Lumbini: a living World Heritage Site
Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, is a World Heritage Site since 1997. Situated in Rupandehi district of Western Nepal, it represents an outstanding universal value in terms of religious importance, culture, spirituality and archaeology. Lumbini is a major source of national pride with a great attraction for tourists and pilgrims from around the world.
The government of Nepal has taken various initiatives to promote and conserve this site such as, marking the year 2012 as “Lumbini Visit Year” to help in the development of the Greater Lumbini Area culturally and economically, as well as the declaration of Lumbini as Cultural Municipality earlier this year. Likewise, UNESCO has been continuously assisting the government to manage and protect the site by implementing major preservation projects on the site, publishing books and articles, producing a documentary film presenting the essential elements of Lumbini.
The UNESCO project “Strengthening the Conservation and Management of Lumbini, the Birthplace of Lord Buddha”, funded by the Government of Japan aims to support the national authorities to protect and manage this World Heritage Site and to safeguard the cultural assets of the Greater Lumbini Area, in particular of Tilaurakot, the archaeological remains of the ancient Shakya Kingdom where Lord Buddha lived as Prince Siddhartha until the age of 29, and Ramagrama, the only unopened relic stupa of Lord Buddha. The project will also help in better understanding of the early life of Buddha.
The long term preservation of Lumbini can be achieved when harmonious and sustainable development of the Greater Lumbini Area goes hand-in-hand with the preservation of the historical remains and the the respect of the pilgrims’ and monks’ religious needs. Sustainable development is possible only when the communities living in the area are empowered. A proper and long term vision is essential to make this site a major center for tourists and pilgrims from all over the world and to preserve it as living heritage.