Boudhanath Stupa, The Biggest stupa in Nepal
Boudhanath Stupa is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Kathmandu, Nepal, and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1976 AD. The Boudha stupa is known as Khasti in Nepali or Jyarung Khasyor in the Tamang language. It is the largest stupa in the Kathmandu Valley and one of the largest stupas in South Asia.
Boudhanath Stupa was built around 600 AD by a Tibetan king and renovated by Licchavi rulers in the 8th century AD but later in the 12th century, it was damaged by Mughal invaders and subsequently restored by Malla kings. It had suffered much damage during an earthquake on 25 April 2015 and an aftershock on 12 May 2015 but parts of it have been restored to its original form since then.
Khasti Mahachaitya was the real name of Boudhanath, before the Panchayat era. Khasti Mahachaitya means great stupa of dewdrops. But later during the Panchayat era in the 1960s, King Mahendra named it “Boudhanath”.
Buddhist legend states that when Buddha died his body was divided up among his disciples and buried in different places throughout India, Nepal, and Tibet. One such place was Boudhanath stupa where it is said that a piece of his backbone was placed.
Design and Construction of the Boudhanath Stupa
The stupa consists of a dome at the base, above which is a cubic structure painted with the eyes of Buddha looking in all four directions. The dome is 36 meters in diameter at the base and rises to a height of 40 meters. A 13-step path leads to the dome from ground level to the base of the pinnacle. The structure is composed of a solid hemisphere of brick and earth supporting a lofty conical spire capped by a pinnacle of copper plated. Painted on each side are the all-seeing eyes of Lord Buddha symbolizing awareness and compassion.
There are pentagonal Toran present above each of the four sides with statues engraved in them. Behind and above the Torana there are thirteen tiers. Above all the tiers there is a small space above which the Gajur is present.
A major attraction of this place is the circular path of prayer wheels. The path is inside the temple and encircles the stupa. Buddhist devotees spin these wheels while reciting mantras. A large number of monks visit this place daily and recite prayers at regular intervals. Visitors find it highly relaxing to walk around the stupa.
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 decided to live around Boudhanath. The “Little Tibet” of Nepal developed with over 50 Tibetan Gompas built in the area.
Boudha Stupa is a famous sight in Nepal and is a popular place of pilgrimage for Buddhists from all over the world. Whether you are a devotee of the Buddha or curious, a visit to the Boudha Stupa is definitely worth making. If you’re planning a trip to Nepal, be sure to add the Boudha Stupa to your list of must-see places!
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