Lumbini, the birthplace of Shakyamuni Buddha, is a sacred land of peace in southern Nepal. Gautama Buddha was born twenty-five hundred years ago, and since his time, Nepal has been a holy ground for Buddhists. Lumbini is a small town in the southern Terai plains of Nepal, where the ruins of the old city can remain.
Lumbini has been a holy ground for Buddhists all over the world. The restored garden and surroundings of Lumbini have the remains of many of the ancient stupas and monasteries. A large stone pillar erected by the Indian Emperor Ashoka in 250 BC bears an inscription about the birth of the Buddha.
An important part of Lumbini is the temple of Maya Devi. It has a stone image of Maya Devi giving birth to Lord Buddha as she holds onto a branch. The temple is famous for worshipping from barren women hoping for fertility. To the south of the temple is a pool where Queen Maya Devi is said to have bathed and given her son his first purification bath. Shakyamuni Buddha was born to a royal family. You can also visit remnants of the old palace and civilization during your stay.
A quiet garden, shaded by the leafy Bo tree (the type of tree under which Buddha received enlightenment), and a newly-planted forest nearby lend an air of tranquillity that bespeaks Buddha's teachings. Lumbini is now going reconstruction under the Master Plan of the Lumbini Development Trust, a non-governmental organization dedicated to restoring Lumbini and its development as a pilgrimage site. The plan, completed in 1978 by the renowned Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, will transform three square miles of land into a sacred place of gardens, pools, buildings, and groves. The development will include a Monastic Zone, the circular sacred Garden surrounding the Ashoka Pillar and Maya Devi temple, and Lumbini Village, where visitors will find lodges, restaurants, a cultural center, and tourist facilities.
An important archeological site near Lumbini, Kapilvastu, evokes the ancient palace where Lord Buddha spent his formative years. Scattered foundations of the palace are abundant, and archeologists have discovered 13 successive layers of human habitation dating back to the eighth century BC. This place is a must-visit for archeological and historical researchers.
Besides its religious and historical significance, Lumbini offers cultural insights into the village life of southern Nepal. If possible, try to coincide your visit with the weekly Monday bazaar when villagers come from miles around to buy grains, spices, pottery, jewelry, saris, and other items. It may appear as a scene out of the Arabian Nights, with colorful merchandise under the mango trees and the air perfumed with incense. It's a chance to bargain for souvenirs while witnessing local life in Lumbini. Wooden ox-carts loaded with hay trundle. Villagers dry cow dung for fuel, and tea stalls serve sweet milk tea.