Lumbini, in southern Nepal, is hallowed ground as the birthplace of the Buddha and attracts pilgrims from around the world.
Important landmarks are the Maya Devi temple and the Ashoka pillar. The remains of many ancient stupas and monasteries can be found in the surroundings of Lumbini, the Ashoka pillar is said to have been erected by the Indian Emperor Ashoka in 250 BC and bears an inscription confirming this as the birthplace of the Buddha.
A stone image of Maya Devi giving birth to Lord Buddha as she holds onto a branch is seen in the Maya Devi temple. The belief that touching it will render a woman fertile has led to erosion as thousands of hands have stroked it.
Nearby is Bardia National Park. Less visited than Chitwan due to its greater distance from Kathmandu and Pokhara it abounds with wildlife (including wild elephant and one-horned rhino) and your chances of spotting a Royal Bengal Tiger are greater.
Flight from Kathmandu to Bhairahawa. Transfer to Lumbini.
This morning we will transfer to Kathmandu airport for the short flight to Bhairahawa.
Bhairahawa is the main gateway to the Buddhist pilgrim circuit of Lumbini, Kapilvastu and Kathmandu. After dropping bags at the hotel head out to visit the Maya Devi temple; a site traditionally considered as the birthplace of Shakyamuni Buddha by the then Queen Maya Devi. Maya Devi Temple is the most sacred site in the Lumbini Garden where archaeologists have identified the exact spot where the Buddha was born. Inscriptions on the Ashoka Pillar nearby also refer to the spot as his birthplace. It is said that the newly born Prince Siddhartha Gautama (who later became the Buddha) took his first seven steps and delivered his first peace message to humanity here.
A couple of kilometres away there is a complex of monasteries constructed on a grand scale. Monasteries in the respective national styles of Myanmar (Burma), China, France, Austria, Germany, Japan, Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand are among those here.
Drive from Lumbini to Bardia.
From Lumbini it is about 6hours drive to Bardia National Park, an unspoiled wilderness of grassland and riverine forest. You have the chance to glimpse the rarest of wildlife in Nepal along with a peek into the lives of local Tharu peoples.
The national park is home to countless species of mammals, reptiles and birds, some of which (like the Blue Bull) are not found in Chitwan. Bardia National Park is one of the most pristine conservation areas in the Terai and is home to the endangered Royal Bengal tiger and Nepal’s famous One-horned rhinoceros.
Arriving at Bardiya you are welcomed at the Community Homestay in Dalla. On the first day you can get to know the hosts and the locals, getting an insight into the village life here. In the evening you can enjoy a cultural performance of the Tharus adorned in their colourful costumes – this program is unique to the region and quite different from that of other Tharus in Nepal.
Full day jungle activities.
Today you will spend the day exploring Bardia National Park. Travelling by open top jeep gives the best experience for an exciting safari through the National Park and the best chance of spotting wildlife.
Transfer to Nepalgunj. Fly to Kathmandu
Drive to Nepalgunj for the short flight back to Kathmandu.