Monks, Tourists & a Cafe: New Orleans in Boudha

Features Issue 66 Jul, 2010
Text by Roshan Gurung

Boudhanath is the favorite heritage site for many tourists and expatriates. No matter when one visits, there is a strong religious atmosphere that surrounds this fabulous stupa. The hordes of people circumambulating constantly and the Tibetan presence gives it a special aura. The shops have at last stopped playing the “Om Mani Padme Hum” CD, which was becoming painful. Peace has returned to Boudhanath.

There are many restaurants around the stupa, but there wasn’t a place where one could relax. That ‘cool ambience’ is what the New Orleans Café has brought to Boudha. Opened  6 July 2005, on the Dalai Lama’s birthday, it seems blessed, as there is a constant flow of customers coming and going. Many are old clients who frequent the New Orleans Cafe in Thamel.

The new outlet lies just north of the Trikaal Gumba (west of the stupa) and with no door, it is indeed inviting. You can walk right through the café and come out the other side where there is ample parking space. The small path from the back door leads to the main road, so if you’re driving, entering and leaving the café would be from the back entrance. The café is long and narrow and a cool breeze passes right through it. Handicraft and jewelry are showcased along the sides and upstairs is the apartment block, which occupies two floors and a terrace.

Manager Asta Ratna Buddhacharya says, “Business is improving and we get good feedback from the customers. In the twenty months since we opened, we’ve had only two complaints and it turned out the fault was theirs. This has become the meeting place for both locals and tourists. Most religious tourists with extended stays in Nepal, frequent the café. As for the food, we change the menu every week but the organic section remains the same.”

New Orleans Café, Boudha, offers a mixed menu:  anything from Italian Pane Pasta to Thai Red Curry and Vegetarian Do Piaza to Beef Hungarian Goulash.  Average prices are Rs 250-320. Choice of coffee: Cappucino, Latte, Mocha, Espresso, Americano, French Press and black or milk coffee. You can try the special tea called ‘Yarchagumba tea’ said to be invigorating. The fresh juices are also great.

You can sit by the door gazing at the mammoth stupa and take in the ever changing scene outside. Boudha is a fascinating place to be, especially during the time of Lhosar (Tibetan New Year), when Tibetans and other Buddhists arrive from far and wide. The Tibetan pilgrims are of special interest with their intriguing jewelry of huge corals and turquoise. New Orleans Café couldn’t be better located.

For details: 98510-90748/ 98510-24902