Lumbini Nepal Travel Travelogue

INTRODUCTION:

This post is is in continuation to the first part of our travelogue on the UNESCO World Heritage site of Lumbini in Nepal which attained fame as the birthplace of the Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. Do check out our very self-created Lumbini Map, exclusively for our readers.

SIGHTS AND PLACES TO SEE (CONTD.):

After wrapping up our visit to the West Monastic Zone, we entered the East Monastic Zone through Gate 3 and directly went to the Thai Monastery, skipping the Lumbini Park. The East Monastic Zone containing the Theravada monasteries is slightly smaller than its western counterpart and most people even prefer to finish visiting this section first.

The Thai Monastery welcomed us with a Sala so grand that we thought it was the monastery. Draped in blue and red with a number of Chofa on the roofs, the building serves as a gathering hall for the monks and also as a shelter. Ironically though, we were unable to take shelter from the torrents of rain that started pouring as soon as we entered.

Sala Thai Monastery Lumbini
The Sala of the Thai Monastery was draped in blue and red

We had been to many monasteries during our trip to Thailand, but none of those monasteries were as well-maintained as the Thai Monastery in Lumbini. Well-manicured lawns and neatly-trimmed trees adorned the spotless premises adding to the beauty of the white-as-mist marble. We had quite some expectation from the Ubosot (main prayer room) which had such a grand Sala and we were not the least bit disappointed. The Ubosot here is somewhat plainly decorated on the inside, but looks elegant nevertheless.

Thai Monastery Lumbini Nepal
As white as mist, the Thai Monastery at Lumbini stands

As the rain subsided, we rushed out to our car and proceeded towards the Golden Monastery of Myanmar. Other than the three prayer halls and residential quarters, there are two outstanding features here, one is the golden pagoda, Lokamuni Cula Pagoda, which is a replica of the Shwedagon Pagoda of Yangoon and the other is the temple which is a replica of the Ananda temple of Bagan. Personally though, we felt that the Ananda temple replica was more fascinating of the two. The architecture has been carefully replicated, but with the addition of a dash of green and red paints. Myanmar was not on our list of places to visit, but one look at this beauty and we almost instantly added Myanmar to our list.

Myanmar Golden Temple Lumbini Nepal Tourism Ananda Temple Shwedagon Pagoda
A replica of the Ananda Monastery of Lumbini – Myanmar Golden Temple

 

Cambodian Monastery Lumbini Entrance
The mini-Angkor Wat on top of the entrance

Close-by are the International Nuns’ Temple of Nepal and the Cambodian Monastery. The Cambodian Monastery is under construction, with most of the structural work complete. A miniature version of the Angkor Wat decorates the entrance, in a way, dwarfing the beauty of the dainty Monastery itself. Incredible attention to detail has been paid to the little sculptures on the monastery walls and building exterior, it feels like so much has been accomplished on such a small structure.

Cambodian Monastery Lumbini Nepal Tourism
The Cambodian Monastery was under construction when we visited

There is not much to see at the International Nuns’ Temple; there are quarters for the nuns and a small Buddhist temple in the shape of a pagoda. The temple has been built and is being maintained by the Nepalese government.

Gautami International Nuns' Temple Lumbini Nepal Tourism Travel
International Nuns’ Temple at Lumbini

It was nearly evening when we reached the last stop for us at the Monastery Zone, the Sri Lankan Monastery. The Sri Lankan influence is clearly visible from the presence of a ‘Vatadage‘ atop which is a statue of the Buddha. A Vatadage is a circular housing around the Buddha as a sort of protection; it is unique to ancient Sri Lankan architecture. The Vatadage also contains a Bodhi tree under which the Bronze-gilded Buddha is seated. The tree has specially been brought from Anuradhapuram in Sri Lanka to be planted here.

Sri Lanka Monastery Lumbini Nepal Travel Tourism Vatadage Buddha
The Buddha on a Vatadage of the Sri Lankan Monastery

In front of the Vatadage are long pillars that also house another statue of the Buddha in a small enclosure, the walls of which are decorated with murals from the life story of the Buddha. Much detail has been paid to the murals that depict the scenes of Maya Devi’s dream, the achievement of enlightenment and the preaching of Buddhist ideals in Sri Lanka. Next to this enclosure are the facilities for Buddhist learning such as classrooms, a library and a conference room. The monastery premises also house residential quarters for the monks who wish to study Buddhism.

