Kapilvastu – Capital of Buddha’s Shakya Dynasty in Nepal

28 km from Lumbini. Kapilvastu situated in the west was the capital of King Shuddhodhana. Gautam Buddha was the son of King Shuddhodhan of Shakya dynasty. There is disagreement over the geographical location of Kapilvastu, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha. At present it is difficult to determine whether Kapilvastu is located at Tilaurakot in Nepal or at Piprahwa, on the Indian side of the India-Nepal border. Although both these places are located very close to Lumbini. Therefore, according to the current international boundary, Kapilvastu, the birthplace of Buddha i.e. Prince Siddhartha, could be one of these two places.

After my visit to Kapilvastu, I am presenting my experiences and memories before you. Hope this will prove useful in preparation for your Kapilvastu Yatra. While preparing for my own journey I had to face great difficulties in obtaining information on Kapilavastu. Therefore, it is my endeavor with all my heart that the readers of Indiatel who want to visit Kapilvastu can get correct guidance regarding the archaeological remains around Kapilvastu. One fact worth keeping in mind is that Kapilvastu is not a city or village, but a district of Nepal. Therefore, a visit to ancient Kapilvastu means visiting many small and big sightseeing places. Most of them belong to the early days of Buddha and Buddhism.

The kings of Ikshvaku dynasty named this place after Kapil Muni. Lord Ram of Ayodhya was also a descendant of this dynasty.

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Kapilavastu – birthplace of many Buddhas

The Lord Buddha with whom most people are familiar is Shakyamuni Buddha. But according to Buddhism, there were many Bodhisattvas who were on the path to becoming Buddha. According to some texts, there were 5 Bodhisattva Buddhas before Shakyamuni Buddha.

Archaeological evidence of 3 Buddhas including Shakyamuni Buddha has been found in Kapilavastu.

You can get more information on this topic from ‘ Ancient Website ‘.


Tilaurakot means city of three pillars – Laura is pillar in the local language. This city was established after the Maurya dynasty. Because these are the same three pillars which were established by Emperor Ashoka during his pilgrimage to Kapilvastu. It is said that Emperor Ashoka took with him many pillars engraved with inscriptions during his pilgrimage. Whenever he reached any important place, he used to get these pillars installed there. It was through these records that we got information about that era and this place.

Archaeologists conclude that there was a palace of Shakya kings in Tilaurakot. It was here that Lord Buddha spent the first 29 years of his life as Prince Siddhartha Gautam. Even today you can see the thick walls and moats around this city. This fort, built more than 2600 years ago, is relatively small. Geological surveys of Tilaurakot point towards the structures of some royal buildings deep inside the earth. Many of these structures have been excavated and some are yet to be excavated.

When you reach Tilaurakot, you will see the western gate of this fort, the meeting hall, some basements, two stupas, a temple, some walls and the eastern gate. It was from this eastern gate that Siddhartha left his grand palace and the royal life associated with it. That is why it is also called Mahadwar.

Stories of Buddha’s sacrifice

Many of you must have heard or read the story of Prince Siddhartha’s renunciation of worldly pleasures. On the birth of Siddhartha, son of King Shuddhodhana and Queen Mayadevi, Saint Asita had prophesied that the prince, after attaining supreme knowledge, would dedicate his life for the welfare of the people. Fearing the loss of his only son, the king kept the prince within the walls. His marriage and son Rahul were born inside the palace. One day his eyes fell on an old man, a sick man and a dead man. These scenes shocked the mind of Siddhartha, who was unaware of this form of life. Abandoning all worldly pleasures, he set out to search for the meaning of life. And this world attained Buddha.

During the visit to Tilaurakot, my visitor told me two more famous stories behind Lord Buddha’s renunciation of worldly pleasures and attainment of sainthood.

