Kushinagar Travel Blog› entry 13 of 18 › view all entries
Today we would drive to Kushinagar, planning to arrive in the early afternoon. To do so we had to leave early, which meant getting up at , having a quick breakfast and hitting the road at , but not before stocking up on cash at an ATM. The beers and dinner at the hotel had seriously eaten up our remaining budget.
Today Bart and I discovered that unknowingly we had almost fully integrated with the Indian way of life, shamelessly belching, farting, slurping, clearing our throats, spitting and pissing in public. As such we quickly became part of Bart's very own collection of pictures. Hopefully we would be able to kick these habits upon our return to
Around nine o' clock we entered the town of
The road between Chapra and Iwan must have been one of the worst I ever travelled on. Most of the time it resembled the surface of the moon much more than something people were supposed to drive on.
When we crossed the state border into Uttar Pradesh close to we did indeed notice the drastic change in the quality of the roads. What's more, continuous roadwork was taking place to improve them. This did unfortunately result in some more delays, as did
Kushinagar, as mentioned one of the four main pilgrimage places, is the place where the Buddha died and thus moved into what's called 'parinirvana'; final release from samsara, the endless cycle of suffering and reincarnation. It also was one of the sites where emperor Ashoka built several memorial stupas. In the 19th century these were rediscovered by British archaeologists and today Kushinagar is once again an important pilgrimage site where various countries have built their own temples and monasteries, like in Bodhgaya.
Bart and I first walked to the Mahaparinirvana temple that was built on the spot where the Buddha died. In a strangely formed temple, which we agreed upon was a cross between an iron long and an old-fashioned diving mask, we found the original 5th century statue of the reclining Buddha that was uncovered in the British excavations. Six meters long, it was cover in gold cloth and overlaid with a golden blanket. Behind the temple both a new (white) stupa and the remains of the original stupa could be found.
At the far end of Buddha Marg the second important sight could be found: the Ramabhar Stupa. This 15 meter high red-brick stupa is believed to have been built on the spot where the Buddha was cremated. The stupa was lined with burning candles and wound with prayer flags and a big orange ribbon and a large group of white clad Japanese were holding a prayer session next to it. A quite remarkable sight.
We didn't have time to see all of the temples built by the different countries, but we did see the typically Burmese Mahasukhamdadachan Thargyi pagoda and the Vietnamese Linh Son temple. The latter didn't only feature a statue of the lady Buddha (Kuan Yin), but had a collection of replicas of all the important temples at the four major pilgrimage sites, looking both remarkable and hilarious. It felt like walking in Lego land.
Back at the hotel we checked in and after a while went down for a drink and dinner.
Since the hotel seemed to be absolutely deserted (we seemed to be the only ones present) and tomorrow would bring us another early morning, we once again hit the sack after dinner.