Boudhanath, Nepal: Travel/Tourist Information Guide
Boudhanath is a stupa located about 5km norteast of Kathmandu and it is home to the largest stupa in Nepal and the holiest and the most important Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet. It is the centre of Tibetan culture in Kathmandu. It is called Chorten Chempo, “Great Stupa” by Tibetans. It is also one of the largest Buddhist stupas in the world and it was built during the 5th century AD after the demise of Lord Buddha. For centuries, the stupa has been an important place for Tibetan Buddhist and local Nepalis. It is situated on a major trade route between Nepal and Tibet. So it was used as a resting place by many traveling merchants. When refugees entered Nepal from Tibet suring 1950s, most of them decided to live around Boudhanath. The Stupa is said to entomb the remains of Kassapa Buddha. It is also a popular tourist site due to Boudha becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Side in 1979. As a daily ritual, many people walk three of more times around the stupe while repeating the mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum” either quietly or aloud. During the days of and surrounding full moons, the visitors of the Stupa increase significantly. In addition, the Stupa hosts the largest celebration in Npeal during the festival of Losar which is Tibetan New Year and takes place in February of March. For notification, the Boudhanath Stupa was severely damaged during the April 2015 Nepal earthquake and the spire was cracked. Therefore, the whole construction above the tome had to be removed. On 3 November 2015, the reconstruction began with the ritual placement of a new central pole at the top of the dome.
Getting There and Around
It is possible to reach Boudhanath from the Kathmandu airport or from Thamel. The most common form of transportation to Boudhanath is taking a taxi which costs around 400 rupees. For the ones who are coming to see the Boudha Stupa, it is recommended to tell the taxi driver the exact location which is Boudha Stupa Main Gate. There are also many local buses and vans that take passengers in the Kathmandu Valley to Chabihil. It is likely to take one of the buses or vans from Chabihil to Boudha stupa main gate for 15 rupees and the journay takes about thirty minutes.Another option would by hiring a bike however there are not many bike renting shops. Some of the are only for organized tour for mountain biking. It is possible to find renting shops around Thamel. Walking is also another option which takes about twenty minutes up to Boudha road to the Stupa. Walking and renting a bike would be the least recommended transportation options.
Because Boudhanath is relatively small and most of the sights are located nearStupa, therefore after arriving Boudhanath, most of the sights can be reached on foot. There are also taxis available on the main road by the Boudha Stupa gate until 8 pm. For the ones who want to know where they are going when exploring at the same time can use Boudha Map. The map is available for downloading online and has multiple language choices. It is also possible to get a free copy in the local travel agency called Responsible Treks.
Places to See
It is the first stupa as Boudhanath and it was built around 5th century AD when the Tibetan King called Songtsen Gampo converted to Buddhism. According to a legend, an old poultry woman asked the king for land to construct a shrine to the Buddha. Then the king agreed to give her as much lans as she could cover with the skin of a water buffalo. The woman cut a buffalo hide into thin strips and placed them end to the end. Therefore, she tricked the king and the king hold his word and the stupa was constructed. Recently, it is the most popular site for Buddhists in Nepal. The entrance fee is 150 rupees. The main activity in this place is circumambulating the stupa.
The Taragaon Museum
The museum is open from 10 am to 5 om. There are musem, cafe, bar , wifi and curated shops. It was the former Taragaon Hotel which was designed by Carl Pruscha in 1970 and the contruction ended in 1971. In 2010, a restoration began to turn Taragaon Hotel into the Taragaon Museum. Recently, there are various galleries, cafes and curated shops in the Museum. There are also two courtyards to relax and the Boudhanath Stupa is a short walk away. It is also possible to see the Stupa from the tower of the Museum. The entrance is free.
It is located inside the Taragaon Museum. There are the best Newar art statues and paintings promoted by the gallery.
The monastery is located in the alleys next to the stupa. The temple is founded by the late Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. There is also a garden restaurant near the monastery guest house.
The monastery is the heart of monastic life for 250 monks. They learn ritual practices, study Dharma and learn to read and write in Tibetan and English.
It is the oldest original Karma Kagyu monastery in Boudha.
Where to Stay / Accomodation
The choices for accomodation is less than it is in Kathmandu however, it is also preferred by tourists because it is much peaceful.
Beru Khyense Monastery Guest House
There are five rooms offered by the monastery as guest rooms. They are not rented for long tern. The rooms overlook the mountains and vally.
Tharlam Guest House
This guest house is about 5 minutes walk from RYI. It is set in a quiet area, with the Tharlam Monastery backing the guest house, and a rooftop terrace with views of the Stupa. For longer stays, apartments are available which have kitchenettes and a sitting area.
Dondrub Guest House
This Guest House is within the premises of Khenpo Tsultrim Gyatso Rinpoche’s nunnery. Is is up Pulbhari toward Tinchulli Chowk and to the right, passing Tashi Orphanage School. The meditation hall is available morning and evenings and you can enjoy vegetarian meals with the nuns for 200 NRP. There is a nice hangout room but there is no separate restaurant within the premises.
