The Great Jarung Kashor Stupa
Boudhanath is a focal point for Buddhists the world over. It is a constant hub for pilgrimage and daily devotion, and its main stupa, the famous Jarung Kashor, is counted as one of the three great stupas of Nepal. The other two are close by, at Swayambhunath and Namo Buddha, and the merit amassed by those who make a pilgrimage to all three in a single day, circumambulating and offering their prayers, is inconceivable. The Great Stupa of Boudhanath is unique, however, for the blessings it holds, for its vital role in the spread of the Buddhadharma to Tibet, and for its sublime design. As the pilgrim immediately perceives, it is as if the very blueprint of the Buddhist stupa was perfected in a single site.
How to get there
The stupa is a major landmark lying in the northeast of the Kathmandu Valley and is thus well known by everyone and easily reached from everywhere in Kathmandu.
By Taxi: From Tribhuvan International Airport to the Boudha Main Gate, a taxi ride will take around 20 minutes. From central Kathmandu, taxi times can range from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on traffic.
By Public Transport: The Boudha Main Road is serviced by regular tuktuks (3-wheeled small electric vans), white microbuses, and blue minivans, all following the #2 route to Ratna Bus Park.
Food and Accommodation
Boudhanath is one of the quieter and less chaotic areas of Kathmandu. Dozens of guest houses and hotels, ranging from budget to opulent, are easily accessible in the area. There are host of cafes and restaurants in Boudhanath, serving Tibetan, Chinese, European, Nepali, Japanese and American food and drink.
Staying in Boudhanath will give you the opportunity to enjoy an atmosphere ripe with the daily practice of the locals, many of whom circumambulate the stupa every morning and evening. It is also easy to plan trips and get taxis and other vehicles from Boudha’s main gate. Boudhanath is one of Nepal’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and you will have to pay a one-time fee of 400 NPR to enter. Please hold on to your ticket, since it will secure you re-entry for the duration of your stay.
Over the years, the town of Boudha has become a blossoming hub for Buddhist monasteries. Nowadays, there are more than fifty, many of them decorated with beautiful statues, thangkas and wall-paintings. Daily group practices as well as more elaborate rituals and ceremonies are held at most of these monasteries – a visit well worth a pilgrim’s time.
Boudhanath Stupa: 27°43'17.0"N 85°21'43.0"E
The central focus of this pilgrimage site, the Boudhanath Stupa, is an acclaimed embodiment of the wisdom mind of all the buddhas, and it holds countless relics of the buddhas and past masters. Since it holds countless relics of the buddhas and past masters, it is a place of power unparalleled in its ability to fulfil all wishes. This is the place where, in a previous life, Guru Padmasambhava was born to a humble poultry-woman. Together with his three brothers, he built and consecrated this stupa, fulfilling a mother’s dying wish to create a place where all might sow the seeds of awakening. Their task complete, these brothers made vast aspirations together – to spread the Dharma to the land of Tibet. It was thus in this very place that they established the conditions for the teachings to flourish in this world.
Lhundrup Tsek Charnel Ground: 27°43'14.8"N 85°21'44.7"E
The Boudhanath Stupa is also the energetic center of Lhundrup Tsek, the Spontaneous Mound charnel ground, where Guru Rinpoche practiced amongst fearsome dakinis and manifested as the great Guru Senge Dradok, the Lion’s Roar.
Hariti temple: 27°43'18.7"N 85°21'43.4"E
Hariti or Ajima was a wild, much-feared yakshini who was reputed to devour children – until she was tamed by the Buddha and became a protector of the Dharma. A shrine dedicated to the protectress is found at Boudhanath, just as at Swayambhunath. At Boudhanath, Hariti is also regarded as the main protectress of the Lhundrup Tsek charnel ground. Built into the stupa wall, the shrine is located on the north side of the stupa. Ganachakra feast-offerings and pujas are frequently held at this shrine.
Rangrik Repa reliquary stupa: 27°43'17.2"N 85°21'45.0"E
Located in the eastern courtyard of the Boudhanath stupa complex, this great reliquary stupa has been tended by countless generations of faithful yogis and practitioners. It holds the relics of the great 17th century Kagyü master Rangrik Repa who renovated both the Swayambhunath and Boudhanath stupas towards the end of his life.
Shakya Shri reliquary stupa: 27°43'16.6"N 85°21'44.9"E
Likewise in the stupa’s eastern courtyard, this slightly smaller stupa holds the relics of the great Mahamudra and Dzogchen master, Togden Shakya Shri (1853-1919).
The Looks-Like-Me image of Guru Rinpoche: 27°43'28.7"N 85°21'39.6"E
The Guru Rinpoche statue that is housed in a special Guru Lakhang behind the main temple building at Shechen monastery in Boudha (27°43'28.9"N 85°21'39.6"E) contains the relics of the famous Looks-like-me statue of the Guru. The original was built during the times of Guru Rinpoche, but was later destroyed in the cultural revolution. Having relocated the relics, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910-1991) commissioned the building of this replacement statue, but without the moustache – at the the request of his second daughter, Dechen Wangmo. This, despite the moustache being a common feature in traditional statues of Guru Rinpoche. This huge likeness of Padmsambhava is truly breathtaking. A presence both youthful and powerful towers over the pilgrim here.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s reliquary stupa: 27°43'28.9"N 85°21'39.6"E
The upper floor of the main shrine hall at Shechen monastery holds the relics of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910-1991), regarded by many as one of the greatest Dzogchen masters of the twentieth century. The relics are enshrined in an elaborate golden stupa. The stupa also bears a small image of Manjushri, said to have been the “talking” practice support of the one of the greatest of Nyingma scholars, the 19th century master Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche (1846-1912).
Dudjom Rinpoche’s reliquary stupa: 27°43'11.9"N 85°21'31.4"E
Not far from the Boudhanath main gate, following the main road towards Chabahil for 5-10 minutes, one comes to a small monastery that was founded by Dudjom Rinpoche (1904-1987), called Orgyen Donak Chöling. Dudjom Rinpoche’s actual physical body is enshrined within a stupa that forms the main object of worship in the temple here. Circumambulating the temple, one can see a rainbow-coloured tikle or circle in one of the upper windows, in the room where Dudjom Rinpoche used to stay. This tikle appeared spontaneously when Dudjom Rinpoche passed away.
Chogye Trichen Rinpoche’s reliquary stupa: 27°43'17.5"N 85°21'38.6"E
The relics of one of the greatest Sakya masters, Chogye Trichen Rinpoche (1920-2007), are contained in the central stupa in the courtyard of this monastery.
Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche’s reliquary stupa: 27°43'27.0"N 85°21'46.6"E
Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling is the seat of Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche, Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche, Phakchok Rinpoche, and Tulku Urgyen Yangsi Rinpoche. The monastery houses many ancient relics, most specifically a stupa containing the relics of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche (1920–1996), one of the most revered Tibetan masters of the 20th century.
Chabahil Stupa: 27°42'57.1"N 85°20'45.0"E
The Chabahil Stupa, also called “Little Boudhanath” or Dhanya Stupa, is said to have been built taking the leftover materials from the Boudha Stupa. Restoration work in recent years has revealed that the stupa is indeed very ancient.