Boudhanath Stupa | World's largest Spherical Stupa
Boudhanath Stupa is the world's largest Spherical Stupa built in Mandala style in Nepal. The stupa is surrounded by residential areas from all around.
Boudhanath Stupa; also known as the 'Khsa Chaitya' and 'Jarung Khashor' is located in in Kathmandu, Nepal. The stupa is made in mandala style with a spherical dome in the middle. It is the world's largest Spherical Stupa. Beautiful Boudhanath Stupa was enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
Located in the northern outskirts of Kathmandu, it is only 3.7 kilometers from the airport via Jorpati road and 5.4 kilometers from Airport via Gaushala Chabahil road. Likewise, it is only 3.2 Kilometers from another world heritage site Pashupatinath. The stupa is located about 11 kilometers from the city center (Thamel) of Kathmandu. The place is accessible via taxi, metro buses and is one of the best places to visit for refreshment.
It's one of the most visited stupas in Kathmandu for its grandeur. Though it was originally famous as 'Khsa Chaitya' in Nepal Bhasa, and 'Jarung Khashor' in Tibetan language, Nepalese Monarch in the nineties changed its name to Boudhanath to give it a more Hindu feel.
The Stupa is also famous because of its majestic spherical shape, as its the biggest spherical Gompa standing over a beautiful mandala structure. Likewise, the place has been a tourist attraction for decades. People visiting the dome can enjoy Tibetan culture and food while overlooking the peaceful ancient Stupa.
Main Events in Boudhanath Stupa
Every full moon night, people lit lamps (diyo) which illuminate the Boudhanath Stupa.
- Buddha Jayanti celebration
Preparation of Buddha Jayanti starts with recoloring the Stupa and decorating it. The Locals color it in white and make a beautiful red edge on the white color around its dome. They also polish the pinnacle and eyes of wisdom, weeks before people visit there for Buddha Jayanti. On the very day of jayanti, they worship the stupa, pour color, offer rice grains, and various sweets.
This offering symbolizes Siddhartha Gautama’s action of giving up on the worldly belongings and living his life over alms offered by the devotees. On this day, religious scroll paintings and images of the Buddha are put on display.
At Night of Buddha Jayanti people light every corner of the stupa which is one of the best scenes to witness. The whole stupa lightens with the offered butter lamps.
- Four Lhosars Celebration
Similarly, four Lhosars; “Galdan Namchot Lhosar, Losoong or Gyalpo Lhosar, Tamu Lhosar, and Sonam Lhosar”, is also popularly celebrated by various buddhist communities to commemorate various Rinpoche and Buddha.
- Temal Jatra
Temal Jatra is a special festival of Buddhist people, especially from the Tamang community. People celebrate it in Chaitra Shukla Purnima which is also marked as the first day of Spring. This festival is commemorated in the memory of deceased family members and friends.
On this day, people climb up to the upper floor of the base of the sphere of the stupa and make offerings of grains to Buddha’s bodhisattva. These visitors light scented sticks on the walls of Khasti Chaitya and in the evening they light butter lamps.
Legends and Myths
There are many legends and history surrounding Boudhanath. As per historians, Boudhanath was founded by the Nepalese Licchavi king Sivadeva (590–604 CE), but other Nepalese chronicles place it during the reign of King Manadeva (464–505 CE).
Chronicle of excavated of Boudhanath
According to Tibetan chronicles, the site was excavated in the late 15th or early 16th century, and the bones of the famous six century King Amshuvarm were discovered in the tomb inside the stupa.
Tomb Of Kassapa Buddha
Another legend says that the stupa entombs the remains of Kassapa Buddha, one of the ancient Buddhas who was the twenty-seventh of the twenty-nine named Buddhas, the sixth of the Seven Buddhas of Antiquity, and the third of the five Buddhas of the current kalpa, according to Theravda Buddhist tradition.
Newar Buddhist Belief
According to the Newar Buddhist community, King Vikramaditya (from Licchavi era) instructed them to build a stone tap in the southern part of the palace courtyard in the time of a great drought. When the new tap failed to produce water, the king consulted his astrologers, who advised that a human with thirty-two perfection was required to be sacrificed in order to bring water into the southern stone tap.
Because only the king and his two princes were suitable candidates, the brave king euthanized himself in order to bring water to the dhunge dhara in the time of the great drought.
According to the legend, during the sacrifice, Vikramaditya's head flew away and landed at the nearby Sankhu Bajrayogini Temple where they still worship his stone head. So, the prince who performed the sacrifice, decided to go to the top of Bajrayogini and cast off a chicken, vowing to build a stupa wherever it landed. People say that the hen flew from bajrayogini and landed on the site of the current Boudhanath Stupa.
