Nepal is the biggest natural museum in the world. Nepal is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of bio-diversity due to its unique geographical position and latitudinal variation. The elevation of the country ranges from 6m above sea level to the highest point on earth, Mt. Everest at 8,848m.
The spectacular geography is also one of the richest cultural landscapes anywhere. The country is a melody of ethnic groups and sub-groups who speaks over seventy languages and dialects. Nepal offers an amazing diversity of sightseeing attractions and adventure opportunities found nowhere else on earth. Nepal celebrates numerous annual festivals in traditional style highlighting enduring customs and beliefs.
It is a country of highly diverse and rich geography, culture, and religions. The eight of the world's ten highest mountains is in the northern part of Nepal, including the highest, Mount Everest. The fertile and humid south is heavily urbanized. Hinduism and Buddhism is practice by people in Nepal.
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Nepal is gifted with10 UNESCO World Heritage sites, which are most famous around the world:
Lumbini: Birth Place of Lord Buddha
Lumbini is the one of the popular historical world heritage site in Nepal, mostly pilgrimage and religious tourist come to visit the places as the lord Buddha is the symbol of peace and prosperity, another important perspective of lumbini is that this place is famous for rare archeology monuments from the time of Ashoka, so many tourists comes to lumbini to visit the ancient monuments, it is the pride of Nepal.
Siddhartha Gautama, the Lord Buddha, was born in 623 B.C. in the famous gardens of Lumbini, which soon became a place of pilgrimage. Among the pilgrims was the Indian emperor Ashoka, who erected one of his memorial pillars there. The site is now being developed as a Buddhist pilgrimage centre, where the archaeological remains is associated with the birth of the Lord Buddha.
The complex of structures within the archaeological conservation area includes the Shakya Tank; the remains within the Maya Devi Temple consisting of brick structures in a cross-wall system dating from the 3rd century BC to the present century and the sandstone Ashoka pillar with its Pali inscription in Brahmi script. Additionally there are the excavated archaeological remains of Buddhist vihars,(monasteries) Buddhist stupas (memorial shrines) of the 3rd century BC to the15th century AD provide important evidenceabout the nature of Buddhist pilgrimage centre from a very early period . The site is now being developed as a Buddhist pilgrimage centre.
As the birthplace of the Lord Buddha, testified by the inscription on the Asoka pillar, the sacred area in Lumbini is one of the most holy and significant places for one of the world’s great religion i.e. Buddhism.
The integrity of Lumbini has been achieved by means of preserving the archaeological remains within the property boundary that give the property its Outstanding Universal Value. The significant attributes and elements of the property have been preserved. The buffer zone gives the property a further layer of protection. Further excavations of potential archaeological sites and appropriate protection of the archaeological remains are a high priority for the integrity of the property. The property boundary however does not include the entire archaeological site and various parts are found in the buffer zone. The entire property including the buffer zone is owned by the Government of Nepal and is being managed by the Lumbini Development Trust.(www.lumbinitrust.org)
The authenticity of the archaeological remains within the boundaries has been confirmed through a series of excavations since the discovery of the Asoka pillar in 1896. The remains of vihars, stupas and numerous layers of brick structures from the 3rd century BC to the present century at the site of the Maya Devi Temple are proof of Lumbini having been a centre of pilgrimage from early times.
The property site is protected by the Ancient Monument Preservation Act 1956. The site management is carried out by the Lumbini Development Trust, an autonomous and non-profit making organization. The entire property is owned by the Government of Nepal. The property falls within the centre of the Master Plan area
, funded by united nation development program and the planning of which was initiated together with the United Nations and carried out by Prof. Kenzo Tange between 1972 and 1978.
Lumbini is the place where the Buddha, known as the Tathagata, was born. It is the place which should be visited and seen by a person of devotion. The site and its surrounding area are endowed with a rich natural setting of domestic fauna and favorable agricultural environments.
Historically, the region is an exquisite treasure-trove of ancient remains and antiquity. The site, described as a beautiful garden in the Buddha's time, still retains its legendary charm and beauty.
Lumbini, is one of the four holy places of Buddhism. It is said in the Parinibbana Sutta(A scripture which tells about the last days of Buddha) that Buddha himself identified four places of future pilgrimage: the sites of his birth, Enlightenment, First Discourse, and death. All these events happened outside in nature under trees so it perhaps explains why Buddhists have always respected the environment and natural law.
