The much-anticipated Kushinagar airport was inaugurated today, October 20, by PM Narendra Modi. Along with him, Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath and Civil Aviation Minister, Jyotiraditya Scindia were also present at the event. This airport has a runway measuring around 3.2 kilometres, making it the longest in the state. Kushinagar holds a lot of significance in history. Just over 50 km from Gorakhpur, It is considered as one of the four sacred places in Buddhism. The government believes that the airport will put the pi town on the global map and connect it with all the other Buddhist pilgrimage places around the world.
Kushinagar is an important place in the Buddhist religion. It was here where Gautam Buddha delivered his very last sermon and attained Mahaparinirvana in 483 BC. After his death, he was cremated in the town that makes this town one of the holy places that is visited by Buddhists from all over the world. The town is also known for the 'Mahaparinirvana Stupa' where a reclining statue of Buddha is established and positioned right above the place he was put to rest.
Image Credits: Wikipedia
According to Wikipedia, Gautam Buddha had travelled to Kushinagar where he eventually passed away. Ashoka built a stupa as well as a pilgrimage site to mark his path to salvation. The rulers of the Gupta Empire built a temple with the reclining Buddha, that is present even today. It is 6.10 metres long and is carved out of monolith red sandstone. It represents the 'Dying Buddha' with him facing west-ward.
Negligent Buddhist Population
The town has an important place in Buddhist history, considering it is the place where he was put to rest. However, the number of Buddhists in the district is next to nothing. As reported by the Indian Express, the Buddhist population 0.12% of the total, compared to the number of Hindus and Muslims living in the district. Compared to this, districts such as Jaunpur, Kheri, Hardoi, Pratapgarh, Mainpuri, Sultanpur, Basti, Maharajganj, Siddharthanagar, and Azamgarh have more Buddhists in their cities.
Kushinagar is also one of the poorest districts of the state. Therefore, this airport aims to not only boost tourism, connect other Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the world, but will also provide employment opportunities to those in need that can bring about much-needed propserity.
From November 26, the first flight from Delhi to Kushinagar will take off. Jyotiraditya Scindia also announced that flights connecting the town with Mumbai and Kolkata will also be inaugurated soon. The airport will handle about eight flights every hour and its capacity is said to be 300 passengers per hour.