“Do not dwell in the past; do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment” – one of many unerring teachings of Buddha. The whole world, even if non-followers has bowed their heads to Buddha with utmost reverence and embraced his teaching as a part of life. And, Buddhism is not viewed as a religion; it is a philosophy of life.
Thousands of people make their way towards the birthplace of Buddha, to immerse in the ultimate peace and serenity of mind, body, and soul. And, as baffling as it can be, the very destination is in Lumbini, Nepal. Of many things, Nepal is identified as being the birthplace of Buddha, is the most honored one.
Undoubtedly, Lumbini, Nepal is one of the most important pilgrimages and spiritual site in the world. And over the years of its existence, Lumbini has become the cluster holy shrines and sites, adding even more value towards the cause.
More about Lumbini, Nepal
Lumbini, the very name means “the lovely.” Located in Rupandehi district, Lumbini is one of the four Buddhist pilgrimage sites based on major life events of Buddha; Lumbini (birth), Bodh Gaya (enlightenment), Sarnath (first discourse) and Kushinagar (death).
With its significance, Lumbini, Nepal was also entitled as a World Heritage Site in 1997.
History of Lumbini, Nepal
During the time when Buddha was born, Lumbini, Nepal was situated in the east of Kapilavastu and southwest of Devadaha.
There is a pillar in Lumbini marking the visit of Ashoka (Indian Emperor) discovered in 1896, and before the discovery of pillar, the site was not known as Lumbini before.
The inscription reads, “When King Devanampriya Priyadarsin (Ashoka) had been anointed twenty years, he came here himself to worship the place as Buddha was born here, and even built a stone pillar for the prove. As further gratitude, Lumbini was set to tax-free and made to pay only 1/8th of total production.”
Lumbini Facts and Information
-Lumbini was discovered in 1896, when General Khadga Samsher Rana and Alois Anton Fuhrer found great stone pillar in Rupandehi. Historical records of Chinese monk-pilgrim Xuanzang in the 7th century CE and another Chinese monk-pilgrim Faxian in early 5th century CE were used for the discovery.
-The whole complex of Lumbini, Nepal, is quite big with the length of 4.8 km and 1.6 widths bordered by large monastic zones.
-Before Buddha was born in Lumbini, Queen Maya Devi had a dream on the night he was conceived that a white elephant with six white tusks entered her right side and ten months later, Buddha was born.
-Lumbini serves as a pilgrimage site for Buddhists as well Hindu because it is believed that Buddha is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
-Not only as the birthplace of Buddha, but Lumbini is also known for the array of monasteries and monuments built by different countries.
-Lumbini has two monastic zones; an eastern zone where lies the Theravadin monasteries and western zone have Mahayana and Vajrayana monasteries.
-According to the evidence of radiocarbon dating of charcoal from wooden post holes and optically stimulated luminescence dating of elements in soil shows the human activity in Lumbini began around 1000 BCE.
Places to visit in Lumbini, Nepal
Maya Devi Temple
Maya Devi Temple is the main shrine of Lumbini and a major attraction during the visit. Standing adjacent to Puskarni pond and a sacred garden, the temple is considered to be the site of Buddha’s birth.
When Queen Maya Devi became pregnant, she left Kapilvastu for her father’s kingdom, Devadha to give birth as per the tradition. As she was making her way to maternal home, she went through severe child labor and gave birth to Siddhartha Gautam in Lumbini in a garden beneath a sal tree. Then, as Buddha entered the world, he said “This is my final rebirth” and immediately took seven steps under which each lotus flower bloomed.
There is no evidence if it was the very same sal tree, but it said there was a dried tree before 7th century which Chinese pilgrims cut down and constructed the Maya Devi Temple, a definite place to visit in Lumbini, Nepal.
The Sacred Pond, popularly known as Puskarini Pond is the where Queen Maya Devi took a bath before giving birth to Gautam Buddha. It is located south-west from Marker Stone.
It is believed that after Queen Maya Devi took a bath in Puskarini and took 25 paces to the north, she went to child labor pain and gave birth to Buddha on Baisakh Purnima (Full Moon).
Although the pond is now in a rectangular shape, its original shape is unknown as it was remodeled in shape and size with an embankment of bricks during 1933-139 AD excavations by Keshar Shumsher Rana.
Pillars of Ashoka
By now, you are well-aware of existence and essence of the Ashoka Pillar, which has heightened the historical importance of Lumbini. However, it is known to few that there are actually two pillars erected by Ashoka in Lumbini during his visit.
One is Ashoka Pillar itself, and another is Nigali Sagar, also known as Nigliva pillar, Nighihawa pillar or Araurakot Ashoka Pillar. It is the location in which Kanakamuni Buddha was born, and the inscription engraved on a pillar by Ashoka tells that he enlarged the Kanakamuni’s stupa, worshiped it and erected a stone pillar.
The huge complex of Lumbini also comprises the Limbini Graden, which is perfect for a serene walk. It comprises three zones that cover one square mile each connected with walkways and a canal. Along with the peacefulness, you will also enjoy the sub-tropical climate in summer and warm and pleasant winter.
Of the total coverage area, the main attraction of the garden is sandstone carving showing the birth of Lord Buddha, left by King Ripu Malla in the 14th century, when he came to Lumbini to worship Maya Devi as an incarnation of Hindu mother goddess.
World Peace Pagoda
Peace Pagodas are Buddhist Stupas that stands a symbol of peace established to inspire peace amongst all the race and creeds, and most of them were built since World War II.
The one in Lumbini, Nepal was built by Nipponzan Myohoji monks at the cost of USD 1 million dedicating it in November 2001. The attractive and impressive gleaming-white Pagoda is located outside the main compound of Lumbini, which calls for a perfect walk around.
The golden statue in World Peace Pagoda is believed to be the posture he was born in. Then in the vicinity of a stupa, you will also find the grave of a Japanese monk murdered by anti-Buddhist extremist during the construction of the stupa.
Royal Thai Buddhist Monastery
There are many monuments surrounding the complex of Lumbini, Nepal built by several countries depicting their unique architectural feature, and Royal Thai Buddhist Monastery is one such site, where you can enjoy the impressive Thai architecture.
It is in the north of Puskarini Pond, easily visible with its gleaming white marble. Right next to the monastery is blue-roofed meditation center.
Lumbini Village Tour
After your tour around the monuments is finished, you can change the course and walk towards one of the many villages of Lumbini, Nepal. Tenuhawa Village Tour, Ekala Village Tour, Madhuvani Village Tour, and Lumbini Adarsha Village Tour are some village that comprises religious shrines and temples and the authentic and typical lifestyle of the village.
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