Lumbini

Siddhartha , the son of Sakya king Suddhodhana and queen Maya Devi was born in the Lumbini garden in 623 BC. Lumbani, a “World Heritage Site”, is located in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal. Queen Maya Devi gave birth to little Siddhartha while traveling from Kapilavastu to Devadaha (her parents home) to give birth to her first child as per the tradition of that time. Along the way she was passing through the Lumbini garden where she stopped to admire the Sal trees in full bloom. She gave birth to Siddhartha on the full moon day of Vaishakha month, in standing position holding the branch of sal tree. The Buddhist literatures mentions that newly born Siddhartha walked 7 steps towards north and declared to be the chief in the world, and this shall be his last birth and there will be no more becoming for him. A great immeasurable light emerged at the time of his birth penetrating even the darkest of the places. Simultaneously a Bodhi plant erupted from the soil in Uruvela (present day Bodhgaya) at the same time of birth of Buddha (the same tree under which Siddratha attained enlightenment). In 249 BC Emperor Asoka visited Lumbini and placed a commemorative stone tablet at the exact spot of birth of Buddha. He also erected a stone Pillar to commemorate his visit.

Major attractions in Lumbini:

⦁ Sanctum Santorum: The first temple at the site was built by King Asoka during 3rd century BC. Previously it was marked by a tree shrine (Bodhighara). The second stage of construction was carried out during the 1st century AD when the original temple was renovated. The third phase of construction was carried out by the Kushan king Huvishka. The entire Mahabodhi temple as seen today is the structure that was constructed during the Gupta Period (6th century AD). The height of temple is over 55 meters and in the sanctum there is a 10th century image of Buddha seated in the earth touching posture (Bhumisparsh Mudra).

⦁ Nativity sculpture:: The nativity sculpture dates back to 4th century BC and is placed in the new temple built over the exact spot of birth of Buddha. The Nativity sculpture depicts the nativity scene. It has image of Maya Devi, holding the branch of a sal tree and next to her is Prajapati, her younger sister. The newly born Siddhartha is depicted in standing position with two Devas receiving him.

⦁ Asokan Pillar:The Lumbini Pillar was erected by the Maurayan Emperor Asoka in 249 BC. Originally, it had horse capital which was lost when a lightning struck the pillar and the pillar got broken into two parts. Today the pillar measures 6.7 meters and stands in the Lumbini Park. The inscription engraved on the pillar testifies Lumbini as the birthplace of Buddha.

⦁ Puskarini pond:Close to the Asokan Pillar there is the holy pond, Puskarini, which is believed to be the same pond where Queen Maya Devi had taken bath before giving birth to Siddhartha.

⦁ Kapilavastu: Kapilvastu, the capital of Sakyan Kingdom and the place where Siddhartha spent his 29 years, is around 27 km from Lumbini at the present day Tilaurakot (in Nepal). This is also the place where Siddhartha renounced the material world in search of enlightenment. The ruins of Kapilvastu include the remains of the fortification wall & eastern and western gates. The Eastern gate, through which Siddhartha took renunciation, is called the Mahabhiniskramana Dwara.

⦁ Niglihawa: The birthplace of Kanakmuni Buddha is situated around 3 km from Tilaurakot. King Asoka erected a pillar in 249 BC to mark his pilgrimage to the site, which has got broken into two pieces. The lower part having inscriptions is submerged in the ground while the upper part is lying on the ground.

⦁ Gotihawa: Situated around 7 km from Tilaurakot is believed to be the birthplace of Kakusandha Buddha. Gotihawa is marked by a stupa and an Asokan Pillar erected in 249 BC.

⦁ Kudan: This is the site of ancient Nigrodharma (the Banyan Grove) which king Suddhodhan offered to Buddha when he first visited Kapilavastu with his 300 disciples, after enlightenment. It was the same place where his son Rahula asked for his inheritance and he was initiated into Buddhism. This is also the site where Prajapati Gautami , his second mother offered him robe.

⦁ Ramagama StupaThe tribe of Koliyas obtained their share (one of the eight parts) of Buddha’s Relic which they enshrined in Ramagama. They built a Stupa on the banks of Jharahi River which is the only original undisturbed Dhatu Stupa in the world, containing the relics of Buddha.

⦁ Devadaha: Devadaha was the ancient capital of the Koliya kingdom , and the maternal home of Queen Maya Devi , mother of Buddha. Devadaha is around 57 km from Lumbini and is marked by several historical sites including Maya Devi temple.

⦁ Major templesThere are numerous temples and meditation centers in Lumbini which should be visited. Major temples which are recommended to visit include the Nepalese Vihara, Burmese Vihara and the Tibetan Vihara.