The Ramabhar Stupa in Kushinagar is built at the site of Lord Buddha’s cremation. This is about a kilometer away from the Mahaparinirvana Temple on the Kushinagar-Deoria Road. Actually, every place to see or visit in Kushinagar is on this road with the Ramabhar Stupa being the last and the farthest one. The road is not busy at all and its a nice walk up to the Stupa. Now the name of this Stupa is not really supposed to be Ramabhar Stupa. Ramabhar is the name of a pond next to the Stupa. Someone perhaps tried to dissociate this place from Buddhism by starting an annual Hindu festival here in the name of Goddess Bhavani. The period when this Hindu festival started is not really known but the Stupa sure got named after the pond. This place perhaps should be called Mukutbandhan-Chaitya because according to the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, Lord Buddha’s cremation rites were carried out here, at Mukutbandhan-Chaitya, by his senior disciple Mahakashyap. Keep reading…
The discovery of the Ramabhar Stupa as being Lord Buddha’s cremation site is credited to General Alexander Cunningham in the 18th century. According to the results of the excavation done by him and considering the accounts of the Chinese travelers who had visited Kushinagar in the olden times, General Cunningham opined that this actually was Lord Buddha’s cremation ground. The Chinese traveler Hsuan Tsang had stated that Samrat Ashoka got a Stupa constructed here at the site of Lord Buddha’s cremation. There are historical accounts that establish Samrat Ashoka’s visit to Kushinagar but whether he got the Stupa constructed is not really established. The Stupa is almost double in size as compared to the nearby Mahaparinirvana Stupa. After General Cunningham, there have been a few more attempts at excavation here but nothing of historical value was discovered.
There are a few small Stupas constructed by devotees around the main Stupa and the excavated remains of a few other structures too.
Meditation at Mukutbandhan-Chiatya
Buddhist monks can be seen meditating here. There is a story of a Chinese monk, U. Surya, who came to this place in 1923 and decided to stay here for good. He used to live an a tree near the Stupa and came to be known as “Chinese Baba”. He even got a small hut and a Buddha temple constructed on the other side of the road. U. Surya died in 1971.
The Ramabhar (Mukutbandhan-Chiatya) Stupa has now been developed in to a small park by the Archaeological Survey of India and is the greenest of all Buddhist sites in Kushinagar. Entry to the Stupa is allowed daily from sunrise to sunset. There is no entry fee.