Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha and a world heritage site, is marked most significantly by a small temple built around the spot where he was born, and the pool in which his mother bathed before the birth. To the north of this spot, several square kilometres of land have been dedicated to the building of Buddhist monasteries by nations which have a significant Buddhist demographic. This unfortunately comes off as a bit of a willy-waving contest between the Asian countries; for example the Thai temple is placed next to the Cambodian temple, which is next to the Burmese temple. Each one issuing boasts on plaques, of how much money was invested by each country. Of course this is all very ironic as the Buddha was dead-set against ‘worldly goods’ and eschewed his own importance, which this site makes a huge deal of.
Overall, the temples were nice to visit, and very peaceful, but the lack of actual monks made the experience a little lacklustre. I must have only seen three or four monks during the entire visit and they seemed to be happily chatting to security guards rather than doing any meditation or chanting! Perhaps they were as disillusioned by this place as we were!
Unfortunately the small village on the side of the monastic zone where we had to stay was grubby and untidy, and had swarms of mosquitos that rose up from the adjoining swamp land after dusk. After looking around the main sites, we decided we had enough and booked out tickets out of there for the next day.