At the end of my two days in Lumbini (Nepal), I was ready to travel to my next destination – Kushinagar, in the Indian border State of Uttar Pradesh. Lord Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana in Kushinagar, he was cremated here and after the cremation, the sacred relics were distributed at a site close to the cremation site. Kushinanagar is a small place located about 50 km from Gorakhpur. Better start this trip from Lumbini by 9.00am which is what I did after breakfast in my hotel – Ananda Inn. To reach Kushinagar from Lumbini, one first needs to cross the Nepal – India border which is called Belahiya on the Nepal side and Sunauli (Sonouli) on the Indian side. Popularly, it is referred to as Sunauli border. To travel directly from Lumbini to Sunauli, one will need to take a taxi. There is a taxi stand near the East Gate Number 4 of the Lumbini Development Area. After some negotiation, taxi drivers agree to take passengers to Sunauli for 1200 Nepali Rupees which is a little stiff for this 30 km distance. The taxi ride to Sunauli takes up to an hour depending on the traffic on the way particularly near Bhairahawa and the condition of the road. A slightly cheaper option to travel to Sunauli will be to first take a bus from Lumbini to Bhairahawa and then from there, take a taxi or another bus to the border. Sunauli is about 4 km away from Bhairahawa.
*This trip was done by me in April 2014. But I hope this article will still be able to give a general idea of this route.
Nepal – India Border Gate at Sunauli
The taxi or bus will stop about a km short of the border gate that you see in the picture below. From that spot, one can walk or take a cycle rickshaw (man pulling man) which costs 50 Indian Rupees. The rickshaw stops at the border for the immigration formality and then goes up to the bus stand on the Indian side.
Immigration / Visa
If your passport was stamped while entering Nepal, you need to stop at the Nepal Immigration Office that you see in the above picture which is on the left side of the road while going towards the Indian border. The Indian Immigration Office is also on the left side of the road after crossing the border gate. If your passport was not stamped while entering Nepal, there is no need to visit this Nepal Immigration Office. Head straight to the border gate where Indian security personnel may question you about your nationality / purpose of visit to India / your visa status, etc. Your bags may be frisked here. Report to the Indian Immigration Office after crossing the gate if you need visa or immigration stamp. Indian / Nepali nationals can cross this border without any passport control.
Bus to Gorakhpur
The cycle rickshaw brings the visitors to the Indian (Sunauli) Bus Stand from where one can take either a government (UP State Road Transport) or a private bus. A government (UPSRT) bus is always preferable. My cycle rickshaw puller tried his best to convince me to take a private bus by using every trick in his book. Actually, the private bus takes four hours to get to Gorakhpur whereas the government bus will get you there in just two. So, even if you need to wait a little for the government bus, make sure not to take the private bus. See the government bus stand in the above picture. The buses are not air-conditioned, and sometimes old but still people consider themselves lucky when they get a seat in them. The bus that I got was OK and cost just 92 Indian Rupees from Sunauli to Goarakhpur. I just had to wait for 30 minutes for the bus to start.
Bus from Gorakhpur to Kushinagar
Gorakhpur Bus Stand is a chaotic place and it is best to spend as little time there as possible. After getting there, ask any driver or conductor of a bus that you see around and they will tell you which bus will go to Kushinagar. These buses go further from Kushinagar but will drop you at the Kushinagar gate. There was a very old bus ready to go towards Kushinagar when I reached Gorakhpur Bus Stand in the afternoon. This 50 km ride cost me 51 Indian Rupees. This again better be a government bus if you want to reach Kushinagar in an hour or so. This is a nice road but the condition of the bus will decide if the journey will take one hour or 90 minutes.
Tell the bus conductor to inform you when the bus reaches Kushinagar gate. Only a few passengers get down at this stop and if you are not alert, the stop may get missed. No bus goes inside this gate. One needs to walk about 500 meters from this gate to reach the nearest hotel or monastery in Kushinagar.