Lumbini is the place of birth of the famous Gautama Buddha, the initiator of Buddhism, who was born in the 7th or 6th century BC. Lumbini is a Sanskrit word which means lovely in English. As the Gautama Buddha was born in this place, so it is Buddhist pilgrimage site. It is one of the four major pilgrimage sites of the Buddhists according to the major event that took place in the life of Gautama Buddha. Lumbini is located in the Nepalese town of Kapilavastu, district Rupandehi, near the Indian border.
About the birth of Gautam Buddha
Rendering to the Buddhist traditions and beliefs Buddha was given birth by his mother named Maya Devi (or Mayadevi), on her way to her parent’s home in Devadaha. The Buddha was born in Lumbini in the month of May and in the year 642 BC. When the mother of Gautama Buddha started to have labor pains she clutched at the branches of the shade tree and under this tree Siddharta Gautama, the future Buddha was born. According to the legend, Buddha announced “this is my final birth” as he was brought into the world by his mother. Some of the traditions also state that Gautama Buddha walked instantaneously after his birth and took seven steps. While walking wherever he placed his foot a lotus flower blossomed and there were 7 lotus flowers, meaning he took seven steps.
Emperor Ashoka Visted Lumbini
The great emperor Ashoka who converted to Buddhism visited Lumbini in 249 BC and ordered the construction of 4 stupas and a Stone pillar, the pillar is known as Ashoka’s pillar and it has an engraving that interprets as: “King Piyadasi (Ashoka), beloved of devas, in the 20th 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)”.
After this many monasteries and temples were built in the area of Lumbini until the 9th century then there was a halt because Buddhism declined in this area after the arrival of Hinduism and Islam. Only the sculptures were left in this place which were well-regarded and admired by the local women as a fertility symbol. The garden where the great Buddha was born got lost for about a thousand years.
Present day Lumbini:
Lumbini enjoys a great location that is at the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal. Lumbini is filled with Ficus religiosa ( Peepal tree). It is a huge garden with lots of these trees. Mostly Hindus are residents of this area but there are many Buddhist temples and shrines from numerous nations and these are scattered around the holy site.
One of these many temples hold an immense importance that is the Maya Devi Temple. This temple is built at the same place where Gautama Buddha was born. This temple is located at the place where there are other old temples and stupas which also consist of the stupa built by the great emperor Ashoka.
Ancient ruins of this place are protected by new temples which are just the white plain walls which spots the place of Buddha’s birth exactly where it happened. The sculpture made of sandstone is preserved in the national museum in Kathmandu because of its delicacy it is placed there with extra care and delicacy. On the top of this temple there can be viewed a square tower identical to the one that can be seen in Kathmandu. This tower has eyes carved in it on each side which are said to be the eyes of Buddha and there is a golden acme on the top.
Before giving birth to the Gautama Buddha Maya Devi took bath in a pool which is considered to be sacred in Buddhist religion. This pool is situated on the south side of the temple. It also believed by the Buddhist that 2 dragons gave bath to Gautama Buddha after his birth in this pool making it more holy and sacred for the Buddhists.
Except for these places there are many other Buddhist temples in Lumbini. These temples are very old with the foundations dating from 2nd century BC to the 9th century AD and there also 2 temples built on modern styles. One of the 2 modern style temples is built in Tibetan style and it is named as the Dharma Swami Maharaja Buddha Temple. This was built by the king of Mustang. The other temple is based on Nepalese Theravada style, named as the Lumbini Buddha Vihar and it was built by the Nepalese government. Then there is Japanese peace stupa which 41 meters high and it is located in the northern part of the gardens.
The Lumbini Museum:
Lumbini also has its own museum the Lumbini Museum which displays most of the artifacts from the mautyan and Kushna periods and many other religious manuscripts discovered at the site of Lumbini. With museum there lies the Lumbini International Research Institution. The sole purpose of this institution is to study Buddhism and other religions and it has a collection of books on religion, arts and architecture
Lumbini has a peaceful environment and beautiful surroundings. This makes it the best place for meditation by soaking in the peace of the place. People around the world does not focus on Lumbini just because of pilgrimage and tourism, this place is special to many people owing to the spiritual renewal, center of cultural exchange and symbol of peace. Lumbini has highly civilized population and the natural prosperity of the place is extremely high. It is believed that this place holds the devotional Buddha feelings in the air
The best way to visit this place and view all the beautiful places therein is by hiring a bike and riding it around the temples. There are few no bike riding zones but you can always walk on your feet and add more the beauty of this place.