On a recent Sunday, I visited Boudhanath (also known as Boudha) with a friend. Located almost in the heart of Kathmandu Valley, Boudhanath is one of the largest stupas in Nepal.
Before going to Boudhanath, I spent some time researching on the web and looking at videos on YouTube of the renowned place. From Wikipedia, I learned that Boudhanath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as of 1979. Also in Wikipedia it states that the Stupa is on the ancient trade route from Tibet which enters the Kathmandu Valley by the village of Sankhu in the northeast corner, passes by Boudnath Stupa to the ancient and smaller stupa of Chabhil (often called ‘Little Boudnath’).
Boudhanath is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Kathmandu. It is about 5-10 minutes drive from Chabhil and about 20-30 minutes from the Tribhuvan International Airport. To enter Boudhanath, Nepali citizens are not required to pay any entry fee. However tourists are required to pay a small fee for the preservation of the site as well as for keeping the area clean. As you enter, you will notice plenty of shops on the left and right. When you walk closer towards the Stupa, you will see travel ticketing shops, antique stores to clothing stores and small hotels/restaurants circling the Stupa.
There are over 50 gompas situated around the Stupa. I went to a few of them. As you walk around the Stupa, you are greeted with the popular mantras Om mani padme hum. By looking at the Stupa from different angles and sides, it looked majestic and breath-taking. Contrasting to all the noise and traffic that is part of everyday Kathmandu, the Stupa and its surrounding area only resonated tranquility and serenity.
One can spend a full day at Boudhanth. On this particular Sunday, I noticed a lot of tourists coming to the Stupa in groups. Some groups were led by tour guides and others were travelling by themselves. Boudhanath is a special place because of its history and significance to Buddhists and Hindus yet it could be just as special for someone interested in architecture, religion and the arts.
Photo credit: Suman Maharjan