One of the largest religions in the world, Buddhism accounts for over 500 million adherents worldwide, with 269 – 674 million living inside China alone.
Buddhism in Nepal
Buddhism in Nepal existed since the time of enlightenment of Buddha. Being the birthplace of Buddha, Nepal has always adhered and adopted Buddhism as its eternal part. It’s suggested by the historians that Buddha later revisited Lumbini and converted his family to Buddhism back in 600-500 BC.
The former kingdoms of Nepal adopted Buddhism as their first religion, under which Buddhist art and culture flourished and reached its zenith.
Bhrikuti, the daughter of 1st Lichhavi king Amshuverma, married King Songtseng Gampo of Tibet. She was a Buddhist adherent who helped establish and flourish Buddhism in Tibet, and later in mainland China.
Today, more than 10% of the total population of Nepal is a practicing Buddhist. Tibetan Buddhism and Vajrayana Buddhism are two major branches of the religion practiced in Nepal. Tamang, Magar, Gurung, Newar, Sherpa, Bhote and Thakali, these ethnic tribes of Nepal account for major followers.
Lumbini (Sanskrit: लुम्बिनी), UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the birthplace of Buddha. The fact that Buddha was born in here makes it a pivotal part of his life, others being; Bodh gaya, Sarnath and Kushinagar. Located in Kapilvastu region of western Nepal, it’s rich in ancient relics and artifacts.
Instated as a world heritage site by the UNESCO in 1997, the site is considered a major pilgrimage for practicing Buddhists from around the world. A budding tourist destination, Lumbini heritage site is at 10 hours drive from Kathmandu. You can also take flights to and from Bhairahawa, closest airport to Lumbini.
Historic & Cultural Sites
- Pillar of Ashoka -It’s a minor pillar built by Ashoka the Great (304–232 BCE) marking the important sites of Buddha. Ashoka’s pillar at Lumbini marks the birthplace of Buddha, and is one of the 19 pillars with inscriptions. It’s situated inside the Mayadevi temple premise, therefore, visiting tourists can see the artifact at ease and in detail.
- Mayadevi Temple -It is an ancient Buddhist temple situated at the UNESCO world heritage site of Lumbini, an exact site considered the birthplace of Buddha. The temple stands adjacent to a sacred pool (Puskarni) and a sacred garden. The temple premise is well protected and the tourists are prevented from taking any photos of the inside of the property.
- Peace Pagoda -The Lumbini Shanti Stupa or Peace pagoda was built by Nipponzan Myohoji monks and dedicated in 2001. It remains as one of the major attractions of Lumbini cultural site. There are many accompanying pagodas around the premise built by the representatives of different nations.
A Tourist Guide
- Visiting Lumbini and its important sites can be completed in couple of days.
- Quality lodges and meals are available in the area.
- Being a religious site, etiquette and mannerisms of the tourists are well monitored.
- Pre-monsoon (Mar-June), Post-monsoon (Sep-Nov) and winter (Dec-Feb) are considered the appropriate seasons to visit Lumbini.
- Curios and souvenirs can be brought in and outside the Mayadevi temple premise.
- Consider taking a guide along the trip to make it easier to locate places and grab detailed insights.