In the full moon day of May, in 623 BC, Maya Devi was passing through the Lumbini Garden, in south-western Nepal. She bathed in the pond and stood beneath a tree clutching the branch, and then gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama. Siddhartha was born in the Royal Shakya dynasty, he would be king one day, however, at the age of 29, he left his family. He was 40, when he understood the Four Noble Truth and the Eightfold Path, and became the Buddha. The Buddha taught the basics of Buddhism for forty years. He died in Kushinagar, India.
Lumbini is a small town in southern Nepal, and 300 km west of Kathmandu, the capital city. There are many religious and archaeological sites in and around Lumbini. The history of Lumbini is at least 26 hundred years old.
Lumbini Master Plan designed by Prof. Kenzo Tange of Japan was approved by the Government of Nepal in 1978. The constructions are still underway. Recently Nepal government has proposed Chinese government to build rail road and link Lumbini with Tibet. Indian government has also agreed to extend railways and link Indian city Gorakhpur with Lumbini.
Traveling to Lumbini is a wonderful experience.
Begin your Lumbini tour from Lumbini Museum. In Lumbini Museum you can see ancient coins, religious manuscripts, and stone and metal sculptures. On the other side of Lumbini Museum, there is Lumbini International Research Institute, which facilities study of Buddhism and other religions. There are over 30 thousands books on religion and philosophy, and art and architecture in the Research Institute. Nepal government is working on a plan to establish Buddhist University in Lumbini.
When you pass through Friendship Bridge, you enter Monastic Zones. There are 10 monasteries in the eastern side and 29 monasteries in the western side. Constructions of some monasteries are still underway.
Theravada Monastic Zone
In the Theravada Monastic Zone you can see monasteries built by Government of Thailand, Maha Bodhi Society of Kolkata, India, Buddhist Society of West Bengal, India, Government of Myanmar, and Government of Sri Lanka among many others. Nepal Vipassana Centre is in Theravada Monastic Zone, where you can learn meditation technique devised by the Buddha.
After strolling over Theravada Monastic Zone, you enter Lumbini Sacred Garden. On the way to Lumbini Sacred Garden you can see Eternal Peace Flame.
Lumbini Sacred Garden
Lumbini Sacred Garden has been designed as the center of spirituality and peace, and to spread the message of the Buddha about Universal Brotherhood and Non-violence. In Lumbini Sacred Garden, there are monuments of religious and archaeological importance.
Maya Devi Temple
Maya Devi Temple was restored and reopened for the public in 2003. Inside the newly constructed Maya Devi Temple, there is an ancient Maya Devi Temple, which was constructed over the centuries and dates back to 3rd century BC to 7th century AD. Inside Maya Devi Temple, you can see the Buddha Nativity Sculpture and the Marker Stone.
The Buddha Nativity Sculpture
The Buddha Nativity Sculpture depicts the birth of Siddhartha Gautama as mentioned in the Buddhist texts. In the sculpture, Maya Devi is clutching a tree branch, her sister Prajapati Gautami is supporting Maya Devi, below is newly born Siddhartha Gautama standing on a lotus, and little away are Hindu Gods Brahma and Indra bowing to the divine child.
The Marker Stone
The Marker Stone was discovered during the excavation of the Maya Devi Temple in 1996. It is a 70 by 40 by 10 stone which marks the exact birth spot of the Buddha. The Marker Stone is covered by a bullet proof glass.
Little away from the Maya Devi Temple is the pond called Pushkarini. In Pushkarini pond, Maya Devi had bathed before labor pains began, and Siddhartha Gautama received his first purification bath.
The most important historical evidence marking the birthplace of the Buddha is Ashokan Pillar. It was erected by Indian King Ashoka, when he visited Lumbini in 249 BC. The inscription on the Ashokan Pillar reads “Shakya Muni Buddha was born here.”
Around Maya Devi Temple and Pushkarini pond you can also see ruins of monasteries and the remains of brick masonry called Group of Stupa. Stupa is the monument which stores Buddhist relics inside. These monuments date back to 3rd century BC to 2nd century AD. There are also monasteries dedicated to Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism built in 1953 and 1968 respectively.
Mahayana Monastic Zone
When you exit from Eternal Peace Flame, and walk through western lane, you will come across Mahayana Monastic Zone. The first thing you see is Panditaram Meditation Centre. In the Mahayana Monastic Zone, you can see Nepali style monastery Drarmodaya Sabha and Tibetan style monastery called Manang Stupa, both built by Nepalese Buddhists. You can also see monasteries constructed by Korean Government, Chinese Government, Vietnamese Government, Japanese Government and German Government. There are also French and Austrian Monasteries and meditation centers. Lumbini Development Trust has allotted plots for the monasteries to be built by the Buddhists from Mongolia, Malaysia and Bhutan.
Lumbini-Buddhist Circuit Tour
When you go for Lumbini-Buddhist Circuit Tour, you can visit as many as 62 religious and archaeological sites in and around Lumbini. The most important sites among these religious and archaeological sites are Tilaurakot, Kudan, Gotihawa, Niglihawa, Sagarhawa, Devdha and Ramagrama.
Tilaurakot was the capital city of Kingdom of Kapilvastu. Siddhartha Gautama was the son of King Suddhodhana. He had lived in Tilaurakot for 29 years. After the Enlightenment, the Buddha visited Kapilvastu many times and established the first Buddhist nunnery in Tilaurakot.
