Lumbini

Birth place of Lord Buddha:
Lumbini is hallowed ground as Shakyamuni Buddha was born here in southern Nepal more than twenty-five hundred years ago. As a sacred birthplace, it is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists from around the globe. Many excavations have taken place here around this small town in the southern Terai plains of Nepal. Ruins of the old city are clearly visible and many artifacts were unearthed during the excavation.
Shakyamuni Buddha was born a prince to the ruler of the little principality. Important landmarks are the Maya Devi temple and the Ashoka pillar. The remains of many ancient stupas and monasteries can be found in the surroundings of Lumbini The Ashoka pillar is said to have been erected by the Indian Emperor Ashoka in 250 BC and bears an inscription confirming this as the birth place of the Buddha. A stone image of Maya Devi giving birth to Lord Buddha as she holds onto a branch is seen in the Maya Devi temple. The belief that touching it will render woman fertility has led to erosion as thousands of hands have stroked it.

South of the temple is the sacred pool where Maya Devi is said to have given her son his first purification bath. Shaded by the leafy Bo tree (the type of tree under which Buddha received enlightenment), it is a quiet garden and a newly planted forest nearby brings an atmosphere of tranquility to it. A Master Plan of the Lumbini Development Trust was drawn up decades ago and development is finally under way. The plan, completed in 1978 by the renowned Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, will transform three square miles of land into a sacred place of gardens, pools, buildings, and groves.
The development will include a Monastic Zone, the circular sacred Garden surrounding the Ashoka pillar and Maya Devi temple, and Lumbini Village, comprising lodges, restaurants, a cultural center and tourist facilities. Over the years, many stupas and monasteries have been built representing Buddhist communities of numerous countries from around the world. In Kapilvastu near Lumbini, is an excavation site that evokes the ancient palace where Lord Buddha spent his formative years. The ruins include scattered foundations of the palace and thirteen successive layers of human habitation dating back to the 8th Century BC; a must see for students of archeology and history.

Access:
Nepal Airlines along with other airlines fly regularly to Bhairahawa airport near Lumbini, and there are regular bus services from Pokhara and Kathmandu. Accommodation: There are several good hotels and lodges in Lumbini, but accommodation is also available in monasteries of the various countries.

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