Buddha was born in Lumbini, in southern
Nepal, twenty-five hundred years ago. Since
his time, Nepal has been a sacred ground
for Buddhists as the birthplace of the Buddha.
Lumbini is a small town in the southern
Terai plains of Nepal, where the ruins of
the old city can still be seen. Shakyamuni
Buddha was born to a royal family.
Lumbini has been a holy ground for Buddhists
all over the world. The restored garden
and surroundings of Lumbini have the remains
of many of the ancient stupas and monasteries.
A large stone pillar erected by the Indian
Emperor Ashoka in 250 BC bears an inscription
about the birth of the Buddha.
An important part of Lumbini is the temple
of Maya Devi. It has a stone image of Maya
Devi giving birth to Lord Buddha as she
holds onto a branch. It has been well worn
by the strokes of barren women hoping for
fertility. To the south of the temple is
a pool where Queen Maya Devi is said to
have bathed and given her son his first
A quiet garden, shaded by the leafy Bo
tree (the type of tree under which Buddha
received enlightenment), and a newly-planted
forest nearby lend an air of tranquillity
which bespeaks Buddha's teachings. Lumbini
is now being developed under the Master
Plan of the Lumbini Development Trust, a
non governmental organization dedicated
to the restoration of Lumbini and its development
as a pilgrimage site. The plan, completed
in 1978 by the renowned Japanese architect
Kenzo Tange, will transform three square
miles of land into a sacred place of gardens,
pools, buildings, and groves. The development
will include a Monastic Zone, the circular
sacred Garden surrounding the Ashoka pillar
and Maya Devi temple, and Lumbini Village,
where visitors will find lodges, restaurants,
a cultural center and tourist facilities.
An important archeological site near Lumbini,
Kapilvastu evokes the ancient palace where
Lord Buddha spent his formative years. Scattered
foundations of the palace are abundant,
and archeologists have by now discovered
13 successive layers of human habitation
dating back to the eighth century BC. A
must for archeological and historical buffs!
Besides its religious and historical significance,
Lumbini offers cultural insights into the
village life of southern Nepal. If possible,
try to coincide your visit with the weekly
Monday bazaar when villagers come from miles
around to buy grains, spices, pottery, jewellery,
saris and various other items. It may appear
as a scene out of the Arabian Nights, with
colorful merchandise spread out under the
mango trees and the air perfumed with incense.
It's a chance to bargain for souvenirs while
witnessing local life in Lumbini. Wooden
ox-carts loaded with hay trundle by. Villagers
dry cow-dung for fuel, and tea stalls serve
sweet milk tea.
Today, Lumbini is beginning to receive
travellers' and archaeologists' attention
after centuries of neglect. Serious preservation
work has only just been started in the latter
half of this century and Lumbini as a slice
of history is worth seeing and worth preserving.
Access: Royal Nepal Airlines
and other airlines fly regularly to Bhairahawa,
near Lumbini, and bus services are available
from Pokhara and Kathmandu.
Accommodation: There are
several good hotels and lodges in Lumbini.