The ominous, booming chanting that is piped in through speakers surrounding the Boudha Stupa greatly enhanced in experience of visiting the Tibetan holy site. As a result, John and I have decided that all national monuments should come with a soundtrack. It really sets the mood. (Just imagine how much cooler places like Angkor Wat, Tikal and Machu Picchu would be if they came with a soundtrack? I’m just saying.)
This stupa is the holiest Tibetan Buddhist site outside of Tibet, and is one of the largest in the world. The eyes represent the all-seeing eyes of the Buddha and the pyramid represents the ladder to enlightenment through Buddha’s teachings. From each corner of the pyramid drape hundreds and hundreds of prayer flags. I’ve never seen so many prayer flags in my life.We visited it on Buddha’s Birthday, and the crowds were massive. Hundreds of people were circumambulating the stupa, reciting mantras, spinning the prayer wheels, and talking amongst themselves. Below are the prayer wheels, which are installed all around the outside of the stupa and are carved with the mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum,” which means “May wisdom and compassion unify within me.”Surrounding the stupa is practically a city’s worth of restaurants, shops and hotels. We tucked into a quiet courtyard restaurant for lunch that felt like a completely different world. As we stepped back out after an hour or so, incense, prayer flags and chanting quickly confronted us with the realization that we were still in Nepal. It was an odd sensation.Apparently after sunset hundreds of these small lights would surround the stupa in celebration of the Buddha’s Birthday.
Us with the prayer flags, hiding from the sunshine. It was a very bright day, and the reflection of the sun off the bright white stupa only made it more intense.Time to leave Kathmandu for the jungle – more soon!