Kesariya – The Largest Buddhist Stupa

Kesariya is a small city situated in the East Champaran district of Bihar, India. It is renowned for being the site of the biggest stupa of India, built by King Ashoka. Kesariya was called Kesaputta during the time of Buddha. Kesariya region is well known for its rich Buddhist architecture heritage of ancient times. Discovered in 1998, the stupa is believed to date back to somewhere between 200 AD and 750 AD Budha preached the Kesaputtiya Suttas (a group of suttas preached to the Kalamas of Kesaputta), amongst which is the famous Kalama Sutta. The Buddha once stayed there which was a township of the Kosalans and the residence of the Kalamas.

The Buddhist Stupa in Kesariya is the tallest and the largest in the world, following its discovery in 1998 through excavation by the East Champaran district(ASI). Rising to a height of 104 feet and a circumference of almost 1400 ft, what remains is much reduced from its reported original height. Yet, it is still one foot taller than the famous Borobodur Stupa in Java. The Stupa is located in Kasariya, 120 km from Patna, the capital of Bihar Before the 1934 earthquake in Bihar the Sthupa was  123 feet tall, According to the A.S.I. report, the Kesariya Stupa was 150 feet tall Originally, 12 feet taller than the Borobodur stupa, which is 138 feet, but at present Kesariya Stupa is 104 feet and Borobodur Stupa is 103 feet. Interestingly,  Legend says that Lord Buddha Buddha had spent the last days of his journey, before attaining Nirvana.

It is believed that Budha handed over his begging bowl to the Lichhivis, people of Vaishali, and requested them to go back to Vaishali, after his death. and the Lichhivis have built this stupa to honor the place where Lord Budha spend his last days. This was only a mud stupa in earlier days it has gained its present structure in the Maurya, Sunga, and Kushana periods., The area around the stupa was found to house significant items, like copper and terracotta items, Islamic coins, arrowheads, earthen lamps, decorated bricks, etc In 1998 excavation. A number of images of Lord Buddha, in ‘Bhoomi Sparsh Mudra’ and other sitting postures were also found in Kesariya.

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