Lumbini, one of the Buddhist’s important pilgrimage sites, is situated in Rupandehi district of province 5 in Nepal. Lumbini is a popular destination among Buddhist people around the globe and is the birthplace of the Buddha (Siddhartha Gautam who became Gautam Buddha after enlightenment). Lumbini is regarded as one of the four major pilgrimage sites in Buddhism and an important site for Hindus as well. The Hindus consider Buddha as one of the many manifestations of the Lord Vishnu. There are over 25 international Buddhist monasteries, monuments, and the Lumbini International Research Institute within the holy site of Lumbini.
Lumbini is enlisted as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites as well. UNESCO provided the status of a world heritage site in the year 1997.
Lumbini Nepal Map
History of Lumbini
Indian Emperor visited Kapilbastu in 248 BCE and Lumbini was identified because of him. He, while visiting the place erected a pillar with an inscription honoring the birth of Siddhartha Gautam. Ashoka also built a wall around the area and 4 stupas to mark the spot of birth.
A Chinese pilgrim named Faxian visited Lumbini in 403 BCE. In his account, he mentioned that there was a garden in Kapilbastu, which was named as Lumbini. While returning to her home, Queen Mayadevi was in labor pain. She got into the pond and took bath. After the bath, she walked towards the northern part and faced towards the east. She had no trouble giving birth to a baby. When the baby fell to the ground, he walked seven paces right after. It was miraculous and it is believed that the baby spoke: “it’s my rebirth”. He was washed then which later became a holy pond.
Around two hundred years later, another Chinese pilgrim visited Lumbini and described the structures; monasteries and Ashoka’s pillar. Later, during the 9th century BCE, the area was controlled by the Muslims and later again by the Hindus.
During the 20th Century CE, after the numerous excavations, many Buddhist structures were rediscovered. One of the most amazing and significant structures in the area is the Mayadevi temple. The temple area includes the actual place of birth of Buddha and is indicated by the marker stone. It was discovered in 1996 CE during the time when the temple was excavated. Mayadevi temple is situated together with the holy pond where Buddha and Mayadevi first took their bath.
How to Get to Lumbini?
Lumbini lies to the southern part of Nepal in the plain Terai. It is around 8-hour drive from Kathmandu (the capital city of Nepal) and is a 30-minute drive from Bhairahawa. Also, there are regular flights to and from Gautam Buddha Airport from Kathmandu. Sunauli (the Indian border) is within the distance of 1 hour from Lumbini and Gorakhpur; the nearest railway station in India is 4-hour drive from Lumbini.
Lumbini is soon to witness an International Airport maybe within a year or so. After the construction of this airport, it will be a huge relief to the only international airport of Nepal i.e. Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu and also the air traffic congestion.
Accommodation in Lumbini
Since Lumbini is a popular touristic destination of Nepal as well as in the whole world, there are plenty of options of hotels and lodges. Just outside the temple premises, one can get a lot of hotels and lodges as per the need. Some of the popular hotels are Buddha Maya Hotel, Lumbini Hokke Hotel, Lumbini Buddha Garden, Tiger palace resort, Lumbini garden hotel, Hotel Bodhi Redsun, Dreamland Gold resort, Club de Nova etc among many others.
Where was Buddha born?
This is an ongoing debate in Nepal and a few other countries for a long time now. A lot of rumors going on which claims that India is where Buddha was born. But it’s not the truth. As mentioned above, Lumbini (Kapilbastu) is the birthplace of Buddha, which lies in the southern part of Nepal.
There’s a Lumbini park constructed in the commemoration of Lord Buddha in Hyderabad, India. Because of its huge area, it attracts thousands of people each year. Maybe this is one of the many reasons why people are mistaken about the birthplace of Buddha as India.
Weather of Lumbini
Located in the southern part of Nepal i.e. plain land (Terai region), Lumbini has a subtropical monsoon climate. Lumbini witnesses the hot weather for half of the year and the rest, it has moderate with less possibility of precipitation throughout the year. The hottest weather is during the months of May and June. Similarly, the monsoon starts from June until August. Then, it’s autumn from September to November and winter from December to February. March and April are the spring times.
Best time to Visit Lumbini
As with the most cases, the best time to visit Nepal is considered during the months of October and November. Likewise, most of the people prefer to travel to Lumbini from October to November. The skies are clear and the weather is temperate as well. Similarly, it is also good to visit Lumbini during April and May. It is because Buddha Jayanti (the birthday of Lord Buddha) falls during this time. Buddha Jayanti is celebrated in a grand manner during this time.
