Lumbini is the birthplace of the Lord Buddha, the apostle of peace, compassion and non-violence. It is situated in the Kapilvastu District of Lumbini Zone, in the western Terai of Nepal, 250 kms southwest of Kathmandu.

A pillar errected by the Indian Emperor Ashoka marks the exact location of Shakyamuni Buddha's miraculous birth in the park-like gardens. As the birthplace of Lord Buddha, Lumbini holds special significance for all Buddhists. It represents the potential within each sentient being for total enlightenment and freedom in any given lifetime.

The now broken Ashokan pillar, with the remnants of an ancient monastery and various images of Buddha's mother, Maya Devi, are still preserved at Lumbini. This first place of Buddhist pilgrimage is accessible by air from Kathmandu to Bhairahawa, from where one can proceed by car or some other means of terrestrial transportation. One can also reach Lumbini in about three hours by bus or car from Tansen. From Kathmandu it takes eight hours by bus or car.

Listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Lumbini is presently being "developed" with international support as the ultimate Buddhist pilgrimage theme park, as well as a perpetual symbol of world peace which is ever so ellusive these days. The sacred park-like garden where the Buddha was born, converges on the Ashokan pillar which carries an inscription identifying the holy site as the official birthplace of the supreme being. The tree-shaded lawn is dotted with brick mounds which are ruins of ancient stupas and monasteries. To one side of the still imposing pillar is the Mayadevi Temple which houses a bas relief depicting the nativity. Modern excavations have turned up a stone bearing a foot imprint of Emperor Ashoka indicating the exact spot of birth. The Puskarni Pond where Queen Mayadevi, the Buddha’s mother, had taken a bath before giving birth rests conveniently nearby.

As legend would have it, on a full moon day in the merry old month of May (Visakha) 2600 years ago in 623 BC, there was born a blatantly precocious prince named Siddhartha Gautama. His birth took place at Lumbini, now modern Rumindei in Nepal, where his mother Mahamaya, the chief queen-consort of King Suddhodana of Kapilavastu, rested with her royal retinue, on her way to her parental home in Devadaha. In the picture at the top of this page, Queen Mahamaya stands under a flowering sala tree in the Lumbini gardens holding on to one of its branches for support. The Buddha was reportedly born out of her right side while she remained standing. Supposedly all Buddhas are born in a similar fashion in such a garden of earthly delights. Shakyamuni Buddha had resolved to be reborn for the last time to compassionately demonstrate the attainment of enlightenment to the world of mankind.

Located 30km northwest of Lumbini is Kapilvastu, where the little Lord Buddha was immediately taken to the royal palace. The bodhisattva buddha spent his first 29 years as a Shakya prince there until the Night of the Great Renunciation when he turned his back on a life of luxury to become a wandering ascetic. Recent archaeological excavation has brought the old royal palace at Kapilvastu back up into the light of day again. The road to Kapilvastu is presently a rough dirt track, and can only be navigated by four-wheel drive. Back in the Buddha's time, the park at Lumbini was jointly owned by the cities of Kapilavastu and Devadaha.

Summer: max 44; min 7 (deg c)
The rainy-season lasts June to September.

appended and edited @buddhavision

Bodh Gaya - enlightenment under the Bodhi tree