There are compelling reasons for believing that the present site of Lumbini, the Buddha’s birthplace, is the result of an astonishing hoax. The details of its discovery in 1896 reveal a tale of deception and intrigue, which is now told for the first time.
At present, controversy continues to surround the location of Kapilavastu, the Buddha’s native town, with both India and Nepal promoting bids for this historically significant site. The Indian claim is based on the finds made at Piprahwa, in Basti District, Uttar Pradesh; the Nepalese, by that of Tilaurakot and its surrounding sites, in the Western Tarai of Nepal. It is my intention in this paper, however, to demonstrate that neither of these claims can be considered as acceptable, and to show that equal doubt attaches to the present site of Lumbini also. I further propose to nominate what I believe to be the correct locations for these and other major Buddhist sites, and to give detailed evidence in support of these proposals.