In the last few decades, Lumbini has transformed into a tourist destination where every year, thousands of pilgrims from all over the world come and pay homage to Gautam Buddha, the world’s first ambassador of peace.
While Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha, has immense religious and cultural significance, the region also hosts thousands of peace-loving tourists from all over the world. Even for those looking to spend a few leisurely hours, the serenity that envelops the area makes it an ideal destination.
Lumbini boasts a major collection of pagodas and stupas from all over the world built in reverence to Lord Buddha. Each stupa os distinct in its appeal, and visitors spend most of the hours admiring their architecture. Others can be seen searching for meaning in elaborate murals, some of which cover every nook and cranny s of the walls of the pagodas.
The invaluable collection of statues, murals and artifacts related to Buddhism make Lumbini an open museum for visitors as well as scholars.
(Above): Bharat Bandhu Thapa. (Opener) Kabin Adhikari/OnlineKhabar
However, the most iconic architecture of Lumbini is perhaps the temple of Maya Devi. It is said that Siddhartha Gautam, who would later come to be known as Gautam Buddha, was born on the exact spot where the temple is located today.
In BC 623, when Siddhartha Gautam was born to Maya Devi, the spot was a beautiful garden, it is believed. The temple now has a statue of Maya Devi and also houses artifacts from 5th-7th century BC.
Outside, on the temple premises, the Ashok pillar stands tall beside a pond. Erected in BC 239 by emperor Ashok, the structure has a carving stating that the place is the actual birthplace of Gautam Buddha.
Situated in the southwestern plains of the country, Lumbini’s distance from major towns and cities also makes it suitable for bird-watching. Around 250 species of birds, including endangered species like the crane, are free to fly around the region.
What truly adds to the appeal of the region is the distinct charm it exudes in its amalgamation of bucolic beauty, religious significance, and varied architecture.
Bharat Bandhu Thapa
Lumbini is easily accessible from all parts of the country. The nearest town from Lumbini is Bhairahawa (around 20 km away) which is connected to the national highway grid making the travel relatively easy. Bhairahawa is also accessible by air.
If you are driving to Lumbini, ask the locals for the general direction towards the area once you reach Bhairahawa’s Buddha Chowk. The directions will be pretty straightforward.
For those traveling from Bhairahawa to Lumbini, a host of options ranging from taxis, rickshaws and buses are available from Buddha Chowk.
It is believed that Siddhartha Gautam spent his youth in Tilaurakot, the ancient kingdom of the Shakya clans.
Located 28 km southwest of Lumbini, the place can be easily reached by bus. From there, places like Gotihawa, Sagrahawa, Arorakot and Sisahaniya – all of which are said to places where Gautam Buddha once visited – can be reached.
Located at a distance of 35 km from Bhairahawa, Devdaha is the ancient kingdom of the Koliya clans. Maya Devi is said to have belonged to this region. It is also believed that Lord Buddha visited the region 7 years after his enlightenment.
Ramgram holds the remaining of Lord Buddha. A 7ft-tall pillar erected along the banks of Jarahi river which was once commissioned by the king of Ramgram holds the remaining. Ramgram is situated at a distance of 24 km from Bhairahawa.
Where to stay
There are plenty of accommodation facilities available in both Bhairahawa and Lumbini. Ranging from indulgent to basic, these facilities cater to a wide range of travelers and can cost from Rs. 1,000 – 50000 per night. Prices for luxury options can shoot up.