An archaeological site, Kaushambi, around 200 km from Kanpur, is said to have been the place where Lord Buddha stayed and preached in the sixth and ninth year of his attaining enlightenment. Founded by Kushamb, a king of the Chandra dynasty, Kaushambi, according to the famous book of Buddhist literature, Aguttar Nikaya, was one of the 16 mahajanapadas (great kingdoms) of the later ancient period of Indian history. Kaushambi continued to be the capital of Vatsa state with king Udayan (460-444 BCE) as the most powerful and popular ruler.

It is said that the name of the city comes from the kosam trees that were cut down to establish the capital. The ruins of Udayan Fort are proof of the city once being a centre of learning. A few artefacts, which date back to the period of emperor Ashoka, have also been excavated here. However, folklore connects the city with the epic Mahabharata, according to which, it was deemed important enough to be selected as the new capital of the scion of the Pandavas. The city is encircled by a rampart wall and moat and has a huge mass of brickbats, indicating the density of the structures within its premises.

Kaushambi finds mention in Chinese traveller Fa Hien’s travelogues who has described it as one of the best cities of its time. Kaushambi’s archaeological site is situated between the villages of Kausham Inam and Kosam Khiraj of Manjhapur Tehsil and the district headquarters on the banks of River Yamuna. The city was also a major trade centre during the Buddhist period. General Cunningham and the officials of the archaeological department conducted excavations at this site in 1861 to find out that the boundary wall of the fort was around four miles long. A deep moat outside the fort was constructed to keep it safe and secure and also had a brick wall which apparently belonged to the Maurya and Gupta periods. A number of valuable objects including copperplates, earthen copper seals, silver and gold coins were also excavated here. Today, the city invites many for its spiritual sites besides its archaeological riches. One attraction here is the Kaleshwar Mahadev Temple, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and draws many devotees during the Shivratri festival. Digambar Jain Temple, a pilgrim hub of Jains, is also an important site.

Other Attractions in Kanpur