Travelling from Tansen to Lumbini was an easy peasy blissful experience, mainly due to the fact that Manmohan told me exactly when I had to be there. And I was there 5 minutes early, which meant I could eat oranges and donuts in the bus park. Yes, donuts, freshly rolled, deep-fried in a wok of oil from a stand in the middle of the dusty bus park. Delish, and in my heart I’m sure they were Ayurvedic and very healthy deep fried, dusty donuts.
Lumbini: Top Place to Visit in Nepal
The bus to Lumbini was a much better ride than the one from Pokhara, I unfortunately didn’t have anybody on top of me, but that’s ok. Lumbini is actually not on the main highway that leads to India, so you have to transfer to a smaller local bus for the last hour or so. Seamless in the end, I arrived in Lumbini and one of the first things I see is a monkey. Eff balls. Sick, stay away from me, your rabid cousin from Kathmandu probably tipped you off and you will stalk me through the birthplace of Buddha just to see me join him in the Eternal life. Anyways…
The point of going to Lumbini is as above, no not to get bitten by monkeys, but to visit the World Heritage site of Lumbini, which is the birthplace of the Buddha, or Prince Siddhartha Gautama as his mama Maya Devi named him back then, in about 543 BC. The Maya Devi, full term preggers was with her royal crew coming home from a jaunt to India, but as luck would have it, Baby Prince was not going to wait the last 6 hours to get home to their palace in Nepal, and surprised the world in Lumbini.
The Sacred Garden in Lumbini Heritage Park
The Sacred Garden is the area of the Lumbini Heritage Park where the blessed event really took place. There is the Sacred Pool where Maya Devi bathed before hand, and then a large white temple kind of structure built up around the ruins of the actual spot where Buddha was born. Which was on a specific rock.
History of Lumbini the Birthplace of Buddha
At some point in the 3rd Century, Ashoka, an India Emperor, did an excavation to find said rock, and this rock is now the centerpiece of the Maya Devi Temple. The rock sits where it was originally found, and is now, current with the times, encased underneath bulletproof glass. Why anybody would want to shoot a rock with a gun, I don’t know, symbolic significance I guess, but lets go back to the real crux of the issue: A Prince and the later-to-be founder of a great world religion was born on a rock?!?!?!
Holy brutal entry into the world, no wonder a central tenant of Buddhism is all life is suffering!
Seems like old Langley Memorial is not so bad, and at least Sue Kydd didn’t have to bathe in front of a bunch of people out underneath a big tree beforehand. Jesus in the manger, Buddha on the rock, I think that means the rest of us were all born doomed to lives of spiritual inadequacy based on our entries into the world.
Lumbini is one of the 4 most important worldly locations of Buddhism, along with where Buddha attained enlightenment, where he gave his first sermon to his first disciples, and where he died. You enter into the massive park area and walk for kilometers, or as really smart people choose, you rent a decrepit bicycle with no shocks, that is too high for your stumpy legs, is lacking real brakes, and has no cushion on the seat to be spoken of, and you bike that bitch out.
Imagine me, teetering around the birthplace of Buddha on a bicycle that probably was owned by someone from the original Buddha birth entourage, hoping not to fall off, into the awaiting arms of a rabid monkey. Or into one of the many pools in the park complex. Neither would have been awesome, but I would have chosen the pool any day. The bike cost me $2 for the afternoon, best $2 I ever spent. Though in the small print, I’m pretty sure that $2 also came with several bruises that Lance Armstrong would have been impressed by.
Touring Lumbini on a Bicycle
So I started in the south of the park, at the Maya Devi temple and Sacred Garden, the real location of the birth, and then worked my way north, on my two wheeled heap of joy, through the monasteries that various Buddhist countries have built as a representation of their inclusion in the world wide Buddhist faith. The guidebook cynically calls it a Buddhist DisneyLand, and it definitely calls to mind It’s a Small World, but then again, it’s pretty cool because it’s like you’re checking out the national styles of Buddhist temples, all from the seat of the pre-Common Era bicycle. Then after 5 or 6 temples they start to look the same.
At the very north of the park, is another World Peace Stupa, built by the same Japanese crew who built the one in Pokhara. I biked around the Park complex for about 4 hours, and by the end I could barely walk. Was very glad I had gotten the bike as the park is really spread out and walking would have taken forever, and if there is anything that Buddhism, and Twilight, teaches us, forever is a really long time!
After my long day of bus riding, bicycle riding, and temple … riding, I relaxed for the night with a random crew of people in the hostel and hit the rock hard bed pretty early to get the 7am bus out of Lumbini.
Travel Blog from Lumbini Nepal
I guess seeing a white girl on a bicycle is quite the sight into of itself, as I had my picture, not so slyly, taken by many people, mainly by Nepali school children and Chinese men. Awesome. I also had a Nepali schoolgirl ask for my autograph, to which I pretended I didn’t know what she was talking about and said “No Thank-you!” Yawckward! At least she didn’t ask when I was going to get married.
I almost did fall off the bike when going through what was more of a mountain bike track than a walking track. It was very muddy and I got stuck and did the split second of sitting straight up on a stationary bike that had yet to decide which side it is going to topple towards. And then my legs saved the day.
Lumbini village is basically just a street off of the park of hostels, store-fronts, and a few restaurants. With ox carts, motorcycles, rickshaws, bicycles, and cars going by, it is definitely a new meets old kind of place.
Watching groups of young Nepali men take each other’s pictures is great. They basically all pose as if they are doing a photo shoot for their new pop c.d. that is coming out soon. Super cool.
The monkeys were not everywhere in the park, thank Buddha, just at the entrances, so you had to run, or bike, the gauntlet of screaming, feral, vicious, disease ridden, long-tailed rats of the branches to get to the birthplace of peace and compassion. Question: If I punted a monkey, from the top of a bicycle, into the bushes, would Buddha resent the violence on his turf? I would think so. In the end, I didn’t have to. Mind you, I would have. Unhesitatingly and mercilessly.
But that’s all from Lumbini, as next I headed to [intlink id=”713″ type=”post”]Chitwan[/intlink], the home of the Great One-Horned Rhino. Teaser: the rhino looks very much like a dinosaur. I think it might be one…
The Best of Pokhara: Hiking, Yoga and Paragliding