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Take an early morning or evening stroll around the inspiring white dome buzzing with energy observe the devout passersby, light a butter lamp and send a prayer where you wish, look around for souvenirs, or observe all from a nearby rooftop restaurant, coffee in hand.
Take an early morning or evening stroll around the inspiring white dome buzzing with energy observe the devout people circumambulating, light a butter lamp and say a little prayer, look around for souvenirs, or enjoy the view from a rooftop restaurant with a hot cup of cofee. Boudha is always full of life.
Situated 8 km to the east of downtown Kathmandu, Boudha, is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites and one of the most imposing landmarks in Kathmandu. Visible as soon as you land at the Tribhuvan International Airport, it is the largest stupa in the Kathmandu Valley.
The 36-meter-high stupa of Boudha is massive and dominates the skyline in the area. With countless monasteries around it, Boudha is the center of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal.
Built in the shape of a mandala designed to replicate the Gyangtse of Tibet, the stupa was renovated by Licchhavi rulers in the 8th century. The location of the stupa is interesting as it once lay on the ancient trade route to Tibet and it was here that Tibetan merchants rested and offered prayers for many centuries. It is one of the major pilgrimage sites for Buddhists from around the world.
On each side are the all-seeing-eyes of the Buddha symbolizing awareness. The canopy has 13 stages. At ground level there is a brick wall that has 147 niches and 108 images of the meditational Buddha inset behind copper prayer wheels.
History of Boudhnath Stupa
The 36-meter-high stupa of Boudhanath is one of the largest stupas in South Asia. With countless monasteries surrounding it, Boudhanath is the center of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal.
Built-in the shape of a mandala designed to replicate the Gyangtse of Tibet, the stupa was renovated by Licchhavi rulers in the 8th century. The location of the stupa is interesting as it once lay on the ancient trade route to Tibet and it was here that Tibetan merchants rested and offered prayers for centuries.
On each side are a pair of the all-seeing-eyes of the Buddha symbolizing awareness. The canopy has 13 stages. At ground level, there is a brick wall with 147 niches and 108 images of the meditational Buddha inset behind copper prayer wheels.
List of Sacred Places in Nepal
There are several sacred places in Nepal but here is the list of the top 10 sacred places in Nepal that Nepalese visit more often.
These sacred places have ancient history and mythologies attached to them. You can visit these places on a religious tour and take blessings from god.
1. Pashupatinath Temple
One of the sacred temples in Nepal is the Pashupatinath temple. It is located in Kathmandu on the banks of the Bagmati river. It is the biggest temple of Lord Shiva that is visited by thousands of Hindu pilgrims every year.
Hindus and Buddhists visit Pashupatinath any time of the year. But, it is mostly crowded during festivals like Teej and Shivaratri.
During Teej, married and unmarried women take fast and worship Lord Shiva for the good health of their present or future husband.
Similarly, Hindu devotees worship Lord Shiva during Shivaratri, which also marks the end of the winter season.
The temple has a pagoda-style architecture, and the complex has four silver gates facing four directions. The roof of the temple is gold plated and inside the temple resides a huge Shiva-linga.
The holy temple of Pashupatinath is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list, so it is a protected area.
At the foot of the Pashupatinath, Hindus perform the cremation. The night aarti is also one of the attractions of the Pashupatinath temple.
Priests perform a spectacular aarti every night dedicated to Pashupatinath. Hundreds of pilgrims come to Pashupatinath to watch this aarti, which brings peace and positivity to them.
At a sacred place like Pashupatinath, wearing leather belts and clicking pictures is strictly prohibited.
The mysterious idol of Vipupakshya is also present at Pashupatinath by the bank of the Bagmati river.
According to Hindu mythology, Virupakshya, also known as ‘Kali’, was a man who once unintentionally had a sexual relationship with his own mother.
This event is also said to commence ‘the Kaliyug’ period. Out of utmost regret, Virupakshya went to Lord Shiva for repentance.
But again, Virupakshya unintentionally burns the face of Lord shiva while opening the lid of hot utensil by the vapor.
