Places To Visit In Lumbini
The nearest town to reach Lumbini is Bhairahawa, which is connected with Kathmandu & Pokhara by air and road. Bhairahawa and Lumbini are connected with an all weather road and regular bus service is availble
The birthplace of Lord Buddha
Lumbini-a place in the South-Western Terai of Nepal, evokes a kind of holy sentiment to the millions of Buddhists all over the world-as do the Jerusalem to Christians and Mecca to Muslims. Lumbini is the place Lord Buddha -the apostle of peace and the light of Asia was born in 623 B. C., Located in the flat plains of south-Western Nepal and the foothills of Churia range , Lumbini and its surrounding area is endowed with a rich natural setting of domesticable fauna and favourable agricultural environ. Historically, the region is an exquisite treasure-trove of ancient ruisn and antiquities, dating back to pre-Christian era. The site, described as a beautiful garden in the Buddha’s time still retain its legendary charm and beauty. To the mere 12 miles north of Lumbini lies the dense and picturesque sal-grove.
For centuries, Buddhists- all over the world, knew that Lumbini where the Lord was born is somewhere around. The descriptions of famous Chinese pilgrims (of ancient times) Huian Tsang and Faeihan indicated to this area-saying ‘Lumbini-where the lord was born is a piece of heaven on earth and one could see the snowy mountains amidst a splendid garden-embedded with stupas and monasteries!
However, the exact location remained uncertain and obscure till December the 1st 1886 when a wandering German archaeologist Dr. Alois A. Fuhrer came across a stone pillar and ascertained beyond doubt it is indeed the birthplace of Lord Buddha.
Lumbini Garden The Ashokan Pillar
Discovered by the now famous German archaeolgist 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 garden. The historic importance of the pillar is evidenced by the inscription engraved in the pillar (in Brahmi script). It is said that the great Indian Emperor Ashok visited the site in the twentieth year of is ascendancy to the throne and as a homage to the birthplace,erected the pillar. The inscriptions in the pillar roughly translates as: Kin Piyadesi beloved of th Gods, having been anointed 20 yeas, came himself and worshipped saying Here Buddha Shakyamuni was born: And he caused to make a stone (capital) representing a horse; and he caused (this) stone pillar to be erected. Because the worshipful one was born in the village of Lumbini has been made free of taxes and recipient of wealth"
Puskarni-the sacred pool
South of the Ashokan Pillar, there is the famous sacred pool- ‘Puskarni’ believed to be the same sacred pool in which Maya Devi took a holy dip just before giving birth to the Lord and also where infant Buddha was given his first purification bath. Architecturally the pool has the projecting terraces in descending order and is reverted with a fine brick masonry.
Sanctum-Sanctorum of the Birthplace
The single most important place of the Lumbini (and to the entire Buddhist world for that matter) is the stoneslab-located deep in the Sanctum sanctorum.
Revealed after a hard and meticulous excavations under the three layers of ruins over the site of a famous Maya Devi temple, the stone slab foundation pinpoints the location of the original place-marking the exact spot of the birthplace of Lord Buddha.
Image of Maya Devi
In adition to Ashokan Pillar, the other Shrine of importance is the bas-relief image of Maya Devi, Enshrined in a small pagoda-like structure, the image shows MayaDevi , mother of the Lord. Supporting herself by holding on with her right hand to a branch of Sal tree, with 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 water and lotuses bestowed from heaven.
Earlier the image was placed in the famous white temple of MayaDevi beside the pillar-now totally dismantled to make way for the excavations, which revealed the Sanctum Sanctorum the exact spot where the Lord was born.
The Buddhist Temple
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 large image of Buddha. medieval style murals decorate the walls.
Places around Lumbini
Located some 27 km. west of Lumbini lies the ruins of historic town of ‘Kapilvastu’. Believed to be the capital of Shakya republic where the Lord lived and enjoyed his life until his thirteeth year, Kapilvastu has been identified with. Tilaurakot by the archaelolotists. 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 wall of the city are made of bricks. In fact, the city of Kapilvastu are in such a grand scale that it could be easily be visualised as a seat of high culture.
About 10 km northwest of Taulihawa there is a rectangular fortified area which is popularly known as Arourakot. The fortified area is identified by the famous Indian archaeologist P.C. Mukharji as the natal town of Kanakmuni Buddha. Remains of ancient moat and brick fortification around the Kot can still be clearly located. A brick lined well is seen to the south and elevated mound towards the northwest corner.
