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Let us directly tackle the question of why should you visit Lumbini. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, Lord Buddha. It lies in the southwestern region of Nepal. It holds a profoundly religious, historical, and symbolic value to Nepalese and Buddhist devotees worldwide. Lumbini is a sacred site for Buddhists, like Jerusalem is for Christians. Thousands of tourists and pilgrims visit the place every year. 

Why Should You Visit Lumbini
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The Lumbini ground is home to several ancient and new temples, monasteries, sacred gardens, monuments, and meditation grounds. You can also see where Gautam Buddha was born and where he took his first step. Visiting Lumbini is not only a unique experience but also a spiritual one. Let us delve more into the attractions of this Buddhist pilgrimage site.

Things to Expect Before Why Should You Visit Lumbini

Take a look at a few things you can expect in Lumbini:

Lumbini Monastic Site

The Lumbini Monastic Site houses several Buddhist monasteries and temples, with an east and west monastic zone. You can gain insight into Lord Gautam Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death when visiting this site. So, you can expect to see numerous splendidly built monasteries in Lumbini.

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East Monastic Zone

The East Monastic Zone has monasteries from different countries. These monasteries showcase the incredible architecture of various Asian countries. The respective countries built and operated these international monasteries. Hence, these international monasteries also run spiritual programs representing their local traditions. Similarly, several of these monasteries represent the Theravada (Hinayana school of Buddhism).

The monasteries and meditation centres that are within the East Monastic Zone are:

  • Dhamma Janani Vipassana Center, Nepal
  • International Gautami Nuns Temple, Nepal
  • Mahabodhi Society Temple, India
  • The Royal Thai Monastery, Thailand
  •  Myanmar Golden Temple, Myanmar
  • Sri Lankan Monastery, Sri Lanka

West Monastic Zone

The West Monastic Zone also includes monasteries from different countries, reflecting their native architecture and tradition. While most are open to visitors, a few do not allow visitors. There are a total of 14 monasteries within the West Monastic Zone. Similarly, there are also two meditation centres.

Following are the monasteries and meditation centres within the West Monastic Zone: 

  • United Tungaram Buddhist Foundation, Nepal
  • Karma Samtenling Monastery, Nepal
  • Manang Samaj Stupa, Nepal
  • Drubgyud Chhoeling Monastery (Nepal Mahayana Temple)
  • Dharmodhaya Sabha Nepal (Swayambhu Mahavihara)
  • Drigung Kagyud Meditation Centre, Laddakh
  • Chinese Monastery, China
  • Pandirarama Lumbini International Meditation Center, Myanmar
  • Dae Sung Shakya Temple, South Korea
  • Vietnam Phat Quoc Tu, Vietnam
  • Urgen Dorjee Chholing Buddhist Centre, Singapore
  • The Great Lotus Stupa (Tara Foundation), Germany
  • French Buddhist Association, France
  • The World Linh Son Buddhist Congregation, France
  • Thrangu Vajra Vidhya Buddhist Foundation, Canada
  • Geden International Monastery, Austria

World Peace Pagoda

Expect to see the World Peace Pagoda in Lumbini, the Biswa Shanti Stupa. There is another World Peace Pagoda in Pokhara, and many visitors may confuse one another.

Why Should You Visit Lumbini
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The beautiful whitewashed pagoda has a stone-paved floor and four large golden Budhha statues looking at the four directions. Japanese Buddhists built and designed the White Peace Pagoda.

Boating in Central Canal

A central canal runs into Lumbini and connects the sacred garden with part of a village. You can take a boat ride through the town. It is a fun activity and more enjoyable than walking on the sides. The boating activity began with the collaboration of Lumbini development. During the boat ride, you can see the beautiful structure of the Maya Devi complex from both sides. So, take advantage of the fun boat ride when you visit Lumbini.

Visit Lumbini Crane Sanctuary

There is a religious connection between the Sarus Crane and Lord Gautam Buddha. These tall birds have grey bodies, red heads, and elegant appearances. The government of Nepal and local communities built the Lumbini’s Crane Sanctuary to honour the Buddha’s birds and preserve their species. The bird is also a symbol of pure faith and dedication. Since the Cranes are migratory birds, you can expect to witness them in the sanctuary during winter.

Rent a Cycle and Explore Around

Expect to see cycling rental shops around Lumbini. It is another fun activity that allows you to explore the holy sites around Lumbini. Since numerous monasteries are around the area, walking on foot can be exhausting and time-consuming. The pathway around the monasteries is also ideal for cycling. Yet, you can take a cycling tour and experience the region’s local customs, lifestyles, and traditions.

