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Nepal - Rural Tourism Information

The Brithplace of Lord Buddha - Lumbini

Lumbini is the place where the newly born Prince Siddhartha (simply known as Buddha) took his first seven steps and uttered an epoch-making message to the suffering humanity. This happened exactly in a beautiful sal grove, which is now a focal point of the Lumbini Garden area. Maya Devi, the queen of Sakya King Suddhodana of Kapilavastu, while passing through the Lumbini Garden, on the day of ‘Vaisakha Poornima’ (the Full Moon-Day of May 623 BC), took a bath in the Pushkarni (the Sacred Pond) and soon after she took support of a tree branch, then gave birth to the Crown Prince Siddhartha, who became Buddha. The Lumbini Garden covers an area of 1x3 sq. miles (2.56 sq. km) and compasses three zones each covering one square mile connected with walkways and a canal. The area has a sub-tropical monsoon climate with a warm wet season.

Lumbini re-discovered
The history of Lumbini was re-established with the visit of the Mauryan Emperor Asoka, who made a pilgrimage in 249 BC and erected a stone pillar bearing an inscription stating ‘Hida Budhe Jate Sakyamuniti’ which means that Sakyamuni Budha was borned here. After his visit structural activities started to mark the birthplace of the Lord Buddha. He worshipped the nativity tree, the bathing tank and also visited the other surrounding historical sites such as Kapilavastu, Ramgrama and Niglihawa.

Later on, three famous Chinese pilgrims - Tseng Tsai (4th century A.D.), Fa-Hsien (5th century A.D.) and Hiuen-Tsang (7th century A.D.) visited Lumbini. Hiuen Tsang’s travel account gives a detailed description of the area, including the Ahsokan Pillar with a horse carved on the top of it. King Ripu Malla (1312 A.D.) of Karnali, marked his visit by an engraving on the Asokan Pillar after 14 century A.D. the site were forgotten, neglected and shrouded in bushes. The association of Lumbini with the Buddha went slowly to oblivion (for almost 600 years), and the name Lumbini gradually changed to Rummindei and then to Rupandehi, the present name of the district.

In the process of an archaeological survey in 1896, General Khadga Shamsher Rana and Dr. Fuhrer discovered the Asokan Pillar in Lumbini, and the birth history has been established from the Lost Horizons. In the 1930s, General Keshar SJB Rana carried out a large-scale excavation at Lumbini and covered up the archaeological site with a view to strengthen the Maya Devi Temple. The most important archeological discoveries in Lumbini are Buddha’s nativity, the gold casket, charred human bones, the terracotta sculpture of a Bodhisattva, human heads Marker stone.

For decades the sacred place remained neglected. In 1956, on the occasion of the fourth world Buddhist conference, late King Mahendra personally visited Lumbini and wanted to improve it. Further, the pilgrimage of the UN Secretary General (U.Thant) proved a milestone of the modern history of Lumbini. Deeply influenced by Lumbini’s sanctity, U.Thant wanted the government of Nepal to develop Lumbini as an international pilgrimage and a tourist center in 1970, Prof. Kenzo Tange of Japan was assigned to create the Lumbini Master Plan, which was approved by the government in 1978. Now, the Lumbini Development Trust, (formed in 1985) is responsible for the overall development of Lumbini.

Rural tourism development in Lumbini
Lumbini is a pilgrimage attraction for more than 30 million Buddhists around the world, and more than 50,000 Buddhist pilgrims visit Lumbini every year. It is also equally popular among non-Buddhist visitors. This attraction of Lumbini can also be developed into rural tourism which can make significant contribution to the local economy, thereby reducing poverty in the rural areas. Taking this into consideration, since 2001, the Tourism for Rural Poverty Alleviation Programme (TRPAP) has been launched to develop rural tourism in Lumbini and other areas of Nepal. It is a joint initiative of Government of Nepal, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, the Netherlands Development Organization and the United Nations Development Programme. The District Development Committee has been involved in implementing the programme. The TRPAP is implemented in and around seven Village Development Committees around Lumbini, namely.

The TRPAP aims to reduce poverty and conserve the natural and cultural heritage of Lumbini. It helps the poor communities to enhance capacity for sustainable rural tourism through various supports, such as training, skill development, establishment of village tourism development fund, improvement of infrastructure, and by building institutional mechanisms and developing policies. The programme has adopted ‘bottom-up’ and community participatory approaches.

You can actively participate in rural tourism development by using the local products and services, such as food, handicrafts, hotels, lodges, guides and rickshaws.

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