Kushinagar holds special significance among the various cities visited by Buddhist pilgrims for this is the city where the Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana and was cremated. It is one of the four places where the Buddha tells his followers to go on a pilgrimage to attain merit and noble rebirth. And the Mahaparinirvana Temple is the prime tourist attraction of the city with a Gautam Buddha Stupa and shrine.
As one of the most sacred Buddhist shrines, the highly venerated site has a powerful spiritual and emotional impact on all those who pay it a visit. It also holds significance from an archaeological viewpoint due to the relics recovered during excavations including a reclining statue of the Buddha representing his demise.
Significance of Mahaparinirvana Temple
Located in Kushinagar, one of the places the followers were asked by Gautama Buddha to travel to, the ancient Mahaparinirvana Temple is one of the holiest shrines for Buddhists. It’s believed that Gautama Buddha attained supreme salvation here.
According to an inscription on a copper vessel discovered at the site, Lord Buddha’s remains were deposited here. Several relics including an ancient Gautama Buddha statue were also discovered at the location during excavations, making it significant from a historic perspective as well. Some relics revealed during excavations include copper coins, a copper vessel, a copper plate and a vessel containing silver coins.
The structure consists of the main Gautam Buddha Stupa and a shrine, both constructed upon a single plinth measuring 2.74 metres in height. The top of the stupa is 19.81 metres above ground level with the stupa being raised on a circular base and crowned with a dome. The temple houses a large statue of the Buddha in the reclining pose.
The present form of these structures came to be in 1956 during the occasion of the 2500th Buddha Jayanti.
The Reclining Statue
The shrine houses the statue of the Buddha lying down on his right side with his right hand under his head and facing west, probably to indicate the sunset of his illustrious life. An inscription below dates it back to the 5th century AD.
The statue is 6.10 metres in length and was carved out of a single block of chunar sandstone. The monolithic sculpture sits atop a pedestal with three human figures carved on its western side. According to an inscription discovered at the site, the statue was a religious gift.
Spot on Buddhist Circuit Tourist Train Itinerary
When travelling with IRCTC’s Buddhist Train, you will get to explore the site on Day 6. On this day, you will arrive in Kushinagar and have lunch at a hotel before proceeding to Mahaparinirvana Temple and other holy places of Buddhism like Rambhar Stupa and other significant locations in the area. You can check the dates, prices and other details on the official website of IRCTC’s Buddhist Tourist Train www.irctcbuddhisttrain.com and make some bookings.
The vicinity of the ancient temple is tranquil with greenery surrounding it. This combined with the location’s powerful spiritual vibes makes it one of the finest Gautam Buddha places in India for tourists and pilgrims striving to find inner peace through the tour.
Other Places of Interest in Kushinagar
Located only one and a half kilometres from the Mahaparinirvana Temple, the Rambhar Stupa is a large structure of 15 metres in height. It is the place where Lord Buddha was cremated with the Buddhist texts calling the stupa Mukut-Bandhan Chaitya. Surrounded by a well-maintained garden lined with palm trees, the spot also emanates peaceful vibes from all those who visit.