LOCATION OF LUMBINI
Lumbini lies in the Rupandehi district of Lumbini zone of western Nepal . It is 20 Km from the Gautam Buddha airport, Siddhartha Nagar and 27 km. from the Indian Border, Sunauli.
LUMBINI IN THE ANCIENT TIME
Buddhist literature places lumbini between Sakya kingdom of Kapilvastu and Koliya kingdom of Devadaha to the east. Twenty eight km. east of lumbini lies Tiraulakot, the capital of the Sakyas and thirty two km east of Lumbini is Devadaha, the capital of the Koliyas. It was a beautiful pleasure or recreation garden collectively maintained by both the kingdoms during the lifetime of the lord Buddha.
BIRTH OF BUDDHA
On a beautiful morning of 623 B.C., Maya Devi, the queen of King Suddhodana of Kapilavastu on her way to her maternal home Devadaha for the delivery of her first child arrived Lumbini. Attended by the service providers while walking slowly and enjoying the peace, tranquility and solace of the Lumbini garden with the child in her womb suddenly she felt the labor pain. Realizing the time of delivery she bathed in the Sakya Puskarani located almost center of the garden. After purifying herself she preceded twenty five steps to the north seeking support in her situation. There was a beautiful Asoka tree with the full of flowers and she hold a branch of that tree.
This sacred garden of Lumbini was blessed by the birth of the future Buddha. All of sudden, all trees burst into flowers and shared beauty and fragrance. Jeweled lotus bloomed with the heavenly lights and sounds of the celestial palace.
The birth of the auspicious and incredible child was welcomed and received by Indra and Brahma (two Brahmanical Gods).
Soon after the birth, prince Siddhartha stood up right on a lotus pedestal and proclaimed, "I am the first and foremost of all the creatures to cross the riddle of the ocean of existence. I have come to the world to show the path of emancipation. This is my last birth and hereafter I will not be born again."
CENTERS OF PILGRIMAGE
The Buddha asked his followers to visit Lumbini and three other places from his deathbed at the age of eighty at Kushinagar.
MONUMENTS OF LUMBINI
Lumbini Garden changed into a pilgrimage site soon after the Mahaparinirvana of the Lord Buddha. A monastic site evolved around the sacred spot of the Buddha's birth. The birth-spot being the most important point in the whole of the holy land of Lumbini drew attention of generous devotees who erected structures to pay homage to the great master. These constructions were of religious nature along the religious complex and a civic settlement emerged to meet the growing need of the religious community visiting or living in the holy complex.
MAYA DEVI TEMPLE
The Maya Devi Temple shrine is the heart of all monuments at this holy site. The complex also bears the testimony of several layers of construction over the centuries. The main object of worship here is the Nativity Sculpture. The restored Maya Devi Temple was reopened on May 16, 2003 on 2547th birth anniversary of the Buddha. The government of Nepal , and LDT jointly restored the temple. The ground floor consists of the remains of the foundations of the early Maya Devi Temple that dates back to 3rd century BC. The sanctum sanctorum is the birth spot of the lord Buddha in the temple.
This stone conglomerate located deeply buried in the sanctum sanctorum pinpoints the exact birth spot of the Buddha, which was discovered after a meticulous excavation of the old Maya Devi Temple in 1996. The Marker Stone was found in the same distance and direction as mentioned by Hiuen Tsang, the Chinese traveler in his travel account. The size of the marker stone is 70cmx40cmx10cm.
THE NATIVITY SCULPTURE
The image of Maya Devi, also known as the Nativity Sculpture dates back to 4th CE, which depicts the nativity scene, Maya Devi, holding a branch of a tree with her right hand for support in the time of her delivery. Next to her Gautami Prajapati, her younger sister, in supporting posture is standing. The newly born prince Siddhartha is standing upright on a lotus pedestal, with two celestial figures receiving him.
PUSKARNI, THE HOLY POND
Close by the Asoka pillar on the southern side lies the holy pond, Puskarini where Maya Devi bathed just before giving birth to prince Siddhartha and the infant prince is believed to have given first purification bath. The pond has terraced steps and is riveted by beautifully layered bricks.
THE ASOKAN PILLAR
The historical pillar was erected by Emperor Asoka in 249 BC bears the first epigraphic evidence with reference to the birthplace of Lord Buddha. It is the most noteworthy monument and an authentic historic document of birthplace of Lord Buddha in Lumbini. The inscription engraved by Emperor Asoka is still intact and testifies the authenticity of the birthplace. The text written in Brahmi script and Pali language is translated as follows: "King Piyadasi (Asoka), the beloved of the Gods, in the twentieth year of reign, himself made a royal visit. Sakyamuni Buddha was born here, therefore, the (birth Spot) marker stone was worshipped and a stone pillar was erected. The lord having been born here, the tax of the Lumbini village was reduced to the eighth part (only)".
