Bouddhanath Stupa is where one goes to find a deeper meaning of one’s existence; it is where one finds oneself.
One might wonder if spending time around the stupa could be any more calming. The much needed refreshing break it gives from the hustle-bustle of the city just outside its walls, the view of the blue skies that seem impossibly clean without the constant taars and uneven buildings confining them to little patches of white and blue when we look up, the soft hum of prayers—everything about this place is peaceful. But, what most don’t know is how the morning amplifies this serenity.
Lung-fuls of the fresh morning air.
“I get up at three in the morning everyday to make them,” says the shawl-clad Thuli Gurung. Laid out beside her on sheets of cloth are packets of home-made sel-roti and jars of pickle. Every morning, for the past month, Thuli Gurung and her sister Renuka Lama have been selling the yummy goodness they make. Hungry passersby looking for healthy food eye the packets with much admiration, and they make their way over with purses and wallets in hand.
If you look around, you will see many like Thuli Gurung, selling light food at prices just as light. One of the more popular snacks on the premises is the Tibetan khapse (“kha” meaning mouth, and “se” meaning, to eat). Made of maida, or wheat flour, and sugar, it is also used as an offering to Buddha and has been in popular demand in Bouddha for over half a decade. A favorite with Tibetans, Sherpas, and Tamangs, especially at Lhosar (New Year), it also serves as the perfect snack in the morning, especially when it is accompanied by a hot cup of tea blended with ghiu, which is sold just as abundantly. Talk about a healthy and yummy way to keep warm in the cold winter mornings!
But that is not where it ends. If you’re one to take the adage “live and let live” seriously, you can also feed the pigeons while you feed yourself. “Eat and let eat”, if you will. Seeds (sold in packages starting from just Rs.25) lure flocks to the ground, and there is nothing quite like the whoosh of air generated by a flurry of wings. (Fun fact: This makes a photogenic background too!)
Sitting on one of the many benches, sipping tea with a heart that is content with feeding the birds in a place of pilgrimage, nibbling at khapse, you are bound to have a positive start to the day. Such is the morning shade of Bouddha. And, if that is not enough, there is a vegetable market right around the corner, where the freshest vegetables from places like Ramechhap are sold in the morning. The market has an abundance of ripe seasonal fruits as well, so after treating yourself to some tranquility, you can grocery shop for the family.
In essence, Bouddha is a win-win environment for both spirit and health. However, it is in the mornings that this place offers its most