Kapilvastu (Buddhist Pilgrimages in Nepal )
Although the opinion on the origin and precise location of Kapilvastu is not unanimous, it is generally agreed that it was the
place where Lord Buddha spent the first three decades of his life in princely luxury before he ventured into the world outside
it. Pali texts, however, place the origin of Kapilvastu two centuries before the life of the Buddha, having been built by
the students of the great philosopher Kapila.
Kapilvastu is located in Nepal, approximately 55 km west of Lumbini by road. The summers are hot and dry and the winters
are cold and moderate. The best time to visit would be the time period between October and April. The languages spoken in this
general region are Hindi, Nepali, and English.
The significance of Kapilvastu lies in several consequential historical events that occurred in or around it. It was the centre
of the Shakya kingdom, of which the Buddha’s father, king Shudhodhan was the ruler. It was also where the Buddha spent the first
twenty nine years of his life in the only other manner he had known apart from the homeless asceticism he adopted thereafter,
which was flamboyant luxury. It was also here, in Kapilvastu that the Buddha, at the time, of course, simply Siddhartha, encountered
what is popularly referred to as the Four Great Sights, that is, an old man, a sick man, a corpse, and finally an ascetic.
Shortly after seeing these four sights, on the young prince’s very first trip into his kingdom nonetheless, he left the luxury of
the palace to attain enlightenment, and returned twelve years later, as the Enlightened One, or the Buddha. It is said that upon
his return, several members of his family, including his son Rahula and some of his own cousins joined the monastic order he now
endorsed. The Buddhist texts found here and a few other sites are the primary source of information on the Shakya kingdom, and
hence the factual integrity of this information has diminished over the centuries.
Country : Nepal
State : Western Region of Nepal
Location :Indo-Nepal border in the Dhaulagiri, Gandaki And Lumbini Zone.
Climate :Summer - Hot; Winter - Cold and moderate
Best time to visit :October to April
Significance : Lord Buddha spent 29 years of His early life.
Languages : Hindi, Nepali and English
Festival :Buddha Mahotsava
Places of interest in Kapilvastu
Eastern Stupa Complex :
seals and inscriptions from what may be referred to as the golden age of Buddhism have been found here in excavations made as recently as 1973. Further research has revealed these to be from the time period of the ruler Kanishka, an emperor from the Kushan dynasty.
Mahindra Mahavihara :
a modest monastery that offers Buddhist teachings, it is named after the son of Ashoka, king Mahindra.
The Royal Palace :
the same excavation expeditions carried out in 1973-74 which unearthed the Eastern Stupa Complex also found the remains of the Royal Palace of King Shuddhodhan, the father of Lord Gautama Buddha, where he spent the first three decades of his life as a prince.
Places of interest near Kapilvastu
55 km east of Kapilvastu, Lumbini is the birthplace of Lord Buddha, and houses many sites of great importance to Buddhist history, like the Maya Devi temple, and statue, among others.
this is where Lord Buddha passed away, and one of the only four places wished by him to serve as future pilgrimage sites. One finds exquisite Ashokan contributions to the importance of this site among other noteworthy ruins.
Airways : the closest airport is the Bhairahawa airport, which connects one to the more accessible Kathmandu airport. Varanasi may also prove to be a prudent choice in terms of air travel, depending on one’s route.
Railways : Siddhartha Nagar station, which lies 20 km away from Kapilvastu is the closest railway station, and fairly well connected to the major railroads of India.
Roadways : Kapilvastu is well connected to most of Nepal, and one also has the option of buses or private taxis from Indian cities such as Luckhnow and Varanasi. Buses are also regularly available from the Kathmandu airport.