Lumbini lies in South Nepal, in the green Terai region. Sanskrit for “the lovely”, Lumbini has a fascinating history as the birthplace of the Buddha and as such is one of the most important religious sites in the world. According to Buddhist tradition, Maya Devi gave birth to the Buddha on her way to her parent’s home in the month of May in the year 642 BC, when she was resting under a sal tree.
A beautiful garden
In Buddha’s time Lumbini was described as ‘a beautiful garden’ and today it still retains its legendary charm. Many monasteries and temples were built there until the 9th century but the garden of the Buddha’s birth was lost for a thousand years until the site was rediscovered in 1895 when a German archaeologist came upon Ashoka’s Pillar. This pillar had been built by the Indian Emperor Ashoka during his visit to Lumbini, along with four stupas.
Lumbini was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 and has many interesting temples and buildings for the modern tourist to see, many of them renovated, others newly built. The site is a large garden with a grove of pipal trees. The most important temple is the Maya Devi Temple, which enshrines the traditional site of the Buddha’s birth. Temples and monasteries from all over the world have now been built here, a visit reveals the similarities and differences of Buddhism in all those countries.