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How To Reach Lumbini
Lumbini is famous the world over for being the epicentre of core Buddhist spirituality. The birthplace of Gautam Buddha himself, Lumbini is a town located in the Terai region of southern Nepal and an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists from all over the world.
The heritage site in Lumbini forms the main attraction of the city, with religion and archaeology lovers alike flocking to the locales that carry some of the best spiritual landmarks in the country. Located around 265 km from Kathmandu, Lumbini may appear to be situated a little out of the way for tourists doing the full circle around Kathmandu Valley. So here, we have compiled a comprehensive guide on some of the most convenient ways to reach Lumbini.
Lumbini does not yet have an international airport, so for people traveling to Nepal from international destinations, their best option is to break their journey at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. After landing in Kathmandu, you can choose to cross the rest of the distance to Lumbini via road or catch another internal flight.
The closest domestic airport from Lumbini is the Siddhartha Gautam Airport in Bhairawaha, which is 22 km away from Kathmandu. A connecting flight from Kathmandu to Bhairawaha takes around 30 minutes. The only airlines that operate between the two cities are Buddha Air and Yeti Airlines. A 15-minute drive from Bhairahawa Airport will take you to your final destination of Lumbini. The Government of Nepal has announced the opening of an international terminal in the Siddhartha Gautam Airport, Bhairahawa in June 2019; this measure is set to make traveling to Lumbini a much easier prospect for all.
After landing in Kathmandu, if you decide to take the road route to cover the rest of your journey to Lumbini, you can catch a bus from Kalanki Bus Station in Kathmandu to Lumbini Chowk or Buddha Chowk, and then take another bus or cab from there to Lumbini Bazaar. Alternatively, you can also choose to get to Bhairahawa first from Kathmandu, and then travel to Lumbini from here. People opting to fly in to Bhairahawa Airport from Kathmandu can take a bus or taxi to Lumbini that is located only 26 km away from the airport.
The closest border crossing from Lumbini is Sunauli, which is located around 30 km away. People coming in from Gorakhpur and Varanasi in India first arrive at the Sunauli border before moving on to Lumbini. After reaching Sunauli, you can take a rickshaw to Buddha Chowk; here, you will find buses queuing up to take you to Lumbini Bazaar. You will also find private taxis for hire here, which are a costlier but convenient affair.
Upon getting to Sunauli, some people may also choose to catch a ride to Bhairahawa first, and then catch a bus from Bhairahawa to Lumbini. On the Indian side of the border, buses also run from Gorakhpur and Varanasi to Sunauli crossing. People who take a bus to Lumbini from Pokhara or Chitwan are also dropped off at Buddha Chowk first, and can then catch another bus to Lumbini Bazaar directly.
A lot of travel agents will claim to take you through routes that reach Lumbini directly or through shorter routes and probably charge you a lot of money for the same. Caution should be practiced at such times since every route to Lumbini involves some kind of connecting stop or vehicle change, and at the moment there are no direct routes to the town.
Lumbini is a relatively large region with tourist sites spread far and wide. There are numerous rickshaws around that offer easy travel options; you can also choose to rent cycles from your place of accommodation and ride around the city. Motorbikes are also available for hire; but most regions in Lumbini are no-bike zones so it is preferable to stick to other available modes.