Our hotel, the Hyatt Regency, is located in the northeastern part of Kathmandu, in a village called Bodnath, named after the Boudhanath Stupa and the streets surrounding it. So after breakfast, we walked just a few minutes from the hotel to the Stupa, which is one of the most holy Buddhist sites in Nepal, and a World Heritage Site.
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, that are important to both Buddhists and Hindus. There are monks, nuns, locals and tourists there at all times, every day, circling the Stupa three times in a clockwise direction.
The Boudhanath Temple is the center of Tibetan culture in Nepal and the stupa is 36 meters tall, which makes it one of the largest stupas in all of South Asia.
Apart from its sheer size, one 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 with narrow roads and alleys circling around the shrine.
This area still has a lot of Tibetan refugees living around the stupa, and quite a few Tibetan Buddhist monasteries as well. We spent several hours walking the streets of the area and looking at the shops and people there, and found a program helping Nepali women to earn a decent living by weaving and embroidery. We found a lovely bag in the shop connected to their work area that we were happy to purchase.
We then took a taxi back to Thamel to finish the shopping we started yesterday. Clothes are so inexpensive here, especially in the off season! We had a late lunch at OR2K Vegetarian Restaurant, then returned to the hotel. Tali had a steam and sauna in the spa, and I worked out in the gym.
We had been viewing Kathmandu and Nepal as a poor substitute for visiting Tibet, which we were unable to do, because of the Chinese Government has stopped granting Tourist Permits. Today, we are both realizing what a beautiful and magical place this is on its own, and how fortunate, how blessed we feel to be here!