About 5 km. southwest of Taulihawa, there is a village called Gotihawa. In the village there is 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 3.5m. high is still intact. Adjoining the pillar towards its northeast there is a huge stupa with successive ring of wedge shaped Mauryan bricks.
About 2 km. southwest of Taulihawa, on the left side of the Shoratgarh Taulihawa road stands the village Kudan having a huge structural ruin with a cluster of four mounds and a tank. The mounds were excavated in 1962.
About 8 km, northwest of Taulihawa, there is another site of archaelogical importance. The site has quadrangular tank surrounded by bushes, locally known as Niglisagar. On the western Bank of the tank there are two broken pieces of the Ashokan pillar, the longer one laying flat and the shorter ones stack into the ground. The pillar bears 2 peacocks on the top part and a Devanagari script inscription reading Om mani Padme Hun Ripu mallasya Chiran Jayut 1234.’
The shorter portion of the pillar which is partly buried in the ground measures 1.52m in length bears four lines of Ashokan inscription in the Brahmi script which roughly translates as: "King Piyadasi Beloved of the gods, after 14 years of his coronation enlarged for the second time the stupa of Buddha kanaka Muni, and after 20 years of his coronat ion he came himself and worshipped (and ) he caused (this) stone pillar to be erected:"
About 12 km. north of Taulihawa, there is a forest area called Sagarhawa. In the midst of the forest there is a huge rectangular tank which is popularly known as Lumbusagar, or a long tank. The ancient tanks ruins which were excavated and indentified by Dr. Aslois A Fuhrer as the ‘Palace of massacre of the Shakyas’ in 1895 can still be located on the west south banks of the Sagar.
Lumbini Development Project
To develop "Lumbini" as a center of International Buddhist Culture and Learning a master plan development is underway. As suggested by Mr. U-Thant. The UN secretary a master plan was prepared by Mr. Kenzo T ange, the reputed Japanese architect. The salient features of the plan are:
i Lumbini fillage
ii Monastic enclave and
iii The Sacred Garden
Places To Visit In Bhaktapur
Bhaktapur Durbar Square:
The Golden Gate is the entrance to the main courtyard of the Palace of 55 Windows. Built by King Ranjit Malla, the Gate is one of the most beautiful and richly carved specimens of its kind in the entire world. This gate is embellished with deities and monsters with marvelous intricacy. The le Palace of 55 Windows was built in the 17th century.Among the brick walls in their gracious setting and sculptural design, is a balcony of 55 Windows. This balcony is a masterpiece of wood carving. The stone temple of Batsala Devi which is also located in the Durbar Square is full of intricate carvings. This temple also sets a beautlful example of Shikhara style architecture in Nepal. There is a bronze bell on the , terrace of the temple which is also known as the "Bell of Barking Dogs". This colossal bell, placed in 1737 AD, was rung to signal curfew during those days. Superior artistry of the Golden Gate at Bhaktapur The main square of the city contains innumerable temples and other architectural showpieces like the Lion Gate, the Statue of King Bhupatindra Malla, the Picture Gallery, the Batsala temple, etc. A magnificent statue of King Bhupatindra Malla in the act of worship is placed on a column facing the palace of the many windows.
The National Art Gallery:
Contains ancient and medieval paintings belonging to Hindu and Buddhist schools depicting Tantrism of various periods and descriptions.
This five-storey pagoda was built in 1702 A.D. by King Bhupatindra Malla. It stands on a five-terraced platform. On each of the terraces squat a pair of figures. This is one of the tallest pagodas and is famous for its massive structure and subtle workmanship.
This temple was first built as a one-storey pagoda but was later changed into a three storey temple in 1718 A.D. by King Bhupatindra Malla. The temple is noted for its artistic grandeur. It is dedicated to Lord Bhairav, the god of terror.
Built in 1427 A.D., this temple is said to have been built from the trunk of a single tree. Near this temple is a monastery with exquisitely carved peacock window.
Situated in a beautiful surrounding of Bhadgaon, the temple of Ganesh is placed in a sylvan setting to catch the first rays of the rising sun. It is a good picnic spot flanked by many attractive landscapes.
