Outside the Kathmandu Valley, Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, has been enlisted in the world Cultural Heritage site. Siddhartha Gautama, who later attained enlightenment as the Buddha, was born in Lumbini in the spring of 623 B.C. An inscription on a stone pillar erected by Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 249 B.C. authenticates that the Buddha was born at this spot. Recent archaeological excavations have discovered the “marker stone” at the basement of the Maya Devi Temple, believed to have been laid there by Emperor Ashoka to denote the exact sacred spot where the Buddha first put his foot on earth. This further enhanced the importance and sanctity of the site. The stupas built during different periods dating from 3rd century B.C. to 15th century A.D., the Maya Devi Temple and Pushkarni Pond where the baby Siddhartha was given his first bath after birth are some ancient edifices of Lumbini.
A Master Plan for the development of Lumbini was initiated in 1978 as per the design of world-renowned architect Professor Tange of Japan. The Master Plan segregates the Lumbini area into four main components: the Sacred Garden which includes the Maya Devi Temple and the Ashokan Pillar; the monastic zone; the cultural center; and the Lumbini village. Since the early 1980s, many countries with significant Buddhist populations have contributed in its infrastructural development. Monasteries reflecting the architecture of the individual countries have been constructed in the monastic zone. But much still remains to be done to give final shape to the Master Plan.
As the birthplace of Lord Buddha, Lumbini is one of the holiest places of one of the world’s greatest religions. It has remained a hallowed Buddhist pilgrimage spot since very early times. Lumbini has been designated as the “Foundation of World Peace and the Holiest Pilgrimage Centre of Buddhists and peace-loving people of the world”. The site remains a place of pilgrimage for both Buddhists and Hindus alike from all over the world.
Besides the existing World Heritage sites in Nepal, there are many other natural and historical monuments and sites in the country which merit inclusion in the World Heritage list.