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Things to do in Lumbini

By Gaurav Manandhar at
"the birthplace of the Buddha"

Being the birthplace of the Buddha, Lumbini is certainly one of the most sought after pilgrimage site for the Buddhists around the globe. The birthplace of the Gautama Buddha, Lumbini, is the Mecca of every Buddhist, being one of the four holy places of Buddhism. It is said in the Parinibbana Sutta that Buddha himself identified four places of future pilgrimage: the sites of his birth, enlightenment, first discourse, and death. Also a UNESCO World Heritage site, the place holds immense archeological importance along with the religious importance.

So what will you do when you visit this immensely religious, spiritual and archeologically important place? Here are some places definitely want to visit.

1)Maya Devi Temple

The temple clearly devoted to the mother of the prince turned spiritual leader Siddhartha Gautam, sits on the site of the birth of the Buddha. You will need to buy your entrance ticket 50 meters north of the gate to the sacred garden. Removal of your shoes is a must while entering the holy site. You can walk around the ruins of the ancient palace as well as the garden in the premises. The focal point for the pilgrims here is a sandstone carving of the birth of the Buddha reputedly left here by the king Ripu Malla in the 14th century. The sacred pond beside the temple is believed to be where Maya Devi bathed before giving birth to the Buddha.

2) World Peace Pagoda

Located outside the main premises, the pagoda is easily accessible by bike and was constructed as an impressive gleaming white Pagoda by Japanese Buddhists. The shining golden statue of the Buddha is said to depict the Buddha in the posture he assumed when he was born. Similarly, there is also a grave of a Japanese monk murdered by anti-Buddhist extremists during the construction of the monument.

3) Myanmar Golden Temple

A short cycle ride across the south holds one of the oldest structures in the heritage site, the Myanmar Golden Temple which houses three prayer halls. The most impressive of the three is topped by a Shikhara tower which is styled after the temples of Bagan in Myanmar (Burma). Another pagoda, Lokamani Pula Pagoda is also a Burmese styled pagoda which is hugely inspired by the Shwedagon Paya in Yangon.

4) Ashokan Pillar

A sandstone pillar left behind by the Indian emperor Ashoka after visiting Lumbini in 249 BC is said to have been a memorabilia to commemorate the occasion of the visit. With an inscription to notify the event, the pillar was lost for centuries before being rediscovered by then Governor of Palpa, Khada Shamsher Rana, in 1896. The 6m-high pillar has now been returned to its original site in front of the Maya Devi Temple.

5) Lumbini Crane Sanctuary

The wetlands around the World Peace Pagoda are protected as a crane sanctuary and you can have a great chance of seeing rare Sarus cranes stalking through the fields around the pagoda. With no formal entrance to the sanctuary, you can stroll or walk into the damp meadows behind the pagoda to view them with no admission fee!