An early morning stroll or an evening walk around the Boudhanath Stupa is awe-inspiring and feels like having peace from within around the spiritual vibes.
An early morning stroll or an evening walk around the Boudhanath Stupa is awe-inspiring and feels like having peace from within around the spiritual vibes. It is a place inside the hustling valley of Kathmandu, 11km northeast, which makes one take a break from the everyday chaos. The massive mandala makes the Stupa one of the largest spherical stupas in Nepal. The giant dome is visible right from the airport, dominating the skyline.
The fascinating cultural area used to be a Nepal-Tibet trade route through the village of Sankhu. In 1979, Boudhanath became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and now, it has become a famous tourist spot.
It is quite hard to determine the age of the monument as the Tibetan literature says that Trisong Detsen (755 to 797 CE) constructed the Stupa. However, Nepali manuscripts mention a further previous date during the reign of King Manadev (464 – 505 CE) and, further again to 400 CE during Lichhavi King Vrisadev's reign where it mentions 'Khasti Stupa'.
Some many different legends and beliefs explain the construction of Boudhnath.
One of the legends says that a widow name Ma Jhyazima asked the king for land to build a shrine to Buddha. It is said that "it can be done" slipped out of the king's mouth, and that is why Tibetans call it "Jarung Kashor Chörten". Jarung – "it can be done", Kashor – "slipped out of the mouth" and Chörten – stupa. Another saying is that the king allowed her a land enough that a buffalo's skin would cover. The women cut buffalo's hide into strips and made a large circumference, and that is how the stupa was built.
Another is a Newar story where the earliest known name of the Stupa is Khasa Chaitya or Khasti. As the Newar word for dew is Khasa (खस) and droplets are Ti (ति), the name derived as "The Dewdrop Stupa". It was because the story says that a great drought had struck, and people would collect the morning dew to drink.
Other legends mention that the Stupa contains the holy relics or the burial remains of Kassapa Buddha, the 27th of the named Buddhas.
The monument is a perfect construction, from the whitewashed dome to the gilded tower.
The pinnacle symbolizes Mt. Sumeru, the king of mountains. The umbrella is the protector of three jewels: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, while the lotus represents compassion and purity.
The two big eyes looking out from all four sides are the wisdom eyes of Buddha that symbolize his all-seeing ability. The nose is a symbol of Nirvana as it represents the Nepali character for number 1, symbolizing unity.
The plinth (three large circular platforms descending in order) represents Earth, the Khumba (dome) is water, the harmika (square tower) is fire, and also the 8 noble paths, the spire is air, and the top is the void or ether beyond space. The 13 steps represent the 13 states of Bodhisattva's ground that a human being must pass to achieve complete enlightenment.
Beneath the dome are 108 small images of Dhyani Buddha Amitabha in the niches around the base of the Stupa as 108 is an auspicious number in Tibetan culture. Also, it is surrounded by a ring of prayer wheels set in groups of 4 or 5 into 147 niches.
The mandala is the mansion of Lord Buddha whereas the prayer flags that flutter with the wind are believed to carry the mantras and prayers heavenward.
The pilgrims make morning and evening koras (circumambulations) reciting their mantras. One lap is approximately 150 meters, and 3 koras are made. Join along with the pilgrims for the best atmosphere. Lighting the butter lamps in the twilight is also one of the beautiful attractions in Boudha.
The stupa and the peaceful surrounding are very photogenic, and you can practice your photography skills here or even take selfies for memories.
There are many monasteries/gompas around the Boudhanath that you can visit. These are scattered around the alleys surrounding the stupa. The nearest one is the Tamang Gompa, just at the north of the Stupa itself, which has a large turning wheel and a balcony to give a picturesque view of the place.
There are a lot of shops around from where one can buy handicrafts, souvenirs, incense and many more. The shops offer a wide range of Tibetan and Buddhist-related items like thangka, singing bowls, prayer flags, statues, etc., which have their symbolic representation and importance.
Eating and Drinking
Boudhanath Stupa has many local restaurants that you can visit to grab lunch or give your tastebuds a treat. The famous delicacies are the laphing that you can find in hotels around the alleys, chowmein, and other local snacks. Other than that, the place also has many rooftop restaurants from where you can watch the scenic view and enjoy your delicious food. Also, some restaurants serve various cuisines to satisfy your appetite. Moreover, the cafes and bakeries around serve some best cups of coffee and mouth-watering cakes.
The Boudha area has many hotels, lodges, and guesthouses suiting your comfort. According to your budget, you can choose among the dozens of places for you to stay. The hospitality and the facilities that they provide will make your stay worthwhile in Boudha, Kathmandu.