Lord Shiva was so angry that he ran behind Virupakshya to kill him. Virupakshya then went to Lord Budhha and asked to save him. Lord Buddha gave him guidance to repent and a solution to hide him from Lord Shiva.
Lord Budhha asked him to hide beneath the ground where Lord Shiva cannot find him and emerge slowly as time passes. It is said that once the Kali fully emerges from the ground, his repentance completes, and the Kaliyug will end.
2. Boudhanath Stupa
Boudhanath is a beautiful place inside the Kathmandu valley where lies the Boudhanath stupa. Boudhanath stupa is Nepal’s one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites located 8 km east of Kathmandu.
Boudha stupa is the largest stupa inside the Kathmandu Valley. It is a giant round white structure that has an inverted cone-like structure crown made up of gold.
On each side are painted the awakening eyes of the Buddha that symbolize awareness. The stupa has attached manes. The pilgrims circle the stupa while rotating manes.
Boudhanath stupa is sacred among Buddhist pilgrims. There is a hall for monks and pilgrims to chant prayers and worship Buddha right in front of the stupa.
Boudha is a vibrant market occupied with several shops and restaurants. Boudha is mostly crowded during Buddha Jayanti, which is the day celebrated as the birthday of Lord Budhha.
3. Muktinath Temple
Muktinath temple is one of the sacred temples located in the Mustang district of Nepal. It resides at an elevation of 3710m, which is quite a high altitude.
Mukti refers to salvation. It is said that visiting Muktinath at least once in life will wash away all your sins and cleanse your soul.
The architecture of the Muktinath temple is constructed in pagoda-style. The 108 waterspouts behind the temple are known as “Muktidhara ”.
The devotees visiting the temple take bath in that tap water, which is said to release all the negativity from the body and bestow salvation.
You have two options to reach Muktinath. You can either take a flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara and then fly to Jomsom or take a road trip via jeep. The flight takes only 25 minutes to reach Muktinath temple whereas the road trip will take 2 to 3 days.
4. Swayambhunath Stupa
One of the sacred places among Buddhist pilgrims is the Swayambhunath temple, located in Kathmandu. Pilgrims of any religious background visit Swayambhunath.
It is one of the oldest sacred places in Nepal, which is cited as a UNESCO world heritage site.
According to mythology, it is said that Kathmandu valley was a large lake. Manjushree saw a huge lotus pondering upon the lake. Manjushree then cut off the Chovar hill and drained the water out.
And that was how Kathmandu valley was originated. Similarly, the place where the lotus was blooming is said to be Swayambhu.
Just like the Boudha stupa, a giant stupa lies at the top of Swayambhunath which is 36 meters tall.
Similarly, there is a monastery, a temple of goddess Harati, numerous manes, and a giant gold antique structure that lies in front of the 365 staircases.
The temple of goddess Harati is considered sacred. It is said that she protects the children from evil. That’s why people bring their children to the temple and they pray to the goddess to protect their child from evil eyes.
Swayambhu is also a popular holiday destination among locals who come to spend a peaceful time here.
Swayambhu is also known for the spectacular view of Kathmandu valley that it offers from the top of Swayambhu.
Lumbini is a sacred place in Nepal, where Lord Budhha, the Light of Asia, was born. Lumbini is also a UNESCO world heritage site. Visitors from around the world come to Lumbini to take a tour of the place.
The sacred lake where the mother of Lord Buddha, Maya Devi used to take bath is still preserved at Lumbini.
Similarly, the renowned Ashoka Pillar, Maya Devi temple, monasteries, and the remains of the Lumbini palace are the main attraction of Lumbini.
Lumbini is one of the world’s most spiritual plots where pilgrims find peace from within. There are more than 25 internationally built Buddhist monasteries in the premise of Lumbini.
The Ashoka Pillar is considered to indicate the spot where Lord Budhha was born. It is believed that the Buddha walked his first seven steps right after his birth.
We can conveniently reach Lumbini from Kathmandu either by taking a 30 minutes flight from Kathmandu airport to Bhairahawa airport or we can take a road trip that takes around 10 hours.
