Welcome to the Land of the Buddha!
Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, still remains one of the most interesting, mysterious, enchanting, and remote parts of the world. It is also one of world’s major religious, architectural, and historical sites. In fact, Lumbini is one of four Buddhist pilgrimage sites based on major events in the life of Gautama Buddha.
Lumbini is really a big area with monuments, temples, and ancients sites making it a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The birth place of Gautama Buddha engages to the global visitors in the depths of archeological findings of Gautama Buddha and the development of Buddhism. There are 62 archaeological sites scattered around Lumbini.
The must visit places in Lumbini encompass picture of some of the important findings from the scientific excavations. Some of the important landmarks and monuments in Lumbini include: Ashoka’s Pillar erected by Emperor Ashoka (249 BC) on the spot of Buddha’s birth which also has the oldest inscription in Nepal. The Mayadevi temple which is built on the exact place where Buddha was born is also important site to visit. Furthermore, there are many Buddhist temples founded by the devotees from different countries: Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese and Burmese, Korean, etc.
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 Buddha’s birth. Along with these, there are scores of ruins of ancient stupas, palaces and monasteries marking different incidences in Buddha’s life.
Likewise, Tilaurakot, Kudan, Gotihawa, Niglihawa, Sagarhawa, Devadaha and Ramagrama all bear 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 significant 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 Buddha for the first time after he returned from enlightenment.
Gotihawa is another religious and archaeological shrine for the Buddhist community and also historically and archaeologically significant. 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 archaeologically essential site around Lumbini, lies 8 km northwest of Taulihawa. The site has a quadrangular pond locally known as Niglisagar. Similarly, 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 kilometers 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.
Lumbini is recognized as the ultimate Buddhist pilgrimage site and a symbol of world peace. Its cultural sites and places are really intriguing to the visitors.