The stupa is said to be the tallest and the largest Buddhist stupa in the world.
Kesariya Stupa is a Buddhist stupa in Kesariya, located at a distance of 110 kilometers from Patna, in the East Champaran district of Bihar, India. The first construction of the Stupa is dated to the 3rd century BCE. Kesariya Stupa has a circumference of almost 400 feet and raises to a height of about 104 feet. The stupa is said to be the tallest and the largest Buddhist stupa in the world and is one ft taller than the famous Borobodur stupa in Java. It was discovered in 1998 through excavation by the Archaeological Survey of India. The site's exploration reportedly started in the early 19th century, from its discovery led by Colonel Mackenzie in 1814 to General Cunningham's proper excavation in 1861–62. An excavation was conducted by archaeologist KK Muhammed of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in 1998.
The original Kesariya stupa probably dates to the time of Ashoka (circa 250 BCE), as the remains of a capital of a Pillar of Ashoka were discovered there. The stupa mound may even have been inaugurated during the Buddha's time, as it corresponds in many respects to the description of the stupa erected by the Licchavis of Vaishali to house the alms bowl the Buddha has given them.
Two great foreign travelers, Faxian (Fahien) and Xuan Zang (Hsuan Tsang), had visited this place in ancient times and have left interesting and informative accounts of their travels. They have written at length about Kesaria’s unique geographical location, cultural vibrancy, and ancient heritage. Lord Buddha, during his journey from Vaishali to Kushinagar, had spent a night at Kesariya where he reportedly made some historical revelations. These were later recorded in a Buddhist Jataka story.
In ancient times, Kesaria was under the rule of the Mauryas and the Licchavis.
The discovery of gold coins bearing the seal of the famous emperor Kanishka of the Kushan dynasty goes on to further establish the ancient heritage of Kesaria.
Recent excavations clearly show the huge Stupa to have a polygonal base of at least 6 floors with re-entrant angles. The top of the Polygonal brick floors is capped by a solid brick tower, which was originally 80 to 90 feet high.
According to Faxian, Lord Buddha had announced his impending death or Nirvana just before leaving Vaishali for Kesaria. The overwhelmed Licchavis accompanied Lord Buddha up to Kesaria and did not want to leave him. Lord Buddha then created a large pond them and, donating his alms – bowl to the Licchavis at Deora, bade them goodbye. In the memory of Lord Buddha, the Licchavis erected a pillar and a grandiose Stupa at this spot.
The current 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.
The ASI has declared the stupa a protected monument of national importance