Kailash Guest House
The Kailash Guest House on Phulbari road about 5 minutes from RYI. Its clean rooms offer few frills, making it very affordable. The staff is courteous and happy to help with any way they can but have little English skills.
Samdrup Guest House
It is mostly used by Tibetans on pilgrimage or visiting family, & so is a very cheap, but basic hotel (though more deluxe accommodation is available on the upper floors). The hotel is conveniently located across from the main gate at Boudha Stupa. Has gift shop on the 1st floor.
Shechen Guest House
The guest house isin the grounds of Shechen Monastery in Boudha has clean & good quality rooms with private.The guest house also has garden with restaurant/coffee shop facilities, & is within a five minute walk of Boudhanath Stupa.
Hyat Regency Kathmandu
It is a five- star hotel with 290 rooms & suites. The hotel offers a health & beauty spa, swimming pool, wading pool for children & an outdoor whirlpool. It's 4 Km from Tribhuvan International Airport & within walking distance of Boudhanath Stupa.
Boudhanath Guest House
There are 20 rooms that are located directly opposite the gate. The sitting area overlooking the Stupa and Boudha Gate. There is solar hot water, attached bathrooms, inverter and attached bathrooms in most rooms.
Namo Boudha Guest House
The guest house is connected to the Namo Buddha restaurant, with a lovely rooftop, this guest house is located just outside Boudha gate. There are 7 rooms, all fairly basic (with no attached bathrooms or hot water). However, the more expensive rooms have spectacular views of the Stupa, and the staff are friendly (but without high level English proficiency).
Hotel Tibet International
Hotel Tibet International is a new boutique hotel which offers an alternative to the Hyatt with a distinctly Tibetan flavor. It has all the features of a luxury international hotel combined with traditional Tibetan-style hospitality. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday they have traditional Tibetan live music in the restaurant after 6 pm.
Shambaling Hotel is a new hotel, just 10 min walk from Boudha Stupa. This hotel combines Tibetan-style decorations and architecture and five-star hospitality.
There is no nightlife in Boudhanath. For the ones who are looking for a crazy night out, the recommended area would be Thamel in Kathmandu. On the other hand, there are selection of cafes and restaurants where it is possible to spend a relaxed night in Boudhanath.
Boudha Stupa Restaurant and Cafe
The restaurant serves vegeterian and non-vegeterian food. It is said to be the most hygienic food in Boudhanath. There is also free wi-fi and the restaurant directly overlooks the Boudha Stupa.
Famous with latte’s and cappucinos’s. It also serves Thanksgiving and Christmans dinner. Thw owner is hospitable.
Stupa View Restaurant
A vegetarian restauant that offers good views over the stupa. It might be not suitable for budget travelers. 200 NPR for a meal.
The restaurant offers views overlooking the Stupa. The food is cheaper then Stupa View Restaurant. A meal costs around 120 NPR.
The places is two minutes of walking from the Stupa. Many locals hang out and eat in this place. It is also recommended for budget travelers.
Shechen Guest House
The restaurant offers all vegetarian food in a quiet enclosed garden.
Stupa Dining Restaurant with Garden
It is a local restaurant with good, clean and cheap food. There is also live music by staff when it is requested.
It is a clean cafe that offers both traditional and Western breakfast, lunch and dinner. The cafe is above Buddhist shop and some floors overlook the Stupa.
The restaurant is well known with its chinese cuisine. Many Tibetans and monks frequently visit the place. There is a cosy sitting area of tea tables. It is just 40m from the stupa.
La Casita de Boudhanath
The restaurant offers Spanish cuisine. It might be a good option for the ones who are looking for something a bit different.
Cafe du Temple
Same people in the Cafe du Temple in Patan also run this place. They serve a variety of Chinese, Tibetan and Indian dishes.
Pashupatinath is located alonf the banks of the Bagmati River in the eastern part of Kathmandu. It is home to the famous Pashupatinath Temple which is the oldest hindu temple dating back to the 5th century. On the other hand, the original temple was destroyed by termites and a new one was constructed in the 17th century. According to legend, the idea o Pashupatinath came out when Lord Shiva stopped for a rest in the area and rook the form of a deer. He lived in the area so much so he didn’t want to leave. According to the legend, whoever came there to worship him would not be reborn as an animal.There’s a festival to celebrate Lord Shiva called Shivaratri. The festival takes place between February and March. The main Pashupatinath temple interior is restricted for non-hindus or foreigners. On the other hand, it is possible to see the rest of the area. There are ritual cremations occuring daily along the riverside, so it can be a sight for the ones wh have not seen hindu cremations before. There are also smaller stupas at the opposite site of the river such as votive shrines, the Pandra Shivalata and the Ram Temple.Entrance to the are for foreigners is 500rps. The tickets can be bought from the office by the main road. The distance is very short from Boudhanath which will only take about twenty minutes by walking. It is also possible to take a short taxi and a bus ride.
It is a small village and it is home to the ancient temple of Changu Narayan. Changu Narayan is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is possible to reach Changunarayan by catching a public bus or just hiking towards the top of the hill which takes half an hour.