We know where the Buddha was born, where he became enlightened, and where he died. We can even say where he gave his first sermon. But no one can say for sure where he spent his childhood, or where he married and fathered a child, for the precise location of Kapilavastu—the city-state his father governed as leader of the Shakya clan—remains a mystery.
India claims that Kapilavastu is the modern-day village of Piprahwa, a fifty-eight mile drive southwest of Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha. Framed by snowy peaks and just four miles south of the Nepali border, Piprahwa is little more than a few buildings and a park with thick-trunked, parasol-shaped trees shading a giant pile of bricks. The soft dirt roads once traversed by chariots remain, and oxen stand stoic against invading armies of flies.
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