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 Boudha 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 of