Nepal is known all over the world for its natural, religious and cultural treasures, but Nepal is most proud to be known as the birthplace of Gautam Buddha. Preacher of peace, Siddhartha Gautam was born in Lumbini of Nepal. Now with several stupas, monasteries, statues and many other relics in the museums, Lumbini is one of the major tourist attractions of Nepal.
Located in Kapilvastu district of far-western region on Nepal, Lumbini is accessible by bus or flight from Kathmandu. The various monuments related to the life of Gautam Buddha and other stupas and monasteries built recently are being protected by the Lumbini Conservation Zone. There are several inscriptions and monuments that act as evidence of Lumbini being the place where Queen Maya Devi gave birth to Lord Buddha. When archaeologists found the Ashokan pillar, it was officially declared as the birthplace of Buddha in 1896.
Lumbini has been enlisted as UNESCO world heritage site due to its religious significance to Hinduism and Buddhism and its effect on the history and culture of the entire world. The area covers 4.8 kilometers (3 miles) in length and 1.3 kilometers (0.8 miles) in width and is declared a monastic zone. The following are the major sites in the area.
It is a white building that enshrines the historic location of Buddha’s birth with a marker stone. The Bodhi tree nearby is where Maya Devi is believed to have rested while travelling. She took a dip in a pond beside the tree before giving birth to Siddhartha Gautam. It is also believed that Buddha had his first bath in this pond called the Mayadevi Pond.
The pillar is believed to have been built in 249 BS when Emperor Ashoka visited the flourishing village of Lumbini. He had also built four stupas in the area. The pillar has a horse idol at the top and an inscription that describes his visit to the birthplace of Lord Buddha. The pillar is surrounded by a fence with prayer flags and bowls to light incense.
It was after the Ashokan pillar was discovered by a German archaeologist that the search for other monuments began in the region. Finally, after the discovery of a brick temple and sandstone sculpture of pictures denoting the birth of Lord Buddha, Lumbini was officially declared to be the birthplace of Buddha.
Myanmar Golden Temple
Myanmar golden pagoda with three prayer halls is one of the oldest structures in the premise. There is another smaller Burmese pagoda inside called Lokamani Pula Pagoda that resembles the Shwe-dagon Pagoda of Yangon.
World Peace Pagoda
This pagoda lies outside the main premise, about 45 minutes of stroll away. It was built by the Japanese at a cost of about USD 1 million. The pagoda is a gleaming white structure with a golden statue that depicts Buddha in the position he took when he was born.
Also known as Zhong Hua Buddhist monastery, it is a complex comprising of many pagodas, prayer rooms and meditation halls. The other monuments include the Korean Temple, monasteries by Vietnam, Thailand, Germany, Mongolia, Sri Lanka and other countries.
Lumbini Crane Sanctuary
The sanctuary was built to protect the cranes in the surrounding wetlands of Lumbini. The sightings of cranes can be enjoyed in the mornings and evenings.
The museum dedicated to the life of Gautam Buddha is situated in the northern end of the premise. It includes photos and artifacts related to Buddha from all over the world.
Dharma Swami Maharaja Buddha Vihar
This Tibetan styled Gompa outside the complex was built by His eminence Chogya Trichen Ringboche and Raja of Mustang. Tara puja is conducted every day by 60 monks who reside here.
There are various other monuments in the area that are known for their beauty and significance to devotees and Buddhism. There are various villages and people of different ethnicities around the area that have unique traditions and lifestyles. Lumbini is a truly cultural and religious tour that provides peace and serenity to the soul. It is highly recommended for people who want a historic and cultural experience.