Lumbini is a place in Nepal, which is a pilgrimage site for Buddhist followers because it is the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama. But the Lumbini festival, which is a much-awaited Buddhist festival of the year, is hosted in the city of Nizams, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.
The motive of the festival is to exhibit the rich Buddhist heritage and culture that is an innate part of this city which is also famous for pearls. The venue for this annual 3-day festival, that is held in the second week of December, is Nagarjunasagar in Hyderabad.
The Lumbini festival is organized by Andhra Pradesh Tourism Department to boost spiritual tourism in the state and highlight the history of Hyderabad and Buddhism which is 2000 years old. Many people believe that Buddhism was only prevalent in the northern and northeastern states of India like Ladakh, Sikkim, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, and others but that’s not true.
Buddhism became prevalent down south, majorly in Hyderabad, 2000 years ago and was a renowned centre for Buddhist activities, events, and festivals. According to some popular reports, Andhra Pradesh has approximately 140 Buddhist sites which prove that southern India was also enlightened by the teachings of Gautama Buddha. Hyderabad also has a popular Buddha statue located in the middle of Hussain Sagar. The statue has been carved from a single rock and is known as a monolith statue with a height of 72 feet that weighs more than 450 tons.
The Festival is that time of the year when the teachings of Gautama Buddha are commemorated. The participation of various sculptors, artisans, and painters is another major highlight of this festival as they demonstrate the life of Buddha and his teachings in a creative manner through their art.
1. Monolith Buddha Statue. The statue is believed to be the largest single rock statue of Buddha in the whole wide world. An interesting fact behind the construction of this statue is that it's inspired by the Statue of Liberty in New York. It is claimed that when the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Late N. T. Rama Rao visited New York, he was so impressed by the Statue of Liberty that he planned to have something similar in his state as well. After returning, he chose to have the statue of Gautama Buddha in the middle of the Hussain Sagar lake.
2. Special Celebration at the Port of Visakhapatnam. Lumbini Festival celebrations are not limited to Nagarjunasagar, one may also head to the port of Visakhapatnam to take part in many activities related to art and craft. During the Lumbini festival, Visakhapatnam which is approx. 600km away from Hyderabad also witnesses an increase in the number of tourist footfall as it is the hub of craftsmen and artisans. People visit the port to admire their art and their interpretations of Buddha’s teachings and his life.
3. Buddha Preachings. It is not a religious get-together, the motive of the Lumbini Festival is to spread Buddha preachings amongst people especially youngsters. One can attend several sessions by Buddhist monks and learn some life-changing preachings.
Hyderabad is quite a popular tourist destination that has been attracting domestic and foreign tourists to its ancient sites, palaces, temples, events, culture, and cuisine. The city has a well-developed transportation infrastructure that allows tourists from all parts of the country to arrive here comfortably and conveniently.
Nagarjunasagar, where the festival is organised, is located at an approximate distance of 1,700, 850, 1,400, and 630 km from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru respectively. Continue reading to find out some popular modes and routes of travelling to Hyderabad.
By Air. Rajiv Gandhi International Airport is the nearest airport to Nagarjunasagar. From the airport, one has to cover a distance of 25km via a local taxi or a bus to reach the venue.
You can choose to travel via AirAsia, AirIndia, SpiceJet, IndiGo, GoAir, and Vistara from Delhi and Mumbai on their direct flights to Hyderabad. From Kolkata, you have AirAsia, IndiGo, GoAir, and AirIndia to choose from if you are looking for airlines that are offering non-stop flights to Hyderabad. However, from Bengaluru, you have airlines like AirAsia, SpiceJet, IndiGo, and GoAir in the bucket list for non-stop flights. You can also board direct flights from Coimbatore, Mysuru, and Chennai to Hyderabad airport at highly competitive prices.
By Rail. If you are planning to commute to Nagarjunasagar via rail network then you have to get down at Hyderabad Deccan railway station, which is 150km away from the Lumbini festival venue.
The station receives trains like Dakshin Express, and Telangana Express from Delhi, Husain Sagar Express, and Konark Express from Mumbai, Falaknuma Express and East Coast Express from Kolkata, and Jaipur Express and Kacheguda Express from Bengaluru.
From nearby prominent cities like Coimbatore, you may board trains like Sabari Express, Jaipur Express from Mysuru, Hyderabad Express and Charminar Express from Chennai and VSG Howrah Express from Ballari Junction Station.
By Road. Going to Nagarjunasagar by road will allow you to admire the beauty of the villages, towns, and cities on your way. To give you an approximate idea, you will have to cover the following distance and route from the nearby prominent cities.
You can also travel via inter-state tourist buses to Hyderabad at fairly economical prices.