Bathe in the peaceful atmosphere that surrounds Lumbini, the physical representation of the story of Buddhism with its temples, pagodas, shrines and monasteries. Like most religions, the origin of Buddhism begins with the birth of a baby and Lumbini is the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautam buddha. This historic city dates back to 623 BC from when it became a popular pilgrimage site. Its numerous idols, and stupa are a favorite for historically inclined tourists and Buddhist devotees.
Located in the Tarrai belt of the Kapilvastu District, Lumbini is a place of revered tradition and worship for centuries with ancient and modern monuments depicting the Buddhas journey to enlightenment. Lumbini promises a life changing spiritual experience combining nature, culture, religion and heartfelt hospitality, visitors here are taken through a religious journey of sorts from the New Lumbini village to the marker stone in the main temple.
The Lumbini circuit trek is a spectacular experience for adventurers with its 64 scattered archeological sites; a treasure hunt through jungle and ethnic diversity. Along the way can see the Sarus crane, Indian Spotted eagle, gyps, Owls among other creatures native to Nepal. Listed as A UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Site, its history and culture traces back to the origins of Hindu and Buddhist religions. Purely a monastic zone where recreational structures are forbidden, Lumbini is separated into Theravadin monasteries to the eastern zone, Mahayana and Vajrayana monasteries on the western Zone. Some of the best places to visit in Lumbini are;
The Maya Devi Temple
The birthplace of Siddhartha Gautam buddha and a major highlight of Lumbini’s exotic cultural heritage. This whitewashed temple surrounds the exact spot of buddhas birth marked by a marker stone. The famous Bodhi tree has hundreds of colorful prayer flags lined along its sides adding spectacle to its heart-shaped leaves representing Buddhas path to enlightenment.
This bodhi tree is where around 563 BC pregnant queen, Maya Devi on her way back to her hometown, rested and went into unexpected labor and gave birth to Siddhartha Gautam buddha. She dipped in the nearby Maya-Devi pond which is also believed to be where Buddha took his first bath. This sacred pool Pushkarini also has a sacred garden beside it.
The Maya Devi is a UNESCO World Heritage site with continuous developments that compel one to plan a revisit. Designed by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange in 1978, it features landscaped lakes and a host of monasteries as works of architects from all over. All of the monuments and temples were unscathed by the 2015 earthquake.
A 6-metre-tall sandstone structure Built during 249 BC when emperor Ashoka of India visited Lumbini and was rediscovered by Nepalese archaeologists in 1896. The emperor also built four stupas and a pillar with a horse Idol at the top. The inscription on the pillar is among the oldest inscriptions ever, detailing his visit and recognition of Lumbini as the birthplace of Lord Buddha. The pillar is surrounded by a small fence decorated with colorful prayer flags and bowls for lighting incense sticks and meditating.
Myanmar Golden Temple
One of the oldest structures in the complex with three prayer halls. This Burmese style pagoda resembles the Shwe-dagon pagoda of Yangon with tis golden corn-cob styled Shikhara. The temple is dedicated to lord Buddha and inside it, you will find the Lokamani Pula Pagoda. The blend of white and gold in the temple creates a divine atmosphere that blends with the serenity of the surroundings. A must-stop for visitors.
World Peace Pagoda
The Japan Peace Stupa is located Just outside main area, built by the Japanese for $1 million. It houses the statue of lord buddha in the position he took during birth. This glistening white structure with golden statue is a rising attraction of Lumbini and a reflection of how deep the roots of Buddhism go.
Dharma swami Maharaja Buddha Vihar
A Tibetan-styled Buddhist Gompa outside the complex built by His Eminence Chogya Trichen Ringboche and Raja of Mustang. The Gompa belongs to the Sakyapa order. This site has a kind of ambience and quiet that soothes the soul. Its quiet stature and towering design remind visitors of the spiritual energy that resides within. For meditation experts and beginners, the monks who are residents here conduct Tara Puja every day-something you’ll want to witness.
Built in the 1970s and reimagined by architect Kris Yao from Taiwan, the museum is dedicated to the life Gautam Buddha and its houses photos and artifacts from Buddhist sites all over the world. Its priced possessions include over 10,000 artifacts like religious manuscripts, metal sculptures, Terra cottas, Maurya and Khusana dynasty coins plus stamps depicting Lumbini. For historical enthusiasts, the Lumbini International Research Institute just opposite the museum provides research facilities into Buddhism and the origins of religion.
These lone meadows are the location of Kpilvastu’s remains. Tilaurakot is considered as the place where Lord Gautama Buddha spent 29years of his life in luxury and royalty before he renounced it and walked out of the eastern gate. Listed as a UNESCO tentative site, Tilaurakot features exposed ruins of what looks like a residential complex. Its unearthing is a significant tribute to the historical life of Gautama Buddha. Found on the banks of Banaganga Rice, it even has a museum housing artifact found during the excavation-a trip through Buddhism.
International Monasteries and Temples
Nepal is a revered space of Buddhist religion and Lumbini is a testament to its international relations. Lumbini hosts seven international monasteries and temples built by other nations, a gesture showcasing the tight-knit affair that is Buddhism across the Asiatic nations. they include;
- Korean Temple (Dae Sung Shakya)
- China Temple (Zhong Hua Chinese Buddhist Monastery)
- Cambodian Monastery
- Sri Lankan Monastery
- Vietnam Phat Quoc Tu Temple
- Great Drigung Lotus Stupa
Lumbini Crane Sanctuary
Just a few moments next to the world peace pagoda, the crane sanctuary sits sprawling over 6sq. kilometers of marshes, jungle and plush open fields. The sanctuary is a natural reserve set aside for the local birds including the Saris Cranes. Cranes are a significant part of the Buddhism history and culture and the about 100 pairs found in the sanctuary offer a different perspective to the ancient beauty that surrounds Lumbini.
This quaint splendor runs down the middle of the Lumbini site connecting the village area to the sacred garden. It is lined with several brick bridges to help visitors cross the water. You can catch a canal or boat to get through the central section. If you walk along its sides, you can feel the impression of what it’s like during a pilgrimage.