In the plain south of the first foothill of the Churia range, lies Lumbini, birthplace of Gautama, the Buddha. Lumbini is asacred placefor Buddhists from all over the world, standing on an equal footing with holy places sacred to other world religions. A veteran Asian traveller and author of several books writes, 'As millions of Christians look to Jerusalem for inspiration, as millions of Muslims turn to Mecca, so do three hundred million Buddhists see in the sacred Kingdom of Nepal, a pillar left by the great Emperor Ashoka to mark the site where Buddha was born.
Pillar in Lumbini :The Ashokan Pillar-In 1895, a German archaeologist, white wandering about the foothills of the Churia range, discovered a massive stone pillar erected by Emperor Ashoka in 250 B.C. to pay homage to the birth place of Buddha. It is said that the Indian Emperor visited Lumbini Garden in the twentieth year of his coronation. The stone pillar bears the following inscription : King Piyadasi, beloved of the gods, having been anointed twenty years, came himself and worshipped saying: "Here Buddha Sakyamuni was born. He caused a stone pillar to be erected, because the worshipful one was born here. The village of Lumbini has been made free of taxes and a recipient of wealth.' (translated from Brahrni.)
The Temple of Maya Devi:The next visible monument in Lumbini is the temple of Maya Devi containing a stone relief depicting the birth scene of Lord Buddha. The bas-relief shows Maya Devi supporting herself by holding on to a branch of a sal tree, and the newborn infant Buddha standing upright on a lotus pedestal. Two celestial figures are engaged in the act of pouring water and lotuses from the heaven, indicated in the sculpture by a delineation of clouds. The Maya Devi shrine has been worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists since the beginning of the Christian era and is believed to have been built over the foundation of at least one earlier temple or stupa. To the South of the Maya Devi temple is the famous sacred pool of 'Puskarani', believed to be the same sacred pool in which queen Maya Devi bathed just before giving birth to Buddha. It is also belived to be the same sacred pool in which queen Maya Devi bathed just before giving birth to Buddha. It is also believe to be the pool where the infant Buddha was given his first purification bath. The structure consists of three projecting terraces in descending order and is rivetted with fine brick masonry.
The Maya Devi Temple:The Maya Devi Shrine complex is the heart of all monuments at this holy site. The complex also bears the testimony of several layers of construction over the centuries. The main object of worship here is the nativity sculpture. The restored Maya Devi temple was reopened on May 16, 2003 on the 2547th birth anniversary of Lord Buddha. Government of Nepal and LDT jointly restored the temple. The ground floor consists of the remains of the foundations of the early Maya Devi Temple that dates back to 3rd century BC. The sanctum sanatorium is the birth spot of the Lord Buddha.
The Marker Stone:This stone conglomerate located deeply buried in the sanctum sanatorium pinpoints the exact location of the birth of Lord Buddha. This was discovered after meticulous excavation of the Maya Devi Temple site in 1996. The exact size of Marker Stone is 70?40?10 cm. This is now covered with a bulletproof glass.
The Nativity Sculpture:The image of Maya Devi, also known as the Nativity sculpture dated back to 4th century AD, depicts Maya Devi, holding the branch of a tree with her right hand for support. Next to her Gautami Prajapati, her own sister, in supporting posture in the time of delivery is standing. The newly born prince Siddhartha is standing upright on a lotus pedestal, with two celestial figures receiving him.
The Puskarini or Holy Pond:Close by the Asokan Pillar on the southern side is the holy pond, the Puskarini, believed to be the holy pond in which Maya Devi took bath just before giving birth to the Lord Buddha. It is also the site where the infant prince Siddhartha was given his first purification bath. The pond has terraced steps and is riveted by beautifully layered bricks.
The Asokan Pillar :The Asokan Pillar bears the first epigraphic evidence relating to the birthplace of Lord Buddha. It is the most noteworthy monument and an authentic historic document of birthplace of Lord Buddha in Lumbini. The inscription engraved by Emperor Ashoka is still intact and testifies the authenticity of the birthplace. The text written in Brahmi script and pali language is translated as follows: Twenty years after his coronation, King Priyadarsi, Beloved of Gods visited this spot in person and offered worship at this place, because the Buddha, the Sage of the Sakyas, was born here. He caused to be built a stone wall around the place and also erected this stone pillar to commemorate his visit. Because the Lord Buddha was born here, he made the village of Lumbini free from taxes and subject to pay only one-eight of the produce as land revenue instead of the usual rate.
Tilaurakot :The ancient capital of Sakya, Kapilvastu, has now been identified with Tilaurakot, a site in ruins located 25 km west of Lumbini. The five periods of habitation of this walled city begin from 8th - 7h B.C. and end in 2 d century A.D. Excavations have revealed the foundations of a citadel with defence wall, gateways, monasteries and stupas.
Araurakot :Araurakot lies about 9-km northeast of Tilaurakot. P.C. Mukheiji (1899) identified it as the natal town of Kanakmuni Buddha. It is a rectangular fortified area that contains a moat with heaps of ancient ruins.
Gotihawa :Gotihawa lies 5-km southwest of Taulihawa town and is considered the natal town of Krakuchanda Buddha. The place has ruins of ancient habitation, stupas and monasteries. The place was visited by Ashoka as evidenced by a pillar with inscriptions. The pillar is broken with the upper part missing.
Kudan :Kudan is located 2-km southwest of Taulihawa on way to Gotihawa. There are huge structural ruins indicating wreckage of monasteries and stupas with a tank nearby.
Niglihawa :Niglihawa, 7-km northwest of Tilaurakot, was another site visited by Ashoka and marked with a pillar. The pillar is broken into two pieces. The standing base pillar has Ashokan inscription in Brahmi script and the upper pillar has Devanagari* inscription marking Ripu MaiWs visit in 1312 AD. There are ruins of monasteries, stupas and habitation. It is identified as ancient town of Sobhawati, birthplace of Kanakmuni Buddha
Sagarhawa :Sagarhawa lies 3.5 kin. north of Tilaurakot and west of Banganga river. It is a rectangular depression. Excavations done in 1896 traced seventeen stupas and large monuments made from well-burnt bricks. Findings of casket and other rare antiquities indicate them to be votive stupas of the war dead. However, these stupas remain no more as they were excavated to their foundation without restoration.
Devedaha :Devedaha lies 34-km northeast of Lumbini near the village of Khairhani. The Koliya of Devadaha are considered as maternal tribe of Gautam Buddha. There are archaeological mounds near the village.
Ramgram :Ramgram lies 4 km south of Parasi town in Nawalparasi district. The remains of stupa and monastery as mounds are beside the bank of Jahari river in Kerwani village. The huge stupa mound is 30 ft high and 70 ft. in diameter. Koliyas of Ramagram are listed among the eight tribes that received the corporeal relics of the Buddha at Kushinagar
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