Inevitably, I knew what the stupa of Boudha would look like before I arrived. Still, when I walked the main street in Boudha I did not notice anything special. Only when I turned to the left, the stupa and the golden tower on top of it presented themselves to me. Even so, it was only when I arrived at the end of the alley that the entire stupa unfolded before my eyes. Yes, it was big, yes, it was crowded, and yes, I wanted to get on top! I walked clockwise around the stupa, and climbed several levels to the highest level where you are allowed to walk.
Actually, the Boudha stupa has nine levels, representing the World Mountain, or Neru - home of gods and centre of the cosmos. The levels represent the five elements. The stupa itself, whose original version was probably built in the 7th century, consists of three levels, accessible to the visitor. They symbolize Earth; two higher plinths symbolize water, and the golden tower above that bear the eyes of the omnipresent god. Between each of these eyes, in three colours, you can find a third eye, the symbol of wisdom. Stair-like steps leading up to the top represent the steps to enlightenment; the pyramidal shape symbolizing fire. The canopy on top stands for air, and the spire defining the top of the structure stands for the sphere.
Obviously, as can be seen in the amount of people circumambulating the stupa on the kora at ground leve, the stupa is of significance to Tibetan buddhists, who have established a large community in Bodhnath or Boudha - many of them fled Tibet after the failed uprising in 1959. At the same time, it is a gathering place for many people, and indeed, is as pleasant a place as any to while away your time. The sun has unobstructed access to the sides of the stupa, and, with a little caution for the sloping sides of the stupa, you can sit virtually anywhere. As the sun goes down and the colours of the stupa become warmer, there are more people around. The prayer flags flying above your head, the murmur coming from below, the friendly eyes of the omnipresent god that never even blink looking down on you, make for a peaceful experience, whether you are a buddhist or not.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Boudha Stupa (Nepal). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Boudha Stupa.
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