Lumbini is the place where the Gautama Buddha was born.
The exact year of his birth is strongly disputed, with possible dates ranging from the 11th to the 6th century BC. The town of Lumbini is one of the four holy places in Buddhism: the sites of his birth, enlightenment, first discourse, and death. All of these occurred outside, in nature.
The site remained neglected for centuries. Only in 1895 it was rediscovered by a German archaelogist. A temple and a bathing pool are believed to be originals from the era of Buddhas birth.
Map of LumbiniLoad map
Visit March 2001
On my tour of the south of Nepal I travelled from Chitwan (Sauraha) to Lumbini by public buses. A Japanese guy and I were dumped at the roadside, amidst flat agricultural lands and some forest. 'This is Lumbini', they told us. It's a quiet area, natural in outlook and with its temples hidden from first sight.
The actual site is quite small: a few excavations and a large tree, that is all to see. Still it is a very serene place. Since a few years several Buddhist Asian countries are building their own temples and monasteries around the original site (according to the "Lumbini Masterplan" by a Japanese architect). They try to surpass each other in beauty. The very different building styles make for an ecclectic view.
Lumbini can be reached by flight from Kathmandu to Bhairahawa, which is a larger town close to India border. The accommodation options around are pretty basic, but there is at least one resort with all the ammenities of modern leisure tourism. Front desk arranged a driver for us - pretty overpriced for Nepal at 70USD / 8 hrs, but with the good attitude required to brave the rural traffic and dusty roads...and find all the places he was not really familiar with.
1. Maya Devi
After taking the parking permit from the tourist info center, the driver can go inside the park and leave you close to the Maya Devi temple - the birthplace of Lord Buddha listed as WHS. Even if little more to see physically other than few stones, reconstructed stupa foundations, a pond and few boddhi trees, the cultural load of this site remains strong, and watching pilgrims chanting their mantras while contemplating the place where one of world's most important religions emerged makes for a strong, and beautiful spiritual experience. Visiting just before the start of the season in the first days of october must have helped as well - great weather, few tourists.
2. Kenzo Tange's masterplan and Lumbini Museum
What really made this WHS visit an amazing one was the discovery of Kenzo Tange's legacy. This is one of Japan's most famous architects and he was tasked with designing the Lumbini tourist park masterplan in the mid 70's. His Lumbini Museum is an amazing architectural gem: while the exhibition itself is in dreadful disrepair, the building with its awe-inspiring geometric interior spaces is really worth the detour.
The masterplan further contains many buddhist monasteries, to be considered for their peaceful atmosphere if one is not familiar with Asian temple typologies from different countries. Japan's World Peace Pagoda is probably the most iconic of them.
This one day trip wouldnt be complete without a visit to Tilaurakot, a tentative WHS site 40min drive away from Lumbini. Again, little more to see other than reconstructed foundations and secular trees...but this is the place where Buddha actually lived for the first 29 years of his life...after a pleasant walk through the history-filled forest, you can watch the sun go down at the gate through which Buddha presumably walked away when leaving the worldly life behind.
Best explored with professional guiding in order to keep the tour informative and entertaining.
There is also a very interesting hindu temple with hundreds of elephant statues on the premises.
This may be my last review seeing that I will receive all the wrath from Buddhists reading this and...but wait according to Alan Partridge the only religion allowed to be made fun of are Buddhists because "they don't fight back"... besides the comical quote and the fact that real Buddhists would indeed not show anger, plenty of them may not be happy to see I'm not writing something unholy about their sacred place. Would I rate the Church of Nativity equally low? Probably not, besides the fact that the church is not even the place where JC was supposed to be born but at least you a) see a church and b) have the mythology as well. Here, in Lumbini, you get a small house that isn't original, that is SUPPOSED to have been the birth place of Lord Buddha (with zero evidence that it is true), but it also has the mythology of millions of people following the story along. They all come to pray at the stone. I respect it but at the same time I find it ridiculous that they do. Yes you can tell I'm not religious and I find it almost shameful that UNESCO places something like this on the list along with the baptist site in Jordan. Also I then have to argue why this is acceptable for the main popular religions but there is nothing for the followers of e.g. Scientology or the Mormons...
