Sunday, 15 February 2015

Lumbini, the Birthplace of the Lord Buddha

This was one of the real highlights of the trip for me - if not the chief one of all.

Siddhartha Gautama, the Lord Buddha, was born in 623 BCE in the famous gardens of Lumbini. This makes it one of the holiest places of one of the world's great religions - in fact one of the four most holy places for Buddhists.

The site is still being developed but there are remains Additionally there are the excavated remains of Buddhist  monasteries  of the 3rd century BCE to the 5th century CE and the remains of Buddhist stupas (memorial shrines) from the 3rd century BCE to the 15th century CE.  It has clearly been a place of pilgrimage for millennia.

And it still is . The actual birthplace has been protected within a new building and there are no concessions to the tourists. In fact we were lucky to get entry tickets.  You enter the courtyard barefoot and join the queue along the raised walkway over the remains of more buildings to pay your respects at the stone which marks the place of birth. No photos are allowed inside.

There is no restriction outside though.

The setting is beautiful. The gardens are well kept and a deep stillness and peace envelopes the land despite the visitors nearly all of whom are devout Buddhists.

 Maya Devi,the mother of the Buddha , was said to be  spellbound to by the beauty  of Lumbini and gave birth under the Sal tree.  The tree is still revered today and there is a shrine with offerings tended there.

It's encircled by a ring of holy men with their alms bowls. To give to them is to invite good karma.
The sacred bathing pool known as Puskarni. It is believed that Maya Devi took a bath in this pool before the delivery. 
This is an amazing place. Words just can't do it justice. Long may it remain so. Will UNESCO be able to balance the numbers of visitors which can only increase with keeping it an active place of holy pilgrimage. One  can only hope so . This is a very special place indeed.
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