Boudhanath also called Boudha is a stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal. Boudha stupa is semicircle shaped and contains the relics and remains of Buddha. The stupa’s massive mandala makes it one of the largest spherical stupas in the world. Boudha Stupa was listed in world heritage list by UNESCO in 1979 and it is one of the most popular tourist sites in Kathmandu. The stupa dates from 600AD and was built by a Tibetan king. The stupa is a historical pilgrimage site for all the Buddhists around the world. The stupa was built using many kilograms of gold for decoration.
The giant Boudhanath stupa is a gateway to heaven serving as a horizon between the earth and sky. The base of the stupa structure consists of three large platforms decreasing in size. These platforms symbolizes the sky, whereas the circular vase supporting the semi-sphere signifies water. The eyes of Buddha painted on the stupa are diversely described as inscrutable, impassive, empathetic and shrewd. The five most promising elements representing Buddha i.e. earth, air, water, fire and space are comprised in the Stupa architecture.
Boudha is an awe-inspiring and spiritual space and also one of the holiest Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Kathmandu, Nepal. During the full moon day, monks are indulged in prayers, singing songs and all Buddhists come to the place as a part of their holy visit. As a daily ritual, many people walk three or more times around the stupa while repeating the mantra ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ in a “kora”. Prayer flags that are tied to the stupa flutter in the wind, carrying mantras and prayers towards the heaven.
Although it is a holy place for Buddhists, we can see many people from different cultures also praying in the stupa. Sitting at 36 meters high, the site is absolutely magical, with symbols and interesting energies to be found at every turn.
Surrounding Boudhanath Stupa are streets and narrow alleys lined with colorful homes, Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and street vendors. There are number of restaurants, coffee shops, cafes, guest houses, Tibetan art and craft shops, Buddha statue shops, etc around the stupa. Tibetan foods such as laphing, thukpa, alu roti, khapse etc are found inside the premises of Boudha stupa and is very famous among the locals. There are lot of eateries where not just Nepalese but different cuisines are also found. Among them Roadhouse Cafe, La Casita, Pho99, are very famous among the tourists as well the Nepalese. We can also find traditional Nepali food i.e Daal Bhat and for that ThasangThakali Kitchen is most loved among all.
Boudhanath is also a shopping hub for many people. We can find different kinds of shops that promote local as well as branded products. For Cashmere products Tara Oriental is famous, Drichu store is well known for its handmade clothes and you can find traditional Thangka paintings which is famous all over the world. You can also explore a Thangka learning center inside the premises of the stupa. Around Boudhanath there are many luxurious hotels like Hyatt Regency Kathmandu, Hotel Tibet International, Ghangri Boutique Hotel and Shambaling Boutique Hotel. During the festival of Losar (Tibetan New Year) in February or March, Boudhanath hosts the largest celebration in Nepal. Boudhanath stupa opens daily for 24hours and every day it welcomes thousands of visitors. Although it is over-crowed but yet it is a very peaceful area. People of all age group come here to hang out, stroll around, click pictures, eat delicious food and most importantly to get peace of mind. It is very easy to get there as it is in Central Kathmandu, airport is also just few kilometers away. We can also get the view of Boudhanath from tall houses, apartments, hotels that are far away. It is one of the must visit places in Kathmandu.
However, due to April 2015 Nepal earthquake Boudhanath Stupa was demolished badly. The whole structure above the dome, and the religious relics it contained had to be removed. The reconstruction work began in June 2015 and was completed by November 2016. The renovation and reconstruction was organized and completed by the Boudhanath Area Development Committee. The repairs were funded entirely by private donations from Buddhist groups and volunteers. Now the stupa is open for all after its renovation.
Boudhanath is a world heritage site, it signifies Buddhist culture, tradition and way of life so it should be preserved. Therefore, it is a must visit site for both the national as well as international tourists.