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From Chitwan To Lumbini, Nepal


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Darell Morano



Welcome to the majestic land of Nepal, a country renowned for its rich cultural heritage, breathtaking landscapes, and warm hospitality. Nestled in the heart of the Himalayas, Nepal is a treasure trove of natural wonders and spiritual sites. From towering peaks to lush valleys, this diverse nation offers an array of experiences for travelers to enjoy.


In this article, we will embark on a journey from Chitwan to Lumbini, two iconic destinations in Nepal that showcase the country’s unique blend of wildlife, culture, and religious significance.


Chitwan, located in the southern plains of Nepal, is a nature lover’s paradise. Home to the renowned Chitwan National Park, this region boasts an abundance of flora and fauna, making it a must-visit destination for wildlife enthusiasts.


On the other hand, Lumbini, situated in the western part of Nepal, holds immense importance for Buddhists around the world. Known as the birthplace of Lord Buddha, it draws pilgrims and spiritual seekers who come to pay their respects and seek inspiration.


Both Chitwan and Lumbini offer a unique glimpse into Nepal’s natural and cultural wealth, making them essential stops on any itinerary. So, let’s delve deeper into these captivating destinations and uncover their hidden gems.


Chitwan: A Wildlife Paradise

Located in the subtropical Terai region of Nepal, Chitwan is a haven for wildlife lovers. The crown jewel of this region is the Chitwan National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best-preserved parks in Asia.


The park spans over 932 square kilometers and is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. With its dense forests, marshlands, and grasslands, Chitwan offers a natural habitat for a wide variety of wildlife species, including the endangered Bengal tiger, one-horned rhinoceros, Gharial crocodile, and over 500 species of birds.


One of the best ways to explore the park is through a jungle safari. Embark on a thrilling jeep or elephant-back safari and traverse through the rugged terrain, keeping an eye out for the magnificent wildlife that roams freely in their natural habitat.


During the safari, you may have the incredible opportunity to spot a majestic tiger stealthily prowling through the tall grass, or witness a rhinoceros bathing in a river, creating a truly unforgettable experience.


Aside from the safari, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy in Chitwan. Take a peaceful canoe ride along the Rapti River, where you can observe a variety of water birds and possibly spot a crocodile basking in the sun along the riverbanks.


For the adventurous souls, embark on a thrilling jungle walk or a bird-watching tour to witness the incredible biodiversity of the region up close. The park also offers opportunities for fishing, where you can test your skills against the mighty Mahseer fish.


Alongside the natural wonders, Chitwan is also rich in cultural heritage. The indigenous Tharu community has inhabited this region for centuries and has a vibrant culture and fascinating traditions. Interact with the Tharu people, learn about their unique lifestyles, and witness their vibrant dances and music performances.


Exploring Chitwan National Park and immersing yourself in the natural beauty and cultural richness of the region will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.


Exploring Chitwan National Park

Chitwan National Park offers a plethora of activities for visitors to immerse themselves in the breathtaking beauty of its natural landscapes and vibrant wildlife. Let’s delve into some of the top experiences that await you in this wildlife paradise.


A jungle safari is a must-do activity in Chitwan. Hop on a jeep or ride on the back of an elephant to venture deep into the heart of the park. Accompanied by experienced guides, you’ll have the opportunity to spot various wildlife species in their natural habitat. Keep your eyes peeled for the elusive Bengal tiger, as well as one-horned rhinoceros, elephants, leopards, and a multitude of colorful birds.


In addition to the traditional jeep and elephant safaris, you can also explore the park on foot. Take a guided walk through the dense forests and grasslands, accompanied by knowledgeable naturalists. As you stroll along the trails, you’ll have the chance to learn about the diverse plant life, small mammals, and reptiles that call Chitwan their home.


A unique and thrilling way to experience Chitwan National Park is by canoeing along the Rapti River. Drift along the calm waters and observe the fascinating aquatic life, including crocodiles, turtles, and various bird species. The serene surroundings and the sounds of nature create a tranquil ambiance that will soothe your senses.


