Kushinagar becomes Uttar Pradesh’s 3rd international airport

Famous as the Buddha’s final resting place, Kushinagar in eastern Uttar Pradesh receives scores of pilgrims every year. And after a surprise announcement yesterday, tourist footfall is bound to increase. 

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The DGCA has granted an aerodrome licence to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to run passenger flights from Kushinagar on domestic and international routes. This makes Kushinagar the third international airport in Uttar Pradesh after Lucknow and Varanasi

Landscape view of Kushinagar International Airport terminal with construction works in front of it

Credit: Airports Authority of India

Built over 590 acres, Kushinagar International Airport has been allowed to schedule commercial flights only for day operations. “The airport is licensed for operating B737-900 type or equivalent aircraft,” said the AAI, adding that the apron can accommodate four of these aircrafts at a time. 

The airport currently has a single 3.2 kilometre-long runway. 

Parinirvana Stupa: where the Buddha uttered his last words

This Buddhist stupa and temple in Kushinagar is an international pilgrimage site maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India, and a major crowd-puller. Visitors come here as part of a larger Buddhist circuit that includes Lumbini (the Buddha’s birthplace), Bodh Gaya (site of enlightenment) and Sarnath (site of the first sermon), and to glimpse the statue of the Reclining Buddha, which rests atop a stone platform inside the temple. 

Closeup of the head of the statue of the Reclining Buddha in Kushinagar, with an orange cloth pulled up to its chin

The Buddha is said to have ordained his last disciple here before attaining ‘Mahaparinirvana’ in the 5th century BCE. Nirvana is the final goal of every practising Buddhist monk—a state of spiritual release from the cycles of death and rebirth.

Also Read | Tripura gets Northeast India’s 3rd international airport

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