LUMBINI - Birthplace Of Sakyamuni Buddha
Situated in the plains of Rupandehi district in Nepal, Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Sakyamuni Buddha, is one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the world. Legend has it that Mayadevi, the queen of Sakya king Suddhodhana of Kapilavastu, was passing through the Lumbini Garden on her way to the maternal hometown of Devadaha (ancient Koliya kingdom). The queen took bath in the Puskarini (Sacred Pond) and after taking 25 paces to the north she felt labor pain, supported herself grasping a branch of a tree and gave birth to the holy prince on Baisakha Purnima (full moon of the first month according to Nepali calendar) of 623 BC. Buddhist scriptures and early literature state that the newly born Prince Siddhartha took seven divine steps to the north and announced an epoch making message to the suffering humanity in the Lumbini Garden Archaeological evidences, historical references, travel accounts of the well-known pilgrims and travelers including the eminent Chinese pilgrims and the holy Buddhist scriptures testify Lumbini as the birthplace of Lord Sakyamuni Buddha.
The Asoka Pillar, erected by Emperor Asoka in 249 BC with inscriptions on it, is the most reliable attestation that Lord Sakyamuni Buddha was born here in Lumbini.
In 1896 AD, General Khadga Shamsher Jung Bahadur Rana, the governor of Palpa and Dr. Alois Fuhrer, an eminent archaeological surveyor in British India, discovered the Asoka pillar, re-establishing Lumbini as the birthplace of Lord Sakymuni Buddha. After rediscovery of the pillar and interpretation of inscriptions on it, the site drew huge attention of many archaeologists and historians from around the world. Another surveyor PC Mukherji conducted an excavation in 1899 AD and identified the Nativity Sculpture as well as some structural remains in and around the Lord Sakyamuni Buddha's birthplace.
Subsequent excavations carried out by Lumbini Development Trust (LDT), Department of Archaeology (DoA) and Japan Buddhist Federation (JBF) between 1992-1995 in the Mayadevi complex have recovered the Marker Stone, important archaeological remains, shrines and ruins of ancient Mayadevi Temple. These archaeological findings have further reinforced Lumbini as the birthplace of Lord Sakyamuni Buddha as already testified by the inscription on the Asoka pillar.