgrimage, Sravasti is also an important Jain religious centre as the Jain Tirthankara Mahavira had visited this place many times.