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Things To Do In Lumbini
Nepal may be associated with a lot of things – the snow capped Himalayas, the typical pagoda style architecture, the traditional heritage of its native people. However, it could very well be known most significantly for Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha and his religion Buddhism, making it the seat of sacred and holy beliefs for the religious, and a culturally significant landmark for historians.
The most remarkable area in Lumbini is the heritage site known as the Monastic Zone. It features around 25 Buddhist monasteries that have been donated to Nepal by numerous countries like Korea, Thailand, China, Japan, Vietnam, and even France, Germany and Austria, which highlights an important aspect of the nature of Buddhist religion; peaceful and harmonious coexistence. Read on to know more about some of the best things to do when traveling to Lumbini.
Explore Lumbini Museum
Lumbini is world renowned for its relationship with Buddhism, and Lumbini Museum only reinforces that association with its wide range of pictures and artifacts from Buddhist sites all over the world. Other significant exhibits include metal sculptures and stamps of Lumbini from around the world, including Buddhist manuscripts. It is an institution dedicated to the life of Buddha, and is the perfect place to gain some extra insight into Buddhist traditions.
Tilaurakot is a local tourist hub, known primarily for being the historical site of Kapilavastu – the kingdom where prince Siddhartha Gautam spent the first 29 years of his life before leaving his throne in search of enlightenment. In the 19th century, archaeologists unearthed Tilaurakot, and along with it, what once would have been a city of luxury and extravagance but now appears to be simply the ruins of a previous residential complex.
A favorite among history enthusiasts, Tilaurakot is set to possibly be included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and attracts thousands of visitors, religious and non-religious alike, every year. The area is also surrounded by beautiful green meadows that are amazing for taking walks around the site while trying to fathom what the royal city would have once looked like. Most of the artifacts unearthed at the site have been put on display at the Tilaurakot Museum that is located within walking distance.
Lumbini Monastic Site
The monastic zone is a brilliantly conceptualised compound that houses a large number of monasteries from various countries around the world; each monument providing some deeper insight into the life of Buddha, while propagating the teachings of togetherness and harmonious coexistence that make up the core values of Buddhism. One of the main highlights of the region are the temples itself; each monument has been constructed in the architectural style of the country that donated it, making it a design lover’s heaven in addition to its spiritual appeal.
With a total of 25 monasteries, the site is divided into the Eastern Zone and the Western Zone, separated by a water canal. The Eastern Zone houses monasteries that practice Theravada Buddism, which is considered the closest to the techniques taught by Buddha himself and teaches ways to live life in total harmony with other living beings on the planet. The Western Monastic Zone features prevalence of Vajrayana and Mahayana teachings; Vajrayana is considered to be one of the paths to enlightenment and uses traditions of Tantra and Mantra, Mahayana refers to the path of Boddhisattva where the objective of seeking enlightenment is to benefit all living being including the seeker himself.
Attain Nirvana under the Bodhi Tree
It is believed that Buddha achieved enlightenment while sitting under a Peepal tree. The Bodhi Tree is a Peepal tree located in the grounds of the Maya Devi Temple that is believed to be the location where Maya Devi decided to rest after undergoing labor; it has taken on a sacred nature after being worshipped by thousands of devotees in the region. There are a lot of beliefs associated with the tree; the most common being that any wish made while tying a prayer flag to it will come true. There are, in fact, a number of Peepal trees situated in the vicinity of the temple that are pleasantly decorated with prayer flags, which make for a scenic location and some perfect moments to simply sit under their shade and reflect.
Cycling Around Town
While there are rickshaws available easily in the area for sightseeing and traveling purposes, renting a cycle and riding around town by yourself will be one of the most enjoyable things you experience in Lumbini. It gets easier to explore the rural areas of the village and mingle with the locals on the back of a cycle, and sightseeing takes on a new definition.
You will find most of the roads to be riding-friendly, and traffic tends to be minimal. Cycling adventures are also best undertaken on days with a cooler weather. Renting options can be availed at a number of locations for very cheap rates on an hourly or daily basis.
One cannot talk about Buddhism without bringing up the concept of meditation. When in Lumbini, tourists often like to try their hand at various meditation techniques. While relaxing and reflecting under the Bodhi Tree might be fun for most tourists, a number of meditation centers in the area provide programs with Buddhist monks for those seeking serious guidance and looking to become a part of the community.
Visit Crane Sanctuary
Cranes hold a special place in the tales related to Buddha. So naturally, they have been devoted a sanctuary, dedicated entirely to their preservation, which also serves as a conservation site to a lot of other local birds. Located close to the World Peace Pagoda, it is estimated that there are over a 100 pairs of cranes living in the reserve, including the rare species of Sarus Crane.
Boating in Central Canal
The town of Lumbini is separated in the middle by the Central Canal that connects the village portion to the Sacred Garden – the island that holds some of the most important landmarks in the region.
The canal makes for a great spot for boating activities. There are drivers located at each end to take you boating along the canal; you could also choose to take a walk along the length of the canal or cross over to either side by making use of the brick bridges constructed at various locations across the canal.