Travel Blog-Day 18
Day 18: Lumbini
Today I went to the Theravada side of the canal. Again the map in Lonely Planet was not really accurate. The signs on the path weren’t either. What was nice is that it was a pleasant, cool day and wasn’t raining. After turning right at the eternal flame, there was a very big bell, quite impressive. The road split in two; at that point there were signs for the monasteries and temples, but no arrows for direction. I decided to go straight. After about five minutes, I came to a raging river. The road just stopped and continued on the other side. I assumed this was not the way to any monasteries. I turned back and on my right was a little road I had not taken before. It turned out to be the way to the Sri Lankan Monastery. The guidebook said it was being built, this was 2009, and construction was going very slowly. Well, this is 2011 and it is finished and very beautiful. I walked around the monastery and found an open-air hall filled with pillars, in the center was the classic statue of the baby Buddha with his right finger pointing up. Surrounding the hall of pillars were little alcoves with murals showing events in the life of the Buddha. The murals were very well done with one intriguing quirk; all of the women were extremely hot (as in sexy hot). One mural showed Mahadevi (the Buddha’s mother) having the dream she had when she first became pregnant of a dancing white baby elephant. Mahadevi is lying on her right side sleeping. She’s gorgeous. Later, in the mural showing the ascetic Buddha being offering rice gruel; Sujati, the girl who gave him the rice gruel is extremely hot and only has on a sheer scarf covering her breasts and another covering her hips. I mean its almost animé in its over the top, cartoon like, bigger than life depictions of these women.
I turned left after leaving the Sri Lankan Monastery and left again. I came to the Gautami Nun’s Temple. It is the only place for women in Lumbini Pilgrimage Park. The grounds are large. There’s a pond in the middle that is very quit and pleasant. The nun’s wear pink robes. A rope blocks entrance to the temple, but it is almost an open-air temple and one can easily see inside.
Next to the Gautami Nun’s Temple is the Lokamani Pula Pagoda. This is a Burmese gold gilded Pagoda reminisce of the one in Kushinigar, but not as large. I did a kora of the pagoda and saw that, like the pagoda in Kushinigar, there are Buddhas at eight points surrounding the pagoda. What is interesting is that above each Buddha is a sign with a day of the week. This was true of the Pagoda in Kushinigar also. The signs are in English. Since I no nothing about the cultural practices of Buddhism in Burma, I don’t know what this means.
The next monastery is the Myanmar Golden Temple. Unfortunately, it is closed. From what I can see, it looks huge, impressive, and beautiful. Next to it a new Cambodian Temple complex is being built. The only things finished at this point are the gateways.
A few minutes down the road is the Royal Thai Buddhist Monastery. The sign on the gate says Royat Thai, but everywhere else it’s spelled correctly. I walk through the monastery gates and am accosted by a very big, violent looking dog. A monk, who had been gardening, jumps up and grabs the dog’s collar and is yelling at the dog. The dog did follow me though the rest of the time I was there. The Thai Temple is extraordinarily striking. It is covered in pure white marble. Inside is a meditation hall. The whole complex is exceptionally magnificent. The gardens surrounding the temple, though marred by construction, have a beautiful section filled with pillars. It began to drizzle.
I walk in the drizzle, its rather pleasant, to the end of the canal where there is the Lumbini Museum. It doesn’t open until 10:00. It’s only 8:30, so I decide to go on to the World Peace Pagoda and come back later. To get there, I walk through the Lumbini Crane Sanctuary. This is a wetlands area dedicated to preserving the Sarus crane. It’s very peaceful. Even though I don’t see any cranes, I hear a few. I get to the World Peace Pagoda; a guy is trying to start a lawn mower in order to cut the grass. It is drizzling and yesterday there was a downpour. The grass is soaking wet, but he really wants to cut the grass. The World Peace Pagoda is imposing. It was built in commemoration of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and is dedicated to World peace.
I walk back to the Lumbini Museum and get there at 9:55, so I have to wait five minutes. I sit down, a guy rides up on his motorbike and changes into his security guard uniform in front of me. He says we have to wait for the ticket lady. She shows up about 10:15. I fill out a form in a book. I give her money; she tells me to go around the corner to in order to buy the ticket. I get there; she has walked through the museum and is sitting at a table with a ticket in front of her. I buy the ticket. She tells me to go to the entrance of the museum, where we just were. I give the ticket to the security guard and he let’s me in. The museum itself is trying very hard. Even though the building is large, there is not much there, mainly photos and reproductions. Over time, I believe it will become a very good museum.
Walking through the Theravada side to leave the grounds, I go to the Myanmar Golden Temple again to see if it’s open. It’s still closed.
After lunch I take a walk on the road next to the Lumbini Pilgrimage Park, but leaving Lumbini itself. I see a beautiful Tibetan Monastery and Temple. I go and see that it is called Tashi Rabten Ling Monastery and is a Sakyapa monastery. The temple is closed so I take pictures of the outside. A monk in his late 20’s opens up a door and asks if I want to go inside. It is, like nearly all Tibetan Temples, stunningly beautiful.
Bell at Lumbini Pilgrimage Park
Buddhist Mural at Sri Lankan Monastery
Lokamani Pula Pagoda
Royal Thai Buddhist Monastery
World Peace Pagoda
Myanmar Golden Temple
Tashi Rabten Ling Monastery
Inside Tashi Rabten Ling Monastery
Altar Inside Tashi Rabten Ling Monastery