Kushinagar, is in east of Uttar Pradesh, is known for its cultural heritage all over the world. It is one of the four holiest places for the Buddhists. At Kushinagar, Great Lord Buddha, founder of Buddhism, delivered his last sermon. It is an International Buddhist Pilgrimage Centre. The followers of the Buddhism, especially from Asian Countries, wish to visit this place at least once in their lifetime.
The present Kushinagar is identified with Kushawati (in pre- Buddha period) and Kushinara (in Buddha period). Kushinara was the capital of Mallas which was one of the 16 mahajanpads of the 6th Century BC.
According to the Valmiki's Ramayana, the Mallas was earlier part of Kosala Janpad. Kushwati capital was built by Kush, son of Lord Rama, the hero of the famous epic, 'The Ramayan'. After Ram's renunciation of the world Kusa left Kusavati for Ayodhya. His cousin, Chandraketu, son of Lakshman took possession of this region. As per Buddha Pali literature, Kushawati was named prior to the king Kush. The naming of Kushwati was due to abundance of Kush grass found in this region which still holds good. Since then, it remained an integral part of the erstwhile empires of Maurya, Shunga, Kushana, Gupta and Harsha dynasties.
In medieval period, Kushinagar had passed under the suzerainty of Kultury kings. Kushinara continued to be a living city till the 12thCentury AD and was thereafter lost into oblivion. Padrauna is believed to be ruled over by a Rajput adventurer, Madan Singh in the 15thcentury AD.
However, modern Kushinagar came into prominence in the 19th Century with archeological excavations carried out by A.Cuningham, the first Archeological Surveyor of India and later Nirvana Statue of Lord Buddha followed by C.L. Carlyle who exposed the main stupa and also discovered a 6.10 meters long statue of reclining Buddha, in 1876 AD Ven. Chandra Swami, a Burmeses Monk, came to India in 1903 and made "Mahaparinirvana Temple" into a living shrine.
After independence, Kushinagar remained the part of district Deoria. On 13th May 1994, it came into being as a new district of Uttar Pradesh, for an all-round balanced and speedy development.
Kushinagar has its own cultural and historical importance.
It belongs to the Great Lord Buddha, founder of Buddhism, who delivered his last sermon, attained "Mahaparinirvana" and was cremated at Ramabhar (Kushinagar). Buddha's cremation was done at "Mukut Bandhan" (Ramabhar), where 'Mallas' constructed a big stupa over the ashes. Later Ashoka the great had also renovated it. Chinese travellers, Fa Hien & Hieun Tsang have also mentioned "Kushinara" in their Travel-Memo.
It is also associated with Lord Mahavir, 24th Tirthankar of Jain Sect, and founder of Jainism. It is believed that Lord Mahavir passed away or attained Parinirvana at Pawa. As per Pali Tripitak, Pawa was the second capital of the Mallas, the first being Kushinara. Pawa is now being identified with present day 'Fazilnagar', a place 16 kms south-east of Kushinagar.
Kushinagar had been witness to the glorious ancient history and culture. It is believed to be an important centre for Vaishnav, Shiv, Shaktipeeth, Buddha, Mahavir etc. Situated on the bank of river Gandak and nearer to the Terai of the Himalayas, this region was an ideal 'Meditation Place' for sages, saints hermits and Mahatamas who were attracted by its pious,tranquil and charming natural surroundings. Archeological excavation has yielded rich collection of antiquities, artistic artifacts and statues of various gods and goddesses.
The significance of this region is also due to being 'Link-route' of ancient highways. Among them were important highways Ayodhya-Janakpur (Bihar), Rajgrih-Vaishali-Shrawasti, Maharshi Valmiki's Ashram, Ashoka, the great, Mauryas, Pillars routes, passing through this district.
Kushinagar, latitude at 53 kms east from Gorakhpur on the National Highway -28, lies between lattitude 26° 45´ N and 83° 24´ E.
The district head-quarter is Padrauna, 71 kms from Gorakhpur and 336 kms from Lucknow. It is a terai area, covering the geographical area of 2873.5 sq.km.
It is bounded by Mahrajganj , Gorakhpur , Deoria districts and Bihar State in east .
Air strip of U.P. Civil Aviation is available in Kasaya, 5 km from Kushinagar. Also, Air Force Station Aerodrome is 46 km from Kushinagar where landing and taking-off facilities are allowed with due permission of the Air Force.
Kushinagar is well connected with motorable roads and has regular bus-services. Frequent road-transport is available from Gorakhpur (51 km) as well as from Deoria (35 km).
Padrauna, district head-quarter, is linked with nearest railway stations for reaching Kushinagar is Gorakhpur (51 km) and Deoria (35 km). Gorakhpur is well connected with all major cities of India.