is among the largest stupas in South Asia,
and it has become the focal point of Tibetan
Buddhism in Nepal. The white mound looms thirty-six
meters overhead. The stupa is located on the
ancient trade route to Tibet, and Tibetan
merchants rested and offered prayers here
for many centuries. When refugees entered
Nepal from Tibet in the 1950s, many of them
decided to live around Bouddhanath. They established
many gompas, and the "Little Tibet"
of Nepal was born.
This "Little Tibet" is still the
best place in the Valley to observe Tibetan
lifestyle. Monks walk about in maroon robes.
Tibetans walk with prayer wheels in their
hands, and the rituals of prostration are
presented to the Buddha as worshippers circumambulate
the stupa on their hands and knees, bowing
down to their lord.
Many people believe that Bouddhanath was
constructed in the fifth century, but definite
proof is lacking. The stupa is said to entomb
the remains of a Kasyap sage who is venerable
both to Buddhists and Hindus. One legend
has it that a woman requested a Valley king
for the donation of ground required to build
a stupa. She said she needed land covered
by one buffalo's skin and her wish was granted
by the King. She cut a buffalo skin into
thin strips and circled off a fairly large
clearing. The king had no choice but to
give her the land.
The Bouddha area is a visual feast. Colorful
thangkas, Tibetan jewellery, hand-woven
carpets, masks, and khukuri knives are sold
in the surrounding stalls. Smaller stupas
are located at the base. Gompa monasteries,
curio shops, and restaurants surround Bouddhanath.
Conveniently situated restaurants with roof-top
patios provide good food and excellent views
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