Lumbini, Nepal: Travel/Tourist Information Guide
Lumbini is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the Rupandehi District of Nepal. It is the place where, according to Buddhist tradition, Queen Mayadevi gave birth to Siddharta Gautama in 563 BCE. Gautama who achieved Enlightenment some time around 528 BCE, became the Gautama Buddha and founded Buddhism. The main site is known as Lumbini Development Zone which is sealed in by a perimeter fence. On the other hand, India claims that by historical maps, Buddha was actually born in India and there are now plans to build a larger Indian version of Lumbini on their side of the border. Lumbini has a number of temples, including the Mayadevi Temple and several others which are still under construction. Lumbini holds many monuments, monasteries, a museum and the Lumbini International Research Institute within the site. Lumbini was added as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997. During Buddha’s time, Lumbini used to be a park located in Kapilavastu Nepal. There is an entrance fee to enter the site which is 200 rupees. There are several ways to reach Lumbini such as by air, rail and road. Firstly, the Bhairahawa is the closest airport to Lumbini where there are flights to and from Kathmandu. By rail, the closest station is at Nautanwa; however passenger trains are infrequent on this line. There are buses between Sunauli and Lumbini. Alternatively, from the Nepal side of the border, one can take a shared jeep to Bhairahawa followed by a bus to Lumbini. Bhairahawa – Lumbini buses depart every fifteen minutes. There are also buses run from Kathmandu, Pokhara, Gorakhpur and Varanasi. Taxis are probably the best option for reaching Lumbini from Sunauli. For getting around, travellers can use bicycles and cycle rickshaws. Bicycles can be rented at hotels in Lumbini as well as the Korean monastery. There are two main events organized in Lumbini which are Buddha Jayanti and Rupa Devi. Firstly, Buddha Jayanti is the most important Buddhist celebration at Lumbini. It is an annual festival that is held in April or May when busloads of Buddhists from India and Nepal come here to celebrate the birth of the Buddha. Pilgrims also come here to worship each purnima which is the night of the full moon and astami which is the eighth night after the full moon. Secondly, Rupa Devi is festival that is held on the full moon of the Nepali month of Saisakh to worship Maya Devi as Rupa Devi, the mother goddess of Lumbini. According to many Hindus, the Buddha is an incarnation of Vishnu and therefore the festival attracts thousands of Hindu pilgrims to Lumbini.
Maya Devi Temple
Maya Devi Temple is an ancient Buddhist temple located at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lumbini. It is the main temple at Lumbini. The temple stands adjacent to a sacred pool and a sacred garden. One can buy the entrance ticket 50 m north of the gate to the Sacred Garden. It Is compulsory to remove the shoes at the gate. The archeological remains at the site were previously dated to the third century BCE brick buildings constructed by Ashoka the Great. The focal point for pilgrims is a sandstone carving of the birth of Buddha, left here by the Malla King, Ripu Malla, in the 14th century, when Maya Devi was worshipped as an incarnation of the Hindu mother goddess. The sacred pond beside the temple is believed to be where Maya Devi bathed before giving birth to the Buddha. Entrance fee to the temple is 200 rupees. Opening hours: 6 am – 6 pm.
World Peace Pagoda
A Peace Pagoda is a Buddhist Stupa. It is a monument to inspire peace, designed to provide a focus for people of all races and creeds and to help unite them in their search for world peace. Most peace pagodas were built since the Second World War under the guidance of Nichidatsu Fujii, a Buddhist monk from Japan. Fujii was inspired by his meeting with Gandhi in 1931 and decided to devote his life to promote peace. In 1947, he began constructing Peace Pagodas as shrines to World Peace. World Peace Pagoda in Lumbini is located outside the main compound and it is easily accessible by bike. Near the base of the stupa is the grave of a Japanese monk murdered by anti-Buddhist extremists during the construction of the monument. Opening hours: Dawn – Dusk
Myanmar Golden Temple
The Myanmar Golden Temple is one of the oldest structures in the compound. There are three prayer halls. The most impressive one is topped by a corncob-shaped tower, styled after the temples of Bagan. There is also the Lokamani Pula Pagoda within the temple grounds. It is a huge gilded stupa in the southern Burmese style.
