Situated around 300 km south-west from Kathmandu, Lumbini is just 22 km from the border town of Bhairahawa, which is connected by air to Kathmandu. It is a Buddhist pilgrimage site where Lord Buddha was born in 623 B.C. Visitors from different parts of the world come to this place every year. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Culture) and holds immense archeological and religious importance.
The inscription on the pillar, erected by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka in 249 B.C., identifies the Sacred Garden (spread over 9 sq. km.) as the spot where Queen Mayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautam, the Enlightened One. A large number of Buddhist pilgrims visit Lumbini to pray at the Mayadevi Temple where excavations have revealed the ‘marker stone’ showing the exact spot where Gautam Buddha was born. The sacred Puskarni Pond, where Queen Mayadevi had taken a bath before the birth of Buddha, lies to the south of the pillar. It was also in this pond that the infant Buddha was given his first bath.
To the north of the Sacred Garden are monastic zones where different countries have built temples and monasteries depicting different sects of Buddhism. The Myanmar Temple is a shiny gold and white structure that resembles the Shwe-dagon Pagoda in Yangon while the International Gautami Nuns Temple is a replica of the Swoyambhunath Stupa of Kathmandu. The China Temple, built by the Buddhist Association of China, is a complex of pagodas, prayer rooms and meditation cells. Across the road is the Korean Temple, the finest architectural representation of Korea, which contains beautiful images of Lord Buddha. The Japanese Peace Stupa is a 41-m tall structure with 4 different Buddha statues set in the stupa’s dome facing the 4 cardinal directions. There are several other beautiful monuments and temples that have been built by Vietnam, Thailand, Mongolia, France, Germany and Sri Lanka.
Around 27 km west of Lumbini is the village of Tilaurakot which is believed to have been the location of the Kapilvastu Royal Palace where the Buddha grew up as the Shakya dynasty prince, until he renounced it at the age of 29 in search of enlightenment. Kapilvastu is associated with several incidents of his life such as: meeting the sick person, meditation of Saint Asit, competition with Shakya youth, shooting of an arrow to cause the spring water to gush out and so on. When Buddha got enlightenment in Bodhgaya, 500 Shakyas and 8 princes adopted Buddhism at this place. At this place he preached his father and son Rahul also.
Located in the Cultural Zone, the museum contains Mauryan and Kushana coins, religious manuscripts, terra-cotta 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)
Located opposite to the Lumbini Museum, LIRI 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 numerous books on religion, philosophy, art and architecture.
Kapilvastu Museum is situated about 27 km west of Lumbini in the village of Tilaurakot. The museum holds coins, pottery and toys dating between the 7th century BC and 4th century AD. The museum also has a good collection of jewelry and other ornaments of that period.