Nepal (October 2017): Lumbini, the Birthplace of Lord Buddha

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According to the Buddhist tradition Lumbini is the place where, around 563BCE, Queen Maya Devi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama, who became Buddha. It is a major pilgrimage site. The site is a huge rectangular 4.8kmx1.6km enclosure oriented south to north. The southern end consists of the Sacred Garden, at the middle of which stands the Maya Devi temple, considered to be the exact place where Buddha was born. Further north lies the monastic zone with multiple temples and monasteries (funded by Buddhist organizations from various countries). The monastic zone is divided into two areas separated by a 1.4km-long canal, the Central Canal, oriented S-N. At the northern end stands a large stupa, the World Peace Pagoda, erected in 2001. This stupa is surrounded by a crane sanctuary.

 

Gautam Buddha airport, next to the city of Bhairahawa (also called Siddharthanagar), located about 18km east of Lumbini.

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The Tashi Rabten Ling monastery. This Tibetan-style monastery is the only major monastery built (slightly) outside the pilgrimage complex. It is nevertheless closer to the Maya Devi temple than most of the other monasteries. It has a guesthouse attached to it, the Sakya guesthouse, where I spent two nights. It is a very nice and convenient base to visit Lumbini.

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Maya Devi temple. This unassuming brick structure contains what is considered to be the exact place where Buddha was born.

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The Maya Devi temple is surrounded by remains of ancient monasteries.

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Ashoka′s pillar on the western side of the Maya Devi temple. This pillar discovered in 1896 was erected during the reign of Emperor Ashoka (3rd century BC). It is believed to mark the place where Ashoka visited Lumbini.

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Puskarini, or Sacred Pond, behind the Maya Devi Temple. It is believed that Queen Maya Devi took a ritual bath in this pond before Buddha′s birth and that Buddha had his first bath in it.

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Sacred Bodhi tree on the other side of the Sacred Pond. On that day the place was visited by pilgrims from Thailand (dressed in yellow).

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Pilgrims at the edge of the Sacred Pond.

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Tiny shrine in a cavity of the Bodhi tree.

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People meditating around the Bodhi tree.

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Other visitors.

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In and around a small temple on the eastern side of the Maya Devi temple.

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Statue of Baby Buddha on the northern side of the Sacred Garden, before entering the monastic zone.

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Dae Sung Shakya temple (Korean).

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In the Zhong Hua temple (Chinese).

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In the Thrangu monastery (Canadian).

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Phat Quoc Tu temple (Vietnamese).

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Great Drigung Kagyud Lotus stupa (built by German Tara Foundation) and its eccentric gardens.

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In the Sri Lankan monastery.

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Myanmar Golden temple and monastery.

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Cambodian temple.

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Royal Thai monastery.

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The Eternal Peace Flame at the southern extremity of the Central Canal.

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Views of the Central Canal toward the north, with the white World Peace Pagoda (stupa) in the background.

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World Peace Pagoda at the northern end of the Buddhist complex.

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Various views of the Sacred Garden. (The Maya Devi temple is visible in the first photo below and the Dae Sung Shakya temple in the second.)

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Crane in the crane sanctuary near the World Peace Stupa.

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Flying crane.

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A large population of monkeys live in the complex.

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Stalls selling Buddhist souvenirs outside the complex in the small Lumbini village (adjacent to the complex).

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