Pic: Temba Lama
It has not even been a month since Boudhanath was reopened after its repair and consecration, and it is once again crowded with devotees and tourists circumambulating the shrine.
The stupa is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal, and tourists flock to the many shops, cafes and even meditation centres that surround it.
“If they didn’t tell me, I would have never known,” remarked Claudia Gaebel from Germany looking at the great white dome of Boudhanath. It’s Gaebel’s first visit to Nepal and for her, the trip has been a spiritual one.
Although busier and louder than Lumbini, she also feels the area surrounding the Boudhanath stupa is more integrated than Swayambhunath. Since its reopening, tourists like Gaebel have returned to the site, and the stupa is once more alive with the soft chant of Buddhist monks and the smell of burning incense. It is hard to believe the shrine was covered in scaffolding just a month ago.
Showing a small group of British travelers around, tour guide Suraj Sharma says he had no customers for six months after the April 2015 earthquake. But tourist numbers are up again, and even the reconstruction of the stupa became an attraction.
“It is a UNESCO World Heritage site so many tourists were interested to see how the work was being carried out,” said Sharma. “Buddhism is not a religion but a way of life, tourists come because they enjoy the vibe of the place.”
Restoration work on the stupa began in May 2015 with generous contributions from Buddhist groups and volunteers, and the shrine is the first heritage site in Kathmandu to be reconstructed since the earthquake.
Chinese tourist Jianfeng Zhang says he cannot tell any difference between the reconstructed stupa and the original when he visited in 2012. “I love it here because it’s an amazing place to photograph,” he said.
Pics: Pan Lan
Dine on Italian pizzas baked in wood-fired ovens. Enjoy cheesy delights in the bright and sun-warmed rooftop terrace which offers a panoramic view of Boudhanath and creates an intimate vibe for friends to meet up over a cappucinno.
Tushita Heaven Handicrafts
This is the place where you can learn thangka painting from scratch with courses and facilities for beginners and a cosy lobby for students to practice. It usually takes three to four years for a person to fully master the art of thangka painting, so if time is of the essence, consider buying some of the work done by Tushita's junior artists.
(01) 4916246, www.thangkatushita.com
Harati Maa Handicraft
After the earthquake last year, shops in Boudhanath experienced dwindling sales. The number of Chinese tourists, who form the bulk of the customers, decreased by half. But the price of silver jewelry and Buddha statues are the same as before the earthquake. Delicate handicrafts that will make the perfect souvenir and presents for folks back home.
(01) 4916605, www.haratimaa.webs.com
Pho 99 Vietnamese Noodle House
This local Nepali chain offers a variety of traditional Vietnamese dishes and drinks. House Special noodle soup has an authentic taste. Appetisers there are refreshing but the most interesting are the spring rolls. If you love coffee, it is recommended that you have the imported traditional Vietnamese coffee in its distinctive hourglass-style cup.
Boudha Stupa Thangka Centre
Master the art of thangka painting with the help of local craftsmen in this cosy workshop overlooking the back of the stupa. Spend a productive day learning about Buddhist philosophy. Open six days a week, the centre also offers one-day training including a crash course in colouring, canvas making, colour making, filling colours, shading and more. Purchase an intricately done thangka or two from the art school which has been around for more than a decade.
The most western-style coffee shop in Boudhanath. Started in 1999, Himalayan Java has become a local coffee chain. Offering a spacious and neat surrounding, enjoy an expresso made from local coffee beans which have a unique and special taste. The manager says the goal is to be the Starbucks of Nepal. Judge for yourself.
Indulge in Tibetan cuisine and culture as you share a meal with friends in outdoor huts. Choose from a wide menu range catering to all types of tastes. For a real Tibetan experience this winter, thukpa the traditional noodle soup would be a good choice.
The green lawns of the monastery lend a pleasant backdrop for the Buddhist monks who often walk in the garden. Admire the Buddhist architecture and quaint colour scheme that brightens up the surroundings. With an abundance of shade, find yourself a seat and meditate or sit with a friend and enjoy the peace that Boudanath brings to all who visit.
Rabsel Garden Café
Make your way to the peaceful gardens of the Sechen Monastery. A veranda and courtyard covered with greenery makes for a serene atmosphere. The vegetarian menu offers a range of freshly prepared dishes including homemade pasta, quiche, pies and traditional Nepali cuisine. With all proceeds from the café going to the Monastery, you won’t regret spending money on a meal here.
[email protected] (01) 5178209
A few minutes walk from the stupa, the insides of the monastery damaged during the April 2015 earthquake has not been repaired yet. But one can still go for a quiet stroll or pick a spot in the big grounds of the monastery and mediate for a while.
Experience peace and calm with a quick sound therapy session away from the hustle and bustle of the stupa and a stone’s throw away from the White Gompa. Treatment for vitality, menstrual cycle regulation and PMS to Aura Harmonisation, the planetarium has it all. Also opt for training courses and unwind. Take home with you not only the art of therapy but also some planet singing bowls from the shop offering a variety of these healingtools.
9843193204 / 9823086179
A rising Nepal
La Casita De Boudhanath