If you have a passion for birdwatching, Chitwan National Park is a paradise for avian enthusiasts. With over 500 species of resident and migratory birds, you’ll have ample opportunities to spot colorful plumage and hear melodious calls. Keen birdwatchers can join guided tours led by experienced ornithologists, who will help identify and explain the behavior of the various bird species.


For a unique cultural experience, visit one of the local Tharu villages located on the outskirts of the park. The Tharu people have a rich cultural heritage and have coexisted with the wildlife in Chitwan for centuries. Explore their traditional homes, witness their vibrant dances and cultural performances, and gain insights into their sustainable way of life.


Chitwan National Park is a true gem of Nepal, offering a remarkable blend of wildlife encounters, outdoor adventures, and cultural experiences. Whether you choose to explore by land, water, or air, this national park promises an unforgettable journey into the heart of nature.


Tharu Culture and Tradition

Deep within the jungles of Chitwan lies a vibrant community known as the Tharu people. The Tharu have a rich culture and history that is deeply intertwined with the natural wonders of the region. Exploring their unique way of life is an essential part of any visit to Chitwan National Park.


The Tharu people have been living in harmony with nature in the Terai region for centuries. Their traditional lifestyle is closely connected with the land, rivers, and forests that surround them. Through their rich cultural practices, the Tharu offer a glimpse into their resilience and adaptability.


One of the best ways to experience Tharu culture is by visiting one of their villages. These settlements are located on the outskirts of the national park and provide a chance to witness the daily life and traditions of the community. The Tharu people are known for their hospitality, welcoming visitors with open arms.


As you enter a Tharu village, you’ll notice the unique architecture of their houses. The traditional mud-and-thatch huts are designed to keep the interiors cool in the hot summer months and warm during the chilly winters. The intricate wood carvings adorning the doorways and windows are a testament to the Tharu people’s craftsmanship.


Each Tharu village has its own distinct cultural practices and rituals. Dance is an integral part of the Tharu community, and you’ll have the opportunity to witness their vibrant and energetic dances. The Tharu stick dance, known as “Tharu Selo,” is a popular form of expression, performed during festivals and special occasions.


The Tharu are also skilled in traditional arts and crafts. They create beautiful hand-woven textiles, intricate baskets, and decorative items using locally available materials. You can learn about these crafts and even try your hand at creating your own souvenir to take home as a memento of your time in Chitwan.


The Tharu people have a deep knowledge of the surrounding forests and their various medicinal plants. Traditional healers, known as “Dhamis” and “Jhankris,” play a vital role in the Tharu community, using their expertise to treat ailments and maintain balance between humans and nature.


To truly immerse yourself in Tharu culture, consider staying in a Tharu homestay. This allows you to experience their way of life up close, as you participate in daily activities such as farming, cooking traditional meals, and getting involved in community projects.


By embracing the Tharu culture and traditions, you gain a deeper appreciation for their strong connection to the land and their harmony with nature. Their vibrant dances, intricate handicrafts, and warm hospitality create a memorable cultural experience that enriches your journey through Chitwan National Park.


Religious Sites in Chitwan

While Chitwan National Park is known for its wildlife and nature, it also holds religious significance with several sacred sites that attract pilgrims and spiritual seekers. Here are some of the notable religious sites in Chitwan:


Barahi Temple:


Located in the heart of the Chitwan district, the Barahi Temple is dedicated to Goddess Barahi, who is believed to be an incarnation of Goddess Durga. This temple holds immense importance for the local Tharu community and is a popular place of worship. Visitors can explore the temple’s intricate architecture and witness the vibrant atmosphere during religious festivals like Dashain and Teej.


Jagadishpur Reservoir:


The Jagadishpur Reservoir, also known as the Gaidakot Taal, is a serene water body situated near Bharatpur. This reservoir holds a special place in Hindu mythology as it is considered to be the spot where Lord Ram, his wife Sita, and younger brother Lakshman took shelter during their exile. Pilgrims visit this site to pay homage and seek blessings. The tranquil surroundings and scenic views make it an ideal place for meditation and contemplation.


