Boudhanath Stupa in Bodnath
One of many world heritage sights which can be found in Nepal, the Boudhanath Stupa, is not only impressive but also interesting. Located roughly 7 kilometers to the east of Kathmandu, the stupa is similar in many ways to the much older and more cherished Swayambhunath. According to legend the Boudhanath Stupa in Bodnath was built during the 5th century AD. It is notable as a place of worship and pilgrimage and the dome is said to contain the remains of a Kasyap sage, which is important to both Buddhists and Hindus.
The Boudhanath Stupa is very similar to the Swayambhunath Stupa, only it is bigger and enjoys better symmetry. The great white dome on which it is situated is almost perfectly spherical when compared to the somewhat irregular shape of the one at Swayambhunath although the actual four-sided dome-topped golden tower at the top is almost completely identical. The Boudhanath Temple is the center of Tibetan culture in Nepal and the stupa measures an impressive 36 meters in height. This makes it one of the largest stupas in South Asia. The stupa has been built on a massive three level mandala style platform. The platform is surrounded by private family homes and extends the overall size of the stupa quite a bit in all directions. Another key difference between the Boudhanath Stupa and the Swayambhunath Stupa is that the Swaymabhunath Stupa was built on a hilltop while the Boudhanath Stupa is situated on the valley floor. Apparently the mandala design employed in the base was an imitation of the one in Gyangtse in Tibet.
Part of the reason why the Boudhanath Stupa has become so popular is that it is situated on a trade route between Tibet and Nepal and merchants often chose to rest here and offer prayers during their travels. During the 1950s a number of Tibetan refugees settled at Boudhanath forming a township around the shrine. Today you will find a busy settlement complete with shrine and complementary curio shops and restaurants. There are also a number of smaller stupas and monasteries to be found here which are worth taking a look at.