Although eclipsed by Hinduism in the land where it was born, the origins of Buddhism are rooted in the Terai plains of Nepal, where Prince Siddhartha Gautama was born into a royal family in the ancient kingdom of Kapilavastu, and went on to found a faith that at one time claimed most of Asia, from Sri Lanka and Maldives to Tibet, Afghanistan and Mongolia.Despite the global reach of Buddhism, this epic story began in the 5th century BC in the humble village of Lumbini, today a dusty detour from the truck-clogged highway connecting India and Nepal. In the years immediately following Buddha’s death – or at least, his release from the mortal plane – Lumbini was the centre of a thriving religious community, directly inspired by the remembered teachings of the living Buddha. His followers soon erected a miniature city of brick stupas, tanks and prayer halls around the sacred spot where Prince Siddhartha entered the world

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