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This very imposing stupa is believed to house some of the remains of previous great sages and the bones of Buddha. Believers walk in a clockwise direction around the stupa to pay their respects and have their wishes granted. It is also believed that walking around in an anti-clockwise direction is disrepectful although you can see foreigners doing just that maybe due to the fact that they do not know better or are just plain ignorant, so they are not guilty... Gurus (Buddhist teachers) will tell you to walk around the stupa 7 times if you wish to have your desires granted. Each round will take about 5 to 10 mintues depending on your speed or the crowd that are always present at any time of the day especially during the Buddhist festive season such as Buddha's birthday etc.
There is a wall surrounding the stupa with prayer wheels inplanted in the wall for devotees to manipulate so that their prayers will be heard. Each turn of the wheel represent one prayer and there are dozens of wheels to turn so may it take a while. Just follow the person in front so that you will not miss any wheel. You can enter and climb up to the top platform surrounding the round dome and take photographs there, but the best vantage points are away from the stupa so as to show the whole structure in your photo.
There are many souvenir shops surround the stupa selling tankas (Buddhist holy paintings), prayer beads, prayer wheels, and all manner of tourist artifacts such as bronze bells, taras (Buddhist figurines), rosaries, books, etc for you to browse and purchase. You are advised to bargain the price down, usually by as much as 50%, but it is a good idea to buy from fixed price shops as these prices are already discounted and very reasonable compared to those with no fixed pricing.
There are also many eateries and restaurants where you can rest and have your meals if hungry. Prices are very reasonable compared to the more up-market places in other parts of the world. Remember this is a third world country and the prices are adjusted accordingly. There are also many monasteries around this area for you to explore. There is a big map on the wall facing the stupa's main entrance detailing all the monasteries and it would take more than one day for you to see all of them. It is advisable to seek the help of the people milling around and ask for the largest and more imposing monasteries to visit. There is one just outside the stupa and facing the dome which is a must see. During puja (prayer) days the monastery will be filled with nuns and monks who do chanting and prayers inside the monastery which is very captivating and photographic. Do ask for permission before snapping any photos and always bear in mind that flash may not be tolerated. Imagine having flash popping in your face in a darkened room while you are praying. It could disrupt proceedings and you will be one very embarassed and unpopular photographer in all of Nepal !
Souvenir shops surrounding the Buddhanath stupa. These are Tangkas, painted pictures that can take months to complete. It is a painstaking job where every line, every detail is painted by hand, by craftsmen. Some tangkas cost around US$50-100, others can cost upwards of US$1000/- depending on size. Devout buddhist hang one of these in their room to remind themselves of the life of Buddha.
Some tangkas have silver or gold thread imbedded in them and are very artistic from a point of view. The intricacies have to be seen to be appreciated. You can see tangka craftsmen at work in many of the cottage industries in Nepal. You must observe them to realise the amount of patience and time they spend on each tangka. Back breaking would be an understatement.
This is a personal photograph of the stupa found inside Kopan Monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal. This stupa, although small in comparison with Boudhanath immense stupa above, wins hands down for its intricate sculpture and colourful design. Notice the floral design, colours and attention to detail in comparision with the simple lines of the Boudhanath Stupa. Our gurus tell us that this particular stupa, also named the Wishing Stupa, grants wishes to anyone, irregardless of religion or faith, as it is not bias towards any religion. Of course wishes must be realistic and not something impossible.
This is a frontal view of the Kopan Stupa taken from a hillock just in front of the stupa. It shows the stupa in greater detail and the well-kept garden around its perimeter. You can get an idea of its size by comparing the lone monk in front of it. This stupa, we were told, also houses many relics (artifacts fouund after holy monks and lamas were cremated). Some of the relics can be seen in a musuem located in the monastery grounds. It is open to the public and during holidays and Nepal's rest day (which is on a Saturady by the way), a great many Nepalese make their way to this hilltop monastery to escape the heat and pollution of the lower valley and the cities.
As can be seen in the potograph, the ground is silent. very serene, peaceful and exceptionally tranquil. Silence is mandatory on the monastery grounds and it is a revelation to be one with nature as the only sound you hear are the bird calls, the windy breeze, far away temple bells, the distant chanting of nuns and monks in other temples around the area, and the beautiful notes of the wind-chimes from the stupa itself. It is indeed a life-changing experience after being used to the hurly-burly and cacophony of city noise.
This picture shows Kopan Monastery (above on the hill-top) with its sister nunner, the Ling Nunnery at the bottom. Only monks live in the Monastery and only nuns in the Nunnery but the two almost always get together to chant holy scriptures on auspicious occasions such as Buddha's Birthday and the Tibetan New Year. It is important to note that the inhabitants are mainly Tibetans who escaped the oppression in their own country Tibet and now call Nepal their home. There are also Hindus who are mainly Nepalese, Christains and others. They all live amiably with each other and there are no religious confrontations amongst them.