One of the few places in the world where Tibetan Buddhist culture is abundantly accessible, Boudhanath Stupa is also one of Nepal’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The streets around the stupa are alive with living heritage and one can visit numerous monasteries, workshops producing Buddhist essentials, and enjoy relaxing at touristy and local eateries. While at this must-visit Nepali heritage site, here are five things we highly recommend:
Catch the early morning or evening monk’s prayers
If you visit the monasteries in the Boudhanath area, either early in the morning at 5 am or at 5 pm in the afternoon, you will also get to see the fascinating prayer rituals of the monks. You can even join in a prayer session, the calming effects of which you will not soon forget.
Walk around the stupa while spinning the prayer wheels
Walking around the Boudhanath stupa, under the eyes of Buddha, while spinning the prayer wheels will prove to be a very a serene and rewarding experience. An early morning and evening stroll is the best time for this, as it’s when most of those who live nearby are also participating in this ritual worship. The spinning of prayer wheels is supposed to purify our karma and is a very relaxing activity to do while in Boudha. Also, during your walk, light some butter lamps and pray for your wishes to come true.
Try authentic Tibetan food at the local eateries
Boudhanath area has no shortage of restaurants, especially the rooftop ones which overlook the stupa with their great views, but the local eateries undoubtedly serve you the best authentic Tibetan dishes, and at an affordable rate, too. Although you might have to explore further away from the main circle to find these shops, the food they serve is worth the walk. At local shops you can have shya phale (large meat stuffed deep fried bread), thukpa (noodles in hot broth), balep (a Tibetan flat bread), tingmo (steamed buns) and thenthuk (handmade noodle soup) among many other options. Also, search for places which serve the local butter tea which is traditionally made from tea leaves, yak butter, salt and water.
Look around for souvenirs
Getting a souvenir for yourself and your loved ones at any of the Nepali heritage sites is a must, and the Boudhanath area has plenty of shops selling both Tibetan lifestyle essentials and souvenirs. You could get handmade singing bowls, thangka paintings, yak butter and cheese, packets of famous Tibetan sweets called khapsey and a lot of other Buddhist souvenirs—there’s so much here to choose from!
Visit the well-known monasteries in the Boudhanath area
A visit to even one of the many monasteries here will give you a great insight to the Tibetan Buddhist traditions. Right near the entrance to the Boudhanath Stupa premises, you will see the Guru Lakhang Monastery, one of the oldest Nyngma monasteries in the area. Also known as the Tamang Monastery, it is known for its beautiful statues of Amitabha Buddha. As you go further to the east side of the stupa, you will see the Samteling Monastery. It is the oldest and first ever Tibetan monastery to be established at Boudhanatha and has preserved its unique Geluk chanting rituals. You can also find other notable monasteries inside the many lanes of this area, like Jhamchen Lakhang and Dilyak Yebam.