Places To Visit In Pokhara
Clearly the most stunning of Pokhara's sights is the spectacular panorama of the Annapurna range which forms its backdrop. Stretching from east to west, the Annapurna massif includes Annapurna I to IV and Annapurna South. Although the highest among them is Annapurna I (8,091 m), it is Machhapuchhre which dominates all others in this neighborhood. Boastfully levitating in the skyline, the fish-tailed pinnacle is the archetypal snow-capped, needle-pointed mountain. If you want to see the mountains from close up, Everest Air offers a mountain flight from Pokhara that takes you on an aerial sightseeing tour of the western Himalaya.
Phewa Lake, the second largest lake in the Kingdom, is the center of all attraction in Pokhara. It is the largest and most enchanting of the three lakes that add to the resplendence of Pokhara. Here, one can sail or row a hired boat across to the water or visit the island temple in its middle. The eastern shore, popularly known as lakeside or Baidam, is the favorite home base for travellers and is where most of the hotels, restaurants and handicraft shops are located.
The Barahi temple is the most important monument in Pokhara, Built almost in the center of Phewa Lake, this two-storied pagoda is dedicated to the boar manifestation of Ajima, the protectress deity representing the female force Shakti. Devotees can be seen, especially on Saturdays, carrying male animals and fowl across the lake to be sacrificed to the deity.
Another of Pokhara's natural wonders that unfailingly interests visitors is the Seti Gan- daki river. Flowing right through the city, the boisterous river runs completely underground at places. Amazingly, at certain points the river appears hardly two meters wide. But its depth is quite beyond imagination - over 20 meters! Mahendra Pul, a small bridge near the old Mission Hospital, provides a perfect view of the rivers's dreadful rush and the deep gorge made by its powerful flow.
Locally known as the Patale Chhango (Hell's Fall). Devi's Fall (also known as Devin's and David's) is a lovely waterfall lying about two km south-west of the Pokhara airport on the Siddhartha Highway. Legend has it that a trekker (Devin, David..) was washed away by the Pardi Khola and mysteriously dis appeared down into an underground passage beneath the fall.
Another of nature's wonders in Pokhara is the Mahendra Gupha. This large limestone cave is locally known as the House of Bats, an apt name for it. A two-hour walk to the north of Pokhara, it is best to bring your own torch to see the stalactites and stalagmites, as well as the local winged residents.
The Old Bazaar:
Pokhara's traditional bazaar is colorful and so are its ethnically diverse traders. Located about four km from Lakeside, the market's original charm is alive and well. This area strewn with shops selling commodities from edibles and cloth to cosmetics and gold is a pleasant and shady spot to stroll around.
The old bazaar is also home to one of Pokhara' s most important shrines. Locally called the Bindhyabasini Mandir, this white dome-like structure dominates a spacious stone-paved courtyard built atop a shady hillock. It is dedicated to Goddess Bhagwati, yet another manifestation of Shakti. The park-like grounds offer a fine picnic area, and on Saturdays and Tuesdays when devotees flock there to offer sacrifices, it takes on a festive local flavor.
The Pokhara Museum:
The Pokhara Museum, located between the bus stop and Mahendra Pul, reflects the ethnic mosaic of western Nepal. The lifestyles and history of ethnic groups such as the Gurung, Thakali and the Tharu are attractively displayed through models, photographs and arti- facts. One major attraction is a display highlighting the newly-discovered remains of an 8000-year-old settlement in Mustang.
Open daily, except Tuesdays and holidays, from 10 am to 5 pm.
The Annapuma Regional Museum:
Also known as the Natural History Museum, is another interesting visit in Pokhara. Run by the Annapuma Conservation Area Project (ACAP), the museum has an exceptional collection of butterflies, insects, birds and models of wildlife found in the area.It is located at Prithvi Narayan Campus east of the old bazaar.
It is open daily except Saturdays and holidays from 9 am to 5 pm.
Pokhara is the starting and/or finishing point for some of the most popular treks including the Annapurna Circuit and the Jomsom Trek. It also offers a number of short treks for those who cannot opt for long, challenging ones. The most popular destination among them is Sarailgkot (1592 m), a former Kaski fort lying atop a hill to the west of Pokhara. The panoramic view of the Himalaya seen from this point is superb. Kahundanda, Naudanda, Ghandrung, Ghorepani, and Ghalchok are other favorite destinations around Pokhara.