The Museum has its home in a 1970s barrel-vaulted structure designed by the Japanese architect Kenzo Tange. Located at the entrance of Lumbini’s Sacred Garden area, it’s the showcase for a set of stories that have been 2,600 years in the making and telling
O Ananda after I am no more, men of belief will visit the place with faith, curiosity and devotion, Lumbini the place where I was born….
Sakyamuni Buddha, 5th Century BCE
Maha-parinibbana Sutta: Last Days of the Buddha
Some 2600 years ago, underneath the moon lit shadows of two tall trees, Sakyamuni Buddha was approaching the end of his life. At the age of 80, laying on his right side, he urged his followers to ask questions. He gave instructions and told his closest disciple Ananda that there were four great places of pilgrimage central to his journey: Lumbini, where he was born; Bodh Gaya, where he achieved enlightenment; Sarnath; where he preached his first sermon; and Kusinagar, where he would achieve his “Great Passing Away“ or Mahaparinirvana.
For centuries since, the small town of Lumbini in Southern Nepal, has been a centre for Buddhist pilgrims and travellers. Archaeological excavations show the first shrine at Lumbini was built soon after the Buddha’s death. The first recorded pilgrim was the Mauryan Emperor Asoka in 249 BCE.
Today, Lumbini remains one of the most spiritually and historically significant sites in the world. Buddha was born here in 623 BC. He grew up some 30 miles away in Kapilvastu, the ancient capital of the Sakya kingdom until the age of 29. Devdaha, His maternal hometown, is 25 miles away and Ramagrama is believed to be the only stupa in the world still containing the corporal relics of the Buddha. UNESCO declared the Sacred Garden Area in Lumbini as the Birthplace of Lord Buddha and a World Heritage site in 1997. It is now visited by more than 1.7 million pilgrims and visitors a year.