Kesariya Stupa: Tallest Lighthouse of Enlightenment
India is the birthplace of one of the major religions of the world. Especially the state of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have many important pilgrimage sites which are very important to Buddhist people around the world. Today, we are visiting one of such important pilgrimage sites in the state of Bihar. World’s tallest stupa, Kesariya Stupa.
On his last journey, Lord Buddha, spent the night at the mound of Kesariya. Here he made a few announcements. He also said that in his last births he ruled as Raja Chakravarti. Later, people weaved stories around these announcements. We can find these stories in Jataka Tales.
At this place, people believe that Lord Buddha gave alms bowls to Licchavis of Vaishali. Later, he guided Licchavis to go back to Vaishali and spread the word of the Enlightened there. Licchavis built the first stupa at Kesariya before Buddha attained Nirvana. It was also known to people as “Raja Ben ka Deora”. People used to know it as ‘Raja Ben ka Deora’.
This stupa has a connection with Ashoka. The Archeological Survey of India discovered the remains of the capital of Ashoka’s Pillar. The stupa which we can see today is dates back to the Gupta Dynasty between 200 CE and 750 CE. Both of the famous Chinese Travellers, Fa Hien and Hiuen Tsang, visited Kesariya and recorded their experiences in their diaries.
Rediscovering the Kesariya Stupa:
First exploration of this protected monument of national importance dates back to 1814. Colonel Mackenzie led that exploration. Later in 1861–62 General Cunningham conducted the first proper excavation. Most recently, A.S.I. conducted the excavation under leadership of archeologist K K Muhammad in 1998.
Today Kesariya Stupa is spread with a circumference of about 400 feet. It is the tallest Stupa with a height of 104 feet. This makes Kesariya Stupa the world’s tallest Stupa. The World Heritage site of Sanchi Stupa is just 77.5 feet. However, before the 1934 earthquake of Bihar, A.S.I. reports tell the height of the Stupa to be 123 feet and during flourishing times of Buddhism, Stupa was 150 feet tall.
This brings to the I am participating in A2Z challenge with Blogchatter and this is my take on ‘K‘ challenge. “K is for the Kesariya Stupa, Kesariya, Bihar”. You can find my other posts from this challenge here.