Lumbini is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in Rupandehi district of Nepal located 302 km southwest of Kathmandu. It is situated in the foothills of the Siwalik range at 150 m just 22 km west of Bhairahawa Airport and 25 km north of India (Sunauli). Prince Siddhartha Gautama, who later became the Lord Buddha, was born in Lumbini Garden on the full moon day of May in 623 BCE. Lumbini Garden is a sacred site in the world for peace and compassion lovers.
The Maya Devi, Queen of Sakya King Suddhodana, on the way to Devdaha (father’s home), was passing through the garden. She took a bath in the Puskarini (Pond), felt labor pain, took a support of the Sal tree (debatable), and gave the birth of Prince Siddhartha. It believed the infant walked seven steps where was lotus bloomed later. Lumbini Development Trust established in 1985 for a management and development. Lumbini enlisted heritage site in 1997 by the UNESCO.
An excavation by Keshar SJB Rana in 1930 found a Marker Stone, Buddha’s nativity, gold casket, the terracotta sculpture of a Bodhisattva and charred human bones. The UN Secretary-General U. Thant also visited Lumbini and suggested the Nepal government develop Lumbini as an international pilgrimage center. Prof. Kenzo Tange of Japan assigned to the Master Plan in 1970 and Nepal government approved in 1978. Lumbini Development Trust established in 1985.
The Master Plan designed by Prof. Tange covers an area of 1x3 Sq miles (2.56 Sq Km), includes the Sacred Garden, Monastic Zone, New Lumbini Village, canals, library, museum, and areas for amenities, linked with the central link such as 1.5 km long corridor canal flanked by two brick pedestrian walkways to visit the Lumbini Garden and Monasteries.
The Maurya Emperor Ashoka (India) had visited Lumbini in 249 BC. He went to the sacred garden and erected a stone pillar bearing an inscription (Hida Budhe Jate Sakyamuniti) translated Prince Siddhartha was born here.
The three Chinese pilgrims Tseng Tsai (4th century); Fa-Hsien (5th century) and Hiuen-Tsang (7th century) was visited Lumbini. The King Ripu Malla of Karnali, Nepal visited in 1312, here and left marks on a top of the Ashokan Pillar ‘Om Mani Padme Hum Ripu Malla Chiranjayatu’. General Khadga Shamsher Rana and Dr. Alois Fuhrer re-discovered the Ashokan Pillar during the archeological survey in 1896.
Lumbini located in the Terai Region of Nepal that covered an area of 768 hectares for a museum, library, garden, monastery, temple, and sacred pond. Every year on the full moon day of Baisakh, people celebrate the birth anniversary of the Gautama Buddha. Dear visitors, be never confused that Buddha was born in Lumbini in Nepal. The ethnic groups, such as Yadav, Muslim, Tharu, Harijan, Lodh, Chamar, Gupta, Mallah, Bahun, Chhetri, Shreevastav, Kohar, Muray, and Goshami live in there. They speak Nepali and Bhojpuri.
There are many budget hotels, resorts, modern star class hotels and lodges in and around Bhairahawa (22 km) and Lumbini. Rickshaw and Bicycles are available in the Masterplan area. There are regular flights (30 minutes) and buses (8 hours) between Kathmandu and Bhairahawa. Regular bus (22 km distance) from Bhairahawa to Lumbini is available. You can hire a car from Kathmandu (8 hours) and Pokhara (6 hours) to visit Lumbini. The temperature remains 40 degree Celsius in summer and 7 degrees Celsius in winter. A place to visit in Lumbini is below.
After the bus park, you need to walk to reach there. There are few more entrances. Lumbini Museum, housed in ancient coins, religious manuscripts, and terra-cotta fragments with stone and metal sculptures.
Lumbini International Research Institute
The Lumbini International Research Institute has a peculiar architectural design. There are 30000 books related Buddhism and other religions, including religion, philosophy, art, and architecture. There are Peace Hall(Auditorium), Archaeological Office, High School Complex, Boat Station, Lumbini Square, Symbolic Pavilion and Camping Ground, all of which are yet to be completed.