Things to do and see in Lumbini
- World Peace Pagoda
Peace Pagoda is one of the important highlights of travel to Lumbini. Japanese Buddhist monks with the wish of world peace and love constructed the white colored serene peace pagoda. Pagoda has a peaceful and quiet energy level. The pagoda has the statue of Lord Buddha in the same position as he took birth.
You can also see some of the birds if you’re lucky. So don’t forget to take binoculars with you while traveling there.
- Ashoka Pillar
Ashoka pillar is an inscribed pillar erected by the Indian Emperor Ashoka when he visited Lumbini in 248 BCE. He built 4 stupas and a pillar with the inscription, which describes his visit as well as the significance of birthplace of Lord Buddha. The inscription is the oldest in the history of Nepal. A small fence, decorated with colorful prayer flags, surrounds the pillar and bowls to light incense sticks and also meditate.
- The Lumbini Museum
The Lumbini museum is also known as Buddhist art gallery and center of Buddhism. In the museum, the visitors can see the important findings of Lumbini be it in its original form or the replicas. One can see the display of artifacts from the Mauryan and Kushana periods, religious manuscripts and other items discovered around the site. The Lumbini museum is closed on Tuesdays.
- Lumbini Temple (Mayadevi temple)
Mayadevi temple is widely known as the Lumbini temple. The Lumbini temple is popular throughout the world where Queen Mayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautam. The temple stands out as the spiritual heart of Lumbini, which is next to a sacred pond called Pushkarna.
This complex contains the popular Ashoka pillar next to the Pushkanra pond in which Mayadevi bathed after giving birth to Buddha. Also, you will be seeing the ruins that date back to 7th to 2nd century BCE. Next to the pond is Bodhi tree, many prayer flags and some spaces in which you can take a stroll around.
Important to remember: you’re not allowed to click pictures inside the Lumbini temple.
What an incomplete travel would it turn out to be if you miss visiting Mayadevi temple while you’re in Lumbini? Isn’t it? Trust me, it’s going to be one of the best feelings when you stay there feeling the tranquility.
- Taking a tour around the Monasteries
There are monasteries built by different countries. And you can take a tour around those monasteries, which will surely give a brief reflection of traveling Buddhist countries. Whether it is exploring the huge Chinese monastery or the grandeur of German monastery or the delicacy of the Thai monastery, the tour will certainly be worth it. Other than these major monasteries, there are monasteries from France, Canada, Austria, Japan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Vietnam, Bhutan, Korea, Malaysia, India, etc.
The whole idea of bringing together the different nations in common Buddhist celebration and meditation is great. The purpose is to make a belief that Buddhism is universal and should be shared rather than just limiting within a place or a nation.
This might take a half-day or even a full day if you spend more time and get to know some places in detail.
- Bicycling or getting a rickshaw
You can hire a bicycle and explore the city. Except for the hot weather, which sometimes can exceed 40 degree Celsius during the day, bicycling is probably one of the best ways to travel in the plain Terai of Nepal. The reason is that the weather is warm, traffic is minimal and the roads flat and easy to bicycle. This way, you’ll be acquainted with the local lifestyle and also the culture. You can observe the traditional way of doing farming, people rearing goats, buffaloes and oxen, beautiful mustard and rice fields.
If you don’t prefer cycling then taking a rickshaw would most probably be the best option. While visiting the different monasteries, this can be an ideal option. With the rickshaw, you can easily visit the monasteries within 2-3 hours.
- Trying out traditional Nepalese foods
One of the best ways to getting the best out of travel is trying the traditional local foods. And there are plenty of restaurants in Lumbini, which offer the same. How about trying local noodles (commonly known as Thukpa), which is a popular food among locals here? Also, you are highly recommended to try having Chaat.
- Meditation course
Meditation is a major component of Buddhism. And practicing meditation in the birthplace of Buddha, what gets better than that? There are many meditation courses run by Buddhist monks. The courses range from as short as a single-day course to 10-day courses. You can choose any of them as per your preferences and need.
- Eternal Peace Flame
The eternal flame is a flame that burns continuously for an indefinite period. Eternal peace flame is another fascinating destination of the Lumbini visit. Everyone is sure to get interested in seeing the flame if it’s for the first time. Peace flame is situated at the center of Lumbini Garden. If you’re meditative kind of person, this peace flame is a must go place. Try observing everything looking at the flame. Maybe you will get answers to many unanswered questions. It is highly recommended to visit this place during the morning or during the evening time. You can also go there in the day but it makes difficult to see and enjoy the flame because of harsh sunlight.
- The Lumbini International Research Institute (LIRI)
The Lumbini International Research Institute (abbreviated as LIRI) is located at the holy site of Lumbini. The institute is dedicated to the study of Buddhism and other religions. In this place, you can find the historic collection of information regarding religion, in the form of art, architecture, and books.