Buddha and the Birds - Lumbini Day Trip
My alarm rings bright and early at 4a.m. for a day of birdwatching with our team of naturalists, along with my introduction to Buddhist culture in Nepal. We set off along the three hour road trip to Lumbini – the birthplace of the Lord Buddha, which also happens to be rich with natural bird habitats and breeding pairs of the elegant Sarus Crane. Along the way we stop several times at different bird sighting spots. There was great excitement from the naturalists at the spotting of the Indian Grey Hornbill – a bird more common in the low wetlands of Lumbini than in Chitwan National Park. After over two hours in the car, the general consensus was that birdwatching is more productive on a full stomach! In true Nepali fashion, we stop for a delicious breakfast of egg fried rice with vegetables from our organic farm, packed up for us by the dedicated kitchen staff bright and early that morning.
As we reach Jagadishpur Lake, we are greeted by the stunning views of the manmade reservoir, filled with ducks, geese and birds as far as the eye can see. Our naturalists set up the equipment and settle into a morning of birdwatching all around the lake.
Among the species identified, we saw the Lesser Adjutant, the Sarus Crane in their breeding pairs, Purple Heron, Indian Grey Hornbill, Black-headed Ibis, Grey Frankolin, Purple Swamp Head, Common Coot, Gadwall Duck, Mallard Duck, Eurasian Wigeon, Eurasian Marsh Harrier and the Booted Eagle, along with many others. It was a delightful morning spent with a group of highly enthusiastic naturalists and I learned more than I thought possible in a single day.
One the way to Buddha’s Birthplace, we visited The International Crane Foundation, which provided additional learning opportunities. The foundation has also created the Lumbini Crane Sanctuary, protecting the local bird and crane habitat. It was well worth the visit!
Our last stop of the day was Buddha’s Birthplace – Lumbini, where history states Queen Mayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism. What a beautiful, spiritual place! Some of the many visitors were Buddhists from around the world who had made the pilgrimage to Lumbini. As well as the Mayadevi Temple, which houses the site where Buddha is said to have been born, the monastic zone also features an ancient bathing pond and a sacred Barr Tree. We also took the time to visit the World Peace Pagoda, and some of the many peace temples built on behalf of countries around the world, including Myanmar, Thailand, France, China and Japan.
After a light lunch of noodles and momos, we ended our tour with the beautiful, scenic drive home, stopping once again in the hopes of seeing the Spotted Bush Warbler. We were rewarded, and a group of tired but satisfied naturalists arrived back at the lodge later that evening.