The Holy Pond
The holy pond is 25 ft breadth, 23 ft lengths, and 18 ft deep located between Ashokan Pillar and Pipal tree. It is believed Queen Maya Devi took a bath before giving a birth to Prince and first purification bath to infant Siddhartha Gautama. It was renovated by Kesher Shamsher Rana in 1933 -1939 AD. The holy pond is believed where Queen Maya Devi was taking a bath before giving the birth of Prince Siddhartha Gautama as well as the first purification bath was given to her infant. Pilgrims may take a photo of the entire scene with the Ashokan Pillar, Puskarini, and Maya Devi Temple.
Ashokan Pillar is beautifully carved cylinder shape stone had brought from Chunar (Mirzapur District of Utter Pradesh) by Indian Emperor Ashoka during his Lumbini visit in 249 BC. The pillar has 50-60 ton weight, 9.41 meters high, 8.2-inch circle at ground level, and 6.2-inch circle at the top part. Commanding in General Khadga Shamsher Rana and Dr. Alois Fuhrer (German archeological surveyor in British India) discovered Ashokan Pillar on 1 December 1896.
Ashokan Pillar is an evidence of Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) birthplace in Lumbini, Nepal. The stone pillar has an inscription of 90 characters, was engraved in Brahmin script and Pali language mentioned the Sage of Sakya born there. King Ripu Malla of Karnali in west Nepal visited Lumbini in 1312 and left a mark of his visit engraved on the pillar Om Mani Padme Hum Ripu Malla Chiranjayatu. Pillar seems a bit broken due to lightning struck in the 7th century.
An inscription engraved by Ashoka in the Pali language with Brahmin script (90 letters) is translated; ‘Twenty years after his coronation, King Priyadarsi, Beloved of Gods visited this spot in person and offered worship at this place, because the Buddha the sage of the Sakyas, was born here. He caused to be built a stone wall around the place and erected this stone pillar to commemorate his visit because the Lord Buddha was born here. He made the village of Lumbini free from taxes and subject to pay only one-eighth of the produce as land revenue instead of the usual rate (DC Sircar, Inscription Ashoka 1967.p.69).
Maya Devi Temple
Maya Devi Temple is a sacred temple located nearby the Ashokan Pillar. Temple restored and reopened on 16 May 2003 during the 2547th birth anniversary of the Buddha. There are remains of the structures of an ancient temple dating back to 3rd century BC to the 7th AD. The Marker Stone (conglomerate-calcium and sandstone) pinpoints exact birthplace of Prince Siddhartha in the temple. The size of the stone is 70cm x 40cm x 10cm. It was founded in 1996 after excavation of the Maya Devi Temple in 1996. The Marker Stone has preserved in bulletproof glass to the north.
There was a dried tree before the 7th century, Chinese pilgrims cut down and built the temple. The Nativity sculpture is depicting the birth scene of the Prince. Queen Maya Devi is holding the branch of a tree (debatable) with her right hand for support, next to her sister Prajapati supporting posture at the time of delivery at standing sculpture. Newly born Prince is standing upright on a Lotus Pedestal with two celestial figures receiving him.
Monastic Zone is interesting about the Theravada and Mahayana monasteries with excellent architecture located north of the Lumbini Garden. Theravada Monasteries occupied 13 plots of land in East Monastic Zone, including Thailand, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. Mahayana Monasteries (Vajrayana and Lamaism Buddhist sects) occupied 29 plots of land in West Monastic Zone, including Nepal, Korea, China, Vietnam, France, Austria, Japan, India, Germany, Mongolia, Malaysia, and Bhutan.
