Bouddhanath Stupa

Boudhanath Stupa is the largest stupa in Nepal whis is very rich in Buddhist symbolism. The stupa is located in the wown of Boudha on the eastern outside of Kathmandu. Boudhanath was built in the 14th century after the Mughal invasions, various interesting legends are told regarding the reasons for its construction. After the arrival of thousands of Tibetans following the  Chinese invasion, the temple has become one of the most important centers of Tibetan Buddhism.Today it remains an important place of pilgrimage and meditation for Tibetan Buddhists and local Nepalese as well as a popular tourist site.

This very imposing stupa is believed to house some of the remains of previous great sages and the bones of Buddha.  Believers walk in a clockwise direction around the stupa to pay their respects and have their wishes granted. It is also believed that walking around in an anti-clockwise direction is disrepectful although you can see foreigners doing just that maybe due to the fact that they do not know better or are just plain ignorant, so they are not guilty… Gurus (Buddhist teachers) will tell you to walk around the stupa 7 times if you wish to have your desires granted.  Each round will take about 5 to 10 mintues depending on your speed or the crowd that are always present at any time of the day especially during the Buddhist festive season such as Buddha’s birthday etc.

There is a wall surrounding the stupa with prayer wheels inplanted in the wall for devotees to manipulate so that their prayers will be heard.  Each turn of the wheel represent one prayer and there are dozens of wheels to turn so may it take a while.  Just follow the person in front so that you will not miss any wheel.  You can enter and climb up to the top platform surrounding the round dome and take photographs there, but the best vantage points are away from the stupa so as to show the whole structure in your photo.

There are many souvenir shops surround the stupa selling tankas (Buddhist holy paintings), prayer beads, prayer wheels, and all manner of tourist artifacts such as bronze bells, taras (Buddhist figurines), rosaries, books, etc for you to browse and purchase.  You are advised to bargain the price down, usually by as much as 50%, but it is a good idea to buy from fixed price shops as these prices are already discounted and very reasonable compared to those with no fixed pricing.

There are also many eateries and restaurants where you can rest and have your meals if hungry.  Prices are very reasonable compared to the more up-market places in other parts of the world.  Remember this is a third world country and the prices are adjusted accordingly.  There are also many monasteries around this area for you to explore.  There is a big map on the wall facing  the stupa’s main entrance detailing all the monasteries and it would take more than one day for you to see all of them.  It is advisable to seek the help of the people milling around and ask for the largest and more imposing monasteries to visit.  There is one just outside the stupa and facing the dome which is a must see.  During puja (prayer) days the monastery will be filled with nuns and monks who do chanting and prayers inside the monastery which is very captivating and photographic.  Do ask for permission before snapping any photos and always bear in mind that flash may not be tolerated.  Imagine having flash popping in your face in a darkened room while you are praying.  It could disrupt proceedings and you will be one very embarassed and unpopular photographer  in all of Nepal !