One of the most scared structures in Tibetan Buddhism is the Boudha Stupa, which is found in Boudhanath, one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal. It is located about 11 kilometers from the center of Kathmandu, the capital and largest city of Nepal. The stupa has a huge mandala or circular structure, making it one of the largest spherical stupas in the country and the world. It is a prominent feature in the Kathmandu skyline. Clearly a major tourist site in Nepal, Boudhanath was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. The stupa was built around the 5th century.
Boudha Stupa is so huge it must come with a rich history and tons of local mythology. In ancient times, the trade route between Nepal and Tibet passed through the stupa. Tibetan traders and merchants entered the Kathmandu Valley through the Snakhu Village in the north. On their way to Bagmati and Patan to the south, they passed by the giant stupa and a smaller stupa called Cabahi. It is also along this path where they pass by the city of Kathmandu, although the stupas existed way before the city was established. Through the centuries, Tibetan merchants rested in the stupa and offered their prayers before continuing their journey. In the 1950s, Tibetan refugees made their way to Nepal and decided to settle in Boudhanath. Today, devotees believe that the stupa entombs the remains of Kassapa Buddha.
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Meanwhile, according to Tamang Mythology, the beginnings of the stupa involved Jajima and her four husbands. She gave birth to four sons, one for each husband. Her children were Tajebu, whose father was a horse trader, Phajebu, whose father was a pig trader, Khijebu, from a dog trader, and Jyajebu, from a poultry businessman. All of them were very religious, and so one day they decided to build an enormous stupa. They gathered several building materials such as soil, bricks and stones on elephants, horses and donkeys. It took them seven years to finish the enormous stupa, in which thousands of Buddhas and heavenly deities were said to have later incarnated.
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People claim to have heard heavenly singing and music over the stupa. Soon, Tajebu, one of Jajima’s sons, prayed earnestly to become king of the northern region so that he could spread Buddhism. His prayers were heard as he became King of Thichen Devajan in Tibet. On the other hand, Phajebu became a scholar and an enlightened teacher in Tibet, Khijebu was incarnated as the enlightened Guru, and Jajebu became a minister who protected the religion.
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Today, the sacred site is a leading tourist attraction for its ancient Buddhist monasteries, nunneries and stupas. Some of these structures are the Shechen Monastery, Khawalung Monastery, Kopan Monastery, Thrangu Monastery, Dilyak Monastery, Pullahari Monastery and Retreat Centre, Khachoe Ghakyil Ling Nunnery and Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery, to name a few.
There are now restaurants in the area selling traditional Nepali foods such as momos and thukpas. Tourists enjoy observing maroon-clad Tibetan monks and nuns walking about and performing their rituals, eerily chanting their Om Mani Padme Hum mantra. The Boudha Stupa’s surrounding areas are always filled with thick incense, creating an aura that is truly sacred and fascinating. It is not difficult to reach the stupa from Kathmandu airport or Thamel by taxi.