Boudhanath is a suburb of Kathmandu and home to one of the largest Buddhist stupas in the world.
The Great Stupa of Boudhanath is the focal point of the district, and in fact until the 1980's there was very little else here. Since then, there has been a construction boom, and outwardly, at least, there is little these days to distinguish it from any other congested Kathmandu suburb. The culture, though, remains very much Himalayan with a strong presence of Tibetans and Sherpas, and this can be evidenced by the number of restaurants selling momos and thukpa and other Tibetan favorites. In fact, when traveling into the area, it is often the sight of maroon clad Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns that indicates you are getting close. Boudhanath remains a fascinating area with many Buddhist temples and eccentric characters, though don't come expecting to find a peaceful and quiet environment to sit and contemplate the wonders of the stupa. If you do, you'll be disappointed.
Boudhanath: The Great Stupa by Keith Dowman. A translation of the legend of the great stupa as disclosed in a hidden treasure teaching of Guru Rinpoche.
Taxis: From airport, pay no more than 150rs (for pre-paid, expect to pay much more, but it saves the hassle of bargaining). From Thamel, pay no more than 130rs. These prices are max. If you bargain, you can get a better deal. If your purpose for visiting Boudhanath is to see the stupa, then tell the taxi driver you wish to go to Boudha Gate. This is the main entrance to the stupa.
Most of the sites of interest are located near the stupa and can easily be reached on foot.
Boudhanath Stupa. According to legend, Boudhanath Stupa was built by an an old poultry woman who asked the king for land to construct a shrine to the Buddha. The king agreed, and offered her as much land as she could cover with the skin of a water buffalo. The woman proceeded to cut a buffalo hide into thin strips, and placed them end to end to form a huge circumference. The king realized that he had been tricked by the old woman, but he adhered to his word, and the stupa was constructed according to these dimensions. Nowadays, the stupa is the most popular site for Buddhists in Nepal, and throughout the day pilgrims can be seen circumambulating the structure chanting mantras. It is especially spectacular at night when adorned with butter lamps. Remember to walk around the stupa in a clockwise direction and also to spin the prayer wheels clockwise. There is a small entry fee to enter the stupa area, though this is waived for guests of hotels located at the other side of the stupa. See also: Sacred sites of the Indian sub-continent
Shechen Monastery, located in the alleys near the stupa. A very spacious and beautiful temple founded by the late Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. There is a garden restaurant near the monastery guest house.
Khawalung Monastery, Boudha-Simaltar (take a taxis from Hyatt Hotel about 10 mins drive), ☎ 977-1-4820205. A beautiful Tibetan Monastery near Boudhanath Stupa. It is inaugrated by Trulshik Rinpoche and Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche in October 2005. The monastery has an elementary and a training school. It consists of monks from remote region of Nepal and Tibet. Ther are many exquisite Tibetan Buddhist wall paintings.
Circumambulate the stupa. This is the main activity of pilgrims and tourists alike. At the far side from the entrance it is possible to walk up on to the stupa itself.
Photography. The stupa and its immediate surroundings are very photogenic.
Monastery tour. You can generally freely wander around Buddhist monasteries, though when doing so keep a low profile and bear in mind that they are sanctuaries for inner practice, not tourist attractions.
There are many handicraft stores located around the stupa. Prices are comparable to those in Thamel, but there is a little less variety. However, naturally for Buddhist related items - statues, prayer flags etc - Boudhanath is the better place.
Stupa View Restaurant is a vegeterian restaurant that, as the name implies, offers good views over the stupa. It's a little expensive (think 200 NPR + for a meal), but the quality of the food and service is good.
Three Sisters also offers views overlooking the stupa and kora. The food is cheaper than at Stupa View (think 120 NPR + for a meal), but the quality of the food and service is also a little lower.
Regency is in the back streets about a two minute walk from the stupa (with the stupa on your right, turn left into alley after passing Stupa View Restaurant, and take the next right. The restaurant is few doors down on the right) and is where the locals eat. The food is good and you can easily satisfy your appetite for well under 100Rs.
Shechen Guest House (see 'sleep' section). The restaurant at the guest house is open to non-residents and offers wholesome vegetarian food in the quiet of an enclosed garden.
Stupa Dining Restaurant With Garden, Boudha, Dhara Tole, before turning to Hyatt Road. Local restaurant with good, clean, cheap food, with live music by staff on request!
Saturday Cafe over looking the stupa at Boudha has good ground coffee, and excellent cakes, which you can enjoy surrounded by books in the second floor book shop or on the roof-top terrace.
Gangchen Guest House, Boudha, Tusal (Next to Hyatt East- Gate), ☎ 4470505. A resident road guest house with different rooms, suits, bedroom with kitchen, double and single rooms. We also serve B&B.
Boudha Stupa restaurant & cafe (veg & Non-veg restaurant), Boudha (Opposite Boudha stupa), ☎ +977-01-2130681. 12. Most hygienic food with FREE WI-FI, directly over looking THE BOUDHA STUPA.200. (+,for meal)
Flavors. Extremely good latte's & cappucinos! Thanksgiving & Christmas dinner can't be beat. The owner is a very hosptiable man who will gladly take visitors on a hike or a tour fo Nepal.
Gangchen Guest House, Bouhdanath, Tusal (Opposite of Hyatt East Gate), ☎ 4470505. checkin: any time; checkout: 12 noon. Room Rates from Rs.800 to Rs.1800.
Samdrup Guest House, Tel:+977 1 478568. E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org, mostly used by Tibetans on pilgrimage or visiting family, and 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. There is a gift shop on the 1st floor.
Shechen Guest House. Tel:+977 1 4479009 in the grounds of Shechen Monastery in Boudha has clean and good quality rooms with private bathrooms for about 15 USD. The guesthouse also has garden with restaurant/coffee shop facilities, and is within a five minute walk of Bodhnath Stupa.
Hyatt Regency Kathmandu, PO Box 9609, Taragaon, Boudha (10 Km from the city centre of Kathmandu, on the road to Boudhanath Stupa), ☎ +977 1 449 1234 (email@example.com), . 5 star hotel with 290 rooms and suites. The hotel offers a health and beauty spa, swimming pool, wading pool for children and an outdoor whirlpool. The hotel is 4 Km from Tribhuvan International Airport and within walking distance of Bodhanath Stupa.
Wear clothing that expresses respect for the sacred nature of the site.
Go bare foot within temple buildings.
Circumambulate the stupa and other sacred objects in a clock-wise direction.
Preserve the peace and tranquility.
Do not climb onto statues or other sacred objects.
Medical attention. Shechen Monastery operates an efficient, hygienic and friendly clinic offering treatments using Western and traditional Tibetan medicine, homeopathy and also sometimes massage and acupuncture. It is a good place to seek treatment for both acute and chronic ailments. The clinic is in an alley across from Shechen Guest House.
Pashupatinath. An important temple to Shiva in the form of Lord of Animals. See monkeys, cremation, sadhus and a holy cave. The temple is a short taxi ride, or 20 minute walk past several temples, from Boudhanath. While entrance to the temple is allowed for Hindus only, the surrounding forest area provides much to explore.
There are many internet cafes on the kora (the walking area that surrounds the stupa) - Dharana Cyberspace, is an especially clean facility with fast computers.