Welcome to Bodhnath (Boudha)
There is nowhere quite like Bodhnath. Asia’s largest stupa pulses with life as thousands of pilgrims gather daily to make a kora (ritual circumnavigation) of the dome, beneath the watchful eyes of the Buddha, which gaze out from the gilded central tower. Tibetan monks in maroon robes and with shaved heads wander the prayer flag–decked streets while pilgrims spin prayer wheels and stock up on yak butter
Boudhanath (also known as Boudha, pronounced ‘Bo-da’) is located 7 km East/Northeast of Kathmandu & home to one of the largest Buddhist stupas in the world, built during the 5th century AD.
For centuries, Boudhanath has been an important place of pilgrimage and meditation for Tibetan Buddhists & local Nepalis. It is located on what was a major trade route between Nepal & Tibet. Many traveling merchants used it as a resting place. It is also a popular tourist site. In 1979, Boudha became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Great Stupa of Boudhanath is the focal point of the district. There are at least 29 Tibetan Gompas (Monasteries & Nunneries) around Boudhanath. The culture is very much Himalayan with a strong presence of Tibetans & Sherpas, as can be evidenced by the number of restaurants selling momos, thukpa & other Tibetan favorites. Many maroon clad Tibetan Buddhist monks & nuns can be seen walking around Boudha, especially at the Stupa. As a daily ritual, many people walk three or more times around the stupa while repeating the mantra ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ either quietly or aloud. During the days of & surrounding the full moons, the air is often thick with incense & mantras sung by monks, & the number of people visiting the Stupa increases significantly, along with the intensity of their mantras & prayers. Boudha is a fascinating & very spiritual area. Most of the restaurants & shops are closed by 8 pm.
- Boudhanath: The Great Stupaby Keith Dowman. A translation of the legend of the great stupa as disclosed in a hidden treasure teaching of Guru Rinpoche.
- Om Mani Padme Hum – Wikipedia article:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Om_mani_padme_hum
- Buddha’s Teachings – The Four Noble Truths:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_noble_truths
Taxis: From the Kathmandu airport, or from Thamel, expect to pay 250-350 rupees (2011). If you are coming to see the Boudha Stupa, tell the taxi driver that you wish to go to Boudha Stupa main Gate.
There are also a number of local buses and vans that carry passengers in the Kathmandu Valley around Ring Road (which loops around Kathmandu & the Kathmandu Valley) to Chabihil for 15 to 20 rupees. From Chabihill, one can take one of the many buses/vans to the ‘Bouda Stupa main gate’ for 15 rupees, or walk for 20 mins. up the Boudha road to the Stupa.
Most of the sites of interest are located near the stupa and can easily be reached on foot. Taxis are available on the main road by the main stupa gate, until around 8 pm.
- Boudhanath Stupa. According to legend, Boudhanath Stupa was built during the 5th century AD, by an an old poultry woman who asked the king for land to construct a shrine to the Buddha. The king agreed, and offered her as much land as she could cover with the skin of a water buffalo. The woman proceeded to cut a buffalo hide into thin strips, and placed them end to end to form a huge circumference. The king realized that he had been tricked by the old woman, but he adhered to his word, and the stupa was constructed according to these dimensions. Nowadays, the stupa is the most popular site for Buddhists in Nepal, and throughout the day pilgrims can be seen circumambulating the structure chanting mantras. It is especially spectacular at night when adorned with butter lamps. Remember to walk around the stupa in a clockwise direction and also to spin the prayer wheels clockwise. There is a small entry fee (rps 150) to enter the stupa area. This can be waived for guests of hotels located at the other side of the stupa. See also:Sacred sites of the Indian sub-continent
- The Taragaon Museum,Boudha Rd, Kathmandu 44600 (Enter from the Hyatt Regency main gate), . 10am-5pm. Museum, Cafe, Bar, Wifi, Curated shops. Within the compound of the Hyatt Regency Kathmandu stands the former Taragaon Hotel, designed by Carl Pruscha in 1970 and constructed in 1971. In 2010, restoration works began to rehabilitate the Taragaon hotel into the Taragaon Museum. Today a visitor can see the various Galleries, visit the Café & curated shops, relax in the two courtyards, all within a short walk from the Boudhnath stupa, which itself can be seen from the Museum tower. The Taragaon Museum seeks to document 50 years of research and cultural heritage conservation efforts of the Kathmandu Valley, documenting what artists photographers architects anthropologists from abroad had contributed in the second half of the 20th century. The actual structure of the Museum showcases restoration and rehabilitation efforts to preserve the built heritage of Kathamandu. Free entry..
- Bodhisattva Gallery,☎ 9851091255, . 1-7pm. Located inside the Taragaon Musuem, Hyatt Regency Kathmandu, Bodhisattva Gallery promotes and sells the best Newar art statues made through the lost wax process and traditional Paubha paintings by the best artist from the Kathmandu Valley. Each statue/paubha is a unique and exclusive creation.
Monasteries & Nunneries
- Shechen Monastery, located in the alleys near the stupa. A very spacious and beautiful temple founded by the late Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. There is a garden restaurant near the monastery guest house.
- Khawalung Monastery,Boudha-Simaltar (take a taxis from Hyatt Hotel about 10 mins drive), ☎ 977-1-4820205. A beautiful Tibetan Monastery near Boudhanath Stupa. It is inaugrated by Trulshik Rinpoche and Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche in October 2005. The monastery has an elementary and a training school. It consists of monks from remote region of Nepal and Tibet. There are many exquisite Tibetan Buddhist wall paintings.
