As the historical birthplace of Gautama Siddhartha Buddha, Lumbini is one of the most important religious sites in the world. The man who would later achieve enlightenment under a Bodhi tree, inspiring a global philosophy of peace and reflection, was born under a sal tree in Lumbini in the month of May in 563 BC.
Despite being an important destination for pilgrimages, Lumbini is nothing like Haridwar, Mecca or Lourdes. Pilgrims here come in a slow, respectful trickle and many stay on to meditate in the monasteries surrounding the sacred site. That said, Lumbini has undergone a major renaissance over the last few years, and new monasteries are springing up here faster than you can say 'om mani padme hum'.
The centre of Lumbini is the Maya Devi Temple, which marks the exact spot where Queen Maya Devi of Kapilavastu gave birth to Gautama Siddhartha. Surrounding the temple is a sacred garden containing the pillar of Ashoka as well as the ruined foundations of dozens of ancient stupas and monasteries. Extending for miles around the sacred garden is a huge park known as the Lumbini Development Zone, designed by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange in 1978. It's a work in progress but the grounds are already full of landscaped lakes and Buddhist monasteries, constructed by Buddhist communities from around the world.
You can easily spend one or two days exploring the site so it's well worth an overnight stay. There are hotels all around the perimeter of the Development Zone and plenty of small guest houses in the peaceful village of Lumbini Bazaar, directly opposite the main entrance to the site.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
Bags feeling light?
Coffee table looking bare?
Get your guidebooks, travel goods, even individual chapters, right here.
(2 star Hotel)
From US$120.00 per night