Nestled away in the foothills of the Himalayas of Nepal is Lumbini. Lumbini is the birthplace of Gautama Buddha and those who travel there can walk in his footsteps. The area holds great significance and is one of the holiest pilgrimage sites for millions of those of the Buddhist faith. Not only do Buddhist pilgrims travel here, but also spiritual seekers and curious travellers. The area has a real serene ambience, rich history, and spiritual essence in this sacred destination.
A historical haven
The province’s history dates back over 2,600 years, when Queen Maya Devi gave birth to Prince Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha). The ruins, temples, and monasteries found in Lumbini truly reflect the past and provide a glimpse into the life and teachings of the Buddha.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Sacred Graden, is the centrepiece of Lumbini. It has the Ashoka Pillar, which was erected by the Indian emperor Ashoka; the pillar marks the birthplace of Buddha, and the Mayadevi Temple houses the exact spot where Queen Maya Devi gave birth. Walking through these serene surroundings will transport visitors into inner peace and to the time when enlightenment began to spread; some also say the site brings profound spiritual awakening.
Monasteries and Meditation Centres
A visit to the International Monastic Zone is a must for visitors who wish to witness the different architectural styles that coexist harmoniously, built by different countries such as China, Japan, Thailand, and Sri Lanka, among others. These beautifully designed structures show different distinctive architectural styles and art forms from each of the cultures. Stepping into the monasteries allows travellers to experience the diverse Buddhist practises and also engage with resident monks and nuns, providing a deeper understanding of Buddhism’s global reach.
Lumbini also offers meditation centres which offer retreats and courses to help visitors cultivate mindfulness and inner tranquillity. Visitors will find guided meditation sessions, Buddhist philosophy lectures, and spiritual growth discussions. Excellent for those who wish to find a spiritual awakening.
The Peace Pagoda and the Eternal Flame
The World Peace Pagoda is a must-visit destination for any visiting Lumbini. Located in the northern end of Lumbini, it was built by Japanese Buddhists and was designed to symbolise the desire for peace to unite humanity. The majestic white pagoda dazzles with its brightness and offers panoramic views of Lumbini and its surroundings. From the top, visitors can also see across to the adjacent Crane Sanctuary, which is spectacular.
Visitors will find the area around the pagoda to be peaceful and make a perfect place to relax under the shade of the trees and reflect upon the principles of peace and non-violence that Buddha espoused.
Adjacent to the Peace Pagoda is the Eternal Flame, representing the eternal light of Buddha’s teaching. The flame serves as a poignant reminder of the transformative power of enlightenment and the influence of Buddha’s wisdom.
Lumbini is not only a religious centre but also a hub of cultural exchange. Travellers can immerse themselves in the local culture, savour traditional Nepalese cuisine, and witness colourful festivals that celebrate the life and teachings of Lord Buddha.
The Buddha Jayanti festival commemorates Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and Parinirvana. During the festival, Pilgrims and locals gather around Lumbini to participate in processions, prayers, and religious ceremonies. It is held at different times every year; it is best to consult the lunar calendar and online sources to establish when it is every year.
The International Buddhist Conclave, held periodically in Lumbini, brings together scholars, monks, and enthusiasts from various Buddhist traditions to discuss and promote interfaith dialogue, cultural exchange, and global peace.
Explore the Environs
Lumbini’s charm extends beyond its sacred core. The surrounding region beckons travellers to venture further and discover its natural beauty and historical significance. Excursions to nearby destinations such as Kapilvastu, the ancient capital of the Shakya kingdom, and Tilaurakot, the childhood home of Prince Siddhartha, provide insights into the life of Buddha before his enlightenment.
For nature enthusiasts, a visit to the nearby Lumbini Crane Sanctuary, which can be seen from The Peace Pagoda, is a must. This sanctuary provides a haven for endangered and migratory birds, offering a serene environment to witness the wonders of nature while contemplating the interconnectedness of all living beings.