Kenzo Tange Master Plan for Lumbini

U Thant, Secretary-General of the United Nations, on his visit to Nepal in April 1967, proposed the development of Lumbini into a major centre of pilgrimage. This was followed by a UNDP consultant mission in December 1969, which led to a report that established the basis for further planning around Lumbini. 

In 1970, the International Committee for the Development of Lumbini (ICDL) was set up comprising initially of 13 members and later expanded to 16 member states. The initial member states were Afghanistan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Later, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Republic of Korea also joined. At the national level, the Lumbini Development Committee was formed. ICDL initiated the preparation of the Master Plan for Lumbini, which was conceptualized by Kenzo Tange starting from 1972. The Kenzo Tange Master Plan was finalized and approved in 1978.

The Kenzo Tange Master Plan covers an area of 5x5 miles with the central square mile being the Sacred Garden within which is the UNESCO World Heritage Property. Of the Master Plan, the 1x3 mile area which includes the following three zones: New Lumbini Village, Cultural/Monastic Zone and the Sacred Garden - are part of the Lumbini Project Area. The Lumbini Project Area was expropriated and brought under government ownership in the 1970s.

The 1 mile X 3mile Project Area of Kenzo Tange Master Plan.
Click on image to view original size.

The 1x3 mile Lumbini Project Area was planned out in detail based on Buddhist symbolism of geometric shapes and the path to enlightenment. The entrance is placed in the north in the New Lumbini Village from where the visitor enters the site to begin the journey from a location of “worldly” activities. Then the visitor proceeds to the Cultural & Monastic Zone for knowledge and spiritual purification, before reaching the Sacred Garden (within which is the World Heritage Property) for enlightenment. The three zones in the 1x3 mile area of the Kenzo Tange Master Plan are connected by a canal in the central link. The remaining area outside the Lumbini Project Area within the 5x5 mile zone is the Buffer Zone, which protects the three zones in the 1x3 mile area.

Implementation of the Master Plan commenced in 1978 and was initially scheduled to be completed by 1985. Progress was, however, slower than anticipated. In 1985, the Lumbini Development Trust (LDT) was established to take on the challenge of managing and implementing the components of the 1x3 mile Lumbini Project Area in accordance to the Kenzo Tange Master Plan. UNDP contributed a total of USD 1,752,000 for the design and implementation of the Master Plan.

Kenzo Tange Master Plan Resources

Kenzo Tange Master Plan over the Years

               1969                               1971                               1972                               1978

1969 -  First sketch of the Lumbini Master Plan by Kazuyuki Matsushita

1971 – Preliminary design of the Lumbini Master Plan is Included in the Report for the Advisory Panel for the UN Lumbini Development Project

1972 – Final outline design of the Lumbini Master Plan by Kenzo Tange and design company URTEC

1978 – Kenzo Tange and URTEC includes the final design of the Lumbini Master Plan in the final report of the Master Report for the Development of Lumbini Phase II.

Source: From the presentation “Key Concepts of the Kenzo Tange Master Plan” by Yukio Nishimura and Takefumi Kurose at the second annual meeting of the  International Scientific Steering Committee (ISSC) in Lumbini on 12 July, 2011

UNDP Contributions to the Lumbini Master Plan over the Years





Outline design of the Master Plan – Phase 1



Final Master Plan – Phase 3 Stage 1



Architectural and engineering design – Phase 3 Stage 2



Soil test



Technical assistance for realization of Master Plan–Phase 2 & 5



Assistance to the development of Lumbini Phase 2 & 5



Total UNDP Contributions


Source: Lumbini Development Trust

Related Resources

  1. Interviews: Sayalay Bhaddamanika | Amrit Shresthacharya | Shankar Nath Rimal
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