Lumbini is a small Nepalese town located in the Terai region of the south. It is the birthplace of Gautama Buddha, who is revered by the Buddhist faith, and is considered an important pilgrimage site. This area was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it a great location for a spiritual journey. Spending a day in Lumbini can be a very enriching experience.
Lumbini is believed to have been founded by King Ashoka of India in the 3rd century BCE. It is mentioned in an ancient Buddhist scripture known as the 'Nipalankarana Sutra'. The scripture states that King Ashoka visited Lumbini in order to pay homage to the Buddha's birthplace. He erected a stone pillar at the site, which can still be seen today. In addition, he built a stupa and a monastery here.
Lumbini continued to be an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists for many centuries. In the 5th century CE, the Chinese Buddhist pilgrim Faxian visited Lumbini and left a detailed account of his visit. He noted that there were many monks and nuns living in the area, and that the monasteries were well-maintained. Lumbini also became an important center of learning, and many famous Buddhist scholars and teachers lived and worked here.
Lumbini is significant not only because it is the birthplace of the Buddha, but also because it is where he attained 'Enlightenment' under a tree known as the 'Bodhi Tree'. It is here where he developed his teachings of compassion, peace and love which still resonate with people today. The Buddha's teachings continue to inspire people all over the world.
Lumbini is therefore a very important place for Buddhists and for anyone interested in the life and teachings of Lord Buddha. To further promote this special place, the Lumbini Master Plan was designed, which consists of three zones:
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Source: Lumbini Development Trust
In 2022, there was a huge increase in Indian tourists, rising from 43,732 in 2021 to 230,863. In addition, the number of visitors from other countries also significantly rose from 1,197 in 2021 to 23,942.
Lumbini is a peaceful and religious place making it an ideal spot for contemplation and meditation.The centerpiece of Lumbini is the Sacred Garden, which contains many archaeological remains and various shrines.The garden is beautifully landscaped and includes a large and sacred pond known as the 'Puskarini'. There are also numerous temples and monasteries located within the garden.
The gardens are open to the public from sunrise to sunset.
The Sacred Garden of Lumbini holds a number of monuments, with the most significant being the Maya Devi Temple. This temple was built to honor the birthplace of the Buddha and is considered to be one of the holiest sites for Buddhists. The temple is surrounded by a peaceful garden that is perfect for meditation and reflection. Another important monument in the area is the Ashoka Pillar, which was erected by Emperor Ashoka as a symbol of his devotion to Buddhism.Other monuments in the Garden include the Marker Stone, Nativity Sculpture, Sacred Pond, and many other stupas. All of these monuments are integral to the history and importance of the Sacred Garden of Lumbini.
In the middle of the Master Plan lies The East Monastic Zone and The West Monastic Zone.
The East Monastic Zone consists of monasteries that represent the Theravada (Hinayana) school of Buddhism built and operated by different countries such as The Royal Thai Monastery, Mahabodhi Society Temple of India and many others.
The West Monastic Zone of Lumbini has some incredible architecture displayed in the 14 monasteries and most of them are open for visitors.Each of them has its own design, which reflects the architectural and religious styles of the different nations. Some of the monasteries here include Urgen Dorjee Chholing Buddhist Center- Singapore, The World Linh Son Buddhist Congregation- France, Chinese Monastery- China, The Great Lotus Stupa (Tara Foundation) - Germany and many others attractions such as Standing baby Buddha, Central canal and its boating facilities.
The Cultural Center located in the New Lumbini Village offers a variety of services for those who wish to visit and learn about the area. It includes a hotel, visitor center, Lumbini Museum, Lumbini International Research Institute (LIRI), and an administrative complex.Other important sites of interest in New Lumbini Village include the World Peace Pagoda of Japan and the Lumbini Crane Sanctuary.
The World Peace Pagoda is a symbol for peace, one of the core teachings of Lord Buddha. As the name suggests, the area around peace pagoda is truly peaceful.From the top of stupa a beautiful crane sanctuary can be seen which is a natural habitat of Sarus Cranes.
The Lumbini Crane Sanctuary and its associated farmlands have been identified as an International Bird Area (IBA) due to its abundant biodiversity of cranes and other birds.The Lumbini Museum houses a collection of artifacts that relate to the life of the Buddha and the importance of Buddhism in general.The Lumbini International Research Institute is devoted to the study of Buddhism and the Nepal-Buddha International Convention Centre hosts events and conferences throughout the year.
While in Lumbini, there are a number of activities worth pursuing to gain a better understanding of the local culture.One way is to visit the nearby villages and experience the food,lifestyle and culture of the people.
Few villages worth visiting are
Also sightseeing tour to the Gaidahawa Lake and Gajedi Lake allows visitors to appreciate the natural beauty of the area as well as the area's history and culture.
The ancient city of Kapilavastu is where Prince Siddhartha was raised until he was 29 years old. This was the capital of the Sakya Kingdom which he later abandoned to start his spiritual journey. At Tilaurakot, there is a modern Hindu temple dedicated to Samai Mai, where people come to worship. It is possible to get an understanding of the size of the city where Buddha was raised when visiting the area. Another interesting attraction is Jagadispur Tharu Home-stay which is situated 12 km north from Tilaurakot. Here, one can experience the Tharu food, culture, and hospitality.
One of the most important festivals celebrated is the birthday of Lord Buddha.The festival is known as Buddha Purnima, as Purnima means full moon day in Sanskrit. It is also called Buddha Jayanti, with Jayanti meaning birthday in Sanskrit.On this special occasion, a procession is held in the morning at Lumbini and many cultural events are held during the day and in the evening Mayadevi temple is decorated with thousands of lamps. This celebration of Buddha's life is a reminder of the important teachings that he shared with the world.
This year, Buddha Jayanti/Purnima will be celebrated on Friday, 5th May 2023.
Taking a flight is the quickest and most convenient way to get from Kathmandu to Lumbini.The flight only takes about 35 minutes and there are several daily flights from kathmandu.Once you arrive in the nearby Siddharthanagar (formerly known as Bairahawa), Lumbini is less than an hour away by car.
Alternatively, you can rent a private vehicle, which allows you to make stops along the way.The price varies according to the type of car or jeep rentals you make.
If you're on a tight budget, you can take a local or tourist bus which usually make meal and comfort stops, and tourist bus are usually air-conditioned but before booking a ticket make sure the bus offers aircondition or not.
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