It was in Lumbini, around the year 563 BC, that one of history’s greatest and most revered figures, Siddhartha Gautama – better known as the Buddha – was born. It’s no great surprise to learn that the World Heritage–listed Lumbini is of huge religious significance and attracts Buddhist pilgrims from around the world.
Located 22km west of Bhairawa, the spiritual heart of Lumbini is Maya Devi Temple, which marks the spot where Queen Maya Devi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama. In the adjoining sacred garden you’ll find the pillar of Ashoka, ancient ruins of stupas, and maroon- and saffron-robed monks congregating under a sprawling Bodhi (pipal) fig decorated with prayer flags.
Maya Devi Temple is set in the middle of the large 4km by 2.5km park grounds known as the Lumbini Development Zone. Designed by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange in 1978, it’s a work in progress that comprises landscaped lakes and numerous monasteries that have been constructed by Buddhist communities from around the world.
Most people rush through Lumbini, allowing only a few hours to look around. However, you could easily spend one or two days exploring the zone and its monasteries, and soaking up the peaceful atmosphere.