Sri Lankan Monastery Lumbini Vatadage
Tall, slender pillars house the statue of the standing Buddha at the Sri Lanka Monastery

The second zone of the Lumbini is the New Lumbini Village Zone which acts as a gateway to the outer world, containing hotels and rest houses. This section is all set to expand with the addition of many hotels and rest-houses here. Additionally, it contains the Japanese-built World Peace Pagoda. This amazing white pagoda was built by the Nipponzan Myohoji Foundation of Japan in the aftermath of the Second World War that saw two Japanese cities being bombed with nuclear weapons. The pagoda has been erected according to the teaching of the Lotus Sutra. It is one of the 80 pagodas built around the world by the foundation to disseminate love and peace.

World Peace Pagoda Japanese Lumbini Nipponzan Myohoji Foundation
The multi-level Peace Pagoda offers a good view of the surroundings

The overall height of the pagoda from the ground is 41 metres and its dome diameter is 20 metres. The structure is built completely using bricks and mortar painted white. The dome contains 4 statues of the Buddha, each in a different pose: one that he assumed at the time of his birth, one of Mahaparinirvana, one of enlightenment and one of deep meditation. The Buddha statues are made of Bronze and gilded in gold. From the top level, one can see the Eternal Flame and even faintly make out the Maya Devi temple at a distance. The Lumbini Crane Sanctuary or what it used to be is nearby and even though the water has long dried up, you may spot a couple of cranes come December. There is very good probability that you may sight cranes outside this sanctuary on the fields and you need not allocate any time from your schedule here.

Mahaparinirvana Reclining Buddha Lumbini Japanese Peace Pagoda Nipponzan Myohoji Foundation
The Buddha in Mahaparinirvana posture at the Lumbini Peace Pagoda

We have saved the most important of the places at Lumbini for the last, perhaps because we wanted to showcase the so many other things that Lumbini offered. And so, here we are, or rather there we were in the Sacred Zone at the Maya Devi Temple. We had entered through Gate 5 and as we were not allowed to take our car inside, we resorted to walking. The Sacred Zone is the focus of the masterplan for Lumbini that was designed by the architect Professor Tange. The aim is to create an environment of peace and spirituality and at the same time also provide a fresh environment that promotes tourism. At the centre of the Sacred Zone lies the temple surrounded by a circular water body. The temple is around a kilometre from the gate and you could absolutely use one of the many rickshaws lined up. Do note that there is a separate entrance ticket for the temple and the entrance booth is not very close to the temple. This temple is unique in that it celebrates the Buddha’s mother rather than the Buddha himself.

Maya Devi Temple Lumbini Nepal Tourism Buddha Buddhism
Quaint and quintessential to Buddhism – the Maya Devi Temple at Lumbini

Notable historians such as Seng Tsai and Fa-Hsien from the fourth century, Hsuan-Tsang from the seventh century have made references to the temples and stupas here. The place was known as Pradimoksha Vana or Lumbini Gama during ancient times. It was, however, neglected for a few centuries until the excavation of the Ashok Pillar in 1896.

As legend goes, Maya Devi had stopped to rest at Lumbini on the way to Devadaha and given birth to the Buddha at Lumbini after bathing in the waters of the Puskarna pond. It is said that when the Buddha was born, he took seven steps towards the east and uttered a message to humanity. The Nativity sculpture inside the Maya Devi Temple depicts this scene of birth as do so many other sculptures and paintings at Lumbini.

Tip: It is not possible to click any photos inside the Maya Devi temple as you have to turn your phone off as you enter.