- Kopan Monastery,North of Boudhanath (Go north from the Stupa – ask anyone – 40 min. walk or take taxi), ☎ 977 – 1 – 4821 268, . Kopan is a thriving monastery of 360 monks, mainly from Nepal and Tibet, and a spiritual oasis for hundreds of visitors yearly from around the world. Nearby is Khachoe Ghakyil Ling Nunnery, home to 380 nuns. Both the monastery and the nunnery are under the spiritual guidance of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, and the care of the abbot, Khen Rinpoche Geshe Lhundrup Rigsel. And it is the wellspring of the FPMT, a network of some 140 centers and activities world-wide, themselves expressions of the Buddha activity of Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Kopan offers the perfect environment for study and meditation for serious students, casual visitors, and retreaters. Email: email@example.com
- Thrangu Monastery,Boudha, Nepal (facing the Great Stupa of Boudhanath), ☎ +977-1-4470027, . These days, Thrangu Monastery is the center of monastic life for nearly 250 monks. They receive training in ritual practices, study Dharma & learn to read and write in Tibetan & English. The older monks take turns yearly learning different jobs in the monastery.
- The monks chant special prayers as requested & often go to private homes to do pujas for the deceased, for new homes, etc. There are many monks under the age of eighteen and most of these boys are from rural areas of Nepal, particularly the mountain areas bordering Tibet. From an early age, they learn to develop the good habits and discipline that will serve them and others throughout their lives.
- Dilyak Monastery,PO Box No. 4512, Boudha, Kathmandu, Nepal, ☎ (977) 1-478-432 / 478-320, . Dilyak Dabzang Monastery is the oldest original Karma Kagyu monastery in Boudha, Nepal. The monastery was established by Very Ven. 7th Dabzang Rinpoche year 1963 near the great stupa of Boudha.
- Pullahari Monastery & Retreat Centre,O. Box 11015, Jagdol, Ward Kopan, Kathmandu, Nepal, ☎ +977 1 4498196, . Pullahari is the seat of His Eminence Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche in Nepal, located in the foothills north of the Great Stupa of Boudhanath. In the secluded serenity with spacious views, the age-old tradition of prayers, rituals, training, and education of monks continues in the monastery, and also in the Mahamudra retreat centre. In addition, residential programs for lay practitioners are offered at the Rigpe Dorje Institute, and the facilities for individual retreat are open throughout the year.
- Khachoe Ghakyil Ling Nunnery(The Kopan Nunnery), Boudha, Kathmandu, Nepal, ☎ 9771-482- 1236, . Khachoe Chakyil Ling Nunnery (Kopan Nunnery) is currently the largest Tibetan nunnery in Nepal with over 400 nuns. The nunnery provides full scholarship for the nuns, which includes education, accommodation, health care & food. With help of generous supporters, the completion of its building plans, Kopan Nunnery will be the Largest Tibetan nunnery in the World – able to house a thousand nuns. The aim is to create a place study and practice for nuns – a supportive & stable environment for women who wish to pursue a spiritual life.
- Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery,North of Boudha, Nepal (on 2½ acres of farmland just north of the ancient legendary Jarung Khashor Stupa in Boudha Nath.), ☎ +977 -1-491-4993, . Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery comprises a traditional Tibetan monastic setting where more than 240 monks dedicate themselves to monastic activities. Established in 1976 by the renowned dzogchen mater, H.E. Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, and his two eldest sons, Tulku Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche and Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche. To perpetuate the Doctrine of Lord Buddha, the monks’ daily life centers around Buddhist studies & daily practice. Twice daily, at 6:00am and at 16:00, pujas are performed by a host of monks at Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling. Pujas are normally an hour in length, and visitors are always welcome. For the Western Buddhist practitioners staying in Nepal & to introduce the basics of Buddhism to interested travelers, Tulku Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, who speaks English and also makes use of a translator, freely offers teachings in his Saturday Morning Talks held each weekend in the monastery’s main temple. One can sample and even download a free video of a weekend talk at: www.dharmasun.org and subscribe to the weekly teachings, if one likes. Every November, Rinpoche also offers a 10-day Fall Seminar in the same temple on all levels of Buddhist philosophy, practice and meditation. Visit the monastery’s website for more information: www.shedrub.org
- Circumambulatethe stupa (walk clockwise around it). This is the main activity of pilgrims & many tourists too. One lap is approx. 150 meters. At the far side from the main gate entrance it is possible to walk up on to the stupa itself during the daytime.
- Photography. The stupa & its surroundings are very photogenic, but please don’t take pictures of people without their permission.
- Monastery tourPlease practice good manners. Ask the first monk or nun you see at the place (monastery or nunnery) you wish to visit for permission, before wandering around their home grounds. Some (not all) encourage the public to visit by offering guided tours, classes, puja services, meals, & gift shops. While on their sacred grounds, be respectful, don’t smoke, turn off cell phones, lower your voice, leave your shoes outside before entering any temples or buildings, & get permission before taking pictures. Bear in mind that monasteries & nunneries are sanctuaries for inner practice, not tourist attractions. Most (if not all) of them welcome donations.
There are many handicraft stores located all around the stupa. This may be the best place in Nepal for Buddhist & Tibetan related items – statues, prayer flags, Tibetan incense, etc.
- Himalayan Singing Bowl Centre(Shanta Ratna Shakya), Boudha Stupa, Kathmandu Nepal (One of the many shops directly infront of the Great Boudha Stupa), ☎ 00977- 9851046748, . Sells hand made singing bowls used for centuries by Himalayan monastics & today by healers, therapists, musicians, & meditators.