‘The light of Asia’ and The apostle of peace the Lord Gautam Buddha was born in Lumbini in 623 BC. A pilgrimage for Buddhist monks Lumbini attracts the sentiments of millions of Buddhist all over the world. Like Mecca is to Islam Lumbini is the beacon of Buddhism and legendry in four holy pilgrimage sites of Buddhism.
Lumbini in Sanskrit means ‘lovely’ is site with beautiful gardens, and exquisite treasure trove of ancient antiquities and ruins with legendry charm of having historical significance of being the birthplace of Lord Buddha. Lumbini is located in Nepal but it nears to Indian border in the majestic foothills of Himalayas in the district Kapilavastu. It is in the Kapilavastu that lord Buddha stayed for 29 years.
Chronology of Lumbini
Lumbini is birthplace to Lord Buddha, in the year 642 BC. When Maya Devi mother of Lord Buddha was coming back from her parent’s home to her palace from Devdaha she suddenly felt the Labor pains, grabbing hold of branches of shade tree she gave birth to her son, namely Siddhartha Gautama , our Lord Buddha. As per the mythology Lord Buddha announced as he was born that “This is my final Rebirth”. He also walked immediately after birth taking seven steps, where lotus bloomed with the each step. Thus Lotus is used in decorations of arts and artifacts and sculptures of Buddhism origin.
In 249 BC Emperor Ashoka visited Lumbini and he marked the birth place of Lord Buddha by constructing a Stone Pillar surrounded by four Stupas. The Pillar has an inscriptions in Bhrami which translates as “King Piyadasi (Ashoka), beloved of devas, in the 20 year of the coronation, himself made a royal visit, Buddha Sakyamuni having been born here, a stone railing was built and a stone pillar erected to the Bhagavan [“blessed one”] having been born here. Lumbini village was taxed reduced and entitled to the eight part (only)”.
Monasteries and temples were built in Lumbini for the monks and followers of Buddhism until 9th century.
As Buddhism declined the garden was lost for thousand years with the arrival of Islam and Hinduism. It was only known that the site was somewhere.
There were descriptions from famous Chinese pilgrims Huian tsang and Fa Xian indicating towards the site and saying ‘’Lumbini-where the lord was born is a piece of heaven on earth and one could see the snowy mountains amidst a splendid garden-embedded with stupas and monasteries!” inscription was used to recognize the religious site. It was German Dr Alois A Fuher who discovered the original site when he came across the stone pillar of Ashoka with its inscriptions. Thus it was acclaimed as birthplace of Buddha beyond doubt.
Lumbini is now designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
Though Lumbini is not a tourist spot but it attracts large number of pilgrimage visitations. Traveling is not so easy yet people from Southeast Asia, Tibet and Japan come to pay homage at this site. Lumbini has a small airport with flights from Buddha Air.
Lumbini lies in the dense and picturesque of Sal- Grove or Shereo the tree under which Lord Buddha was born.
Pilgrimage Attractions of Lumbini
Sanctum-Sanctorum of the Birthplace
The birthplace is the most important place with such magnetic pull for every Buddhist all over the world. The site revealed after centuries with such meticulous excavations under the layers of ruins is the stoneslab located deep in Sanctum Sanctorum. This stone slab foundation pin points to exact location of birth.
The Maya Devi Temple
The temple enshrines site of Buddha’s birth. The modern temple is white building that protects ancient ruins and it is surrounded by brick foundations of ancient temple and monasteries. Atop the temple is a squqre tower with Buddha eyes on each side with a golden pinnacle on its top. Some of the delicate sandstone sculptures are now in National Museum in Katmandu for preserving them.
A shrine of importance is Bas-relief Image of Maya Devi, which is kept in small pagoda. It has image of Maya Devi supporting herself by Sal tree and infant lord Buddha standing on a lotus pedestal. Also there is two other celestial figures depicted in act of pouring water over the lotuses gifted from heaven.
The Ashokan Pillar
It was this epigraphic pillar which was the evidence of the history relating to the birth of lord Buddha. It was Emperor Ashoka who built this pillar in paying homage to the birthplace. It is now protected by small fence and devotees and followers decorate it with prayer flags and banners. Here you can sit in front of pillar for contemplation.
Pushkarni – The Sacred Pool
According to belief it is the same pool in which Maya devi had a bath before giving birth to Buddha and it was here that infant lord Buddha had his first purification bath. Thus it is believed to be sacred.
The Buddhist Temple has been built inside the surrounding complex of Lumbini with a prayer ha;; containing large image of Buddha and with murals decorated on wall.
Enchanting the place is long lines of colorful prayer flags which are strung on tree. Written on them are prayers and mantras which flap in the breeze.
Other places to visit when visiting Lumbini is Kapilvastu Aaarkot, Gotihawa, Kudan and Niglihawa.
The top rated Hotels recommended are:
- Lumbini Garden Hotel
- Pawan International Hotel
- Buddha Maya Garden Hotel and Resort
- Hotel Nirvana
- Lumbini Hokke Hotel
- Yeti Hotel
Lumbini Development Project has been approved for developing Lumbini as canter of international Buddhist Culture and Learning.
Nirvana or Moksh or Salvation is the summarization of Lord Buddha’s preaching, and in Lumbini we sense the divine and solitude of Lord Buddha as to how he wanted humans to get enlighten and have peace in world.