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World’s Tallest Buddhist Stupa: Kesaria Stupa

Recently the CM of Jharkhand declared in a function that the World’s tallest stupa will be built at Itkhori in Jharkhand. In this concern it is important to know about the tallest Buddhist stupa of the world.

As per the records, the 104-foot Buddhist stupa built by king Asoka (subject to further research) at Kesaria in East Champaran of Bihar is presently considered to be the world’s largest Buddhist Stupa.

Kesariya Stupa is a Buddhist stupa in Kesariya, located at a distance of 110 kilometres (68 mi) from Patna, in the Champaran (east) district of Bihar, India. Kesaria Stupa has a circumference of almost 1,400 feet (430 m) and raises to a height of about 104 feet (32 m).

The stupa was discovered in 1958 during an excavation led by archaeologist KK Muhammed of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The stupa dates to the Gupta Dynasty between 200 AD and 750 AD, and may have been associated with the 4th century ruler Raja Chakravarti. The local people call this stupa “Devala”, meaning “house of god”. Before the excavation of this, they believed that inside it there is a temple of Shiva built by King Bhema.

Faxian (or Fah sien), a 5th century A.D Chinese Buddhist monk, in his travels, mentioned a stupa which was built over Buddha’s alms bowl by Licchavis of Vaishali. It is now believed the stupa that was referred to in none other than Kesariya stupa. Another important Buddhist monk, Hsuan-tsang, also mentioned the stupa in his travels, but gave no details. According to historians, Buddha himself is supposed to have stayed at this site, before he moved to Kushinagar. It is also believed that it was at this spot that he foretold his disciples that the time of his passing was near, and he would soon achieve nirvana. This is also the place where Buddha presented arguably his most revered discourse of Kalama Sutta, which revolves around the acceptance of his teachings only after observation, reflection and careful scrutiny.

The ASI has declared the stupa a protected monument of national importance. But despite being a popular tourist attraction, Kesariya is yet to be developed and a large part of the stupa still remained under vegetation.

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