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Current Affairs

Kushinagar

Date: 22 October 2021 Tags: Religions

Issue

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated the Kushinagar International Airport in Uttar Pradesh.

 

Background

The inauguration ceremony was attended by representatives from 12 countries including a special delegation from Sri Lanka.

 

Details

Kushinagar Airport is located in Purvanchal area of Uttar Pradesh and will be the third international airport of the state.

 

Historical importance

  • Kushinagar is the place where Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana (ultimate salvation) in c. 483 BC. It is one of the major pilgrimage centers of Buddhism in the world.

  • Kushinagar is identified with Kushinara city of ancient Malla republic. It was one of the 16 mahajanapadas of ancient India.

  • The area has been part of many kingdoms including Mauryas, Shungas, Kushanas, Guptas, Harshavardhana, and the Palas.

 

Excavations

Alexander Cunningham and ACL Carlleyle were the first ones to excavate Kushinagar. They found out the statue of the Reclining Buddha in 1876.

 

Buddhist tourism

  • The Buddhist tourism circuit involves various sites from India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Eventhough India hosts major sites associated with Buddha, it gets less than 1 percent Buddhist pilgrims in the world.

  • The tourism circuit passes through Bodh Gaya, Vaishali, and Rajgir in Bihar, Kushinagar, Sarnath, and Shravasti in UP, and Lumbini in Nepal.

 

Diplomacy

  • Buddhism is a part of India’s cultural diplomacy. The country loses on potential soft power and influence due to non-development of Buddhist places.

  • The better creation of facilities will attract Buddhist tourists to India, and boost revenues and employment generation.

 

Significance

The aim of developing infrastructure is to strengthen India’s position as the original centre of Buddhism, against the claims from China.