Kesariya Stupa

The Kesariya stupa has recently caught the limelight after being waterlogged following extreme floods in the East Champaran district of Bihar. Previously, the Archaeological Survey of India has declared the Kesariya Buddha Stupa as a protected monument that holds national importance.

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Everything You Need To Know About Kesariya Stupa

The Kesariya Stupa (also spelled as Kesaria) has located in a prime area almost 110 km from the State capital of Bihar, Patna. The Stupa has a circumference of about 400 feet and reaches a height of 104 feet. Several tourists from Buddhist countries turn into travellers and visit the site, which is considered the largest Buddhist Stupa in the world.

The stupa is also known as Devalaya, which translates into ‘house of gods’ among the locals. According to Kesariya Stupa history, it is believed the Buddha himself stayed at this spot before his relocation to Kushinagar. Historical beliefs also follow that Buddha told his disciples at this spot that he will soon be achieving Nirvana.

The ASI has declared that the Stupa is a protected monument that holds national importance. The recent waterlogging at and near the Stupa has severely affected tourism, and it is being feared that the Stupa may suffer damages due to the same.

History Of Kesariya Stupa

The very first construction of the Kesariya Stupa can be traced back to the 3rd century BC. It is believed that the original Kesariya Stupa dates back to the time of Ashoka since a pillar of Ashoka from the remains of the ancient city was found at the site.

The current Stupa is believed to date back to the Gupta Dynasty, constructed between 200 AD and 750 AD. Some historians also believe that the Stupa could have been associated with Ruler Raja Chakravarti from the 4th century.

According to popular opinion, it is also possible that the Stupa may have been inaugurated at the time of Buddha. Kesariya was under the rule of the Mauryas and Licchavis during ancient times. The informative accounts of two renowned foreign travellers, Faxian and Xuan Zang, have also helped to understand the history of the Stupa, based on their accounts after they travelled to this place. Furthermore, several gold coins were also discovered at this site later.

They bore the seal of the popular king Kanishka, belonging to the Kushan dynasty between 30 AD to 375 AD. The discovery has also helped to establish the heritage of Kesaria.

The exploration of the Stupa started in the 19th century after its discovery which Colonel Mackenzie led in the year 1814. Later, General Cunningham excavated the Stupa between 1861 to 1862, and then again, an ASI team excavated the site in 1998.

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Significance Of Stupas In Buddhism

The construction of Stupas is a famous practice in Monastic establishments, which is a regular part of Buddhist traditions. It is also common to spot stone pillars, sculptures of monumental figures, and rock-cut caves at several places.

The construction of Stupas over relics of Buddha is mentioned in textual traditions, which mention the construction of Stupas at other prominent places, including Avanti and Gandhara. A classic example of the Stupa structure is in Bairat from the third century BC. The grand stupa has a circular mound and a circumambulatory path. Another great Stupa at Sanchi was built during the time of king Ashoka with the help of bricks.

As per ancient beliefs, several narratives from Buddha’s life used to become a Buddhist tradition. This led to the adoption of several events from the life of Buddha into the Jakarta stories and was depicted on torans and railings of these stupas. Some of the prominent events which were depicted from Buddha’s life include birth, enlightenment, renunciation, and mahaparinibbana.

Conclusion

The Archeological Survey of India is the prime organization that promotes research and protection of the cultural heritage of India. The ASI operates as an attached office under the Department of Culture.

Among the department’s main functions are the maintenance of ancient monuments such as the Kesariya Stupa and regulating all related archaeological activities. The Archeological Survey of India is divided into 24 different circles to ensure proper maintenance of ancient monuments, sites, and archaeological remains, which are of national importance.

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