For any devout Buddhist, a trip to Lumbini in the southern terai of Nepal must rank among one of the top places to visit. I would put it on the Top Five List. We’re talking about the sacred site where more than 2500 years ago, a Shakya prince was born who then went on to become the Enlightened One, the Buddha. As the Buddha’s birthplace, Lumbini attracts hordes of pilgrims from around the world but as expected of Buddhists, there’s peace and quiet even among these large number of visitors. As Buddhism grows in popularity in the west, we can only expect more visitors from across the oceans, besides pilgrims from neighbouring countries in Asia.
Some of the sacred sites to visit are the Mayadevi Temple in the heart of Lumbini, the striking Ashoka Pillar, Lumbini Garden and the Lake Shakya Puskarini where Maya Devi is said to have taken a ritual bath before delivering the little Siddhartha into the world. Spread over 9 sq. km., the Lumbini Garden is marked by a special stone pillar known as the Ashokan Pillar, erected by the Indian Emperor Ashoka in around 245 B.C. However, the most important discovery here is a sacred marker stone that indicates the exact birthplace of the Buddha. Long queues form outside to pay homage. The Maya Devi Temple is dedicated to the mother of Lord Buddha, Maya Devi and was excavated some years ago by archeologists. Many exquisite sculptures and carvings can be seen here.