Beliefs regarding Rain Water Harvesting spot
Many newari people say that Kathmandu now has lost the old technique of harvesting dew drops. As the city was experiencing drought; back then Boudhanath was the place where they harvested dew drops, so it was named Khsti, where "khas" meant dew and "ti" meant drops.
Legend about a Tibetan Woman Who took Care of Ducks in the Stupa
Another popular belief in Tibetan mythology says Yambu Chorten Chenpo translates literally to "Chorten of poultry fallen promise." It is believed that a Tibetan buddhist woman spent many days with her four sons on the grounds of Khaasti before returning to Lhasa.
A painting of Jadzima can still be found at the back of the Hariti/Mamala temple in Boudha. The picture has a pond with many ducks and a lady taking care of them. The stupa has an interesting history that explains its unusual name, many Tibetan Nepalese living around Stupa are believed to be the children of the lady who lived in the stupa taking care of the ducks.
A Conjugal History Of Junga Bahadur’s Daughter to Chinese Delegate
The recent history says, the first Chinese delegate arrived from China to assist the Nepalese ruler with translation during a war negotiation. Our ruler gave land in front of the stupa to the delegate for his residence. He then married Jung Bahadur Rana’s daughter (born from Rana and his tamang wife) to the delegate. Thus, the Chinese translator became acquainted with both the Ranas and the Tamang community. From that day, his descendants have lived in the monastery and are still involved in the management of the stupa till now.
Things to do in Boudhanath Stupa
Boudhanath is one of the most majestic spherical-Mandala structures which has survived various natural disasters and human invasions. Till today, the Stupa is a center of Buddhist belief. It is definitely one of the most celebrated ancient architectures in Kathmandu. Let's talk about things to do while you are at Boudha Stupa.
Circumambulate the Stupa
Once you are here, you must circumambulate around the majestic stupa. It is one of the most favorite activities that tourists as well as pilgrims perform. One lap of the stupa is approximately 150 meters long. While doing this, you will get a round view of the stupa from the ground. The back door to the Dome is open for visitors and it also has a big Mane (prayer wheel). At day time, you can walk around the Mandala to its first bhumi (first circular storey of the mandala stupa) for an up close view. People congregate in the square to light incense, turn prayer wheels, and circumambulate the monument clockwise.
Rest at any Rooftop restaurants
You can view the Stupa from a monastery standing in front of the stupa. But, rooftop restaurants give you an opportunity to enjoy coffee and Tibetan food while seeing the Stupa from top; you cannot experience that from the monastery. So, you should check out any of these restaurants to get a good view along with tasty food. With that view and food, you can take a rest there.
The stupa and its surroundings are extremely photogenic. You can take some phenomenal shots of the Stupa from the walking ground. Likewise, you can also take a panoramic photo of the stupa from various rooftop restaurants. The place is also a good spot for street photography. Likewise, you can also take pictures of various gift shops and souvenir shops, here in the stupa complex.
Do not photograph people without their permission. Before starting to snap away ask shopkeepers, nuns and monks if you can take their picture? It's important to first ask for permission before clicking the photograph.
Likewise, the monastery has a unique rule that forbids people from creating short videos for TikTok. While making these videos, you may obstruct people circumambulating the Stupa. However, you can visit these rooftop restaurants and make as many videos as you want.
Participate in a Thangka Art
You can take a thangka painting lessons in some of these art seller places. As thangka is an old buddhist painting tradition, people all over the world love it. You can get to know the process, the rules and stories behind these Thangka Paintings as well.
From many generations; thangka, and pauvas are some of the most valuable art forms in Nepal. So, if you are an art enthusiast, there’s no better activity to do than learning how to create thangka here.
You can even buy some of these artistic Thangkas. Likewise, singing bowls and other different souvenirs may attract you.
Take part in Meditational activities
Meditation is one of the major activities that you can take part in while visiting Boudhanath Stupa. Various yoga and meditation centers around Boudha will cater you these activities for a minimum charge. The place also offers Chinese medicinal herbs and other ancient treatments as well. People can enjoy learning chanting and singing bowl meditation here. So, if you want to learn something new and aesthetic, you can sign up for these activities at Boudhanath.
Take a Guided Tour
As the stupa is a world heritage site, you can easily find a tour guide at Boudhanath. There are lots of things to learn about; tour guides can guide you a lot. Likewise, the guide can help you take part in the puja services, take you to a good Tibetan restaurant for a good meal. Where can I take the photos and what is going on in the stupa at the very instance? - The answer is "Ask your guide" You can even ask about the gift show with the guide.
Even if you take a guided tour, you should keep in mind that monasteries and nunneries are not tourist attractions, but rather sanctuaries for inner practice. So while on their sacred grounds, you should be respectful, turn off cell phones, lower your voice, and don’t smoke on the stupa ground.