6. Manakamana Temple
Manakamana temple is a sacred temple of Goddess Manakamana Devi located in the Gorkha district of Nepal. The literal meaning of Manakamana in Nepali is Heart’s wish.
Manakamana Devi is said to fulfill the wishes of pilgrims who visit the temple. The temple is situated at an elevation of 3900ft in the Gorkha district of Nepal.
You can reach Manakamana on foot but there is a cable car facility too. Walking may take several days so the convenient way to go to Manakamana is via cable car.
Manakamana cable car is probably the first cable car service in Nepal, which made it easier for devotees to visit Manakamana Devi and return home on a single day. During weekends, the crowd is exceptional at Manakamana.
From Kurintar, Pilgrims travel in a 2.8 km long ride in a cable car to the temple base. The hilltop offers a stunning view of some high peaks such as Ganesh, Manaslu, Annapurna, etc.
7. Janakpur Mandir
Janaki Mandir is a Hindu temple located in the Janakpur district of Nepal. The temple is named after the Hindu Goddess Sita, who was the daughter of King Janak.
She later married the Hindu God, Ram as mentioned in the sacred Hindu epic, Ramayana. Inside the temple, there are several idols of Ram and Sita together.
Janakpur temple is a massive architecture constructed in an area of 4,860 sq. feet. The giant building has unique architecture and is decorated with multiple colors making it vibrant and attractive.
It is a three-storied structure made entirely of stone and marble. All its 60 rooms are decorated with colored glass, engravings, statues, and paintings, with beautiful lattice windows and turrets.
The massive palace of Janakpur has Mithila architecture. The architecture is incredibly beautiful, which attracts a lot of tourists every year.
8. Kalinchowk Bhagwati
Kalinchowk Bhagwati temple is a sacred temple located in the Dolakha district of Nepal. It is situated at an altitude of 3842m from sea-level.
No one knows about the origin of this temple. But, the temple has been there since ancient times.
Though it is a temple of the fierce goddess, there is no rigid sculpture of the goddess. There is a 3 ft deep hollow where water never dries.
Pilgrims worship that sacred hollow as god and hang small bells and Trishul over the small cliff. They even sacrifice birds and animals as offerings to the goddess.
In the winter season, heavy snowfalls at Kalinchowk. Kalinchowk is a popular trekking destination among trekkers too.
It is a part of the Gaurishankar conservation area, from where two rivers SunKoshi and Tama Koshi river originate. The top of the hill offers a spectacular view of Gaurishankar Himal.
According to ancient mythology, Kali Devi performed penance in the name of Gauri-Shankar (Shiva and Parvati) at Kalinchowk hill, where lies the temple now. So, it is not possible for anyone to climb the Gaurishankar mountain.
It is believed that Shiva and Parvati live on that mountain. It is said that those who have tried to climb the mountain have never returned.
Gosainkunda is one of the largest and sacred lakes located inside the Langtang National Park. It resides at an altitude of 4,380m in the Rasuwa district of Nepal.
The lake flows down to unite with the Trishuli River and remains frozen for six months in the winter season. There are 108 small lakes that are visually incredible.
Trekking to Gosaikunda is one of the toughest treks in Nepal. Gosaikunda is one of those sacred places in Nepal that is located at the highest altitudes.
Gosaikunda holds religious significance in Nepal. According to Hindu mythology, the poison released during Samudra Manthan was about to destroy the world.
To save the world from the vicious poison, Lord Shiva swallowed the poison. He then kept the poison in his throat and didn’t swallow it fully.
Since the poison was burning his throat, it is said that to calm the burn, he thrust his Trishul (holy Trident) into the mountain and extracted water. Since then, Hindu pilgrims believe that Lord Shiva is sleeping under Gosaikunda.
Hindu pilgrims visit Gosaikunda to take bath in the holy water. It is said to wash all the sins and diseases. Though the holy water of Gosaikunda is ice cold, pilgrims take long numerous dips while chanting the name of Lord Shiva.