Take a Meditation Class

There can be no other place than the birthplace of Lord Buddha to take meditation classes. Therefore, many visitors come to Lumbini to gain spiritual awakening.

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On the premises of Lumbini, there are several meditation centres. You can visit any one of those centres or monasteries to learn the teachings of Buddha and meditation techniques. Similarly, you can understand the Budhha’s philosophy and practice meditation.

Places to visit in Lumbini(Things to Know)

In the above section, we discussed a few things you can expect during your visit to Lumbini. Now, let’s explore the places to visit in Lumbini:

Maya Devi Temple

The Maya Devi Temple is the centre of Lumbini and the birthplace of Buddha. Queen Maya Devi gave birth to Buddha here around 563 BC. The ancient temple premises also consist of a sacred pool, Puskarni or Maya Devi Pond, and a sacred garden

Archaeologists discovered a marker stone and a nativity sculpture dating back to the third century BCE. The marker stone marks the spot where Buddha was born, while the nativity sculpture showcases his birth scene. So, visit the birthplace of Buddha and the heart of Lumbini to learn about Lord Buddha’s birth and stroll around the sacred pool and garden.

Ashoka Pillar

The Ashoka Pillar is epigraphic evidence that Lord Buddha was born in Lumbini. Indian Emperor Ashoka erected the pillar in 249 BC after he accepted Buddhism. It is one of the oldest inscribed pillars among the Ashoka Pillars. Nepalese Archeologists rediscovered the pillar right next to Maya Devi Temple in 1896. The 6-meter-tall pillar has inscriptions in Brahmi script and Pali language. It is a must-visit place while in Lumbini. 

The Sacred Bodhi Tree

While visiting Lumbini, you must see the sacred Bodhi Tree. The Bodhi (Pipal) Tree lies within the Maya Devi Temple premises and sits next to the beautiful Maya Devi Pond. The tree connects significantly with Lord Buddha’s life, and colourful prayer flags decorate it. “Bo” refers to the old fig tree under which Lord Budhha achieved spiritual enlightenment in India. The monks sit under the tree to meditate and chant sutras.

Lumbini Museum

The next place you must see while visiting Lumbini is the Lumbini Museum, which lies within the Sacred Garden area. The famous Japanese architect Kenzo Tange designed the Museum, which showcases Lumbini’s importance as the birthplace of Buddha. About 12,000 artefacts from across the world are on display. The Lumbini International Research Institute is right next to the museum. It institutes studies and research on Buddhism and religion.

The Eternal Peace Flame

While at Lumbini, you cannot miss the Eternal Peace Flame. It sits at the canal’s southern end and is a must-see attraction. It is right in the centre of the Lumbini Garden. The United States of America (USA) offered the flames to promote world peace and harmony among the nations. Thus, the flame symbolizes unity, harmony, and world peace.

Historical Significance

Lumbini has enormous historical significance for Nepal and Buddhist devotees worldwide. Siddhartha Gautam was born here to Queen Maya Devi around 566 BCE. Remains and ruins mark the spot where he was born. The famous Ashoka Pillar is also nearby.

Foreign invaders destroyed the Lumbini area during the 9th century, leaving the marked stones and pillars forgotten for some time. Then, in 1895 CE, the German archaeologist Alois Führer rediscovered Lumbini. He first rediscovered the Ashoka Pillar, which helped prove that Gautam Buddha was born there. Similarly, the rediscovery of Lumbini helped evolve it as a pilgrimage site. 

In 1997, Lumbini officially became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This recognition helped the site become famous worldwide as the birthplace of Gautam Buddha. Its historical and religious significance further widened among Buddhist pilgrims across the globe. UNESCO has become an enormous aid in protecting and promoting Lumbini and its historical significance.

Cultural Heritage

In addition to its historical significance, Lumbini also has cultural importance. As mentioned above, the site has several ancient temples and monasteries dating back to the third century BCE. Similarly, monasteries from different countries reflect their architectural styles and cultures. 

Ancient monuments and archaeological sites include the Maya Devi Tempe and the Ashoka Pillar, dating back to the third century BCE. The Maya Devi Temple has ancient ruins dating to Lord Buddha’s birth. Similarly, the inscribed Ashoka Pillar is a significant archaeological artefact that states that Gautam Buddha was born there. 