Bageshwari Temple:


Nestled on the banks of the Narayani River, the Bageshwari Temple is dedicated to Goddess Bageshwari, a form of Goddess Durga. It is believed that worshipping here brings good fortune and fulfills wishes. The temple is especially crowded during the Navaratri festival, when devotees from all over Nepal gather to participate in religious rituals and seek blessings.


Devi’s Fall:


Located near the city of Pokhara, Devi’s Fall is a popular tourist destination that also holds religious significance. Known locally as Patale Chhango, this waterfall is believed to be the place where a woman named Devi disappeared into an underground passage, giving it its name. It is considered a sacred site, and many people come here to offer prayers and seek blessings.


These are just a few of the religious sites in Chitwan that showcase the spiritual side of the region. Whether you’re seeking blessings, exploring ancient mythology, or simply looking for a peaceful place to connect with your inner self, these sacred sites offer a unique and spiritual experience in the midst of Chitwan’s natural beauty.


Lumbini: Birthplace of Buddha

Lumbini, located in the western part of Nepal, holds immense significance for Buddhists around the world as it is the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, who later became known as Lord Buddha. This sacred pilgrimage site draws devotees and curious travelers alike to explore its historical and spiritual treasures.


Lumbini is believed to be the exact spot where Queen Maya Devi, the mother of Buddha, gave birth to him in 623 BC. Today, the area is revered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to numerous monasteries, temples, and archaeological sites that shed light on the life and teachings of the Enlightened One.


The centerpiece of Lumbini is the Maya Devi Temple, which houses the exact spot where Queen Maya Devi is said to have given birth. Pilgrims from all over the world offer prayers and pay their respects at this sacred site. The temple complex also includes a sacred pond, known as the Puskarini, where the newborn Buddha was bathed.


Exploring the Lumbini Garden complex is an enchanting experience. The peaceful surroundings are punctuated by beautifully landscaped gardens, ancient ruins, and meditation centers. Stroll through the meticulously maintained paths and enjoy the serene atmosphere as you reflect on the life and teachings of Buddha.


Another must-visit site in Lumbini is the Ashoka Pillar, erected by Emperor Ashoka of the Maurya Dynasty in the third century BCE. The pillar bears inscriptions in ancient Brahmi script, stating that it marks the birthplace of Buddha. It serves as a testament to the historical significance of Lumbini and its recognition even during ancient times.


Visitors can also explore the monastic zone, where various countries have built their own monasteries in architectural styles that reflect their respective cultures. These monasteries serve as serene retreats for monks and devotees, and provide a unique opportunity to witness the diversity and unity of Buddhist traditions from around the world.


Immerse yourself in the spiritual atmosphere by participating in meditation sessions or listening to teachings by Buddhist monks. Many meditation centers and retreats are available for visitors who wish to delve deeper into their own spiritual practices and gain insights into the core teachings of Buddhism.


A visit to Lumbini is not merely a journey to a historical site, but a pilgrimage into the heart of Buddhism. It offers a chance for self-reflection, understanding, and a deeper appreciation of the profound impact that Buddha’s teachings have had on the world. Lumbini stands as a living testament to the enduring legacy of compassion and enlightenment.


Discovering Lumbini’s History

Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, is steeped in a rich historical past that spans millennia. Delving into its history allows us to uncover the significance and evolution of this sacred site.


The history of Lumbini dates back to the 6th century BC, when Queen Maya Devi, the mother of Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), gave birth to him in the gardens of Lumbini. It is here that the foundations of Buddhism were laid, shaping the course of a religious and philosophical movement that would spread across the world.


After the birth of Buddha, Lumbini remained a revered site for Buddhists. However, it gradually faded into obscurity, obscured by the sands of time. The rediscovery of Lumbini is credited to the British archaeologist, General Khadga Shumsher Rana, who stumbled upon a pillar with ancient inscriptions in 1896.


Further excavation and research revealed that the pillar was erected by Emperor Ashoka of the Maurya Dynasty in the 3rd century BCE. Ashoka, after embracing Buddhism, was determined to honor the birthplace of Buddha. The inscriptions on the Ashoka Pillar confirmed Lumbini as Buddha’s birthplace and brought it back into the spotlight.


