Symbol of pure Buddhism, Bouddhanath is a great escape from the busy street of Thamel. This prettiest white dome is located close northwest of Thamel within Kathmandu, which measure seven kilometer driving distance. Sometimes I found myself feeling that I’m somewhere deep inside Tibet. This good vibe and feel arise, especially late afternoon when typical Tibetan looks people start to circle the monastery. Bouddha Management Committee had taken the steps to penalize two wheelers and four wheelers if they void the rule of no wheels around Bouddhanath. Because of this management decision, you can find complete silence around the Stupa. Another good aspect I appreciate about this world heritage site is complete absence of beggars and walking street vendors. No one will bother you. Stupa is almost surrounded by rooftop restaurant 360. You can choose any of them for food and drink and I promise you won’t regret.
You might find stop being squeezed between numbers of surrounding houses. No matter about physical aspect this is still the ideal for Buddhist Devotees and Tibetan Refugee. There might be a several ideas to enjoy in Bouddhanath. I like to suggest nine different things to do in Bouddha. If this is your first visit, don’t miss any one of it. If you visit on public holiday like Saturday or any other government holiday of Nepal, it might get little crowd. I prefer to stay on the rooftop of Bouddhanath View Café and Guest House. Without any due here is the list of Nine Things To Do in Bouddha.
1. Climb the stairs and walk around, clockwise beneath the prayer flags
You will pay an entrance fee around USD 2, enter the grounds and begin walking clockwise around the stupa following white fence with prayer wheels. Every time you turn the prayer wheels, you are sending and spreading the prayers. You will find a gateway to the upper part of the stupa. Climb the ladder and continue clockwise. It’s a pretty view; the prayer flags are flapping above you in all their colors. And atmosphere feels very light. It’s an easy access to this level and you will see a different view of the stupa. Please obey the signs that restrict access to certain areas.
2. Watch Buddhist Devotees perform their prayer rituals or you can even join with them
At the base of stupa, you will see many wooden platforms where western and eastern people have chosen to sit for the day and pray. You can see on the next level many Tibetans spinning their handheld prayer wheel and chanting “Om Mani Padme Hum”. Also, you will see more fervent worship by Buddhist prostrating them circling the stupa. You will see children playing, laughing, people taking pictures but there is still an air of reverence.
3. Buy a prayers flag and offer it stupa as donation / Purchase lime powder and help to decorate stupa with a cream white color and golden pattern
You can do this any day of the week, but it is especially important on spiritual holidays. On these days they want to decorate the stupa even more by adding new prayer flags. You can purchase a prayer flag and hand over it to them again and they will hang it. Every new prayer flags bring positive vibes and good wishes. You can also help to paint the stupa by purchasing a packet of lime powder. They will collect it from everybody like you and later paint the stupa.
4. Buy a bucket of maize and feed the birds, it’s good luck
There are many birds residing here around the stupa. They don’t bother you but its a good gesture to buy maize or packet of some other bird food and feed them. As you start to distribute the foods, they will circle around you, it will be a good picture! As is the Buddhist Belief not to harm any living beings, be nice to the birds.
5. In late afternoon join the Tibetan Refugees circling the stupa, turning the prayer wheel clockwise and counting the beads
On the outskirts of Bouddhanath, there are many Tibetan Refugee’s settlements. Just like clockwork, every day in the late afternoon around sunset time these Tibetans will gather around the stupa and begin their prayer rituals of circling clockwise and turning each individual prayer wheel. They will also keep rotating their handheld prayer wheel, and praying with their beads. These Tibetan People look like native Tibetan who just arrived to Bouddhanath probably on foot from Tibet.
6. At sunset time find a rooftop restaurant, order a cup of tea and enjoy the beautiful colors
There are many restaurants with rooftop views that have a wide variety of foods and teas. Choose on the west side of stupa so that you can watch the effect of sunset on the stupa. Order your food and tea and sit back and watch the play of colors. Watch the stupa turn from a dazzling white to a golden hue and slowly fades away as dusk sets in. Feel the magic.
7. Feel free to visit Thanka Painting Schools and watch the artists at work
From morning to night you will find artist hand painting Thanka at various painting schools around the stupa. You are most welcome to visit the school and watch artist at work. They take great pride in the work and their attention to detail is amazing. They will be thrilled if you would even buy a Thanka. It will be a one of a kind treasures that no one but you will have. Take this treasure home, frame it and love it.
8. There are a couple of monastery here while circling the stupa, you are welcome to enter the monastery, turn the prayers wheel and offer butter lamp for peace (In most monastery pictures are allowed, however look for some sign boards for any restriction)
Enter the monastery and you will find both Buddhist and Hindu people visiting and worshiping. This religious harmony and tolerance is a kind of phenomena of Nepal. On the first floor, there is a huge prayer wheel for you to rotate, go for it. Climb the stair and there will be lamp section where you can burn butter lamp, praying for world peace or whatever you want to pray for. Take a picture, but seek for permission before. Don’t touch the wall as they are painted with depictions of Buddha’s Life. Take off your shoes, step inside the main hall of the monastery.
9. There are many Tibetan Souvenir Shop with Thanka, Tibetan Handicraft and Jewelries. You can bargain for the price
Anything Tibetan you wish to purchase you will find here and be sure to bargain for the price. They expect that. It might be Thanka, rugs, clothes, jewelers, Buddha statue, hand held prayer wheels and many more Tibetan Things. Buy some gifts to take back home and your friends and family will be happy to have such unusual gifts.