Buddhists have four main world pilgrimage sites associated with episodes of the life of Shakyamuni Buddha: the place of birth (Lumbini, Nepal), the place of attainment of Enlightenment (Bodhgai, India), the place where the wheel of Dharma first turned (Sarnath, India) and the place of departure to Parinirvana (Kushinagar)., India).
There are many legends about the place where Gautama Buddha was born, so visiting the city of Lumbini, located in the south of Nepal, about 12 kilometers from the border with India, is an important point in the route of every tourist.
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4 things to do in Lumbini:
- On the southern shore of the Sacred Pond at the foot of a huge pipal (sacred bodhi tree), meditate with pilgrims and monks.
- Glue a leaf of gold leaf to the wall of the Maya Devi temple to the left of the Memorial Stone.
- Find the sal tree, which is located on the territory of the Maya Devi temple.
- Complete the meditation practice at the Panditarama International Vipassana Meditation Center. You can join the course any day early in the morning.
How to get there
Lumbini can only be reached through neighboring Siddharthanagar (Bhairahava), the main city of the Rupandehi district. You can get there from Kathmandu either by plane or by bus, which departs regularly from Gongabu Station, an intercity bus station in the northeast of Kathmandu near the ring road. Travel time is about 12 hours, the ticket costs about 7 USD.
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Where to stay
You should not count on royal luxury in guesthouses in Lumbini. They are usually located near the bus stop at Lumbini Bazaar. A double room will cost about 700-1000 NPR, the shower is shared.
Entertainment and attractions Lumbini
Lumbini Park is divided into two zones – the western one, where the Theravada monasteries are located, and the eastern one, with many Mahayana monasteries.
You can enter the territory of Lumbini through a colorful arch from the side of the Sacred Garden. Here you can immediately hire rickshaws that will take you around the village in a circle for 350 NPR for locals and 500 NPR for foreigners.
Three striking religious and historical sites in Lumbini: the Maya Devi temple with a memorial stone and a bas-relief with a scene of the birth of Buddha; the column of Ashoka and the remains of the temple near it; the sacred pond of Puskarini with an ancient Bodhi tree nearby.
Maya Devi Temple
On the territory of the Sacred Garden there is a picturesque grove framing the Maya Devi temple, shopping arcades with souvenirs and two miniature monasteries: the Nepalese Theravada monastery Rakiya Buddha Vihara Rakiya Buddha Vihara and the monastery of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism Dharma Swami Buddha Vihar. A memorial stone at the Maya Devi temple is installed at the birthplace of Buddha Gautama. The temple was rebuilt three times and eventually acquired the modern look of a traditional temple in the North Indian Nagara style with a shikhara tower. True, the white building with the tower is actually a protective structure over the ruins of the ancient Maya Devi temple. Entrance to the temple is paid – 28 USD.
Sacred Pond of Puscarini
To the south of the Maya Devi Temple is the sacred Puscarini Pond, in which, according to legend, the Maya queen took a bath after the birth of Siddhartha Gautama.
Column of Ashoka
To the west of the temple, you can see the legendary red sandstone pillar of Ashoka, set near the birthplace of the Buddha. Nearby are the ruins of one of the ancient temples of Lumbini.
Monasteries of Lumbini
Both zones of Theravada monasteries (eastern and western) are a huge territory, built up with buildings and overgrown with trees. A wide paved road leads to the monasteries. The Theravada group is represented by four monasteries and a Vipassana center. To get to the Cambodian monastery, you need to bypass the Burmese vihara from the north.
The Maha Bodhi Society is located 500 meters from the Cambodian monastery. Mahamaya Vishwa Shanti Buddha Vihara and the Thai Royal Monastery are also located here, the snow-white building of the vihan (meeting hall) of which is considered the most elegant in the settlement and impresses with its fabulous airiness. Vihan is open to the public, but the rest of the monastery complex is behind closed gates.
A memorial stone at the Maya Devi temple is installed on the site of the alleged birth of the Buddha.
Opposite the central entrance to the vikhan, under a canopy, there are stone balls – bow nimit, and behind them are flat stone stelae – nimitta. In the vihana there is a hall with a main altar crowned with a design with the Emerald Buddha.
Myanmar Golden Temple Burmese Monastery is a complex that includes an initiation hall and a 4-storey pilgrimage guesthouse. Here you will find the Lokamani Pula stupa.
There are also nunneries on the territory of Lumbini, in which lay women live, who have taken a vow to fulfill eight commandments instead of five and voluntarily imposed restrictions close to the monastic charter of Vinaya.