LUMBINI - THE BIRTHPLACE OF LORD BUDDHA

Buddha was born at Lumbini in southern Nepal on a full moon day in 623 B.C. The importance of Lumbini is testified by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka who visited Lumbini in order to pay homage to the great master and erected apillar in 249 B.C. to indicate the birthplace of Buddha.

Sacred Garden: It was here in the gardens of Lumbini that Prince Siddhartha Gautam, who later became the Buddha, was born in 623 BC. The nativity site is marked by a commemorative pillar erected by Mauryan Emperor Ashoka of India during his pilgrimage to the holy site in 249 BC.

The inscription on the Ashoka Pillar indentifies the Sacred Garden - spread over 9 sq. km - as the spot where the Enlightened One was born. A large number of Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world visit Lumbini to pray at the Mayadevi Templewhere excavations have revealed the “marker stone” showing the exact spot where Siddhartha Gautam Buddha was born. The sacred Puskarni Pond where Queen Mayadevi had taken a bath before the birth of Buddha lies to the south of the pillar. It was also in this pond that the infant Buddha was given his first bath.

Monuments: To the north of the Sacred Garden are monastic zones where different countries have built temples and monasteries depicting different sects of Buddhism.TheMyanmar Temple(Lokamani Cula Pagoda) is a shiny gold and white structure that resembles the Shwe-dagon Pagoda of Yangon while the International Gautami Nuns Templeisareplicaofthe Swayambhu Stupa of Kathmandu.

The China Temple,built by the Buddhist Association of China, is a complex of pagodas, prayer rooms and meditation cells. Across the road is theDae Sung Suk Ga SaKorean Temple.The Japan Peace Stupa,built by Nippon Jon Kyohoji of Japan, is a 41-m tall structure with four different Buddha statues set into the stupa’s dome facing the four cardinal directions.

Other beautiful monuments and temples have been built by Vietnam, Thailand, Mongolia, France, Germany and Sri Lanka.

 POKHARA- THE CITY OF LAKES:

If Kathmandu is the cultural hub of Nepal then Pokhara is the center of adventure an enchanting city nestled in a tranqual valley attitude 827 m. It is the starting point for many of Nepal’s most popular trekking and rafting destinations and lies at the foot of the Annapurna Himal (8.091m) along the lake Fewa. The atmosphere on the shores of Fewa lake is one of the excited vitality as hipster backpackers crowd the many bars and the restaurants exchanging recommendations on guest houses and view point both by the lake and above the cloud. A fabled spot for a closeup of the high Himalayas. Just a mere 40 min flight or a 5 hour bus drive brings you there.

Mountain Views:

Pokhara is blessed with stunning panoramic views of the Annapurna range which forms its backdrop. The mesmerizing Machhapuchhre also called Mt. Fishtail dominates the scenery because of its proximity to the valley and can be seen from anywhere in Pokhara. Stretching from east to west, the Annapurna massif includes Annapurna 1 to IV and Annapurna South. Further away are seen the giants, Dhaulagiri (8,167m) and Manaslu (8,163m).

Phewa Lake:

Pokhara owes its popularity to the enchanting Phewa Lake, and along its eastern shore has grown the Lakeside or Baidam, a thriving resort town of hotels, restaurants, bars and souvenir shops that allow travelers to relax and enjoy. Phewa Lake is the largest and most beautiful of the three lakes, attracting a large number of visitors who enjoy boating on its placid waters. Boats can be hired, and many visit the island temple of Barahi in the middle of the lake.

Barahi Temple:

Located in the middle of Phewa Lake, Barahi Temple is one the most important monuments in Pokhara. The two-storied pagoda is dedicated to the boar manifestation of Ajima who represents the female force, Shakti. Sacrifices take place here, and the largest crowds of devotees are seen on Saturdays.

Seti:

An amazing aspect of Pokhara is the vanishing river, Seti, which goes underground and disappears in many places along its route through the city. At various points Seti is barely 2 m wide but its depth reaches an astonishing 20 m! A good spot for watching the river is Mahendra Pul at Bhimsen Chowk, a bridge near the old Mission Hospital. Here the river can be seen in all its ferocity gushing down the deep gorge that it has carved over millennia.

Devi's Fall:

Locally known as the Patale Chhango (Nether Fall), Devi's Fall is a fascinating waterfall located about 2 km south-west of Pokhara Airport on the Siddhartha Highway.

MahendraGupha:

This is a large limestone cave at a two-hour walk to the north of Pokhara. Locally known as the House of Bats, it is famous for its stalactites and stalagmites.

World Peace Pagoda:

The World Peace Pagoda can be seen on top of a hill on the southern fringe of Phewa Lake. It has four images of the Buddha facing the four directions. The dome-shaped pagoda is an impressive sight, and its hilltop location commands a great view. It is a great vantage point which offers spectacular views of the Annapurna.

The Old Bazaar:

A stark contrast to Lakeside Pokhara, the old Pokhara Bazaar, 4 km away from Phewa Lake, is a traditional bazaar and a colorful gathering place for an ethnically diverse group of traders. The temples and monuments bear a close resemblance to the Newari architecture of the Kathmandu Valley. The old bazaar is also home to one of Pokhara's most important shrines, the Bindhyabasini Mandir, a white dome-like structure atop a hill.

Note: If you wish to make a trip to Pokhara and Lumbini,