Traveled: April 2014
After spending the whole morning in Bhaktapur taking in the Newar culture and Hinduism, I set off to the Boudhanath Stupa, another World Heritage Site, to get a slice of Tibet and Buddhism in Nepal. I’ve seen images of the Boudhanath Stupa and read that it’s one of the largest stupas in the world. As I entered the gate to the stupa, my eyes popped out of my head, as if merely looking at the stupa with my normal eye size wouldn’t be enough to take it all in. It really is BIG.
The stupa does not only have a pair of giant eyes. It has four pairs staring out from the four sides of the tower. The big blue eyes symbolize Buddha Eyes, also known as Wisdom Eyes, looking out in four directions to represent omniscience or being an all-seeing one. The nose, which is question mark-shaped, is the Nepali character for number 1, which symbolizes unity (http://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/symbols/eyes).
They said to walk around the stupa in a clockwise direction, and so I did. After all, following the clockwise way wouldn’t cost me anything. =) If this is done the other way around, it is said that you will not be gaining any merit and generate negative karma.
The atmosphere at Boudhanath is very Himalayan, with all the prayer flags, prayer wheels, orange clad monks, Tibetan souvenirs and restaurants surrounding the stupa. Add to that the resonating sound of the mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum” being played in speakers that can be heard throughout the stupa complex. The sound creates an energy of spiritual bliss. But hearing this continuously for more than an hour has reversely dragged up my energy, an effect I recall experiencing when an officemate played Enya songs in his computer for the entire office hours, giving me a calm disposition for the first few minutes and ending up with a headache as I called it a day.
Prayer wheels spun clockwise. The mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum” is written on the wheel.
Not only do they have a Big Stupa, they’ve got Big Prayer Wheels, too
Lovely Nepalese children hanging around Boudhanath
Heeding the advice of my homestay host, I took a two-ride commute from Boudhanath to Gwarko, Lalitpur: Boudhanath to Chabahil via a small van (much like the jeepneys in Cebu City) to the tune of Rs 15, and Chabahil to Gwarko via bus at Rs 20, for a total travel time of around 30 minutes. Commuting was easy and way cheaper than taxis, of course. Convenience-wise, I didn’t find any problem sitting in a non-aircon bus (almost full, but I managed to find a seat) as it was cool after the short drizzle. Only, the Ring Road stretch was dusty but nothing a hankie and a shower can’t manage. Safety-wise, I was confident that with more than 10 years of experience commuting along EDSA, I am qualified to survive a bus ride in Kathmandu. 🙂
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The strong earthquake that shook and caused grief and damage in Kathmandu happened a year after I traveled to Nepal. Hence, this and my other upcoming posts about Nepal are pre-2015 earthquake time. Let us continue praying for Nepal’s recovery.