Lumbini Village, located in the northern part with a guesthouse, restaurant, and camping ground. An Eternal Peace Lamp established by King Gyanendra on 1 November 1986 brought from the UN. The World Peace Stupa, Crane Sanctuary and Wetland Garden (US), Lumbini Hokke Hotel (Japan) and Hotel Mikasa (Japan and Sri Lanka) are interesting to visit. There are 200 Blue Bulls, 300 species of bird (including the world tallest flying bird Sarus Crane), lizard, snake, python and various types of plants.
Tilaurakot was the actual capital of Kapilvastu and the Palace of King Suddhodhana, Prince Siddhartha, and Queen Maya Devi. We can observe ancient ruins, moat, wall, museum, traditional pond, and Bihar. It is located 27 km west of Lumbini (3 km from Taulihawa town). Prince Siddhartha spent his first 29 years in the palace. Historically, Kapilvastu was named after Saint Kapil.
Chinese pilgrims Fa-Hien (403 AD) and Hiuen-Tsang (636 AD) visited Tilaurakot, saw Kapilvastu in complete ruins, and counted 10 deserted cities within Kapilvastu. King Virudhaka (son of the servant of the King) massacred the Shakyas during the last days of the Buddha, is said to have destroyed the cities. UNESCO excavated Tilaurakot in 2001, they found only west and east gate. Kapilvastu Museum exhibits coins, pottery, and toys dated back to 7th century BC to 4th century AD. If you continue to walk 15 minutes, you can visit the ancient cremation place of the King and Queen.
According to the Buddhist texts, the origin of Kapilvastu is interesting. King Wokak of Koshala was divorced by his wife with five sons and six daughters. The King Wokak married another wife and lived together with a son. Afterward, the divorced wife and children went to the north and met the Vedic Sage Kapil. There was a dense forest of Sal. Sage Kapil advised to cut down the Sal forest to live in there. The land given by Sage Kapil changed into Kapilvastu. The Sal Cutter (divorced family of the King) became the Sakya family.
Gotihawa is Located 3 km southwest of Taulihawa. Gotihawa is believed that to be the birthplace of Krakuchanda Buddha, who came before Shakyamuni Buddha. There we can see broken Ashokan pillar and brick structures of stupas and monasteries. The villagers are still using an ancient well. The development of the site is believed to have started in the 6th century BC. Rectangular and wedge-shaped bricks containing a large amount of rice husk, vegetation, and straw dating back to 3rd century BC is here.
It is located 3 km southwest of Taulihawa. The ancient Nyagrodharama is famous because the King Syddhodhana met Buddha first time after his renunciation.
Niglihawa is located 7 km north of Taulihawa. Niglihawa is believed that Kanakmuni Buddha was born and enlightened here. There are the large pond and a broken Ashokan pillar (15 ft tall) which was found by an archaeologist, Dr. Alois Fuhrer in1895. Fa Hien and Hiuen Tsang describe the Kanakmuni Stupa and Ashokan Pillar in their travel accounts.
Sagarhawa located 12 km north of Taulihawa. This is forest site; the ruins of an ancient pond the Palace of the Massacre of the Shakyas and Lumbu Sagar were excavated in 1895.
Aurorakot located 10 km northeast of Taulihawa, where are remains of ancient moat and brick fortification which was believed to be the natal town of Kanakmuni Buddha.
Devdaha located 54 km east of Lumbini, is the ancient capital of the Koliya Kingdom, which is believed, the maternal hometown of Queen Maya Devi, Prajapati (Siddhartha’s stepmother) and Princess Yasodhara. Siddhartha Gautama spent his childhood here. Seven years after enlightenment, the Buddha visited Devdaha. The other sites are Bairimai, Kanyamai, Bhabanipur, Devidamar, and Mathagadi.
Ramgrama, located 25.5 km southeast of Devdaha, with a brick mound on the bank of the Jharahi River, where enshrines 7m high brick Stupa one of the eight relics of the Buddha. History mentions that the Emperor Ashok wanted to open it to divide into 84000 parts later for Stupas, however, the Dragon King and People of the Ramgrama did not permit.