Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Kushinagar international airport in the presence of representatives from 12 countries.
The Sri Lankan Airlines flight carrying monks and dignitaries was the first to land at the airport.
Kushinagar and The Buddha
Among the most important of Buddhist pilgrimages, Kushinagar was where The Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana (ultimate salvation) in c. 483 BC.
Today’s Kushinagar is 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.
Kushinagar is among the very few places in India where The Buddha is depicted in reclining form.