Boudhanath, Asia’s largest stupa and one of the largest in the world, is a historical and famous Buddhist tourist destination near Kathmandu, attracting thousands of visitors every day.
Considered to be the holiest Tibetan monument, Boudhanath was built during the reign of King Manadeva in the 5th century AD and has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Boudhanath or Jharung Khashor symbolizes the high knowledge treasure of the Buddhas and is believed to fulfill the wishes of devotees who prostrate and circumambulate it with a pure heart.
Boudhanath reflects the rich Tibetan culture as evident in its holy appearance.
A square tower with the eyes of the omnipresent Buddha painted on all four sides stands atop Boudhanath.
Prayer flags in five colors with mantras and prayers, representing the five elements or Five Pure Lights of Tibetan Buddhism namely space, air, water, fire and earth, are tied all around this great stupa called ‘Chorten Chenpo’ in Tibetan.
Over 50 Tibetan Gompas or monasteries and nunneries are located close to the monument including the Shechen Monastery, Khawalung Monastery, Kopan Monastery, Khachoe Ghakyil Ling Nunnery and Pullahari Monastery & Retreat Center, the seat of His Eminence Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche of Tibet in Nepal.
While the nine levels of the Boudhanath stupa symbolize Mount Meru, considered the center of the cosmos, the 13 rings from the base to the pinnacle of the monument represent “Bodhi” or the path to enlightenment, from which the name Boudhanath has been derived.
The 108 forms of the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteshvara or Padmapani, are depicted in exquisite sculptures around the base of the stupa, while the mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum” is inscribed on the prayer wheels beside his image.
Nearby Boudhanath are several handicraft stores selling Tibetan souvenirs, statues, prayer flags, ceremonial horns, Tibetan drums, singing bowls, thankas and other items of tourist interest.
Feeding of birds is organized here early in the morning each day for the visitors to participate in as an act of giving and compassion.
The Taragaon Museum on Boudha Road and the Bodhisattva Gallery promoting and selling Newari art statues and Paubha paintings are among popular among tourists to Boudhanath.
The famous Pashupatinath temple is within a 30-minute walking distance of Boudhanath. Regular bus services to the ancient temple of Changu Narayan are also available from here.
Boudhanath is situated at a distance of seven miles from the center of Kathmandu and is easily accessible by taxis and buses.
The Boudhanath stupa that was severely damaged in the 2015 earthquake has been renovated at a cost of Rs 230 million and reopened to the public in November 2016.
One of the few places across the world where unfettered Tibetan Buddhist culture is on view, Boudhanath presents a fascinating and enriching spiritual experience to all tourists visiting Nepal.