Buddhist monasteries have always had a calming experience on me. During my stay in Nepal, I was able to visualise the epitomy of Buddhist architecture. One of the central pockets of Buddhism lies in Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha. Although it traces its history back to king Ashok, there have been a lot of artefacts discovered recently which have confirmed the fact.
Maya Devi Garden
The biggest attraction in Lumbini is the Maya Devi Garden. Siddhartha (Gautam Buddha) was born in this Lumbini garden. Siddhartha’s mother and his birth are depicted by a small statue built into the stone. It shows Queen Maya Devi holding onto a branch of a tree while the infant Siddhartha is standing on a Lotus pedestal.It is believed that Buddha after his birth, immediately took seven steps, in each of the four directions, east, south, west and north.
In the modern day, today one of the most things that makes Lumbini so visually appealing is the umpteen number of monasteries that have been built all across Lumbini. Lumbini Development Trust along with Tara Foundation have come up with a plan to make it a religious tourism destination. The entire Lumbini complex is divided with a canal in the middle. At one end is the Maya Devi Temple, the Bodhi Tree and prayer flags and temples belonging to Mahayana Buddhist countries. It has temples and pagodas from various countries like China, Korea, Germany, Vietnam and Nepal. While on the eastern side are the monasteries and temples belonging to Theraveda Buddhist countries, i.e Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia. These monasteries and temples have been sponsored by the respective countries as a tribute to Lord Buddha and his teachings. The beauty of these temples and pagodas are paramount. Let me take you on a photo tour and help you experience them along with me.
The Royal Thai Temple
The Thai style monastery is built with gleaming white marble. The intricately carved white pillars are breathtakingly beautiful. It is no less than a princess castle.
The Golden statue of of young Siddharth shows him pointing his index finger up towards the sky, which in Buddhism denotes ”I am the first, the best of all beings, and this is my last birth and hereafter I will not be born again”.
The Golden Temple Myanmar
The Myanmar Government built a golden monastic structure in the Lumbini complex. The complex consisted of two stupas, a two-storied monastery for visiting monks, and a big ordination hall. All are built with Myanmar style-architecture.
The German Pagoda
This is my personal favorite amongst all of them. The moment you step in, the German Temple welcomes you with its grandeur architectural beauty. Built and funded by a wealthy German woman, this temple is class apart. The pagoda styled temple has the statue of Buddha in a multi color pedestal another idol of his reclines outside as his disciples pray on. This temple belongs to the monks following Mahayana Buddhism and is used as vacation home by them, when its winters up in the hills.
The intricacies of German art and architecture is clearly depicted on the walls. The lion is depicted as the power Siddhartha beheld at the time of birth and it is proclaimed that he was born with a roar like that of a lion.
The Chinese Monastery
Yet another impressively designed monastery was that built by the Chinese. This elegantly built Pagoda reminded me of the forbidden Chinese city. This Mahayana monastery was built by the Chinese government and is dedicated to the great Xuan Zang. A gargantuan statue of his imposes itself on the foreground.
The buildings are constructed in a typical Chinese style of architecture with red brick walls and ornately carved doors. It’s already a very important pilgrimage site for the Mahayana Buddhism. Every year lakhs of Chinese Buddhist pays respect and offer their prayers.
The French Monastery
Last but certainly not the least is this monastery built by the French government as a tribute to Lord Buddha and Buddhist teachings. This is a fleeting capture as I couldn’t visit the inside of the complex because it was already closed on my visit.