Archaeological records and historical documentation place Lumbini as the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, who went on to become the first Buddha. He is said to have been born around the first century B.C. The Mayadevi Temple
is perhaps the most important and sacred site in the area - it houses the actual spot where the Buddha was born, to Queen Mayadevi, the wife of King Suddhodana of erstwhile Kapilavastu. The birth spot can be identified by a stone marker. Nearby is the Bodhi Tree
in Lumbini Garden, where the Holy Mother is said to have rested a while before giving birth to the Buddha. The tree radiates peace and spiritual serenity and is decked in prayer flags. Important archaeological remains are placed inside the temple as well.
The Lumbini Garden also houses the Pushkarini - Sacred Pond - where Queen Mayadevi is said to have taken a dip before giving life to the Buddha. Little Siddhartha is also said to have swum in this holy pond. The garden radiates charm, harmony and spirituality, with gurgling channels, canals and bridges dotting the landscape. Another important archaeological marvel is the Ashoka Stupa
(Pillar), which was built in 249 B.C. King Ashoka, the famous Indian ruler who took to Buddhism, is said to have visited Lumbini and placed the Stupa to acknowledge that it was the birthplace of the Buddha. He built four Stupas and generously contributed to the infrastructure of the erstwhile village. This Stupa serves as important archaeological evidence, and is more than 2000 years old!
Lumbini is filled with monasteries built by Buddhist communities from all around the world, which you can visit for a diverse and culturally rewarding experience. The monks engage you in enlightening conversation and give you an insight into this religion of introspection. Some sites include the Sri Lankan Monastery, the Myanmar Golden Temple
, the Royal Thai Buddhist Monastery
, the Great Drigung Kagyud Lotus Stupa constructed by the German Tara Foundation, the Zhong Hua Chinese Monastery, the Japanese World Peace Pagoda
and the Dharma Swami Maharaja Buddha Vihar
built by the Tibetan royalty. Each of these monasteries is architecturally distinctive, with beautiful façades and paintings. The World Centre for Peace and Unity stands as a testament to universal peace and brotherhood. The golden Bodhisattva Siddhartha statue welcomes you into Lumbini, promising spiritual strength and peace. The Panditarama Vipassana Centre offers yoga and meditation as well.
History buffs are sure to have the time of their lives exploring the nooks and crannies of this city steeped in history - from the ancient Stupas dating back to more than 2000 years, monasteries built by far-flung communities from all over the world, and the museums around. Make sure to visit the Lumbini International Research Institute and the Lumbini Museum for a refreshing dollop of history!
Avid trekkers and adventure junkies needn't be deterred - the Lumbini Circuit Trek offers a rewarding trek around more than 64 historical and archaeological sites around the area, including visits to villages where one can get an authentic experience of the local culture and hospitality. Diversity reigns supreme among the friendly villagers. Nature enthusiasts can spot exotic fauna like the Sarus crane, different owl species, the Indian spotted eagle and gyps.
The entire site is decked up with prayer flags that have blessings and incantations upon them, which have been put up by thousands of tourists. Each colour of the flag represents an element - air, water, fire, earth and wind. As the cool Himalayan breeze whispers among the trees, it makes the innumerable flags dance around, sending a soothing rustle that calms your very soul. You can purchase a collection of the flags from nearby shops and carry them home, as a blessed souvenir of your trip to Lumbini. They make for thoughtful gifts too.
Remember to be considerate while visiting all the places. Dress modestly, and remove footwear before entering places of worship. In some places, photography is prohibited, so keep that in mind before whipping out your camera. Don't let that deter you though - outside the heritage zone and along the Lumbini Circuit, there are numerous beautiful and stunning photo-ops that perfectly capture the pristine and eclectic beauty of the Nepali landscape. Do not litter. Lumbini is a spiritual abode meant for contemplation and self-discovery, so do not play loud music or engage in activities that may disturb the peace of fellow travellers.
Travel is usually to discover new places - but in Lumbini, you can discover yourself too. Heed your soul and visit Lumbini for an unforgettable experience!