The Greater Lumbini Area

The Greater Lumbini Area

The Greater Lumbini Area (GLA) covers an area of 5260 sq. km. and includes Rupandehi, Nawalparasi and Kapilvastu districts in the southern plains of western Nepal. The area is home to many archaeological and religious sites relevant to Lord Sakyamuni Buddha’s life, including his birthplace Lumbini.
The Greater Lumbini Area

Besides Lumbini, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage list, the Greater Lumbini Area (GLA) includes three other important Buddhist sites; Tilaurakot, Devadaha and Ramagrama. Considering the archaeological and spiritual values, Tilaurakot and Ramagrama are enlisted as Tentative World Heritage sites by UNESCO.

Rupandehi: 

Lumbini in the Rupandehi district of Nepal is the epicenter of Buddhism. In addition to Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Sakyamuni Buddha, other Buddhist heritage sites worth visiting in the Rupandehi district include Devadaha, the maternal hometown of Buddha’s mother Mayadevi and Sainamaina, an archaeological site considered to be of Buddha era. Similarly, major interesting cultural, historical and natural sites in Rupandehi district are the surrounding rural villages with rich Tharu cultures and Viraha song; historic site of Jitgadhi fort at Butwal; religious sites such as Paryowa Dham at Sainamaina and Siddhababa temple and beautiful wetlands and rivers such as Gaidahawa lake, Gajedi lake, Dano river, Telar river, etc.
The Greater Lumbini Area
There are other beautiful sites with mild climate in the Siwalik range including Nuwakot Durbar, and recreational and educational parks including Mani Mukunda Sen Botanical Garden. The major gateways to Lumbini; the immigration checkpoint at Belahiya, Sunauli and the only airport in the region, Gautam Buddha Airport (being upgraded as an international airport) are located in the Rupandehi district. Bhairahawa and Butwal are two bustling cities of the district with several business, tourism and entertainment activities. Butwal also serves as a gateway to popular mountain tourism destinations such as Tansen, Pokhara and Mustang. 

Kapilvastu:

Ancient Kapilavastu or the present-day Kapilvastu district is the hometown of Prince Siddhartha. It is also the birthplace of two earlier Buddhas, who descended to the mortal world, attained enlightenment and entered nirvana before Lord Sakyamuni Buddha. Krakuchhanda Buddha was born in Gotihawa whereas Kanakamuni Buddha was born in Niglihawa. 
The Greater Lumbini Area

Hence, the Greater Lumbini Area may be called as the Land of Buddhas or the Birthplaces of three Buddhas. Kapilvastu district is an open museum as it alone houses more than 130 important archaeological sites, directly or indirectly related to the life of Lord Sakyamuni Buddha and Buddhism. Important Buddhist heritage sites worth visiting in the Kapilavastu district include Tilaurakot, Kudan, Gotihawa, Niglihawa, Araurakot, Sagarhawa and Sisaniya, each sacred site bearing its own distinct religious and spiritual value. Other interesting sites for visitors in Kapilavastu include Bikuli Kot, Jagadishpur Reservoir (listed as a RAMSAR site), Touleshwor Nath temple, Ramghat, Laxman Ghat, Kapila Dham, Shringi Rishi Ashram, Kailash Ashram, Shivagadhi, etc. Gorusinghe of Kapilavastu district is the gateway to other popular sites; Supa Deurali Narapani hill station, Khanchi Kot, Argha Kot, etc. 

Nawalparasi: 

The present-day Nawalparasi district is part of the ancient Koliya Kingdom, the maternal hometown of Queen Mayadevi, the beloved mother of Lord Sakyamuni Buddha. Nawalparasi district consists of Ramagrama Stupa, one of the most sacred relic stupas of Lord Sakyamuni Buddha. Also listed as one of the Tentative World Heritage sites by UNESCO, the Stupa is believed to contain the only body relics of Lord Sakyamuni Buddha in the entire world. Another important site related to the life of Lord Sakyamuni Buddha is Panditpur, which has been claimed, by some archaeologists, to be the palace site of the ancient Koliya Kingdom. Daunne hill, which is a very popular highway retreat for lunch and snacks among travelers on the East-West Highway, also houses some monasteries and temples. A recent book published by a Japanese author mentions Daunne as the meditation center of queen Mayadevi. Triveni Dham, located 23km to the east from Parasi Bazaar of Nawalparasi district, is another important site from a religious, archaeological and tourism point of view. 
The Greater Lumbini Area

It is the confluence of three holy rivers; Sapta Gandaki, Sona and Tamasa. There are several Hindu temples, Gajendramokchha Dham, and the Balmiki Ashram. Located inside the Chitwan National Park, the Balmiki Ashram bears several archaeological ruins related to Balmiki Rishi (the author of holy book Ramayana), Sita (the consort of Lord Rama), and her two sons; Lava and Kush. The adjoining districts Palpa, Gulmi and Arghakhanchi, which are located in the northern hilly region, are also equally potential for tourism. Popular sites in these districts include the typical Newari settlements (including Sakyas) in Tansen, Shreenagar hill, Ranimahal, Ridi-Ruru Kshetra, Resunga, Supa Deurali, Arghakot-Khanchikot, Narapani hill station and several temples. Likewise, Chitwan National Park, Banke National Park, Bardia National Park, Sworgadwari and Pokhara are the popular tourist hubs that can be combined in a tour while visiting the sites in the Greater Lumbini Area. 