Since then, Lumbini has been the focus of numerous archaeological endeavors and restoration projects, allowing historians to reconstruct the ancient city. The remnants of the ancient Buddhist monastic complex and the surrounding structures reveal the grandeur and spiritual significance of Lumbini in its heyday.


The historical significance of Lumbini is not limited to Buddhism alone. Over the centuries, the region fell under the influence of various rulers and empires, including the Mauryas, Kushans, Guptas, and later, even the Mallas of Nepal. The diverse cultural influences can be seen in the architectural styles of the temples, monastic complexes, and other structures that dot the landscape.


Emperor Ashoka’s patronage of Lumbini extended beyond the Ashoka Pillar. He erected stupas, monasteries, and other religious edifices that attracted pilgrims from far and wide. The site flourished as a hub of Buddhist learning and practice, drawing scholars and devotees seeking spiritual enlightenment.


Today, the historical importance of Lumbini is recognized on a global scale, and it has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ongoing efforts to preserve and restore the ancient structures ensure that visitors can experience a glimpse into the rich history and heritage of this sacred place.


Discovering the history of Lumbini allows us to appreciate the deeply rooted significance of this spiritual site. It serves as a reminder of the enduring legacy of Lord Buddha and the profound impact of his teachings on the world, inspiring generations to seek enlightenment and cultivate compassion.


Exploring the Sacred Gardens

Step into the sacred gardens of Lumbini and embark on a serene journey through its peaceful and lush surroundings. These gardens, encompassing the birthplace of Buddha, offer visitors a tranquil space for reflection, contemplation, and connection with the teachings of Buddhism.


The centerpiece of the sacred gardens is the Maya Devi Temple, built around the spot where Queen Maya Devi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama, who later became known as Buddha. The temple complex is surrounded by meticulously maintained gardens, creating a serene atmosphere that invites visitors to immerse themselves in the spiritual ambiance.


As you wander through the gardens, you’ll come across the sacred Bodhi tree, a descendant of the original tree in Bodh Gaya under which Buddha attained enlightenment. This tree holds great significance for Buddhists and serves as a symbol of spiritual awakening. Sit in its shade, meditate, or simply soak in the peaceful energy that surrounds it.


Throughout the gardens, you’ll find numerous monastic zones and meditation centers, each representing a different Buddhist tradition from around the world. These monasteries offer serene spaces for meditation, prayer, and contemplation, providing an opportunity to learn about various Buddhist practices and philosophies. Whether you choose to meditate in one of the open-air pavilions or attend a silent retreat, the sacred gardens of Lumbini offer a peaceful escape from the chaos of the outside world.


One of the most enchanting features of the gardens is the Ashokan Pillar, erected by Emperor Ashoka to mark the birthplace of Buddha. The pillar stands tall and proud, bearing witness to the historical significance of Lumbini. Visitors can marvel at the ancient inscriptions and feel a sense of awe at being in the presence of such a revered monument.


As you stroll along the pathways, you’ll have the opportunity to see beautiful sculptures, statues, and artwork related to the life of Buddha. These artistic representations provide visual insights into the historical and spiritual aspects of Buddhism.


While exploring the lush gardens, you may encounter Buddhist monks and nuns, dressed in their traditional robes, engaging in prayer or peaceful walks. Observing their rituals and witnessing their devotion can be a humbling experience that deepens your understanding of the Buddhist way of life.


Whether you are a devout Buddhist or simply seeking a place of serenity and quiet reflection, the sacred gardens of Lumbini offer a sanctuary to connect with the teachings of Buddha. Allow yourself to be swept away by the beauty, tranquility, and spiritual energy that permeate this sacred space.


Temples and Monasteries in Lumbini

Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, is dotted with temples and monasteries representing various Buddhist traditions from around the world. These sacred structures not only showcase the diversity of Buddhist practices, but also provide spaces for devotees and visitors to pay their respects, learn, and connect with the larger Buddhist community.


