Boudhanath stupa is one of the world’s largest stupas and one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Nepal. Flocked by pilgrims and tourists alike, this great stupa in Boudha, east of Kathmandu, is considered the center of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal. Read on to find out more.
After spending the whole morning in Bhaktapur taking in the Newari culture and Hinduism, I set off to the Boudhanath Stupa, another UNESCO 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. It really is BIG.
Believed to have existed since the 14th century, Boudhanath Stupa has become a pilgrimage and meditation site for Tibetan and Nepalese Buddhists. They said to walk around the stupa in a clockwise direction, and so I did. If this is done the other way around, it is said that you will not be gaining any merit and generate negative karma.
One thing you will notice when exploring Nepalese Buddhist temples is the Buddha eyes in every temple tower. In fact, you need not go to Buddhist temples to see Buddha eyes. You will also find it printed in souvenir shirts, bags, magnets and sketched in paintings. The Buddha eyes have undoubtedly become an important emblem of Nepal.
The Boudhanath stupa does not only have a pair of giant eyes. It has four pairs staring out from all 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.
Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal
The atmosphere in 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. Hearing this continuously, though, for more than an hour has reversely dragged up my energy. The same was the effect I recall experiencing when an officemate played Enya songs on his computer for the entire office hours, giving me a calm disposition for the first few minutes but ended up with a headache as I called it a day.
Buddhists believe that walking around the stupa in a clockwise direction will bring good luck. If this is done the other way around, it is said that you will not be gaining any merit and generate negative karma.
Read about other UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Nepal here:
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 temple
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Boudhanath Stupa Entrance Fee
(Updated June 2018)
Foreign Nationals – NPR 400
SAARC Nationals – NPR 100
Nepalese – Free
Below 10 years – Free
How to get there
By taxi: If you’re going in a group of 2 to 3 persons, you may consider going by taxi. Taxi fare from Kathmandu City is about NPR 400.
By public transport: Try the less expensive public transport while at the same time reducing your carbon footprint. Local buses and mini-vans are available plying the route around the Ring Road to Chabahil. From Chabahil, you can take buses or vans to Boudhanath Stupa Main Gate. Each ride costs around NPR 20 to 25.
If you are coming from the Kathmandu city center, go to the bus stop at the Ratna Park near Rani Pokhari on Kantipath Road. From there, take a mini van and ask the driver, just to be sure, if it stops at Boudhanath Stupa before hopping in. Fare is about NPR 25.
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