Rising high out of the earth from where the dying Buddha donated his begging bowl, the enormous Kesariya Stupa is an enthralling example of how nature can reclaim a deserted monument. Excavated from under a grassy and wooded veil is what is thought to be the world’s tallest (38m) Buddhist stupa dating from the Pala period (200–750 AD).
Above the 425m-circumference pedestal are five uniquely shaped terraces that form a gargantuan Buddhist tantric mandala. Each terrace has a number of niches containing disfigured Buddha statues, which were destroyed during attacks by foreign invaders in the Middle Ages. The rural setting is a joy, but there is nothing else to see here apart from the stupa and you are not allowed to climb it.
Buses from Patna can drop you by the stupa, which is visible from the main road. The last bus back swings by at around 3.30pm. Buses from Motihari will drop you at the main crossroads in the village of Kesariya, where there are roadside dhabas (casual eateries, serving snacks and basic meals) that you could have lunch in, leaving you with a 2km walk.