Situated in the Terai of southern Nepal, Lumbini is the place where Siddhartha Gautam, Buddha of this era, was born in 523 BC. This sacred place is marked by a stone pillar erected by Emperor Ashoka of India in 249 BC. For many centuries the site was neglected; the monasteries that had been built there, abandoned and falling into ruin. King Ripu Malla made a pilgrimage here in 1312, and in the late 14 th century Mughal invaders destroyed what little was left but otherwise the site was forgotten until in the late 19 th century, Khadga Shivashar Rana, governor of Palpa began excavation of the Asoka Pillar.
Lumbini Development Zone Lumbini is now redeveloping itself, with the Lumbini Development Zone forming the site of many monasteries. It is listed as a World Heritage Site and is being developed as a place of pilgrimage and symbol of world peace.
The Lumbini Development Zone was started in 1978 and since then, Buddhist nations from around the world have built monasteries around Buddha’s birthplace, reflecting the architectural traditions of their respective cultures.
A long canal separates the Mahayana and Theravada sects, each depicting their different interpretations of Buddhism. In the western monastic zone are the Mahayana sect monasteries, apparent by the monks in maroon colored robes. Here are the monasteries from Nepal, Tibet, Korea, Japan, China, Japan, Vietnam, Austria and Germany. The eastern zone contains Theravada monasteries from Thailand, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. The monks wear saffron colored robes.
Ashoka Pillar The Indian emperor Ashoka visited Lumbini in 249BC and erected the Ashoka Pillar with inscriptions to commemorate his pilgrimage there. It was lost for centuries but rediscovered by Khadga Shivashar in 1895.
Maya Devi Temple is located near the Ashoka Pillar and houses a bas relief depicting the birth of Buddha. This is on the site of where Buddha was born. Recent excavations have turned up a stone bearing a ‘foot imprint,’ indicating the exact place of birth. The Puskarni pond, where Queen Mayadevi the Buddha's mother, took a bath before giving birth to him lays to the south of the pillar. Kushinagar is the place where Lord Buddha passed into Mahaparinirvana. Excavations during the 1990s revealed ruins that go back two thousand years, including the Asoka Pillar.
Muktabandhana stupa is believed to have been built in the Malla dynasty to preserve the temporal relics of Lord Buddha. A smaller shrine nearby contains a reclining Buddha, which was brought from Mathura by the monk Haribala. Bodhgaya is the place where Buddha attained enlightenment. The tree under which Buddha attained wisdom is called the Bodhi tree, while the Mahabodhi Temple marks the sacred spot.
Lumbini Museum is located in the Cultural Zone, is dedicated to the life of Buddha and hoses a collection of exhibits from all over the world: Mauryan and Kushana coins, religious manuscripts, terracotta fragments, and stone and metal sculptures. It also possesses an extensive collection of stamps from various countries depicting Lumbini and the Buddha.
Lumbini International Research Institute (LIRI) is located opposite the Lumbini Museum, and provides research facilities for the study of Buddhism and religion in general. Run jointly by the Lumbini Development Trust (LDT) and the Reiyukai of Japan, LIRI contains some 12,000 books on religion, philosophy, art and architecture.
World Peace Pagoda built by Japanese Buddhists, is outside the compound.
Kapilvastu Museum is situated 27km west of Lumbini in the village of Tilaurakot. The museum holds coins, pottery and toys dating between the 7 th century BC and 4 th century AD. The museum also has good collection of jewelry and other ornaments of that period.