Birthplace of Lord Buddha(Siddhartha Gautam)
Lumbini is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the Rupandehi district, South-Western Terai of Nepal. It is the place where Queen Mayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama (Gautam Buddha). Siddhartha Gautama lived roughly between 623 and 543 BC and he founded Buddhism as Gautam Buddha.It is located in the flat plains of south-Western Nepal and the foothills of Churia range. Lumbini is one of four magnets for pilgrimage that sprang up in places pivotal to the life of the Buddha, the others being at Kushinagar, Bodh Gaya and Sarnath.The Buddha stayed in Lumbinívana during his visit to Devadaha and there preached the Devadaha Sutta. From early morning to early evening, pilgrims from various countries perform chanting and meditation at the site.
Lumbini-a place evokes a kind of holy sentiment to the millions of Buddhists all over the world-as do the Jerusalem to Christians and Mecca to Muslims. Lumbini is the place Lord Buddha -the apostle of peace and the light of Asia was born .Lumbini and its surrounding area is endowed with a rich natural setting of domesticable fauna and favourable agricultural environ. Historically, the region is an exquisite treasure-trove of ancient ruisn and antiquities, dating back to pre-Christian era.
Lumbini, as of 1997, is an UNESCO World Heritage Site specifically nominated for the international World Heritage program. The holy site of Lumbini is bordered by a large monastic zone, in which only monasteries can be built, no shops or hotels or restaurants. It is separated into an eastern and western monasteries zone, the eastern having the Theravada monasteries, the western having Mahayana and Vajrayana monasteries.The site, described as a beautiful garden in the Buddha’s time still retain its legendary charm and beauty. To the mere 12 miles north of Lumbini lies the dense and picturesque sal-grove.
Watch Lumbini with allnepal in youtube.comFor centuries, Buddhists- all over the world, knew that Lumbini where the Lord was born is somewhere around. The descriptions of famous Chinese pilgrims (of ancient times) Huian Tsang and Faeihan indicated to this area-saying ‘Lumbini-where the lord was born is a piece of heaven on earth and one could see the snowy mountains amidst a splendid garden-embedded with stupas and monasteries!
However, the exact location remained uncertain and obscure till December the 1st 1886 when a wandering German archaeologist Dr. Alois A. Fuhrer came across a stone pillar and ascertained beyond doubt it is indeed the birthplace of Lord Buddha.
The Ashokan Pillar
Ashokan Pillar is the first epigraphic evidence related to the life of Lord Buddha. It is a prominent landmark of the Sacred Garden. German archaeologist, Dr. Fuhrer, discovered it. The inscription on the pillar is engraved in Brahmi script. Emperor Ashoka visited the site on his 20th Regional Year and erected the pillar as homage to the birthplace of Buddha.The historic importance of the pillar is evidenced by the inscription engraved in the pillar (in Brahmi script).It is said that the great Indian Emperor Ashok visited the site in the twentieth year of is ascendancy to the throne and as a homage to the birthplace,erected the pillar.
The inscriptions in the pillar roughly translates as: Kin Piyadesi beloved of th Gods, having been anointed 20 yeas, came himself and worshipped saying Here Buddha Shakyamuni was born: And he caused to make a stone (capital) representing a horse; and he caused (this) stone pillar to be erected. Because the worshipful one was born in the village of Lumbini has been made free of taxes and recipient of wealth”
Puskarni-the Sacred Pool
South of the Ashokan Pillar, there is the famous sacred pool- ‘Puskarni’ believed to be the same sacred pool in which Maya Devi took a holy dip just before giving birth to the Lord and also where infant Buddha was given his first purification bath.Recent excavations have turned up a stone bearing a “foot imprint”, indicating the exact place of birth of Buddha.Architecturally the pool has the projecting terraces in descending order and is reverted with a fine brick masonary.The International Gautami Nuns Temple is also found here which is a replica of the Swayambhu stupa in Kathmandu.
Sanctum-Sanctorum of the Birthplace
The single most important place of the Lumbini (and to the entire Buddhist world for that matter) is the stoneslab-located deep in the Sanctum Sanctorum.Revealed after a hard and meticulous excavations under the three layers of ruins over the site of a famous Maya Devi temple, the stone slab foundation pinpoints the location of the original place-marking the exact spot of the birthplace of Lord Buddha.
