On October 20th, 2021, the new international airport at Kushinagar in Eastern Uttar Pradesh was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
This is the 29th international airport of the country built at a cost of around Rs. 260 crore by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and will soon begin operations.
The airport is located in Kushinagar, hence the name, that is around 50km east of Gorakhpur and set in the north-eastern district of UP.
The airport among many things has one of the longest runways in all of UP around 3.2 km long and overall lies over 589 acres of long.
According to reports it can handle around 300 passengers during peak time and is said to improve connectivity and lower flying costs to many places from India along with helping the economy of the region.
Apparently, the airport will allow better air connectivity to several South Asian countries and tourists from Sri Lanka, Japan, China, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea and Vietnam will be able to visit places like Sarnath, Shravasti, Bodh Gaya, Lumbini, Vaishali, Rajgir, Kesariya and Sankisa in much shorter time as compared to before.
There is another reason why this airport is so important especially to Buddhists. The airport essentially lies in the hub of the Buddhist circuit in India, connecting several sites very important to Buddhist pilgrims.
Why Is The Airport Important To Buddhists?
As per reports, a delegation of 125 people including 110 Buddhist monks along with the President of Sri Lanka Gotabaya Rajapaksa were flown in for the inauguration ceremony.
Dr. Dhammapiya, secretary-general of International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) was quoted by Outlook saying “It was a long pending demand that we built an airport at Kushinagar as it is one of the most important landmarks for followers of Shakyamuni Buddha. India has four main Buddist pilgrimage locations and Kushinagar is an important one. The others being Bodh Gaya, Sravasti and Sarnath. The fifth important location for Buddhist pilgrimage Lumbini is located in Nepal and it is close to Kushinagar.”
Kushinagar in particular is a very important site for Buddhists since it here that The Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana in 483 BC as per claims. Mahaparinirvana means nirvana after death in Buddhism and is refered to a person if they achieve nirvana during their life cycle.
It is also reportedly said that Buddha was cremated in Kushinagar and even as per archaeological evidence is it assumed that Buddha died somewhere close to the region only.
Kushinagar also hosts the Ramabhar Stupa, the cremation place of Buddha, a large dome shaped group of red bricks. It is also just 1.5km east from the main Nirvana Temple located on the Kushinagar-Deoria road.
Along with all this there is also the 6.10 metre long reclining Nirvana statue of Buddha in the Parinirvana Stupa made out of monolith red sandstone. The statue is representative of the ‘Dying Buddha’ with him seen reclining on his right side and facing the west.
The region is also the place of the Matha Kuar Shrine said to be the place where Buddha gave his last and final sermon. The shrine has a blue stone statue of Buddha around 10 feet tall that is said to be constructed somewhere in the 10th century AD.
This is certainly a very important region for Buddhists and an airport here also means a lot to them.
Image Credits: Google Images
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