Askohan Pillar was left by the Indian emperor Ashoka who visited Lumbini in 249 BC. It is an inscribed sandstone pillar to commemorate the occasion. The governor of Palpa, Khadga Shumsher Rana rediscovered the pillar in 1896. The 6m-high pink sandstone pillar has now been returned to its original site. It is located in front of the Maya Devi Temple.
Lumbini Crane Sanctuary
Lumbini Crane Sanctuary is the wetlands that surround the World Peace Pagoda which are protected as a crane sanctuary. It is possible to see rare sarus cranes through the fields. There is no entrance fee to the sanctuary.
Drubgyud Chöling Gompa
This is a classic Tibetan style gompa. It was built in 2001 by Buddhists from Singapore and Nepal. There is a gigantic stupa under construction next door.
Lumbini Museum is devoted to the life of the Buddha. It also holds artifacts and photos from Buddhist sites around the world. The museum is located at the northern end of the compound. Entrance fee to the museum is 70 rupees. Opening hours: 10 am – 4 pm Wednesday – Monday.
Where to Stay
Buddha Maya Gardens by KGH Hotels and Resorts
This hotel is located within the Lumbini Heritage Site. It is located about 13 km from Gautam Buddha Airport. Free private parking is available and the hotel features and international restaurant. Rooms come with air conditioning and ceiling fans. Each room comes with a cable TV and slippers. Private balconies overlook the surrounding landscapes. Guests may rent a car to explore the area or arrange day trips at the tour desk. The hotel also provides a business center and laundry services. The restaurant at the hotel serves a selection of local, regional and international cuisines. There is a 24 hour room service available at the hotel.
Hotel Peace Palace Nepal
This hotel offers a restaurant that serves Indian, Chinese and local cuisine. The hotel is located 100 meters from Maya Devi Temple. Free Wi-Fi access is available. Rooms come with air conditioning, a cable TV and a seating area. Private bathrooms come with a shower, free toiletries and slippers. Guests can enjoy city view from the rooms. There are a 24 hour front desk, a garden and a bar at the property. Other facilities are a shared lounge, a tour desk and luggage storage. Free parking is available on site. Address: Mahilwar, Madhubani-07, Lumbini, Nepal.
Hotel Little Buddha
The hotel offers accommodation in Lumbini. Guests can enjoy the on-site bar. Free private parking is available on site. Each room comes with air conditioning and a flat screen TV. Each room has a private bathroom. The hotel features free Wi-Fi. There is a 24 hour front desk at the property. Address: Mahilwar, Lumbini Cultural Municipality-16, Lumbini, Nepal.
Om Budha Villagio Resort
The hotel features free Wi-Fi and a restaurant. The hotel offers pet-friendly accommodation in Rummindei. Free private parking is available on site. Rooms come with a TV. There is a business center at the property. Bike hire is available at this hotel and the area is popular for cycling. The hotel also offers car hire. Address: Taulihawa Road, Lumbini, Nepal.
Hotel Basil Lumbini
The hotel offers a restaurant. Free Wi-Fi access is available. Rooms come with a TV and cable channels. Private bathrooms come with a shower and slippers. Guests can enjoy city view and garden view from the rooms. Extras include a fan. There are a garden, a terrace and a bar at the hotel. Other facilities are a ticket service, a tour desk and luggage storage. The property offers free parking.
Siddharta Guest House
This hotel features a 24 hour front desk and free Wi-Fi access. Rooms are fan cooled and they come with flat screen cable TV, seating area and work desk. Guests can enjoy the city view from the balconies. The attached bathrooms come with free toiletries and a shower. The tour desk can help guests with the currency exchange or car rental services. The hotel offers luggage storage. There are also other services such as dry cleaning, ironing and laundry facilities available. The in-house restaurant serves Indian and continental cuisine. Guests can enjoy alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages at the bar.
Lumbini Buddha Garden Resort
This resort offer free Wi-Fi in all areas. The tour desk can assist guests with sightseeing, car rental and currency exchange arrangements. The resort is located 2.5 km away from the Maya Devi Temple and 15 km away from the Bhairahawa Airport. Rooms come with a fan, a balcony with a garden view, seating area and work desk. The en suite bathrooms are equipped with a shower and free toiletries. The in-house restaurant serves Regional, Indian and Continental cuisine.