Places to Visit in Nepal
Situated at the Terai plains of the southern Nepal, Lumbini is the place where Siddhartha Gautam, the Shakya Prince and the ultimate Buddha, the Enlighted One, was born in 623 BC. The sacred place, marked by a stone pillar erected by Emperor Ashoka of India in 249 BC, is listed as one of the World Heritage Sites.
Today the holy site is being developed with international support as the supreme Buddhist pilgrimage and a symbol of world peace. The shrines and monastries that many countries have built or are still building reflect the architectural traditions of the respective countries, and thus giving Lumbini an international feel with a message of universal friendship and brotherhood.
About 30km east of Lumbini is the village of Tilaurakot which is believed to have been the location of the Kapilvastu royal palace where the Buddha grew up as the Shakya dynasty prince, until he renounced it at the age of 29 in search of enlightenment.
The main attraction at Lumbini remains the Sacred Garden, which is spread over 8 sq.km and possesses all the treasures of the historic area. Today as part of the global initiative to promote Lumbini, many countries have built or are building temples, monastries or stupas near the Sacred Garden in the International Monastery Zone. Temples or shrines that have finished their construction so far are
Myanmar Temple, International Gautami Nuns Temple, China Temple, The Nepal Buddha Temple and the Dharma Swami Maharaja Buddha Vihara.
Ashoka pillar, carrying an inscription identifying the holy site as the birthplace, is situated nearby the Sacred Garden. To one side of Ashoka pillar is the Mayadevi Temple which houses a bas relief depicting the nativity. Recent excavations have turned up a stone bearing a "foot imprint", indicating the exact place of birth. The Puskarni pond, where Queen Mayadevi, the Buddha's mother, had taken a bath before giving birth to him lies to the south of the pillar.
Kushinagar is the place where Lord Buddha passed into Mahaparinirvana. Here are a lot of chaityas, stupas and viharas to see. The Muktabandhana stupa is believed to have been built by Malla dynasty to preserve the temporal relics of Lord Buddha. A smaller shrine nearby contains a reclining Buddha which was brought from Mathura by the monk Haribala.
Bodhgaya is the place where Buddha attained enlightenment. The tree under which Buddha attained wisdom is called the Bodhi tree, while the temple marking the sacred spot is known as Mahabodhi temple.
There are also three museums in Lumbini.
The Lumbini Museum, located in the Cultural Zone, 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 (LDT) and the Reiyukai of Japan, LIRI contains some 12,000 books on religion, philosophy, art and architecture.
Kapilvastu Museum is situated 27 km west of Lumbini in the village of Tilaurakot. The museum holds coins, pottery and toys dating between the seventh century BC and fourth century AD. The museum also has good collection of jwellery and other ornaments of that period.
Getting there and around
Buses run regulary after every hour or so from morning six o' clock to afternoon five o' clock to Lumbini from Bhairawa, an industrial town situated 284 km to the southeast of Lumbini. They are crowded and slow: it almost takes an hour for the 22km trip.
You can hire a cab for the day for about US$15. The cost may sound little bit expensive, but it's worth spending if you are travelling in a small group. The other option is you can hire a three-wheeler tempo for about half the price.
You can also take a 45-minute flight from Kathmandu to Gautam Buddha Airport at Bhairawa: there are five flights a week for US$75.
Depending on how long you want to stay in Lumbini, a bicycle or hiring a rickshaw would be nice to go around but not necessary (expecially for the fact that one cannot find a bike for rent easily).
Many just make a day trip to Lumbini from neighboring towns of Butwal, Bhairawa or Sunauli. But if you want to stay in the area, the peaceful environment of Lumbini is certainly better than those towns. The Lumbini Hokke Hotel is a spotlessly clean excellent Japanese style hotel for a rather steep price (US$80 up). The Sri-Lankan Pilgrims' Rest House is a more modest living place for about US$10; it is a little distance away from the main center of Lumbini though. The Lumbini Village Lodge is closer and
provides rooms for a few dollar less, but the rooms are very basic at best.
See our online Directory of
Hotels to search for hotels in the area.
There is very little choice. There is only one restaurant, the Lumbini Garden Restaurant, which is about ten minutes walk from the center. The Lumbini Hokke Hotel (fairly expensive) and The Sri Lankan Pilgrim' Rest House (very basic menu) are the only