Buddhist Circuit in Nepal
Greater Lumbini Area
The GLA, which encompasses some of the most significant Buddhist sites in the world, cuts across some of Nepal and South Asia’s poorest areas. Its districts face numerous developmental challenges from unplanned growth, inadequate or absent basic services, lack of income generation opportunities, and gender-based discrimination. Tourists visits mostly for a few hours and spend very little money locally. Visitors report that there is not much to do, and point out the poor maintenance of sites, inadequate services, and a paucity of information as some of the main reasons for not staying longer and spending more. Air and dust pollution from neighbouring industrial plants and local cement and brick factories have not only led to unhealthy living conditions, but are also threatening Lumbini’s landscape and once peaceful atmosphere. The challenge is not only to extend visitor stays and increase money spent locally through improved services, engaging and accurate interpretation and attractions, but also to ensure that Lumbini’s cultural landscape and its historical, natural and living heritage are properly protected and managed for lasting local benefits. To address such challenges through the proposed GLA Integrated Master Plan Framework, it was agreed that the main areas of focus should be: (a) Integrated cultural landscape approach to regional development planning. (b) Focus on local economic development. (c) Emphasis on provision of green local services and multi-modal infrastructure. (d) Convergence for effective planning and programming. (e) Incremental results. (f) Cross-border integration with Indian Buddhist sites.
Situation Assessment includes historical context associated with Buddha’s life in Nepal and existing profile of GLA from socioeconomic, cultural, environmental and governance perspectives, and a review of the existing plans for the development of the area which have been formulated over the past 40 years.
Master Plan Framework
The framework aims at guiding the development of the region and the provision of new infrastructure and investments in a way that stewards while ensuring future protection of its cultural landscape and assets as well as promotes increased economic opportunities for the local communities. Emphasis to be given to rescue Lumbini’s cultural landscape character and re-link its multiple sites and tangible and intangible assets, such as queen Maya Devi’s walking route from Tilaurakot-Kapilvastu to Lumbini, through low impact green infrastructure and services, stewardship measures and inclusive local job creation.
This social enterprise – the Ama Café – aims to provide the government with a model on how to generate employment and economic opportunities to the poor women of Lumbini, building upon the rich local arts and crafts culture, the sites history and the region’s cultural landscape.