Gachchhami Parikrama: UP government plans 15 km trail along Buddha’s final odyssey



By NewsGram Staff Writer

The department of state tourism in Uttar Pradesh has proposed to develop a 15 km trail, known as Gachchhami Parikrama, which would track Gautam Buddha’s last journey from Pawanagar to Kushinagar. This would provide Buddhist followers an opportunity to visit all the places mentioned in the ‘Mahaparinirvanasutta,’ an account of Gautam Buddha’s journey from Vaishali to Kushinara.

Lord Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana (salvation) in 487 BC on a bed of leaves under the Sal tree in Kushinagar.  According to the scriptures, he started his journey from Vaishali where he announced that it was his final odyssey. Before leaving for Kushinagar, he left his ‘Bhiksha-Patra’ in the city of Vaishali.

On his way, he once halted at Pawanagar, currently known as Fazilnagar. It is believed that Pawanagar is the place where he consumed a meal comprising of meat, after which he was attacked by a severe sickness with bloody diarrhea and sharp and deadly pain. Still, the Enlightened One kept on moving further and crossed a river called Kukutha to reach his final destination Kushinara.

Kushinagar is a revered place in Buddhist scriptures. However, it had remained neglected over a long period of time, until in the 19th century when a few British archaeologists discovered the Mahaparinirvana Temple after snipping the dense foliage around the place.

The Mahiparinirvana Temple is known for its peaceful atmosphere and the excavated statue of Buddha lying in the Parinirvana posture with his head turned to the right and feet swollen from the long travel. The 5th century AD statue was originally made of sandstone, but has turned golden over the years due to the gold foil offered by the devotees.

This proposal to initiate a walk from Pawanagar to Kushinagar would enhance the tourism of the state. The walk is supposed to be based on the lines of the famous walk of Galicia, Spain, which leads to Santiago de Compostela, home for the famous pilgrimage route to St. James.

The officials associated with the project have reported that the World Bank is aiding the project technically and financially. Amrit Abhijhat, Director General of UP Tourism told an English newspaper, “The path is highly significant for Buddha’s devotees especially the ones who come from abroad. More than eight lakh tourists visit Kushinagar every year including 10 per cent foreigners.” He informed that the tourist infrastructure would be raised in all along the route, which will create job opportunities for the locals.