A Tibetan Buddhist Monastery: a place to introspect ourselves within.
On the outskirts of Kathmandu valley, on top of the Kopan hill, lies the serene Kopan Monastery. The Tibetan Buddhist monastery holds its significance for the history it preserves and the tradition it is passing on. Serving various courses on Buddhism, the place is a getaway from the usual hustle of the city life and a place to introspect ourselves. Lying on the North of the Bouddhanath, the hilltop Monastery serves a magnificent look on the Kathmandu valley. Once home to an astrologer, the place is now a peaceful Monastery in the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism under the guidance of Lama Zopa Rinpoche.
The place is calm and quiet with peaceful vibes in the atmosphere. As the biggest Gelug monastery in Nepal with more than 380 monks and 360 nuns, the monastery has different awe-inspiring shrines, paintings, thangkas, statues, etc that make the place worth the visit. It is a representation of the Buddhist culture and the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha. The stupas of enlightenment, mandalas uplift the aura of the monastery. There is a gompa named after the Buddha of compassion – Chenrezig gompa where regular courses for visitors are held and one can freely go for a visit inside and have a reflection if there are no ongoing courses. The prayer wheelhouse with beautiful paintings makes the place even more enticing. The entire monastery reflects the customs and traditions of Buddhism where one can even learn about it. One can relax, meditate in the peaceful gardens, listen to the morning puja, have a glance at the spectacular view of the Bouddhanath Stupa, and admire the beauty of the place.
"Learning meditation, or studying Buddhism, is learning about you, your own nature. The subject is about your own mind. It is so important to know the mentality of your own mind, no matter you believing it or not believing, you are religious or not religious, you are Christian, or you are Hindu, or you are science, or you are black or East or West or…no matter. To know your own mind is very, very important. "
- Lama Thubten Yeshe
The courses held in the monastery continue to transmit the Tibetan Buddhist tradition as the path to ultimate happiness and freedom from suffering. Getting to know one's mind is of essential importance to lead a happier, more satisfying, and meaningful life. The course program offers various levels of interest and knowledge and ranges from introductory courses to intensive exploration of the Tibetan Buddhism philosophy.
Affiliated with the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), the organization devotes itself to pass on the values worldwide through meditation, teaching, and other community services. The education dedicates to transforming the minds and hearts to their highest potential inspired by the attitude of universal responsibility.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe met in an Indian camp of Buxa Duar as refugees in 1959 and later came to Nepal in 1968. After a few years, they moved to an old house in Kopan hill that used to belong to an astrologer to the king of Nepal. The first temple was constructed in 1971-72. The primary vision was to produce human beings with a good heart and the wisdom needed to serve others all over the world. The idea was to create a monastery for young monks and nuns and a study center for the practice of Tibetan Buddhism for students from outside the country.
Regular classes used to run and a monthly course ran in the spring of 1971. The first course was attended by only 25 students with difficult living conditions like sleeping on straw mats, depending on the local spring for water and all. Gradually, the number of students increased every year and now more than 250 students attend the annual event every year. The monastery was extended and built proper accommodation for the monks, nuns, and the large number of foreigners coming to learn about Buddhism.
Walking from the east side of the Bouddha stupa, the road meets Chuchhepati through Phulbari. Going downhill from there, one can view the monastery.
Another way is from Chabahil, turning left from Chuchhepati where there is the Pasang Lhami statue.
The other alternative is from Ring Road from the bus stop near Gopi Krishna Radha Cinema Hall. The busses take you to the base of the Kopan hill.
Or, one can go by bikes or can even walk their way to the monastery.
THINGS TO KNOW
- The opening hours are from 9-11:30 in the morning and 1-4:30 in the evening every day.
- Guests and visitors are not allowed after 5 pm.
- The monastery remains closed for visitors from November to December as the monthly course takes place during this time.
- As monks live in their vows and follow strict disciplines, so one should not distract or disturb them.
- The monastery being a cultural destination, they seem to be strict with the dress code. One must make sure to dress suitably for the place.