Second story

Siddhartha’s mother Mayadevi belonged to the Shakya dynasty, his stepmother Prajapati Gautami and his wife Yashoda belonged to the Kaulia dynasty of Devdaha. Siddharth also spent some of his childhood here. But the Shakya dynasty had enmity with the Kaulia dynasty over the ownership of the water of a river. Due to this dispute, a war-like situation had arisen between the two. Prince Siddhartha took the initiative to resolve this dispute. In the enthusiasm of youth, he vowed that if he was unable to resolve this water dispute, he would leave the palace and go to live in the forest. Unfortunately, he failed to resolve the dispute and abandoned the palace as promised.

Third story

According to this story, King Shuddhodhan had organized a grand celebration on the birth of his grandson Rahul. Beautiful dancers were invited from far and wide. Everyone including Siddharth enjoyed the entire night of this festival. In the morning Siddhartha saw filth and ugliness all around and he felt sad. The dancers who looked so attractive and beautiful last night were doing so without make-up and under the influence of alcohol, bordering on indecency. He realized that beauty is fleeting. He became disenchanted with this royal life and decided to leave the palace in search of truth.

Now it is up to you which story you believe. Personally, the second story seems more likely to me. I really like the stories told by the local people while travelling. These stories of faith of the local residents are often unknown and sometimes literature related to them is also not available. These survive orally from generation to generation.

Tour of Tilaurakot of Kapilvastu

The remains 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.

There is a lotus pond in the middle of the remains of the fort. Once upon a time, this pond was a part of the garden built for the enjoyment of the royal family.

Time-Mai Temple of Tilaurakot

While visiting Tilaurakot, I saw a unique temple. This temple is dedicated to Samay-Mai i.e. the goddess of time. This is the only living structure among these inanimate remains of Tilaurakot. Hundreds of elephant statues of different sizes are placed around this temple. On getting the information, it came to light that when the wish made here is fulfilled, the devotees offer an elephant idol to the goddess. The Pindi form of the goddess is worshiped inside the temple. However, there is also a statue of a goddess riding an elephant. I saw similar elephants in other small temples here also.

According to my visitor Shivpal, the kings of Shakya dynasty used to worship Goddess Samay-Mai before going to war. That is, the kings of Shakya dynasty, like other kings, used to invoke Mother Shakti before the war.

Outer complex of Tilaurakot Fort

Two interesting places were seen outside the walls of Tilaurakot fort. One was the stupa dedicated to Buddha’s horse Kantak. Kantak was the horse on which Prince Siddhartha i.e. Buddha left the palace. After that, he was sent back to the palace. The second site pointed towards the existence of an ancient iron factory. However, to reach the mound on which the remains of this workshop are situated, one has to cover some distance on foot. My tour guide told me that to his knowledge I was the first person to suffer this. Otherwise, the rest of the tourists would just get the information and move ahead. I am happy that I made efforts in this direction and I also got results from it. I got the opportunity to see small iron grooves of the pre-Buddha era. In my opinion, this was a factory for making iron weapons and other iron items. To avoid a polluted environment, it was constructed far away from the city.

At present there is only a heap of iron remains mixed with soil. Due to this reason, the land of this area has become barren. Archaeologists have feared the presence of thousands of tons of iron remains here. From this, the vastness of the factory can be estimated.

Another thing that impressed me here is that every important tourist spot has a map of that place which gives information about that place to the tourists. Although there was a lack of directions, I did not face any difficulty in finding the places due to a lack of time.

Tilaurakot Museum

There is a small archaeological museum about 400 meters away from Tilaurakot Fort. This is the most basic museum I have ever seen. The main artifacts kept in the two rooms are –

  • Stone idols
  • Red terracotta idols
  • Coins
  • Gray and red pottery
  • Pearls
  • Bricks used in different eras of history
  • Items obtained by excavation of caves
  • In Tilaurakot pore-forming structures found


Gotihava is related to Krakuchhand Buddha. We get this information from the inscriptions written on the Ashoka Pillar standing here. This pillar was also established by Emperor Ashoka during his pilgrimage. Records of Chinese travelers show that this Ashoka pillar had a lion-headed pillar on top. During the excavation, archaeologists discovered a stupa here. They also found signs of human civilization of 9-10th century AD here.


Presently this stupa is in the form of a mound on which a huge tree stands. Ashoka Pillar was built next to this stupa.

