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Lumbini in Nepal, situated in the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal (on the border with India) is the birthplace of the Buddha. It is about 27 kilometers or 17 miles from Sonauli village on the Indian side of the border with Nepal.
Alois A. Feuhrer, a famous German archaeologist, discovered the well known Rummendei pillar while wandering in the foothills of the Churia range in 1895. Further exploration and excavation of the surrounding area revealed the existence of a brick temple and a sandstone sculpture within the temple itself that depicts the scenes of the birth of Lord Buddha.
Mauryan Emperor Ashoka visited Lumbini when it was a flourishing village in 249 BC. Ashoka constructed four stupas and a stone pillar with a figure of a horse on top, depicting the horse on which Siddhartha Gautama Sakya rode when he renounced his material life. The stone pillar bears following inscription: King Piyadasi (Ashoka), beloved of devas made a royal visit in the twentieth year of his coronation to witness the birthplace of Buddha Sakyamuni. He had a stone railing and rock pillar erected to commemorate the birthplace of Bhagwan. He also reduced the taxes on the local population to only one eighth part. This pillar, though partially damaged, is the prime attraction at the site. The inscriptions on this pillar led to the discovery of Lumbini. It is known as the Rummendei Pillar after the name of the place before it was proved by archaeologists to be the birthplace of Lord Buddha in Nepal.
In the life time of Lord Buddha, Lumbini was a beautiful garden full of green and shady Sal trees (Shorea). The Sakya and the Kolia clans jointly owned the garden and its tranquil environs. King Suddhodana, father of Siddhartha Gautama Sakya was a leader of the Sakya dynasty belonging to the Kshatriya or the warrior caste. His wife, Maya Devi gave birth to the child Siddhartha on her way to the home of her parents in Devadaha while taking rest in Lumbini under a Sal tree in the month of May in the year 523 B.C. The beauty of Lumbini is described in Pali and Sanskrit literature. Maya Devi is believed to be spellbound by the natural grandeur of Lumbini. She was standing holding a hanging branch of a Sal tree when she felt labor pains and gave birth to Siddhartha, who was to be Buddha later. A nativity scene carved in stone was installed during the reign of Malla kings of Naga Dynasty who ruled this area in Karnali zone of present day Nepal from 11th to 15th century. This sculpture depicts Maya Devi with her right hand holding a branch of a Sal tree with a newborn child standing upright on a lotus petal, showing an oval halo around his head, while two celestial figures pour water and lotus petals from vessels of heaven as indicated by the delineation of clouds.
The temple of Maya Devi was most probably built over an earlier temple or stupa that may have also belonged to the period of Emperor Ashoka. The Pushkarni water pool is believed to be also dating from the life time of Lord Buddha and his mother, Maya Devi, may have bathed in it before delivering the blessed one.
Recently, several beautiful shrines have been built by devotees from Buddhist countries. A visit to Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, is not only for spiritual enlightenment but also for the solace and satisfaction that one gets in such a calm and peaceful place. It is also of great archaeological importance. It has recently been listed as a World Heritage Sites.
The holy site is being developed with international support as a preeminent Buddhist pilgrimage center and a symbol of world peace. The shrines and monasteries that devotees from many countries have built and are building reflect the architectural traditions of the respective countries, and thus giving Lumbini an international character.
About 30 kilometers or 17 miles east of Lumbini is the village of Tilaurakot that is believed to have been the location of the Kapilvastu royal palace where the Buddha grew up as the Sakya dynasty prince, until he renounced material princely life at the age of 29 in search of enlightenment.
Museums of Lumbini:
The Lumbini Museum, located in the Cultural Zone, has a rich collection of Mauryan and Kushana coins, religious manuscripts, terra-cotta fragments, and stone and metal sculptures. It also possesses an extensive collection of stamps from various countries depicting Lumbini and the Buddha.
Lumbini International Research Institute (LIRI), located opposite the Lumbini Museum, provides research facilities for the study of Buddhism and religion in general. Run jointly by the Lumbini Development Trust (LDT) and the Reiyukai of Japan, LIRI contains some 12,000 books on religion, philosophy, art and architecture.
Kapilvastu Museum is situated in the village of Tilaurakot. The museum has an interesting collection of coins, pottery and toys dating between the seventh century BCE and fourth century CE. The museum also has good collection of jewelry and other ornaments of that period.
Hotels in Lumbini:
Hotel Lumbini Hokke – 72 rooms
Lumbini Hotel Kasai - 30 rooms
Buddha Maya Gardens – 60 rooms (free WiFi)
Hotel Nirvana – 40 rooms (free WiFi)
Lumbini Bamboo Resort - 39 rooms
Hotel Lumbini Garden – 72 rooms (WiFi in entire hotel)
Hotel Pawan International – 24 rooms
Yeti Hotel – 270 rooms
Lumbini Buddha Garden - 10 rooms (free WiFi)
Hotel Ananda Inn - 22 rooms (free WiFi)
Distance from Lumbini in Kilometers and Miles:
Kathmandu: 178 Kilometers or 111 Miles
Kushinagar (place of Buddha's passing away): 161 Kilometers or 100 Miles
Pokhara in Nepal: 287 Kilometers or 178 Miles
Kapilvastu (Buddha's childhood place): 27 Kilometers or 17 Miles
Shravasti (Buddha visited often): 210 Kilometers or 131 Miles
Varanasi (Buddha's first sermon @ Sarnath): 323 Kilometers or 201 Miles
Bhairawa, Nepal: 210 Kilometers or 125 Miles
Gorakhpur via Sonali: 123 Kilometers or 76 Miles
India/Nepal Border: 22 Kilometers or 14 Miles