Image of Maya Devi
In adition to Ashokan Pillar, the other Shrine of importance is the bas-relief image of Maya Devi, enshrined in a small pagoda-like structure, the image shows Maya Devi , mother of the Lord Buddha. Supporting herself by holding on with her right hand to a branch of Sal tree, with newly born infant Buddha standing upright on a lotus pedestal on an oval halo.
Two other celestial figures are depicted in an act of pouring water and lotuses bestowed from heaven. Earlier the image was placed in the famous white temple of Maya Devi beside the pillar-now totally dismantled to make way for the excavations, which revealed the Sanctum Sanctorum the exact spot where the Lord was born.
Sanctum-Sanctorum of the Birthplace
The single most important place of the Lumbini (and to the entire Buddhist world for that matter) is the stoneslab-located deep in the Sanctum sanctorum.Revealed after a hard and meticulous excavations under the three layers of ruins over the site of a famous Maya Devi temple, the stone slab foundation pinpoints the location of the original place-marking the exact spot of the birthplace of Lord Buddha.
The Buddhist Temple
The monastery-of the Buddhist temple is built inside the surrounding complex of Lumbini in the manner of modern Buddhist shrines in Nepal. The prayer hall contains a large image of Buddha. medieval style murals decorate the walls.
Places to Visit Near Lumbini
Located some 27 km. west of Lumbini lies the ruins of historic town of ‘Kapilvastu’. Believed to be the capital of Shakya republic where the Lord lived and enjoyed his life until his thirteeth year, Kapilvastu has been identified with. Tilaurakot by the archaelolotists. Also, the place is believed to have been associated with different important episodes: there are ruins and mounds of old stupas and monasteries made of kiln-burnt bricks and clay-mortar. The remains are surrounded by a moat and the wall of the city are made of bricks. In fact, the city of Kapilvastu are in such a grand scale that it could be easily be visualised as a seat of high culture.
About 10 km northwest of Taulihawa there is a rectangular fortified area which is popularly known as Arourakot. The fortified area is identified by the famous Indian archaeologist P.C. Mukharji as the natal town of Kanakmuni Buddha. Remains of ancient moat and brick fortification around the Kot can still be clearly located. A brick lined well is seen to the south and elevated mound towards the northwest corner.
About 5 km. southwest of Taulihawa, there is a village called Gotihawa. In the village there is an Ashokan Pillar standing in a slab. The upper portion of the pillar is broken and lost and only the lower portion of the pillar 3.5m. high is still intact. Adjoining the pillar towards its northeast there is a huge stupa with successive ring of wedge shaped Mauryan bricks.
About 2 km. southwest of Taulihawa, on the left side of the Shoratgarh Taulihawa road stands the village Kudan having a huge structural ruin with a cluster of four mounds and a tank. The mounds were excavated in 1962.
About 8 km, northwest of Taulihawa, there is another site of archaelogical importance. The site has quadrangular tank surrounded by bushes, locally known as Niglisagar. On the western Bank of the tank there are two broken pieces of the Ashokan pillar, the longer one laying flat and the shorter ones stack into the ground. The pillar bears 2 peacocks on the top part and a Devanagari script inscription reading Om mani Padme Hun Ripu mallasya Chiran Jayut 1234.’
The shorter portion of the pillar which is partly buried in the ground measures 1.52m in length bears four lines of Ashokan inscription in the Brahmi script which roughly translates as: “King Piyadasi Beloved of the gods, after 14 years of his coronation enlarged for the second time the stupa of Buddha kanaka Muni, and after 20 years of his coronat ion he came himself and worshipped (and ) he caused (this) stone pillar to be erected:”
About 12 km. north of Taulihawa, there is a forest area called Sagarhawa. In the midst of the forest there is a huge rectangular tank which is popularly known as Lumbusagar, or a long tank. The ancient tanks ruins which were excavated and indentified by Dr. Aslois A Fuhrer as the ‘Palace of massacre of the Shakyas’ in 1895 can still be located on the west south banks of the Sagar.
Lumbini Development Project
To develop “Lumbini” as a center of International Buddhist Culture and Learning a master plan development is underway. As suggested by Mr. U-Thant. The UN secretary a master plan was prepared by Mr. Kenzo T ange, the reputed Japanese architect. The salient features of the plan are:
I. Lumbini fillage
II. Monastic enclave and
III. The Sacred Garden