Maya Devi Temple Lumbini Nepal Tourism Travel
A small stupa with a structural ruin in the background

There are rows of small stupas outside the temple that may have been built as votive offerings, dating back to the second century BC. They are scattered around the temple premises amidst grass that seemed to be growing everywhere, both around and on the stupas itself. Excavations have revealed that there are multiple layers of temple construction and the one with the burnt bricks was commissioned by King Ashok when he visited Lumbini. We entered the dimly-lit temple and began walking along the wooden floored path built around the Structural Ruins inside the temple. These ruins date back from the sixth century BC to fifth century AD. Devotees can be seen flinging coins at these ruins for good luck. The wooden path leads to the Marker Stone which supposedly marks the exact spot of the Buddha’s birth where many ardent devotees can be seen praying. The path then leads to the Nativity Sculpture and then out the exit. The newly-born Buddha can be seen standing upright on a lotus pedestal with his mother Maya Devi looking at him. Maya Devi is seen holding the branch of a Sal tree assisted by her sister, Prajapati.

Maya Devi Temple Puskarna Pond Lumbini Nepal Tourism
Puskarna Pond in the backyard of the Maya Devi Temple

We exited to the southern backyard of the temple containing the Puskarna Pond and a few more stupas. It was saddening to see many people climbing the stupas despite the many signs warning them away; we sincerely wish there were fines levied on such people. We proceeded along the edges of the pond to a small temple under a tree surrounded by colourful prayer flags. Prayer flags seemed to be in abundance here and their fluttering noise was the only thing that we heard as we basked in the silence here. The benches under the trees are great spots for meditation and we recommend you take some time out here to meditate.

Lumbini Maya Devi Temple Colourful Flags Meditate Peepal Tree Buddha Nirvana
Lose yourself here as you meditate in peace

The western side of the backyard contains the Ashok Pillar built by the Mauryan emperor, Ashok, in 249 BC. This pillar contains the first epigraphic evidence to the birthplace of the Buddha and was responsible for the identification of this place as Lumbini by archaeologists in 1896. The pillar is nearly 10 metre tall and is made of sandstone with a polish typical of Mauryan sandstone. It is said that the pillar also had a lotus bracket and a crowning figure, both of which are missing now.

Ashok Pillar Lumbini Nepal Tourism Maya Devi Temple Piyadasi Mauryan Emblem
The Ashok Pillar with the Maya Devi Temple in the background

The last spot that we cover in this post is the Eternal Flame which lies in the Sacred Zone. The Eternal Flame, the Peace Pagoda and Maya Devi Temple lie on a straight line and on a good day, one can view the each of the other 2 places. You can visit this place by the steamer service too or simply walk from the Maya Devi Temple. Over here, once can also find the iconic Bodhisatva statue gilded in gold that was inaugurated as a part of the Visit Lumbini celebrations in 2012. This statue captures the Buddha in the pose that he assumed when he took his first seven steps.

Golden Bodhisatva Statue Eternal Flame Buddha Lumbini Nepal Tourism
Golden Bodhisatva statue at Lumbini

We have thus covered almost all of the monuments at Lumbini per se. But, a trip to Lumbini is rather incomplete without a visit to at least two of the neighbouring places such as Tilaurakot, Kudan, Gotihawa, Niglihawa, Sisahaniya, Sagarhawa, Araurakot, Devadaha and Ramagrama. The most famous of these is of course Tilaurakot where the Prince Sidhartha is said to have lived before he set off on his journey. Most people prefer to stop at Lumbini on their way to the Chitwan National Park which is famed for its one-horned rhinos. We did the same too and you could expect us to write about these places too.

Tilaurakot Western Entrance Lumbini Nepal Tourism Enlightenment
Supposedly, this is the entrance through which the Buddha left his Tilaurakot palace in search of enlightenment

 

Chitwan National Park Chitwan Nepal Tourism
A mini-island at the entrance of the Chitwan Jungle Safari
REFERENCES:

You could visit this site for information on Myanmar Golden Monastery.

 

Lumbini Travelogue 2

30 thoughts on “Lumbini Travelogue 2

  • Pingback: Lumbini Nepal - Travelogue on the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Nepal

  • September 25, 2017 at 11:27
    Permalink

    wow all of these photos look BEAUTIFUL! looks like you had a fantastic time <3

    Reply
  • September 25, 2017 at 11:41
    Permalink

    The pictures do complete justice to the beautiful place. Loved reading the post!

    Reply
  • September 25, 2017 at 16:34
    Permalink

    What an enjoyable article I truly enjoyed reading it the pictures are great thank you so much

    Reply
  • September 26, 2017 at 06:07
    Permalink

    Wow, what a beautiful and sacred place. Thanks for sharing the beauty!

