February 14, 2016
First stop of the second day was the Parinirvana Stupa, Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh. The compound encompasses excavated remains of monastery, and Parinirvana Temple with the Parinirvana Stupa. The reclining Nirvana statue of the Buddha is inside the Parinirvana Temple. The colossal statue is made of monolith red sand stone, now covered with gold leaves. Interestingly, it is placed on a large brick-pedestal with stone-posts at the corners. Nirvana Chaitya is located just behind the Main Parinirvana Temple. After excavations in 1876 by Carlleyle it has since been blocked inside-out.
A close-by site, Matha Kuar Shrine houses a colossal Buddha statue representing Buddha seated under the Bodhi tree in Bhumisparsh mudra (earth touching gesture). Now hardly visble inscription at the base has been dated to 10th-11th century CE.
Before entering into Nepal, the last site of the day was Fazilnagar. The site has upper most layer from Islam culture with a Sufi shrine on the top. The excavated remains and the bricks found from the site tell us that the site dates back to at least 8th century CE. The spread of site is extensively large, still it has remains almost unknown to researchers on the region. One reason that can be given for it is the absence of textual references to the site. This also shows how archaeology has been shaped and misinformed/under-informed through the practice of relying heavily the textual records, especially those of Chinese travellers like Xuan Tsang and Fa Xian. After crossing the border, the student group stayed at the Korean monastery in Lumbini. There they got to experience the monastic lifestyle for three days, an adventure in itself.
Image credits: Shaashi Ahlawat
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