History Of Kushinagar



The present day Kushinagar is believed to be Kushawati of pre-Buddha era. It was one of the 16 Mahajanapadas or Mega Provinces of ancient India and capital of Mallas. Kushawati was named after the Kusha grass that was found in abundance in this region. Kush grass continues to be found in great abundance in Kushinagar to this date. Kushinagar witnessed many invasions and upheavals and the kingdom passed many hands in the course of history. It formed part of the empires of Maurya, Shunga, Kushana, Gupta and Harsha dynasties. During the medieval Kushinagar became the suzerainty of Kultury Kings in the 12th century. Thereafter, Padrauna is believed to have been ruled by a Rajput King, Madan Singh in the century. The history of Kushinagar drifts into obscurity thereafter till fresh interest in Kushinagar emerged as a result of writings of D. Listen, Dr Francis Buchanan followed by excavations of the site by Alexander Cunnigham in 1861-62; A.C.L Carlleyle in 1876-77; J. Ph. Vogel from1904 to 1907; and, Hiranand Shastri from 1910 to 1912.


Interest in Kushinagar was rekindled by a note on Matha Kuar Kot by D. Liston that appeared in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1837. Thereafter, a brief description of the archaeological remains of Kushinagar appeared in a book called 'Eastern India' by Dr Francis Buchanan which was published in 1854. H. H. Wilson too made a vague suggestion towards the identity of Kushinagar.


Excavations at Kushinagar have yielded many objects of archeological interest that are held sacred by Buddhists. The first systematic archaeological survey of Matha Kuar Kot and Ramabhar Tila was carried out by Sir Alexander Cunningham during 1861-62. This was followed by excavations by A.C.L Carlleyle in 1876-77. Further excavations continued under J. Ph. Vogel from1904 to 1907 and Hiranand Shastri from 1910 to 1912. These excavations revealed several brick structures, stupas, sculptures, monasteries, votive shrines and many other Buddhist archeological finds. These archaeological finds have not only been instrumental in identifying the ruins of Kushinagar with the ancient city where Buddha breathed his last but also helped historians to piece together the history of Kushinagar.