4 sightseeing around Lumbini

Visiting Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, is also an opportunity to see the culture and ecology of Terai. Lumbini and its surroundings have about 60 archaeological sites related to Buddha, dating back to as early as 8th century BC. The ruins of the palace, stupas and monasteries of ancient Kapilavastu kingdom are one of the important archaeological sites of Nepal.

Here is the list of four sightseeing around Lumbini that one must do.

1 Visit sacred garden and Mayadevi temple in the evening

Mayadevi temple Lumbini
Mayadevi temple and ruins of monastic complex and stupa built from 3rd century BC - 12th AD.

Most people visit Mayadevi temple, the birthplace of Buddha in the afternoon. But if you want to feel the vibe of the prayers, visit the sacred garden in the evening. This is when monks and pilgrims come to offer oil lamps and chant hymns. Sit in a corner and immerse into the enchanting orison. Watch the silhouette of Mayadevi temple in oil lamps and its reflection on the Pushkarini pond.
Mayadevi temple shelters the recently rediscovered marker stone and layers of temple ruins dating back to 3rd century BC. Marker stone was kept at the exact birthplace of Buddha, which was later buried under the debris of temples built at different times in the history. The 6 m tall Ashokan pillar from 3rd BC with inscription mentioning Emperor Asoka’s visit to the birth place of Buddha still stands next to the temple. The Puskarini pond lies to the east of the Mayadevi temple. This is where Buddha and his mother Mayadevi took bath right after the birth. The legendary Lumbini garden that lies between the two ancient kingdoms of Devadaha and Kapilavastu has been restored. Queen Mayadevi went into labor at Lumbini garden while travelling to her parental home at Devadaha and gave birth to Gautama Buddha.

2 Tour of Kapilavastu

The Tilaurakot palace gate from where Buddha embarked on a journey of enlightenment.

With the recent meticulous excavation, several archaeological ruins of the ancient Kapilavastu have been recovered. The capital city of Tilaurakot and the Nigrodharma monastery are the most important findings.
Tilaurakot palace ruin lies 29 km west of the Lumbini. Ruins of a tall fortification wall with 12 ft width covering 500 m by 405 m area and a moat surrounding it have been restored at the site. The grey wears, coin minting factory, palace chambers and other archaeological artifacts found inside the fortification wall perfectly features the existence of the ancient capital and palace.
Tilaurakot palace was where Buddha spent his early 29 years as prince Siddhartha. The ruins of Mahabhiniskramana Dwara’ (The great departure gateway) has been unearthed and is the most worshipped corner in the premises. This is from where the price embarked on the journey of enlightenment.

Tilaurakot palace ruin
The eastern gate ruin of the Tilaurakot palace from where Buddha embarked on a journey to seek enlightenment.

Nigrodharma monastery (Kudan) is one of the earliest monasteries established to house Buddha and his disciples coming to Kapilavastu after enlightenment. The monastery was named after the monk Nigrodha who is believed to have converted Emperor Ashoka to Buddhism. Buddha visited the monastery at several occasions and preached some of theimportant sutra teachings including Cula Dukkhakkhandha Sutta. This is where Rahula (Buddha’s son) was initiated into monkhood and Buddha’s second mother Mahaprajapati Gotami requested Buddha to take women in the assembly. Buddha visited the monastery on several occasions and preached about 5 different sutras including Majjhimanikaya Sutta, Cula Dukkhakkhandha Sutta, Bhaddekaratta Sutta.
The monastery ruin at the mean time is named as Kudan monastery after the nearby village of Kudan.

Kapilavastu was also the birthplace of Kanakamuni Buddha and Krakuchand Buddha. The Ashokan pillar with inceptions in Niglihawa and Goihawa mention his visit to those sites.

3 Tour of Monastic zone

Gautami nuns temple in monastic zone of Lumbini
Gautami nuns temple in the western monastic zone of Lumbini.

Monasteries were built around the birthplace of Buddha from as early as the time of Buddha. Ruins of the monastic complex are still seen around the Mayadevi temple. Lumbini was preserved and developed under a master plan in the area of 1 X 3 sq miles. The central part of the master plan consists of monasteries from around the world divided into eastern and western zones by a canal. The western monastic zone comprises monasteries of Mahayana school of Buddhism and the eastern monastic zone has Theravada monasteries.
These monasteries have interesting architecture and murals inspired from their home culture. Sculptures and objects of prayer are also exhibited in a great harmony. You may get opportunities to sit in a puja ceremony or chat with monks from around the world.

How to explore Monastic zone ?

You can walk, rent a bicycle or get an electric auto rickshaw to drive around the monastic zone. Walking or renting a bicycle, you can spend more time at the monastery you like.

4 World peace pagoda during sunset

World peace pagoda in Lumbini
World peace pagoda stands 3.2 km across the Mayadevi temple in the Lumbini development zone.

The Japanese style 30 m tall stupa stands on the other end of Lumbini development zone, almost 3.2 km across the Mayadevi temple. Climbing on the higher plinth of the stupa one can get a good perspective of the Lumbini development zone. The place also offers an overview of the crane sanctuary and beautiful sunset. The 256 hectares of marsh and grassland also protects Blue bull antelope, spotted deer, jackals and many other species of birds.

Blue bull preserved in Lumbini
Blue Bull preserved in the Lumbini Crane Sanctuary.
Inspired by the Buddha's compassionate act of saving injured Sarus crane, Lumbini crane sanctuary was established in 1994 in the area of 256 acres. About 300 species of birds and 200 pairs of Sarus cranes nest in the area. With their height reaching up to 1.8 m (5 ft 11 in)  Sarus cranes  ( Grus antigone ) are the tallest flying birds in the world.  Sarus Cranes ( tallest flying bird ) in Lumbini Crane sanctuary.
Sarus cranes (tallest flying birds) in Lumbini crane sanctuary.
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Spiritual Tour Review

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Arranged a tour in Lumbini, Kathmandu including a Mountain Flight to Everest. Rabi was ever so helpful in organising the tour to suit my requirement as I was on an official tour. Correspondence was prompt and effective via e-mail and WhatsApp prior to the tour as well as in between. Visited several places of interest in Kathmandu with a guided tour. Rabi arranged a tour guide, a young enthusiastic fellow from Lumbini who was also involved in excavation work in Kapilvastu while following a PG Dip. in Archeology. He was equally knowledgeable and took me around to the important places of interest such as Maya Devi Temple in the sacred garden, Peace Pagoda and a few monasteries built by countries that are predominantly Buddhist. Rabi knows how to organise tailor-made tours to make your trip to Nepal a memorable one.
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