Buddhism, Destinations, Nepal

An evening at Boudhanath Stupa

May 10, 2011

As evening fell on my first afternoon in Nepal, I felt for a moment like I was back in Tibet.

Caught on a tide of jostling pilgrims, I was pulled forward by the crowd, some of them murmuring mantras like om mani padme hum and swinging their hand-held prayer wheels. I could smell butter lamps and there was a cold edge to the air.

But this wasn’t Barkhor Square in Lhasa.

It was Boudhanath Stupa in the Kathmandu Valley, in Nepal. Many of these pilgrims were likely to be Tibetan refugees who had fled their homeland.

Unlike in Barkhor Square there were no soldiers watching hawk-eyed from surrounding rooftops for signs of dissent.

Boudhanath during the evening kora, or circumambulation, of the stupa, is a sight to behold.

It’s a spiritual rush hour with monks, nuns, ageing grandparents and teenaged girls in heels and leather jackets joining in the throng.

The stupa is one of the most important Buddhist sites in Nepal and the area surrounding Boudhanath is home to Tibetan refugee settlements. Apparently there are 50 other smaller stupas constructed by Tibetans in the surrounding area.

Activity at the stupa proves that Tibetan buddhism is very much alive and well in Nepal.

Built on an ancient trade route to Tibet, the Stupa’s origins can be traced as far back as the 5th century AD and it’s now a UNESCO world heritage site.

The painted eyes are distinctly Nepali and you’ll see these painted all over Nepal, including on Swayambunath Temple (the monkey temple), also in the Kathmandu Valley.

Prayer flags trail out from all corners of the building allowing the wind to take the matras to heaven. It was mesmerising. I didn’t know whether to keep snapping photos or just walk the kora and take it all in.

In the end, I did a bit of both!


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  • Reply Mike Lenzen | Traveled Earth May 11, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    I really like all your motion photography, gives a sense of life to the photos.

    • Reply MeganRTW May 11, 2011 at 7:44 pm

      Thanks Mike – most of these were actually pictures I wasn’t that pleased with the first time round but when I went back and looked at them again last week I realised the exact same thing 🙂

  • Reply mugs May 12, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    Yeah got to agree with mike! great abience feeling, makes you feel like your almost there. Should i get my curry powder closer so i can get the smell & images going @ the same time?. They do say that scent is a magic memory reminder.

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