Situated 8km east from central Kathmandu, Boudhanath Stupa is the center for Tibetan culture. It is one of the largest Buddhist shrines and can be seen from your window seat of the plane when you are landing at the international airport in Kathmandu. From the plane, Boudha looks like a huge mandala, a representation of Buddhist cosmos.
Picture Courtesy: Bijaya Chaurasia
A mixture of restaurants, coffee shops and souvenir shops surround the stupa. The various souvenir shops sell singing bowls, thangkas, prayer flags, Buddha idols and much more. You see pilgrims doing ‘Kora’ around the stupa, which is a religious practice where the people circulate around a holy place to make their prayers heard. Boudhanath Stupa is similar to Swoyambhunath with only one exception being that Boudhnath is built by supporting with circular plinths on its base.
Look for a gate at the north end of Boudha to reach the upper platform of the stupa. As you make your way to the top end, you see a small courtyard where people can be seen sprawling on a wooden layer to offer their prayers to the god. You can see the Amoghasiddhi, who is the ancestor of future Buddha in the entrance to the upper end of the stupa. Just below the statue of Amoghasiddhi is Maitreya Buddha, the future Buddha.
The stupa is surrounded by streets and narrow alleys lined with colourful homes and many other Tibetan monasteries. The place has been a buzzing centre to pray, to meet and greet or just to pass time for the locals as well as for the visitors. As for the eateries at Boudha, it ranges from fancy diners to small restaurants. The common local food at Boudha is the Thukpa and Thenduk, which are both similar to noodle soups but much more than that. Thukpa and Thenduk are served with a lot of vegetables, meat and Tibetan spices. The other common Tibetan cuisine is Mo: Mo: which is widely famous all over Nepal, however a distinct type of mo: mo: called Tingmo is limited to Boudha. Tingmo is a chewy dish made of flour eaten with special type of curries. You got to try it to know the taste because it is really hard to put it into words.
Tingmo at Boudha
Walk around the stupa early in the morning or evening sending prayers and sit on nearby rooftop restaurants to enjoy the view from above with a coffee in hand. Enrich your palate with the authentic Tibetan cuisines and shop for souvenirs till your heart is content. All in all, pay tribute to Lord Buddha, the light of Asia in this holy Buddhist shrine while enjoying the experience responsibly.