Historical Research of Lumbini

Khadga Shamsher, the Grand Governor of Palpa, was digging the Ashoka Pillar at Lumbini (Paderia) in 1896 with the help of the locals. Archaeologists assigned by the Archaeological Survey of India Dr. Alois Anton Führer arrived on December 1 of that year. After the Ashoka Pillar inscription came to light, the sensation of finding Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha, spread all over the world.
After his return, Purnachandra Mukherjee came here and published the details in 1901. Between 1933 and 1939, Keshar Shamsher excavated around Mayadevi and Pushkarini Lake. Similarly, NR Banerjee (1966-72), Babukrishna Rijal (1975-83), Tarananda Mishra (1984-85), Japan Buddhist Association, Lumbini Development Fund, and the Department of Archeology (1993-1997) were actively explored and excavated here.
The Greater Lumbini Area

As the world's most sacred place for peace-loving human beings, the then United Nations Secretary-General U Thant's visit to Lumbini in 1967 prompted plans to turn it into a tourist and pilgrimage site. From December 10, 1967, to January 9, 1968, a three-member UN delegation gave special consultations on Lumbini development infrastructure, transportation, drinking water, electricity, housing, etc.
For its development, International Lumbini Development Committee was formed with the participation of 13 countries including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Japan, Singapore, and Nepal. Bhutan and South Korea were later added to the 15-member committee.
In 1986, the then Prince Gyanendra Shah lit the World Peace Lamp in Lumbini to commemorate the International Year of Peace. Now, this lamp is burning as a symbol of world peace. If the government can develop Lumbini in a planned manner, billions of rupees can be earned annually in Nepal through tourism.

About Lumbini Development Trust

Lumbini Development Trust was formed by the Government of Nepal as provisioned by Lumbini Development Trust Act 2042 (1985) in 1985 to implement Lumbini Master Plan, explore, excavate and conserve archaeological sites scattered in Kapilavastu, Rupandehi and Nawalparasi districts. The LDT was constituted in order to present before the people of the world and commitment of the Government of Nepal to project-goal and ideal of development of Lumbini.

Ossicles of Buddha after Mahaparinirvana 

Drona Brahman mediated and divided the remaining ossuary into eight equal parts after the last rites of Tathagata Buddha after Mahaparinirvana. The people who got the bone metal were kept in these places. These are the eight places where ossicles were distributed after Buddha's Mahaparinirvana. 
(1) King Ajatasatru, son of Baidehi of Magadha, in the royal house. 
(2) The Licchavis of Baisali in Baisali. 
(3) The Shakyas of Kapilvastu in Kapilvastu. 
(4) Allakappa's bulls in Allakappa. 
(5) The Koliyas of Ramgram in Ramgram. 
(6) The Brahmins of Bethdhip are in Bethdhip. 
(7) The Mallas of Pava in Pava. 
(8) Mallas of Kusinagar in Kusinagar.

Important Archeological and Religious Monuments of Devdaha 

Devadaha, the capital of the ancient Koliya Kingdom, belongs to the Rupandehi district located at Lumbini province of Nepal. Devadaha, located 35 km northeast of Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha, is famous as a historical and Buddha's mausoleum. As per the decision of the Government of Nepal on 25th Baishakh, 2071 BS, the then Devadaha and Kerwani VDCs were joint to make Devdaha Municipality. According to the Gazette published by the Government of Nepal on 2073/11/27, the current Devdaha Municipality has been formed after adding Siktahan VDC. According to the 2068 census, the municipality has a population of 53523. Nawalparasi district in the east, Butwal sub-metropolis and Tilottama municipality in the west, Palpa district in the north and Omastiya Rural Municipality in the south of the touristic town Devdaha. There are 12 wards in this municipality. It has a lot of potential for agriculture and industry, Gautam Buddha's Mamaghar (Maternal Uncle's house), and it is rich in cultural heritage and natural resources.

Bhawanipur/Devidamar:

It is believed to be the ancient Devdaha, the capital of the Koliya Kingdom. The site has a temple dedicated to Queen Mayadevi and other significant religious and archeological sites, including a long stone column (some consider an Ashoka Pillar), a stone image of Sun God, ancient brick, etc.

Khayardada:

Khayardada is believed to have been the main city of the ancient Koliya Kingdom. Three mounds can be distinctly seen here, and there are pieces of burnt bricks, potteries, and various objects scattered everywhere within a radius of two kilometers. It is believed that Prince Siddhartha lived in that palace and bathed in Mangal Puskarini Daha(pond) while at maternal uncle's home.

Kanyamai:

Kanyamai temple is believed to be built in the memory of Queen Prajapati Gautami, the stepmother of Lord Sakyamuni Buddha. Major images found in the temple include a standing stone image of Lokeshwore holding a lotus flower in one hand, (the other hand is broken off), and many stone idols. Ancient potteries are still visible in the nearby mound.

Bairimai:

It is believed that the temple of Bairimai was built to pay homage to Mayadevi, the mother of Lord Sakyamuni Buddha. Local people believe that the word Bairimai was derived from Badimai, meaning Big Mother or Elder Sister referring to Mayadevi, the eldest princess of Koliya Kingdom.
It is believed that both Mayadevi and Prajapati, One gave birth to Siddhartha and the other cared for him, were so revered by the people of Devdaha that they were bestowed upon a statue of the goddess over the passage of time.
#Updated: 27 June, 2021
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