Lumbini is the birthplace of Lord Buddha, one of the revered figures of history and the founder of Buddhism. Today, it is an important tourism destination among Buddhist pilgrims. Surrounded by marshlands, this modest spot provides a grand mood for those who explore it. This is the place where Lord Buddha enjoyed luxury as Prince Siddharth before heading towards his path of enlightenment.
History of Lumbini
During the time of Buddha, this village was situated in Shakya, a place of oligarchic republic. This village was called as Lumbinivanna. It is said that pregnant Queen Maya Devi was returning to her parents’ home located in Kapilvastu. She went into labor on the way and gave birth to Lord Buddha near a tree. It is said that seconds after the baby was born, it uttered ‘it is my final rebirth’. Then, it took seven steps. Each step turned into a lotus and bloomed.
Emperor Ashoka of India, who became a follower of Buddhism visited this destination in 3rd century BC and marked the spot by erecting a pillar with an inscription mentioning that it is the place of birth of Lord Buddha. He also erected fortifications around the village and built four stupas to mark the boundary. In 9th century, many monasteries and temples were built in the site.
This site was forgotten for many centuries. In late 19th century, couple of German archeologists found a stone pillar in Rummindei, a park inside Lumbini and identified it as the pillar erected by Emperor Ashoka.
Today, Lumbini is 4.8 km in length and filled with religious structures, ruins of ancient temples and much more. It also holds the sacred Bodhi Tree. To denote the value of this site, the 100-rupee Nepali note holds the picture of Lumbini on it.
Importance of Lumbini
Lumbini is an important pilgrimage destination among Buddhists. It is the place, where Queen Maya Devi gave birth to Price Siddharth, who then became Lord Buddha and founded Buddhism. Apart from this,
- It is one of the four main pilgrimage sites of Buddhism in the world.
- It is an UNESCO world heritage site
- It is also considered as an important Hindu pilgrimage site as Buddha is considered as one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
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Top Places to Visit in Lumbini
Lumbini is the right spot to visit if you are looking for archeological, religious and cultural destination. Here are the top places to visit in Lumbini:
1. Maya Devi Temple
Maya Devi is the name of Lord Buddha’s mother. This temple is dedicated to Maya Devi. This temple has very simple design and is white in color. Pilgrims visit this temple for morning meditation. The tree under which she gave birth is the site of the temple. A Bodhi tree is located closer to the temple, which is famous for meditation and prayers.
2. Ashoka Pillar
Ashoka Pillar is a large stone pillar with inscriptions. Emperor Ashoka of India built it in 3rd century. On the surface of the pillar, the wording says that the local king had announced Lumbini to be free of tax as it was the birthplace of Lord Buddha. There are more than 19 pillars found in this region and the Ashoka pillar is the oldest of all.
3. Puskarni Pond
Just south to the pillar, you will find a small lotus bond. It is said that Queen Maya Devi took bath in the pond, right before giving birth to Lord Buddha. In addition, Lord Buddha was given his first bath in this pond. Today, you can find numerous devotees taking a holy dip in this pond. You can find ruin of various 2nd century and 9th century monasteries.
4. Great Lotus Stupa
This stupa is found by NGO, German Tara Foundation. This beautiful structure holds religious values in it. Each measurement of the temple complies with the building rules of the time of Buddha. There is a large meditation hall in the center of this stupa.
5. Myanmar Golden Temple
As the name indicates, this temple is built in Myanmar architecture. This is one of the oldest structures of Lumbini. There are three large prayer halls in this temple.
6. Lumbini Museum
This museum holds many historic and cultural artifacts, which explain the life and journey of Lord Buddha. Artifacts of various parts of the world pertaining to Lord Buddha can be found in this museum. This museum is located to the northern ends of Lumbini.
7. Sacred Garden
The home of Gautama Buddha’s mother is now the Sacred Garden of Lumbini. You can find how Buddha was brought up right up to the point, when he left his palace in search of enlightenment.
8. Royal Thai Buddhist Monastery
This is a grand architectural structure and a major attraction. This large monastery is located to the northern side of the pond and is completely made of white marbles. The garden, gold statues and the carved architecture are the main attractions of this monastery. The blue meditation center is another art-beauty.
9. World Peace Pagoda
This bright white pagoda is located right outside Lumbini. Usually tourists take bike ride to this pagoda from Lumbini. This structure has a large gold statue of Buddha in his birth position. This pagoda was built in the cost of one million USD. It is said that there were many commotions while the pagoda was being constructed and one Buddhist monk was killed during this commotion. The grave of that monk is located at the bottom of this stupa.