In Tilaurakot, you can see the ruins of King Suddhodhana’s palace, Stupas dedicated to the Buddha’s parents, and the city gate. The site was jointly discovered by Nepalese and Japanese archaeologists and dates back to 8th century BC to 2nd-3rd century AD. There is Kapilvastu Museum in Tilaurakot where you can see coins, potteries and terracotta figures discovered during the excavation.
Chinese pilgrims Fa Hien (5th century) and Hiuen Tsang (7th century) have reported that Tilaurakot and 10 adjacent cities were in complete ruins when they visited Kapilvastu. King Virudhaka of Koshal, India, had torched and destroyed the cities in the Buddha’s time.
Tilaurakot is 27 km west of Lumbini.
Devdha is the maternal home of Mayadevi and Prajapati Gautami, the Buddha’s mother and step-mother and his wife Yosodhara. Siddhartha Gautama spent his childhood in Devdha, and visited his maternal home seven years after his Enlightenment.
Devdha is 54 km east of Lumbini.
When the Buddha died, he was cremated. Remains of his body (relics) were taken away by eight kings. The relics are called Astha Dhatu. King of Ramagrama was one of the kings to receive Astha Dhatu. He built a Stupa in Ramagrama with the relics inside. The remains of Stupa are still present in Ramagrama. It is a seven meter high brick mound.
When King Ashoka visited Ramagrama, he wanted to open the Stupa and divide the Astha Dhatu and build eighty-four thousands Stupas. But he was not permitted by the then king of Ramagrama.
Ramagrama is 40 minutes drive from Devdha.
King Suddhodhana had met his Buddhist son for the first time in Kudan. In Kudan, you can see the ruins of monasteries and Stupas. Kudan is 4.5 km south of Tilaurakot.
It is believed, Krakuchanda Buddha, the Buddha who came before Gautama Buddha, was born and attained Nirvana in Gotihawa. Indian King Ashoka had laid a stone pillar when he visited Gotihawa in 249 BC. You can see the broken Ashokan Pillar and ruins of monasteries and Stupas in Gotihawa. The relics discovered in Gotihawa belong to 6th century BC to 3rd century AD.
Gotihawa is 4.33 km away from Kudan.
Niglihawa is believed to be the birthplace of Kanakmuni Buddha. King Ashoka had visited Niglihawa and erected Ashokan Pillar. The pillar was discovered in 1895 AD. Chinese pilgrims Fa Hien and Hiuen Tsang have mentioned about this place in their travel accounts.
Niglihawa is twenty minutes drive from Tilaurakot.
Archaeologists have identified Sagarhawa as the site where the people of Kapilvastu were massacred by King Virudhaka. It is a forested place where there is an ancient pond called Lumbi Sagar. Sagarhawa is 15.31 km from Tilaurakot.
You can take a joyride in a bicycle, rikshaw, or bullock cart, or simply walk in the villages in and around Lumbini. The villages provide cultural sightseeing and an opportunity to get acquainted with the local people. You can also see numerous lakes, ponds and wetland areas in the villages, which are ideal places for bird watching. Touring the villages is a wonderful experience to get to know rural Nepal.
The villagers make handicrafts and clay statuettes. They use natural fibers to make their handicrafts, and sacred soil of Lumbini to make Buddha’s idols. When you buy souvenirs from the villagers, you contribute to their livelihood.
New Lumbini Village
Lumbini Master Plan has designed the northern part of Lumbini as the place of recreation for the visitors. There are hotels, lodges, restaurants and camping sites and a beautiful World Peace Stupa in New Lumbini Village
On the western side there is Crane Sanctuary and Wetland Garden jointly established by Crane Foundation, USA, Lumbini Crane Conservation Center, and Lumbini Development Trust. There is also Nepal Council for Preservation of Buddhist Religion which displays Buddhist scroll paintings called Thangka.
Lumbini-Buddhist Circuit Tour
From To Distance Time
Bhairahawa Airport Maya Devi Temple 17.5 km 25 min. drive
Maya Devi Temple Kudan 29.42 km 45 min. drive
Kudan Gotihawa 4.33 km 15 min. drive
Gotihawa Tilaurakot 7.32 km 20 min. drive
Tilaurakot Niglihawa 8.85 km 20 min. drive
Niglihawa Aaraurakot 1.25 km 3 min. drive
Aaraurakot Sagarhawa 5.21 km 10 min. drive
Sagarhawa Devadha 65.3 km 1.5 hours drive
Devadha Ramagrama 25.19 km 40 min. drive
Ramagrama Bhairahawa 28.56 km 1 hour drive
Village Tour/Walk in and Around Lumbini
Village Distance Specialties
New Lumbini Village 7.5 km Crane Sanctuary and Wetland Garden, World Peace Stupa,
hotels, lodges, restaurants and camping sites
Ekala Village 3 km Bird watching and cultural sightseeing,
Hindu temples, Mosque, traditional mud houses
Tenuhawa Village 2.2 km Crane Sanctuary, Muslim settlements, handicrafts markets,
Lumbini Adarsha Village 5.5 km Archaeological sites dating back to 4th and 5th century
Madhuvani Village 6.5 km Cultural sightseeing, bird watching in the wetlands,
Hindu temples, a view of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri Mountain range, local