10. Pathivara Devi
Pathivara Devi is a sacred goddess of Hindus in Nepal. Pathivara Devi temple is located at Taplejung at an altitude of 3,794 m (12,448 ft). Pathivara Devis is said to fulfill all our prayers if we visit her temple and worship her.
Even the royal families in the past used to visit Pathivara Devi to pray for the protection of the country. Pilgrims from any religious background can visit the Pathivara Devi temple.
The idol of the goddess looks fierce as she sits on the lion with a Trishul. It is said that, if you speak of going to Pathivara temple, you must visit no matter how. Else, it will be a bad omen.
The sacred temple of Pathivara Devi resides at the hill of Pathivara, which takes about a week to reach. It is not a piece of cake to land up at the foot of Pathivara Devi. You must be able to walk for long hours on elevated steep paths.
It is also a popular destination among trekkers. Most trekkers go for Taplejung trek during the winter season to enjoy snowfall and spectacular views of mountain ranges.
Effect of 2015's Earthquake on Boudhanath Stupa
Boudhanath Stupa was seriously affected by the April 2015 Nepal earthquake, heavily shattering the spire. As a consequence, it became appropriate to dismantle the whole framework above the dome, and the religious objects it housed, which was done by the end of October 2015.
The rebuilding started on 3 November 2015 with the ceremonial installation of a new central pole or "living tree" at the top of the dome for the Stupa. On 22 November 2016, the Stupa reopened.
The Boudhanath Region Development Committee (BADC) coordinated the Rehabilitation and Rebuilding. The improvements are supported solely by the Buddhist party and voluntary private contributions. It cost $2.1 million, and more than 30 kg of gold, according to the BADC.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal officially inaugurated the repaired building. The Nepalese government, however, was criticised with many left unrepaired for its idle speed in reconstructing quake-damaged heritage buildings such as temples.
Boudha Nath Stupa in Bodnath, Religion, Tourist Attractions
One of many world heritage sights which can be found in Nepal, the Boudhanath Stupa, is not only impressive but also interesting. Located roughly 7 kilometers to the east of Kathmandu, the stupa is similar in many ways to the much older and more cherished Swayambhunath. According to legend the Boudhanath Stupa in Bodnath was built during the 5th century AD. It is notable as a place of worship and pilgrimage and the dome is said to contain the remains of a Kasyap sage, which is important to both Buddhists and Hindus.
The Boudhanath Stupa is very similar to the Swayambhunath Stupa, only it is bigger and enjoys better symmetry. The great white dome on which it is situated is almost perfectly spherical when compared to the somewhat irregular shape of the one at Swayambhunath although the actual four-sided dome-topped golden tower at the top is almost completely identical. The Boudhanath Temple is the center of Tibetan culture in Nepal and the stupa measures an impressive 36 meters in height. This makes it one of the largest stupas in South Asia. The stupa has been built on a massive three level mandala style platform. The platform is surrounded by private family homes and extends the overall size of the stupa quite a bit in all directions. Another key difference between the Boudhanath Stupa and the Swayambhunath Stupa is that the Swaymabhunath Stupa was built on a hilltop while the Boudhanath Stupa is situated on the valley floor. Apparently the mandala design employed in the base was an imitation of the one in Gyangtse in Tibet.
Part of the reason why the Boudhanath Stupa has become so popular is that it is situated on a trade route between Tibet and Nepal and merchants often chose to rest here and offer prayers during their travels. During the 1950s a number of Tibetan refugees settled at Boudhanath forming a township around the shrine. Today you will find a busy settlement complete with shrine and complementary curio shops and restaurants. There are also a number of smaller stupas and monasteries to be found here which are worth taking a look at.
Kopan Monastery lies on the Kopan Hill, not far from the city of Boudhanath, overlooking the Kathmandu valley and surrounding areas. Previously the Monastery was situated on the Himalayan mountain range where Lama Zopa Rinpoche fulfilled a promise he had once made to build a monastic school for the children in the nearby locality. The school was called the Mount Everest Center, the name of .
The Nepal Association of Fine Arts was established in the year 1965. It was founded by King Birendra, of which he was the chairman. In 1977, the Nepal Association of Fine Arts became affiliated to the Royal Nepal Academy, and has remained a part of the Arts and Crafts Department of the Academy. The NAFA was established because of the King’s devotion to the development of art, and .
