Former Nepalese Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal Friday advocated a ‘Lumbini circuit’ of Buddhist tourism sites spanning India and Nepal which would attract millions of Buddhist pilgrims.
Nepal said he was for two different circuits, one for India, touching Buddhist spots of Sarnath, Bodh Gaya and another one in Nepal, touching Lumbini, the “maternal house” of the Buddha, Kapilavastu, his “father’s house”, and other sites.
“One broad Lumbini circuit should be there. Both countries can attract Buddhist pilgrims on the circuit. This should be developed to attract millions of pilgrims,” said Nepal at a talk at Sapru House organized by the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA).
Last year, in November, an MoU was inked between a committee set up by the Nepal government and a Hong Kong-based NGO to transform Lumbini into a ‘Mecca for Buddhists’.
The Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation (APEC) Foundation was to pump in investment worth US $3 to 5 billion to develop infrastructure at Lumbini.
Lumbini Tour Circuit engages to the global visitors in the depths of insightful archeological findings of Gautama the Buddha and the development of Buddhism. There are 62 archaeological sites scattered outside the Lumbini. Lumbini – the birth place of Buddha and surrounding area of ancient Kapilavastu and Devdaha are in Terai of Nepal.
The set of Lumbini Buddhist circuit tour encompasses picture of some of the important findings from the scientific excavations. Lumbini is one of four Buddhist pilgrimage sites based on major events in the life of Gautama Buddha. The sacred place, marked by a stone pillar erected by Emperor Ashoka of India in 249 BC, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. Recent excavations have turned up a stone bearing a “foot imprint”, indicating the exact place of Lord Buddha’s birth. Along with these, there are scores of ruins of ancient stupas, palaces and monasteries marking different incidences in Buddha’s life.
Further, the Lumbini Tour Circuit goes through Tilaurakot, Kudan, Gotihawa, Niglihawa, Sagarhawa, Devadaha and Ramagrama all bearing significance to the life, Enlightenment and death of Buddha.
Tilaurakot is one among the many important Buddhist sites of interest located some 27 km west of Lumbini. In Tilaurakot lies the ruins of the historic town of Kapilvastu believed to be the capital of Shakya dynasty where Lord Buddha spent the first 29 years of his princely life. There are ruins and mounds of old stupas and monasteries made of kiln burnt bricks and clay mortar. In the same way, the Kapilavastu Museum exhibits coins, pottery and toys dating back to the 7th century B.C. and 4th century A.D. including a collection of jewelry and ornaments. The terracotta figures recovered at Tilaurakot belong to pre-Mauryan, Mauryan, Sunga and the Kushana periods.
Kudan, located some 4 km south of Tilaurakot is historically and archaeologically important religious and archaeological site for the Buddhism. The huge mound of structural ruins and a pond nearby appears to be the ruins of stupas and monasteries. These are believed to be the Kasaya Stupa. This is where King Suddhodhana met Lord Buddha for the first time after he returned from Enlightenment.
Gotihawa is an important religious and archaeological shrine for the Buddhist world community and also historically and archaeologically important. Located about 3 km southwest of Taulihawa, it is believed that Krakuchanda Buddha, who came before Shakyamuni Buddha, was born in Gotihawa and attained Nirvana here. Brick structures of stupas and monasteries can be seen in the area outside modern Gotihawa village. At the center of the main mound the remains of a broken Ashokan Pillar lie on a slab adjoining Nirvana Stupa of Buddha.
Niglihawa, another archaeological important site at Lumbini Circuit lies 8 km northwest of Taulihawa. The site has a quadrangular pond locally known as Niglisagar. Likewise, on the western bank of the pond there are two broken pieces of the Ashokan pillar. The pillar bears two peacocks on the top part and an inscription which reads, Om Mane Padme Hum.
Sagarhawa forest is about12 km north of Taulihawa. In the midst of the forest, there is a huge rectangular tank, which is popularly known as Lumbusagar. Sagarhawa is the archeological findings as place of the Massacre of the Shakyas. The ancient tanks ruins, which were excavated and identified as the ‘Palace of massacre of the Shakyas’ can still be located on the west south banks of the Sagar.
Devadaha is the parental home of Queen Maya Devi, mother of Lord Buddha which is situated 38 kilometres east of Lumbini. Devadaha was the capital of the last Koliyas dynasty. It is a holy place of pilgrimage for the Buddhists.
The Ramgram Kingdom was 60 km to the east of the holy place of the Buddha’s birth. The King of Ramgram Kingdom was one of the eight Kings who obtained Buddha’s relics and he also built a pagoda named Ramgram Pagoda. After building the stupa containing the relics of the Buddha’s body, this site became one of the centers of pilgrimage and devotion.
In short, Lumbini Circuit the holy site is recognized as the ultimate Buddhist pilgrimage and a symbol of world peace. The holy site is waiting to share the Gautama The Buddha’s archeological history, the land of pilgrimage sprite of world peace, and remnant of cultural spirit of Tilaurakot.