About 29km west of Lumbini, Tilaurakot has been identified as the historical site of Kapilavastu, where Siddhartha Gautama spent the first 29 years of his life. The site sits in a peaceful meadow on the banks of the Banganga River. Although you can still see the foundations of a large residential compound, it takes a certain amount of imagination to visualise the city of extravagant luxury that drove the Buddha to question the nature of existence. The showy shrine nearby with several carved pachyderms is dedicated to Maya Devi.

There’s a small museum at the final turn-off to Tilaurakot that displays some of the artefacts found at the site. A new and larger museum building, under construction at time of research, is due by 2020.

To get to Tilaurakot from Lumbini, catch a local bus from the Lumbini bus stand to the junction at Parsu Chowk (Rs 15, 10 minutes, every 30 minutes) and change to a bus bound for Tilaurakot (Rs 50, 1½ hours, every 30 minutes), 3km north of Taulihawa. You can take a rickshaw to the site from Tilaurakot for Rs 100/175 one way/return. The best way to get here, though, is through Lumbini Village Lodge, which can organise a vehicle for Rs 800 with a day’s notice. Otherwise a taxi can make the return trip from Lumbini for around Rs 3000.

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