More about Boudhanath Stupa
The first stupa at Boudhanath was built sometime after AD 600, when the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo, converted to Buddhism. In terms of grace and purity of line, no other stupa in Nepal comes close to Boudhanath. From its whitewashed dome to its gilded tower painted with the all-seeing eyes of the Buddha, the monument is perfectly proportioned. Join the Tibetan pilgrims on their morning and evening koras (circumambulations) for the best atmosphere.
According to legend, the king constructed the stupa as an act of penance after unwittingly killing his father. The first stupa was wrecked by Mughal invaders in the 14th century, so the current stupa is a more recent construction.
The highly symbolic construction serves in essence as a three-dimensional reminder of the Buddha’s path towards enlightenment. The plinth represents earth, the kumbha (dome) is water, the harmika (square tower) is fire, the spire is air and the umbrella at the top is the void or ether beyond space. The 13 levels of the spire represent the stages that a human being must pass through to achieve nirvana.
Stupas were originally built to house holy relics and some claim that Boudhanath contains the relics of the past Buddha, Kashyapa, while others say it contains a piece of bone from the skeleton of Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha. Around the base of the stupa are 108 small images of the Dhyani Buddha Amitabha (108 is an auspicious number in Tibetan culture) and a ring of prayer wheels, set in groups of four or five into 147 niches.
To reach the upper level of the plinth, look for the gateway at the north end of the stupa, beside a small shrine dedicated to Hariti (Ajima), the goddess of smallpox. The plinth is open from 5am to 6pm (till 7pm in summer), offering a raised viewpoint over the tide of pilgrims surging around the stupa. Note the committed devotees prostrating themselves full-length on the ground in the courtyard on the east side of the stupa.
Coordinates: 27°43’17”N 85°21’43”E
Boudhanath stupa was probably built in the 14 th century. It is one of the largest stupa in the world. It is one of the most popular Tourist sites in the Kathmandu area. It is located about 11km from the center and northern outskirts of Kathmandu. The Stupa is on the ancient trade route from Tibet. Boudhanath was founded by the Nepalese Licchavi king Sivadeva. Tibetan sources claim a mound on the site was excavated in the 15 th century and the bones of king Amshuvarma were discobered here. The Tibetan Emprior is also traditionally associated with the construction of the Bouddhanath Stupa. The village that surrounds the great Kasyapa stupa is generally known by the name of Buddha.
The main entrance to the upper platform of Boudhanath Stupa is on the North side. The surroundings of the Stupa are streets and narrow alleys lined with colorful homes. The one can see the Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and street vendors in the surroundings. It is asia’s largest stupa and the holiest Tibetan Buddhist Temple. It is believed that the stupa was founded in between 590-604 CE by the Nepalese licchavi king. It is a UNESCO world heritage site, where thousands of devotes come daily to perform ritual circumnavigation.
It is believed that thousand of Buddhas and heavenly deities incarnated as lamas in the Buddha Stupa. It is also believed that, the rays of bodhisttivas entered in the song from heaven and the holy sound was heared in the sky. The stupa has an interesting history of its own which explains this strange name. It is said in this history that Kasyapa was a Buddha that lived a long time before Shakyamuni Buḍḍha. After Kasyapa Buddha’s demise, a certain old woman, with her four sons, interred this great sage’s remains at the spot over which the great mound now stands, the latter having been built by the woman herself. Before starting on the work of construction, she petitioned the King of the time and obtained permission to proceed with a tower. By the time that, as a result of great sacrifices on the part of the woman and her four sons, the groundwork of the structure had been finished, those who saw it were astonished at the greatness of the scale on which it was undertaken. Especially was the case with the high officials of the country, who all said that if such a poor old dame were allowed to complete building such a stupendous tower, they themselves would have to dedicate a Temple as great as a mountain, and so they decided to ask the King to disallow the further progress of the work. When the King was approached on the matter his Majesty replied, “I have finished giving the order to the woman to proceed with the work. Kings must not eat their words, and I cannot undo my orders now.” So the tower was allowed to be finished, and hence its unique name, “Jya Rung Khashor Chorten Chenpo.” However, the tower must have been built after the days of Shakyamuni Buddha. During the festival of Losar, Boudhanath hosts the largest celebration in Nepal.
