Located about 360 km from Kathmandu, Lumbini is a holy site situated on the foothills of the Himalayas, in southern Nepal. It has hot weather, with a maximum temperature of 45 Celsius. October is the best season to visit this sacred site.
In the sixth century B.C.E., Lumbini was a beautiful grove. Maya Devi, queen of the Sakya clan had a premonition that she would soon give birth to a special child, so she left the capital city for her parents' home. During the journey, while she was resting in Lumbini grove, labor signs appeared and she extended her right hand to hold on to a branch of a sala tree. According to legend, without any pain, she gave birth through the right side of her torso to Prince Siddhartha, the Buddha-to-be. Accompanied by many heavenly beings, Brahma descended, witnessed and rejoiced in that miraculous scene. Indra took the baby and softly put him on the earth. Nanda and Upananda, kings of the nagas (sea deities) washed the little Siddhartha’s body with cold and warm water collected from the streams. All heavenly beings were delighted and great blessings pervaded every part of the world.
After his birth, having taken seven steps, Siddhartha gazed upon four cardinal directions and proclaimed that he was the lord of all human and heavenly beings of the universe; and that he would eradicate birth, aging, illness, and death.
In 249 BCE, the Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan Dynasty made a pilgrimage to the place and erected a pillar bearing inscriptions stating that the Lord Buddha Shakyamuni was born there. The site was visited by many pilgrims, including the Chinese monks Fa Xian (Fa-Hsien) in 5th century and Xuan Zang ( Hsuan Tsang) in 7th century C.E. They wrote precious notes and travel journals about their experiences in Lumbini, which are still a great source of information and inspiration for historians and archaeologists. By the 14th century, for socio-political reasons, this sacred place was forgotten, located as it then was in wilderness surrounding remote villages.
However, in 1896, Gen. Khadga Shumsher and Dr. A. Fuhrer jointly rediscovered the site, finding, among other things, Ashoka’s pillar. They thus reestablished the link to the birthplace.
In April 1967, the late former United Nations Secretary General U Thant visited Lumbini, and emphasized the significance of this sacred site for millions of people around the world. U Thant wanted the government of Nepal to develop Lumbini as an International Holy Site for Buddhists as well as a major tourist spot; this suggestion immediately gained full support from Mahendra, then King of Nepal.
In 1970, an international committee to manage the development of Lumbini was formed, and Prof. Kenzo Tange of Japan was assigned to create the Lumbini Master Plan. The master plan was approved by the UN and Government of Nepal in 1978. The Lumbini Development Trust was formed in 1985 to be in charge of the overall development and management of the Lumbini project.
Inscribed on the plaque : "World Heritage Site" | "Lumbini" | "The Birthplace of Lord Buddha" | "Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha has been inscribed on the World Heritage List. This Heritage Site is of exceptional universal value which deserves protection for the benefit of humanity."