Kushinagar

Kushinagar Travel Blog

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Stack 'em high, Bihar, India.

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 5:40 AM, having a quick breakfast and hitting the road at half past six, but not before stocking up on cash at an ATM. The beers and dinner at the hotel had seriously eaten up our remaining budget.

 

It took UK another half an hour of asking around before he found the way to the long Ghandi Bridge that crossed the Ganges, one of the longest bridges in the world.

Flat tire, Chapra, India.
This being an early morning it was still cold and slightly foggy. Weather we're quite familiar with at home but which has the Indians wrap themselves in blanket-like ponchos when they go out.

 

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 Holland.

 

Around nine o' clock we entered the town of Chapra, where people were a whole less friendly when UK asked for directions.

Flat tire, Chapra, India.
Just when I was wondering what that strange thumbing noise was I kept hearing UK stopped the car, opened the door and looked at the rear tire. Flat. He quickly changed the tire for the spare one he fortunately had in the back and just outside Chapra he found someone that could repair the tire. Now, not a lot of tourists end up in the area of Bihar, so while the tire was being repaired more than ten people came to watch this rarity. Quite a strange feeling to have a whole group of Indians stare at you as if you were something that had descended from space. At a quarter past ten we were on our way again, 150 more kilometres to go to Kushinagar.

 

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.

Flat tire, Chapra, India.
Huge holes in the asphalt made it necessary for UK to break constantly and it took us two hours to reach the chaotic Siwan, gaining no more than roughly 50 km. UK told us that the politicians of Bihar were a bunch of corrupt thieves. Rather than improve the infrastructure all money disappeared in their pockets.

 

When we crossed the state border into Uttar Pradesh close to two o'clock 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 UK's many attempts to find a fuel station that was actually selling fuel. Eventually we drove into Kushinagar's Buddha Marg street at half past three.

Schoolkids in Kushinagar, India.
Giving us just enough time to see the major sights before everything would close at dusk.

 

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.

The bell(e) of Kushinagar, India.

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.

Mahaparinirvana temple, Kushinagar, India.
There wasn't a menu you could choose from but the 'fixed menu’ sounded good to us, and it was. A variety of at least 10 different starters and mains in small portions. Definitely one of the best presented dinners we had so far. UK had warned us that the beers were expensive in this place, but I hadn't expected a bottle to cost 300 rupees. Furthermore, it was mentioned on the bill as 'fruit pulp 300 rps' since the hotel did not have a permit to serve alcohol!

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.  

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Stack em high, Bihar, India.
Stack 'em high, Bihar, India.
Flat tire, Chapra, India.
Flat tire, Chapra, India.
Flat tire, Chapra, India.
Flat tire, Chapra, India.
Flat tire, Chapra, India.
Flat tire, Chapra, India.
Schoolkids in Kushinagar, India.
Schoolkids in Kushinagar, India.
The bell(e) of Kushinagar, India.
The bell(e) of Kushinagar, India.
Mahaparinirvana temple, Kushinagar…
Mahaparinirvana temple, Kushinaga…
Reclining Buddha statue in Mahapar…
Reclining Buddha statue in Mahapa…
Replicas of the buddhist sites at…
Replica's of the buddhist sites a…
Burmese Mahasukhamdasachan Thargyi…
Burmese Mahasukhamdasachan Thargy…
Ramabhar Stupa, Kushinagar, India.
Ramabhar Stupa, Kushinagar, India.
Ramabhar Stupa, Kushinagar, India.
Ramabhar Stupa, Kushinagar, India.
Kushinagar
photo by: edsander