Although the Ashoka Pillar is situated at its original place but at present it is broken. Only some part of its base remains. But its importance is clearly visible from the gold leaves stuck on it and the colorful flags around it.

To see the Stupa and Ashoka Pillar of Gotihawa, one has to cross a long unpaved road. Still, there is a prosperous village situated around it.


Kudan was known by the name Nigrodharam in ancient times. For the convenience of Gautam Buddha’s rest, the Shakyas had built a monastery called Nigrodharam in a peaceful environment outside the city. This is the same place where Gautam Buddha first met his family members after attaining enlightenment. Here he met his parents, stepmother Prajapati Gautami, his wife and son. His stepmother had gifted him clothes. Ultimately they all joined Gautam Buddha in spreading Buddhism.

Archaeologists discovered 3 stupas during excavations in Kudan. On top of one of these stupas, like the Chaukhandi Stupa of Sarnath , the Ashtabhuja temple is established. A pond was also dug here for the convenience of Buddha and other monks.
There is also a unique well made of bricks.

The main stupa is made of bricks and can be climbed. I saw a unique Shivalinga on top of this stupa. Looking at the bricks on this stupa reminded me of the bricks on Nalanda. The bricks on the upper surface were made specifically for the decoration of the stupa.

Swallow the air

Niglihawa is a small compound situated on a deserted road. Inside this courtyard, an Ashoka pillar broken into two pieces is kept. Of these, the shorter piece is dug into the ground and is standing slightly at an angle, while the longer lower part is separated from the base and is lying near it. No one here has information about the missing top of this pillar. This pillar was also established by Emperor Ashoka during his pilgrimage. According to the inscription written on this pillar, this pillar stands on the site of a stupa inside which the mortal remains of Kanakamuni Buddha were kept. Later, this fact was also confirmed by Chinese travelers. The place where this stupa stood no longer exists. In my estimation, this stupa might have been demolished to make way for the pond located near the courtyard.

I saw many peacock carvings on this pillar. The inscriptions written on it appeared something new to me. The custodian called it the first ancient inscription but later agreed to the fact that inscriptions were carved on the pillar after it was discovered from the pond.

Kanakamuni Buddha is also known as Koagaman Buddha and Kanakagamana.

The statue of Kanakamuni Buddha is installed in a small temple located near the courtyard. This black colored idol has been decorated by devotees by offering gold leaves. The design of this statue also has similarities with other Buddha statues.


Arorakote, the birthplace of Kanakamuni Buddha, is some two kilometers from Niglihawa. There is an ancient city located far away. In the name of this city, only the decaying remains of a wall can be seen here. They are also visible only after searching carefully. This remains covered with soil is waiting for excavation by archaeologists.

Sea ​​breeze

According to legends, the Shakya dynasty had enmity with the Kosala kingdom located south of the Shakya border. With the intention of revenge, the Kosala army had massacred the Shakyas. In memory of the same deceased Shakyas, their descendants had built thousands of memorial stupas. It is said that all these stupas were located in Sagarhawa. Many of these stupas were discovered by Dr. Fuhrer in 1890.

At present there is only one pond here. I also saw many cranes swimming in that pond.

Jagdishpur Reservoir

This is a large reservoir best suited for bird watching. It was established in 1970 for irrigation. This reservoir filled with the water of Banganga is surrounded by agricultural land and some small ponds. This is the largest and most important reservoir of Nepal.

Tips to visit Kapilvastu, Nepal

  • It takes 6-8 hours to visit the sightseeing places mentioned in this memoir. This also includes the travel time to and from Lumbini.
  • No food and drink facilities are available at most places. Therefore, keep your food items with you.
  • Visitors are available to get information about the ancient remains in Tilaurakot. But there is no facility available to provide information at other places.
  • The documents available in Tilaurakot give you so much information that you can complete your visit to other places even without visiting them.
  • If there is a shortage of time, then you can be overwhelmed with the joy of Kapilvastu darshan even by spending a few hours only in Tilaurakot.
  • Here it is necessary to buy tickets only for visiting the museum. Visiting the remaining sites is free.