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Boudhanath Stupa (or Bodnath Stupa) is the largest stupa in Nepal and the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet. It is the center of Tibetan culture in Kathmandu and rich in Buddhist symbolism. The stupa is located in the town of Boudha, on the eastern outskirts of Kathmandu.
History of Boudhanath Stupa
Bodnath was probably 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 1959 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.
What to See at Boudhanath Stupa
From above, Bodnath Stupa looks like a giant mandala, or diagram of the Buddhist cosmos. And as in all Tibetan mandalas, four of the Dhyani Buddhas mark the cardinal points, with the fifth, Vairocana, enshrined in the center (in the white hemisphere of the stupa). The five Buddhas also personify the five elements (earth, water, fire, air and ether), which are represented in the stupa’s architecture.
There are other symbolic numbers here as well: the nine levels of Boudhanath Stupa represent the mythical Mt. Meru, center of the cosmos and the 13 rings from the base to the pinnacle symbolize the path to enlightenment, or “Bodhi” — hence the stupa’s name.
At the bottom, the stupa is surrounded by an irregular 16-sided wall, with frescoes in the niches. In addition to the Five Dhyani Buddhas, Boudhanath Stupa is closely associated with the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Padmapani), whose 108 forms are depicted in sculptures around the base. The mantra of Avalokiteshvara – Om Mani Padme Hum – is carved on the prayer wheels beside the images of Avalokiteshvara around the base of the stupa.
The base of the stupa consists of three large platforms, decreasing in size. These platforms symbolize Earth, and here you can look out at the mountains while listening to the chants of the devout doing kora, walking around the stupa praying.
Next come two circular plinths supporting the hemisphere of the stupa, symbolizing water. As at Swayabunath, Bodnath is topped with a square tower bearing the omnipresent Buddha eyes on all four sides.
Instead of a nose is a question-mark-type symbol that is actually the Nepali character for the number 1, symbolizing unity and the one way to reach enlightenment—through the Buddha’s teachings. Above this is the third eye, symbolizing the wisdom of the Buddha.
The square tower is topped by a pyramid with 13 steps, representing the ladder to enlightenment. The triangular shape is the abstract form for the element of fire. At the top of the tower is a gilded canopy, the embodiment of air, with above it a gilded spire, symbolic of ether and the Buddha Vairocana. Prayer flags tied to the stupa flutter in the wind, carrying mantras and prayers heavenward.
The main entrance to the upper platform of Bodnath Stupa is on the north side. Here Amoghasiddhi, progenitor of the future Buddha, presides. Below Amoghasiddhi is the Buddha Maitreya, the future Buddha.
Surrounding Boudhanath Stupa are streets and narrow alleys lined with colorful homes, Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, and street vendors.
Festivals and Events
During the festival of Losar (Tibetan New Year) in February or March, Boudhanath hosts the largest celebration in Nepal.
2. Boudhanath Stupa
people walk around the Boudhanath stupa clockwise, repeating the mantra ‘OM MANI PADME HUM’
Boudhanath stupa is one of the largest stupas in the world. It is also one of the oldest religious sites in Kathmandu. The stupa has Buddha’s eyes and eyebrows painted on it. In between the eyes, the Devanagari number ‘one’ is painted, symbolizing a nose. Most importantly, the pilgrims believe that the Boudhanath Stupa houses the remains of lord Buddha himself.
Tibetan traders have rested and offered their prayers in the stupa for many years. It is an important place for meditation and pilgrimage for Buddhists around the world. The Mughal invaders wrecked the first Stupa in the 14th century, so the current stupa is a more recent re-construction.
Many people walk four to five times around the stupa clockwise, repeating the mantra ‘OM MANI PADME HUM’ daily.
Boudhanath Stupa entrance fee
Regular entrance fee: NPR 400