Twenty-five hundred years ago in Lumbini, Shakyamuni Buddha was born. This place holds similar significance to Buddhism, as Jerusalem holds for Christianity. Lumbini has thus become the sacred ground for Buddhists from all over the world. Buddhism is the central theme for any visit to Lumbini and the remains of many ancient stupas and monasteries can be seen. There is also a large stone pillar erected by the Great Indian Emperor Ashoka in 249 BC bearing an inscription about the birth of the Lord Buddha. A must visit in Lumbini is the temple of Maya Devi. It has a stone image of Maya Devi giving birth to Lord Buddha as she holds onto a branch. The image is well worn by the strokes of barren women, hoping for a cure for infertility.
Lumbini is now being developed under the Master Plan of the Lumbini Development Trust, a non governmental organization dedicated to the restoration of Lumbini and its development as a pilgrimage site. The work is being done by the renowned Japanese architect Kenzo Tange. It will transform three square miles of land into a sacred place for gardens, pools, buildings, and groves. The plan includes a Monastic Zone, circular sacred Garden surrounding the Ashoka pillar and Maya Devi temple.
An important archeological site near Lumbini is Kapilvastu where Lord Buddha spent his formative years. Foundations of his palace can still be seen there today. Archaeologists have also discovered 13 successive layers of human habitation dating back to the eighth century BC. Lumbini is a must visit for archaeological and historical buffs! Today, Lumbini is beginning to receive travellers' and archaeologists' attention after centuries of neglect. Serious preservation work has started only in the latter half of the 20th century.
Apart from its religious and historical significance, Lumbini also gives the traveller an insight into village life of southern Nepal. Try and coincide your visit with the weekly Monday bazaar when villagers come from miles around to buy-sell grains, spices, pottery, jewellery, saris and various other items. Shop, merge, discover and explore the life of villagers in this unique part of our planet as you get enlightened by the life and times of Lord Buddha. Lumbini is a slice of human history worth seeing and experiencing.