Lumbini is a Buddhist pilgrimage site which is located in Rupandehi District of Nepal. It is the place where Queen Mayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama in 623 BCE according to Buddhist tradition. Prince Siddhartha Gautam achieved nirvana or Enlightenment and became the Lord Gautama Buddha and founded Buddhism. Lumbini is one of the major places for pilgrimage that is related to the places primary of life of Gautama Buddha; other notable pilgrimage sites include Kushinagar, Bodh Gaya and Sarnath.
Lumbini has a number of temples, including the Mayadevi Temple and several others which are still under construction. Lumbini Development Trust has taken the responsibility of overall management and development of Lumbini. In course of development, the trust has divided 42 plots of areas allotted for monastic zone i.e. Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism. In eastern lane lies the Theravada monastic zone where 10 out of 13 monasteries have been constructed. In the western lane lies the Mahayana monastic zone where 22 out of 29 have been constructed. Many monuments and a museum are also located within the holy site.
In the scared garden, you will find Maya Devi Temple in the heart of all monuments at this holy site. The temple complex bears the testimony of several phases of construction over the centuries. There also lies “Puskarini” or Holy Pond where the Buddha's mother took the ritual dip prior to his birth and where he, too, had his first bath.
At other sites near Lumbini, earlier Buddha’s were, according to tradition, born, achieved ultimate Enlightenment and finally relinquished their earthly forms. Lumbini was granted World Heritage status by UNESCO in 1997.
The Lumbini was re- established with the visit of Mauryan emperor Ashoka visit. He erected a stone pillar with a n inscription stating”Hida Budhe Jate Shakyamuniti” meaning that Shakyamuni Buddha was born here. After his visit to Lumbini, he stated to make structural activities in order to mark the birth place of Lord Buddha.
In 1896, the archeological survey, a team of Nepalese archaeologists led by Khadga Shamsher Rana and assisted by Alois Anton Fuhrer) discovered the great Ashokan at Lumbini. Similarly Babu P.C. Mukherji conducted a brief exploration and excavation of Lumbini. He exposed craved brick masonry found along the western and northern edges. He excavated the southern side of the Maya Devi Temple.
In 1930’s General Kesher Shumsher JBR conducted major excavation of the ruins of Lumbini. He conducted excavation in unscientific leveling methods that resulted in the destruction of many supplementary monuments. But also to great damage to the site. However during his excavation some useful improvements can be seen.
In 1956 on the occasion of the fourth world Buddhist conference, late king Mahendra visited Lumbini and wanted to improve it. Further the pilgrimage of UN secretary General U. Thant wanted to the government of Nepal to develop Lumbini which proved a milestone of the modern history of Lumbini.
The present-day Lumbini historic site is 4.8 km (3 mi) in length and 1.6 km (1.0 mi) in width. The holy site of Lumbini is bordered by a large monastic zone in which only monasteries can be built. It is separated into an eastern and western monastic zone, the eastern having the Theravada monasteries, the western having Mahayana and Vajrayana monasteries.
From early morning to early evening, pilgrims from various countries perform chanting and meditation at the site. Nipponzan Myohoji decided to build a Peace Pagoda in the park in 2001, which is visited by many different cultures and religions every day. Hindus regard the Buddha as an incarnation of Vishnu and thousands of Hindu pilgrims come there on the full moon of the Nepali month of Baisakh (April–May) to worship Queen Mayadevi as Rupa Devi, the mother goddess of Lumbini. Lumbini was granted World Heritage status by UNESCO in 1997.
Things To Do
The garden was designed by Prof. kenzo Tange, the world famous architect from Japan. He was awarded consultancy for the preparations of master plan for the development of Lumbini by United Nations. The garden is at the heart of Prof. Design. The ultimate objective of the plan was to create an atmosphere of spirituality peace, universal brother hood and non violence of with the message of Lord’s Buddha.
Strolling around the Scared Garden :
Maya Devi Temple
Maya Devi Temple is at the heart of all monuments at holy site. The temple complex bears the testimony of several phases of construction over the centuries.
Nativity sculpture is another monument in side the Maya Devi Temple. The Nativity sculpture is about the birth story of the Buddha. The Nativity Sculpture depicts Maya Devi holding on a branch of Ashoka tree during the time of her delivery. A second figure is Prajapati (the sister of Mayadevi and step mother of Gautam Buddha) supporting her during her delivery. The far right shows the two Hindu gods Brahma (according to Hindu mythology the creator of Universe ) and Indra ( the god of rain and thunderbolt ) are receiving the newly born baby. The baby shown below is standing on the lotus pedestal.
The marker stone
The marker stone is the core of attraction inside the Maya Devi Temple. It is the most important place where marker stone is located. Marker stone is the exact spot of auspicious birth of Lord Buddha. Marker stone is a sand stone based conglomerate 70x40x10cm in size.
Scared pond is located to the south of the Ashoka pillar. Scared pond is famous where it is believed that Maya Devi bathed before giving the birth of prince Siddhartha. Two artesian wells were discovered in the north-east and south east- corner of the pond. The pond existed before the birth of the Buddha and still exists.
The Ashokan pillar was erected by emperor Ashoka in 3rd century. The pillar is made of sandstone and other sedimentary rock that was brought from Chunar Hills which are located near Varanasi (Utter Pardesh, India). The can be originally be divide into three parts. They are crowning figure, a bracket and monolithic pillar. The height when first erected was about 40 feet.
The most important feature of the pillar is the inscription which tells the Ashoka’s visit to Lumbini, and the purpose.
Tilaurakot was the actual capital of Kapilavastu and the home of king Shuddhodana, the father of prince Siddhartha who later became the Buddha as it was identified by the archeologists. The place is believed to be the place where Siddhartha spent his life as a prince. The Chinese travelers who visited Tilaurakot mentioned seeing numerous stupas, monasteries, and palaces. Tilaurakot is located 27 km west of Lumbini.
Historically Kapilavastu was named after saint Kapil. Buddha visited Kapilavastu several times during his life time.
Sagarhawa is the forest site where ruins of an ancient pond were excavated. Archeologists have identified the site as the Palace of Massacre of the Shakyas. The ruins of the ancient site lie on the west and south banks of the pond known as Lumbu Sagar. Sagarhawa is about 12 km north of Tilaurakot.
Ramagrama is a brick mound on the bank of the Jharahi River. It is a 7 meter high brick stupa containing of one of the eight Asthu Dhatu (relics) of Lord Buddha. The king of Ramagrama was the eighth king to obtain the Buddhas relics. Emperor Ashoka wanted to open it to multiply into eighth thousand stupa but the king of Ramagrama did not permit it.
Kudan was the place where king Shuddhodana met Lord Buddha for the first time after he returned from cosmic enlightenment. Kudan is a mound of the structural ruins. It is located 4.5 km south of Tilaurakot.
Gotihawa is believed to be the birth place and the place of Nirvana of Krakuchandra Buddha, who came before Shakyamuni Buddha. Bricks structures of stupas and monasteries can be seen in the area outside modern Gotihawa village. At the center of the main mound lies the broken Ashokan pillar.
It is a significant archeological site of the broken Pillar. The broken pillar lies close to the large pond. Emperor Ashoka had built the stupa and set up a pillar when he visited the site during his pilgrimage. The pillar was discovered by archeologist Dr Alois Fuhrer. The pillar is 15 meter tall with an inscription on its upper portion.
Lumbini lies in the south western part of Nepal. The weather conditions here are more tropical with hot summers and mild winter.