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What is the News?
The Prime Minister will be visiting Uttar Pradesh to inaugurate the Kushinagar international airport.
What is the historical significance of Kushinagar?
Kushinagar is an International Buddhist Pilgrimage Centre where Buddhists believe Gautama Buddha delivered his last sermon and attained ‘Mahaparinirvana’ or salvation.
Kushinagar is also identified with Kushinara, capital of the ancient Malla republic which was one of the 16 Mahajanapadas of the 6th-4th centuries BC.
The area went on to be part of the kingdoms of the Mauryas, Shungas, Kushanas, Guptas, Harshavardhana, and the Palas. Kushinara is believed to have been inhabited until at least the 12th century.
The first excavations in Kushinagar were carried out by Alexander Cunningham and ACL Carlleyle who unearthed the main stupa and the 6-metre-long statue of the Reclining Buddha in 1876.
The other significances of Kushinagar
Kushinagar is also the centre of the Buddhist circuit which consists of pilgrimage sites at Lumbini, Sarnath and Gaya. Further, Kushinagar is also among the very few places in India where The Buddha is depicted in reclining form.
The prime tourist attractions in Kushinagar includes the ancient Mahaparinirvana Temple- one of the most sacred shrines for Buddhists, Rambhar Stupa, Kushinagar Museum, Sun Temple, Nirvana Stupa, Matha Kuar Shrine, Wat Thai Temple, Chinese Temple, Japanese Temple.
Hence, the airport is expected to help in attracting more followers of Buddhism from home and abroad to Kushinagar.
What are the other significant events associated with the inauguration ceremony?
Sri Lanka Sports Minister will be attending the event along with a group of 100 Buddhist monks.
During the event, Sri Lanka will present to India two murals painted by renowned Sri Lankan artist Solias Mendis at the Kelaniya Rajamaha Vihara, a popular Buddhist temple near Colombo.
One of the murals depicts ‘Arahat Bhikkhu’ which depicts Mahinda, son of Emperor Ashoka delivering the message of the Buddha to King Devanampiyatissa of Sri Lanka.
The other shows the arrival of ‘Theri Bhikkhuni’ Sanghamitta, the daughter of the Emperor, in Sri Lanka, bearing a sapling of the ‘sacred Bodhi tree’ under which Siddhārtha Gautama is believed to have attained enlightenment.
What is the Buddhist Circuit?
Buddhist Circuit is one of the fifteen thematic circuits identified for development under the Swadesh Darshan – Integrated Development of Theme-Based Tourism Circuits Scheme of the Ministry of Tourism.
All sites in the country related to Buddhism are covered under the Buddhist Circuit for development.
Source: This post is based on the article “Kushinagar connect to Sri Lanka” published in The Hindu on 19th October 2021.