The monastic zones house more than 30 monasteries from around the world. These monasteries showcase the cultures and traditions of different countries. The most notable are the World Peace Pagoda, The Great Drigung Kagyud Lotus Stupa, the Myanmar Golden Temple and Stupa, and the German Monastic Zone Stupa. Despite the diversity, they all symbolize religious and cultural harmony. 

Spiritual Experience

There is no place better than Lumbini to connect with your spirituality. Thus, many visitors come here to seek spiritual experience. You can learn about Buddha’s teachings and philosophies in any monastery or meditate under the Bodhi Tree. Many monasteries run daily prayer and meditation programs for visitors, which you can join. The meditations and teachings aid in cultivating inner peace and spirituality. 

The Lumbini grounds also include meditation centres from the Theravada and Mahayana schools of Buddhism. In addition to meditation, special events, rituals, and ceremonies occur during the monthly full moon. Similarly, monasteries hold different rituals during special dates and anniversaries.  

Lumbini offers visitors a profound spiritual experience, so many travel here for spiritual pilgrimage. Each meditation centre offers unique programs. You can select the one that appeals to you the most and experience a monastic life and spirituality. 

Natural Beauty of Lumbini

We discussed Lumbini’s historical, cultural, and spiritual importance. But Lumbini is also a must-visit site for its rich biodiversity. When you enter the site, you immediately get a sense of tranquillity. Despite numerous visitors, the atmosphere is peaceful. Moreover, luscious greenery, beautiful gardens, and parks surround the site. 

Lumbini offers an excellent opportunity for naturalists, botanists, and zoologists to witness its diverse flora and fauna. The Lumbini Crane Sanctuary is one of the many attractions. However, the area is also home to 27 species of mammals, 44 species of fish, numerous birds, and plant species.

Understanding the Community

Diverse ethnic communities, such as Tharu, Madhesi, and Brahmin, reside in Lumbini. Each has its own unique culture, traditions, and language. Most of the locals depend on agriculture and tourism-related activities for their livelihood. So, during your visit to Lumbini, you will witness their unique culture and interact with local communities. 

Similarly, Buddhist devotees, monks, and nuns worldwide visit Lumbini. They pray, meditate, and participate in religious activities, aiding cultural exchange and learning opportunities. Likewise, various cultural events, festivals, and ceremonies attract Buddhist pilgrims annually. 

There are plenty of accommodation options for visitors. Resorts, hotels, lodges, and guesthouses are easily found. Similarly, some monasteries offer accommodation options for pilgrims and visitors. Residential retreat centres are also available for those participating in meditation, spiritual, and educational programs.

Travel Tips

Transportation Options to Lumbini

You can travel to Lumbini via roadway or airway. A tourist bus from Kathmandu and Pokhara is easily accessible. It takes 7 to 9 hours to reach Lumbini from Kathmandu and around 5 hours from Pokhara. Similarly, you can fly from Kathmandu to Bhairahawa and then to Lumbini.

Best Times to Visit

Lumbini is worth visiting all year round. Each season has its charm. But since it lies in the Terai area, which is in the lower region of Nepal, it gets sweltering in summer. So, it is best to avoid the summer season because of the hot and humid weather. Spring and autumn have favourable weather with minimal rainfall. The flora and fauna are the most active at this time of the year. Winter season is also ideal for visiting Lumbini. The migratory birds, including the Sarus Crane, return to the sanctuary in winter.

Conclusion

Lumbini is culturally, historically, and spiritually crucial to Nepalese and Buddhists worldwide. It is one of the holiest sites in the world. The various monasteries from different countries symbolize peace and harmony among the nations. There are also several temples in Lumbini. Similarly, the tranquil atmosphere and meditation centres help you to obtain and explore your spirituality. 

You can do many other things besides visit monasteries and temples. Lumbini has so much to offer to its visitors. You can also interact with the monastics and locals to gain insights into the religion and Lord Buddha’s teachings. All these are why you should visit Lumbini at least once in your lifetime!

We hope you will find our little list helpful. If you want to hike or trek in Nepal, Nepal Alternatives Trek is here to help. For booking or any inquiries, you can contact us anytime!

Tej Bahadur Gurung

With an experience of almost two decades, founder Mr. Tej Bahadur Gurung has established Nepal Alternative Treks as a widely recognized and reliable tourism operator. His degree in Tourism Studies and devotion to the sector has given him in-depth knowledge about trekking, climbing, cultural, and geological aspects of the country. He is a pioneer in introducing the concept of ‘off-beaten tracks’ and ‘alternative routes’ as well as treks and tour packages surrounding it.

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