At the age of eighty, after preaching the Dharma for 45 years, the Buddha passed into Parinibbana at Kushinagar.
The Buddhist sites are spread out along a 2 or 3 kilometer long road. The main site is the Mahaparinirvana Temple and the adjacent Nirvana Stupa. The original stupa dates from around the 3rd Century and was restored in 1927. The Mahaparinirvana Temple, sharing the same platform as the stupa, was reconstructed in 1956 and is modeled after the rib-vaulted viharas, or resting places, built by the monks for their rainy season retreats during the time of the Buddha.
Inside the temple is one of the world's most famous images of the Buddha, the Nirvana statue of the dying Buddha reclining on his right side. This 6.1 meter sandstone statue dates from the 5th Century. Pilgrims have covered it in gold leaf and a silk shroud covers the body. There are three small carvings on the plinth on which the image rests. One is of a distraught woman, the centre one of a meditating monk and the right one of a monk with his head resting on his right hand overcome by grief. This is one of the very few statues of the Buddha's Nirvana ever found in northern India. It is a powerful image.
The stupa and shrine are in a pleasant park and there are some monastery ruins surrounding the structures. There is also a large bell donated by the Tibetans for visitors to ring out the Dharma.
About 200 meters from the park, is the Mathakuar Shrine which marks the spot local believe to be the spot where the Buddha died. The small temple was built by Burmese pilgrims in 1927 and houses a 3-metre seated image from the 5th Century.
There are a number of foreign temples along the main road to the Ramabhar Stupa. This stupa dates from around the 5th Century and is where local legend has it that the Buddha was cremated. However, there is no archeological evidence of this although there is evidence (pieces of charcoal and blackened earth) that the Nirvana Stupa is where the cremation took place.