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Buddha was born in Nepal. Lumbini is the birthplace of Lord Buddha. It is situated 300 km away from Kathmandu in Rubandehi District of Southern Terai (lowland), at an altitude of 600 ft. above sea level. Lumbini, respected by all Buddhists. In 1998, Lumbini was declared as the Fountain of world peace and the pilgrimage for all the peace loving people of the world. Lord Buddha was born in Lumbini in 6th century B.C. Lumbini is one of the popular tourist destination of Nepal. More than 400,000 people visit Lumbini every year. Taking this in consideration and to ensure that the benefit of tourism goes to the local community as well, rural tourism has been developed and promoted in the region.
The Lumbini Tour provides insight into the life of Lord Buddha and the development of Buddhism. There are 62 archaeological sites scattered outside the Lumbini Garden. The tour goes through Tilaurakot, Kudan, Gotihawa, Niglihawa, Sagarhawa, Aurorakot, Devadaha and Ramagrama all bearing significance to the life, enlightenment and death of Buddha.
Some important places in Lumbini are:
• The Lumbini Garden: This is the site marked by a certain stone pillar erected by the Indian Emperor Ashoka at about 245 B.C. The most important discovery in this place is a stone marked to suggest the exact birthplace of Buddha.
• Mayadevi Temple: This temple, dedicated to the mother of lord Buddha- Maya Devi, was excavated a few years ago. Many sculptures and carving in which the figures and designs are only slightly projecting from their background are seen here.
• Pushkarni pond: This is the pond where Mayadevi is said to have had a bath before giving birth to Buddha.
• Tilaurakot: Tilaurakot has been identified by archaeologists as the actual capital of Kapilvastu and the home of King Suddhodhan, father of Prince Siddhartha who later went on to become the Buddha. This is believed to be the place where Lord Buddha spent the first 29 years of his princely life. Chinese travelers who visited Tilaurakot more than 2500 years ago repoted seeing numerous stupas, monasteries and palaces. The Chinese pilgrims Fa-Hien and Hiuen – Tsang noted that they saw Kapilvastu in complete ruins and counted 10 deserted cities within Kapilvastu. King Virudhaka, who massacred the Shakyas during the last days of Lord Buddha, is said to have destroyed the cities. It is located around 27 kms west of Lumbini and 3 Kms from Taulihawa town, a joint effort by Nepali and Japanese archaeologists recovered the royal town of Tilaurakot.
• Kudan: Kudan is located around 4.5 kms south of Tilaurakot. It is a huge mound of structural ruins and a pond nearby appears to be the ruins of stupas and monasteries. There are believed to be the Kasaya Stupa, where a Kasaya (yellow robe worn by monks) was presented to Lord Buddha. This is where King Suddhodhana met Lord Buddha for the first time after he returned from cosmic enlightenment.
• Gotihawa: Gotihawa is located around 3 kms southwest of Taulihawa. This is an important religious site for the Buddhist world community and is also historically and archaeologically important. It is believed that Krakuchanda Buddha, who came before Shakyamuni Buddha, was born in Gotihawa and attained Nirvana there. Brick structures of stupas and monasteries can be seen in the area outside modern Gotihawa village. At the center of the main mound the remains of a broken Ashokan Pillar lie on a slab. Adjoining the pillar on the northeast side is a huge stupa with rings of wedge-shaped ancient bricks, identifying the Nirvana Stupa of Krakuchanda Buddha. The villages are still using an ancient well in the center of the village. The development of the site is believed to have started in the 6th century B.C.
• Niglihawa: Niglihawa is a significant archaeological site about 7 kms north of Taulihawa where the remains of a broken Ashokan Pillar lie close to a large pond. Emperor Ashoka built a stupa and set up a pillar when he visited the site during his pilgrimage. Discovered by renowned archaeologist, Dr. Alois Fuhrer in 1895, this pillar is 15 feet tall with inscriptions on its upper portion. It is believed that Kanakmuni Buddha was born, enlightened and met his father in this place and is regarded as a very important religious place for Buddhists and research scholars.
• Sagarhawa: Sagarhawa is about 12 kms north of Taulihawa. Sagarhawa is the forest site where the ruins of an ancient pond were excavated in 1895. Archaeologists have identified this site as the “Palace of the Massacre of the Shakyas”. The ruins of the ancient site lie on the west and south banks of the large rectangular pond locally known as Lumbu Sagar or long pong in Niglihawa Village.
• Aurorakot: Aurorakot is about 10 kms northeast of Taulihawa. Aurorakot is a large rectangular fortified area with the remains of an ancient moat and brick fortifications east of Niglihawa. A walled fortress in ancient times, this citadel was believed to be the natal town of Kanakmuni Buddha.
• Devdaha: Devdaha, 54 kms east of Lumbini across the Rohini river, is the ancient capital of the Koliya Kingdom. It is the maternal hometown of Queen Mayadevi, Prince Siddhartha’s mother, Prajapati Gautami, his stepmother, and Princess Yasodhara, his consort. Thisis where Prince Siddhartha spent his childhood. Seven years after his enlightenment, Lord Buddha visited Devdaha and ordained the followers of Jain Sadhu Nirgrantha Nathputra. There are several other sites around Devdaha such as Kumarbarti, Khayardanda, Bairimai/Kanyamai, Bhabanipur/Devidamar, Mathagadi (ancient weapons).
• Ramagram: It is believed to be the maternal home of Buddha. This is where we can see the biggest stupa, with important relics. It is said that it was built around 600 B.C. Ramagram is a brick mound on the bank of the Jharahi River. It is a 7 meters high brick stupa containing one of the eight Astha Dhatu (relics) of Lord Buddha.
• Lumbini has many new monasteries occupied by different nations. Some notable ones are:
• The Myanmar temple was built with the contribution from Burmese Buddhist. The monastery is an attractive big white structural monument with a golden pinnacle soaring into the sky.
• The China temple, which is a very beautiful pagoda styled temple with many prayer and meditation cells.
• The Korean Temple is a beautifully set temple having many remarkable images of Buddha.
Besides these, there are others like the Nepal Buddhia Temple and the Dharmaswami Buddhist monastery. Other countries like Japan , Sri Lanka , Thailand , Vietnam , etc. are also contributing to build more temples and monasteries.