The person who had set this in motion was U Thant, the United Nations’ Secretary-General. Visiting Lumbini in 1967, he was deeply moved and wrote in his diary, “The visit to Lumbini was one of the most important days of my life.” With the help of Government of Nepal, U Thant set up an 15-nation International Committee for the Development of Lumbini, that would go on to appoint Kenzo Tange as its chief planner.
Tange’s plan was to infuse the three square-mile area of the Sacred Garden with the spirit of the Buddha’s universal message of openness and peace.
He explained his vision as such: the journey which you make within Lumbini mirrors the Buddha’s own journey. You begin from the real world (where the hotels and guesthouses are located), to a place of learning and wisdom (Lumbini’s museum and library), progress through the monastic zones with temples built by different countries, and finally arrive at the inner sanctum of the Maya Devi Temple, which represents enlightenment.
The Cultural Centre which houses our Museum and the Lumbini Research Institute (LIRI) were thus a central part of Tange’s Lumbini Masterplan.