Boudhanath Stupa

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            The stupa is located along a historic trade route from Tibet that enters the Kathmandu Valley through the northeastern settlement of Sankhu and continues to the older and smaller Chabahil Stupa known as Charumati Stupa (often called “Little Boudhanath”). Bypassing the main city of Kathmandu, it then swings immediately south and travels across the Bagmati River to Lalitpur (which was built later). Boudha Stupa has long been a place of respite and prayer for Tibetan traders.

Historical records indicate that King Vikram Aditya’s palace formerly existed where the Narayanhiti Palace is now located (of the Licchavi kingdom). A dhunge dhara was to be erected in the southern section of the royal courtyard, per King Vikram Aditya’s instructions. When the new dhunge dhara failed to generate any water, the monarch consulted his astrologers, who advised that a male candidate possessing Battis-Lakshanas, or thirty-two perfections, should be offered as a human sacrifice. The monarch made the choice to offer himself as a sacrifice in order to deliver water to the dhunge dhara since only he and his two princes were qualified. The head of the king flew off during the sacrifice and landed at the neighboring Sankhu, according to local belief. The sacrifice was carried out on the king’s orders by one of his sons.

As a result, the prince started to feel guilty for killing his father. With a heavy heart, the prince made the decision to ascend Bajrayogini and tossed off a chicken, intending to build a stupa wherever it fell. The location of Boudhanath Stupa was the hen’s final resting place. The area was given the name Khasti, a combination of the Nepal Bhasa words for dew (“khas”) and drops because the locals at the time were managing to survive the drought by gathering droplets of dew (“ti”). Khasti was afterward changed to ‘Boudhanath’ by His Majesty’s Government of Nepal. Many of the Tibetan refugees who came to Nepal in the 1950s chose to settle close to Boudhanath. Remains of Kassapa Buddha are allegedly interred in the stupa.

Currently, there are celebrations and festivals happening on Ropai Jatra, Buddha Purnima, Losar festivals, etc. Apart from these festivals and special occasions, there are also daily worships and prayers done by Buddhist pilgrims. Over 50 gompas (Tibetan monasteries) have been built near Boudha as a result of the enormous inflow of Tibetan refugees. The Boudha Stupa has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. It is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the Kathmandu area, along with Swayambhu.

 

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