Never expected to be in Nepal - Lumbini and Buddha

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January 5th 2009
Published: January 22nd 2009
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4 Jan - extremely long day of driving on the bus to reach the India / Nepal border crossing at Bhairawa. Decide to get one month visa. Seen as when I left home I never expected to be coming to Nepal I may as well make the most of this extra country! Visa process and border crossing straight forward and quick.

5 Jan - cannae believe I'm in Nepal. So far however it seems the same as Northern shrouded in mist. This morning we board our colourful bus, it's a real life Nepali style bus, check out the photos below! Today we drive to Lumbini, another of the 4 important sites in Buddhism. Lumbini was the birthplace of Gautama, Lord Buddha in approximately 500BC. As well as visiting his birthplace, the area is a tranquil complex of temples built by Buddhist groups from round the world for their pilgrims to visit when they come to Nepal. We look round the German temple, which is extremely beautiful with colourful frescoes, and the Chinese temple, which is like being back in the heart of the Forbidden City in Beijing. We travel round the site by rickshaw, the most used mode of transport during this trip!

Being at the birthplace of Lord Buddha reminds me of only a few months ago being at another significant birthplace...Bethany by the River Jordan where Christ was born. I find it fascinating that already during my travels I have visited the birthplaces and important pilgrimage sites of Christ and Buddha as well as Varanasi which is of importance to Hindus. And not forgetting the various mosques in Istanbul and Morocco. It's definitely the most interesting way to learn about other religions and philosophies rather than text books!

After Lumbini we stop off at a huge white building known as the World Peace Pagoda for some photos and a nice cup of Nepali chai 😊 Then it's another long drive to Royal Chitwan National Park. En route, we stop off at a local Nepali restaurant for bhaat dhal, the local dish - the restaurant isn't a 'tourist' establishment so is extremely basic but serves up an extremely tasty lunch of rice, dhal, pickled veg and potato.

We reach Sapana Lodge in the village of Sauhara in time for dinner. As it's dark we don't appreciate the beauty of this place until the next day. It's a small, friendly resort consisting of two large villas. We're in one of the upper villas which are all beautifully decorated with local handicrafts. The group has dinner al fresco in the lovely organic restaurant with the best red wine I've tasted in ages (Indian wine was foul!).

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