    Reply
  • September 26, 2017 at 07:09
    Permalink

    I absolutely love the architecture in the photos. Such a beautiful place to visit one day!

    Reply
  • September 28, 2017 at 00:40
    Permalink

    I associate Nepal with food (many Nepalese restaurants in Finland) and mountains (obviously). Thanks for bringing a little different picture. I like the architectural photos, with subject right in the center! 🙂

    Reply
  • October 3, 2017 at 19:22
    Permalink

    Lovely post. Such serene vibes in the photos. Was in Nepal recently and covered Kathmandu, Pokhara and Chitwan. Hope I get the opportunity to see Lumbini soon.

    Best, Ragini
    http://www.frommywindowseat.com/

    Reply
  • October 3, 2017 at 20:05
    Permalink

    These pictures are breathtaking, I can’t wait to travel more and see the world with my own eyes

    Reply
  • October 5, 2017 at 11:09
    Permalink

    I absolutely love how they’ve incorporate designs from different parts of the world into their own pagodas, monasteries and temples. Your pictures are amazing, I’d love to see these for myself!

    Reply
  • October 6, 2017 at 18:48
    Permalink

    Those monastery’s are so beautiful! Hopefully, one day, I can visit and see them with my own eyes!

    Reply
  • October 9, 2017 at 08:41
    Permalink

    I love the architecture of the temples in far east so much. Thank you for this blog

    Reply
  • October 9, 2017 at 14:29
    Permalink

    I love temples and visiting places like this! Hopefully I get to visit it in the next few years. Thanks for sharing these lovely photos

    Reply
  • October 9, 2017 at 15:30
    Permalink

    Lumbini is a beautiful place. So peaceful and serene unlike Pokhara.

    Reply
  • October 9, 2017 at 16:05
    Permalink

    Thanks for the blog , absolutely love the architecture !!

    Reply
  • October 9, 2017 at 18:41
    Permalink

    Stunning! I’ll add this to the places I need to visit

    Reply
  • October 11, 2017 at 14:58
    Permalink

    Even after reading the post, the words ” Lumbini Park” still resonate in my mind. I will definitely need to arrange a trip there. Now I know what to look out for when am in Nepal. thanks to you.

    Reply
  • October 11, 2017 at 17:52
    Permalink

    This place is on my top list for next year when I intend to visit Nepal. Your post helps me to much. Thank you for this amazing post!

    Reply
  • October 12, 2017 at 11:30
    Permalink

    The pictures look amazing, I would love to visit Nepal one day, thank you for sharing this. Love the look of pagoda and thai monastery

    Reply
  • October 13, 2017 at 20:58
    Permalink

    Planning to visit Nepal in the future. This is such a helpful guide! And the pics are lovely! 😊👍

    Reply
    • October 13, 2017 at 21:17
      Permalink

      Do read part one of our travelogue. It would be helpful as it contains info about travel, stay and food.

      Reply
  • October 13, 2017 at 23:23
    Permalink

    Whomever idea this was to bring all these countries together in common Buddhist celebration and meditation – it’s brilliant! This goes to my bucketlist 🙂

    Reply
  • October 14, 2017 at 20:49
    Permalink

    Lovely photos, brought back memories ! I’ve visited Lumbini few years ago after I my trek because it is the birthplace of Buddha.. Submerging oneself to the culture and tradition of Nepal is not complete without visiting the town of Lumbini. However, I was a bit disappointed… It could be a world class site for Buddhism. But it’s nowhere near this.

    Reply
    • November 5, 2017 at 00:40
      Permalink

      You are right, there is so much more potential to this place, although from what I understand, a lot has changed over the last couple of years. Perhaps the Lumbini of today is slightly better than what it was when you visited.

      Reply
  • October 16, 2017 at 12:04
    Permalink

    Thank you for all the details! It is interesting how the architecture of each temple is so unique and special! Definitely a place I would love to visit one day!

    Reply
  • October 18, 2017 at 11:44
    Permalink

    Ah, this place looks awesome and the Peace Pagoda looks like it’s really huge? Seems like a lovely place, too bad you didn’t catch sunny weather.

    Reply

Leave your thoughts here

%d bloggers like this: