Lumbini Pilgrimage Tour
Lumbini, the world heritage Site of Religion. Lumbini is the sound birthplace of Lord Siddhartha Gautam Buddha the Apostle of Compassion & Non-Collide. He is not only the Light of Asia but the Messenger of Universal Peace as well. The auspicious garden of Lumbini is situated amidst the newly established town of (Bhairahawa) Siddharthanagar in the hot Terai plains of west Nepal. The broken Ashokan pillars, holy remnants of an old Buddhist monastery, divine images of the Buddha’s mother Great Mayadevi, are still well preserved here. Extensive excavation task is being carried out with promising effects. The Buddhist Monasteries: The monastery of the Buddhist temple is built inside the surrounding complex of Lumbini in the manner of modern Buddhist shrines in Nepal. The prayer hall contains a big image of Lord Shakyamuni Buddha in the medieval style. Colorful artistic murals decorated the large walls.
Places of interest in and around Lumbini:
- The Ashokan Pillar:
Discovered by the famous German archaeologist Dr. Fuhrer, the pillar is the first epigraphic evidence relating to the life history of Lord Buddha and is also the most visible landmark of the auspicious garden. The historical importance of the pillar is evidenced by the inscription engraved on the pillar (in Brahmi characters). It is said that the Hindu Indian Emperor Ashok the Great, who got converted, visited the site in the twentieth year of his accession to the throne and as homage to the pure birth place erected the pillar. The inscription on the pillar roughly translates as “King Piyadesi” the beloved of the Gods having been anointed 20 years came himself and worshipped saying Here Buddha Sakyamuni was born. He caused to make a stone capital representing a horse and he caused (this) stone pillar to be erected. Because here the worshipful one was born the village of Lumbini has been made free of taxes and recipient of wealth.”
- Sanctum Sanctorum of the Birthplace:
The single most important place LUMBINI (and to the entire Buddhist world for that matter ) is the stone-slab located deep Sanctum Sanctorum. Revealed after a hard and meticulous excavation under the three layers of ruins over the site of a famous Mayadevi Temple, the stone-slab foundation pinpoints the location of the original place, marking the precise spot of the birthplace of Lord Buddha.
- Image of Maha Mayadevi:
In additional to the Ashokan Pillar, the other shrine of importance is the bas- relief image of Maha Mayadevi, the Queen of King Suddhodan. Enshrined in a small pagoda-like structure the image shows Mayadevi, the mother of Drown Prince Siddhartha Gautam. She is seen supporting herself by holding on with her right hand to a branch of Sal tree, with the newly born infant Buddha standing upright on a lotus pedestal on an oval halo. Two other celestial figures are depicted in an act of pouring holy water and lotuses bestowed from heaven. Earlier the image was placed in the famous white temple of Mayadevi besides the pillar mow totally dismantles to make way for the excavations which revealed the Sanctum Sanctorum the exact spot where out Lord was born.
- Puskarnithe Sacred Pool:
South of the Ashokan Pillar, there is the famous sacred pool named “Puskarni” believed to be the same holy pool in which Mayadevi took a pious dip just before giving birth to the Lord and also where the infant Buddha was given its first purification bath. Architecturally the pool has three projecting terraces in the ascending order and is revealed with a fine brick masonry.
Located some 27 kilometers west of Lumbini lies the ruins of the historic town of “Kapilvastu”. Believed to be the capital of Shakya republic where the Lord lived and enjoyed his life until his thirteenth year , Kapilvastu has been identified with Tilaurakot by the archaeologists. Also, the place is believed to have been associated with different important episodes. There are ruins and mounds of old stupas and monasteries made of kiln-burnt bricks and clay-mortar. The remains are surrounded by a moat and the walls of the city are made of bricks. Infant the ruins of the ancient city of Kapilvastu are in such a grand scale that it could easily be visualized as a high seat of authentic culture.
About 10 kilometers northwest of Taulihawa there is a rectangular fortified area, which is popularly known as Arorakot. The famous Indian archaeologist P. C. Mukherji as the natal town of Kanakmuni Buddha identified the fortified area. Remains of the old moat and the brick fortification around the Kot can still be clearly located. A brick lined well is seen to the south and an elevated mound towards the northwest corner.Chaatradei:
Some 5 kilometers north to Taulihawa there is a village called Chatradei situated on the right bank of the Banganga River. West of the village the habitat ional ruins extend in the form of al large triangular mound. Most of the pottery and antiquities found here belong to the Sunga- Kushana period while the virtual remains of the structures may be related to the early medieval times.
About 5 kilometers southwest of Taulihawa, there is a village called Gotihawa. In the village there exists an Ashokan Pillar standing in a slab. The upper portion of the pillar is broken and lost and only the lower portion of the pillar 3.5 meters high remains still intact. Adjoining the pillar, towards its northeast there is a colossal stupa with successive rings of wedge shape Mauryan bricks.
Roughly 2 kilometers South west of Taulihawa on the left side of the shoratgarh- Taulihawa road, stands the village of Kudan having a huge structural ruin with a cluster of four mounds and a tank. The mounds were excavated in 1962 only.
About 8 kilometers north- west of Taulihawa, there is another site of archaeological importance. The site has a quadrangular tank surrounded by bushes locally known as Niglisagar. On the western bank of the tank there appear two broken pieces of the Ashokan Pillar, the longer one laying flat and the shorter one stuck unto the ground. The pillar bears 2 peacocks in the top part and Devnagri script inscription reading Om -Ma – Ni – hum Ripu Mallasya Chiran Jayut 1234. The shorter portion of the pillar which is partly buried in the ground measures 1.52 meters in length containing four lines of Ashoka inscription in the Brahmi letters which roughly translates as “King Piyadasi, believed of the Gods after 14 years of his coronation enlarged for the second tine the Stupa of Buddha Kanakmuni and after 20 years of his coronation he came himself and worshipped and he caused this stone pillar to be erected.”
About 12 kilometers north of Taulihawa there exists a forest area called Sagarhawa. In the midst of the forestation there is a huge rectangular tank, which is popularly known as Lumbusagar, or a long tank. The ancient tank ruins, which were excavated and identified by Dr. Alois A. Fuhrer as the “Place of the Massacre of the Shakyas” in 1859, can still be located on the Southwest banks of Sagar.
- The Ashokan Pillar:
Buddhist Pilgrimage Tour
This tours covered main buddhist pilgrimage sites of Lumbini, Buddhist stupas of Kathmandu, Monasteries, Namo Buddha and Parping.
Buddhist Pilgrimage Sites:
Situated about 8 Kilometers. from the main town of Kathmandu. This is declared to stand as the largest Buddhist shrine of South Asia. Built by a Lichchavi king named Man Dev in the fifth century A.D. It has four pairs of eyes in the four directions that keep watch for righteous behavior. Boudha Nath stands on an octagonal base and also has ancient prayer wheels. It rests on a series of three terraces and from the bird’s eye view it takes the relevant shape of a lotus flower, which indeed remains a very holy object for the devout Buddhists of the entire world. This shrine is surrounded by a circular market, which forms a part of Town like in Tibet.
Soyambhunath Stupa, this is one of the world’s most glorious Buddhist Stupas. It is said to be 2000 years old. Painted on the four-sides of the spire bases are the all-seeing eyes of Lord Buddha. It is three kilometers west of Kathmandu city and is situated on a hill, above 77 meters of the Kathmandu valley. It is indeed listed a World Heritage Site of Culture to prove that it serves as the nerve center of faithful worship for all the devout Buddhists of the universe. Soyambhu Nath embraces the authentic philosophy of Bajrayan in particular and honors Lord Adi Buddha. It is dedicated to the self-originating flame God. On the hind hill is located another important Buddhist shrine; it is called Manjushree. This compassionate Chinese Buddha is the God of knowledge.
- Hiranya Varna Mahavihar (Golden Temple) of Patan:
Hiranya Varna Mahavihar is known as Golden Temple. The three storey of golden pagoda of Shakyamuni (Lord Buddha) was built in the 12th century by king Bhaksar Verma, located in the courtyard of Kwabahal of Patan. Legend associated the formal name Hiranya with a rat name Hiranyaka because of its golden color and the popular name with a Kwabahal at the site on which it was built.
- Mahabuddha Temple of Patan:
Mahabuddha Temple is in shikara style temple. Probably, the first temple in Nepal where an image of a Buddha is enshrined in a shikara temple. The temple is called by the name “The Temple of Ten Thousand Buddha”. The work in this temple started in 1564 AD and completed in 1600 AD by the effort of a priest Abhaya Raj and his family member. The temple is replica of the Boudha Gaya temple where Lord Buddha got enlightment. A unique feature of this temple is that its every bricks carries an image of Buddha. About ten thousand brick wer used to build this temple.
- Rudravarna Mahavihar of Patan:
Rudravarna Mahavihar was built by Lichavi King Shiva Deva in 6th century AD. Tus, the Vihara is named Shiva Deva Sanskarita. The king became Buddhist monk in this Vihara and after some day as per his teacher guidance he lived as a household monk and spent good part of each day in mediation before the image of Buddha he had installed in the main shrine of Vihara. 400 years later, this Vihara was renovated by King Rudra Deva in 980 A.D. Since then the name of this Vihara became “Shiva Deva Sanskarita Shree Rudra Varna Mahavihar”. The main shrine facing north is a three storied temple which had 15 gold plated chaitayas kept in the roof top as pinnacles. The main deity of the shrine is red faced Shakyamuni Buddha adorned with various ornaments.
- Kopan Monastery:
Kapon Monastery is near to the stupa of Boudhanath, standing on Kopan hill. Dominated by a magnificent Bodhi tree, it was once the home of the astrologer to the king of Nepal. It was to this hill that these lamas came with their first Western students in 1969.
Kopan Monastery had its beginnings in the Solu-khumbu region of the Himalayan mountains. In 1971 Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the reincarnation of the Lawudo Lama, a yogi of the tiny hamlet of Lawudo, fulfilled the promise of the previous Lawudo Lama to start a monastic school for the local children. The school was called called it Mount Everest Center. Twenty five monks moved down from the mountain to Kopan in 1971 – prompted by the harsh climate at an altitude of 4000 am, which made study barely possible in winter.
Now Kopan is a thriving monastery of 360 monks, mainly from Nepal and Tibet, and a spiritual oasis for hundreds of visitors yearly from around the world. Nearby is Khachoe Ghakyil Ling Nunnery, home to 380 nuns. Both the monastery and the nunnery are under the spiritual guidance of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, and the care of the abbot, Khen Rinpoche Geshe Lhundrup Rigsel. And it is the wellspring of the FPMT, a network of some 140 centers and activities world-wide, themselves expressions of the Buddha activity of Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche.
Pharping, a town south of Kathmandu in Nepal, is identified with the sacred site of Yangleshö, where Guru Padmasambhava attained the level of a Mahamudra vidyadhara. Yangleshö is thus, according to Katok Rigdzin Tsewang Norbu, considered to be for Vajrayana practitioners as important as Bodhgaya because it is where the second buddha Guru Padmasambhava attained the state of enlightenment.There are two major practice caves in Pharping blessed by Guru Rinpoche: the Asura cave and the Yangleshö cave. At the bottom of the flight of stairs climbing up to the Asura cave is an old and important Vajrayogini temple, the Pharping Vajravarahi temple. Other stairs also lead up to the cave. They start towards the end of the village, at Ralo Rinpoche’s monastery and start by a shrine containing a self-arisen Tara on the side of an image of Ganesha. To the south of the village is the temple of Dakshinkali, one of the four Kalis surrounding the Kathmandu valley. Pharping also has several monasteries, temples and retreat centres, including Chatral Rinpoche’s monastery, and the Palyul Retreat Centre, which is the residence of Khenpo Namdrol Rinpoche and home to the Rigpa Shedra.
- Namo Buddha:
Namo Buddha is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site of Nepal, and one of the three main stupas of the Kathmandu valley. Situated about 40 km to the south east of Kathmandu city, the stupa built on the bones and hair of prince Mahasattva, stands on the slopes of the Gandha Malla hill.
According to the legends, Mahasattva was one of Buddha Shakyamuni’s former incarnations. He was the youngest of the three sons of king Maharatha. One day as the three brothers were walking through the forest, they saw a tigress with the five cubs she had given birth to. She was so hungry she could hardly move. The three princes went away, but Mahasattva decided to go back and started to cut his flesh to give it to the tigress to eat. When his brothers went to look for him they found only his bones and hair. The stupa was built on top of these remains. Walking up the hill from the stupa, one can reach a place where the scene of the Buddha giving his body to the tigress is engraved in stone. According to the oral tradition, this is the actual place where the Buddha gave his body.
Following the ridge to a second summit on the same hill, there is also a small stupa which is said to mark the den of the tigress. There, pilgrims lie down on the ground as if giving their bodies, and hair and pieces of cloth are hung to the branches of the tree for protection.