Birthplace of the Buddha
Lumbini, the place where the Buddha was born in 623 BC, is situated in the Terai plains of southern Nepal. The nativity site is marked by a stone pillar erected by Indian Emperor Ashoka in 249 BC.
Listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Lumbini is being developed with international support as the supreme Buddhist pilgrimage and a symbol of world peace. The Sacred Garden where the Buddha was born converges on the Ashoka pillar which carries an inscription identifying the spot as the birthplace. To one side of the pillar is the Mayadevi Temple which houses a bas relief depicting the nativity. The Puskarni pond where Queen Mayadevi, the Buddha’s mother, had taken a bath before giving birth to him lies nearby.
TEMPLES AND MONASTERIES
The Myanmar Temple (Lokamani Cula Pagoda) is a gleaming gold and white structure gracefully soaring into the sky in the style of the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. There is a monastery complex behind the temple. Nearby, the International Gautami Nuns Temple is a fine replica of the Swayambhu stupa in Kathmandu. There is a pond here known as Paleswan Pukhu.
The China Temple is a complex of pagodas, prayer rooms and meditation cells. Built by the Buddhist Association of China, the centerpiece at the Zhong Hua Buddhist Monastery is a huge statue of the Buddha housed in its main pagoda. Across the road, the Dae Sung Suk Ga Sa Korean Temple (Tel: 071-80123) is still under construction, but its guest house has been completed. The Nepal Buddha Temple and the Dharma Swami Maharaja Buddha Vihara are located inside the Sacred Garden.
The Japan Peace Stupa is situated at the northern end of Lumbini. Built by the Nippon Jon Myohoji of Japan, the 41-m tall edifice is visible from a distance. Four different Buddha statues are set into the stupa’s dome to face the four cardinal directions. Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand and Mongolia are also building temples in Lumbini.
The Lumbini Museum contains Mauryan and Kushana coins, religious manuscripts, terra-cotta fragments, and stone and metal sculptures. It also possesses an extensive collection of stamps from various countries depicting Lumbini and the Buddha.
Lumbini International Research Institute (LIRI), located opposite the Lumbini Museum, provides research facilities for the study of Buddhism and religion in general. Run jointly by the Lumbini Development Trust and the Reiyukai of Japan, LIRI contains some 12,000 books on religion, philosophy, art and architecture. (Tel: 071-80175; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Kapilvastu Museum is situated 27 km west of Lumbini in Tilaurakot. The museum holds coins, pottery and toys dating between the seventh century BC and fourth century AD. The museum also has a good collection of jewelry and other ornaments from that period. Open daily except Tuesdays and holidays, 10 am to 4 pm. Entrance fee is Rs. 15. (Tel: 076-60128).
Tilaurakot, 27 km to the west of Lumbini, contains the ruins of ancient Kapilvastu, capital of the Sakya kingdom where the Buddha spent his youth as Prince Siddhartha. At Niglihawa (8 km from Tilaurakot) and Gotihawa (5 km), there are broken Ashoka pillars and other relics. Devdaha, capital of the Koliya kingdom and maternal home of Mayadevi, lies 35 km to the northeast of Lumbini – just off the Butwal-Narayanghat section of the East-West Highway.
Lumbini is situated in the tropical Terai plains to the southwest of Kathmandu.
Access: From Kathmandu, fly to Gautam Buddha Airport in Bhairahawa (Siddhartha Nagar Municipality, 45 minutes) and then drive (22 km) to Lumbini. Overland from Kathmandu to Bhairahawa is 282 km (10 hours).
Getting around: The places to see in Lumbini are scattered over a large area (roughly 8 sq km). There are battery-operated three-wheelers to get around.
Climate: Absolute extreme temperature 44 degrees Celsius maximum, 7 degrees minimum. The rainy season lasts June-September.
Additional info: Lumbini Development Trust, Lumbini; Tel: 071-80189, 80194; Fax: 977-71-80181. Kathmandu Office: Tripureswor; Tel: 268285.
Hotels in Lumbini
Kathmandu Office: Jyatha Tole; Tel: 228011, 228561; Fax: 977-1-228028;
Lumbini Hokke Hotel
Lumbini Sacred Garden, Lumbini; Tel: 71-80236, 80136; Fax: 977-71-80126
Managing Director: Mr. Sunil Sakya
South of Lumbini Garden, Lumbini; Tel: 71-80220; Fax: 977-71-80219
General Manager: Mr. Mahesh Dewan
Paklihawa Road, Siddhartha Nagar; Tel: 20837, 20516; Fax: 977-71-21262
Kathmandu Office: Tripureswor; Tel: 225370, 247422; Fax: 977-1-270048;
Hotel Nirvana, a centrally air-conditioned deluxe hotel with 42 rooms, has all modern amenities including individual room temperature control. Its restaurant serves Nepali, Continental, Chinese and Indian cuisines, and its Lobby Bar offers exotic drinks. There is also a Japanese bath house and a banquet hall with seating capacity for 250.
Bank Road, Siddhartha Nagar; Tel: 71-23737, 21737; Fax: 977-71-23838
Kathmandu Office: Thamel, Hotel MM Int’l Building