One of the prominent temples in Lumbini is the Maya Devi Temple, located at the exact spot where Queen Maya Devi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama. The temple is a sacred pilgrimage site and features a beautiful image of Maya Devi, as well as intricate carvings depicting scenes from Buddha’s life. Inside the temple complex, you’ll also find the holy pond, Puskarini, where the newborn Buddha was bathed.


The Mahayana Buddhist tradition is well-represented in Lumbini with the impressive International Gautami Nuns Temple. This temple is dedicated to the teachings and liberation of women in Buddhist practice and houses a large statue of Buddha. It serves as a gathering place for nuns from different countries, fostering unity, knowledge exchange, and spiritual growth.


The Thai Monastic Zone, with its stunning white and gold structures, reflects the rich spiritual heritage of Thailand. The Wat Thai Temple is a majestic building adorned with beautiful Thai-style architecture, artwork, and statues. Visitors can participate in meditation sessions, observe Thai Buddhist rituals, and explore the intricacies of Thai Buddhist traditions.


The Dharma Swami Maharaja Buddha Vihar is a charming Tibetan Buddhist monastery that offers a glimpse into the distinctive traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery houses a stunning statue of Buddha Shakyamuni and serves as a center for Tibetan Buddhist teachings, practices, and cultural activities. It provides a haven for Tibetan refugees and visitors seeking spiritual guidance.


The Korean Monastic Zone showcases the Korean Buddhist heritage through its temple, Seokguram Grotto, and numerous pagodas. The beautifully crafted pagodas and statues reflect the artistic elegance of Korean Buddhist traditions. Visitors can attend meditation sessions and experience the calming influence of Korean Zen practices.


Within the monastic zones, you’ll encounter other temples and monasteries representing countries such as China, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka. Each structure embodies the unique architecture, artistry, and spiritual practices of its respective Buddhist tradition. Exploring these temples and monasteries offers a remarkable opportunity to gain insights into the rich tapestry of Buddhist cultures.


Visiting Lumbini not only offers a chance to connect with the life and teachings of Buddha, but also provides a gateway to explore the global Buddhist community. The temples and monasteries in Lumbini exemplify the unity, diversity, and universality of Buddhism, making it a truly remarkable place for spiritual seekers and those interested in Buddhist philosophy and practice.



Our journey from Chitwan to Lumbini in Nepal has taken us through a magnificent blend of wildlife, culture, and spirituality. Chitwan delighted us with its vast landscapes, vibrant wildlife, and the rich culture of the Tharu community. Lumbini, on the other hand, offered a profound and serene experience as the birthplace of Lord Buddha, immersing us in the spiritual teachings and historical treasures of Buddhism.


In Chitwan, we witnessed the awe-inspiring beauty of Chitwan National Park, with its diverse array of flora and fauna. Our encounters with tigers, rhinoceroses, and other wildlife during safaris left us in awe of nature’s wonders. The Tharu people welcomed us with open arms, sharing their unique culture and traditions, and offering a glimpse into their harmonious existence with the surrounding wildlife.


As we ventured into Lumbini, the sacred gardens and monastic zones transported us to a realm of tranquility and introspection. The Maya Devi Temple and other historical sites connected us to the life and teachings of Buddha. Exploring the various temples and monasteries from different Buddhist traditions allowed us to witness the unity and diversity within the global Buddhist community.


Both Chitwan and Lumbini captured our hearts with their distinct charm and significance. The natural beauty, cultural heritage, and spiritual essence of these destinations have left an indelible mark on our souls.


From the wildlife-filled jungles of Chitwan to the sacred birthplace of Buddha in Lumbini, Nepal has proven to be a treasure trove of experiences. The country’s remarkable blend of nature, culture, and spirituality offers something for every traveler seeking adventure, enlightenment, or simply a journey of self-discovery.


As we bid farewell to Chitwan and Lumbini, we carry with us memories of vibrant wildlife encounters, cultural immersion, and contemplative moments. We leave with a deeper appreciation for the natural wonders, rich history, and profound teachings that Nepal has to offer, grateful for the opportunity to have embarked on this incredible journey.