At The Great Boudha Stupa
Friday?! I think it’s Friday!! Amy and I ventured out on our own, finding a taxi … is not a problem, as they are everywhere and seek YOU out. We have yet to pay the same price for a ride, no matter where we go! Our morning was spent at Swayambhunath Stupa … or The Monkey Temple, it is one of the holiest Buddhist Chaityas in Nepal and the oldest of its kind. Legend has it that Swayambhu was born out of a lotus flower that bloomed in the middle of a lake that once spread across the Kathmandu Valley. This sacred pilgrimage site is also home to hundreds of monkeys considered holy to Tibetan Buddhists and Hindus. According to legend, Manjushree, the bodhisattva of wisdom, was in the process of raising the temple hill when the lice in his hair transformed into these monkeys.
Swayambhunath means self-arisen and is derived from that legend.The stupa is on the top of the hill, to reach it, you climb very steep stairs – 365 of them – and it is worth every. single. step.
Buddhists and Hindus visit the Monkey Temple through out the day, it is said it’s perhaps the best place to observe religious harmony in Nepal. It’s so amazing to be in a space where honoring each other, no matter who you are, matters. There are several ornate temples and shrines surrounding the Monkey Temple and we spent time BEing there, trying to absorb the grandeur of it all.
There were also many, many vendors, and poor people, all hoping you will stop and buy their goods, or give out money. That was/is hard. Tiny children are sent out to beg … saying no, is heart wrenching.
After resting at the bottom of Monkey Temple, we decided our next stop to be: The Great Boudha Stupa. There are several people who seek you out and offer their services as a guide. A young man, who said to call him Susan (pronounced differently than our English version), was persistent and polite, so we agreed to have him join us in our next adventure. (Note: it’s good to get a price for services before you head out … we didn’t!) Susan is Nepali, and had a friend with an air conditioned car, so off we went in crazy traffic (holiday, so people heading out of town, just like we do)! I have to consciously let go of angst while being in the midst of it – and we also wear our masks to filter the air pollution.
The contrast between the outside world and entering this stupa was amazing.
The Great Boudha Stupa’s massive mandala makes it one of the largest spherical stupas in Nepal. You walk clockwise around it. Budda’s eyes are on you always. Buddist people believe that the relics of Kashyapa Buddha, were enshrined in the dome. It is religious, cultural and archeologically very important and a major destination for pilgrims all over the world … and we were one of them!
There are 4 Monasteries – The Guru Lhakhang Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries around the Boudha area. The public is not allowed inside, but we were able to take pictures.
A Holy Place ….
Included around the Boudha Stupa: The Ajima Temple – The Temple of Goddess Mamo Pukasi who is known as the protector of the stupa area. She is also known as wish fulfilling goddess. The Ghyoilisang Peace Park and Historical Tinchuli – name originated from the 3 big rocks which were used in the fireplace for cooking for workers during the construction of the Boudha Stupa.
All of this was emotional … I’m trying to soak it all in. BEing present. BEing filled in ways, Spiritually, that cannot be explained with words …
It was time to take a break at Cafe Du Temple. I chose a traditional Napolise food – it was delicious!
One more stop for the day … Pashupatinath Temple …. in order to save words, it’s easier to share by clicking on the link. It is the largest temple complex in Nepal, it stretches on both sides of the Bagmati River which is considered holy by Hindus. Cremation of Hindus take place on raised platforms along the river. Only Hindus are allowed inside the gates of the main temple.
The human body and the universe consist of five elements in Hindu texts – air, water, fire, earth and space. The last rite of passage returns the body to the five elements and its origins. The circle of life.
All those who attend the cremation, and are exposed to the dead body or cremation smoke take a shower as soon as possible after the cremation, as the cremation ritual is considered unclean and polluting. The cold collected ash from the cremation is later consecrated to the river
In some regions, the male relatives of the deceased shave their head and invite all friends and relatives, on the tenth or twelfth day, to eat a simple meal together in remembrance of the deceased. This day, in some communities, also marks a day when the poor and needy are offered food in memory of the dead.
The reverence and logical passage of life is powerful to witness.
…. It was time to go home … our guide and taxi driver delivered us to Top of the Hill Coffee – we were given the price for the 5 hours spent – and without bartering skills, we accepted it!
The experience …. priceless.
We chatted with Kyung and William – learned more about the technique of pricing for services and also discussed an over-priced quote we had gotten for a 3 night/ 4 day tour. We’re learning!
… And then, I had a melt-down! Emotional over-load. The energy experienced over the past days caught up with me. Crying is a great release … and and understanding travel partner ; ) along with Kyung and William … and daughter, Jessica. Whew! A wonderful haircut and a bite to eat, helped alot, too.
I went to sleep with a grateful heart ….