Lumbini’s 24 km Kapilavastu located to the west was the capital of King Shuddhodhana. Gautama Buddha was the son of King Shuddhodana of the Shakya dynasty. There are differences in the geographical location of Kapilvastu, the birthplace of Gautama Buddha. At present, it is difficult to determine whether Kapilavastu is located in Tilaurakot in Nepal or on the Indo-Nepal borderline of India, in Piprahwa. However, both these places are located very close to Lumbini. Therefore, according to the current international boundaries, Kapilavastu, the birthplace of Buddha i.e. Prince Siddhartha, can be one of these two places.
After my visit to Kapilvastu, I am putting my experience and memories before you. Hope this will prove useful in the preparation of your Kapilavastu Yatra. While preparing for my own journey, I had to face great difficulties in getting information on Kapilavastu. Therefore, it is my endeavor with all my heart that Inditeel readers who want to visit Kapilvastu can get the right guidance regarding the archaeological remains around Kapilvastu. One fact worth noting is that Kapilavastu is not a city or village, but a district in Nepal. Therefore, a visit to ancient Kapilvastu means many small and big sightseeing tours. Most of them belong to the early days of Buddha and Buddhism.
The kings of the Ikshvaku dynasty named the place after Kapil Muni. Lord Rama of Ayodhya was also a descendant of this dynasty.
Kapilavastu – Birthplace of many Buddhas
The Lord Buddha is familiar to most people is Shakyamuni Buddha. But according to Buddhism, there were many Bodhisattvas who were on their way to become Buddha. According to some texts, there are 5 Bodhisattva Buddha before Shakyamuni Buddha.
Archaeological evidence of 3 Buddhas including Shakyamuni Buddha has been found in Kapilavastu.
You can get more information on this subject from the ‘Ancient Website’.
Tilaurakot means the city of three pillars – Laura is a pillar in the local language. The city was established after the Maurya dynasty. Because these are the three pillars that were founded by Emperor Ashoka during his pilgrimage to Kapilavastu. It is said that during his pilgrimage, Emperor Ashoka carried many inscriptions with pillars. Whenever they reached an important place, they used to get these pillars established there. It was through these records that we got information about that era and this place.
Archaeologists conclude that Tilaurakot had a palace of Shakya kings. It was here that Lord Buddha spent the first 29 years of his life as Prince Siddhartha Gautama. You can still see thick walls and trenches around this city. This fort, built more than 2400 years ago, is relatively small. Geographical surveys of Tilaurakot point to the structures of some royal buildings within the earth. Many of these structures have been pulled out by excavation and some are yet to be excavated.
When you reach Tilaurakot, you will see the western gate of this fort, a hall, some basements, two stupas, a temple, some walls, and the eastern gate. It was from this eastern gate that Siddhartha renounced his grand palace and associated royal life. Hence it is also called Mahadwar.
Stories of renunciation of buddha
Many of you must have heard or read the saga of abandonment of worldly pleasures by Prince Siddharth. On the birth of King Shuddhodhan and Queen Mayadevi’s son Siddhartha, Saint Asita predicted that the prince would attain supreme knowledge and dedicate his life to the welfare of the people. Fearing to lose his only son, the king placed the prince within the walls. Within the palace, their marriage and son Rahul was born. One day his eyes fell on an old man, a sick person, and a dead person. Siddhartha, ignorant of this form of life, shook these scenes. After abandoning all worldly pleasures, they set out to find the meaning of life. And this world attained Buddha.
While visiting Tilaurakot, my visitor told me two more famous stories behind the renunciation of worldly pleasures of Lord Buddha and the attainment of childhood.
Mayadevi, the mother of Siddhartha of the Shakya dynasty, his step-mother Prajapati Gautami and his wife Yashoda, was of the Kauliya dynasty of Devadaha. Siddharth too spent some time of his childhood here. But there was a hatred of the Shakya dynasty from the Kaulia dynasty over the ownership of the waters of a river. Due to this dispute, a warlike situation had arisen in both. Prince Siddharth took the initiative to settle the dispute. In the excitement of puberty, he pledged that if he is unable to resolve this water dispute, he will leave the palace and go out to live in the forest. Unfortunately, they failed to resolve the dispute and abandoned the palace according to the affirmation.
According to this statement, on the birth of his grandson Rahul, King Shuddhodana organized a grand celebration. Beautiful dancers from far and wide were invited. Everyone, including Siddharth, enjoyed the festival throughout the night. In the morning, Siddharth noticed the filth and ugliness around there and his heart got upset. The dancers who looked so attractive and beautiful the previous night were doing the same, without makeup, on the limit of indecency with alcohol. He realized that beauty is fleeting. He was estranged from this princely life and decided to abandon the palace in search of the truth.
Now it is up to you which story you believe. Personally, I feel more likely to have a second story. I love the stories told by the local people en route while traveling. These stories of the faith of the local residents are often unknown and often their related literature is not available. They live orally from generation to generation.
Trip to Tilaurakot of Kapilvastu
The remnants of the thick ancient wall that surrounds Tilaurakot are called by my visitor Shivpal the ‘Great Wall of Tilaurakot’. I enjoyed walking on that wall. In the middle of the fort’s remains is a lotus pond. This pond was once part of a garden built for the fun of the Raj family.
Time-Mai Temple of Tilaurakot
While visiting Tilaurakot, I saw a unique temple. This temple is dedicated to Samay-Mai, the Goddess of Time. This is a living structure in these inanimate remains of Tilaurakot. Around this temple, hundreds of elephant statues of different sizes are placed. On getting the information, it was found that on completion of the vow made here, the devotees offer an elephant statue to the Goddess. The goddess is worshiped as Pindi from within the temple. However, there is also a statue of a goddess riding an elephant. Similar elephants also appeared to me in other small temples here.
According to my guide Shivpal, the kings of the Shakya dynasty used to worship Mai Devi before going to war. That is, the kings of the Shakya dynasty, like other kings, invoked mother power before the war.
External premises of Tilaurakot fort
Two interesting sites were seen outside the walls of the Tilaurakot fort. One was the stupa which is dedicated to the Buddha’s horse. Kantak was the horse on which Prince Siddhartha, the Buddha, had abdicated the palace. After that, he was sent back to the palace. The second site was pointing to the existence of an ancient iron factory. However, to reach the mound on which the remains of this workshop are located, one has to walk some distance. My visitor told me that according to his information I was the first one who took this trouble. Otherwise, the rest of the tourists used to proceed only after getting information. I am happy that I have tried in this direction and I have also received the result. I had the opportunity to see small iron grooves of the pre-Buddha era. By my estimation, it was a factory for making iron armaments and other iron goods. It was constructed far away from the city to avoid a polluted environment.
At present, there is only a pile of soil mixed iron residue. That is why the land of this area has become barren. Archaeologists have feared thousands of tons of iron remains here. The vastness of the factory can be estimated from this.
Another thing that impressed me here is that every important tourist place has a map of that place which gives information about that place to the tourists. Although I felt the lack of directions due to lack of time, I had no difficulty in finding places.