Lumbini (The Birthplace of Gautama Buddha)
Lumbini is the birthplace of Gautama Buddha. This the apostle of peace, compassion, non-violence and universal brotherhood was born here in 624 B.C. It is the most sacred place of Buddhism and lies in the Terai about 250 km south west of Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal.
Lumbini remained neglected for centuries. Further exploration and excavation of the surroundings area revealed the existence of a brick and sandstone sculpture within the temple itself, which depict the scenes of Buddha’s birth.
Very recently, several Buddhist countries have built several beautiful shrines in Lumbini. An international committee has also been set up for the development of this sacred historical place.
A visit to Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, the realm of the Shakya, is not only for spiritual enlightenment but also for the solace and satisfaction that one normally gets in a calm and peaceful place like this.
About twenty-five and some years ago, Kapilvastu was a small republic situated beneath the Churia or Shiwalik range of the foothills of the Himalayas. At the time of the birth of Buddha, Suddhodana the father of Buddha was ruling in Kapilvastu as its chief or king. The first description of Kapilvastu is by the Chinese historian and pilgrim, Fa-hien who visited Lumbini and Kapilvastu in 403. A.D. When he reached the site, the city was marked by desolate ruins and mounds. A few monks and common people lived there. Excavation of Kapilvastu and the surroundings was started from 1899 and Kapilvastu was located in 1901. Proper excavations were conducted in 1967 and onward by the department of archaeology, His Majesty’s Government (HMG). At this site the structural remains of the palace of the king Suddhodana and several stupas were found. More important details are yet to be revealed after further excavations.
Kapilvastu is an important native place of Buddha where he spent his first 29 years of life. Kapilvastu is associated with several incidents of his life such as: meeting the sick person, meditation of Saint Asit, competition with Shakya youth, shooting of an arrow to cause the spring of water to gush out and so on. When Buddha got enlightenment in Bodhgaya, 500 Shakyas and 8 princes adopted Buddhism in Kapilavastu. He also preached to his father and son Rahula here.
This is the second holiest place of Buddhism in Nepal. Swayambhunath is perched on hilltop over looking Kathmandu and is a complex of temples including Nepal’s most famous landmark, this large stupa adorned with eyes watching over the Kathmandu valley.
Swayambhunath located 6.5 km west of Kathmandu is popularly called Swayambhu which means \self-existent\. This shrine is dedicated to the supreme Adi-Buddha. Its religious significance is also described in the Swayambhu Purana written in the 15th century. This is a very holy shrine for Buddhist and is equally regarded as sacred by the Hindus as well.
Baudhanath is one of the largest Buddhist shrine and is situated on the north east of Kathmandu about 8 Km on the way to Gokarna and Sankhu.It is by and large, a Tibetan shrine and the date of construction is not known but is regarded as one of the oldest Lamaist shrines in the world. It is believed to have been built over the small garbha, which contains probably some of the ashes of a very eminent Tibetan Lama named Kasha who came to Nepal on a pilgrimage but died here. Mainly it is a pilgrim spot of Buddhist Tibetans, Sherpa and other highland peoples of Nepal.
It is dedicated to Bodhnath, the god of wisdom , and is located at the centre of Kathmandu Valley.
(Content & Pictures Source: http://www.lumbini.org.uk/pilgrimage.html )