The rest of the Lumbini area is NOT inscribed but unfortunately the only way to get here is by car and they will take you on a tour which means you get to see all the Buddhist temple styles around the world, basically China, Japan, Myanmar, Korea, Vietnam, etc. Very boring even if it's free. What made me more annoyed at this place was the crowds and the small path ways that are easily blocked off by a single tour group.
Pro-tip: Well, don't go to see it? Okay a real tip: the long line/queue to get into the building is actually for praying at the stone so if you don't want to do that you can just skip it, make sure they maybe know you are not skipping but just want to see the building and leave. Inside is lots of space to look down into the ruins.
The Ashoka pillar and Mayadevi Temple are the core of this WHS but all around it on the masterplan of a Japanese architect, Buddhist monasteries and temples are being built from all over the world and most are well worth a visit. Some are still under construction but already judging from what has been built this is going to become THE most important place for Buddhism in the near future. I also visited Tilaurakot (28kms away) which lacks the attention and gardening that Lumbini enjoys. It surely deserves to be added as a WHS with Lumbini even though a few ruins are what is left of ancient Kapilavastu
Sanjaya Singh KC
LUMBINI is heaven on earth. The birthplace of the LIGht of Asia, lord Buddha in Lumbini Nepal is a must visit place in your lifetime. I went there in 2009, November which is the best time to visit lumbini,because June- october is very warm over there. The peaceful atmosphere, the serene environment, the helpful people, the artistic pagodas,temples, archaeological sites, beautiful birds, cranes,forest, beautiful park just makes you feel, Buddha is still here..somewhere around meditating...wonderful place
lumbini a nice place to be .
i went there 10 years with my brother, sister-in-law and their kid. At that time a new temple were being made. We did sightseeing through Rikshaw . We conducted puja and gave a little bit of remarkable thing which we have still in home.
It is simple but it's simplicity is very unique as it adds the historic panoroma to the world. Lumbini is the place for meditation it's quite surroundings will let u be there forever.
We took several pictures it was truely a sparkling place to be. If u are looking for a nice and beautiful place to do meditation or to see historic place be there. Can't express in words how nice it is """LUMBINI - in NEPAL"""
Being a nepali citizen i am proudful to introduce myself as a person from the country of Lord buddha. Many foreigners know us and our country by the name of Lord Buddha. From the present context of view many tourists come to Nepal to visit particularly this place only. Through this visit they provide an employment opportunities to many poor peoples. I visited this place on the year 2008 recently and asked a rikshaw wala about his earning and he replied me that he hardly get a costumer in 2 days and can earn about rs 300 to Rs 700 on the same day. So we should thank to lord buddha and the visitors due to whome many people are sustaining their life. It is a nice place to visit. Thanku.
Arriving in a rather exhausted tour group, who jokingling kept calling it 'Budhist Bethlehem,' wasn't the most promising start to my visit.
However once off the bus the atmosphere and emotional power of this site took over. A serenity descended on everyone as we walked into the park, which evolved into a hushed revernce when we came to the Lord Buddhas birthplce.
By the time we left everyone seemed inspired and rejuvenated.
I would highly recomend this site, it's quiet, beautiful and a moving experience, which will remain a treasured memory for the rest of your life.
Rankoth Gedera, P
I've been to the birthplace of the Lord Buddha in Lumbini, Nepal, 1998. What I noticeably experienced was, calmed, quiet and natural feelings, and tranquillity of mind. I was so lucky to visit all the four sacred places: the Birth(Lumbini, Napal), the Enlightenment(Boddhagaya, India), the First discourse/sermon(Varanasi, India), and the Maha parinibbana/death of physical body(Kushinagar, India) of the Buddha. The feeling when visiting these four sacred places, cannot be expressed in words. You need to be there and feel how it is.
Visited Lumbini in October 2001(very warm in October!) with group of Buddhist pilgrims led by the Ven. Robina Courtin. A little shrine with some statues, excavations. One of Ashok's pillars is there. We conducted a puja under one of the large trees there. Went on to Nalanda,Kushinigar, Ragir, Bodhgaya, Varanasai & Sarnath. a month after 9/11 we were praying for peace at all these holy & historical sites.
Bureau - better info required on conservation measures etc
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