Buddha passed away at the age of 80. Before he left, he asked his disciples to visit his birthplace Lumbini, at least once in their lifetime. He also asked them to spread this message among others. He said that it could be their first step towards salvation.
One of the major attractions in that place is the Ashokan pillar, built around 250 BC by the Indian Emperor Ashoka, to mark the birthplace of the ‘Light of Asia’. It was found in around 1896 AD after which the area was recognized as one of the four main Buddhist pilgrims’ site.
Another attraction is a holy pond, it is said that Mayadevi, mother of Buddha, took a dip inside the pond before giving him birth and also, where Buddha had his first bath.
The most significant structure there; is the Mayadevi temple which has been built upon a shrine that marks the exact location of Buddha’s birth. Now, there’s something interesting found here recently.
Archaeologist Robert Coningham and colleagues, from Durham University, UK, had been conducting a research by digging deep through this shrine to further find out about Buddha’s life and it seems like they actually found something. This shrine, on top of which the temple was built, was established on top of another shine that was buried deep. So, there are in fact three layers of shrines present on top of each other, dating back to almost 6th century BC.
The discovered relic was a tree shrine once, with wooden railings surrounding it. Scholars believe that Mayadevi, in terms of giving birth to the Buddha, caught hold of this tree. The finding is said to push Buddha’s date of birth even further by almost 100 years. Yet another debatable issue among scholars!
The holy site is contained in a huge bordered area. Only monasteries are allowed to be built here. No shops, restaurants or hotels!
Every year hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and tourists visit this place with a hope to feel Buddha’s birth, his enlightenment and go one step further towards salvation. It is estimated that by 2020, more than 4 million people would have visited this place.
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