This is Queen Maya Devi Temple in Lumbini in Nepal. Buddhists believe that this is where Lord Buddha was born centuries ago. This is considered to be the holiest place for Buddhists all across the world. The Buddhists believe that Queen Maya Devi gave birth to Lord Buddha, who was called Siddhartha Gautama at that point of time, while holding onto a branch of a tree. And the structures you see around, they were built during the time of Emperor Ashoka.
And now, archaeologists say they have found more evidence to suggest that there was another temple, probably the earliest of Buddhist shrine in the world underneath this structure. And the carbon dating of the materials, which were found underneath the structure, shows that those could be from around the 6th century BC.
There was always a debate about when, exactly, Buddha was born and when he left. So many people believed, many scholars argued that it could be around the 3rd century BC. The new evidence suggests that it could even be around the 6th century BC.
Centuries after Lord Buddha was born, a temple was built around this place. You can still see the ruins of this huge temple complex all around this area. They were all made up of bricks. There is also a pillar, and many historians say this was built during Emperor Ashoka’s time – towards my right.
And now, the government of Nepal, and also other Buddhist Nations want to convert this into a huge complex so that it can attract hundreds of thousands of tourists, particularly Buddhists.
Many countries realize the importance of Lumbini, and its religious significance. For example, the temple behind me, this was built by China, this is a very sprawling complex; layers and layers of buildings, very artistically designed. It resembles, like, a temple in China. And I can see the Korean shrine just across the road. And you also have the Japanese, the Thais, the Shri Lankans and the Cambodians have their similar structures.
But the plans to convert Lumbini as the Mecca of Buddhists haven’t really taken off. It is mainly due to infrastructure problems and also due to lack of coordination between various governments and agencies. I can also see lots of developmental activity going around Lumbini but still, this place seems a bit remote from the other tourist destinations in the region.
Officials here hope, slowly and steadily, this will become one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage and tourist centers in the future.