Nepal urges tourists to visit Buddha's birthplace
Those on an adventure holiday in Nepal are being urged to visit the location where Buddha is believed to have been born more than 2,500 years ago.
Nepal’s president Rambaran Yadav launched an official campaign on Saturday (January 14th) to promote Lumbini in south-western Nepal - the birthplace of Prince Siddhartha, who would later go on to achieve enlightenment and found the Buddhist religion.
It is hoped the campaign, dubbed Visit Lumbini Year, will raise awareness of the location to both pilgrims and tourists from around the world.
"Let us spread peace not just in the country and among our people, but also in the world," commented President Yadav at the opening ceremony.
According to the Associated Press, tourism officials hope the campaign will entice hundreds of thousands of visitors to Lumbini.
The launch of Visit Lumbini Year was held in front of a crowd of some 3,000 people at Lumbini Garden, a complex of trees, ponds and monasteries and a popular destination for Buddhists from all over the world.
"Our campaign is to spread the message of brotherhood, love and compassion for world peace," Karma Sangbo, a Buddhist monk coordinating the campaign, told the news provider.
Located in the foothills of the Himalayas around 150 miles south-west of the capital Katmandu, Lumbini is renowned for its beauty as well as its religious significance.
It is generally believed among Buddhists that Prince Siddhartha was born in 563 BC on full moon day of the sixth month of Nepal's lunar calendar, which falls in April/May.
Legend has it that his mother Queen Maha Maya Devi was travelling from the town of Kapilvastu to her parents' home in Devadaha.
During the journey, she was so taken with the natural beauty of Lumbini Garden as she passed through that she decided to take rest and gave birth to the future Buddha under a large sal tree.