The Mayadevi Temple is a heart of Lumbini and GLBC. It houses the Marker Stone, the Nativity Sculpture and the structural ruins, all related to the birth of Lord Sakyamuni Buddha. The Marker Stone pinpoints the exact birth spot and the Nativity Sculpture depicts the birth scene of the Prince Siddhartha.
Archaeological excavations have revealed that the structural ruins belong to the different phases of Mayadevi Temple’s constructions and restorations over the centuries. Emperor Asoka during his visit to Lumbini in 249 century BC, built a platform using the burnt bricks to safeguard the Marker Stone and the Nativity Tree under which Mayadevi had given birth to Prince Siddhartha. The Mayadevi Temple was re-discovered in 1896 by General Khadga Shamsher and Dr. Anton Fuhrer, and identified Lumbini as the birthplace of Lord Sakyamuni Buddha with reference of the Asoka Pillar. Later, Keshar Shumsher excavated the mound of early Mayadevi Temple and reconstructed it in 1939. The present day Mayadevi Temple was rebuilt in 2003 by Lumbini Development Trust.
The structural ruins inside Mayadevi Temple belong to 6th century BC to 15th century AD. It consists of 15 box chambers arranged in 5 rows in east-west and 3 rows in north-south direction as well as a circumambulatory path surrounded by an outer wall. The archaeological excavation undertaken by Department of Archaeology, Lumbini Development Trust and Durham University (UK) during 2010-2013 AD uncovered a timber shrine dating back to the 6th century BC. During the excavation a pre-Mauryan brick structure, each brick measuring 49×36×7 cm in size and 20kg in weight from underneath the present visible layers of ruins was also uncovered. These evidences suggest that the first Mayadevi Temple was built immediately after the Mahaparinirvana of Lord Sakyamuni Buddha in Lumbini that witnessed various restorations and reconstructions over the major historical periods.
The Marker Stone marks the exact location of the birth spot of Prince Siddhartha in Lumbini. The meticulous excavation of the Mayadevi Temple i) The Marker Stone ii) The Nativity Sculpture ii i Structural ruins inside the Mayadevi temple 39 (1992-1996) discovered the Marker Stone on the top of a platform consisting of seven layers of bricks from the 3rd century BC. Chinese traveler Hsuan Tsang (636 AD) describes the existence of the Marker Stone 25 steps to the north of the sacred pond. It is a sandstone based conglomerate measuring 70 cm x 40 cm x10 cm in size.
The Nativity Sculpture depicts the birth scene of Prince Sidhartha. Mayadevi is depicted holding a branch of a tree (possibly the sal tree) as Prajapati Gautami supports her during the delivery. The newly born baby is shown below standing on a lotus pedestal. Two celestial figures (Brahma and Indra), are receiving the newly born Prince Siddhartha. The red sandstone sculpture is said to be carved by Mathura School of Art in the 4th century. The scientific excavation by P. C. Mukherji in 1899 AD discovered the main part of the Nativity Sculpture.