MASTER PLAN OF LUMBINI
In 1978, the Master Plan designed by Prof. Tange was finalized and approved by the Government of Nepal and United Nations. In the meantime, Government of Nepal was directly involved in the planning and development of Lumbini through formation of Lumbini Development Committee. The committee acquired necessary land, relocated the villages and commenced the development of basic infrastructures including forestation program in the planned area. The master plan thus changed the face of Lumbini. In 1985, the Lumbini Development Trust Act came into existence and Lumbini Development Trust (LDT) was formed accordingly. Now the Trust is responsible for the implementation of the master plan and for the overall development of Lumbini, and other Buddhist sites of Kapilavastu, Devadaha and Ramagrama.
CONCEPT OF MASTER PLAN
The master plan covers an area of 1*3 sq. miles, comprising three zones of a square mile each. The three zones are linked with walkways and a canal, these are:
The focus of Tange's design is the sacred Garden located in the southern part. The ultimate objective of the design here is to create an atmosphere of spirituality, peace, universal brotherhood and nonviolence consistent with the time and Buddha's message to the world. The Sacred Garden shelters the ancient monuments at the center in a freshly restored atmosphere of serene and lush forest and water body surrounding the complex.
The Monastic Zone is situated in the middle with a forest area between the Sacred Garden and the New Lumbini Village . The zone is divided into two Monastic enclaves by a Centre Canal . There are 13 plots of land in the East Monastic Zone and 29 in the West Monastic Enclave, having 42 plots in total each allotted for the construction of new monasteries of Theravada and Mahayana schools of Buddhism.
The cultural center lies between the Monastic Zone and the New Lumbini Village . A research centre, a library, an auditorium and a museum provide information to the visitors and research and study facilities to the students and researchers.
The northern part of the master plan area is being developed as the New Lumbini Village. It is also a gateway to the outer world, where the visitors can find comfortable hotels and restaurants offering necessary facilities. The World Peace Pagoda of Japan and the Crane Sanctuary are located here.
Nepalese and international Monasteries/ Vihars representing vernacular architecture and culture of different Buddhist countries and Buddhist traditions fascinate the visitors to Lumbini. The Royal Thai Monastery (Thailand) , Monastery of Mahabodhi Society of Kolkatta, Myanmar Monastery (Myanmar), International Nuns' Temple (Nepal), Dhamma Janani Meditation Center (Nepal), Sri Lankan Monastery(Sri Lanka), Cambodian Monastery (Cambodia) are worth visiting monasteries in the east monastic zone.
The Great Lotus Stupa (Tara Foundation, Germany), Drigung Kagyud Meditation Centre (India), Sokyo Temple (Japan), Linhson Monastery (France), Chinese Monastery (China), Korean Mahabodhi Society Monastery (South Korea), Vietnam Phat Quoc Tu (Vietnam), Geden International (Austria), Manang Monastery (Nepal), Dharmodaya Sabha Monastery (Nepal), Panditarama Meditation Center (Myanmar) in the West Monastic Zone attract a large number of pilgrims and visitors in Lumbini. Lumbini Museum, Lumbini International Research Institute, World Peace Pagoda (Japan), Eternal Peace Flame, Peace Bell, and Crane Sanctuary add to the beauty and serenity of Lumbini.
Lumbini, apart from its spiritual and religious significance, also fascinates a large number of naturalists, botanists and zoologists. Visitors can see a wide variety of sub-tropical shrubs, herbs, flowers and plants, which serve as a habitat for hundreds of birds and animal species. The habitat area of the Lumbini Master Plan consists of 58 percent grassland, 40 percent secondary forest and 2 percent wetland that includes rivers and ponds. Lumbini harbors indigenous plant species as well as plants associated with the Buddha's life: mango, jackfruit, Bodhi tree, bamboo, Arjuna, Ashoka and Zyzyphus berry. The Telar River , in which the infant
Buddha was bathed, is an important natural environment in atural Bio-conserving the ecosystem of the area. The Lumbini habitat harbors more than 250 species of birds. The Sarus Crane, Lesser Adjutant, Indian Spotted Eagle, Lesser Adjutant Stork, White Necked Stork, Black Stork, Purple Heron,Lesser Whistling Teal, Cormorants and different species of Egrets are found here.
The area also harbors endangered animals and reptiles such as the Blue Bull, python and Monitor Lizard and unique mammal families like the Bengal Fox, Asiatic Golden Jackal, Jungle Cat and Grey Mongoose, among others. In 1997, surveys of the wetlands and the renovated pond commenced to see how they could be recharged during and after the monsoon. Wetland "A" has a 130 m long dyke while Wetland "B" has a 105 m dyke. The pond has witnessed the return of many bird species. Aquatic vegetation includes the typha, hydrilla, pondweed and eleochris.
ACCOMODATION IN LUMBINI
Luxurious European & Japanese hotel is facilitated for tourist and pilgrims in lumbini. There are budget class hotel and guest houses in all foreign and nepali monastries.