Written by Sabin Adhikari
Buddha was born at Lumbini in southern Nepal on a full moon day 623B.C. The importance of Lumbini is testified by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka who visited Lumbini in order to pay homage to the great Master and erected a pillar in 249B.C to indicate the birth place of Buddha. Near the Ashokan pillar is the newly renovated MayadeviTemple which houses and Nativity sculpture depicting the birth scene of the Buddha. The temple also houses The Maker Stone discovered in 1996 AD which depicts the exact spot where the Buddha was born. It’s now kept in bulletproof glass in MayadeviTemple.
The MayadeviTemple was renovated in 2003 on the 2547th auspicious birth anniversary of the Buddha and houses ruins the early period dating back from 3rd century BC to the 7th century AD. Near the temple is situated the Puskarni pond where Queen Mayadevi- the Buddha’s mother- had given the first purificatory bath to the infant Buddha.
In 1896, excavations by General Khadga Shumsher Rana of Nepal and renewed archeologist Dr. A Fuhrer shed light on various aspects of the life of Buddha. In 1898, the British government deputed P.C. Mukherjee who confirmed the exact location of Aurorakot as the birth place of Kanakumuni Buddha and Gothawa as the native place of Kakruchhanda Buddha who existed before the Shakyamuni Buddha and Lumbani as birth place of Shakyamuni Buddha. He also clamed Devdaha to be the material home of Buddha and Tilarakot to be the exact site of Kapilvastu- the ancient capital of the ShakyaKingdom.
Shortly after the Buddha attended enlightenment at the age of 36, he delivered his first sermon, in which he laid out the essential framework upon which all his later teachings were based. This framework consists of the four Noble Truths and the eight fold path, which identifies the source of sufferings and the path towards the cessation of sufferings and the attainment of Salvation.
In order to develop Lumbini as a pilgrimage center and a fountain of World Peace, Prof. Kenzo Tange of Japan was assigned to create the Lumbini Master-plan by UN which was jointly approved by the Government of Nepal and UN in 1978. The Master Plain includes canals, gardens, library, museum, monastic zones and areas for amenities. Lumbini Development Trust is responsible for the overall development of Lumbini. Listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in December 1997, Lumbini is being developed with international support. There are different Vihars(inns) and Monastries constructed by different countries like Korea, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Japan, Germany, France, Australia, India, Srilanka, China and Nepal.
Access: From Kathmandu, fly to GautamBuddhaAirport in Bhirahawa (SiddharthaNagarMunicipality, 30 minutes) and then drive (22km) to Lumbini. Overland from Kathmandu to Bhairahawa is 300km (9 hours).
Getting Around: The place to see in Lumbini are scattered over an area of roughly 3 sq miles. There are manual three-wheelers to get around the Lumbini complex.
Climate: Temperature 40 degree Celsius maximum. The rainy season lasts June-September.
Accommodation: Lumina offers good hotels that are equipped with modern amenities. Visitors can also stay in Lumbini or the nearby town of Bhairahawa.
Attractions: Lumbini tour, Buddhist circuit tour, Village tour, Monastery tour, Meditation, Archaeological tour, Crane Sanctuary and Wet land tour. Great celebration takes place in Buddha Purnima (April-May).