10. Dharma Swami Maharaja Buddha Bihar
This is a Tibetan styled monastery located right outside the main Lumbini Village. It is said that around 60 monks live in this Bihar. Everyday, rituals and prayers are conducted by this group of monks. You can find numerous Buddhist artworks and paintings in this structure.
Lord Gautama Buddha is not the first Buddha of the world. There were numerous Buddhas before and after him. Gotihawa is the spot where Gawtama Buddha met with the previous Buddha, Buddha Karkucchanda. There is a large pillar in this region, with a huge stupa made with Mauryan Bricks.
This is a small region outside Lumbini. This is the place where Lord Buddha met with the King of the region, Suddhodhana, during his return to his birthplace, after his enlightenment. There is a small pond and a beautiful stupa in this region. You can learn a lot about Lord Buddha and Buddhism in this stupa.
13. The China Temple
This is a beautiful pagoda-structure. This temple is famous for its serene beauty and peace.
This region is located around 27 km away from Lumbini. This region was the main area of Shakya Kingdom in the past. Today, you can find ruins of monasteries and stupas of ancient times. The wall of the city and the moat around it, still remains.
Other important destinations a little away from Lumbini are Niglihawa, Devadaha and Sagarhawa.
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Best Time to Visit Lumbini
Lumbini is located at the southern end of Nepal. The region experiences cliché sub-tropical monsoon climate. Summer starts in May and ends in June. They are the hottest months of the year. Thus, it should be avoided.
Monsoon starts in June and ends in August. The climate will be pleasing when compared to summer. However, travel will be hard due to muddy roads and constant shower. The best time to visit Lumbini is from October to December. The temperature will be cool and pleasing. You can find lush flora and unique flowers at bloom during this season.
April and May are also pleasing time to visit, however, the temperature could be slightly warm. December to February will be the peak winter season and the temperature can go as low as 8 degree C too.
Best Time to Visit – October to December and from April to May.
How To Reach Lumbini
There are two airports to choose to visit Lumbini. You can choose eitherKanthmandu airport or the Gawtam Buddha Airport of Bhairahawa. Lumbini is around 10 hours of drive from Kathmandu. Usually, tourists reach Kathmandu via airways and then either choose road transportation for 10 hours or find domestic flight to Bhairahawa. The Gawtam Buddha Airport of Bhairahawa is 30-minute drive away from Lumbini. There are plans to convert Gautam Buddha Airport to an International terminus.
If you are looking to reach Lumbini from India, you can find trains up to Gorakhpur and then take road transportation to Sunauli. From Sunauli, you can find buses to reach Lumbini. If you are an Indian, there is no visa requirement to reach Nepal. However, Indians need to have any ID with photo. Other citizens have to obtain Nepal visa to enter the country.
During the peak tourism season, you can find direct buses from Kathmandu to Lumbini. If not, you would have to reach Bhairahawa and then travel to Lumbini. You can find private cabs from many parts of Nepal to Lumbini. The cost of the private cabs varies with season and the service provider.
Get Detailed Guide : Nepal Tourist Visa and Fees
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Where To Stay in Lumbini
You can see many guest houses in Lumbini. These are basic lodging facility with in-room bathroom, running water, wi-fi facilities and others. If you are looking for high-end hotels, you can find a few resorts and brand hotels in the region. Most of the tourists prefer staying in Kathmandu and visit Lumbini for a day or two and get back to Kathmandu.
There are a few luxury hotels closer to the birthplace of Lord Buddha. Such hotels provide personalized tour to Lumbini and attractions around it. The cost of such hotels will be sky-high during religious times and peak tourism season.
What To Eat in Lumbini
The cuisine of Lumbini is a mixture of Bhutan and Nepalese cuisine. Indian and Indo-Chinese fusion restaurants are quite common in and around Lumbini. The restaurants in this region provide enormous portions and hospitality will be grand. Top dishes to try in Lumbini are:
- Lassi (sweetened yogurt served with many flavors)
- Lumbini cauliflower curry with honey and soya sauce
- Chili paneer
- Piropiropakheta (chicken dish flavored with piropiro sauce)
- Kebabs cooked in clay oven
- Prawn dishes
- KukhuranLumbini (chicken)
- Sherpa Bheda (lamb flavored with red wine, coconut, almond and onion)
- Imlidaar has (duck cooked with black salt and tamarind in clay oven)
- Lentil dishes
Top Desserts to try here:
- Gajar Halwa
- Gulab Jamun
Read More : What to Eat in Nepal