Lumbini was a nature reserve between the towns of Kapilavatthu and Devadaha and was where Siddhatta Gotama, who later became the Buddha, was born. It is located in present day Nepal.
Maha Maya was on her way to Devadaha to have her baby when the birth pangs began and the child was born in Lumbini instead. In later centuries Lumbini became an important centre of pilgrimage and remained so until at least the beginning of the 14th century.
After the disappearance of Buddhism in India, Lumbini was gradually overgrown by the jungle and only was rediscovered in 1896. Today the place is located just within the border of Nepal. The most important monument at Lumbini is a huge stone pillar with an inscription by King Ashoka saying that he visited the place in the year 249 BCE. The inscription reads, Twenty years after his coronation King Ashoka visited this place and worshiped because here the Buddha, the sage of the sakyans, was born. He had a stone figure and a pillar set up because the Lord was born here and the village was exempted from tax and required to pay only one eighth of the produce.
Today it has returned to its importance as one of the four places of pilgrimage.
2013 archeological discovery
In November 2013, an international team of archaeologists digging under the Maya devi temple discovered remains of an ancient tree shrine dated before 550 BCE, which is possibly the earliest evidence of Buddhist structures ever found and one of the first archaeological evidence of Buddha's life. The excavation was headed by Robin Coningham of Durham University, UK, and Kosh Prasad Acharya of the Pashupati Area Development Trust, Nepal. According to Coningham, the shrine is "the earliest Buddhist shrine in the world".
The research also revealed the presence of fragments of mineralized tree roots, which correlate with the Buddhist tradition: Siddhartha Gautama is said to have been born in a garden, beneath a sal tree, while his mother, Queen Maya Devi, grasped a tree branch.
"This is one of those rare occasions when belief, tradition, archaeology and science actually come together," lead study author Robin Coningham, professor at Durham University in the United Kingdom, said at a press briefing, November 25, 2013.
The exact spot of the Buddha's birth
The gardens of Lumbini where Maha Maya stopped to rest
A Bodhi Tree that was planted at Lumbini
- Varma, Subodh (26 November 2013). "New finds at Lumbini may push Buddha's birth to 6th century BCE". The Times of India.
- Morgan, James (26 November 2013). "'Earliest shrine' uncovered at Buddha's birthplace". BBC.
- Vergano, Dan (25 November 2013). "Oldest Buddhist Shrine Uncovered In Nepal May Push Back the Buddha's Birth Date". National Geographic.
- Wang, John (25 November 2013). "Earliest Evidence of Buddha Found in Maya Devi Temple, Lumbini, Nepal". Epoch Times.
- Morin, Monte (25 November 2013). "A shrine within a shrine reveals evidence of Buddha's birth". Los Angeles Times.
- CNN.com report