Boudha Tourist Attractions
Boudha or Bodnath lies 6 km (33/4 mi.) east of Kathmandu on the old trade route via Sankhu to Tibet. Site of the country's largest stupa, and with long-standing links with the Tibetan capital Lhasa and Tibetan Buddhism, the town is the religious center of Nepal's Tibetan community. The importance of these buildings has been recognized as a UNESCO world-cultural heritage site. Following the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1950 numerous Tibetans took refuge in Nepal, building homes and Tibetan monasteries in the vicinity of Boudha. The town's importance for Newari Buddhists has correspondingly declined.Losar, the Tibetan New Year festival, reaches a climax on its fourth day with a ceremony in Boudha. Monks from the surrounding monasteries, exiled Tibetans and hundreds of pilgrims, many of them from eastern Tibet, Ladakh, Bhutan and the Nepalese Himalayas, gather for the occasion. The stupa is festooned with colorful prayer flags, long copper horns are blown, lamas conduct their rituals and a picture of the Dalai Lama is carried through the crowd in procession. At a pre-ordained moment, with exemplary timing, everyone throws tsampa (barley meal) into the air, shouting in jubilation. The monasteries are the scene of further New Year celebrations involving troupes of masked dancers.The age and origins of the stupa are shrouded in myth and uncertainty. The Tibetan version is that it was built by a prostitute who came into money. She entreated the king to give her a piece of land the size a buffalo hide could cover, in order to build a shrine. When he agreed she cut the hide into thin strips which, joined together, measured out a sizeable plot. The king had no alternative but to keep his promise and his rueful words "Jarung kashor" became the Tibetan name of the stupa. Loosely translated they mean: "The words were fine, but the deed is like a split in the tongue".According to a second account the stupa was built over the grave mound of a famous Tibetan Dalai Lama. But the Nepalese have a yet different version of their own. A King Vikramakeshari noticed one day that the Narayanhiti Fountain had dried up. Filled with foreboding he consulted his astrologers and was told that disaster could be averted only by sacrificing a human being with royal attributes. Since he and his son Bhupakeshari alone possessed these qualities Vikramakeshari decided to sacrifice himself. He commanded his son to go to the fountain on a moonless night and to cut off the head of the man he found there without taking a look at him first. The prince did as he was bid, only to discover with horror that he had killed his father. He sought advice from the goddess Mani Yogini who instructed him to build a stupa. While it was being built conditions were so dry that the workers had to spread out their jackets to catch the dew.The legend suggests that the stupa once had a significance for the Newaris which it later lost. No Nepalese king apart from Pratapa Malla (1641-74) contributed to its endowment, which is strange in view of the importance and size of the shrine. One reason may have been the temple's desecration in Newari eyes by Muslim invaders in the 14th c. But Tibetan adoption of Buddhist shrines is not all that unusual. Especially after the Gurkhas assumed power, accelerating the spread of Hinduism, Tibetan pilgrims increasingly took responsibility for Buddhist sites they considered holy.
The Bodnath Stupa is the most important shrine in the Kathmandu Valley. The huge stupa has nine levels, symbolic of the "World Mountain". The iconic painted eyes peer out from the top.
Map of Boudha Attractions