Lumbini is situated at the foothills of the Himalayas in modern Nepal. In the Buddha's time, Lumbini was a beautiful garden full of green and shady sal trees. The garden and its tranquil environments were owned by both the Shakyas. King Suddhodana, father of Gautama Buddha, was of the Shakya dynasty and belonged to the Kshatriya (warrior caste). Maya Devi, his mother, gave birth
to the child on her way to her parent's home in Devdaha, while resting in Lumbini under a sal tree in the month of May, 642 BC. The beauty of Lumbini is described in Pali and Sanskrit literature. Maya Devi, it is said, was spellbound to see the natural grandeur of Lumbini. While she was standing, she felt labor pains and catching hold of a drooping branch of a sal tree, she gave birth to a baby, the future Buddha.
In 249 BC, when the Indian Emperor Ashoka visited Lumbini, it was a flourishing village. Ashoka constructed four stupas and a stone pillar with a figure of a horse on top. The stone pillar bears an inscription, which in translation runs as follows: 'King Piyadasi (Ashoka), beloved of devas, in the 20th year of the coronation, himself made a royal visit, Buddha Sakyamuni having been born here; a stone railing was built and a stone pillar erected, and it shows that Buddha was born here in Lumbini.
Lumbini remained neglected for centuries. In 1895, Feuhrer, a famous German archaeologist, discovered the great pillar while wandering about the foothills of the Churia range. Further exploration and excavation of the surrounding area revealed the existence of a brick temple and sandstone sculpture within the temple itself, which depicts the scenes of the Buddha's birth in Nepal.
It is pointed out by scholars, that the temple of Maya Devi was constructed over the foundations of more than one earlier temple or stupa, and this temple was probably built on an Ashoka stupa itself. To the south of the Maya Devi temple there is the famous sacred bathing pool known as Puskarni. It is believed that Maya Devi took a bath in this pool before the delivery.
Lumbini was a site of pilgrimage until the 15th century AD. Its early history is well documented in the accounts of Chinese travelers, notably Fa Hsien (4th century AD) and Hsuan Tsang (7th century AD), who described the temples, stupas, and other establishments that they visited there. In the early 14th century King Ripu Malla recorded his pilgrimage in the form of an additional inscription on the Ashoka pillar.
The Buddhist temples fell into disrepair and eventually into ruins, not to be rediscovered until they were identified by Dr. A. Fiihrer and Khadga Samsher, then Governor of Palpa, who discovered the Ashoka pillar in 1896.
Lumbini is the one of the popular historical world heritage site in Nepal, mostly pilgrimage and religious tourist come to visit the places as the lord Buddha is the symbol of peace and prosperity, another important perspective of lumbini is that this place is famous for rare archeology monuments from the time of ashoka, so many tourists comes to lumbini to visit the ancient monuments, it is the pride of Nepal.
How to visit Lumbini
Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) is the only gateway to Kathmandu for the international tourists who come by air, it is situated about 7 kms. east of the city. Facilities of bank, duty free shop, restaurants and tourist information center is available at TIA. If you want to reach to Lumbini by air, there are many domestic flights from Tribhuvan Domestic airport to reach Lumbini, the closest airport to reach lumbini is Bhairahawa airport, it takes 45 min to reach Bhairahawa by air from kathmandu and 24 kms from Bhairahawa to lumbini.One can rent car/jeep/ van/ from airport to reach Lumbini. Public bus service from Bhairahawa to Lumbini is also another option.
Lumbini is 296 km away from Kathmandu. You can find local and tourist bus from Kathmandu to Lumbini. It takes approximately 10 hours to reach Lumbini.
Sunauli: if you are entering Nepal from India through Sunauli, you can take a shared jeep via Bhairahawa. It is 27 km. and about 1 hours bus ride.
Pokhara is very much popular tourist destination; many hotels in Pokhara have facilities to arrange visit to Lumbini. There are many local Buses as well tourist bus service from Pokhara to Lumbini. It is197 Km from Pokhara, and normally takes 5 hrs.
Nepalgunj is one of the major border cities of Nepal and well connected to all major Indian cities by road. If you are entering Nepal from Nepaljung, you can have direct bus service from Nepaljung to Lumbini. It is 243 kms and normally takes 6-7 hours.
Jhapa is the growing town on the border between Nepal and India, if you are travelling from Jhapa, one can find direct bus from Kararbhitta to Lumbini. It is 627 km from Kakarbhitta and approximately takes 11 to 12 hrs.