Lumbini (which literally translate as ‘the lovely’) in Nepal is one of the most sacred of Buddhist sites, it being the birthplace of Gautama Siddhartha Buddha.
History of Lumbini
Thought to have been born in 623 BC (sources vary), Gautama Siddhartha Buddha was the founder of Buddhism.
At one point, Lumbini had a rich array of monasteries, temples and other monuments dedicated to Buddha and his mother, Maya Devi. However, for reasons which remain largely unknown, the area fell into decline for centuries, only to be rediscovered in the 19th century. Despite its derelict state, the site still housed the ruins of numerous structures dating from the 3rd century BC to the 19th century. Lumbini has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997.
The holy site measures 3 miles in length and 1 miles wide: in it, only monasteries can be built. In addition to Buddhist monastery ruins, the main attractions are the third century BC Ashoka’s Pillar, the Maya Devi Temple on the site of Buddha’s birth and the museum. There is also a small museum which chronicles Buddha’s life and houses a series of artefacts from excavations of Lumbini. There are also a remarkable number of temples within the compound that are a joy to explore.
Lumbini has also become a site for international development after NGOs set up educational projects and charities in the vicinity. The site is also a place of Hindu worship and there is a Buddhist Peace Pagoda in the park too.
Getting to Lumbini
Lumbini is not far from Nepal’s southern border with India: it’s around 6 hours drive from Lucknow and 8 from Kathmandu. The Gautam Buddha Airport serves Lumbini and has domestic flights to and from Kathmandu – it’s about 30 minutes from Lumbini.
Effectively hidden from the western world until the 1950s, Nepal is a country which is full of astoundingly well-preserved and detailed historical sites. Here's our pick of 5 of the best worth visiting.