Lumbini Monastic Site is a complex housing various temples and monasteries maintained to give insights into the life of Gautama Buddha, to help understand the importance of Buddhism, its propagation, evolution and the system of belief that acts as a common string to help maintain harmonious associations between several countries. The region is completely free from commercialisation and has no shops or hotels and restaurants. The Monastic Site is divided into two sections by a water canal which is often used by tourists to explore on motor boats. The eastward section is called the East Monastic Zone, where Theravada Buddhism is prevalent, and the westward zone is called the West Monastic Zone, where Vajrayana and Mahayana are predominant. Once inside, one is only in touch with the culture, traditions and the history of Buddhism.
East Monastic Zone
The East Monastic Zone has monasteries where Theravada Buddhism is specifically practised. This zone has The Royal Thai Monastery, Cambodian Temple, International Gautami Nun's Temple, the Myanmar Golden Temple, Sri Lankan Monastery, Dhamma Janani Vipassana Monastery, Nepal Theravada Buddha Vihar Mahabodhi Society of India and the Canadian Engaged Buddhism Association. Theravada Buddhism is followed devotedly in regions like Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Burma and Laos. It is, therefore, also called Southern Buddhism.
The temples in this zone function as per the principles of the senior Buddhist monks. These principles have helped maintain the true essence of Buddhism and keep it as close as possible to the genuine techniques taught by Gautama Buddha. It is one of the ways to live life in complete harmony with other living things on the planet. Up until now, they have helped devotees understand the reality behind the teachings and provided a way of attaining self-liberation by dedicating their lives to a long-term monastic way of living and genuine meditation practices.
West Monastic Zone
This zone houses fourteen Mahayana Monasteries and two Vipassana meditation centres. These are The Great Lotus Stupa, Japanese, Chinese, Geden International, Vietnam Phat Quoc Tu, Dae Sung Shakya, Karma Samtenling, Drubgyud Chhoeling, Ka-Nying Shedrup Monasteries, the Manang Samaj Stupa, The World Linh Son Buddhist Congregation, Drigung Kagyud meditation centre, French Buddhist Association, Urgen Dorjee Chholing Centre, Zarong Tgupten Mendol Dogna Chholing and the United Tungaram Buddhist Foundation. These temples function according to the Mahayana and Vajrayana practices.
Vajrayana includes traditions of Tantra and Mantra in Buddhism. The name is derived from a mythical weapon, Vajra, and revolves around rituals and practices using Mudras, Dharanis, Mandalas and Mantras. These practices were propagated by Mahasiddhas who wandered about in groups. They completely amended the methods of Buddhism, lived in forests, meditated mostly on burial grounds and participated in activities that were forbidden in the original form of Buddhism. Vajrayana is considered one of three paths that lead to enlightenment.
The Mahayana Temples present in the zone are devoted to the classification & traditions of Buddhism and its philosophies. It refers to the path of the Bodhisattva where one seeks enlightenment that doesn't just benefit them but also all the living beings. Those who have attained this stage are called Samyaksambuddha who are believed to have the ability to teach the technique and help others attain enlightenment in one lifetime. One would notice the difference between all the practices, but its historical presence has made it religiously important over the years. The off-beat travellers, who wish to explore different forms of the same spiritual belief system, must visit the temples.
Most of the festivals and important events are celebrated between September and December every year, making it the best time to visit the Lumbini Monastic Site.
Those looking to book accommodation can find decent hotels in Lumbini Village.