Buddha's Birth Place

Trip Start Dec 25, 2008
Trip End Dec 25, 2009

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Where I stayed
Stupa Rest Point

Flag of Nepal  ,
Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I finally decided not to do the Jomsom Trek but to visit Lumbini instead.  Lumbini is known for The Buddha's birthplace.  I had reserved my  bus ticket through The Sacred Valley Inn which was supposed to be for a tourist bus ticket (I was charged 500 rupies while the ticket cost 300 rupies) and then was put on a local bus!!!! Needless to say it was a very long ride on a very crowded, hot and slow bus which had to wind up and down and around the hills to finally drop me on the main road in Bhairawa where I had to catch another local bus to Lumbini or Buddha Nagar.  There were also 2 other foreigners that  in fact had tickets for an earlier bus but their seats had been resold to two others that had arrived before them!!!  Arriving in Bhairawa I decided I couldn't face another local bus and decided to take a taxi. The French couple that had been on the same bus decided to share the taxi with me and we ended up having a nice ride and exchanged travel stories until reaching the village and then it was time to find a room for our stay.  I ended up finding this great guesthouse with one AC room only and with the weather reaching the low 40 celcius I did not hesitate and it was also a great price at 900 rupies per night.  The French couple opted for another guesthouse with a fan.  I met them the following day and they had not had very much sleep as the fan just didn't cut the heat!  I did thank my lucky stars many times for having found this wonderful new guesthouse which was still getting some final touches before officially being open to tourists.  It was really nice to be in a place that has not yet been affected/ corrupted by money from foreign tourists!!! The fellow at the front desk had to be the friendliest, nicest and most honest guesthouse keeper I have met in Nepal. ( He actually reminded me of my earlier travels in Laos where everyone seems to be this way.) He introduced me to a fruit which I forget the name but have not seen anywhere else. The locals use this fruit to make juice only. The fellow had some  waiting for me on my last morning in Lumbini. For anyone heading this way I highly recommend staying at Stupa Rest Point Guesthouse , Buddhanagar, Lumbini, Rupandehi, Nepal (97715533224 or 071580228 - e-ail: stuparest@gmail.com) . It is the 1st one as you come into Lumbini from Bhairawa highway.  After settling in the room I decided to go for a walk and see if I could find a restaurant.  What I did find was a  street vendor selling veggie momos and they were some of the best that I have had so far.  What was also nice was to find someone else not yet affected by tourist money and  selling the momos to me for the same price as the locals - 20 rupies for 12 momos!!!! Great price and great momos.  As I kept meeting locals around this village and others I found everyone to be the same - genuinely authentic locals just simply happy to greet me and smile. They also were so happy to just pose for a photo without expecting anything in return such as candy, pens, rupies!!!! They were just happy to see themselves in a photo. Some asking to have their photo taken alone, some with their husbands .Yes, once again I was touched by this area and this time it is the locals that probably had the most effect on me.  Of course, being in Lumbini and visiting the ruins of where the Buddha was born, where he lived and where he walked out of his princely life was pretty amazing.  Although Buddha Nagar is the name of the village beside the ruins of where the Bhudda was born, it seems that everyone refers to it as Lumbini. I started out visiting the ruins by walking through the Sacred Garden and visiting the Maya Devi Mandir (dating back to 300BC) where the marker stone of the birthplace is found and then continued on to visit the different monastaries and stupas (having been built or in the process of being completede to make this a large tourist area for the years to come) but before long the heat was getting a bit much and I opted to accept the offer of a rickshaw to take me from one building to the other.  I also found the museum to be very interesting. It is not a large museum but, in my opinion, worth the visit.

I also booked a private tour to go visit the other ruins which might not be so interesting unless one is interested in Buddha's life.   The ruins are not much much like any other ruins what makes it interesting is the history behind each.  I visited Tilaurakot which is where the Palace of King Suddhodhan was (27 km from Lumbini).  This King was the father of Prince Siddhartha who left his princely life and later became the Lord Buddha.  I then visited Kudan which is where the Lord Buddha met his father after his return from cosmic enlightenment. I also visited Gotihawa, the birth place of Krakuchanda Buddha who is a buddha that came before Shakyamuni Buddha. Niglihawa is where a broken Ashokan Pillar is found and identifies this place as Kanakmuni Buddha's birth and enlightenment.  So in the area of Lumbini we find birthplaces of three Buddhas and I find it really amazing that all of these places are still not part of a tourist circuit!!!! but am sure that they will become in a very short time so I do feel very fortunate that I made it here before this whole area turns into another tourist mecca!!!!

After spending a few days here and totally enjoying every minute of it I decided that if I could stand the heat in Lumbini. I should be able to tolerate the heat and humidity of Chitwan National Park. However, I still couldn't see myself in a local bus and I didn't want to push my luck of not yet having been stopped or pulled off the road by the strikes of the Maoists so I decided to treat myself to a private car ride from Lumbini to Chitwan (I negotiated a price of 5,500 rupies which is about 75$ US) Once again, it was a great decision as the Maoists were out in full force and about 1hr from my destination all vehicles were pulled off the road but being that I was in a tourist car and I was a foreigner they let us continue.  Sometimes these little luxuries are totally worth it!!!!  After having the driver take me to several lodges and guesthouses in Sauraha which is a touristy small village facing the river and Chitwan National Park I decided to stay at Rhino Lodge & Hotel. 
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